Chihuahua

Chihuahuas are cute and energetic tiny size dogs that are fiercely devoted to their owners but can be snappy or reserved towards strangers. They have a lot of personality and a big dog attitude.
Recommended forSingles, families with older children
Breed ClassificationToy group
Other names-
Lifespan10-18 years
SizeToy
TemperamentLively, loyal, courageous
IntelligenceAverage
Tendency to barkVery high
Maintenance LevelMedium
Health RiskThis breed is in the lower risk category for developing health issues, hence it is one of the most affordable breeds to insure.

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Insuring a Chihuahua?

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Breed history of Chihuahuas

The Chihuahua is the world’s smallest dog and the oldest dog breed in North America. It is not known from which breeds the Chihuahua originated, but the Techichi, one of the probable ancestors of the breed, has been depicted on artefacts of ancient civilizations from as far back as 300 BC.

How the Chihuahua type first came to the peoples of Mexico is another secret of history. It is possible that small hairless dogs were brought to Mexico from China and bred with native dogs. The long-haired variety of Chihuahua may have arisen out of breeding with  Pomeranians or Papillons.

These hardy little dogs continued to exist in remote Mexican villages, particularly in the state of Chihuahua. The modern Chihuahua was discovered in the 1850’s by American visitors to Mexico. They took these dogs back to America and began to show them in 1890. The breed was first recognised by the American Kennel Club in 1904 and became exceptionally popular during the 1930’s and 40’s.

The first Australian Chihuahua imports arrived in the 1930’s, although the breed did not appear in Sydney until the 1950’s.

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Physical description of Chihuahuas

The Chihuahua is a small, dainty and compact dog.

The head is apple-domed and the eyes are large, round, luminous and very expressive.

The large, erect ears are flaring and set at an angle of approximately 45 degrees.

The Chihuahua coat come in long or short and in one of the largest varieties of colours of all breeds, including black, white, chestnut, fawn, sand, silver, sable, steel blue, black, tan, or a mix.

Weight range1.7 to 3 kg
Height range15 to 23 cm
ColoursLarge variety of colours
Coat lengthLong or short

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Chihuahua personality and temperament

Despite their small size, Chihuahuas have big personalities and big-dog attitude – they have been described as a Rottweiler in a tiny body, as having a “terrier-like” temperament and even of having a personality that reflects its owner’s!

Chihuahuas are brave, active, sensible dogs. They are very loyal and are often fiercely devoted to one of their masters; however, this devotion can sometimes become over-protective, leading the dog to become snappy or reserved around strangers.

As they are a low-maintenance breed, they can make great companions for the elderly. Compact and confident, Chihuahuas are ideal city pets.

Chihuahuas with kids and other pets

Chihuahuas are not recommended for families with young children. Their tiny bodies are too fragile for roughhousing and they could easily sustain an unintended injury from a well-meaning but ‘clumsy’ youngster attempting to play with or pick up the dog.

They can occasionally become over-protective, leading the dog to become snappy or reserved around strangers, children included. This aspect of their temperament also makes them a poor option for families with young children.

Chihuahuas tend to get along well with other pets in their own family. Be careful about mixing them with larger dogs, though – a big, playful dog can easily hurt a Chihuahua by accident. Additionally, they can look like prey to breeds with an instinct to hunt and chase, especially when they move quickly.

Chihuahua training and exercise

Despite their small stature and the temptation to carry them around, Chihuahuas have a lot of energy. They need around 20 to 30 minutes of exercise a day in order to be happy and healthy, but they can generally keep going for a lot longer than you would expect.

Chihuahuas can be taken on a short, slow daily walk, or simply trotting around following their people can provide enough exercise. They love to run and play and can usually get enough exercise in a very small space, whether indoors or outdoors.

If Chihuahuas do not get the exercise they need, they may become anxious, neurotic, and develop a number of other behavioural problems, such as turning into annoying, aggressive-sounding barkers.

Chihuahuas are very alert little dogs who seem well aware of how cute they are and soon learn how to get their way. Without training, they will rule the household like a little Napoleon. Fortunately, they are eager to please their humans and respond well to positive training practices and a firm but gentle hand.

Energy levelHigh
Exercise requirementsLow to medium

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Chihuahua feeding and nutrition

The Chihuahua should be fed a high-quality dog food appropriate to the dog’s age (puppy, adult, or senior) and level of activity. Adult Chihuahuas need only a small amount of food split between 2 to 3 meals per day.

