Dog Breeds > Chihuahua
|Group||Companion / Pet Dog|
Varieties: a) short-haired; b) long-haired.
Even though the Chihuahua is tiny, it is a dog with a well-balanced and harmonious structure. Its head is shaped like an apple with a short snout and big, straight ears set wide apart. Its eyes are slightly prominent with a lively expression. The stop is well defined. Its compact body is longer than it is high and cylindrical. The paws are long and slim.
Fur: short or long, depending on the variety.
Color: all colors and a blend of colors are accepted, but the tan or brown, chocolate color, tan or brindle brown, white, cream, silver fawn, gray, silver, black and black and tan are preferred.
Size: 16 to 20 cm.
Weight: 0.5 to 2.5 kg.
Origins and History
It is a breed native to northern Mexico. More specifically, it hails from the Chihuahua state of Mexico, from which it derives its name. Once, it was the favorite dog of Aztec princesses. It was ‘discovered’ at the end of the 19th century by the Americans, and it became very popular in the USA before spreading worldwide.
Character and Abilities
It has a very dynamic and cheerful nature, but its strong character makes it suspicious of strangers, so much so that it will bark to scare them. Its size limits its abilities and “forces” it into the role of pet dog. However, its wariness and its intensive barking make it a great “alarm” dog and, therefore, a kind of guard dog. It might be wise to pair a Chihuahua (“alarm” guard dog type) with a bigger dog (active or “armed” guard dog) in the garden. The Chihuahua barks at other dogs quite a lot, is quite courageous and does not fear bigger rivals.
The bad descent of the testicles in young male chihuahua (cryptorchidism) is not exceptional. Females are predisposed to difficult deliveries.
Like many small breeds, the female Chihuahua is at risk of serious nervous breakdowns following a drop in blood calcium levels (eclampsia or puerperal tetany), especially 6 weeks after delivery.
The Chihuahua needs to live indoors, even if it can spend hours outside. Due to its small size, living in an apartment is well suited, but do not forget to take him out regularly as it is a very active dog. The Chihuahua is quite sensitive to the cold, especially if it is of the short-haired variety.
Despite its fragile appearance, it is quite a robust dog that lives longer than other small-size breeds. Its eyes must be checked and cleaned daily to avoid infection. The delivery of puppies can sometimes be difficult.
Average life expectancy: about 12 years.
The Chihuahua is a robust dog with a long life expectancy. According to studies, the average life expectancy is 12.42 years with the maximum being 20 years, which is about 111 years in human age.
Common heart diseases for the Chihuahua:
Young Chihuahuas have a predisposition to certain congenital heart defects (pulmonary stenosis). In adults, the risk of developing a degenerative heart valve disease (MVD) increases with age.
Chihuahua skin problems and diseases:
For the Chihuahua, especially some females, a skin disease resulting in progressive hair loss from the age of 6 months can occur. It primarily occurs on the belly and thighs. It is called alopecia or pattern baldness.
Neurological diseases for the Chihuahua:
An abnormal fluid accumulation in certain areas of the brain (hydrocephaly) is a fairly common congenital disorder for the Chihuahua. Clinical signs usually occur before the age of 3 months.
Clouding of the cornea (corneal dystrophy) is a fairly common condition for the Chihuahua. It usually occurs around the age of 5 to 9 years old.
An increase in pressure within the eye (glaucoma) may occur alone or associated with various eye diseases (gonyodysgénésie, dislocation of the lens).
Beware of dogs originating from the USA. There, 5.7% of Chihuahuas have a particular form of degeneration of some internal eye structures (syneresis, or degeneration of the vitreous).
Orthopaedics and nerve system:
The patella luxation is a common condition in the Chihuahua.
Because of the small size of the bones, a fracture of the forearm often generates healing defects that require special surgical intervention (known as the non-union or delayed union of the distal radius and ulna).
Respiratory diseases of the Chihuahua:
Trachea cartilage degeneration may be responsible for severe respiratory problems (tracheal collapse). It most often affects older dogs, but congenital forms are possible.
The medical content of this page was written with the kind collaboration of CHV frégis. More information on the health of chihuahuas can be found on the CHV frégis site.
Information and Tips
The Chihuahua is the smallest dog in the world, but it doesn’t know that. Often, it regards itself as being as tough as a lion. It is, therefore, important to treat the Chihuahua like a “real” dog and not a stuffed animal, or you risk breaking its character and offending its intelligence.
The Chihuahua’s price can vary, but an LOF registered Chihuahua costs about €1200. Some pups from high lines of breeds can be sold for about €2500 or more.