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Chihuahua Dog Breed

Chihuahua Dog Breed

  • Other Names:
  • Chiwawa
Overview

The chihuahua is one of the most famous dog breeds in the world (thanks to their unique name and publicity as the Taco Bell spokesperson in America). These toy dogs are instantly recognized everywhere and are never afraid to show off their larger-than-life persona.

Chihuahuas are companion dogs and will nearly always be close to (if not in the arms of) their owner. The breed is extremely alert, which makes them a fantastic watch dog, and are extremely agile. Chihuahuas are intelligent and are willing to please their owner, so obedience training is generally not an issue even with people inexperienced with dogs.

Chihuahua Breed Details

Breed Specs
TypeLifespanHeightWeight
Purebred15-20 yrs.6-9 in.3-6 lbs
  • Friendliness
  • Overall
  • Family Friendly
  • Kid Friendly
  • Pet Friendly
  • Stranger Friendly
  • Maintenance
  • Easy to Groom
  • Energy Level
  • Exercise Needs
  • General Health
  • Shedding Amount
  • Behavior
  • Barks / Howls
  • Easy to Train
  • Guard Dog
  • Playfulness
  • Watch Dog
  • Ownership
  • Apartment Friendly
  • Can Be Alone
  • Good for Busy Owners
  • Good for Novice Owners
  • Intelligence
* The more green the stronger the trait.

The Chihuahua is a companion dog that is not quite recommended for first time dog owners unless the owner has a lot of patience. These dogs tend to not like kids, other dogs, most non-canine pets or more than one (or two) people to live with. You might imagine Chihuahua attacks as being a comical thing, but they can be short-tempered and react swiftly and aggressively toward that which they don't like. They can be difficult to train, so if you are not prepared for the many Chihuahua behavior problems, you might want to think about getting one of these dogs.

Here are some Chihuahua facts you should know about if you want to adopt one:

PROS

  • Adorable
  • Good watchdogs
  • Very long lifespan
  • Fine for apartment life
  • Uncomplicated grooming
  • Litter box training is possible
CONS
  • Fragile
  • Dog-aggressive
  • Not hypoallergenic
  • Tendency to bark a lot
  • Not good in hot weather
  • Significant health problems
  • Not good with small children
  • Will overeat a lot of allowed
  • Not recommended for families
  • Severe intolerance to cold temperatures

Chihuahua Breed Description

While the Chihuahua has been around for centuries, it wasn't officially discovered until the 1850's in Chihuahua, Mexico, which is where the breed gets its name. Shortly after the Chihuahua was brought to America where they were bred with other small dog breeds to develop the long haired chihuahua.

As a companion dog breed, the chihuahua wants to be with their owners as much as possible. It is not uncommon for the breed to bond solely to one person (even if there are multiple owners in the family). This can cause a love-hate relationship with families who want an all round loving dog since the chihuahua can show favoritism to one person instead of the family as a whole. Today it's not uncommon to see people toting their chihuahuas around in small bags, even in places that generally don't allow dogs.

Chihuahuas are overly confident, which is amusing due to their small size. They are generally a well rounded dog breed, but can be timid if they aren't socialized properly at an early age. Their socialization is important and needs to include exposure to different people, animals, sounds, etc. to make sure they enter adulthood well rounded.

The breed is very alert, which makes chihuahuas an exceptional watch dog. Although training can help, they can develop a yappy behavior which can be unwelcome in homes with close neighbors.

Chihuahua Breed History

The Chihuahua's history is an extremely long and intriguing one. These dogs are a very ancient breed. Chihuahua ancestry is said to have descended from the Techichi, a larger dog that was around during the Mayan civilization. According to engravings on pottery dated to 300 BC, Techichis were believed to have been around at that time. One of the leading technical and engineering universities in Europe, Sweden's KTH Royal Institute of Technology, released their DNA test findings in 2013. The results confirmed the genetic heritage of the Chihuahua to the Techichi.

Archeological digs have revealed other toys and art throughout the region in a way that helps to track not just the dog's presence but the various historical events, such as the rise and fall of cities and the arrival of Hernan Cortés in the 16th century. This Spanish Conquistador noted that dogs similar to Chihuahuas were used as companions, food, ritual items and to aid in convalescing.

Long before the arrival of Europeans, the Chihuahua may have emerged between the 5th to the 9th century A.D. The Toltecs may have domesticated the Techichi and crossbred the animals with the Perro Chihuahueno, dogs that were found in the mountainous region of Chihuahua (and which became the basis for the breed's name). Historians believe the ruling class of the Aztecs used Chihuahuas for spiritual guidance in the afterlife. It is also thought that "lower classes" preferred these dogs primarily as food.

Closer to modern times, the Chihuahua was known as the Texas Dog as well as the Arizona Dog. In the states where they had their regional namesakes, they were used as herding dogs. This was in the 19th century before and even during the dog's eventual name of Chihuahua. In 1904, the American Kennel Club (KC) formally recognized the breed. One of the first (of four) recorded Chihuahuas in the AKC's stud book was named Midget.

