Everything You Need To Know About The Chihuahua Breed Including Temperament, Training Info, Health Problems, Exercise & Care Information
All About Chihuahuas
If you are thinking about owning a Chihuahua or are just looking for some information on Chihuahuas then you have come to the right place.
In this article I will take you through the essentials of Chihuahua ownership and care including a description of their temperament, where they come from, how to train and exercise them and also any health problems you need to be on the look out for.
Chihuahua Breed Information
Chihuahuas are part of the toy breed and can be divided into two breed types – shorted haired chihuahuas and long hair haired Chihuahuas. They are known as the world's smallest dog breed and have a well rounded, apple shaped head and a muzzle which is short and pointed. Chihuahua puppies have a soft spot known as a molera on their heads when born which closes as they become adult but remains a weak spot throughout their lives. They usually have either a level or a scissors bite and large, erect ears which will flair to the sides when the dog is relaxed. One of the most notable characteristics of Chihuahuas is their large, round eyes which can make even the hardest heart melt. These are set far apart and are usually dark or ruby in color. A Chihuahua's nose is short and pointed and their tail is a long sickle shape which either loops over the back or off to the side. A Chihuahua's coat could be any number of colors including back, fawn, silver, sand, white and chestnut and may also be marked or splashed.
Although the general consensus is that Chihuahua came from Mexico in the 16th Century, there is still plenty of disagreement surrounding their origins. Some people believe that Chihuahua's were first bred in Egypt around 1000 B.C. while others argue that Chihuahuas originally came from the Mediterranean and were brought to Mexico around the time of the Spanish conquest. Regardless of the actual place of origin, it is a fact that the Short Haired Chihuahua was discovered in the town of Chihuahua, Mexico by American tourists in the 19th Century who introduced the breed to the USA. Breeders then cross bred this short haired type with other toy breeds such as the Pekingese or Pomeranian to create the Long Haired Chihuahua.
The Chihuahua Temperament
Chihuahuas are lively, loyal, intelligent, spunky, playful and friendly dogs. They can also be irritable, unsociable, territorial and downright vicious if not training properly. A Chihuahua's greatest quality is his intense devotion to his owner which has earned the Chihuahua breed the title of most loyal of canine companions. This can often manifest itself as separation anxiety in the early years of your life together since Chihuahuas not only give affection, they also demand it.
Chihuahuas are instinctively wary of strangers and other dog breeds. This makes them excellent watch dogs since despite their small statue, they are not afraid to raise hell and threaten mayhem if they feel that they, you or their home is under threat from invasion or attack. While this natural suspicion is a healthy, you will most likely have to work with your Chihuahua on socialization techniques to avoid them biting your friend's ankles or attacking other dogs when you are out and about.
Chihuahuas and small children are not a good mix (unless raised together) as they may bite if your child is too rough with them. Chihuahuas love to sun bathe and are quite happy to bask for hours in the sun so you need to be wary of sun stroke!
Chihuahua Training Info
Many people believe that training a Chihuahua is difficult. This is not true and any problems you have training a Chihuahua are not the fault of the dog but the training methods used. Chihuahuas are intelligent, quick witted dogs and under the right conditions and with proper training they learn very quickly and respond extremely well to positive reinforcement training.
The exception to this is house training which often requires a little more time and patience than other dog breeds. However, with the right training strategies most people are able to house break their Chi within a couple of months.
It is particularly important to socialize Chihuahuas early on in their life otherwise you will find that they are very aggressive towards strangers and other dogs. You should expose your Chihuahua to many different places, people and animals from an early age and quickly establish yourself as the pack leader to prevent your Chi from develop behavioral issues. Chihuahuas are strong willed dogs and are more than happy to become "your" master. to avoid this should treat you Chi no differently than you would larger dog breeds. This is often difficult for people as their Chi's large, saucer eyes and cute little face can make anyone weak at the knees. However, if you want an obedient, well behaved, friendly little companion it is important to follow the same training routine as you would any other dog.
To learn how to training a Chihuahua at home, have a look at my Chihuahua Training article.
Chihuahua Exercise Information
Chihuahuas do not need as much exercise as most other larger dog breeds. Usually a 30 – 60 minute daily walk should be enough to keep a Chihuahua strong, health and stave off obesity. It is better to use a body harness and not a dog collar when walking a Chihuahua since their necks are very delicate and can be damaged easily if pulled on a leash. Chihuahua don't like the cold so if it a little nippy outside, it is best to dress them in a sweater.
A play session at home is also an excellent way of exercising a Chihuahua and even if you do walk you Chi daily, it is still a good idea to schedule half an hour or so to challenge your Chihuahua mentally with toys or simple games.
Chihuahuas are intelligent, quick witted dogs and need just as much mental stimulation as they do physical exercise. if you don't challenge your Chihuahua's brain on a regular basis, you will find that he quickly becomes bored and lethargic when can lead to health problems.
Chihuahua Health Problems
Chihuahuas are a long-lived breed but sadly are at risk from a number of health issues. these should not stop you owning a Chihuahua since all dog breeds are susceptible to particular health conditions and if you know what these are in advance, you can take the necessary steps to treat your Chi as soon as the problem arises.
Many health conditions can be prevented altogether if follow my recommended Chihuahua Care Tips. It is a good idea to know the specific health problems Chihuahuas are at risk from since the earlier you catch an illness or disease they better chance your Chi will have of a full and successful recovery.
Chihuahuas are at particular risk from heart disease, hydrocephalus, hypoglycemia, patella luxation, hip dysplasia and a collapsing trachea.
You can get more information about these and other conditions including the symptoms to watch out for and how to treat and prevent these problems from arising, by going to the Chihuahua Health Care Directory.
Chihuahua Care Info
Compared to many other dog breeds, Chihuahuas are low maintenance dogs. However, there are a number of things to remember if you want him to have a happy, healthy and long life.
Chihuahua have minimal grooming needs. Short haired Chihuahuas need to be brushed once a week but it is better to groom long haired Chihuahua 2-3 times a week. All Chihuahuas need a bath once a month and it important to make sure no water gets in your Chi's ears. Chihuahuas dislike the cold and it is good idea to dress him in a sweater on cool days. Chihuahuas are small, delicate dogs and to prevent injuries, it is a good idea to prevent children playing roughly with or carry a Chihuahua. For the same reason, as much as your Chi may love it do not allow him to jump off high places into your arms as this could result in serious injury. Feeding your Chihuahua a healthy diet of nutritionally rich food is the most important aspect of Chihuahua care. You should feed your Chi small regular meals as opposed to one big daily meal and avoid the dangers of many commercial dog foods.
For a complete guide to everything you need to know about caring for happy and health Chi, see my article on Chihuahua Care.