Chihuahua: Your new pet
The Chihuahua is a miniature or toy dog originally from Mexico and one of the oldest dog breeds in the Americas.
These dogs are so famous that they have become symbols of popular culture: they appear in movies, they are the favorite pets of many celebrities, they are even associated with the stereotype of luxury and money.
This fame was supported by TV series and Hollywood movies, which makes Chihuahuas have a great place among those interested in acquiring a beautiful pet, but, what are the most prominent characteristics of these dogs?
Several aspects should be known about a Chihuahua if you want to raise one. Some of these aspects are:
- DIMENSIONS AND WEIGHT: Chihuahuas are the smallest dogs in the world, they even have the Guinness record for it. However, the standards for this breed are not as strict as in other similar species, at least concerning height, so they can have wide variability, height going from 15 cm to even 38 cm.
Dogs considered suitable for display are those that weigh no more than 2.7kg according to the AKC, however, the weight of a purebred Chihuahua can reach up to 4.5kg, or even more, depending on their bone structure.
- ALWAYS CLOSE TO ITS OWNER: Their size makes them excellent traveling companion anywhere you go. Their dimensions and reduced weight contribute to them being loaded without any discomfort; also, they remain very calm whenever their owner is by their side, they also do not require large amounts of food and bathing is simple, so you can apply their basic care even outside the home.
- SPACE NEEDED TO LIVE: They are very small dogs and therefore do not need a large house to be happy, a small apartment is enough for their needs to be met. Nor is it necessary to set aside a special place for them, they can sleep in the owner’s room or even in their bed; they do not feel the need to have a space considered as their own.
- NECESSARY EXERCISE: They only need light exercise every day. Strenuous training sessions are not recommended; too much physical effort could affect their joints.
- LIFE EXPECTANCY: These dogs tend to age a lot, they can live even up to 18 years or more; therefore, if a Chihuahua is acquired the little one can accompany you for a good part of your life, however, they are delicate dogs that must be treated with care. They also require good veterinary control if you want them to live for many years.
- FUR: Perhaps this is one of the secrets of their success since they have different types of fur for the different tastes of their owners, it can be long or short, and colors vary between white, chocolate, coffee, black, and cream, with the possibility of being spotted.
- ADEQUATE CLIMATE: The Chihuahua has evolved for many centuries to live in Mexico’s weather, particularly in very hot environments, therefore, these temperatures do not represent a challenge for small dogs.
However, cold is something that Chihuahuas should avoid, because its short fur is not enough to warm the dog up if the temperatures drop, so if you live in a country with defines seasons it is better to keep our canine friend in a temperate environment while winter passes. Some owners choose to protect them by making them wear special coats, but for this, the dog must be accustomed previously.
Chihuahuas’ character and personality
Chihuahuas are excellent companion dogs. In general, they are extremely affectionate with their owners. Chihuahua dogs choose only one master during their life; while they are with him they will feel safe and confident, although, they could be somewhat shy around other people, or become jealous if they approach their owner.
They are perfect for people who live alone. The elderly benefit a lot from their company, their small dimensions make them able to be all the time in their owner’s lap, besides, their care is easy, therefore they can be manipulated by people who are not so strong.
It is not recommended that these dogs play with children because, for starters, they are very fragile, even if infants are unintentionally rough they could hurt the Chihuahua, and also these dogs can be somewhat temperamental, or get nervous, so it is not uncommon for them to bite children if they are being mischievous. A Chihuahua bite should be taken care of, even if their mouth is small they still have powerful teeth. The relationships around other dogs may vary.
Generally, they adopt a clan-like aptitude with other members of the breed, so they develop very close relationships, even much so that dozens of them could come together and there would be no conflicts. On the contrary, they do not feel comfortable around other breeds, and they could even fight with other dogs, even if they are larger, the Chihuahua will not stop and won’t be intimidated since they are very brave.
