The Chihuahua’s tiny stature and huge, expressive eyes combine to result in what many people find to be irresistible cuteness. Looks can be deceiving, however, and if you’re hoping the Chihuahua will make an obedient, little lapdog, you might want to think again.
Despite their size, Chihuahuas are, in fact, highly independent. Very intelligent and with a definite stubborn streak, their natures are more akin to the Terrier breed than the Toy Group to which they belong. Yet, given half a chance, they will prove themselves to be fiercely loyal friends for life.
Height: 6-10 inches (15-25 cm)
Weight: 3-6 lbs (1.4-2.7 kgs)
Average Litter Size: 5 puppies
Life Expectancy: Up to 18 years
Good with Children: No – Chihuahuas are very delicate and can be easily injured. They are also prone to snap if they feel threatened. As such, it isn’t advisable to introduce a Chihuahua into a home with small children, for both the child’s and Chihuahua’s safety
Kennel Club Classification: Toy Group
Chihuahuas can be any of a wide range of colours, including black, white, cream, fawn, chocolate, blue, red or a mixture of these. According to the Kennel Club classification, the only colour not permitted for a Chihuahua is merle.
The Chihuahua is typically either short-haired or long-haired. Whilst short-haired Chihuahuas tend to malt more than their long-haired counterparts, those with longer hair will also need regular grooming to prevent their coats from becoming tangled. Compared with other breeds though, Chihuahuas are relatively easy to groom, requiring only a regular brush once or twice a week.
Whilst not an ailment as such, owners should be aware that Chihuahuas are extremely delicate due to their size. Chihuahua puppies are the only breed born without a fully formed skull so they should be handled very carefully for the first few months of their lives.
Chihuahuas aren’t prone to any particular health conditions although some issues are more likely to manifest in smaller dogs, for instance Patellar Luxation where the legs don’t properly align, and Hypoglycaemia, which is low blood sugar. In addition, due to the size of their eyes and the fact that these are very close to the ground, owners should be sure to keep the eyes clean by bathing after walks to avoid infection. Chihuahuas are also prone to shiver from excitement, anxiety and/or cold.
Despite its size, the Chihuahua has a big personality. Inquisitive and curious, Chihuahuas typically love to explore and investigate and won’t miss a chance to escape through open car windows or between fence panels should the opportunity arise. The Chihuahua’s boldness and disregard for its own size can sometimes cause it to challenge much larger dogs and its tenacity means that it will stand its ground even when the odds seem overwhelmingly out of its favour.
Chihuahuas are faithful and territorial and will often become strongly attached to a single member of the family. They love to accompany their people anywhere and everywhere and can sometimes become distressed if left on their own for too long.
Due to their high intelligence level, Chihuahuas are often eager to learn and respond well to praise and rewards. However, owing to their tenacity, they prefer to do things in their own time and will sometimes become contrary if scolded too strongly.
As such, training your Chihuahua will require more than a little patience and consistency and house-training in particular can sometimes take a little longer than usual. Whilst incredibly cute, Chihuahuas nevertheless require the same training as any other breed and if spoilt or overindulged can become extremely demanding.
Given the correct handling, Chihuahuas can excel at obedience and agility – the trick is to make training as fun as possible so as to capture and keep your Chihuahua’s attention and enthusiasm.
Like all breeds of dog, it is advisable to ensure that your Chihuahua gets a degree of outdoor exercise every day. However, this can be considerably less for a Chihuahua than many other breeds. You will find that your tiny friend will enjoy indoor games as much as a good run in the park and whilst their innate curiosity generally results in considerable activity, Chihuahuas are content to explore indoors as much as out.
Whilst not entirely certain, the general consensus is that the Chihuahua originated in the state of Chihuahua in Mexico in the mid-1800s. Prior to this, the Chihuahua’s origins are murkier, with some believing that they descended from the Techichi, a small, long-haired dog domesticated by some native North American tribes and later used in funeral rituals by the Aztecs, and others theorising that its existence was the result of cross-breeding of the Chinese Crested and/or Xoloitzcuintli, both hairless dogs originating in China and Mexico respectively.
It seems pretty certain, however, that Chihuahuas were sold by Mexicans to American tourists in the late 19th century which is how they came to spread throughout the USA and then the wider world, with the Chihuahua making its first appearance in the show ring in the 1890s.
The first Chihuahua was registered with the American Kennel Club in 1904, with the Chihuahua Club of America being established 19 years later to raise awareness of the breed and provide relevant information and advice. The UK’s Kennel Club officially recognised the Chihuahua breed in 1948. Since the 1960s when the general desirability for dogs became less about their working ability and more about their companionship, the breed has grown in popularity with dog-lovers around the globe.
Nowadays, the Chihuahua is consistently ranked as one of the most popular dog breeds in the UK, USA, Australia and Canada, as well as numerous other countries. Thanks to its fun-loving nature and convenient size, it is probable that this will remain the case for many years to come.
Paris Hilton’s “Tinkerbell” is one of the most famous Chihuahuas of all time. The celebrity was rarely seen out of the company of her furry friend and even named her 2004 memoirs after her.