The Smallest Breed Of Them All – The Chihuahua
Now when it comes to tiny dog breeds, there is simply is no comparison to this breed, they are the smallest of small dogs and some only weigh as much as the lightest weights in your local gym. Yes, it’s known as the handbag dog, Hollywood celebrities are often seen with them in their handbags while they are shopping in Beverly Hills.
The Chihuahua originated sometime in the 1800s, although it is thought that there are records of the breed existing in South America in the 16th century and it arrived in the Americas from Spain in 1519. It was exported to North America in the 1850s and has since been bred around the world. One thing is certain with the Chihuahua and that it is a perfect toy lap dog companion because of its minute size. It comes in two varieties, either short-haired or long-haired. You’ll find the short-haired shivering in the slightest breeze while the long-haired version is only a little more resistant.
This bold and alert small dog is suitable for families with older children and suits an indoor environment, doesn’t do well in cold weather and isn’t that energetic.
- Colour – Any colour
- Weight – They weigh between 1 to 3 Kgs (3 to 6lbs).
- Height – They will be 15-23cms (6 to 9 inches) at the withers.
- Life Expectancy – 12 – 20 years
- First Use – Companion
- Use Today – A Companion Dog
Chihuahua Temperament and Training
Chihuahuas do not get on that well with other breeds and prefer to bond the other Chihuahuas or dogs that have Chihuahua genetics in their blood. It is common that the Chihuahua will develop a strong bond with a particular human and try to defend that human at all costs around other humans or other dogs. Because of these traits, it would not be advisable to purchase a Chihuahua for younger children under the age of 13, as their movements are not patient nor calm. I have experienced this first hand, as my eldest son was nipped on the face by a cross Chihuahua while he walked past his master. Needless to say, the dog has since been kept away and is still not permitted to be around children.
Chihuahua characteristics do tend to make owners contemplate its idiosyncrasies and all owners of these bred should consider Chihuahua training. As this dog is notorious for snapping I would thoroughly recommend considering a suitable training course to make sure that it does not hurt anyone as it grows older and learns to bond with other dogs.
For those wanting to know more about this breed, here is a video describing its history and breed today:
Chihuahua Heath Problems
Compared to many other smaller breeds the Chihuahua suffers from few genetic defects and the main issues with the breed lie with the birthing and dental care that is consistently required. Chihuahuas heads as a fetus are too large for their mother’s pelvis, consequently, they have to be born via Caesarian section. Because of their large heads in comparison to their bodies they also have dental issues with weak teeth.
Luxating Patella: Small dogs do suffer from this common issue and is caused when the patella, femur, and tibia are not correctly lined up. The result is that the dogs walk with an abnormal gait, perhaps a skip or hop. The issue can be found at a young age, but in general, the dog will show more signs as it ages, which in turn leads to arthritis and a degenerative joint disease.
As with all dogs, the Chihuahua will age and will succumb to the common diseases that all dogs have, such as degradation of their eyesight and general ill health. There are suitable herbal, and medical remedies that you can purchase to ease any issues that might arise as your dog gets older.
There are a number of suitable herbal and medicinal medicines that will help alleviate any pains a Chihuahua might have as it ages. To find out more about these options, click through to our
NB – When buying your Chihuahua puppy, please ask for the puppy’s parents, health records to give you a better understanding of the possible health problems that your Chihuahua might have in the future. For Chihuahuas, aim to obtain health clearance from the following bodies:
- Orthopaedic Foundation For Animals (OFA) for Hip Dysplasia (scores of fair or better), hypothyroidism, Von Willebrand’s disease, and elbow dysplasia.
- To certify the condition of the eyes, visit the Canine Eye Registry Foundation (CERF).
- Please read details on the OFA website – www.offa.org
Chihuahua Food Requirements
Not surprisingly the Chihuahua doesn’t require a huge amount of food at all. It will only really need 0.25 to 0.5 cups of high-quality dry food per day to sustain its general activities. A number of dog food manufacturers have developed specific foods, with dietary and needs and size of food needs for individual breeds. Don’t forget that you will need to feed your Chihuahua puppy, food that has been specifically designed for their requirements as they are growing and then once the dog reaches about one year, you will be able to move them on to the adult selection of foods. If you want to read more about the best foods for a Chihuahua then I suggest you click through to my recommendations I have for the best food for small dogs.
