Chihuahuas: 101 Is a Chihuahua the right dog for you? Got your heart set on a puppy or are you open to the possibility of offering a home to a chi in need? We'll give you a complete look at this breed, including where and how to purchase one.
"Even the tiniest Poodle or Chihuahua is still a wolf at heart”
-Dorothy Hinshaw Patent (author)
Watch Dogs- This breed will wholeheartedly enjoy it's position as your bodyguard. You couldn't ask for a better alarm dog.
Size- While Chihuahuas in the show ring are no more than 6 pounds, a pet quality dog can weigh twice as much. Temperament and health, as opposed to size, should be the first consideration. Looking for a teacup pup? Check here first.
Friendly- A 'people friendly' Chi is easy to achieve with lots of diverse socializing. By nature, most would be timid and/or passive-aggressive if left to their own free will.
Trainability- They're quick learners and they're eager to please. Training sessions work best when you limit the time you spend teaching new tricks to around 10-15 minutes per session. Because Chihuahuas are a toy breed, house training may not come as easy as you like. Consistency is key! Learn some basic training techniques here.
Loyalty- They are extremely loyal, but often devote themselves to only a single person. Though it's cute, unquestionably when a tiny dog fearlessly protects the lap of his chosen owner, but encouraging this behavior is stressful for the dog. Cute or not, the dog should be taken seriously and discouraged from too much unnecessary and overzealous protective behavior for his own mental well-being.
Excitability- More excitable than you might think, they can be aggressive and are not suitable for homes with small children. They also have no regard for the limitations of their own size and have no problem chasing or starting trouble with larger or more dangerous animals. For this reason, never leave your chi unharnessed outside the confines of your home.
General Breed Health- High risk of poorly bred and puppy mill dogs in this breed. See more below in Health Issues, below.
NOT non-shedding- We do have a whole page devoted to non-shedding small breed dogs,
however, the chihuahua is not one of them. If dog hair is a huge
problem for you, regardless of whether you choose a long-haired
chihuahua or short-haired, you will have to deal with some degree of
Other Pets and Children- Regarding other pets, Chihuahuas can
be very possessive. Socializing early and often is highly recommended
if possible. Adopting an adult dog means you'll already know if the dog
is tolerant of other animals. Where Children are involved, toy breed
does NOT mean 'kid-sized'. Fearfulness can lead to snapping. Never allow a small child to mistreat or mishandle this fragile little dog.
Frequent grooming- The long haired varieties of this breed needs regular grooming and brushing. Their hair can become very matted, but care should be taken in bathing. Harsh shampoos can can take the natural sheen from long coats and cause dry itchy skin. The smooth coat variety is much lower maintenance.
Behavioral Issues- Toy breeds are among the hardest dogs to housebreak and the Chi is no exception. You shouldn't be surprised by accidents (or on-purposes). Very small dogs also have very small bladders.
Separation Anxiety is common. Dogs show frustration by destructive chewing or barking or by hiking their leg on your potted houseplant.
Disregarding the hype- There is technically no such thing as a ‘tea cup’ breed of any dog. Likewise for 'pocket', 'mini' and 'toy' chihuahuas. These are invented terms used by irresponsible breeders to take advantage of unsuspecting consumers. More extremely shocking facts about teacup puppies.
Cold Sensitivity- Never leave this dog outside in the elements for extended periods, with or without a sweater.
This breed is not a good idea for people with small children. The smaller the dog, the more fragile he is. Even the most gentle of children can’t help mishandling a dog this small.
They can also pack a serious bite despite their small size. All children should be supervised constantly around your dog to keep them both safe.
Hypoglycemia is a matter of concern for the owners of these small breed dogs. Often their tiny bodies are unable to properly regulate blood sugar. Symptoms range from lack of energy, shivering, loss of coordination to coma or even death.
Patellar Luxation is a joint condition in which kneecaps pop in and out of place. The Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) reports that about 6% of chihuahuas are affected in varying degrees, but that number could be much higher.
Hip Dysplasia is a developmental subluxation of the hip joints which can eventually lead to arthritis and/or lameness. It's causes are genetic as well as environmental. A secondary concern of this affliction is osteoarthritis.
Legg-Calvé-Perthes syndrome is yet another joint condition affecting the lives of these fragile dogs. Accoding the Orthopedic Foundation for animals a staggering 33.3% are currently affected. Legg-Calvé-Perthes syndrome is degenerative and leads to bone loss and collapse of the hip joint. Early treatment can help to prevent degenerative arthritis.
The use of pet steps has been shown to significantly reduce the wear and tear on joints. Please consider them if you own or plan to own a small breed dog.
Problems with teeth often occur because their mouths are so small that overcrowding becomes an issue and can lead to many secondary health conditions. Overcrowding of teeth can result in excessive tartar and plaque build-up due to food being lodged between them. Bacteria from dirty teeth is like poison. Once it enters the blood stream it can cause heart, liver and kidney disease much faster in tiny dogs.
And it get worse...
The health risks above are even greater, both in severity and numbers when you take the chance of buying a pet store puppy or a website puppy.
Buying just one puppy condemns the mother dog to her cage to await another heat cycle so she can be bred again.