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Chihuahuas As Family Dogs

Updated on December 10, 2015

Chihuahua Traits

Chihuahuas thrive on human attention, and are great lap dogs.  These dogs can be stubborn at times, but develop their own personality.  They are very intelligent dogs and are easily motivated by treats, toys, and affection.  Many Chihuahua owners find training their dogs easy.

Chihuahuas tend to be loyal towards one owner.  These dogs can also become very protective of that owner, and very territorial.  Chihuahuas have been known to be aggressive when on the defensive and are perhaps not suitable for a family with young children.  The Chihuahua is a very fragile dog because of it's small size.  Young children may accidentally harm the dog by stepping on him or her, unintentionally dropping the dog, or accidently hitting the dog with toys or furniture. 

Many Chihuahua owners say the dog has big personality but is unaware of it's small size.  Therefore, the Chihuahua is not afraid to defend him or herself when the dog feels threatened.  Whether the dog is feeling threatened by a child or another animal. 

This dog breed has a reputation for being a “picky eater” the owner will have to make sure the Chihuahua gets the nutrition it needs.  The Chihuahua is at risk of becoming obese if fed table scraps and human food, which will decrease the dog’s overall health and lifespan.  But these dogs do crave attention, affection and exercise.  They love being petted and are eager to please. 

They can bark a lot, but will learn to be quite with firm, consistent training.  When they socialize with other dogs they are known to prefer the companionship of other Chihuahuas over other dogs.  However, it is not recommended to have other pets in the house before getting a Chihuahua, as bigger dogs may harm the Chihuahua accidentally or in attempts to claim dominance, over the small fragile dog.  Sight-hound breeds and terriers breeds are especially incompatible with Chihuahuas. 

The Chihuahuas small size put the dog at risk of predators and birds of prey.  Keep your dog safe by also being close by when outdoors and keeping a close eye on the dog at all times.  Using a leash with your chihuahua will also help deter predators from taking an interest in the small dog.

The Chihuahua often “trembles” when it is stressed, excited or cold.  This is a psychological and biological behavior that can serve to increase the bond between the dog and owner.  These dogs also like to snuggle and dig in their bedding to “get cozy” and this can lead to more playful behavior.

Chihuahua Dog.  Picture from Google Images.
Chihuahua Dog. Picture from Google Images.

Chihuahua Breed History

The origin of the Chihuahua is not certain; there are three ideas of how this tiny dog came to be. 

Some say the Chihuahua was used in sacred rituals by the Pre-Columbian Indian Nations, as they were seen as holy beings. 

Another idea is the dogs originated in Malta, an island in the Mediterranean where they travelled on the trading ships to Europe.  Supporters of this theory believe that there are famous paintings of small dogs in the Sistine Chapel from 1492 which resemble the size and appearance of the Chihuahua. 

The third idea is that the Chihuahua was brought to Mexico from China over 200 years ago.  In support of this theory Chihuahuas would have descended from Techichi, a companion breed of dog favored by the Toltec civilization in Mexico. The Aztecs learned about the dog when they conquered the Toltecs. 

The Aztecs believed the dog beheld mystical powers.  At this time, the Chihuahua was still bigger than we are familiar with today.  Over the years, the breed has been bred to be even smaller, to the size we commonly see today.  Chihuahua popularity spread among Texas, Arizona and New Mexico where the breed was adopted into the United States.  The Chihuahua was recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1904 and has remained constantly popular. 

Health Care Symbol from Google Images.
Health Care Symbol from Google Images.

Chihuahuas Health Promotion

Chihuahuas are very susceptible to certain health issues such as:

Epilepsy -a seizure disorder.  Not curable, but treated with monitoring and medication.  A close relationship with your veterinarian will promote the dog's best health.

Hydrocephalus - A congenital disorder of fluid around the brain, these dogs are born with a soft spot on the skull known as morela fills, that sometimes does not close properly as they grow.  Unfortunately, this condition leads to a poor prognosis.  However, a certified breeder or shelter staff will be able to discuss with you the assessment process for this condition and provide you will reassurance of your dog's health.  Please ask about it, so you don't have to worry. 

 Hypoglycemia -  Low blood sugar levels because of their small size.  Modified through a specialized diet, and perhaps, more frequent feedings.

Eye tearing/ infections - are common in this breed because of their big round eyes and small eyelashes that do not offer much protection.  Treated by using eye cleaner regularly and maybe a temporary course of antibiotics.

Heart Murmurs-Irregularity in the way the heart pumps the blood effectively.  Treatable with medication and possible surgery depending in the dog's age, health and size (or grade) of the murmur at diagnosis.  Your veterinarian can advise the best treatment for your individual situation. 

Luxating Patella -Or "sliding knee cap".  Can be painful for the dog, but is treatable with surgery and temporary, post-operative pain management.

All breeds are susceptible to specific disorders.  Each breed can be affected to varying degrees.  The idea of listing the common illnesses for each breed is not to discourage you from wanting a specific breed if you find it a perfect fit for your family; but to help you better prepare for the future health of your dog.   As well as provide you with the knowledge necessary to get a dog in the best optimum health.

I encourage owners to develop a strong relationship with a consistent veterinarian who the owner and dog both can bond with.  Adequate medical care is a financial expense, but a necessity for being a responsible dog owner.

Have a Chihhuahua Already? Share Your Stories Here!

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    • yuliss profile imageAUTHOR

      yuliss 

      7 years ago

      You're welcome:)

      ~Yuliss

    • AliciaC profile image

      Linda Crampton 

      7 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Several dogs have been in my family over the years, including two at the moment, but I've never had a chihuahua as a companion. Thank you for the information about this breed. It was interesting to learn about chihuahuas, since I didn't know much about them before I read your hub.

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