Chihuahuas

At a glance
chihuahuaThe Chihuahua is a small, sturdy-looking dog with a round head, exceptionally large black eyes and ears and a short, pointed snout.

Summary

  • Names – Chihuahua, Chi
  • Group – AKC: Toy Group; KC: Toy
  • Size – small
  • Life expectancy -15 to 20 years; average 17 years.
  • Cost of ownership – low
  • Ease of ownership – high
  • Aggressive tendency – high
  • Amount of Exercise – medium
  • Amount of Grooming – low
  • Ease of Training – medium
  • Obedience level – medium
  • Suitable for Children – low
  • Amount of Care Required – low
  • Susceptibility to Health Problems – medium

Appearance
The Chihuahua is the world’s tiniest dog breed with an apple-shaped head, a short cone-shaped muzzle and erect signature ears.  He has large, dark eyes that are sometimes dark ruby or luminous in color. Puppies have a soft spot on the top of the skull, right between the ears, but it covers up as the dog matures. The longer-than-taller body has a crescent-shaped tail curled over the back or to the side. Due to differences in the coat, the dogs are either of the short-haired or the long- haired variety. Colors include fawn, sand, chestnut, silver and even steel blue, but any color is accepted, including black & tan and parti-color. Overall, the dog presents a robust and compact appearance due to his level back and his straight and square legs.

Weight

  • Bitch 1kg (2lbs) to 2.7kg (6lbs)
  • Dog 1kg (2lbs) to 2.7kg (6lbs)

Height

  • Bitch 15cm (6″) to 23cm (9″)
  • Dog 15cm (6″) to 23cm (9″)

Coat

  • Color – all colors from solid blacks to solid whites, spotted, as well as a variety of other colors and patterns, examples of which are Fawn, Red, Cream, Chocolate, Blue, and Black.
  • Coat – The Chihuahua coat comes in two varieties: The Smooth and Long coat. The Smooth coat has glossy and fitted fur all over the body and is less abundant on the head and ears. The Long coat has a soft, longer coat that can either be a bit wavy or flat. This variety differs from the first because the long-haired breed lacks an under-coat.
  • Shedding – medium
  • Allergies – low
  • Causes Allergies – medium

Character
The Chihuahua is a very individualistic breed, each basking in its own unique personality. Chis, as they are often called, are energetic and graceful.  They have powerful personalities and some people feel that their facial gestures are almost human. Their health makes up for their size, since they are capable of outliving any current breed.

  • Separation Anxiety – medium
  • Barking tendency – high
  • Aggressive tendency – high
  • Compatibility with other animals – medium
  • Suitable for children – low
  • Watchdog suitability – high

Temperament
Chihuahuas are alert and intelligent watchdogs.  They love and have single-minded loyalty to both dogs from their own breed and to their owners.

Training
The Chihuahua may exert his own will when it comes to training, but with patience, love, and consistency you can win him over. Positive reinforcement is an excellent way to get a message across to them. Good ways to housetrain the dog include the crate method or the paper training method. Early and intensive socialization is absolutely necessary in order to reduce the Chi’s urge to claim pack leader status over his doting human owners.

  • Obedience – high

Exercise required
There is no need to worry over the Chi being too dainty or being stumbled upon; in fact, the average Chi is agile enough to step out of everybody’s way.  It may seem fashionable or fun to carry one around, but these active little dogs will do fine all by themselves.  Furthermore, they actually need at least one daily walk. Dogs who do not get to go on daily walks are more likely to display a wide array of behavior problems. It is recommended that Chihuahuas wear a harness instead of collars due to their fragile windpipes. Chis will also appreciate a good run in a safe open area off lead, like a large fenced in yard.  Lastly, something that needs to be dispelled from the minds of owners and would-be owners is the idea that a small dog should make do with a small space.

  • Energy – high
  • Amount required – 20 to 40 minutes a day

Care
The Chihuahua does not need intensive grooming. The Smooth coat variety requires only the odd brushing now and then. In the case of the Long coat variety, brushing should be done several times a week with a soft bristle brush. Both types could use a mild shampoo bath once a month.   Also, even though they do not have drop ears, care must still be given to ensure that moisture in their large ears is controlled. The health concerns of the breed include slipped stifles, open font or soft spot, eye problems and heart disease. The Chihuahua cannot handle cold climates and must be protected when taken outside.

Food
Examples of food that Chihuahua’s need to avoid include: chocolate, raw onions and raw garlic. However, the most toxic among these 3 is chocolate.

If an owner wishes to cook for their dog, a typical recipe may include a small amount of lean beef, chicken, turkey, pork, or lamb. The meat should be grilled or roasted. Other ingredients that can be used are small amounts of cooked starch, such as boiled potatoes, noodles, cooked rice and cooked vegetables like carrots or peas.