Even so, it is feasible to train the Chihuahuas to live with other dogs, as long as they are subjected to early socialization that allows them to become familiar with them. The same applies to their relationships with unknown people.
History and Origin of Chihuahuas
There are many theories regarding the true origin of the Chihuahua breed. These dogs have inhabited America for many years, however, the historical records of Mesoamerican human cultures are not clear about it and, in many cases, they are incomplete.
It is also difficult to solve this mystery through genetic studies because the crosses that originated this breed occurred long ago between very old breeds, which makes it difficult to include them among any of the dog clades.
Virtually everything points to the fact that they are dogs originating in Mexico, however, it is uncertain how they got there. Some venture to suggest that they come from small dogs brought by Hernan Cortes in 1519.
Another slightly more daring theory suggests that the ancestors of the Chihuahua traveled to Mexico in the company of the ancient Chinese long before the arrival of the Europeans.
However, the most popular and also the most likely theory is that they come from a breed called Techichi, which was originally bred by the Toltecs, who lived in central Mexico for some time before the Aztecs.
Techichi as a Pre-Columbian dog
Although the oldest Techichi records date back to the 9th century, many believe that these dogs existed long before then and accompanied the Mayan civilization. Thus, the remains of these ancestral dogs have been found near the pyramids of Cholula and Chichen Itza.
It is also possible to find artistic representations of these dogs throughout Mesoamerica, including small toys that represent the varieties of a Chihuahua with heads shaped like an apple, and others shaped like a deer.
The uses that were given to these dogs were varied, some are not proven and are more part of the legend that surrounds these ancient dogs. Surely they were companion dogs like nowadays, but, it is likely that they also had a more spiritual and religious meaning since they used to be used as sacrifices in different religious rituals, some also believe that they were raised to serve as food, just like rabbits and hares.
The Chihuahua after the conquest
These dogs most-likely survived almost without changes during the Spanish conquest and some began to live in the wilderness by becoming wild animals due to the abandonment they suffered from pre-Columbian cultures.
However, the inhabitants would domesticate them again, which is how they gained an important place in Mexican homes; this continued until approximately 1850. During that time, it was common to sell these dogs to American tourists, a trade that was particularly popular in the town of Casas Grandes which is part of the state of Chihuahua; it is for this reason that these funny puppies were called Chihuahuas.
Despite its arrival in the United States, this breed would not attract attention so quickly, it barely managed to be recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1904 and the United Kingdom in 1907. Although in the United States there were only 30 Chihuahuas registered in 1915, the specimens quickly multiplied and in 1923 the Chihuahua Club of the United States would be founded.
There is no doubt that the popularity of the Chihuahua would explode thereafter: many wealthy people owned one, they became iconic animals in the United States, in fact, the breed became more popular in the US than in Mexico itself.
Of course, being so popularly recognized in a country as important as the United States is normal for its success to move to the rest of the world, especially in countries deeply influenced by American culture. This is how they managed to displace other local dogs that enjoyed popularity before their arrival, as in the case of the Havana dog in Cuba.
In the case of their conquest in Europe, it likely started in the United Kingdom, there the Chihuahuas grew rapidly in number after the World War Two, as families devastated by the conflict quickly sought to breed new dogs to accompany them to overcome the Depression of having to start over.
From the United Kingdom, they would be imported to the rest of Europe, becoming very popular pets. The small size of the Chihuahua probably made it easier for it to adapt to the most enclosed spaces where its owners lived in the postwar period.
Currently, the breed is one of the best known worldwide. Every year more than 20,000 new Chihuahuas are registered at the American Kennel Club. No doubt this success is due in part to the great effort that their breeders have placed in maintaining their special characteristics.
Behavior around other dogs
The Chihuahua puppy is a very affectionate and playful dog, although at the same time, it has a particularly special character, it can get along with others, just as the opposite can happen and reject them quickly.
