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Chihuahuas: Tiny Bodies, Big Hearts

Updated on March 21, 2011

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.

From Bandit, With Love
From Bandit, With Love

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.

Small, medium or large; they're all cute!
Small, medium or large; they're all cute!

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 short-haired Chihuahua
A short-haired Chihuahua
Red and Fawn, long-haired Chihuahuas
Red and Fawn, long-haired Chihuahuas

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.

Some Chihuahuas are very affectionate, even to cats!
Some Chihuahuas are very affectionate, even to cats!

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.

Regular visits to the vet keep your dog healthy and happy!
Regular visits to the vet keep your dog healthy and happy!

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.

Some people enjoy dressing up their Chihuahuas!
Some people enjoy dressing up their Chihuahuas!

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!

Chihuahuas are the best dog friends you can have!

A 'Beverly Hills Chihuahua' and her friends.
A 'Beverly Hills Chihuahua' and her friends.

Comments

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    • myawn profile image

      myawn 

      5 years ago from Florida

      I like the Chihuahaua dog too. have my pug Boo she is sweet and spoiled. I do want to get one some day. Nice hub voted up.

    • profile image

      CRO 

      7 years ago

      Adopted two chihuahuas. Wife and I have 4 cats already. My daughter and I chose the breed. The baby was adopted first from Pawsitive match in Calgary Alberta. She was a bit whiny and I suspect is a mix of min pin and Chihuahua. She is 3 mos old and housebroken. The following week we adopted the mom. We wanted two chihuahuas for company for each other. The mom is very very shy, yet very obedient. Neither dog barks much at all and are very very quiet. They both like classical music, either played by me or on the radio. They both like to cuddle also. Initially the mom was hesitant to go poo and pee while on leash. This was overcome in one day. Both my wife and I very consistent in their behavior. We walk them, when they go to the bathroom we put the leash on them, take them out, give them space and time to decide where to go on the lawn. After each poo and pee verbal praise and petting is done. We then walk back to the house, make them sit inside the front door. The leash is removed, praise is given, and then asked to stay. If done correctly, more praise is given. In the morning I take them backupstairs to the bathroom where they sleep together(open kennel by baby gate)have them sit, then give them a small treat if they sit correctly. Neither my wife nor I tolerate any misbehaving and are vigilant about correct training at all times. Both dogs are fabulous. I grew up with cats and wanted a small animal that was affectionate and yet intelligent enough to go places and walk with. Chihuahuas are more affectionate and a better pet/companion than cats. For the winters here in Calgary my plan is to get booties and coats for both dogs to provide for adaptation to the cold as much as possible so they are comfortable here. I hope to help them both live as long as possible.

    • profile image

      Jennifer 

      8 years ago

      I currently work at a humane society and am fostering a momma Chihuahua and her pups. It is sad to say but my favorite of the litter, the runt> had to be put down yesterday as the vet diagnosed her with the hydrocephalus. At first I just thought she was a little applehead Chi but at 5 weeks old when the other pups were starting to play with each other I noticed that she was not at the same level developmentally. It was sad to say good bye to her. I had plans on adopting her since I had spent so much time trying to keep her alive (she was 1/3 the size of her litter mates) Thank you for this article. I did not know much about hydrocephalus until today when I started researching it wondering if we made the right decision.

    • betherann profile image

      Beth Morey 

      8 years ago from Montana

      This is a great hub. I love my chihuahua, and he truly does have a big heart!

    • Simply Redd profile imageAUTHOR

      Simply Redd 

      9 years ago from Canada

      Thanks for your kind words! Always appreciated. :o)

    • RedElf profile image

      RedElf 

      9 years ago from Canada

      Finally - a hub I can comment on, lol ;) Some of your hubs have no comments capsules, so I kept looking til I found one.

      Nice writing and interesting topics - glad to finally meet you!

    • Simply Redd profile imageAUTHOR

      Simply Redd 

      9 years ago from Canada

      Thanks kartika, and I'm glad you enjoyed it! I have to admit, Chihuahuas definitely have a reputation for being yappy.

      A few weeks ago I parked beside someone with a female Chihuahua puppy in their vehicle. He brought her out for me to see and as soon as she saw my dog in the car, she went crazy; barking and squirming in his arms, trying to attack. He said he just had her flown in from Mexico. She sure was cute, but I wouldn't recommend purchasing a puppy unless you are able to see what the parents' personalities are like.

    • kartika damon profile image

      kartika damon 

      9 years ago from Fairfield, Iowa

      This was really fun and interesting to read - I have a chow mix and have always wondered about Chihuahuas. There are so cute - my concern was that they may be barkers and high strung! Thanks for the information! Kartika

    • Simply Redd profile imageAUTHOR

      Simply Redd 

      9 years ago from Canada

      The disposition of each parent is definitely reflected in their young. Thanks for your comments Waren, appreciate it!

    • Waren E profile image

      Waren E 

      9 years ago from HAS LEFT THE BUILDING............

      I guess it all has to do with the breeding,uniquely loyal and intelligent dogs with similar mates!

      Neat hub on Chihuahuas Simply Redd,It was a pleasure to read!

    • Simply Redd profile imageAUTHOR

      Simply Redd 

      9 years ago from Canada

      Thanks! I love them too. My husband and I have even been considering getting another one.

    • profile image

      lol 

      9 years ago

      i love those dogs their the only kind of dog ive ever had

    • Simply Redd profile imageAUTHOR

      Simply Redd 

      9 years ago from Canada

      Thanks davia! They are definitely smart. My husband thought all dogs were unintelligent before we met. Now he raves about how smart our Chihuahua is to anyone who will listen.

      :o)

    • profile image

      davia 

      9 years ago

      I have 2 of my own Use to love large breeds but now I love the chi's. low maintenance and very lovable. Extremely smart breed.

    • Simply Redd profile imageAUTHOR

      Simply Redd 

      9 years ago from Canada

      Thanks!

    • Hal Licino profile image

      Hal Licino 

      9 years ago from Toronto

      Great hub! Makes me want to have a chihuahua and I'm a cat lover! :)

    • profile image

      Lorraine 

      9 years ago

      Informative and uplifting. Brought a smile to my face.

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