The Chihuahua dog breed is an extremely popular member of the toy group. Arguably, this Mexican toy dog is the smallest of toy breeds. Even though they are small in size, they are quite big in personality and manner. These dogs make excellent house pets as they become very loyal and attached to their family. Even people who stay in small apartments can keep these dogs without feeling cramped.
The Chihuahua dog breed originated in Mexico, probably from a companion dog of the Toltecs called Techichi. The breed gets its name from the Chihuahua region in Mexico where the remains of a similar dog was found among the Casas Grandes ruins there.
Wheeled dog toys dating as far back as 100 AD have been found to feature ‘deer head’ Chihuahuas and ‘apple head’ Chihuahuas. There are several evidences of this dog breed existing in the early centuries. They were depicted on pots found in 14th century archeological sites, and in a letter dated 1520 AD, there’s a mention of these dogs being sold as food by the Aztecs.
The Chihuahua dog breed has always enjoyed popularity in the American continents, and the American Kennel Club officially recognized the breed in 1904.
The dog usually measures just 6 to 9 inches, even though some are as tall as 12 to 15 inches. Puppies of the same litter may achieve different sizes as adults. Chihuahuas shouldn’t weigh more than 6 pounds as per the breed standards, but many house pets weigh much more due to obesity. The eyes and ears are large and prominent and the skull has a typical rounded shape.
Chihuahuas come in two types according to the length of their coat. Both the short-haired and log-haired dogs are small in size and similar in other respects. There’s another distinction based on the shape of the head as ‘deer head’ Chihuahuas and ‘apple head’ Chihuahuas. The color and pattern of the coat may vary widely, with almost every color from white, cream and fawn to brown, chocolate and black finding representation in patches, speckles, spots or even solid color coats.
Most Chihuahuas are bold and daring, but some are shy and easily intimidated. They are not exactly friendly to other dogs except to other Chihuahuas and similar breeds. They are not very tolerant of the rough play of small children; hence this is not a breed for households with young children. Older children can learn to live with these dogs which often become more attached to one chosen member of the family.
These tiny dogs are known to be temperamental, especially if their owners are temperamental too. A well-balanced treatment can make the dogs evenly tempered. They have a denning habit; you’ll see them burying into bed covers and closets. They like to eat constantly, which results in obesity and related health problems in these dogs.
Grooming and exercise
Chihuahua dog breed does not require elaborate grooming. The short-haired type needs only a light brushing once a week. The long-haired ones may do well with a thorough brushing once or twice a week.
Chihuahuas are lively little dogs, and they need some exercise every day to stay happy and healthy. But the advantage with this toy breed is that they can get enough exercise by running around the house all day. Even the space inside a city apartment is sufficient ground for this dog. However, they benefit from walking and playing outdoors. These little dogs are inquisitive, and they love to explore everything outside.
The Chihuahua breed is meant to be kept indoors, and they always look for warm and cozy corners and sheltered nooks in the house. However, a few hours in the yard should be fine as long it is warm and sunny outside. These dogs cannot tolerate cold, and need winter protection if they are taken outside during the cold season.
Common health issues of Chihuahua dog breed
The Chihuahua dog breed is known for its particularly long lifespan, often extending up to 20 years. Most dogs live above 16 years. Even though this breed generally remains healthy throughout, regular health checkups will help identify and treat potential problems.
The breed is not known to have any major medical problems except a congenital condition called hydrocephaly, but the prognosis of puppies born with this condition is poor. Another similar, but harmless condition is the mollera, or soft spot, resulting from the incomplete closure of the skull in newborn puppies. These dogs are known to have dental problems and eye ailments more frequently. Cardiac disorders are also seen in them. Patellar luxation and hypoglycemia are a few of the other problems occurring in this breed.