The Chihuahua or chihuahueño, the true name of this breed, is a dog with a somewhat labile temperament that might seem unstable; within its family group it prefers to select the main human who acts as a leader, and it will be this person it will obey and follow everywhere.
The relationship of the Chihuahua with other dogs is variable; much depends on the customs and breeding. Usually, with other dogs of the same breed they get along very well, you will see them socialize as friends and companions of games and pranks. Although, with dogs of different breeds, the Chihuahua can show a difficult, reserved, elusive, and perhaps even hostile and antisocial behavior.
To avoid these inconveniences in the behavior of Chihuahua with other pets, it is necessary to start a process of socialization and training from an early stage, since the Chihuahua is a puppy. Puppies of this breed are animals that are always in a state of alertness, are vivacious and very restless at the same time. Their small size is no impediment for them to have a brave and reckless character, capable of facing not only unknown people but also larger dogs of other breeds.
Chihuahuas can see dogs of other breeds as strangers, rivals, or as a threat. If there are other pets in the house they may even become jealous since Chihuahua dogs like to be the center of attention, they want to be spoiled by their owners, they develop a very close and special bond to their master, so it is common to see that sometimes their character is aggressive and suspicious of other pets, especially if they feel lacking attention or demonstrations of affection.
If, since they are puppies, Chihuahuas are raised while sharing space with other dogs, the problems of living together tend to be minor. They are naughty, so they can play and be mischievous with large dogs although it is not recommended that they run alongside them because, due to its small size, the Chihuahua could get hurt.
If the Chihuahua feels locked up or harassed by other pets, it could get an aggressive attitude and try to defend itself by attacking, for that reason it is better to share the home with other Chihuahua dogs or with breeds of dogs that are calm, balanced and peaceful.
Although the Chihuahua is a very intelligent dog, its training is not simple, since the traditional techniques for training dogs are not the most appropriate for dogs as small as Chihuahuas. The main objective of the training of the Chihuahua dog should be to achieve an effective socialization process with humans and other pets so that the dog has tolerance in a shared environment.
The dominant attitude of the Chihuahua can make it position itself as the leading guardian dog of the home since they are very suspicious, alert and aware of strangers. This could bring conflicts with other dogs with a dominant temperament. In particular, these problems of coexistence can be avoided with the socialization and education of the Chihuahua since it is a puppy.
Chihuahua education is, in many cases, usually successful. Thus we have as an example the famous movie ¡Ay Chihuahua! where we see how effectively with perfect training the Chihuahuas, protagonists of the story, share a camera with large dogs of other breeds.
Diet and feeding
Concerning the feeding of these puppies, it is appropriate to point out that the complete nutrition of Chihuahuas dogs can be a careful and complex process, which is partly caused by the attitude of these dogs at mealtime.
Chihuahuas are a bit selective when it comes to food, it can even be a little funny as these dogs tend to separate the food they like from the one they don’t like, although the advantage is that, being the Chihuahua such a tiny dog, their diet requires very small portions of food, and it is easy to acquire products of the best quality that will last a very long time in the pantry.
During feeding, as in all dogs, it is important to take into consideration the portions. Chihuahuas are dogs with a tendency to obesity, and being overweight is a difficult problem in such small dogs, besides, it can lead to complications in other organs such as chronic bronchitis, musculoskeletal problems, and reduced life expectancy.
In their diet, Chihuahuas can also consume meat products, fruits, vegetables, and grains. For the correct feeding of this breed, it is recommended to administer several portions during the day in small amounts. Averagely, it can be fed about 4 or 5 times per day, especially to control hypoglycemia or low blood sugar, which is common in this breed. The food portions can be around 70gr containing between 170 and 210 calories, so we can keep their weight between 1.5 and 2.5 kg as a maximum margin.
Cups with food rations should be accompanied as much as possible with a bowl of fresh clean water since adequate hydration is important to preserve health and vitality so that the body works better and absorbs nutrients properly. It is also important for the attractive appearance of the Chihuahua dog, a soft and shiny coat and strong and healthy teeth.
