Dogs are man’s best friend, and if you’re looking for a dog from certified breeders, pet shops, or in animal shelters, you’ll want to be careful about the type of dog you’re getting. Because of dogs’ various sizes, coats of hair, and body differences, adopting a big dog is different from adopting a small dog. You’ll have to consider all their needs and maintenance requirements if you want to avoid sending your dog to the shelter when you realize you’re incapable of providing its needs.
If your home is pressed for space, your daily free time is limited, and you want a furry friend you can bring almost anywhere, the Chihuahua is your best bet. One of the smallest breeds in the book, this South American-based breed is perfect for people looking for small, low-maintenance pets that can still be a faithful and friendly companion.
Chihuahuas: An Overview
Chihuahuas are those dogs you will typically find sitting in someone’s bag. That’s because they are one of the smallest dog breeds in the world, usually weighing less than three kilograms or six pounds and with a height of up to eight inches. This makes them one of the most portable dogs, ranking 30 out of 193 in the American Kennel Club. A Chihuahua lives for as long as 14 to 16 years, though it’s possible for them to live longer.
Chihuahuas are the national symbol of Mexico, but Chihuahuas most likely existed all over the Americas since the earlier periods. Archaeologists found artifacts from lost civilizations resembling Chihuahuas. Originally, when the Toltecs ruled Mexico, they bred Techichi, larger and heavier versions of Chihuahuas. But when the Aztecs conquered in the 12th century, they bred Techichis into smaller, lighter versions.
By the mid-1800s, the Aztecs were lost, but the early Americans were interested in the Techichi, which by then were plenty in the State of Chihuahuas. Since then, they were officially known as Chihuahuas by 1908.
Chihuahuas are clannish, meaning they prefer companions of their own breed compared to other dogs or any other pet. Despite their bad reputation for being a yapping small dog, they’re very charming and loyal. They’re very protective of their human family members, and can be even more aggressive to intruders compared to larger dogs.
Don’t be fooled by a Chihuahua’s size; despite their loyalty and charm, if left untrained, they will act like they own your home. However, they’re very low-maintenance, so once you’ve trained them, it will be much easier living with your pet.
Chihuahuas are very small and can have either a long or a smooth coat. Long-coated Chihuahuas have a soft, flat or slightly wavy texture (and can sometimes resemble bareness), while smooth coats are close and glossy. The coat on their ears are fringed while their tale is long and full.
Chihuahuas have an “apple dome” skill with full, round, luminous eyes. Their ears are erect, but becomes straighter or flares to the sides when sensing various emotions
Deer-legged or deer-head Chihuahuas are a cousin of the Chihuahuas we know today. They’re not registered in the American Kennel Club and are considered a Chihuahua as well, but they’re in the same league as teacup dogs and other genetically different breeds.
A deer-legged Chihuahua is the result of mixing a Chihuahua with an animal with a longer snout. The result is a Chihuahua with a longer head and a longer set of legs similar to that of a deer. While they still look like Chihuahuas, they’re slightly bigger and have a temperament that’s just the same as a regular Chihuahua.
Because it is difficult to play with genetics, it’s possible that a non-purebred Chihuahua can give birth to both deer-headed Chihuahua and regular Chihuahuas. This is just one example of a special breed of Chihuahua, and getting these special types will also affect their general health and temperament.
Caring for a Chihuahua
Because of their size, Chihuahuas are good for apartments, condominiums, or places with limited space. They’re very small, so their walking around the house can be adequate for their health, especially if you don’t live in an area where walking the dog is always possible. These are great city pets, but may be too small to handle children who want to play with them. They may also get cold in the winter, so while you may want to avoid letting them out, they can adapt well indoors.
Chihuahuas are prone to getting overweight, so while they can have one or two treats for training, giving too many can help them develop obesity. Avoid giving them human food, including scraps, especially cooked bones and food with fatty content.
Grooming is relatively low maintenance compared to the average dog breed and only requires an occasional bath or brush. Chihuahuas with longer hair need brushing at least once a week to avoid tangles. Like all dogs, their nails must be trimmed, their teeth brushed, and their ears cleaned. They don’t shed as much, although expect a few stray hairs from them when they play.
While they would appreciate a walk around the neighborhood, because of their small size, a small apartment has enough space for them to exercise. If you want to walk them outdoors, walk slowly and don’t overexert your Chihuahua. You’ll know they’re tired if they’re panting heavily and finds it harder to keep up with your pace. Because of their size, it’s easy to carry them back home once they’re tired.
Chihuahuas are very alert and can easily pick up on what you want them to do. However, they’re a bit of a spoiled breed and can be a bit stubborn and independent and won’t accept their owner as the person in charge until they’re properly trained. If they pee on the furniture, jump on the sofa, or scratch the tables, you need to let them know that their actions aren’t okay. If trained properly, they can excel in other sports and obedience training.
Choosing a Chihuahua
When looking for a Chihuahua in a pet shop, from a breeder, or from your local dog shelter, it’s important to check out all your options before choosing one. First, check if the dog is male or female. Male Chihuahuas are more loyal and affectionate than their female counterpart, but unless you spay them, they’re more likely to assert their dominance and mark their territory by peeing all over the furniture.
Female Chihuahuas can also be loyal, but they’re calmer and less playful, which can be an important trait if you live in a very small space. They would rather be indoors on your lap than play outside. However, their heat cycle begins as early as six months old, during which time they can already get pregnant. If you want to neuter your dogs, talk to your veterinarian first. We don’t recommend getting them neutered before their first heat cycle.
If you want to give a home to a Chihuahua in a shelter or pet shop that clearly needs a family, just make sure they have the appropriate shots needed to be healthy. But if you want to make sure they’re healthy before purchasing (and reduce possible medicine and veterinarian costs), check for signs of their health.
Run your fingers through a Chihuahua’s coat to check for fleas, ticks, tangles. Their coat should be clean and shiny. Healthy Chihuahuas should be playful and responsive, with no mucus on their face.
While Chihuahua behavior ranges, their overall temperament should be active and playful, especially puppies. Because their behavior varies greatly, choose one that appears less likely to cause trouble. If you want a calmer one, avoid the ones that are aggressive and appear to have an offensive stance.
Before getting a Chihuahua or any other dog breed, it’s always important to do your research and see if a specific breed is a good fit for your living situation. A dog is not a temporary gift; most dogs can live as long as 15 years, so expect that this will be an additional member of your family that you need to care for. Otherwise, if you decide to get a dog that doesn’t suit you, you may be tempted to abandon your dog or send them to the shelter.