Last Updated on March 19, 2023 by Becky Roberts
*The Chihuahua dog breed is the smallest in all of the world. He packs a powerful and bigger-than-life personality into his small body. He doesn’t consider himself to be small. In fact, he regards himself as the alpha of dogdom. He believes he is capable of taking on any dog or person, and he often does.
But the real question is: Do you have what it takes? They can be bold, charming, and fun. They are not suitable for every family. These pups can be assertive, so many owners allow the behavior to continue rather than correcting it. This can lead to aggression which can be deadly. They can also be sweet, but they need to be trained as any other breed.
Any dog that you adopt is a commitment of a lifetime and should be researched. The Chihuahua is a unique breed that has its own needs. Because of their longer lifespan of up to 16 years, you could be committed to this pup for a lot longer than a dog with a shorter lifespan. You think you have what it takes to be a successful dog owner? Let’s get to know more about this beloved Mexican dog breed.
- 1 History
- 2 Temperament
- 3 Size & Appearance
- 4 Coat & Colors
- 5 Exercise Requirements
- 6 Living Conditions
- 7 Training
- 8 Health
- 9 Nutrition
- 10 Grooming
- 11 Breeders & Puppy Costs
- 12 Rescues & Shelters
- 13 As Family Pets
- 14 Final Thoughts
The Chihuahua, an ancient breed of dog, has a history that dates back thousands of years. To understand the Chi, we need to learn a quick history lesson. His past is hidden in mystery, unlike many purebred dogs. We know that it all started thousands of years ago with the Techichi, a dog. Although the Techichi looked very much like the Chihuahua and was heavier than the Chi, he was larger and more robust than the Chi.
The Techichi belonged to the Toltecs. But in the 12th century, the Aztecs overthrew them. The Aztecs are believed to have created the Techichi who are smaller than they were. In the 16th century, the Spanish defeated the Aztecs and destroyed their civilization completely. And it was believed, up until the 19th century, that this little dog was lost forever.
Fast forward to the 19th century. Americans began to be interested in Mexico’s culture and traveled the world. The state Chihuahua was where little dogs that resembled the long-lost dog treasure, Techichi, were found. They were named Chihuahua and were returned to America. The rest, as they say, is history.
Our love affair with the breed hit it off in the 1940s and 50s, thanks to Xavier Cugat. Cugat was a key figure in Latin music’s spread. Cugat was well-known for opening shows with his dog and his baton in one hand. He has been immortalized in movies like ‘Legally Blonde” and ‘Beverly Hills Chihuahua
They are known for their small stature but they are equally well-known for their bossy personalities. He believes he can conquer the world with his hands tied behind his back, even though he is blindfolded. To be fair, he could. It is the comical, cocky persona we love. It also puts him in trouble.
Chi moms and dads allow their little Chi to indulge in naughty behavior too often. This is ‘small-dog syndrome .’ where he will fight with other dogs and take his place on your sofa. In the training section, we’ll talk more about little dog syndrome.
He is a very energetic dog for his small size. They are curious and inquisitive and can be restless. He is a quick learner and excels at obedience trials and doggy agility. However, he can be stubborn so be ready for that when you start training.
He is very affectionate to his family. He’ll snuggle up under your arm while you cook on the fire. The Chi loves to be with his people and is very anxious about being alone. Chihuahuas are the most susceptible dogs to experience separation anxiety. His family must be present most of the time.
He doesn’t care about people he doesn’t know. You can be certain he’ll be aloof around them and vocal if a stranger walks onto ‘his’ property. This breed is not recommended for anyone who doesn’t like yappy dogs. This breed is a good choice if you’re looking for an estate manager.
Size & Appearance
The Chi is a toy-sized pup, literally, as he weighs no more than 10 pounds. From paw to shoulder, he measures between 3-6 inches in height. The smallest dog in the world is a pup named Milly, who measures 3.8 inches tall. She was so little that when she was born that she could fit in a teaspoon and weighed 28g. Teeny tiny indeed!
The breed standard defines the appearance desired. His overall appearance is described as “a calm, alert, quick-moving, compact little dog with a saucy expression.” He is slightly squarer than he is round. He is small but strong and athletic despite being small.
His breed standard states that his head should have an apple-shaped dome. There are actually two types of Chihuahua heads – the deer head. His personality is not affected by his head shape. His ears are larger than his head. His ears are always straight, which adds to his saucy expression. His eyes are large and his tail is held high.