Remember that the veterinarian is the qualified specialist to advise on the feeding of the Chihuahua, the products to be supplied and other advice to achieve the welfare of this puppy. Consult the expert when you have any questions.
So, the key to feeding a Chihuahua is a small amount of food, with high nutritional value, several times a day.
Among the options to feed it, the market has numerous trademarks, but it is preferable to acquire one of the highest quality. This commercial product must have among its ingredients high nutritional value proteins, derived from beef, chicken or ram. It is recommended to avoid products with added cereals such as corn or wheat.
Commercial food can be wet or dry. The dry comes in presentations such as croquettes, it is more useful when feeding and preserving oral hygiene for longer. Wet products occur in canned foods and are associated with increased plaque formation in the denture.
Another option to feed the Chihuahua is homemade menus. These meals should be balanced and prepared from fresh ingredients. A healthy combination of protein and fat should be achieved. The meat products are prepared and boiled for cooking; mixes in dishes should avoid compounds that can cause allergies such as soybeans, wheat, corn, and other cereals.
Finally, the feeding of the Chihuahua should exclude at all costs foods such as sweets or chocolate, raisins and grapes, raw meat products, junk food, and artificial compounds.
Health and care
The advantage of having a small breed dog such as the Chihuahua is that its care, grooming, hygiene, and beauty is easier to control.
Typically, small breed dogs have a longer life expectancy than large breed dogs, and this statement applies perfectly to the Chihuahua dog since on average it can live for up to 16 years, and even more, as there have been cases where these puppies have reached their 20th birthday.
However, the Chihuahuas also have a negative side when it comes to their health. Due to its small bone structure and size, this puppy is at risk of suffering some health problems more frequently than the dogs of other breeds; in the ocular aspect, for example, Chihuahuas are prone to develop corneal disorders and glaucoma. Also, their small bones are somewhat fragile, especially when falling from a high place, they can easily suffer fractures, especially if they are puppies.
When they are born, in the skull some points remain without ossifying, these are the so-called fontanelles, which should close over a few months, but this often does not happen and you can find these fontanelles even in Adult Chihuahuas. Having this point in the skull devoid of bone tissue could cause complications since it represents an area where the brain is unprotected and can suffer severe bruises from any blow or trauma.
Another aspect to consider is that Chihuahuas are usually born by C-section, this is because females are small dogs and puppies have a large head diameter that makes it difficult to pass through the birth canal. Usually a female Chihuahua deliveries two puppies.
The immune system of Chihuahuas dogs is strong, and few genetic diseases affect them. They have fewer diseases than other small dog breeds.
Other diseases that can affect the Chihuahua are congenital defects such as cleft palate, hematological disorders such as hemophilia A, some diseases of the heart valves, hydrocephalus, strokes, and hereditary epilepsy. Chihuahuas require frequent visits to the veterinarian, up to 4 per year to monitor their health status, control their deworming and vaccines.
The specimens of this breed that are mottled or are descendants of parents with this characteristic can additionally present severe inherited pathologies, such as blindness, deafness, sterility, among others.
Like all small dogs that have a high metabolism, Chihuahuas have problems conserving body temperature; they are very susceptible to climatic changes and extreme temperatures. They are not dogs that should be permanently outdoors, they are more indoor dogs.
About the grooming of this breed, we will start talking about their fur. Chihuahuas constantly shed a lot of hair, so frequent brushing is recommended to remove dead hair and keep the house clean. Short-haired specimens do not need major considerations in their hair, while long-haired Chihuahuas do require daily brushing. Baths can be monthly; remember drying them very well, not leaving them wet inside the house, and cleaning their ears and eyes with clean cloths to avoid infections.
These puppies are suitable for living in small spaces such as apartments, although quite regularly they need walks and fun in spacious areas, they enjoy sharing with their family, playing with them, and above all receiving attention, pampering and caresses from their humans.