Please note that all individual dogs diets depend on the dog itself, are they active, are they growing, are they large or their breed? There are a number of different factors that determine the amount of food that you feed your dog. What I really don’t like seeing are fat, overweight dogs that clearly haven’t been exercised sufficiently and being fed too much.
A simple method to find out if your Chihuahua is overweight is to, run your hands down the chest of your dog and you should be able to feel their rib cage without having to press too firmly. If you are unable to feel their ribs, then they are being fed too much and are not getting the required exercise necessary.
Chihuahua Grooming And Care
Brushing Their Coats
Chihuahuas come in two different coat lengths, either as short-haired Chihuahuas or long-haired Chihuahuas and each type of coat needs to be treated slightly differently. With the short-haired Chihuahua, you will simply need to brush them with a brush that is short and contains natural bristles while the long-haired Chihuahua will need to be brushed with a pin brush to help remove any knots in their coats.
Chihuahuas only shed their fur twice a year and provided that you maintain their weekly brushing requirements, you should find that the semi-annual brushing will not leave that much hair around your house. So regular brushing will keep the hairs during shedding season at bay.
Not only will your Chihuahua need to be groomed regularly, but I would suggest that you aim to brush their teeth a few times a week to establish good levels of dental hygiene. This will allow your dog to become accustomed to allowing you to actively open their mouths and invade their personal space peacefully.
Washing and Clipping Your Chihuahua
Now Chihuahuas are normally seen in handbags of notable female celebrities and rarely get dirty because of their lofty lifestyle. Provided that they are also brushed weekly, you may find that you only need to wash your Chihuahua once every couple of months. After cleaning, they will need to be dried and being a Chihuahua you will find that they are dried very quickly with a normal human hairdryer.
Chihuahuas do have a tendency to have excessive ear wax that can build up over the year, so as a check, I recommend that you smell their ears after their baths and try to clean any wax that has been built up. If their ears appear to be too dry, though, you may want to rub in some coconut or baby oil.
For all my recommended products and equipment that are suitable to keep your Chihuahua both healthy and cared for, please visit the Equipment and Products pages for reviews and suggestions.
Please note, whenever introducing cleaning, grooming or clipping to your Chihuahua they will initially be unaware of the procedure and consequently be nervous around the brush, toothbrush, and hairdryer. The easiest way to make sure they soon become used to this is to simply apply constant praise to them and reward them every time you have completed one of the tasks in maintaining your dog – a simple dog treat is a good idea.
Lastly, as part of grooming, you will want to apply monthly flea prevention once they are clean. I personally use Advantage as this has kept fleas away from Leo.
Insurance Rates for A Chihuahua
Remember, a Chihuahua is a purebred and will likely suffer from genetic health issues as they got older. Although I listed the main health issues this breed is likely to suffer during their lifetime, there are additional potential health issues that can give your dog an unpleasant trip to the vets and at the same time giving your wallet a potential shock to treat those health issues.
You easily find that a trip to the vets for a number of their common conditions can range from $500 to over $20,000 (£450 to £15,000 in the UK), it would, therefore, be prudent to make sure your Chihuahua has the right insurance coverage. When you take out insurance for your Chihuahua make sure that the insurance covers the following:
- Accident Coverage
- Illness Coverage
- Orthopaedic Conditions
- Hereditary Conditions
- Prescription Medications
Cost of Insurance For A Chihuahua
Throughout the US, expect to pay between $450 to $550 annually to provide sufficient insurance coverage for your Chihuahua. You can find deals in the UK for anywhere between £300 and £400, with similar coverage. This is a ‘designer dog’ that his highly sought after, hence the premiums are slightly higher when compared to other Toy breeds.
All Dog Insurance details and recommendations can be found on my Dog Insurance Page. As this website has been created for all English speaking people, there are different rules and insurance policies available for each of the following countries:
Chihuahua References and Resources
For further information about the Chihuahua and if you think this breed of dog is suitable for you, please visit the official UK and USA kennel club sites:
To return to the Toy Dog Breed Section.