The Chihuahua Dog Breed is named for the Mexican state of Chihuahua. It is the smallest of dog breeds, having the American Kennel Club designation as a toy breed. It is the oldest breed from the American continent. Its body is long in relationship to its height. The classic Chihuahua head has a high rounded top which is apple shaped. Some puppies are born with a soft spot, which is named a molera, on the top portion of the skull. This usually will close as they mature. The muzzle is pointed and short.
The Chihuahua has large and erect agile ears, large and round intelligent eyes and an expression that some breeders refer to as courageous and proud. The coat may be long, short and flat or wavy. There are many different coat colors including: black, black and tan, fawn, chestnut, sand, sable, silver, steel blue, white and parti-colored. Some coats are solid, while others are splashed or marked.
Chihuahuas may be tiny, but their personalities are that of royalty. They can become the leader of their family pack when allowed to do so. With proper obedience training, and consistent love and affection, however, they can learn who is the true leader in their family and then they are loyal and lovable companions.
Mexico is the historical homeland of Chihuahuas. The breed’s history can be traced back through Mexican history to the Toltecs. This race of people lived in the lands now known as Mexico in the 9th century AD. Their dog breed was called the Techichi, which is considered to be from Central America. These dogs are looked upon as the progenitors of the modern Chihuahua.
Scholars assume that a small dog traveled with its owner over a land bridge from Asia to Alaska and was crossed with the Techichi breed. The small Chihuahua size is said to have originally resulted from this early history cross-breeding.
Chihuahuas are known for their grace, charm, and sass. They are alert to changes in their environment, and communicate these to their owners quickly. They tend to be self-reliant, confident and carry themselves with an attitude of self-importance. They love to be close to their owners, and must be trained to be quiet and calm, as they can bark excessively when stressed. Their loyalty to their companions is often noted.
Size and Exercise
- Males and females weigh 4 to 6 pounds.
- Males and females are 6 to 10 inches tall.
Chihuahuas need to have daily walks, but a moderate amount of exercise is best for them. They can become overheated and stressed very quickly. Their tiny legs can be fragile, so jumping from high places should be avoided. Because of their tendency to suffer from hypoglycemia, they need to eat high quality proteins often to keep their metabolism functioning properly. Intense activity can use up their energy stores, affecting their blood sugar levels.
Health Issues and Living Conditions
- Canine Brucellosis – an infection of the reproductive tract
- Ideopathic Epilespy
- Legg – Calves – Perthes
- Mitral Valve Disease
- Molera – a soft spot evident in some puppies at birth, which usually closes by adulthood
- Patella Luxation
- Syringomyelia and Chiari Malformation
Chihuahuas are somewhat fragile and small in stature, but typically tend to be confident and think they are actually much larger than they really are. They need to live in safe spaces where they have room to play and be with people who can nurture their animated personalities while watching over them so that they are not accidentally injured. They live well in apartments, but families with children should take care to educate youngsters about proper care of this tiny pet.
Chihuahuas adore curling up on laps, and for this reason they are excellent companions for invalids, seniors, and calm individuals looking for a canine friend.
Chihuahuas have an expected lifespan of 15 up to 17 years.
- Chihuahuas need a simple grooming routine:
- Gently rub a short coat with a soft cloth and gently brush a long coat regularly.
- Have the puppy’s nails trimmed regularly by a groomer or vet.
- Brush the puppy’s teeth regularly and provide for an annual check-up.
- Bathe using shampoo that is safe for puppies and mild.
- Keep the puppy warm and away from drafts until it is totally dry.
- Make certain no water gets into the puppy’s mouth or nose, to prevent inhaling water and the possibility of pneumonia.
- Use a cotton ball with a gentle puppy ear cleaning solution to clean the ears. Check for irritated, red skin and any bad odors or residue. If these are present, take the puppy to see its vet.
Caring for Chihuahua Puppies
Due to their very small size, Chihuahuas have special care needs that owners must understand. These fall into three basic categories:
Though premium dry puppy food can be expensive, Chihuahuas eat smaller meals, so the cost is worth the benefits of keeping the puppy safer. Their metabolisms work at a higher rate than other breeds, and they must eat more often. Make certain they have dry food at all times, and use a heavy bowl for their water to prevent tipping it over. The bowl must be small enough so that the puppy cannot accidentally fall into it, and possibly drown.
Never feed the puppy table scraps or milk as these can cause diarrhea. Do not give the puppy homemade food, as it is missing the extra vitamins and nutrients it needs.
