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Chihuahua

 

Fiercely intelligent, large (in spirit) and in charge, this smallest of breeds is nobody's lapdog. Chihuahuas are one of the first American breeds and were once believed to be spirit-guides, protecting the dead on their journey through the underworld. Today, these high energy, easy-to-groom dogs make constant companions for the person willing to train them.

Chihuahuas (or “Chis,” as their fans call them) can grow up to under 6 pounds and live to between 12-20 years. The breed is recognized by the American Kennel Club and classified as a member of the Toy group.

 

Other nameNone
Energy level High energy
Exercise needs Low
Playfullness Moderately playful
Affection level Somewhat affectionate
Friendliness toward other dogs Shy
Friendliness toward other pets Friendly
Friendliness toward strangersShy
Ease of training Moderately easy to train
Watchdog ability High
Protection ability Very protective
Grooming needs High maintenance
Cold tolerance Low tolerance
Heat tolerance High tolerance

 

AKC RecognizedY
Breed's Original PastimeCompanion
OriginMexico
Breed GroupToy
Average Lifespan12-20 years
SizeMini
Bark FactorI love to talk!
AKC Ranking10
FamilySouthern (pariah)
Date of origin1500s
Original function Ceremonial
Today's functionCompanion
Average size of maleHeight: 6-9 Weight: <6
Average size of femaleHeight: 6-9 Weight: <6

BEHAVIOR & TRAINING

WHAT IS A CHIHUAHUA'S PERSONALITY LIKE?

Though a high energy and social dog, Chihuahuas aren't particularly playful. They can be affectionate, but they definitely play favorites — Chihuahuas tend to attach closely to one person. The breed is shy around strangers (human or animal) and can be fairly territorial.

WHAT IS CHIHUAHUA'S BEHAVIOR LIKE?

Perhaps it's the Chihuahua's tiny stature that makes them nervous around other dogs and strangers in general. Even so, they can live well in some multi-pet families and are more cat-friendly than many other breeds. While they're not the most intimidating of watch dogs, you'll always know when someone's at the door. Chihuahuas tend to bond closely with one person or family and are most at ease with teenagers and adults, who are less likely to accidentally play too “ruff” with them.

HOW EASY IS IT TO TRAIN A CHIHUAHUA?

Chihuahuas are independent-minded and aren't the easiest to train, but they're very smart and can definitely learn if you're patient and consistent with them. Start early to discourage barking, nipping, and aggressiveness toward other dogs. Your Chihuahua will respond to treats and praise if you follow through.

CARE & HEALTH

HOW MUCH DO CHIHUAHUAS SHED AND WHAT ARE THEIR GROOMING NEEDS?

Chihuahuas can have either smooth, shiny hair or long, somewhat curly hair. They have relatively few grooming needs. Weekly brushing with a soft-bristled tool or rubber grooming glove can help keep smooth-coated Chihuahua's coat and skin in tip-top shape. Long-haired Chihuahuas shed seasonally and should be combed to prevent tangles, especially on the tail, ears, and legs. Be sure to clean your Chihuahua's big ears regularly with a vet-recommended solution — never use cotton swabs.

When regularly brushed, most Chihuahuas won't need baths very often. Luckily, their small size means there's not much to brush. When you do bathe your Chihuahua, dry the dog thoroughly — this breed is very sensitive to cold temperatures!

WHAT HEALTH PROBLEMS DO CHIHUAHUAS HAVE?

Their small size does make them prone to some fairly sizable health concerns. This breed can experience trouble breathing from collapsed windpipes, displaced kneecaps, eye disorders, some neurological conditions, and dental problems caused by the size of their mouths. Many are fed to obesity, which can further aggravate other medical conditions.

Chihuahuas' eyes make them vulnerable to genetic disorders and injuries. Smaller Chihuahuas can be prone to hypoglycemia. Many Chihuahuas also have an open fontanelle (molera), a soft area in their foreheads where their skull plates have not fused. This can lead to fluid buildup in and around the brain (hydrocephalus), which must be treated to prevent seizures and even death. Chihuahuas with moleras are prone to head injuries, and should be placed in homes without small children or large dogs.

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