Chihuahuas are prone to obesity, diabetes and dental problems, so extra care should be taken around their dietary and nutritional requirements. Avoid feeding them “people” food and excessive treats.

Check with your vet if you have any concerns about your dog’s weight or diet.

Chihuahua care and grooming

Chihuahuas’ grooming needs vary according to their coat length.

The smooth-coat Chihuahua needs only occasional brushing, while the longhaired variety should be brushed at least once a week to avoid any tangles or mats.

Surprisingly, long-haired Chihuahuas tend to shed less than their short-haired relatives.

As they are prone to dental disease, good dental care is necessary, including brushing their teeth.

Health issues for Chihuahuas

  • Patellar luxation is a condition common among small breeds, and occurs when the thigh bone, knee cap and calf are not in correct alignment, leading to lameness or an irregular gait (often a skip or a hop) and development of arthritis later in the dog’s life. The condition is usually fixable with surgery, but dogs with less serious cases often do not require treatment and are able to lead normal lives.
  • Hypoglycaemia or low blood sugar (hypoglycaemia) is a condition which can be treated easily but which can be fatal if left untreated. Hypoglycaemic puppies are often slow or listless and can be seen shivering or trembling. If these signs are present in the dog, put some honey under its tongue and take it to the vet immediately.
  • Heart murmurs occur when there is an interruption in the flow of blood through the heart chambers, indicating that there may be a larger heart issue that requires attention.
  • Pulmonic stenosis is caused by improper flow of blood through the heart due to a weak or malformed pulmonic valve, leading the heart to have to work harder in order to pump blood. This can lead to enlargement of the heart and possibly heart failure. Less serious cases may not require treatment, but surgery is recommended for severe cases.
  • Collapsed Trachea can occur when rapid inhalation causes the trachea to flatten, making it difficult to receive air into the lungs. Symptoms include dry, honking coughing, intolerance to exercise, difficulty breathing and gagging when eating or drinking. Any dog exhibiting these symptoms should see a vet as soon as possible.
  • Hydrocephalus is caused by an accumulation of cerebrospinal fluid in the brain, causing pressure and swelling. There is no cure, but in some cases steroids may help reduce pressure. Severely affected puppies usually die before the age of 4 months.
  • Open Fontanel refers to a soft spot in the skull that may or may not close with maturity. Like babies, Chihuahuas are born with a soft spot at the top of their head, so it is important to treat the puppy with extreme care as an accidental hit to the head could cause a serious injury.
  • Other conditions Because of their large eyes, Chihuahuas are prone to corneal dryness and other eye problems. They can gain weight easily, which may lead to obesity. Ingestion of even a small amount of a toxic substance (e.g. chocolate) could kill the Chihuahua because of its tiny size. The Chihuahua is also prone to rheumatism, colds, and gum problems.

Not all conditions are covered by Pet Insurance. For details of Bow Wow Meow Pet Insurance cover, refer to the Product Disclosure Statement.

What do Chihuahua owners claim for the most?

  • Patella Luxation
  • Faecal Appearance - Abnormal
  • Pain - Presenting Complaint
  • Otitis Externa
  • Cardiomyopathy

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    Chihuahua facts!

    • Paris Hilton is a devoted Chihuahua fan, while other celebrity owners include Reese Witherspoon, Jennifer Love Hewitt, Hilary Duff, Britney Spears, Marilyn Monroe, Madonna and Jennifer Lopez.
    • Chihuahuas have starred in many movies, including Legally Blonde and Beverly Hills Chihuahua.
    • Chihuahuas have been depicted in paintings by Vittore Carpaccio, Alessandro Botticelli and Pietro Longhi
    • Because Chihuahuas’ heads are often too large for the birthing canal, most Chihuahua mothers have to give birth via caesarean.
    • Chihuahuas have been known to have litters of up to ten pups.
    • In terms of body to brain ratio, Chihuahuas have the biggest brain of any dog breed.

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    MORE INFORMATION

    Chihuahua Club of VIC Inchttp://www.chihuahuaclubvictoria.com/

    Chihuahua Club of SA Inchttp://www.chihuahuaclubofsainc.com/

    Chihuahua Rescue Australia Inchttp://chihuahuarescueaustralia.com/

    Chihuahua Rescue Victoriahttp://www.chihuahuarescuevictoria.org/

    Chihuahua Rescue QLDhttp://www.chihuahuarescueqld.com.au/

    Perth Chihuahua Rescuehttp://www.perthchihuahuarescueinc.com.au/

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