One of the most widely recognised small dog breeds is the Chihuahua. Their distinct physical features are their large, liquid eyes and their enormous ears that can fan to the side when at rest and swivel to attention when they are alert. This breed is a handful of never-ending energy and indomitable spirit. A Chihuahua is likely to challenge a Rottweiler to a duel with the idea that he will be the victor and not a snack.
Origin & History
There are some theories about the origins of this small dog. One view is that the small hairless predecessors of the Chihuahua came from China and were brought to the Americas by Spanish traders who bred them with other small native dogs.
Other historians believe that the Chihuahua descended from the native Techichi, a small mute dog that lived among the natives of Central and South America. The Techichi was thought to have mystical powers like foreseeing the future, heal illnesses and guide the dead to the underworld. The dogs were sometimes offered as a sacrifice in Toltec religious rituals.
The shorthaired Chihuahua that we know about today was discovered in the late 19th century in the Mexican state of Chihuahua. Visitors to the state brought the Chihuahua to America, where the breed was first shown in 1890 and registered with the American Kennel Club in 1904.
The long-haired variety of the breed was created by crossbreeding with Papillons or Pomeranians.
Chihuahuas have large round heads that are sometimes referred to as apple heads: their skulls are round on top and dome-shaped instead of being flat. Their torsos are gracefully sleek and their legs nimble.
Chihuahuas have two types of coats, smooth and long-haired. Smooth haired counterparts have short soft fur that lies flat. Long-haired Chihuahuas have soft fur that is slightly curly. Their ears have a fringe of hair and their tails are plumed and spread out. There is a ruff on their necks and feathering on their feet. Longer hair is found on their hind legs and stomach.
Coat colours and markings vary in nature, including black, white, fawn, chocolate, grey and silver. Other coats are tricoloured, brindle, spotted or merle. The shade of colours can be very pale or very dark.
Size & Weight
An adult Chihuahua is tiny and weighs 3 to 6 pounds (1.3kg to 2.7kg) and stand at the height of 6 to 9
inches (15cm to 23cm).
Character & Abilities
The Chihuahua is an amazing small dog with a larger-than-life personality and has often been described as a terrier in his bold confidence.
This small dog can be intensely devoted to a single person and reserved with strangers. Alert in nature, the Chihuahua is suspicious of strangers and may bark like a good watchdog.
Most Chihuahuas love children, but it is not recommended for them to live in the same household as toddlers and small children. This is because the small dog may leap from being held and suffer an injury. There is also a risk that the Chihuahua will get defensive if the dog feels mistreated by a child during play.
This breed makes an excellent happy companion with a big personality that can easily run the show. Destructive when bored, establishing ground rules and following them consistently will help the Chihuahua be well behaved.
Exercise & Nutrition Needs
Even though this dog breed is small, he still needs exercise. Twenty to thirty minutes of regular exercise is sufficient. A fully grown Chihuahua is energetic and can chase squirrels around endlessly.
This tiny pup enjoys taking walks, playing fetch and romping around the yard.
The Chihuahua is a fussy eater and needs a diet that is nutritionally balanced for age and weight. The recommendation is ¼ to ½ cups of premium dog dry food a day.
This small dog breed is a wash and go. Brushing the coat a few minutes each week is all that is needed, using a rubber grooming mitt or brush with short bristles for the shorthaired breed. For the long-haired Chihuahua’s which usually sheds in little clumps, regular brushing is best using a pin brush.
The Chihuahua’s ears need regular cleaning to prevent wax build-up and dry skin. The outer ear can be cleaned with a vet recommended cleanser. The ears should be kept dry to avoid the growth of bacteria that cause infections.
Tear stains on the face can be cleaned with products specially formulated for this purpose. Carefully wipe the eyes and remove discharge to keep the area beneath the eyes clear.
Trainability & Intelligence
Toilet training a Chihuahua can be easy as long as the pup is kept on a consistent, frequent schedule. The best practice is to take the dog out in the morning, after every meal, nap, playtime and before bedtime.
If the Chihuahua cannot be taken out frequently, crate training can help to teach bladder control. It is best not to confine the dog in the crate for more than two to four hours during the day.
Chihuahuas are pretty agile little dogs and can display their skills in different dog sporting events excelling in agility and obedience. They respond positively to reinforcement techniques like praise and treat rewards.
Living Conditions & Adaptability
The Chihuahua’s unique size makes him an excellent companion to carry around everywhere. Highly adaptable, this dog breed can adapt quickly to apartment living or a home with a yard. When playing in the yard, the Chihuahua needs to be supervised to protect the pup from hawks, coyotes or larger dogs.
The Chihuahua’s body is therefore not able to handle cold climates as well as larger dog breeds. During the winter, in the outdoors, the pup’s body temperature can drop to dangerous levels. It is advisable to keep your Chihuahua in warm clothing to provide heat and warmth to endure the cold weather. Even long-haired Chihuahuas!
On hot days, the Chihuahua can easily get overheated. During exercise, walks and playtime, supervision is required to make sure the little pup doesn’t overdo it. Water should be made available to the dog at all times to stay hydrated.
Health & Life Expectancy
The Chihuahua may be born with hereditary conditions that may manifest after two years of age like:
- Patellar luxation
- Collapsed trachea
- Heart murmurs
- Open fontanel
- Pulmonic stenosis
The Chihuahua is a long-lived breed with a life expectancy of 10 to 18 years.
Renowned for being the world’s smallest dog, the Chihuahua has a larger-than-life personality that makes him appealing to everyone. This fun-loving small dog forms a close bond with a single person and is genuinely an affectionate housemate. Curious and bold, the Chihuahua is an intelligent, devoted dog that makes life unforgettable.
Here at All The Small Dog Breeds, we specialise in all things small dogs. Whether you are researching your current small dog breed or looking to adopt another, we provide informative dog breed descriptions to help you through the process.