The Chihuahua is one of the world’s most popular dog breeds for a reason. Its small size makes it portable and they have an uncanny ability to totally charm their humans. Indeed, the Chi has been a favored pet since centuries. Let us study some cool facts, temperament and other important things to know when loving and caring for a Chihuahua.
- Ancient paintings from Mayan civilization depict a Chihuahua like dog. This shows us that the breed might have been around since the 5th century.
- Pronunciation of the word Chihuahua is CHEE-WAH-WAH.
- It is the tiniest of all dog breeds –and is known as a toy breed. Boo Boo, a long haired Chihuahua measured only 4 inches and weighed about 2 pounds!
- Chihuahuas come from Chihuahua Mexico, a state of the same name.
- It is one of the most popular companion breeds today. In fact; four out of the ten AKC popular breeds have been small dogs under 20lbs and the Chi has held steady position among the four.
- As stated before, this is a small dog. There are many variations in the breed though so height can be in the range of 6 to 9 inches at shoulders. Average weight is 4 to 8 pounds.
- Chis come in two coat varieties: smooth coat and long haired. A short coat Chi will have hair short and close to its body. Long coated Chis have an undercoat and an outer coat between 1 inch and 1 ½ inches in length. Long haired Chihuahua also have wispy hair on back of the leg, ruff around the neck and a plume on the tail.
- Colors – Any color, solid, marked or splash. Chihuahuas come in a wide range of colors. White is the rarest color of a Chihuahua; it is pure white with no markings or fawn or beige. A white Chihuahua can have pinkish nose. A blue colored Chihuahua is considered another rarity and the price of a blue Chi puppy can even go up to $10000!
- Some Chis have a dome shaped heads and are known as the ‘applehead’ Chihuahua. Likewise there is a Deer head Chihuahua. The prices vary for the two breeds and so do their height and weight.
Where to find a Chihuahua
Once you are sure that a Chi is suitable for you and your family, you must talk to friends who already own one. Find out where they got their pup from and also discuss what it takes to raise a Chi. If you have the time, visit some dog shows or canine events in your area to find good Chihuahua breeders. Talk to several breeders instead of settling on the first one you meet. Do you like the breeder? Are you comfortable enough with him to ask him doubts or call him any time of the day? Visit several breeder facilities; the area should be clean and well kept. Ask to meet the parents of your puppy. Healthy dogs raise healthy puppies. Trust your intuition; if something feels off, look elsewhere for your Chihuahua puppy. Here are some price ideas – if the price is lower, then avoid the breeder:
- Full-bred Chihuahua – Championship lineage Chihuahua can cost nearly $1500. For other bloodlines, the cost can vary between $500 and $1000 depending on breeders.
- Apple-head and deer-head Chihuahua – The price of a deer head Chi is between $400 and $1200 and that for applehead Chis can go up to $300 and $800.
- Blue Chihuahua – Rare blue Chis can cost nearly $5000 to $10,000.
On the whole, this breed is highly devoted to their owners. When it comes to other house pets and dogs, they tend to be a little wary and shy. Early socialization should help overcome this issue. There has been indiscriminate breeding of Chis and not all breeders have been mindful of the temperament. That is why you must seek a good breeder and observe several litters. You also need to train your pet from an early age to prevent behavioral issues. Here are some personality and temperament traits that a puppy should display:
- He should be alert and curious not shaking or cowering.
- He should not bite, snap, growl or snarl.
There are many adjectives used to describe the ideal Chihuahua temperament : loyal, active, friendly, dedicated, agile, affectionate, intelligent, independent, comical, confident, courageous, curious, fearless, responsive, and trustworthy.
Here is what a Chihuahua is not
- Overly aggressive
- Easily intimidated
If you come across these undesirable traits, the puppy could be a product of puppy mills or indiscriminate breeding.
A healthy Chi needs mental and physical stimulation both. An unexercised dog is an unfit dog. Daily walks and play sessions can keep your pet slim, trim and perfectly happy. If you Chi is older or overweight, consult your vet about how much exercise to give him. Generally, two walks per day of 15-20 minutes are considered ideal for a Chihuahua.
Training your Chihuahua
If not properly trained and socialized, even a well behaved Chihuahua can show undesirable behaviors like jumping, biting, and barking etc. You can help your Chihuahua avoid these behaviors and become the perfect pet by following training tips given below:
- Start training your Chi from an early age.
- Always use training equipment of the right size: collars, leashes etc. You will also need healthy training treats. Use tiny bite sized treats; you don’t want your Chi to fill up on treats.
- If your Chihuahua pulls you while walking, stay firmly in place and soon s/he will know you are not going anywhere. When your pet learns to heel, give him/her a treat and praise him/her aplenty.
- Keep training sessions short else your Chi will get bored. Avoid training when you are in a bad mood, tired, or not well. This will rub on to your pet and affect its performance.
- Keep your Chi safe at all times. This breed is easily affected by extreme weather conditions. So make sure you use appropriate clothing and gear during training.
A well groomed Chi (long or short haired) looks attractive and cuddly. This is a toy breed that is meant to look good. So do try to involve all family members in taking care of the Chi including the kids. Brushing your Chi’s fur regularly will help distribute natural oils and make it look healthier and shinier. Bathe your Chihuahua about once a month. This breed is prone to fleas and ticks so regular grooming and bathing can help prevent these issues. Small breeds have challenges with their dental health. Feed crunchy kibble to prevent plaque and also give plenty of crunchy treats like carrots and apples. Use good doggy toothpaste. Chis have erect ears which need regular inspection. Healthy ears are pink in color and without any odor. Clip your pet’s toenails from time to time.
Most Chihuahuas are incredibly healthy with an average lifespan of 15 to 20 years. But like all other purebreds this breed is also known to suffer from some ailments. Heart disease is common in Chis. However, it is highly preventable as well. Just make sure you do not overfeed your fur-baby. Also exercise him daily. Corneal dystrophy is also common in Chis. In this condition, a thin film forms on the cornea. Some dogs can be terribly impaired by this disease. Then there are Chihuahuas who develop fluid around their brain. This condition can cause seizures and could also be fatal. Tracheal collapse is also common in Chis as they have very thin necks. So make sure you do not pull your pet and also use a right-size collar that isn’t too tight. Talk to your vet about supplements that can strengthen your Chi’s neck.