Coat & Colors
The breed offers two coat options, which are long and smooth coats. The smooth coat should be tight and shiny, but soft and glossy. His hair tends to be thicker around his neck and tail. Sometimes, dogs with short coats don’t need an underlayer. An underlayer is usually required for smooth-coated Chi’s with thicker coats.
The long hair coat is medium-long. While most long-coated Chis have an underneath coat, not all do. Your hair should be either straight or slightly curled and soft to the touch. His hair should be light and feathery around his ears, neck, and legs. His tail should be plumed. Long-haired pups are often mistaken for the Papillon breed. The long-haired Chi Chis are thought to have been created by mixing the Papillon and Chi lines.
This breed offers a wide range of colors for its jacket. There are many solid colors available to him, including black, cream, chocolate, and tan. Multi-colors are also possible for the Chi, including tri-color, blue, tan, and fawn. He can also sport a straight white coat as well. You can also choose from a variety of additional colors and markings such as merle, brindle and black masking.
The Chihuahua, a lively little dog with lots of energy, is very energetic. He doesn’t require a lot of exercise because of his short legs. He needs around 30 minutes of exercise every day to keep him happy and healthy. A walk around the neighborhood will satisfy his curiosity as well as his desire to smell new things.
He’d like to go on adventures other than walking several times per week. He will be interested in going to the forest or park for off-leash walks and fetch. A trip to the dog park is a great idea. He is at risk of getting hurt. When you do take him out, be sure to use a Chihuahua harness rather than a collar. A harness reduces the pressure on his neck, which is why chis are susceptible to tracheal collapse.
These puppies are playful and energetic. He will love to play between workouts. You can keep him busy for hours by giving him a variety of toys that he can play with. He will love to play with treat-dispensing toys and chew sticks. Interactive options include tug of war, treat hide and seek, and tag of war.
This breed is ideal for apartment life. This small puppy is perfectly suited for living in tiny apartments. He is a good fit for larger homes. It is important to make sure he does not escape or get lost in the yard. He must be supervised when outside. Coyotes and birds of prey will be enthralled by the sight of a Chi. You should always supervise him.
They are best for families that have older children. Because he is so small, young children will view him as a toy they can play with. Numerous dogs have been injured accidentally by children as young as five years old. Excited children are not a good match for a dog that is irritable. A dog that is easy to manage will make a great family pet.
Dogs that are well socialized as puppies are able to live with other dogs or pets. If he isn’t socialized well as a pup, there is a good chance that he won’t do well in a multi-pet household. Many Chis are not comfortable sharing their family members because they can be overprotective. This is something you should consider when inviting this breed of dog into your home.
His stubborn nature and potential overprotectiveness make socialization a vital part of his training. This is something that reputable breeders will begin at an early age. It will help him learn how to be with his littermates and mom. He should be socialized with other dogs, animals, and people, as well as taught polite dog manners.
This breed can be susceptible to little dog syndrome, as we have already mentioned. To avoid this, treat him like a large dog. Do NOT allow him to be overprotective , or possessive. Correct him if he is being naughty. Do not allow him to fight with other dogs. He will likely end up worse, despite his stubbornness.
We hate to tell you this, but this dog is an independent dog that can be a difficult cookie to train Although he is intelligent, you can be certain that he will not participate in training sessions if he doesn’t want to. Training him should be fun and short. This is the key to his success.
The Chihuahua can be anxious if his owners are not around. Crate training is recommended for him. Finding a Chihuahua-sized dog crate is important, but the right crate can lower his anxiety when you have to leave him.
The Chihuahua is a healthy dog breed, and he can expect a long average lifespan of 14 to 16 years. To ensure your Chihuahua enjoys many years of happiness, it is important to keep him healthy. certain health conditions can affect your dog more than other breeds. These are in no particular order:
The main cardiac conditions that affect the breed include patent ductus Arteriosus, mitral valve disease, and patent ductus arteriosus. They are caused by abnormal heart formation. It can lead to cardiac failure if it is not treated. The vet will check it out. Regular health checks are a must for Chi.
The breed is susceptible to various eye problems. Progressive retinal atrophy is the most common. This refers to the progressive deterioration and destruction of the retina. Glaucoma is a condition that causes damage to the optic nerves of the eyes. If left untreated, both can cause complete blindness.
This is common in many small breeds, and it is characterized by a floating kneecap. Although it is present from birth, it does not become an issue until adulthood. You should be aware of symptoms like stiffness or exercise intolerance.
