The Chihuahua is a diminutive breed of dog that hails from the country of Mexico. Not only is he recognized as the smallest breed of dog, but he is also a very old breed. It is not fully clear when the breed originated, but it is believed that ancestors of the Chihuahua possibly date back to as early as the 9th century. Evidence of dogs similar to Chihuahuas has been found dating into the 16th century including at the ruins of Chichen Itza, Yucatán Peninsula. Gradually over the years he made his way across the border into the United States and across the world as the breed became a popular toy breed of dog.
The Chihuahua is a tiny breed of dog that ranges from between 3 and 6 pounds at adult weight. Some Chihuahuas can even be 2 pounds, and it is common for some to be oversized, particularly those that the average pet owner is likely to have. Even oversized, the Chihuahua is still a toy breed.
He comes in two different coat lengths, smooth coat and long coat. The smooth coat is a very short coat that lies close to the body. The long coat is not nearly as long as some breeds but instead is a soft and fluffy lightweight coat that has a slight undercoat.
The Chihuahua is accepted in just about any number of color combinations. He can be solid colored, marked, or splashed with color. The Chihuahua Club of America recognizes 30 different colors and 11 different markings! (www.chihuahuaclubofamerica.com)
The Chihuahua most commonly has a head shape known as apple shaped. This refers to his round shaped head and short muzzle giving the appearance of an apple. Some Chihuahuas have a less than apple shaped head which some people refer to as deer heads. These Chihuahuas have a longer muzzle and less rounded head shape.
Chihuahuas should be lively and alert, and they are often noted to have a more terrier-like personality. These dogs are very big dogs in very tiny bodies. This attitude can get them in trouble quite easily. They will challenge larger dogs. They can also have bad attitudes, and if the dog is not properly trained, an owner can be dealing with an out of control tiny dog. The terminology ‘Napoleon Complex’ was made for these dogs.
They often bond closely to one person and are quite loyal. If not closely monitored, a Chihuahua can guard this one person against other people or animals in the home. They can also guard other possessions. They make excellent alert barkers as many Chihuahuas are eager to let you know when someone is near the home.
They don’t always make the best dogs for a home with small children. In addition to the possibility of testy behavior and possible lack of tolerance for rough handling by young children, Chihuahuas are quite fragile. They have small bodies and small bones that can easily be broken if stepped on or dropped.
Even though this is such a tiny breed, he has to have training. He needs consistent training and boundaries to follow otherwise you may find that he attempts to run the show. Early socialization is vital for him to be comfortable with all sizes and shapes of dogs. Many Chihuahuas that aren’t used to a variety of dogs will bark at larger dogs, which could pose problems down the line. They also can have a tendency to bark more at strangers, particularly to your home, if they aren’t properly socialized. Chihuahuas will bite not just bark.
Without this early socialization and training, many Chihuahuas have a perpetual bad attitude in a variety of situations. Otherwise with training, he can be a delightful dog to live with.
Shedding & Grooming
The Chihuahua is a very easy to care for breed in terms of grooming and shedding. Neither the smooth coat nor long coat has very long hair, although they do shed. A light weekly brushing with a brush or comb will pull out dead hair and reduce light shedding. Frequent bathing shouldn’t be necessary. Regular nail trims are important to maintain his feet, and definitely a tooth brushing program should be done. Ideally, you should brush his teeth everyday as Chihuahuas can have dental issues and tooth loss without excellent care.
Health & Life Expectancy
The Chihuahua is blessed with a long lifespan due to his size and averages about 15 years. He is generally regarded as a healthy toy breed but does have a few health issues to be aware of including:
- Molera: While not a true health issue, it is a soft spot that many Chihuahua puppies are born with where the skull is not fully closed. You have to be very careful about this soft spot while the skull closes.
- Hypoglycemia: particularly an issue for puppies and very tiny Chihuahuas
- Dental disease and tooth loss
- Eye issues (infections and injury) due to shape and size
- Collapsed trachea
- Luxated patellae