Chihuahua is unarguably one of the friendliest dogs in the world. This dog breed is known to be very agile and loyal, due to these characteristics, it is recommended as a watchdog. Although Chihuahuas are small in stature they have got a huge personality. These dogs are a great friend and protector. Their coats appear in different patterns and colors which give them a beautiful look.
These dogs have a very funny face due to their apple-shaped head and short muzzle. If you need a great companion, Chihuahuas are a great option. If these dogs are well-trained and socialized, they exhibit good behavior.
Chihuahuas are great dogs that can bond very well with human beings. These dogs are great attention seekers as they love to be cared for. This dog breed is considered as the smallest dog in the world according to some kennel clubs. Chihuahuas are very affectionate and intelligent. It’s important to understand the characteristics of this dog breed when keeping one as a pet. We shall be discussing the characteristics of this dog breed below.
What is the History/Origin of Chihuahuas
The history of Chihuahua is a bit complicated as many theories explained the origin of this breed. According to archaeological and folklore, this dog breed is believed to have originated from Mexico. However, the most popular theory is that Chihuahuas descended from a dog called Techichi, a South or Central American dog.
Chihuahuas are known to be North America’s oldest dog breed. Although there have been no records of Techichi, there are dogs from Colima, Mexico known to depict Techichis. In the mid 19th century, the modern Chihuahua was discovered in Mexico. The Chihuahua was named after a state in Mexico. According to some experts, the Incas or Aztecs this dog breed while others traced it to Spanish dogs. History recorded that the Aztecs took hold of the Techichi when they conquered the Toltecs.
According to the Aztecs, the Techichis were powerful, they could see the future, guide dead souls to the underworld, and they could heal the sick. The Techichi was also used as a source of food. However, this dog became obscure after the Aztecs were conquered by the Spanish in the late 16th century. Another theory reveals that the Spanish traders brought the small hairless dogs from China to Mexico and they were bred with some native dogs.
According to the information obtained from the Chihuahua Club of Victoria, it was revealed that the first four Chihuahuas that came into Australia occurred in 1955. It is from these four that the establishment of the famous breeding line (Chicdale) came to be. The Chihuahua club of South Australia revealed that the very first female Chihuahua was owned by Mrs R Truscott in the year 1958.
According to some Kennel clubs, the Chihuahua is regarded as the world’s smallest dog. This dog weighs as low as 1kg and rarely weighs over 3kg. These dogs are prone to obesity, a major reason you can see an oversized Chihuahua weighing about 5.4 kg. When Chihuahuas stand, they are only about 12.7 cm high.
The height of a Chihuahua ranges between 15 and 23 cm. According to the American and British breed standards, a Chihuahua shouldn’t weigh above 2.7 kg. Chihuahuas bred for companionship always weigh above this range, they can weigh above 5kg if they are fed to become overweight. Chihuahuas that are used for the show ring shouldn’t exceed 3kg.
The Chihuahua is known to have one of the greatest personalities in the canine family. Although these dogs are small in size, they have a great personality. Chihuahuas are very brave, confident, obedient, loyal, and affectionate. If this dog breed is well-trained, it can live among human beings with peace. Due to their small size, they could be very vulnerable to attacks and injuries from bigger animals.
Chihuahuas are fast learners; they get to understand basic commands easily when positive reinforcement is used. The personality of a Chihuahua reflects that of its owner. This dog tends to display his characters based on how it is trained. When this small dog breed is shown love and care, it would be friendly and loyal to his master. He can be loyal to a fault, making him become over-protective.
Chihuahuas can become easily provoked to attack, which makes them not a good pet for households with little children. They are only ideal for households with older children. These lovely dogs are very energetic and eager to make friends with people if you introduce them properly. One amazing thing about Chihuahuas is that they don’t feel intimidated by their size, despite their size, they have got endearing qualities. These dogs are also very playful and are a great companion to their owner(s).
When they are treated properly and respectfully, they tend to be loyal and friendly. However, Chihuahuas have the habit of snapping at little children or strangers that may appear threatening to them. These agile dogs are great attention seekers and they love being occupied. Although these dogs have a great personality, they have got some character flaws.
According to a study, it was revealed that Chihuahuas are prone to aggression. This aggression can result in barking, snapping, and even attacking strangers. However, this behavior can be curbed if your Chihuahua is properly trained and socialized from puppyhood. Proper socialization influences positive behavior in Chihuahua.
Most dogs have some major health issues; the Chihuahua is not excluded from this list. Before owning a Chihuahua, it is advisable you learn more about their health. Chihuahuas suffer from some common health problems like hypoglycemia, patter luxation, obesity, ear infection, eye infection, etc. They can also suffer from hydrocephalus, which can only be diagnosed by a veterinarian.
If your breeder is responsible enough, he/she might provide you with the necessary health details about your pet. Some health problems experienced by Chihuahuas are as a result of genetic composition. However, not all Chihuahuas suffer from these diseases. It is very important you vaccinate your puppy and regular visitation to a veterinarian should be encouraged. Some major health concerns of Chihuahuas are discussed below.
