Recommended for: Singles, families with older children
Maintenance level: Medium
Lifespan: 10-18 years
Temperament: Intelligent, loyal
Health Risk: This breed is in the lower risk category for developing health issues, hence it is one of the most affordable breeds to insure.
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.
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.
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.
Chihuahuas are intelligent dogs, but some can find they are a bit of a challenge to train or housebreak. Training and socialising the dog at a young dog may help with this.
Because it is such a tiny dog, the Chihuahua can often be prone to “Small Dog Syndrome”, in which its owners let it get away with things a larger dog would not, such as jumping up to greet people. In addition, just because the Chihuahua is smaller, this does not mean it needs less exercise and mental stimulation. As with all dogs, Chihuahuas require a daily walk and enough space at home to run and play. A Chihuahua who does not receive adequate physical activity becomes snappy, protective, and untrustworthy of other humans.
COMMON CHIHUAHUA DISEASES & CONDITIONS
- Patellar Luxation
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.
Toy dogs are occasionally prone to low blood sugar (hypoglycaemia), 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
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
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
Rapid inhalation can cause 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
Like babies, Chihuahuas are born with a soft spot at the top of their head. Even though the spot usually closes, it is important to treat the puppy with extreme care as an accidental hit to the head could kill it.
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 things toxic to dogs (e.g. chocolate) could kill the Chihuahua as it is very small. The Chihuahua is also prone to rheumatism, colds, and gum problems.
INTERESTING CHIHUAHUA FACTS
- Paris Hilton is a devoted Chihuahua fan, but other celebrity owners include Reese Witherspoon, Jennifer Love Hewitt, Hilary Duff, Britney Spears, Marilyn Monroe, Madonna and Jennifer Lopez own or have owned Chihuahuas.
- Chihuahuas have starred in many movies, such as Legally Blonde, Beverly Hills Chihuahua and
- Early in their history, Chihuahuas were called “Arizona Dogs” or “Texas Dogs” due to these states’ proximity to Mexico.
- 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.
Chihuaha Club of NSW: http://www.chihuahuaclubofnsw.com/
Chihuahua Rescue Victoria: http://www.chihuahuarescuevictoria.org/
Chihuahua Specialists Australia: http://www.chihuahuaspecialists.com/
Chihuahua Pet Insurance Quote
Getting pet insurance for your Chihuahua will help ensure you can always afford the best vet care for them. Bow Wow Meow offers a range of flexible pet insurance options including cover for accidental injury, illness and routine care.
Wondering how much it would cost to insure your Chihuahua if you got one? It’s quick and easy to get a quote.
(Note: dogs must be over 8 weeks old to take out insurance, so please enter a birth date to reflect this when getting an indicative quote.)