Chiweenie Health Tips
Health Risks From Both Sides
Chiweenie: Mixed Breed
A Chiweenie is a mixed breed consisting of part Dachshund and part Chihuahua. Each breed has its own health issues and diseases that are inherited by puppies bred from this hybrid. This means your Chiweenie may have one or more health issues from either breed -- and then again, he/she may have none.
Knowing which health issues your pet is predisposed to can help you prevent or lessen the consequences of these illnesses. Take your Chiweenie for regular check-ups, even if he/she is looking and feeling fine. Early detection of any disease can drastically improve the outcome of your pet's health and the quality of his/her life.
Long Back = Possible Disc Problems
The Chiweenie gets its long body, short legs, and snout from the Dachshund. This makes it a target for back/spine injuries such as slipped discs. Keep a watchful eye on your dog, and do not let him/her jump up or off of high walls or other structures that could cause back injuries -- especially if he/she is an older dog.
Chihuahuas are prone to knee dislocation, or knee slipping. (I had to physically feel around Shadow's little leg to locate his knee -- I never thought of dogs having knees.) To prevent knee injuries make sure there are no holes in the yard -- especially if the backyard is your dog's domain. Tripping can twist or sprain your pet's ankle and/or cause a knee injury, so be careful when you take him/her to the park where holes are not easy to see..
Remember, your Chiweenie is like a little child so you have to walk ahead of him/her and take note of bad terrain or obstables that may make him/her trip or fall. Find level ground or sidewalks to walk your pet on, so you can avoid accidents that may injure your Chiweenie.
Diabetes, Hypoglycemia and More
Chiweenies inherit a predisposition to diabetes (high blood sugar) or hypoglycemia (low blood sugar). They also inherit low thyroid (hypothyroidism), dental caries (cavities), and seizures from the Chihuahua side of this breed.
Shadow has never had a seizure, but if your dog starts shaking or convulsing uncontrollably please take him/her to the vet immediately.
I am not sure about dog's, but when people have a seizure you are supposed to put a rag in their mouth and make them bite it. This is to prevent them from biting their tongue, and it may also be a good idea for your Chiweenie, too. If it keeps them from biting their tongue, it is worth it!
Symptoms of Diseases/Health Issues
The following is a list of diseases and weaknesses inherent to Chiweenies -- and their associated symptoms.
Diseases/health issues from Chihuahua-side & symptoms:
- Hypoglycemia: Shivering, sudden weakness, loss of coordination, possible seizures.
- Kneecap dislocation/slipping (luxating patellas): Pain, limping or avoidance of movement due to pain.
- Hydrocephalus ("water on the brain"): Abnormal "rounding" of the head, open fontanel ("soft spot"), seizures, difficulty walking.
Diseases/health issues from Dachshund side and their symptoms:
- Hypothyroidism: Skin disorders, weight gain, heart problems.
- Diabetes: Drinking lots of water, urinating often, dull coat, loss of vision.
- Degenerative Disc Disease (slipped spinal disc): Lethargy, shivering, pain; can lead to paralysis.
- Seizures: Disorientation, uncontrollable twitching or convulsing, salivating, urinating, and defecating.
If your dog shows any symptoms mentioned above but you are not sure if it is serious or not, do not hesitate to take him/her to your local veterinarian!
Our Chiweenie's Misadventures
Shadow: His Story
Shadow the Chiweenie was originally my sister's dog. She acquired Shadow as a puppy; he was a gift for her daughter. Shadow grew up and lived at my sister's house for nine years - he was part of the family. How did Shadow end up with me?
To make a long story short: my sister let her 2nd daughter have a puppy, and not a small puppy. This puppy, a German-Shepherd/Husky mix, was not small now and was going to grow up to be a big dog, while Shadow, weighs 19 pounds, is feisty, and territorial. The combination of the two was almost lethal.
Near Death Scenario
Shortly after they brought the new puppy home, Shadow got in a terrible fight with the "puppy" that nearly cost him his life. Monica rushed Shadow to the vet immediately after getting them separated.
The vet said the puppy almost bit Shadow in the juggler vein. They said Shadow is lucky to be alive. The vet gave Shadow some stitches on his throat, and he was unable to bark for several weeks.
