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Due to its small size, the Chihuahua is the most famous ‘handbag accessory’ toted around by high-profile celebrities such as Paris Hilton. Chihuahua weighs 4–6 pounds and stands 15–23 centimetres. Its coat is easy to maintain because of minimal shedding. But despite its size, the Chihuahua is a feisty breed prone to snapping, nipping, and biting when defending its territory. On the other hand, it is a loyal and comical dog with unmatched entertaining personality.
Are you thinking of getting a Chihuahua? Here is a brief background of the world’s smallest dog breed.
There are various theories regarding the history of the Chihuahua. One of the most popular is that the breed descended from the ancient Techichi dogs that lived during the Toltec civilisation. The second theory is that it descended from hairless dogs found in China.
The modern Chihuahua breed that we know today came from the small dogs in the 1850 from the state of Chihuahua, Mexico. The breed was sold by Mexican merchants and brought to the USA. The breed was also called Texas dog, Arizona dog, and Mexico dog.
The Chihuahua is a small and dainty dog that weighs 4 to 6 pounds and stands 15–23 centimetres. A pet Chihuahua can be oversize with some reaching up to 10–12 pounds, which can be a better choice for families with children. However, for show purposes, the smaller kind is preferred. It is known for its large, round eyes, large, erect ears, and an apple-dome head.
The Chihuahua comes in two varieties: the long-coated and short-haired. They are basically the same breed with different hair length. The long-haired Chihuahua has a smoother texture and fluffier appearance, whilst the short-haired kind can range from having a velvety to a bristly texture. Both require minimal grooming and no trimming, with the long-haired variety shedding less. It can take up to three years before a full long-haired coat grows. All colours and combinations are accepted by the Kennel Club with the exception of merle.
This breed has one of the easiest coats to maintain as it only takes a few minutes to brush per week. The short-haired Chihuahua can be brushed with a rubber grooming mitt and a pin brush for the long-haired one to remove little clumps. They can be bathed once every three to four weeks.
Check the eyes for excessive tearing or abnormal eye discharges, which may lead to potential health issues. The eyes should be thoroughly cleaned using a soft, damp cloth or canine eye wipes. As for nail trimming, it should be done every three months. Nails left to grow will cause painful ingrown nails and may affect its gait and skeletal damage. To avoid excessive wax build-up in the ears, make sure that ear cleaning is part of the normal grooming routine.
The Chihuahua is known to shiver when it is excited, terrified, or cold. On the other hand, this small pooch can have a large personality if you allow it. For instance, it can bully you into giving it a spot on the couch if it knows that you will budge. Some may also become fussy eaters when they know they can get what they want. It is not always warm to strangers, both humans and dogs. It can be unfriendly if not socialised early. It can attack and won’t back down even from large dogs, which can be dangerous considering its tiny stature.
The Chihuahua generally loves children especially if they grow up together. However, supervision is needed especially with very young kids to avoid this tiny breed from getting injured. Conversely, the pooch can fight back when it feels mistreated. This breed is advisable for families with older children who know how to approach and handle dogs.
The Chihuahua is a smart and fast learner. It is great in agility and obedience classes. However, it can be stubborn and doesn’t respond to harsh treatment. Positive reinforcement in the form of praise and rewards can help.
Often, small-breed toy dogs are stereotyped as ‘snappy’ and bark a lot. However, this is not entirely true. Although dog breeds have certain predispositions, behaviour can be opposite. For instance, the behaviour of a Chihuahua can also be calm and friendly depending on the type of training and socialisation it experienced when young. One huge, significant deciding factor of a Chihuahua’s personality is how it is raised.
A typical serving for an adult Chihuahua is 1/4–1/2 cups of excellent-quality dry dog food per day. Remember that each breed has unique needs. The amount of food depends on its age, size, build, activity level, and metabolism. Always do your research on the nutritional needs of the breed that you are getting.
Typical calorie needs of an adult Chihuahua per day:
As a toy breed, the Chihuahua is easy to overfeed because it is tiny, active, and burns calories quickly. Some owners think that it should eat more because it is superactive, not realising how small its stomach is. This breed thrives on protein, which should make up at least 25 per cent of its diet. The best sources are lean meats such as chicken, fish, venison, and bison. The breed is prone to hypoglycaemia, so complex carbohydrates (sweet potatoes, brown rice, oats) are beneficial. Avoid simple carbs like soy, corn, and wheat at all times.
Much to the delight of owners, the Chihuahua can live as long as eighteen years. It doesn’t generally have serious health problems, but like any other breed, it can be predisposed to certain medical conditions. Try to look out for illnesses like patellar luxation, hypoglycaemia, open fontanel, heart murmurs, collapsed trachea, pulmonic stenosis, and hydrocephalus.
Like all dogs, the Chihuahua needs exercise to maintain a healthy weight. A thirty-minute walk or some agility games are usually enough for this tiny pooch. When leaving it in the yard, look out for gaps as it is naturally curious and may escape to explore.
If you are keen on raising a Chihuahua, be prepared to pay between £400-500 or more for a well-bred pedigree puppy from a reputable breeder. In case you insure your dog, you would need to spend about £20 for a time-limited coverage and £40 for a lifetime policy. This price may vary as insurance companies consider your dog’s health and age, among others.
Feeding a Chihuahua is not as costly as other breeds since you only need to spend about £30 a month on good quality dog food. Other expenses include dog accessories such as leads, collars, bowls, and beds plus visits to the vet for routine consultations.
In its lifetime, a Chihuahua can cost you £21,200–£25,400. If you divide lifetime costs with eighteen years (its maximum lifespan), you will be paying along the lines of £1,177–£1,411 monthly. However, this estimated annual cost does not include pet insurance coverage or special health checks from a veterinarian, especially if it includes treatment of a specific disease.
Are you sure the Chihuahua is the best breed for you? Take the Pet Breed Selector Quiz to find your perfect breed match.Dog Breed Selector Quiz
Still not sure if a Chihuahua fits your lifestyle? Take our Pet Finder for more suggested breeds that suit you.