Hypoglycemia is a scientific word that describes low blood sugar. This health concern is commonly associated with Chihuahua dog breed since this dog is originally bred to be small. They have a small body mass, which makes it difficult to store enough sugar in the body. Chihuahuas are at great risk of hypoglycemia. Hypoglycemia is a common health issue experienced by toy puppies since they have no fat reserves to supply enough glucose when stressed.
Hypoglycemia can be easily treated at an early stage but can become critical if it is left untreated. This health condition can be misdiagnosed since the signs and symptoms are similar to viral hepatitis. A puppy suffering from hypoglycemia will become inactive and restless. If such happens, put some honey under your pet’s tongue and take him to the veterinarian. In worse cases, hypoglycemia can lead to convulsion and then death.
This is one common medical condition that affects Chihuahuas; it is also called slipped stifles. Since Chihuahuas are small in size, they are more likely to suffer from this disease. Patellar Luxation is caused by an improper line up of the patella. The patella consists of the tibia (calf), femur (thigh bone), and Patella (Knee cap). The kneecap shifts out of its normal position, resulting in lameness in the leg.
Patellar Luxation is categorized into two different groups- medical and lateral. Chihuahuas who suffer from lateral patellar luxation have their shift out to the sides, while the kneecap of Chihuahuas who suffer from the medical type slip towards their body. Chihuahuas suffering from Patellar Luxation may experience extreme discomfort and pain. They may feel pain anytime the kneecap locks up. This health condition can be treated via surgery, depending on how severe the condition is.
Hydrocephalus is a health condition caused by the build-up of cerebrospinal fluid in the skull of a dog; this puts pressure on the brain. This condition can cause death or permanent brain damage; it is commonly experienced by small dog breeds. If hydrocephalus isn’t severe, it can be treated with medication. This condition can be congenital, which means it was present at birth.
The symptoms of this health condition may be difficult to diagnose since some dogs don’t show any. Some of the signs of hydrocephalus are wide-set eyes, difficulty in eating, disorientation, domed skull, restlessness, loss of coordination, head pressing, excessive tiredness, seizures, blindness, dementia, compulsive circling, irregular breathing, slow growth, and unusual gait. If this condition is severe, it can be treated via surgery.
At birth, the Chihuahua has a soft spot on his head. As he grows, this soft spot closes, but in some cases, it might not close completely. It is very important you treat this dog with care as any blow to the head can lead to death. Open fontanel is as a result of unclosed holes in the skull, which are expected to close fully around 9 or 12 weeks of age.
The signs of this health condition are lack of coordination, eyes directed upwards or downwards, holes in the skull, blindness, and head pressing. To get a permanent solution, this condition should be treated through surgery.
A heart murmur is a health condition that is often caused by ‘mitral insufficiency. This health condition is often diagnosed with a stethoscope. The veterinarian listens to the heartbeat of your dog to know where the murmur is coming from. The clinical signs of this heart disease include; fatigue, lack of energy, irregular heartbeat, loss of appetite, excessive panting, fainting, persistent cough, and racing pulse.
There are three types of heart murmurs, this could be diastolic, continuous, and systolic. Heart Murmur can be treated by exercise restrictions, changes in diet, and medications. Different tests like echocardiogram, chest X-rays, blood, and urine tests can be carried out to know the underlying cause of this disease.
The Chihuahua is a very active dog that loves to engage in exercise. Although this dog is small in size, he requires enough exercise and training. Taking good care of your Chihuahua involves proper diet and good exercise. Chihuahuas enjoy taking some walks, chasing small animals, and jumping around. These agile dogs need to be well-monitored as they may get easily tired.
As much as this dog breed loves playing outdoors, he shouldn’t be left outside as he isn’t safe from larger animals. Chihuahuas are best kept in the home and not outside the home. To get the best out of a Chihuahua, it is important you train him. This dog is trainable since he is very eager to learn. It is advisable you train your Chihuahua from puppyhood.
Socialization is another important aspect of training. Chihuahuas that are properly socialized tend to behave well around people, they don’t easily get frightened. Housetraining a Chihuahua is very easy when you start early, you can teach your pet some basic commands. Take time to go out with your Chihuahua so that he can get used to meeting new people. These dogs can easily adapt to any environment they find themselves, making them a perfect option for people who often go out.
Potty training your Chihuahua is also very important, you need to make him understand that defecating inside the home is wrong; it needs to be done outside. If your pet messes up the house with excreta, clean it up, and tell him not to do it again. To Potty train your dog, take him outside regularly, and show him the potty system. Chihuahuas can be very hostile with strangers; therefore, it is necessary to train them on how to behave around strangers.
Chihuahuas can be trained to obey some basic commands in just a few weeks. Using positive reinforcement makes training a Chihuahua very easy. You can use praise, food, and play to encourage positive behaviors from your dog.
