Chihuahuas: Tiny Bodies, Big Hearts
A Little Chihuahua History:
The Chihuahua, named for the state of Chihuahua, Mexico, is one of the smallest dog breeds in the world. Archaeological discoveries and folklore both indicate that this breed comes from Mexico. Chihuahuas are also believed to be descendants of the Techichi, a breed of dog favored as companions by the Toltecs nation. While Techichi were slightly larger than a Chihuahua, there is a strong resemblance. The Aztecs, conquerors of the Toltecs, alleged that the Techichi possessed mystical powers. Over time, Chihuahuas have continued to be a popular breed, especially in North America.
A Girl’s Best Friend
I’ve had my Chihuahua for eleven years now and he is more than just a pet to me.
He’s my baby boy and is treated as a member of the family, travelling with me everywhere I go. This makes for a pretty lame social life, no movie theaters or restaurants, but having him in my life is very rewarding.
My parents gave him to me as a gift and I named him Bandito,or Bandit for short. Some people might think dogs are not overly intelligent, but I beg to differ. They can easily be taught to recognize and understand what words mean and even seem to have some form of a thought process. Just ask my husband, the reformed cat lover.
Chihuahuas Come in All Sizes
Breed standards for a Chihuahua specify a weight and description of their proportions, but do not include a height. This has resulted in varied heights within the breed. Typically, their height is between 6 and 10 inches, but can be as tall as twelve to fifteen inches. For show competitions a Chihuahua must be no more than 6 pounds as stated by both American and British breed standards. Although, smaller dogs of 2 to 4 pounds are preferred.
Breeders of Chihuahuas will frequently use terms such as tiny, toy, teacup or miniature to describe the puppies, however they are not acknowledged by breed standards as they can be misleading.
A Coat of Many Colors
Chihuahuas have two types of coats: long-haired and short-haired, also described as smooth-coat. The name smooth-coat doesn’t necessarily mean the hair is smooth, as it can be whiskery to the touch or velvety smooth. Chihuahuas with long hair are usually softer with a downy undercoat giving them a fluffy look. Unlike other long haired breeds, Chihuahuas with long hair require minimal grooming but no trimming. They also shed much less than the short-haired breed. It can take as long as two years or more for a long-haired coat to fully develop.
A Chihuahua's coat comes in a variety of colors, some of which include Black, Blue, Chocolate, Cream, Fawn or Red – the color of my little guy. A spotted coat is known as Merle coloring . Some types of patterns include brindle, piebald spotting, Irish spotting, tan points or masks. A Merle coat, associated with inbreeding or genetic diseases, is not considered a breed standard.
Categorizing the different colors of Chihuahuas can be quite difficult due to the huge number of combinations. Some dogs have chocolate and tan colors or a blue brindle coat. The combined colors may even have an effect on each other, resulting in a large variation. Although a blue Chihuahua is considered rare, no pattern or color is more precious than the classic fawn.
Not All Chihuahuas Are Temperamental
Chihuahuas are naturally protective and territorial; they may easily be provoked into attacking and are unsuitable to be around small children. They sometimes feel intimidated, due to their small size, and will lash out by biting. However, this is not always the case. Some Chihuahuas are very sweet and can be intensely loyal to their owners.
Most Chihuahuas yearn for affection, petting or attention. Some are hyper, yet eager to please. They’ve gotten the reputation of being a yappy dog but this can be controlled through proper training. Long-haired Chihuahuas seem to be calmer than the short-haired variety.
Some Health Concerns to Watch For:
The Chihuahua breed is prone to many health problems like epilepsy, neurological disorder and genetic anomalies. Professional veterinary attention is required in areas like dental care and birthing.
Chihuahuas can be born with abnormally large heads; a sometimes painful disease called hydrocephalus. Other symptoms of this disease include sluggishness, slow growth and patchy skull platelets. Another condition that can be present at birth is moleras, a soft spot in the skull or an incomplete skull. It usually fills in with age but requires great care during the first 6 months of the dogs life. Some veterinarians are unfamiliar with the Chihuahua breed and can mistakenly diagnose hydrocephalus as moleras. Even when diagnosed properly, the prognosis is usually grim.
Other common ailments of Chihuahuas include hypoglycemia, or having low blood sugar and eye infections. Consult your vet for treatments of any of these conditions.
Some Chihuahuas will often tremble but it’s not usually a health issue. This can happen when the dog is cold, excited or stressed. One possible explanation is that their high metabolism causes their heat to dissipate faster. Most owners dress their Chihuahuas in sweaters or coats when out in the cold air. I’ve also found that Chihuahuas like to snuggle under blankets or by their owners side when sleeping.
An Overweight Chihuahua May Be Cute, But It’s Not Healthy
Care must be taken when feeding a Chihuahua, to not overfeed them. With their small size it’s easy for them to become overweight, making them more susceptible to chronic bronchitis, tracheal collapse, and joint injuries. Being overweight will likely shorten a Chihuahuas life span. Avoid giving them human food, sugary treats or anything fatty.
With proper care and nutrition a Chihuahua can live as long as eighteen years. Having a pet can enrich your own quality of life. I highly recommend it!