Chihuahua Appearance

The Chihuahua is the smallest dog breed of all dogs. This doesn't mean all the dogs are smaller than any other dog, however. While the breed standards of the established kennel clubs cap the weight at 6 pounds, it's not uncommon to see these dogs be up to 10 pounds or slightly more. There is much controversy about the other end of the spectrum - tiny Chihuahuas — and that is discussed in the Variations section. Basically, these sturdy and proud little dogs are longer then they are tall.

The cute, apple face Chihuahua has a pointed snout and large, pyramid-shaped ears that visually balance out their spindly legs which end in very small feet. Their large, round Chihuahua eyes are not so much intense as simply watching and somewhat challenging. There is the occasional Chihuahua with overbite which can make them look a little goofy too. They have a tail that is medium in size and sickle-shaped. The hair on the tail varies according to whether the dog has a smooth coat or one with long hair.

The typical Chihuahua coat is short, smooth and slightly silky. There is not much to say about their coats that aren't already mentioned in the Variations section.

Chihuahua Coloring

The number of Chihuahua colors is seemingly endless. There are many common coat colors and patterns and then there is the extremely rare blue Chihuahua. The white Chihuahua is also rare, but the blue seems is the most highly sought.

Another rare color is the merle Chihuahua. Dogs with merle in their coat (or simply possessing the merle gene), are highly prone to hearing concerns (including deafness) as well as severe reproductive, heart and skeletal problems.

Below is a list of the colors that Chihuahuas come in. Because breeders will practically invent colors, and many coat colors will be by other names (for instance, the "blue" is known by about 35 other color names such as indigo, polo and azure), this is by no means a comprehensive list:

  • Red
  • Blue
  • Gold
  • Fawn
  • Cream
  • Black
  • White
  • Silver
  • Blue fawn
  • Chocolate
  • Blue and tan
  • Red and white
  • Black and tan
  • Black and red
  • Gold and white
  • Chocolate blue
  • Fawn and white
  • Blue and white
  • Cream and white
  • Black and white
  • Silver and white
  • Black and silver
  • Chocolate and tan
  • Black sabled fawn
  • Blue brindled fawn
  • Black sabled silver
  • Chocolate and white
  • Fawn brindled black
  • Chocolate sabled fawn
  • Chocolate brindled fawn

Chihuahua Size

A Chihuahua's weight is typically light. Consulting a Chihuahua weight chart will help you understand the nuances in their weight and how to cross-index them with their age and height. The big kennel clubs don't all agree with the size of a full grown Chihuahua, they do universally state that 6 pounds is the most a Chi should be. Typically, however, a Chihuahua weighs 4 to 6 pounds once fully grown — although there can be intentionally bred "teacup" Chis as little as 1 pound.

As for Chihuahua height, a mature Chihuahua stands from 6 to 9 inches tall.

Average Adult Height

6-9 in
*Height is measured in inches from the front paws to the top of the shoulder while the dog is standing on all four legs.

Average Adult Weight

3-6 lbs
*Height is measured in inches from the front paws to the top of the shoulder while the dog is standing on all four legs.

Chihuahua Variations

There are only two types of Chihuahua: the Long Coat and the Smooth Coat. The Smooth Coat Chihuahua is almost always called just "Chihuahua" and has a coat of short hair. The Long Coat Chihuahua is often called the Long-haired Chihuahua. Both varieties come in all colors (which are described in the "Coloring" section), and can also be intra bred to possibly make Chihuahuas with hair length between the two varieties.

Many people want a teacup Chihuahua, but there is no such thing per se. There are tiny Chis and there are runts. There are breeders looking to sell either of these at high prices and who label these very small Chihuahuas as a teacup, a Chihuahua mini, a Chihuahua toy or something similar. Both the AKC and the Chihuahua Club of America have published distinct statements about these non-varieties, however. To sum them up, both organizations flatly state there are only two varieties and that any other adjective — such as "toy," "mini," etc. — are not valid. To be sure, a Miniature Chihuahua is just a Chihuahua that is small — or smaller than normal.

Chihuahua Temperament

The Chihuahua temperament has a reputation that precedes them. They have the potential to be fierce little dogs that refuse to realize that the warrior spirit they developed during Mayan, Toltec and Aztec times is no longer in the bigger dog body of those periods! This will probably be obvious when you first see a Chihuahua, as they are proud and walk with their chest forward; they can be fearless and reckless if challenged.

To their masters, however, they tend to be loyal. While Chihuahua personalities can range from watchful to actively suspicious, they are very protective, will serve as excellent watchdogs, and will attempt to be guard dogs. They also usually let their owners dress them up in silly sweaters and take pictures of them for social media! (This is usually during the holidays when it's cold and the weather may serve as a good excuse to them.)

When it comes to Chihuahua behavior training, this can be difficult for most anyone. They are very smart dogs, they tend to be independent, and they can be high-strung. A lot of patience goes a long way when it comes to both Chihuahua temperament and training.

