While the Chihuahua shares his name with the biggest state in Mexico, he is considered the smallest in the world. Intelligent, brave and affectionate, he is the perfect companion for many pet adopters, especially newcomers. His ability to adapt means that he can accommodate many different lifestyles without any difficulty.
Key facts about the Chihuahua
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Origins and history
This dog is believed to be an indigenous breed from northern Mexico, specifically from the area in which Chihuahua is the capital. He was the favourite dog of the Aztec princesses. Towards the end of the nineteenth century, the Chihuahua was "discovered" by the United States where people went crazy for him, before making his way around the world.
FCI breed nomenclature
Group 9 - Companion and Toy Dogs
Section 6 : Chihuahueno
Physical characteristics of the Chihuahua
Female : Between 6 and 8 in
Male : Between 6 and 8 in
Female : Between 0 and 7 lb
Male : Between 0 and 7 lb
Every colour and shade is accepted and recognised by the breed’s official standards, except for merl.
The most popular and sought after colours are: fawn or brown, chocolate, fawn or brown brindle, cream, silver fawn, silver grey, black and tan or black.
Type of coat
Short or long hair.
- Short-haired Chihuahua: the fur lies close to the body and is soft and shiny with an undercoat.
- Long-haired Chihuahua: the fur is fine, silky, straight or slightly wavy, with a relatively dense undercoat.
Hairless Chihuahuas are not recognised as they do not correspond to the breed’s official standards.
His eyes are generally dark in colour. While light-eyed Chihuahuas are accepted, this characteristic is not very sought after.
The Chi is a miniature dog breed with a stocky body. His apple-shaped head, pointy ears and relatively small muzzle gives him an overall compact look.
Good to know
Similar to cats, this dog is naturally clean and grooms himself regularly. He has the rare trait of having an odourless coat, which makes him a very well-appreciated pet.
Very cuddly, this little dog is particularly close to his owner. This character trait is ideal for many, but can quickly become the source of many behavioural problems, notably an intense - even unhealthy - attachment to his loved ones.
For his well-being, it is important not to treat him as simply a small and fragile animal. In his head, he is a big dog, so don’t be scared to treat him as such and to leave him on his own when necessary.
High-spirited, dynamic and active, the Chihuahua loves to play. However, it is important to watch him closely when he’s playing with little children or big dogs, as they can be rough with him without realising - but the consequences can be real.
Full of energy, the Chihuahua can still adapt to a number of environments, easily taking on the rhythm of his social group. He knows how to be calm when it’s necessary.
However, be aware that he will only be able to stay calm if his (minimal) exercise needs are met.
The intellectual capacities of this little dog translate notably into his ability to adapt to a number of lifestyles.
However, if measuring his intelligence in terms of his ability to listen and obey orders, it’s true that he can often prove to be stubborn.
This breed of miniature dog is purely intended to being a pet. He doesn’t have an ounce of predatory instinct within him.
Fearful / wary of strangers
His energy and courage make him relatively reserved and suspicious of strangers. He will not let unfamiliar people easily approach him and will even bark loudly to try to scare of what he considers a threat.
However, as soon as you gain his trust, he will be quick to reclaim his share of strokes!
Very close to his owner, the Chihuahua relies solely on him and rarely takes his own initiative. Despite his sometimes strong temperament, he really only wants to please his master.
Behaviour of the Chihuahua
If the Chihuahua has had a good experience with being on his own since a young age, he might be fine with being alone. However, he should only be left for a maximum of a few hours, and never for long days.
Easy to train / obedience
This dog’s training should not be neglected based on the fact that he is small. Regardless of their size, every dog must learn the basics to properly integrate into his home, and more generally into society.
You must therefore begin training your Chihuahua as early as possible to avoid reinforcing bad habits, even unconsciously.
His training must always respect the principles of positive education, employing a soft but firm and coherent approach.
It doesn’t take much for the Chihuahua to bark, especially when strangers enter his territory. This miniature dog will do this to scare off and intimidate intruders.
Tendency to run away
This little dog would never consider running away as he is far too close to his social group. As long as he is as comfortable as he should be, he won’t have any reason to flee.
If all of his needs are met, he will sufficiently be stimulated both mentally and physically on a daily basis and doesn’t suffer any separation anxiety, he is not likely to be at all destructive.
Greedy / Gluttony
This dog is not particularly greedy, which can sometimes prove to be an obstacle to his training. Nevertheless, this trait can definitely be advantageous, notably in avoiding obesity, which can be dangerous for this little pet.
Serving as a good alert dog thanks to his tendency to bark, the Chihuahua is not at all a good guard dog, since he is so small and not intimidating.
This pet is ideal for people adopting for the first time. However, do not think that small dogs require less training or can get away with house rules.
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Chihuahua in a flat
The Chihuahua suits life in a flat perfectly well. While he would also be very happy in a house with a garden, it’s important not to leave him outside for too long, particularly in low temperatures.