Overall, while the Chihuahua does not require any special diet, they are picky eaters.  Pick a high quality food with small kibble for smaller breeds. A viable option is a lamb and rice diet which is considered an allergy free diet. Chis will eat dry food as well as tinned food and seem to enjoy crunching up hard biscuits; this is good for their teeth.

Chihuahuas are at risk of hypoglycemia, so it is always prudent to feed two to three meals rather than one large one.

Grooming
Short coat - The smooth coated variety needs to be groomed with a rubber grooming comb/brush from time to time.

Long coat – The long Chi coat needs a good brushing and combing once a week. The bib or ruff of the long coats may need an occasional wash since food bits can become caught there.

  • Ease of grooming – high/medium
  • Amount of grooming – low/medium

Breeding
It must be made clear to those who are considering becoming breeders that the only rational purpose for breeding is to add more desirable traits into the Chihuahua gene pool. Below it is revealed that breeding for recreational purposes or for simply profit-oriented purposes are certain invitations for disaster.

There are a few things to consider before breeding your Chihuahua. First of all, they are small dogs with sizeable heads. This implies the need for a caesarian section during birth. An operation is usually the start of many issues, mainly those involving the pay-off of a small litter size, and the mother hurting or rejecting the puppies.

Since Chihuahuas are small, the pregnant female may also lose a lot of calcium during pregnancy and also during nursing.  This fatal complication is known as eclampsia. The only solution for preventing this illness is to consult the veterinarian, so he/she can keep track of the pregnancy and give the dog a shot of calcium with vitamin D.

Fading puppy syndrome is another problem when breeding and will require expert consultation.  Furthermore, the breeder literally has to stay by the side of the puppy which refuses to eat, or is stricken with diarrhea.

  • Litter size – 2 to 3 puppies
  • Puppy cost – $ 414 to $ 690

Health
Almost all small breeds have a tendency to get subluxating patellas, injuries to the limbs probably related to the stress of leaping off the furniture, an activity Chis enjoy. Many small dogs also have weak tracheas, which means owners will need to switch to harnesses from leashes. Chihuahuas are prone to eye problems, cleft palate, hydrocephalus (excess water on the brain) and hypoplasia of the dens – a lack of development in the second vertebrae, leading to skull instability. Lastly, hemophilia, a blood clotting disorder that affects males only, also occurs in Chihuahuas.

  • Life expectancy – On average they live to about 17 years but can live anywhere from 15 to 20 years
  • Susceptibility to illness – medium
  • Common health problems – Pulmonic stenosis, heart valve problems, shoulder luxation, hypoglycemia, hypoplasia of dens.

Ownership
Living conditions – Because of their small size and keen sense of belonging, Chihuahuas are capable of adjusting to apartment dwelling and individual or elderly pet owners.

  • Good with Children – Excited Chis will want to match the spirit of children in a game, but younger and more inquisitive children will certainly need to be reminded about playing rough with this breed.  Young kids should be supervised when interacting with the dog.

History
The Chihuahua originates from Central and South America and Mexico, where his ancestors performed tasks for Aztec and Toltec masters that required character, this often involved being ceremonial sacrifices and absorbing the sins of the deceased. The Chihuahua took its name from the Mexican state, Chihuahua.

It is believed that the Chi’s origins actually stretch back to antiquity.   Moreover, a widely accepted theory about this breed is that Chihuahuas trace their roots to the Techichi, a companion dog favored by the Toltecs. The modern dog came about through breeding with miniaturized Chinese dogs imported to the Americas through Spanish colonizers and traders. The Chihuahua was first registered by the AKC (American Kennel Club) in 1904

  • County of origin – Mexico
  • AKA KC name and group: Toy

Trivia
Did you know…

  • There are many famous Chihuahua’s and Chi owners including:
    • “Batman Returns” villain Max Shreck: Geraldo
    • “Transformers” protagonist Samuel Witwicky: Mojo
    • BBC soap opera “Eastenders” character Suzy Branning: Prince
    • “Legally Blonde” Reese Witherspoon’s character: Bruiser
    • Madonna and Chiquita
    • Paris Hilton and Tinkerbell,
    • Puerto Rico’s University School of Medicine mascot: Taquito
    • Dog Whisperer’s Cesar Millian: Coco
  • In the United States, the American fast food chain, Taco Bell, had an advertising gimmick in 1997 headlined by a smart-aleck Chihuahua as a mascot. Gidget the dog’s catch phrase, “Yo quiero Taco Bell!” which means “I want Taco Bell,” went down as one of the most well-known catch phrases in TV history.
  • Ducky the Chihuahua was named the world’s smallest dog in terms of height by the Guinness Book of World Records in 2007. Ducky is only 4.9 inches tall.
  • The smallest dog in terms of length is Heaven Sent Brandy, a female chihuahua who measured 15.2 cm (6 in) from the nose to the tip of the tail on January 31, 2005.

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