How to train or educate a Chihuahua
This breed requires constant and adequate training, especially since they are puppies to eliminate behaviors and counterproductive habits. As an initial consideration, the owner of a Chihuahua dog or the person who wants to adopt one must have the time and disposition to devote to the training of this breed, since Chihuahuas are not the most recommended pets for the inexperienced in the matter of caring for dogs.
You can start with the basics: teach the Chihuahua to do its business outside the house, in this matter, the owner must be aware that being such a small dog, the size and storage capacity of its bladder will be smaller, so walks should be more frequent compared to a large dog. The first walk can be when you wake up and the last walk of the day will be before going to bed. During a regular day, try taking five walks a day, it is particularly advisable after eating. The objective of these walks will be to make the Chihuahua relate the outings to the time of making their physiological needs.
During the early education of the Chihuahua, you must let it know that access to some places of the house is restricted, because, if not, the Chihuahua could evacuate anywhere. The appropriate thing when you are training a dog of this breed is to have it always in sight, so you will control what it is doing at any time. Likewise, it is preferable to take it out for a walk at the same time every day, which will help regulate its body and physiological processes.
Positive reinforcement is a very useful technique for training Chihuahua dogs. When they obey the orders and carry out the tasks properly, it is appropriate to reward them with a snack, a compliment, or some caresses; this will improve the communication between you and your Chihuahua and so the puppy will learn what to do and what not. When it has inappropriate behavior, it should be noted in a firm and dominant voice that what it did is not right, and not allow it to continue developing it. Every time it is corrected, the Chihuahua must understand that the human is the alpha, the leader, because these puppies have a capricious, difficult and somewhat imposing character; they like to get away with everything.
Another tip is to avoid pampering in excess. The Chihuahua is a small dog but it is not a baby: you do not have to carry it all the time on it or spoil it excessively because it will be harmful to its character. Ideally, between the two there are moments to play games, moments of discipline for training and moments of walking. During walks you must impose your authority, do not let the Chihuahua go ahead or take you by the leash, on the contrary, the human must go a few steps in front of the dog to indicate his authority figure.
Taking him for a walk from a young age, especially to places crawling with animals, dogs and humans will help the Chihuahua socialize with others. Sometimes these dogs have a hostile and aggressive behavior towards unknown humans and other pets, socialization and sharing since they are puppies with other dogs will make the Chihuahua learn rules of coexistence and treatment to others.
Behavior around humans
The Chihuahua is a very peculiar dog breed, not only because of its tiny size that has made it the holder of the Guinness record of the smallest dog in the world, but also its physical characteristics, incredible, playful and energetic personality.
For people looking for a tiny dog to keep them company in a small home, or to simply have a pet to clean and pamper, the Chihuahua is a good option to consider. Do not be fooled by its small size, its temperament is strong and sometimes even imposing, it can surface its temper if the situation requires it. Chihuahuas are reckless; they are not afraid to face strangers or bigger dogs, they are brave puppies with a guardian spirit and instinct.
The character of the dogs of the Chihuahua breed is somewhat variable depending on factors such as breeding, education, training and the socialization process that they go through during their growth. Characteristically, this puppy usually lives in a constant state of alertness, which makes it a bit restless sometimes; it is a brave dog with a protective instinct. It is described as somewhat arrogant, sure of itself, determined, and somewhat loud as it barking can alert the entire house when something unusual happens.
It is very attached to its owners, which is why it can be somewhat “spoiled”, that is, they like to receive attention from their owners, caresses, pampering, and others. The Chihuahuas love to spend long hours in the lap of their humans, receiving attention, They are dogs that demand much affection. Usually, they manage to develop a strong bond with a particular person of the household, this will be their guide and their master, they will follow him everywhere and miss him when he is gone.
