The Chihuahua is an easy breed in many care respects. When it comes to caring for this breed, however, prevention is key. As puppies, they are small but are energetic; they may start out looking like a teacup, but they grow fast; and as a pup, they start tiny but eat a lot. They shed very little, they don't drool, and they can live anywhere — so long as they are cared for in a proper fashion. If you are willing to take the time to learning the best ways to raising these puppies as well as how to take care of a Chihuahua correctly, you will find these dogs are great pets. On this page, you'll find many Chi facts, tips, and advice to care for your dog.
The typical Chihuahua growth stages tend to be short, especially in their puppy stages. These dogs get to their adult size within months, and are typically fully mature by one year old. Taking into account how dog years are to people years, and that Chis have a long average lifespan, this breed's development stages and the rate they occur may seem to whiz by. Whether you are the person whose Chihuahua has a litter, or you are looking to adopt a Chi, the week by week supervision will keep you busy during the first several months.
|Dog Age||Development Milestone|
|1 week||Weight doubles since birth, but sleeping and feeding still takes up almost all their time|
|2 weeks||Eyes open, fully able to hear, attempts at walking|
|3 weeks||Newborn stage ends, and walking should be known|
|4-5 weeks||Weaning begins, and transition from mother's milk to solid food should be done carefully|
|6-7 weeks||Discovery begins in earnest along with the first big growth spurt|
|8 weeks||Weaning should be over, and puppies are typically ready for adoption|
|2-3 months||Socialization and training should start|
|3-4 months||Teething begins, and chew toys should be available|
|4-8 months||Puppies explore hierarchy, independence, and more as they have another growth spurt|
|8-12 months||Adolescence and sexual maturity|
|1 year||Adulthood and full size should be basically reached|
|1-1.5 years||May grow a little larger, primarily in chest area but less so in weight|
Understanding how much exercise does a Chihuahua need is essential. These are small dogs, but they need a decent amount of exercise. These are highly energetic dogs that come from two larger breeds (a very long time ago), and these "little" dogs still have a big idea about themselves. Exercise, however, shouldn't begin until they are about 5 months old and have had all their shots and basic obedience training. They may seem easy to manage while on a leash, but they are fearless dogs when faced with most any danger including much larger dogs.
Still, they are small dogs, and the significant size difference between them and you should be respected. Chihuahua exercise is best done as walking or trips to the small dog section of the local dog park. Jogging, running, and hiking are not recommended for the Chi. Here are some tips to keep in mind when taking your lovely little Chi out for a morning or evening stroll:
- Don't over-exercise
- If it is cold, they should have a dog sweater
- Be sure to use the opportunity of walking for further obedience training
- They should never be let off the leash, as they will chase squirrels, birds, cats and other animals
- If they are pups or out of shape, a walk should be no more than 15-20 minutes and at a slow pace
- If your Chi shows anxiety around cars, people, or other dogs, it's best to socialize slowly while exercising
If you aren't exercising your Chi enough, the dog's behavior and health will tell you this. Some signs are somewhat immediate while others build up over time. Some short-term effects of too little exercise are excessive barking and destroying things. If they are overweight, this means they really need to get out there — but not too much or too long! A dog in poor health needs to allow time to adjust to a workout as well as to lowly get back into shape to avoid injury.
Some good exercises for your Chihuahua are:
- Walking: A morning or evening jaunt at a brisk pace
- Running outside: If you have a secure yard and the weather is fair, let your Chi out for an hour or so
- Fetch: Indoors or out, a few minutes a few times a day can be a wonderful bonding experience
- Jumping: It may seem silly, but these dogs love to jump, and there are may ways and weights to add fun
- Chase: Get a rope or a squeaky toy on a string, and take off! This may last only a few minutes before boredom sets in, however.
For the most part, chihuahua exercise needs can be met with a short walk in the morning and some brief play later in the day. If you have a big home, they'll often explore it constantly, and if you have a large, securely fenced yard, they are almost sure to take care of themselves. Having a box of agility toys that are rotated so they don't get bored with them is recommended. All these things along with a proper diet can help reduce your Chi's need for a lot of exercise. Of course, early obedience training when walking and doing tricks should never be done without treats as rewards, and a bit of attention and happiness too. You should always strive to make the walk (or walks) at the same time, and never use a harness as this allows these bold doggies to control you.