A molera occurs when the skull doesn’t fuse properly and leaves a soft spot. It is felt at the top of the skull and can feel as small as a dime. It’s nothing to be concerned about and it affects a large percentage of Chihuahuas. Head injuries are more common.
This is a small-sized dog, with a tiny mouth and stomach. He eats half of a cup of food per day. You’ll need to determine how much food your Chi needs according to the instructions on the package. It is essential to give your Chi food that he can eat, as his mouth is small. There are many high-quality brands that make small-sized kibbles for Chihuahuas.
Another reason for picking high-quality food is to provide him with a balanced diet It will contain meat protein, healthy carbohydrates, omega fats, and fiber. These nutrients are not found in raw meat. He has different life stages that require different nutrition, so be sure to learn about what food your Chihuahua needs.
Their grooming requirements are relatively easy, given his small body and the amount of hair he has. He sheds light to moderately throughout the year, and a little more during the shedding season. The best way to control his shedding is to brush him regularly. He will only require brushing once per week if he has short hair. He will need to brush twice per week if he has long hair. People with an undercoat shed more than those without.
A short-haired Chi needs a soft bristle toothbrush, while a longer-haired Chi requires a pin brush. Because his feathering fur is susceptible to matting, it will require extra care. Take extra care when you brush him. Start teaching your dog grooming from an early age.
They need washing once every 8 to 12 weeks, maybe more frequently if he is a long-haired Chi, as he’ll pick up more dirt. He will not be able to be washed for more than four weeks at a stretch, as it can damage his natural oils. Use a gentle shampoo for your dog. Look out for natural ingredients like coconut oil and oatmeal.
Their teeth need to be brushed at least once a week. This will reduce the buildup of bacteria as well as periodontal disease. You can trim his nails as often as you like, but not more than once per month. Make sure you check for excessive drainage. They love being treated and it is a great way to bond.
Breeders & Puppy Costs
This is a highly-demanded breed that is very popular. There are many good dog breeders. This also means there are many poor breeders out there, so make sure you choose wisely. You should look for reputable breeders who will insist that you meet the puppies and them in person. They should be able to produce health certificates and stay in touch throughout the pregnancy. A waiting list is another sign that a breed is of high quality.
A great place to start is the American Kennel Club’s list of Chihuahua breeders. The average price of a Chi pup falls around $800. You can expect to pay more if you choose a reputable breeder or a puppy of an award-winning lineage. Be sure to include other costs such as crates, harnesses, and bowls. You should also consider insurance and veterinary care.
A poor-quality breeder or worse a puppy mill, that doesn’t take care of their parents, dogs, or puppies. They breed sick dogs that are more likely to have sick pups. They are more likely to have behavioral issues and be unhappy because they were raised in filthy and cramped conditions. It may seem like you’re doing something good by saving Chi from such conditions. But it is not. This will only encourage bad breeding and result in a sick puppy.
Rescues & Shelters
Breeders may not be the best option. Adoption is an option if you aren’t set on a puppy. Visit your local shelters. You will find many waiting to be adopted because he is so beloved. Talk to staff members who can explain the background of the dog and the adoption process.
If this fails, there are other rescue groups that dedicate their time to the breed. The Chihuahua Club of America lists rescue centers by state, and it is a great place to start your search. You can also search online for other breed dedicated rescue groups ,. If you are open to adopting a mixed breed Chi, a rescue will likely have many available options.
As Family Pets
- This is an intelligent breed but can be stubborn.
- They are sometimes thought of as less intelligent due to their stubbornness.
- Don’t expect a fully obedient dog in the Chi.
- He needs at least 30 minutes of exercise a day.
- The Chihuahua is lots of fun and a sassy pup.
- He is affectionate with his family and protective of them.
- He is suspicious and aloof with strangers.
- This pup will keep barking at strangers to let them know they are in charge.
- The Chi craves human company and hates to be left alone.
- He is great with older children.
- The Chi will sometimes do well with other animals if properly socialized.
- He is suited to apartment living; just be sure to supervise him when outdoors.
- Find the perfect name for your Chihuahua
The Chihuahua is a powerful personality that fits into a small canine body. He is small but can be difficult to manage. He requires a family who can spend the majority of their time with him, train him well, and be there for him throughout his life. He could be your perfect dog if you are able to offer this and his other doggy needs. He will give you love and doggy kisses with Mexican flair and gusto.