While the origins of this dog are steeped in mystery, the Chihuahua has quickly risen in popularity. It is the smallest breed of dog recognized within the Toy breeds, but holds a large personality and is highly intelligent. Chihuahuas are graceful, alert, and swift-moving with a saucy expression. Chihuahuas have ranked consistently in the top ten for popularity and leads the Toy Group in championships attained each year according to the American Kennel Club™.
Chihuahuas stand 6 to 10 inches tall at the shoulders and generally weigh about 2 to 8 pounds. Due to ancient breeding, Chihuahuas come in short and long coat varieties in coloration ranging from solid to spotted black, white, red, cream, chocolate, or tan. Chihuahuas maintain a bold expression, showing their somewhat aggressive nature.
Chihuahuas are known to attach to one family member. In doing so, it acts as companion, shadow, and guardian: despite its small size, Chihuahua are quick to bark at strangers and other dogs. Chihuahuas can grow jealous if you pay attention to someone else or another pet. A Chihuahua is happiest when close to and pampered by you. One note of caution is that Chihuahua can be aggressive towards a child if the child plays roughly. They can be notoriously difficult to housebreak.
The origin of Chihuahuas is a mystery. One popular theory suggests that it was native to China, brought to the New World by Spanish traders. There, it was crossed with native dogs to produce the modern Chihuahua. Another popular theory is that the breed originated entirely from Central and South America as a descendant of the native Techichi. In either case, modern Chihuahua are quite different from their early ancestors. Due to the influence of American Breeders, today’s Chihuahuas are some of the smallest, most alert, and intelligent of Toys.
Shorthair Chihuahuas require minimal grooming, while those with long coats will require semi-frequent brushing every week. Their energetic personalities can benefit from some time spent in the outdoors, including short walks. However, the Chihuahua dislikes the cold and should opt to stay indoors or wear pet clothing during the colder months. Chihuahuas have a soft spot in the center of the head (called a molera) that should be protected.
Chihuahua do not have any major concerns, but it is recommended that their cardiac and knee are tested for pulmonic stenosis, hydrocephalus, patellar luxation, KCS, and hypoglycemia. The Chihuahua’s average lifespan is 14 to 18 years.
- Pulmonic Stenosis: a congenital heart condition that can lead to heart failure.
- Hydrocephalus: a condition where excess fluid is found in or around the brain.
- Patellar Luxation: a condition where the knee cap moves out of position momentarily, can lead to lameness.
- Keratoconjunctivitis sicca (KCS): inadequate tear production that can lead to more serious eye infections.
- Hypoglycemia: Low blood sugar, can lead to lack of energy or may be a symptom of a more serious condition.
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