The Chihuahua is the smallest breed of dog and is named after its place of origin in Chihuahua, Mexico. Chihuahuas come in many different varieties, and each is as unique as its owner.
Chihuahuas are known for their tiny size and large, dark eyes. They have large, erect ears, and a long, curled tail. These small dogs come in one of the largest varieties of colours, including black, white, chestnut, fawn, sand, silver, sable, steel blue, black, tan, or a mix. Not only can you get different coloured Chihuahuas, but dogs also vary by their coat length: long or short. Surprisingly, long-haired Chihuahuas tend to shed less than their short-haired cousins. As a result of all these variations, no two Chihuahuas are the same.
The average Chihuahua (both male and female) stands at about 15 – 23 cm tall and weighs just 1.7 – 3 kg. Like other small dog breeds, the Chihuahua has a rather long lifespan – up to 18 years.
Despite their small stature and the temptation to carry them around, the Chihuahua has a lot of energy. They should be taken on a daily walk and allowed to roam in an enclosed indoor or outdoor space. If their exercise needs are not satisfied, the dog may become anxious, neurotic, and develop a number of other behavioural problems.
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The Chihuahua’s personality is often reflective of that of its owner(s); however they are generally described as having a “terrier-like” temperament.
Despite their small size, Chihuahuas have big personalities and are often fiercely devoted to one of its masters – this devotion can occasionally become over-protective, leading the dog to become snappy or reserved around strangers. This aspect of their temperament makes them a poor option for families with young children. On the other hand, as they are a low-maintenance breed, they can make great companions for the elderly.
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The Chihuahua is the oldest dog breed in North America. The Techichi, from which the Chihuahua is believed to be descended, has been thought to have been depicted as far back as 300 BC. It is also possible that the breed originated when small hairless dogs were brought to Mexico from China and bred with native dogs.
The modern Chihuahua was discovered in the 1850s in Mexico. American visitors took the dog home with them and began to show them in 1890. It was first recognised with the American Kennel Club in 1904.
It is not known from which breeds the Chihuahua originated, though some believe it to have roots in the fennec fox. It is thought that the long-haired variety of Chihuahua arose out of breeding with Pomeranians or Papillons.
They became exceptionally popular in the 1930s and 40s and since the 60s they have consistently ranked among the AKC’s most popular dog breeds – today it is 22nd.