In a flat, some people use a litter tray to accommodate for this little pet’s needs, but nothing is better than several daily outings to get some fresh air for this domestic yet active dog.
Need for exercise / Sporty
You might think that this furry dog is not very active, but this is not the case. While he won’t be able to accompany his owner on 10 km runs, he is still energetic in nature.
Whatever his lifestyle, this dog will need regular outings, going for long walks (at his pace) to provide an outlet for his energy.
Travelling / easy to transport
Thanks to his miniature size, the Chi is very easily taken anywhere. If he has had a positive experience of travelling from a young age, this dog appreciate the time spent in his transport bag.
Be aware all the same to sometimes let this dog walk at his owner’s side rather than constantly carrying him. It could negatively affect his physical and psychological well-being.
Chihuahua and cats
The Chihuahua gets on perfectly well with cats, especially if he has grown ups around him. However, it is still important to be aware of potential scratching, particularly around the eyes and nose.
Chihuahua and dogs
Unaware of his miniature size, the Chihuahua can often act carelessly around other dogs.
Since he is very brave, he won’t hesitate to engage in a conflict, despite his size. Therefore, it will be necessary to socialise him early in order to teach him the canine codes.
Many owners have the habit of picking up small dogs when they cross other dogs in the street, in order to avoid confrontation. However, this is not a good reflex for the Chihuahua, who will not learn to communicate with other dogs. Moreover, it will only serve to reinforce his lack of self-awareness where his size is concerned.
Encounters with other dogs must be monitored, regular and positive in order to foster the best possible environment for socialisation. For first-time meetings especially, it is important for the Chihuahua to be introduced to well-balanced and socialised dogs, in order to encourage the repetition of positive experiences.
However, if he is playing with a big dog, you will have to make sure that the games are not too rough.
Chihuahua and children
This pet will tolerate the presence of children but they should never be rough with him, as this will not only risk harming him but also bring about his tendency to bark.
In this way, rules should always be enforced and respected in order to guarantee the safety of everyone and to ensure a harmonious living space.
Chihuahua and the elderly
The calm temperament of this furry friend combined with his moderate need for exercise and small size make him the perfect pet for older people.
However, be aware that people who are completely inactive will need to find a way to walk him daily, as he still needs exercise and thus will need to be regularly taken out.
The price of a Chihuahua will vary depending on his origins, age, sex but also variety (long or short-haired). You should budget between £520 and £720 for a dog registered with the Kennel Club.
For your monthly budget, it will be necessary to set aside between £10 and £20 to meet his (relatively limited) needs, with the possibility of increasing this slightly to account for grooming fees, particularly for long-haired Chihuahuas.
His coat will require minimal maintenance if it is short, but he will need regular brushing if he is long-haired to avoid the formation of knots.
You will need to regularly inspect and clean his eyes and ears with the help of a physiological serum or other adapted products that have been approved by your vet.
This little dog only loses a modest amount of hair. The intensity will also depend on the variety, being either short or long-haired.
In both cases, he will lose more hair during molting periods, in spring and autumn.
Nutrition of the Chihuahua
A shop-bought diet (biscuits, canned food) will be perfectly fine for this pet, as long as it is of premium quality. You should therefore avoid products sold in large supermarkets.
His daily ration should be adapted to his physical condition, age and also health.
The Chihuahua puppy should have a diet that is optimised for growth. Once he is an adult, he only needs one meal a day, preferably given in the evening in order to encourage a healthy digestion at night.
Health of the Chihuahua
His lifespan is around 14 years.
Strong / robust
Bearing in mind his impressive lifespan (sometimes living until 20 years-old), we can assume that this miniature dog maybe isn’t as fragile as he would seem. However, he is prone to a significant list of illnesses and other medical problems, which can be recurring.
Also, even if he doesn’t consider himself as such, he remains a very small dog who is easily hurt, even by accident.
The heat is much less dangerous for this little pup than the cold, but he will still need a cold and regularly-changed bowl of water, as well as a shady spot in order to avoid sunburn (notably for white and short-haired Chihuahuas).
Long-haired Chihuahuas are less susceptible to the cold than that of their short-haired counterparts, but in both cases it is important never to leave this dog outside, especially during unfavourable temperatures.
This little dog could benefit from a winter coat.
Tendency to put on weight
If he isn’t getting enough exercise and doesn’t have the proper diet, the Chi can suffer from obesity, which can cause him a number of medical problems.
- Degenerative mitral valve disease (cardiac disease common among small dogs)
- Pulmonary stenosis (cardiac abnormality)
- Congenital dislocation of the kneecaps (more common in females)
- Degeneration of the trachea cartilage with associated respiratory problems
- Alopecia/baldness (disease affecting some or all of the hair)
- Hydrocephalus (neurological disorder)
- Dental problems
- Benign episodes of reverse sneezing
- Corneal dystrophies (corneal opacity)
- Eye problems (glaucoma, goniodysgenesis, dislocation of the eye lens)
- Difficult births