When healthy and happy, your Chihuahua should not drool at all, and he should shed very little when he is not having his twice yearly coat blowout.
Chihuahuas don't typically drool, and they rarely slobber. If your lovely little Chi is drooling, there may be a problem. If the drool is foamy, they may have eaten something toxic, or they may be experiencing a seizure. If the drool is clear, it may be a dental problem, teething, or old age. If he is drooling while eating or drinking, it may be due to a dietary issue or recent over-exertion. On the other hand, puppies are also known to express momentarily excessive saliva if they experience a smell or taste they don't like. It's best to understand what kind of drool is a possible symptom for what ailment or growth characteristic.
Some people may think Chis don't shed at all, but that's only relative as they are light shedders even as they shed all year long. If they are shedding excessively during the summer or winter, or unevenly at any time, there is most likely a health problem. There is also a fair amount of difference between the amounts shed by long- and short-haired Chis as well as those with single coats as compared to those with double-coats. These combinations are all interchangeable, and they may not shed as you expect. A double-coated, short-haired Chihuahua will actually shed less than a long-haired Chi with a single coat. In any case, springtime is perhaps the heaviest time that all Chihuahuas shed as they get rid of their winter coats. If you are curious to know how to stop Chihuahua from shedding or where you can get a non-shedding Chihuahua, it may be that getting a Chi is not in your best interest.
Chihuahuas are tiny puppies that grow up to be small dogs, and yet they grow to full size quickly. Most breeders and vets recommend they be free-fed until 2-3 months old, but there are those who say they should be fed frequently throughout the day with small amounts. However you choose to feed your Chi, a lot of people recommend Royal Canin Chihuahua food. When planning how much to feed yours, you should consider your budget, the dog's birth weight and growing rate, and the amount of exercise they get. These dogs tend to not eat as much as you might imagine. Early restrictions that limit too much the portions of food might affect them later in life. Below are some general guidelines for feeding your Chi, starting with amounts for those who decide to not free-feed their puppies:
|Dog Age||Dog Weight||Food Type||Amount||Frequency|
|6 weeks||0.5-2 lbs||moistened dry||1/10th cup||5 times/day|
|12 weeks||1-4 lbs||moistened dry||1/10th cup||4 times/day|
|6 months||3-5 lbs||dry/wet||1/2 cup||3 times/day|
|1 year||3-7 lbs||dry/wet||1/2 cup||2 times/day|
Many people are familiar with the fat Chihuahua, and while they are cute and sometimes called Chiwawas due to their fatness, they are not healthy. To avoid this, you might consider a raw food diet, whether professionally prepared or homemade. You will want to make sure to also avoid giving them food you eat or cook as well as cheap commercial dog food. The corn filler in most cheap foods (human and dog) is not at all good for your Chi, and chocolate for any and all dogs is a no-no. As adults, the amount of food, as well as the times they are fed, should be restricted, however, as these dogs are known to become obese. It's very easy to tell if these little dogs are getting overweight, especially the short-haired ones. If you have a long-haired Chi, you should learn how to tell if he is obese by feeling his ribs.
Although many people do not completely agree on what exactly is the best diet for Chihuahuas, all the experts agree that cheap commercial dog food is certainly not good. Of the two basic diets that are said to be the best dog food for Chihuahuas, however, are certain high-quality dog foods, such as Orijen, and the raw food diet, whether store-bought or home-made. Even if you opt for store-bought dry food, at least three of those first five ingredients should be protein. A cheap food brand is just that: cheap.
Of course, the best food for a Chihuahua puppy is very different from what they will eat as an adult. Chi puppies grow quickly, and they need more calories per day than they do as adults. Typically, 50 calories per pound per day for Chihuahua puppies is recommended. As adults, it should only be about 35 calories per pound per day.
Hands down, the Chihuahua is an indoor dog that nevertheless needs a decent amount of outdoor exercise. These dogs are highly intolerant to extreme weather, whether winter or a cold climate. They need to be dressed properly for cold weather such as coats. When outside in hot weather, they need shade, water, and ample rest. They are adaptable to most any indoor home, from apartment living to a sprawling mansion, but they always need outside activity to help burn off the historically remarkable amount of energy they possess.