/ / / Chihuahua 101: The Essential Guide

Chihuahua 101: The Essential Guide

OriginMexico
SizeSmall
Height           6 to 9 inches
Weight2 to 6 pounds
Life Expectancy12 – 20 years
Breed GroupToy Dog
Affection Level⭐⭐⭐
Friendliness⭐⭐⭐
Activity Level⭐⭐⭐
Barking/Howling Level⭐⭐
Pet Friendly⭐⭐
Kid-Friendly⭐⭐
Shedding
Easy to Groom⭐⭐⭐
Easy to Train⭐⭐

History

The origin of Chihuahua remains to be unclear to many. Two theories are explaining where this toy breed may have come from which is either from Central or South America or Mexico. The first theory is that Chihuahuas come from the Techichi dog which may be true due to a strong resemblance of the Chihuahua to this breed. Both dogs have large ears and round heads. If we dig deeper into the history of Central and South America, we are led to the Toltec civilization where we can find carvings from the 9th century that depict the existence of a dog that looks like the Chihuahua breed which was known to be the Techichi. When the Spanish have overtaken the Aztecs, Techichis unknowingly vanished.

The second theory is more popular to many especially for the people of Mexico. Since trading was essential back then, Spanish traders were believed to have brought small hairless dogs from China to Mexico and had them crossbred with small native dogs.

Photo from: lucylatitis (IG)

Whichever of the theories is true, the Chihuahua we know today has been recognized in the 1850s and is believed to have come from the Mexican state of Chihuahua from which its name has been taken from. The widespread popularity of this toy dog started when Americans brought this breed back home. A Chihuahua named Midget was the first to be registered with the well-known American Kennel Club (AKC) in 1904. The longhaired versions of this lap dog that we see today are mostly the result of crossbreeding the said breed with Pomeranians and Papillons. 

Presently, the Chihuahua ranks 11th among the 155 breeds recognized by the AKC. It is one of the most in-demand dogs all over the world. This is not a surprise, however, for who wouldn’t fall in love with this feisty dog?

Appearance

The appearance of the Chihuahua varies a lot based on several factors. However, generally, we have known the Chihuahua to have a longer body compared to its height. He is born with floppy ears which eventually grow erect once he turns into an adult dog. This breed may also come in two types based on head shapes:

Deer Head Chihuahua

Photo from: tiny.tapper (IG)

Apple Head Chihuahua

Photo from: frankie_de_stud (IG)

Their tail is shaped like a sickle and their eyes are usually dark brown. Other eye colors may include:

  • Light brown
  • Hazel
  • Green
  • Ruby

In extreme cases, Chihuahuas may have blue eyes which can be fascinating. However, this is considered a major fault in the show ring. Nevertheless, whatever eye color he has, it doesn’t make him undeserving of anyone’s love!

Also, for several years, breeders have done some work of altering the appearance of this toy breed for the pleasure of the public rather than passing the standard breed requirements. This led people into thinking that all different types of Chihuahuas are accepted by the kennel clubs.

Coat 

There are two acceptable types of coats for Chihuahuas and they can either be longhaired or short-haired. Despite the stark difference in the length of coat, show rings don’t prefer one over the other. They judge each dog based on quality. If it has a long coat, it must be full and thick and not thin. Both types are expected to have an alert, straight ears, a small nose, a moderate snout, and two expressive large eyes.

In addition, the short or smooth-coated Chihuahuas have shiny coats that stick close to the body. The hair on the neck is longer, thinner on the ears and head, and furry on the tail.

Photo from: pablothechii (IG)

The longhaired Chihuahua has a soft texture that is either flat or wavy. What sets it apart from the short-haired Chihuahua is that this one has a fringe on the ears and the hair on tail waves like a fan. Longer hairs can also be found on the hind legs, and the stomach known as a frill. 

Photo from: frankie_de_stud (IG)

Color

Chihuahuas never run out of one thing and that is colors! They have a wide variety of options you can choose from if you ever think of getting a Chihuahua. In fact, the AKC recognizes over 28 colors including combinations and 11 markings. Some include:

ColorMarkings
BlackSpotted On White
GoldWhite Markings
ChocolateBlack Brindling
CreamBlack Mask
FawnBlack Sabling
SilverMerle Markings

Take note that although merle is an AKC-recognized color, this is still discouraged. Other international registries have completely banned it. The reason behind this is due to several health problems associated with the merle gene.

Size And Weight

The Chihuahua is a naturally tiny dog with a height of 5 to 8 inches and a weight that must not exceed 6 pounds. Although they are already compact, backyard breeders are competing against each other to breed smaller dogs which is why we are hearing terms such as Miniature or Teacup Chihuahua. To fight this unethical breeding, responsible breeders use the terms as a reference to a healthy Chihuahua.

Photo from: mari_na0519 (IG)

Moreover, it is redundant to add “mini” or “teacup” on this toy breed as they are minute already! If your adult Chihuahua happens to weigh 3 pounds or less, he is most likely a teacup type. Although small dogs are cute in our sight, they are not safe from having serious health conditions. 