Chihuahua and Children

Having a Chihuahua family can be a challenge. These dogs prefer to have a single master and are good enough for a couple. When it comes to children, there can be problems. Most dog people will flat out say that Chihuahuas and children simply don't mix. If you are going to have kids and these dogs, a lot of very early and careful socialization and training is required. It won't be just the Chihuahua temperament with children, however, for the kids will also need to understand how to behave with and around them. Jealousy tends to be at the heart of this issue, and it can be expressed by barking, growling and biting. Kids need to know that being noisy, hyperactive or harsh with these dogs simply won't work. If they are to handle them in any way, they must also learn to do so very gently.

Chihuahua and Other Pets

If you are looking for dogs that get along with Chihuahuas, it's usually other Chihuahuas. When it comes to a Chihuahua with other dogs and most non-canine pets, however, this can be very frustrating. Early, constant and closely supervised socialization is the key to getting your Chi to get along with non-Chihuahuas. It may not be advisable to introduce a new pet to an adult Chihuahua.

Oddly enough, Chihuahuas tend to try to get along with cats and ferrets. The feeling may not be mutual — at first — but this can be worked out by doing things such as feeding them at the same time. Some people may wonder, Can Chihuahuas eat cat food? The answer is No. Chihuahuas tend to have very sensitive digestive systems, and they should have a particular diet to keep them healthy. Besides, eating kitty's food could end up with them being a snack themselves!

Chihuahua Photos

Below are pictures of the Chihuahua dog breed.

Chihuahua
Chihuahua
Chihuahua Dog Breed
Gold and White Chihuahua
Black and White Chihuahua
Long Haired Chihuahua, Chocolate Brindled Fawn Coloring

Living Requirements

Living with a Chihuahua may come with a number of comments about their barking, separation anxiety, and allergies. They may also be aloof toward friends of Chihuahua owners and perhaps even aggressive if they are particularly jealous or territorial.

Living with a Chihuahua may be challenging, but they are known to be adaptable as far as space. These dogs are good for small apartments, houses of modest size and large farms too. They do roam, however, so if they are normally allowed outdoors, they may need to be trained to return quickly when called. If left indoors and alone, however, separation anxiety can easily become an issue. Training them to understand that your exit and return are not excitable events can be frustrating. It's said that not paying attention to them for several minutes prior to leaving and again after coming home will help them to be calm.

Many people wonder, Is a Chihuahua hypoallergenic? They are not, but they tend to shed in varying degrees. Another question may be, Are long haired Chihuahuas hypoallergenic? They are not either, but they are no worse than other Chihuahuas. In fact, they tend to shed less despite having longer hair. How much either type sheds and whether your allergies are mild or bad may typically depend on the dog's diet, the climate, and the weather.

Random Details

The Chihuahua is one of those dogs that is becoming renowned the world over for placing frighteningly high in ugly dog contests. Ugly Chihuahuas seem to be a hoot to many Internet viewers, and there is a growing number of sites that offer annual ugly dog contests. There are also personal lists of dogs' photos with extremely buggy eyes, tongues that hang out, and teeth that seem to invent new directions.

If you are wondering what the world's ugliest Chihuahua looks like, you should be sure it's a Chihuahua. A former world champion for the world's ugliest dog contest, Sam the Crypt-Keeper, looks like a Chihuahua but is a registered Crested Chinese Dog. Still, there are a lot of Chis and Chi crosses that are on many of the lists out there as well as in newspaper stories.

Chihuahua Health

Chihuahuas have a fair amount of possible health problems, most of which are due to the dog's brachycephalic condition. You really have to be careful about the weather, climate and any significant environmental temperature changes lest this dog gets chills, heat stroke or worse. They are also small and very proud dogs that, if unsupervised around large dogs or lots of people, can behave in a way that invites injury.

Here is a list of health problems that Chihuahuas are prone to:

  • Obesity
  • Liver shunt
  • Corneal ulcers
  • Heart diseases
  • Bladder stones
  • Dental diseases
  • Luxating patella
  • Collapsing trachea
  • Legg-Perthes disease
  • Respiratory problems
  • Intolerance to heat and cold
Chihuahuas have an average life span of 15 to 20 years, which is longer than the typical small dog. In fact, it is the longest lifespan of any known dog breed.

  • Collapsed Trachea
  • Heart Murmurs
  • Hydrocephalus
  • Hypoglycemia
  • Open Fontanel
  • Patellar Luxation
  • Pulmonic Stenosis
  • Shivering

Chihuahua Breed Recognition

The following dog breed registries and organizations recognize the Chihuahua as a dog breed:
  • American Canine Registry
  • American Kennel Club
  • America's Pet Registry
  • Australian National Kennel Council
  • Canadian Kennel Club
  • Continental Kennel Club
  • Dog Registry of America Inc.
  • Federation Cynologique Internationale
  • Kennel Club of Great Britain
  • National Kennel Club
  • New Zealand Kennel Club
  • North American Purebred Registry, Inc.
  • United Kennel Club
  • American Canine Association, Inc.