Breed Introduction: Chihuahua
Find out more about Chihuahua, commonly referred to as a wallet-sized dog!
Chihuahuas are tiny, toy dogs that are kept mainly for companionship. Chihuahuas are known by several names, including the Ornament dog, the Pillow dog, and the Mexican Dwarf. Because of their size, they are a very popular and portable pocket pet, and are highly intelligent creatures.
These bold and feisty dogs are fiercely loyal to their owners, and when they aren’t properly socialised they tend to be mean to strangers and children.
With a slightly longer body than height, the Chihuahua is also a popular breed with celebrities, which has further catapulted them into the hearts and homes of many people around the world.
Origin And History
Chihuahuas have a rather odd history, in that it can’t definitely be pinned down to a specific location or area. Several ideas abound about where they originated from, and most of it supports the fact that the Chihuahua originated in Mexico.
The Chinese claim that the Chihuahua first originated from China, but archaeological finds specifically show that Chihuahuas, or small dogs that closely resemble Chihuahuas, have been in the area from Mexico to El Salvador. Wheeled dog toys have been dug up in that area, dating as far back as 100 A.D., proving that the dog breed was in Mexico (or in the Mesoamerica area) hundreds of years before the first landings of the Europeans.
Chihuahuas did not become very popular until the 20th century, and even the American Kennel Club did not recognise them to be registered till 1904.
Chihuahuas are typically small dogs, with a height range of about 6 to 9 inches (15 to 23 cm), though some can grow as tall as 12 to 15 inches. The weight of a Chihuahua, either male or female, is within the range of 1.5 to 3.0 kg (3.3 to 6.6 lbs).
Countries have breed standards that a Chihuahua must meet before it can be entered into a conformation show. There used to be a clause in the British breed standards that stated that, if there were two Chihuahuas that were equally the same in type, then the smaller one was to be picked for conformation: the clause was removed in 2009.
Chihuahuas that have been bought as companions and not necessarily show dogs (technically called Pet Chihuahuas) usually weigh more than the breed standards specify, either due to a large bone structure or they have become overweight. These dogs, purebred or not, are not qualified to enter a confirmation show.
Chihuahuas have high, rounded skulls, with large round eyes and large erect ears, and come in two types: long coat or long haired, and smooth coat (or short haired). These two types are still the same genetically.
A long haired Chihuahua has a smoother coat and a fluffy appearance, require very little trimming and grooming and sheds less than the short haired Chihuahua. Chihuahuas also come in different colours, from solid to marked to splash. The merle coat pattern, a mottled colour pattern, is not considered as part of the breed standard for kennel clubs. Merle coated Chihuahuas have been disqualified from several kennel clubs in the world.
Personality And Temperament
A Chihuahua’s temperament is determined mostly by the genetics of his parents and grandparents. Despite their small stature, they are easily provoked to attack, and this makes them unsuitable if you have small children in your home.
They tend to be fiercely loyal to a particular person, even becoming overprotective of that person, and they do not get along with other dog breeds except Chihuahuas or Chihuahua mixes. A Chihuahuas personality makes it largely unsuitable for homes with small children, especially if they are not calm and patient. With calm and patience, children can learn to live with a Chihuahua, and the dog too can adapt to living with them and it’s owner. Also, the owner’s personality can affect the personality of the dog, whether positive or negative.
Chihuahuas need expert veterinary care because their small size makes them susceptible to a host of illnesses and health problems. Chihuahuas need veterinary attention during birth, and dental care is important for them due to their weak teeth.
Over feeding a Chihuahua can lead to obesity, which leads to an increased risk of chronic bronchitis, joint injuries, and a shortened life span.
Chihuahuas with large eyes are prone to eye infections, including from dry air and dust.
Short haired Chihuahuas are highly susceptible to cold and need warm clothing during cold weather. Chihuahua puppies are highly at risk of having low blood sugar, and simple sugar supplements should be rubbed on their gums to quickly increase their blood sugar levels.
Another important fact to watch out is that you should never allow your Chihuahuas to jump or drop from a raised height to avoid unnecessary injuries.
Care And Grooming
Chihuahuas need to be kept out of the cold. The smooth coat Chihuahua needs very little grooming and trimming: the long coat breed may require a brush twice a week. However, both types of dogs do not require too much trimming and grooming.
Chihuahuas need exercise, as they are mostly indoor pets, but these exercise needs can be met by letting them run around the house, or walking them in the yard, or taking them on short walks on a leash (leashing them is necessary, as they may try to pick fights with dogs larger than they are).
Chihuahuas are great dogs to have as pets if you like dogs but feel the large breeds are just too large, or you are trying to break into being a pet owner. Chihuahuas can have a nasty personality, but that isn’t always the case.
Some Chihuahuas are friendly even with other species and live to play with children, but that depends on how they are raised and the personality of their owner. Though genetic also determines their personality, they can be trained to socialise with others.
If you are calm, patient and loving, a pet Chihuahua is a right dog for you. You should also bear in mind that a Chihuahua needs serious medical attention, and you should be prepared to take very good care of their health.
Updated: September 21, 2017.