Temperament

Just by looking at this smallest dog breed, you will expect it to be comical, expressive, and quirky which is very much true. If we skip on this general perception and ask individuals regarding their experience with this toy breed, however, most might respond by saying how mean and nasty they are. Some won’t even hesitate to label them as “demonic” dogs. In some cases, they might be right.

Photo from: naomy_vosco (IG)

The nasty attitude of a Chihuahua is a result of breeding two parents who are bad-tempered. This is called genetic temperament. The undesirable nature of the Chi can be nurtured if the owner neglects to teach the dog with good manners. Hence why obedience training and socialization are very crucial in the early life stages of this tiny pooch.

Despite the potential bad traits of a Chihuahua, it is necessary to know that it always boils down to how the Chihuahua owner treats his pet. Also, this toy dog isn’t a body packed with bad traits. They have innate good qualities too just like any other dog breeds.

Affection

If there’s anyone who extremely loves quality time, it would be the Chihuahua! He enjoys being affectionate with his owner and would appreciate it if his love is returned. 

Photo from: coco_chihuahua2021 (IG)

Due to this nature, he may tend to be clingy and would follow wherever his owner goes. There may also be forming jealousy especially if this pooch has formed a deep level of trust and loyalty to his human. Some have shared that these little Chihuahuas would protect their owners from other pets or other family members. 

Chihuahua is the next word for “possessive”!

Friendliness

Due to his social nature, Chihuahuas get along very well with other pets in the family. Of course, you should remain cautious when mixing this dog breed with a larger dog. To avoid confrontations, it is highly preferred that the larger dog is gentle, kind, and calm. Chihuahuas tend to be bossy and they may not even realize it. If the larger dog is short-tempered, there is a possibility of a growing conflict between the two.

Photo from: monchan554 (IG)

The Chihuahua’s friendliness depends on how nicely trained he was in dealing with other dogs. They have to be raised to act that way at a very young age. In introducing him to another pet, reward both with some nice treats so they would have a common ground for food. 

When it comes to kids, even though Chihuahuas love warm hugs and cuddles, it is not advisable to let them play with children under eight years old. These dogs are delicate and need gentle handling. Small children can play rough and not realize that the dog is in pain or uncomfortable. 

Activity Level

Ironically, the short body of this dog carries a huge amount of energy which is at the same level as some medium or large-sized dogs! Although they frequently get hyper, the owner should do some assessment first and check what are the appropriate activities suitable for his dog based on age and health. 

Photo from: yuha0914 (IG)

Chihuahuas are known to be lap dogs due to their high need for affection. They can sit on your lap for long periods, but they also like being preoccupied with certain tasks every day. They love being productive!

Photo from: darlaandzola (IG)

This smallest breed is cheerful and always excited about doing fun things. You will see him running around inside the apartment, sniff anything it bumps into when you walk in the park or jump into his favorite toys. He has an endless reservoir of energy and a great thirst for adventure just like the Terrier.

Care

Taking care of this mini furry pet depends on your preferences. It has been a common norm, especially in Hollywood to accessorize dogs such as this fashion diva. Celebrities who are huge fans of this certain breed such as Paris Hilton and Sharon Osbourne go over the top by purchasing designer outfits for pets, jewelry, customized beds, and luxurious meals. 

Of course, you don’t have to do the same thing as them. Although this dog is seen to be of high maintenance, at the end of the day, this little pooch is the happiest and most satisfied when his needs are met. 

Grooming

Since the Chihuahua’s coat comes in two types, grooming care comes in two options. The short-coated Chihuahua sheds more but requires brushing at least once per week. Meanwhile, the long-coated variety sheds less but needs regular grooming and brushing which may take up to thrice per week. Thankfully, with its small size, this pooch isn’t hard to groom at all. You can even do this yourself at home!

Photo from: lolasdoggroomingsalon (IG)

Also, make sure that the products you use for regular baths are suitable for canines. They shouldn’t dry the skin nor damage the coat. Ideally, the Chihuahua’s coat is soft, glossy, shiny, and smooth. It is recommended that discarding excess undercoat must be done before bathing. When this step is over, you can let your Chi proceed to a preliminary bath for the sole purpose of taking off the dirt, debris, and oil. This is one way to enhance their coats and bring them back to their healthy and natural state.

The next step is to lightly condition their coats which is very beneficial for your pooch! Conditioning retains back the lost natural oils during the bath. This prevents static electricity making it more manageable to brush their coats.  

Food and Diet

Chi’s have a low tolerance to foods with chemicals and added preservatives. Whatever you feed them during snack or mealtime can bring a hugely significant change in their body or health either now or in the future. Despite being such a small dog, this dog is prone to obesity!

