The Chihuahua Breed - All You Need to Know
What do people think of when they think of things that fit into a handbag? Maybe a phone, receipts, or perhaps some snacks? What about Chihuahuas? These dogs may be known for being the smallest breed in the world, but they also have the biggest hearts!
However, Chihuahuas are much more than that! Let’s discuss the details of this popular breed, from its origins thousands of years ago, to the little rascals as we know them today!
A Short History
Chihuahuas are named after the Mexican state of Chihuahua. These dogs actually have a bit of folklore behind them, as they are often seen represented in pottery found in Mexico. Historians are unable to tell whether these dogs were bred by the Aztecs or by the Spanish people. They are believed to be descendants of the Techichi dog breed, which were mute dogs kept by the Toltec people around 300 BCE.
However, the breed we know and love today was created around 100 AD! Their history is rather interesting, as they were once used for food, but also for various tasks, such as heating pads. Despite their now common appearance, they used to be very rare before the 20th century and were not officially registered as a recognized dog breed until 1904.
These dogs come in various different colors and shapes, but perhaps the most common one is the fawn-colored Chihuahua. These are the stereotypical reddish-cream coated Chihuahuas that are associated with the breed. Other colors include red, cream, chocolate, black, and even blue.
In addition to these coat colors, Chihuahuas also often have varied fur patterns, which can include spots or splashes in addition to their base coat color.
On top of that, Chihuahuas are known for their short stature, ranging from six to nine inches in height, and up to six pounds in weight. This makes them the smallest dogs in the world!
Their facial features often include large and round eyes, large sharp ears that stand up, and a small snout that juts out at a 90-degree angle. Finally, their fur can range from soft to rough, and, as previously mentioned, can easily come in a variety of colors compared to other dogs.
Officially, the Chihuahua has two recognized breeds with the AKC(American Kennel Club) and the UK Kennel Club, with one being the long-haired Chihuahua, which is known for its soft and fluffy fur, and the other being the short-haired Chihuahua, which is characterized by rougher and thicker fur.
While these descriptions only involve their coats, they also have different head shapes that are accepted by the AKC and the UK Kennel Club. They are defined as apple-head Chihuahuas or deer-head Chihuahuas.
Apple-head Chihuahuas often have a higher, more rounded skull shape along with a shorter snout, while deer-head Chihuahuas have a more gentle slope to their head and a longer snout. Another difference between the apple-head and the deer-head chihuahua is their legs.
Additionally, deer-head Chihuahuas tend to be slightly taller, but with a shorter body length, while the apple-head Chihuahua often has the reverse body type, with a shorter body and bigger length. The Deer-head chihuahua also tends to have a healthier life compared to the apple-head Chihuahua, due to the shape of their necks and nose.
A more uncommon breed is the Teacup Chihuahua, which is a breed of Chihuahua that is vastly smaller than average. They weigh up to 4 pounds, and due to their small weight, they often have a lot of health complications and can easily get hurt. They also tend to have a smaller lifespan compared to their counterparts.
Keep in mind that Teacup Chihuahuas are not recognized as an official breed standard. Unfortunately, they are often bred solely to sell at a high price. As a result, we do not recommend looking for Teacup Chihuahuas specifically, for various ethical reasons.
A Chihuahua’s Big Personality
Chihuahuas are often described as lively, loyal, and alert. Due to their loyal personality, they tend to be great companions, who will stick to your side no matter what. Even though some may find their personality rather loud and bossy, the right amount of training will help curb these problems.
These dogs love cuddling and attention, so if you’re looking for an indoor lap dog, Chihuahuas are the best breed! They’re known to be quick to pick up on tricks because of their intelligence. As a result, they are relatively easy to train.
However, because of their dominant personality, this breed may not be the best for small children. They may find the children's noise and behavior threatening. Make sure kids know how to be gentle with this small dog!
On top of that, Chihuahuas often behave as if they’re the alpha dog, and like to pick fights with dogs bigger than them. However, all these negative traits can easily be fixed with early training.
Common Health Issues in Chihuahuas
Like most other dog breeds, Chihuahuas aren’t strangers to health problems. Many of these stem from their small stature, so it is vital to monitor these issues and make sure each of them is taken care of as soon as possible, to ensure a long and healthy life for your pup!
Chihuahuas are actually known for having poor dental hygiene, which can eventually lead to dental problems in later life. Brushing their teeth regularly will help avoid these problems. Veterinarians recommend that Chihuahua’s eat larger and denser foods such as dry food, because the more time they chew, the cleaner their teeth will be.
Another health issue that may arise when taking care of a Chihuahua is vision and eye problems. Due to their large protruding eyes, Chihuahuas are prone to eye infections and eye injuries. However, the injuries can be avoided by making sure nothing sharp is at your Chihuahua’s eye-level, as well as deterring your Chi from roughhousing.
Low Blood Sugar
In puppies, Chihuahuas may show signs of hypoglycemia or low blood sugar. Some signs of this include lethargy, unfocused eyes, fainting, or seizures. Check with a vet to see if your Chihuahua needs sugar supplements to combat hypoglycemia.
Additionally, like other small dogs, Chihuahuas can sometimes be affected by hydrocephalus during their early life. This happens when cerebrospinal fluid leaks into the skull, and can often lead to poor balance, lethargicness, and even urinary problems.
While it may slowly heal over time, it’s best to be safe and consult with a professional if your pup is exhibiting symptoms of hydrocephalus, as it can be lethal if untreated.
This breed is known for easily getting overweight, so it is important to avoid overfeeding your Chihuahua. Generally speaking, a Chihuahua should not eat more than just one cup of food on a daily basis. Make sure to take measures to avoid obesity problems with your tiny companion.
Chihuahuas are so loyal, they may even suffer from separation anxiety when you leave the house without them. There are a few ways to combat this, such as giving your Chi treats before you leave your home or giving them lavender collars to help them relax. However, try to accustom a Chihuahua to your absence early, before they develop anxiety issues.
Overall, Chihuahuas need to be groomed on a daily basis in order to keep their coats looking clean. A daily brush is more than enough for these dogs and will keep their fur from getting tangled. As a result, Chihuahuas are considered a low-maintenance breed.
Additionally, remember to use the right shampoo and conditioner when bathing your Chi. They should be rich in nutrients and proteins, as to not wash away the essential oils from the Chihuahua’s fur.
Training a Chihuahua
Chihuahuas are a smart breed, but their personality sometimes gets in the way of good behavior. Make sure you are the boss with your Chihuahua, not the other way around. By establishing control over where your dog can go and when they can eat, you place yourself higher than your Chihuahua in its eyes.
Additionally, establishing a regular walking routine and teaching your Chihuahua not to tug on a leash helps your Chihuahua calm down around you and avoid being snippy with strangers.
When it comes to excessive barking (which is characteristic for this breed), a small tip is to ignore your Chihuahua when they start to get noisy. Wait for them to calm down, then give them attention when they’re quiet. Tell your friends to do the same when they come over. This behavior will easily teach your dog that if they’re noisy, they won’t get what they want.
Of course, all of these tricks and training should always be rewarded with treats or toys! Negative reinforcement, such as yelling or hitting your dog, actually reinforces negative behaviors such as barking. Not to mention that you are abusing your dog by punishing them.
In conclusion, if you’re looking for a lovable, tiny dog who thinks of you as their world, the Chihuahua is the right dog for you! They’re easy to take care of, easy to train, and easy to find. If you’re still on the fence, make sure to read our Top 7 Reasons Why A Chihuahua is A Perfect Pet for Your Home.