Chihuahua

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Chihuahua

HomeDog Breeds > Chihuahua
Family: 

companion, Southern (pariah)


Other Name: 

none


Area of Origin: 

Mexico


Date of Origin: 

1500s


Today's Function: 

companion


Original Function: 

ceremonial


Overview:  

The Chihuahua is the smallest breed of dog, and its history is controversial. Several theories of its origin abound, including one that this breed may have existed in Egypt as long ago as 3,000 years.

Chihuahua Breed Health


Note: 

A soft spot (molera) in the skull (due to incomplete fontanel closure) is a common breed trait.


Avg Size of Female: 

Height: 6 – 9 inches, Weight: less than 6 pounds


Suggested tests: 

cardiac, knee


Avg Size of male: 

Height: 6 – 9 inches, Weight: less than 6 pounds


Major concerns: 

none


Minor concerns: 

pulmonic stenosis, hydrocephalus, patellar luxation, KCS, hypoglycemia


Life span: 

14 – 18 years


Occasionally seen: 

none


Chihuahua Breed History

Another theory is that this breed started in China, and it was brought to the New World by Spanish traders. It is believed it was then crossed with other small, native dogs. The third theory asserts that the dog was created in Central and South America, and that it descended from a native dog called “Techichi.” The Techichi was a small, mute dog sometimes used in sacrificial ceremonies in the Toltec religion. Apparently it was believed that a small red dog could guide the soul to the underworld, so every Aztec family was known to keep such a dog. The animal was sacrificed and buried with each deceased family member. It is also a possibility that the Techichi was used as food by the Toltecs and the Aztecs. However, it seems that the Techichis were cared for and adored by their families during their somewhat short lives. The most likely beginning of the Chihuahua is probably a combination of these theories, but the era of its true origin is unknown. It could be that the Chinese dogs were brought over when there was a land bridge over the Bering Strait, or they could have been brought at a later time by Spanish traders. It is said that in the 16 th century, when Cortes conquered the Aztecs, these little dogs were abandoned. It was about 300 years later, in approximately 1850, three tiny dogs were found in Chihuahua, Mexico. While a handful of them were brought to America, they did not garner much attention. It was only when Xavier Cugat made his Chihuahua a constant companion when appearing in public that the breed capture the attention of the American public. After that, the dog quickly became very popular, and its popularity in the United States continues today.

Chihuahua Breed Appearance

Small and graceful, the Chihuahua is slightly longer than it is tall. Its front legs are straight and feature small, dainty feet with cushioned pads. The hindquarters are muscular. The head has a rounded skull, and the eyes are full and luminous, offering an expression of sauciness. The ears are large and held erect, while the moderately short muzzle is slightly pointed with lean cheeks and jaws. The nose is usually either self-colored or black, and the teeth meet in a level or scissors bite. The slightly arched neck slopes gracefully into the shoulders. The tail is moderately long, and it is carried like a sickle. The gait of the Chihuahua is swift and firm. The smooth coat variety is soft in texture and glossy in appearance. The long coat is also soft, and it is either flat or slightly curly, usually with an undercoat. The long coat also has fringed ears and a plumed tail. Feathering can be found on feet and legs, and a large ruff is sometimes found on the neck. The coat of either variety can be found in any color and be solid, marked, or splashed.

Chihuahua Breed Temperament

The Chihuahua is one of the most popular toy breeds because of its saucy personality and its devotion to its owner. This breed is usually reserved with strangers and can at times become jealous, but it is generally good with other dogs and pets in the home. It should be socialized at an early age to prevent aggressiveness with other dogs and timidity with strangers. The Chihuahua has been known to be temperamental. It may snap at children if it is being teased, and it is best for households with older, gentle children. This is a loyal and intelligent dog that is quick to learn if a gentle, positive training approach is used. Some may be difficult to housebreak, and many owners decide to just paper train this breed.

Chihuahua Breed Maintenance

The coat for the smooth Chihuahua is easy to maintain. Simply brush or wipe the coat with a damp cloth occasionally. Caring for the long coat Chihuahua is also quite simple – just brush it several times a week with a soft bristle brush. Both types can be bathed about once a month, but be sure to prevent water from getting in the ears. The nails should be trimmed on a regular basis. This breed is considered to be an average shedder. Lively and inquisitive, the Chihuahua gets plenty of exercise indoors, but it does enjoy walking and exploring, and it should be kept on a leash when outside. It is very sensitive to the cold, and it will seek out warmth. A sweater is a good idea on cool days. This breed is very good for apartment living. While it may be tempting to carry this little dog, it should be walked to keep in shape. A body harness is suggested, as it is safer for this dainty breed than a collar.

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