For Shadow's Sake
My sister brought Shadow over to our home, and explained what happened between the two dogs. She asked if we could take care of him for awhile until she could figure something out. Of course, we could not say no, especially after all the little guy had been through.
Not long after caring for Shadow, we fell in love with him. His cuteness, that sad look in his eyes, and his "personality" took our hearts. He is a very affectionate little dog that loves being in the presence of people. Shadow is charming.
Warning: Chiweenies Are Feisty
Living with Shadow, I have seen how feisty Chiweenie's can get, regardless of how small they are. As a warning, please be careful when you walk your Chiweenie, as they are extremely competitive and territorial. For their health and longevity, avoid situations where other dogs are present. If it cannot be avoided, pick him/her up and carry him/her to safety before putting your dog back on the ground. Or you can try shortening their leash, but keep your distance from all other dogs!
Eye Accident in Backyard
In late spring of 2014 Shadow came up with a red eye that became infected and spread to his other eye. We took him to the vet, and she said it looked like he jabbed his eye with something. I looked at his eye, and then I saw that his right pupil was dipped out -- like he ran into a thorn and it scraped into his left pupil.
Blind and Cataracts
The vet gave us a prescription for his eye infection, and eventually, the infection went away. He is basically blind now, but I think he may see us as hazy objects. At first he was running into walls and stuff -- he'd walk a little, bounce into something, then correct himself. Poor Shadow.
Sometimes we forget about him being blind, and we go and place something right in his path. Sure enough, he bumps into it. We have to keep the backyard (his domain) stable by keeping objects in the same place. Being blind is not easy, so please be nice and keep a clear path for your dog where he/she can find food and clean water without bumping into things.
Shadow's had cataracts on both eyes since before the eye accident, so he was already having trouble with his vision. But we were all bummed out when this happened to Shadow. His vision was poor, but now it was done. It couldn't have happened to a nicer dog.
Current Health Status
Other than his blindness, Shadow is a very healthy spayed male. In the morning he is as energetic as a puppy! He runs around, sometimes skipping on one back leg, waving his tail around, and trying to "talk". He knows he gets to go for a walk in the morning so he lines himself up to get his leash hooked onto his collar. Morning is his most chipper time.
Avoid Feeding Dogs These Foods: May Cause Seizures
Based On Shadow's Health
Energetic and Healthy
Shadow weighs about 20 pounds. His weight never fluctuates -- it is always the same. He controls his weight by "fasting" (no eating) about once every ten days. My husband, Jerry, usually feeds him so it frustrates him when Shadow pulls a "fast" one because it is a waste of food. (It would be nice if Jerry or myself could predict the day he wants to fast!)
Shadow is very energetic in the morning. He gets excited and acts like a little kid because he gets to take a walk with Jerry. But now that Shadow is mostly blind, Jerry has to keep a closer eye on him so he doesn't fall off the curb!
Chiweenies Get Cold Easily
Chihuahuas get cold and shiver easily. So I believe this is why Chiweenies also get cold easily and shiver -- it's an inherited trait.
I live in Southern California, but when it is about 60 degrees F (15.5 Celsius) or less, I make Jerry put a sweater on Shadow, otherwise he is cold and shivering.
Shadow has short hair, so it always looks brushed. I still brush his fur every once in a while, and the brush always fills with fur quickly. Chiweenies love having their fur brushed, so please offer your dog this luxury.
Cutting their nails is best left to a professional pet groomer, and even they accidentally cut the quick, sadly. In fact, I took Shadow to get his nails clipped by a groomer and she said that she's been cutting dog nails for 47 years and she still dreads having to do it because sometimes she cuts a nail to the quick -- so do not trim your pet's nails yourself. My husband tried cutting Shadow's nails several months ago and vowed never again -- he didn't like hurting him.
As for bathing, you should bathe your Chiweenie whenever he stinks, or about once a month. Shadow doesn't like water, so he really hates baths. He runs around in a circle really fast after his bath-- he seems to go a little berserk!
After his circle-run he rolls around in the grass to get dirty again. Silly dog.
© 2014 Miriam Parker