Keep puppy away from these toxic foods:
- avocados, the cores from apricots, alcoholic beverages, apple seeds
- chocolate, chicken bones, fat trimmings or drippings from cooked meat, coffee, candy with xylitol and any sugar-free sweets containing it
- pear, peach, and plum cores
broccoli, beef liver in large quantities, large amounts of garlic
- raisins, raw bread dough, raw potato
- tea, tomato leaves and stems
Hypoglycemia is low blood sugar, and it is common in small breeds. Puppies who have gone too long between meals are at risk for this condition. Keeping dry, premium puppy food available at all times for snacks is the best way to prevent it. Any times of stress, such as the first day in their new home, going to the vet or having a high amount of activity can cause problems. Make certain your puppy is eating regularly. Monitor the puppy and keep it warm. Chihuahuas need to be warm and always have food available. If the puppy seems weak, uncoordinated, listless, confused, cold to the touch or unusually drowsy, check its ears and gums for blue gray coloring. If these signs exist, put some Nutri-cal under its tongue, and then follow by feeding meat baby food or protein rich canned food. Call your vet immediately. Chihuahuas can die from this condition.
The best way to housetrain small puppies is to begin by praising them when they are good, rather than punishing them when they are not. Because they eliminate quite often, and are not able to control when they do, they should be constantly supervised. For the times when they cannot be monitored, using a crate or play pen with their bedding on one end and a potty pad on the other is a good alternative. Puppies naturally potty away from their bedding areas. Help them by putting a soiled pad in the right spot until they automatically go there while inside their crate or pen.
They will cry because they don’t like being left alone, but ignoring the whimpering is the only way to train them to be calm and quiet. Reward them with a good cuddle when they are quiet, and they will learn to be calm.
Puppies will need to eliminate after waking up, after every meal, and after they play. They signal their need for potty time by circling and sniffing the ground and starting to squat. At this point, taking the puppy to the planned potty place immediately will help to avoid many accidents. Always praise and reward for eliminating in the correct place, and never punish accidents after they occur. Puppies do not remember their accidents, and they are dependent on their owners to help them learn how to potty correctly.
Puppies in the housetraining phase must be watched constantly. They will have accidents when left alone, and these are the start of bad habits which are difficult to undo. Never leave them alone to run free in the house during this time. Prevent accidents before they happen and the puppy will learn where to eliminate.
Before Your New Chihuahua Puppy Arrives
- Buy a crate for your puppy to sleep and rest
- Buy an exercise pen to confine your puppy and keep it safe
- Stock high quality food, and bowls for food and water, and Nutri-cal
- Have a supply of potty pads, newspapers or a litterbox
- Have the puppy’s leash and collar ready to use right from the start
- Buy a book about how to care for and train your Chihuahua puppy
- Select a veterinarian and have the contact information readily available
- Prepare bedding
- Buy a selection of safe chew toys and play things
- Puppy proof your home by removing plants, exposed electrical cords and locking up cleaning supplies
Bringing the New Puppy to Your Home: Important Considerations
Chihuahua puppies are very tiny and need extra attention to keep them safe. They are easy to lose because of their small size, and due to their tendency to want to burrow under blankets and into anyplace that feels cozy. They are also more vulnerable to being stolen, eaten as the prey of larger animals and drowning.
- Have your vet implant a microchip as soon as possible
- Attach an ID tag to the puppy’s collar
- Keep the puppy from jumping off of steps and furniture to avoid broken legs
- Never allow the puppy to sleep in a bed – it is in danger if someone rolls onto it
- Do not leave the puppy on a chair or sofa alone
- Never leave the puppy outside alone – it is easily stolen and carried off
- Never let the puppy play with larger, aggressive dogs
- Keep fences free of holes and keep gates closed
- Keep the puppy off of lawns or carpets treated with chemicals
- Always keep the puppy on a leash and pick it up when a larger dog is nearby
- Keep the puppy away from swimming pools – it may not be able to get out, and could drown
- Never leave the puppy outside on very hot or very cold days
- Hold the puppy with both hands to reduce the possibility that it will fall and be injured
- Watch the puppy carefully to avoid stepping on it
- Do not carry the puppy and other items at the same time
- Never allow the puppy to run free where it might eat something toxic
- Keep toddlers and small children away from the puppy
Chihuahua Mixes and Types
- Two Distinct Varieties:
- a) Smooth Coat = short-haired
- b) Long Coat = fluffy long coat, some heavier ones have an undercoat
- Two Classes of Heads:
- a) Apple Head
- b) Deer Head
A popular Chihuahua nickname is “Chi”.
The American Kennel Club (AKC) officially recognized the Chihuahua breed in 1904.
The Chihuahua Club of America, Inc. is the recognized breed club of the AKC. The goals of the club include promoting the structure, soundness, temperament and appearance of the Chihuahua.
- American Canine Association Inc. (ACA)
- American Canine Registry (ACR)
- American Pet Registry, Inc. (APRI)
- Australian National Kennel Club (ANKC)
- Canadian Kennel Club (CKC)
- Continental Kennel Club (CKC)
- Dog Registry of America, Inc. (DRA)
- Fédération Cynologique Internationale (FCI)
- Kennel Club of Great Britain (KCGB)
- National Kennel Club (NKC)
- New Zealand Kennel Club (NZKC)
- North American Purebred Registry, Inc. (NAPR)
- United Kennel Club (UKC)