By their alert instinct, dogs of the Chihuahua breed are attentive to any novelty. With strangers they may not be very friendly, they bark as if accusing them, they can even corner and even bother strangers who come to visit the home. Little by little they will be integrating to see that they are friends of the family.
The Chihuahua’s behavior and temperament will also depend on the family environment in which it grows up. It will be an affectionate, friendly, playful, hyperactive and capricious puppy, but they can be shaped in the processes of socialization and coexistence with others, since the Chihuahuas are very intelligent and cunning, they practice the observation of their surroundings, and they like to be accompanied more than being alone. It is very difficult to resist its tenderness, so it is a dog that often gets away with everything it does.
Among the labors and jobs that the Chihuahua puppy can do, he has been given the job of being the best companion of lonely adults, who have enough time to pamper and take care of them. They are not a good option for children since these are naughty restless and with characteristics that do not match well with the temperament of the Chihuahua dog. It is like a miniature guard dog.
Some new traits that the Chihuahua dog is getting are quite creative. For example, in Japan, the Chihuahua dog is training to be a police dog. For his cunning and intelligence, he has passed the search and rescue tests of people using his powerful nose. It is believed that soon these puppies may be part of the police forces to search for people in disastrous situations, who have been trapped in small places where these small dogs can get to without problems.
The ideal environment to take care of a Chihuahua dog is not at all complex or demanding, however, it is necessary to consider some characteristics that are a must-have for the Chihuahua to live happily and pleasantly in the middle of the place that will be its home.
First of all, it should be considered that small-breed dogs, and Chihuahuas particularly, do not adapt to changes in extreme temperatures, or too strong climatic variations, this is due to the accelerated metabolism that makes them prefer to live in warm environments, or in homes where they can be sheltered and protected inside with good heating. It should be ensured that the environment inside the home has an appropriate temperature, since the Chihuahuas do not stand cold climates at temperatures below 4°C, and if they are going to go out on the street for a walk, it should be well sheltered, maybe even with the fun dresses and costumes that you can get for dogs in pet stores. On those cold days, walks and strolls will have to be shorter.
From the emotional point of view, a dog belonging to the Chihuahua breed requires a lot of emotional stimulation. It is a dog with a sensitive temperament, attached to its owners; it needs special quality moments with its family, sharing, affection, and pampering, which in turn requires an owner with a leading character that teaches it to socialize and tolerate other people, dogs, and other pets. Chihuahuas are great companions for lonely young people; they like to be the center of attention, they are faithful to their owners, they like to engage in any activity, such as fetch games and agility.
As for the space they need, the Chihuahuas are small dogs and therefore do not require larger areas to live comfortably, in fact, these are the modern dogs of the most urbanized cities, ideal for living in apartments or small homes. Although they are very active dogs, the Chihuahuas adapt easily to live in small environments, even if, yes, you have to take them out daily to their walks and strolls about three times. Inside the house, they are very active and you can see them jumping from one couch to another.
In relation to large houses with big gardens and courtyards, Chihuahuas are a great option, since in these outdoor environments it can enjoy the afternoons and have lots of fun, running, jumping, catching objects, and playing with its owners, however, it is always advisable to go regularly to a public open space such as a park, environments in which the Chihuahua learns to behave, to live and to socialize with others. It should be remembered that during autumn and winter days, to shelter your Chihuahua, even during a walk in your backyard, to avoid colds or other diseases, remember that they do not tolerate low temperatures.
They are excellent companion dogs. They like to get attention and are loyal to their owners. They are very active dogs and like to stay busy.
When adopting a Chihuahua puppy remember that it is a very intelligent dog, but noisy and hyperactive, with a character that needs to be shaped by the education and training of an owner committed to having a great pet. With a loving, worried and committed family that considers all the needs of grooming, health, hygiene, food, and emotional stimulation that the Chihuahua dog requires, surely this dog will be an excellent companion pet for any home, whether it is a full family or a lonely person.