Photo from: dreamstagram35 (IG)

As a Chihuahua owner, you have to be watchful of your dog’s diet. Ensure that they have balanced meals rich in protein, essential carbs, and healthy fats. You may do a little experimenting until you see your chihuahua enjoy his meal without experiencing any stomach problems.

If you wish to change his food, don’t do so right away! It has to be gradual to not upset your toy dog’s belly unless the process needs to be done urgently. If not, you may follow the formula below:

Week one: ¾ old food + ¼ new food

Week two: ½ old food + ½ new food

Week three: ¼ old food + ¾ new food

Week four: Purely new food

Moreover, free access to food is advised if your Chihuahua weighs less than 2 pounds. Ensure that the food is refreshed as often as possible. Regarding the amount of food to be given, simply consider age and weight.

Exercise

This dog’s need for regular exercise means that the right owner is someone who is committed to accompanying his little dog for morning exercises and more. When Chihuahuas have lots of pent-up energy, they end up chewing furniture or stuffed toys. Avoiding this destructive behavior is easy as long as the pooch’s needs are met.

Photo from: abby.and.peanut (IG)

Chihuahua puppies are not advised to go out on public walks until they receive all of their puppy shots because they are extremely vulnerable to canine diseases at this point. You can let them exercise in your yard. Working out their bodies at a young age will help them enhance good physical health and aid their developing muscles. 

For as young as 4 to 8 months, a daily two walks of 15 to 20 minutes is recommended. For adults, one long walk per day will suffice. It should be no longer than 30 minutes. As for the senior Chihuahuas, the length of exercise depends on the vet’s advice as he might be experiencing health problems during this stage in life.

Training

Chihuahuas are intelligent and are trainable since they love attention and treats. Reward-based training works better for these types compared to correction-based training. Lots of Chi’s are competitive and they excel in dog sports. 

Photo from: lovely_kiara_ki (IG)

Although they don’t need to go out very often, their need for socialization mustn’t be neglected. This will hone them into becoming cheerful, and well-adjusted dogs who won’t overly get aggressive towards strangers, kids, and other dogs.

Lastly, on training, Chi’s are very vocal and they will bark anytime they feel like. They show human-like emotion and would require bark training. 

Health Problems

A poorly-bred Chihuahua is most likely to develop major concerns in health. Things will be worse if it is a teacup version so avoid getting one from backyard breeders at all costs! Since Chihuahuas are the smallest breed of dog, there are genetic predispositions your tiny furry pet may have:

  • Glaucoma
  • Pulmonic Stenosis
  • Cataract
  • Patellar Luxation
  • Reproductive Difficulties
  • Dental Disease
  • Hydrocephalus
Photo from: 3idiots_dogs (IG)

Chihuahuas need special care and attention. Once they are in pain or discomfort, bring him to your nearest vet right away for a proper and early diagnosis. Doing such can help your dog live a high-quality life in many years to come!

Pros and Cons of Having a Chihuahua

Positives

  • Compact and easy to carry
  • Varieties of colors and coat types to choose from
  • Very quirky and entertaining!
  • Doesn’t need much exercise
  • Loyal
  • Has a longer life span
  • Trainable
  • Excellent watchdogs

Negatives

  • Extremely fragile and needs monitoring
  • If he has bad parents, he can be yappy and have a nasty attitude
  • Prone to barking
  • Prone to serious health issues due to its size
  • The difficulty of protecting him and at the same time teaching him how to stand on his own

Do Kennel Clubs Recognize the Chihuahua?

Yes! The Chihuahua is even ranked at 33 out of 197 popular breeds according to AKC. However, teacup versions of this dog are not accepted. Moreover, by the standard in shows, a Chihuahua can be disqualified if he has the following physical characteristics:

  • Weighs over 6 pounds
  • Bobtail 
  • Cropped or broken ears
  • Bare or thinning hair for long coat Chihuahuas.

Cost

Knowing how massively popular this purse dog is, the cost of having one shouldn’t surprise you. Depending on the rarity of the color of Chihuahua you want to get, the price may go between $800-$1500 as a standard rate given by reputable breeders. If the dog has spots or fawns, the price will reasonably go lower. If you prefer adopting, shelters only charge up to $300 which sounds like a better deal!

Photo from: chocostagram_91 (IG)

If you want an overview of the general expense of having a Chihuahua on his entire lifespan, the estimated cost is over $17, 000.

Where to Adopt or Buy a Chihuahua

Consider looking into reputable websites where breeders of Chihuahuas are trusted and responsible. Below are truly worth-checking:

If you prefer adopting a Chihuahua rescue, guarantee you’ll have this tiny dog in your hands in no time! Here are a few of the shelters you may visit:

Chihuahuas may look intimidatingly elegant, however, these dogs only require basic intensive care and lots of love. They are perfect for cuddles during dark rainy days and are great walking companions during sunny days. Whether he comes from a reputable breeder or an adoption center, Chihuahuas don’t deserve anything less. If you think this dog is for you, prepare to have your life changed for the better!