Although Chihuahuas are very small in size, they need enough food to stay active. These dogs require the right proportion of nutrients to keep them healthy. Your Chihuahua’s overall health reflects what he feeds on. When your dog is fed properly, he will remain healthy and active all the time. However, whatever you feed a Chihuahua depends on his age, activity, size, and health.
Seeking a veterinarian’s advice on what to feed your Chihuahua is very important. Ensure you feed him with a high-quality diet that will enhance the growth and development of some vital organs in the body. You can feed your Chihuahua with commercial food or a homemade diet. A good amount of high-quality dry food is recommended for Chihuahuas.
When feeding your Chihuahua with a homemade diet, ensure you check the ingredients you would be using. Meals like beef, lamb, and chicken should be served to your pet. About 5% of fat will be required in an adult Chihuahua’s diet. Ensure your dog isn’t fed diets that contain a high level of fat as this might cause obesity. Fish oil is the best source of fat for Chihuahuas.
Generally, dogs shouldn’t be fed some human foods as this can be harmful to their health; the Chihuahua is not an exemption to this. Avoid feeding your Chihuahua with human food such as caffeine, grapes, chocolate, onions, raisins, dairy products, garlic, and nutmeg. Chihuahuas shouldn’t be fed too much salt as this can cause heart or kidney problems.
Chihuahuas weighing below 1.5kg with a good bone structure require food every four hours while those that weigh around 1.5 to 2kg require food three times daily. Chihuahuas weighing above 2kg with a solid bone structure require food two times daily. Overall, avoid overfeeding your Chihuahua as he might become obese.
The best dog foods for Chihuahuas include:
Grooming your Chihuahua is very important. This dog breed has different coat types, which are long and smooth. Chihuahuas with long coats have a curly or flat soft coat, while the smooth-coated one features a smooth and shiny coat. Chihuahuas have different colors, which could be white, fawn, chocolate, silver, and gray. They can also come in different color combinations such as blue with tan, chocolate and black, etc.
Chihuahuas require regular grooming to keep them good looking. Grooming these dogs will only take some minutes every week. When bathing your Chihuahua, use lukewarm water and dog shampoo. Avoid using human shampoo as this can make their skin itchy. After bathing your Chihuahua, ensure you use a towel to dry out his body. Chihuahuas need to be bathed once in a month.
Chihuahuas are prone to dental disease, a major reason you should care for their teeth. Brush your dog’s teeth regularly and ensure you use toothpaste and brush recommended for dogs. Teeth brushing should be encouraged at an early age so that he will get used to it. Irregular teeth brushing can cause teeth infection and decay. This infection can spread to other parts of the body like the lungs and heart.
Check out for any wax or odor in your dog’s ear. When grooming a Chihuahua, the ear should be cleaned properly to avoid infection. Use a cotton ball and a cleanser to clean his ear. When doing this, you need to be very careful to avoid touching some delicate areas in the ear. Use a clean soft cloth to wipe out any discharge around your Chihuahua’s eyes.
Another important part of the body that needs to be groomed is the nail. Chihuahuas’ nails grow faster, therefore, it is important to trim these nails often. Brush your dog’s hair more often to keep the coat shiny. You can occasionally check for any signs of infections like inflammation of the skin, redness, and sores in the eyes, nose, and mouth.
When grooming a Chihuahua you will need some tools to make work easier for you. These tools are listed below.
Chihuahuas are known to be a great companion; however, these dogs shouldn’t be left alone with children. Leaving a Chihuahua in the hands of a child can be a great disaster. Since this dog is very small, they can slip out of a child’s hand when not properly held. If such happens, this dog might attack the child since he feels mistreated.
Chihuahuas are best bred in homes with older children. Older children are more likely to interact with Chihuahuas with care and caution. If Chihuahuas are properly treated, they can be very friendly with children, but these dogs are prone to attack when they feel threatened. It is advisable to teach children how to interact with these dogs to avoid any disaster.
If you intend to breed a Chihuahua in a household with children, a proper introduction is necessary. Ensure your Chihuahua gets exposed to children from puppyhood. Chihuahuas relate quite well with other pets like cats if they are properly introduced.
There are some breed organizations for Chihuahuas founded in Australia. This platform is devoted to providing more information about Chihuahuas. Potential buyers and pet parents can always visit this website to learn more. Below are Australian breed organizations for Chihuahuas:
Lethbridge Park, Sydney NSW
South Burnett, QLD
Beenleigh, Brisbane, QLD
Some pet owners purchase Chihuahuas without having a proper understanding of what it takes to own one, and such dogs end up in rescue groups waiting to be adopted or fostered. While some Chihuahuas are taken to a rescue group since their owners are dead or divorced.
There are several benefits you tend to enjoy when you adopt an adult Chihuahua. Most times, adult Chihuahuas are already trained to obey some basic commands. Adopting an adult Chihuahua is a great idea as you would have a great companion. Australia has got some rescue groups for Chihuahuas.
The Chihuahua is a great companion dog, this dog has got some lovely qualities that make it unique. This small adorable pet is known to be very obedient when properly trained. Although these dogs are small in size, they have got an astounding personality. Like other dogs, these dogs require care and attention.