Small dog, full of personality, that looks great in a sweater. That is the most accurate description of the Chihuahua dog breed. This popular companion dog is playful and adorable, yet, sometimes, might look fiercely brave and aggressive. Chihuahuas are among the loudest barkers in the canine world. How many more Chihuahua facts do you know?
Today, we will talk about the dog breed in an in-depth profile. As with many other breeds in the canine world, opinions are divided. Some people find them noisy and bossy. Others, cannot help but adore their sassy expression and character.
Origin – Mexico
Size – 5 to 8 inches
Weight – Less than 10 pounds
Lifespan – 14 to 16 years
Group: Toy Dog
When you think of the Chihuahua dog breed, you think of a saucy little hot tamale. And that is not a Mexican dish you can order at any Mexican restaurant. It is a pet you have to accept with its upsides and downsides. Renowned for being the smallest dog in the world, the Chihuahua is actually one of the dogs with the biggest character.
This puppy has a huge personality stashed inside a tiny body. The Chihuahua’s larger-than-life persona makes it an appealing choice for both men and women.
You can describe the canine as loving and busy. This is a dog that loves nothing better than to be close to its people. They will follow you everywhere and anywhere in the house, and join you in every activity.
Besides being affectionate housemates, Chihuahuas are also fast learners and intelligent dogs. You might not think of that at first glance because of their stubbornness, but Chihuahuas can learn anything, as long as they want to.
If you want what motivates them, usually food and your affection, they can perform almost any trick in the book. Yes, it will take them a bit more than say, a Poodle, but they will get there.
When considering a Chihuahua as your next pet, you have to consider the small size. These dogs are small, yet curious and bold explorers. They can escape from yards using the smallest gaps in the fence and squeeze into places other puppies will not fit.
History of the Chihuahua
The origins of the Chihuahua dog breed are unknown. There are several theories, two of which are the most plausible ones. The first one is that the canine descended from a Central or South American dog known as the Techichi.
For this theory, we have to go back to the Toltec civilization, with carvings dating back to the 9th century CE. These carvings depict a dog resembling the Chihuahua, having the same large ears and round heads. Back in the day, the dogs were called Techichi, but their purpose in the civilization is obscure.
According to this theory, when the Aztecs conquered the Toltecs, they absorbed the dog into their society and many of them lives in temples. Aztecs use them in rituals and believed that the dog has mystic powers, including the ability to see the future and heal the sick. More importantly, they believed that the dog has the power to guide the souls of the dead to the underworld.
As such, one of the customs was to kill a red Techichi dog and cremate him with the remains of the deceased.
From there, these dogs continued their evolution in Mexico, and that is where the Americans found them.
The second theory is that a small hairless dog from China was brought to Mexico by Spanish traders, and they were there bred with small native dogs.
No matter which theory about their origin is true, what we do know is that the modern Chihuahua we know today was discovered in the 1850s in the Mexican state of Chihuahua. From there, the dog took its name.
American visitors to Mexico brought the little dog home with them and began showing them in the 1980s. The Chihuahua named Midget was the first of the breed to be registered with the AKC.
In the 2000s, the popularity of the Chihuahua has grown significantly, mainly due to celebrities and popular Hollywood movies.
First things first, there are two types of Chihuahua. There are those with an apple head look, and those with a deer head look.
In both cases, the pet has a distinctive look, including a small body, pointed ears, and big expressive eyes. Most people think of the short-haired Chihuahua when they think of the breed. That variety has a smooth coat, with the puppy looking like it will freeze to death. Yes, all Chihuahuas need extra warmth in cold weather, which is why they are almost always wearing sweaters.
But there is also a long-haired Chihuahua. As for the apple head Chihuahua and the deer head Chihuahua variety, the difference is the following. The apple head Chi is shorter, with a round head and eyes set close. On the other hand, the deer head Chi is taller and has a flat-topped head and eyes set wide.
Some people bring up the toy Chihuahua and the teacup Chihuahua. But these are not officially recognized breeds. It is just an even smaller variety of the same breed.
Regarding their coat, Chihuahuas have a wide variety of colorings. These include black, brown, chocolate, fawn, red, cream, and mixed. Sometimes, when mixed with other breeds, they might get merle coloring. It is a mottling of the base coloring with lighter splotches.
As we mentioned before, the best way to describe a Chihuahua is a tiny dog with a big personality. But exactly what goes into the personality of a Chihuahua puppy? Here are some of the most common personality traits.
- They tend to be quite courageous and self-assured, often exhibiting a fearless nature
- Chihuahuas are not afraid to stand their ground, no matter the challenge they are facing
- Famous as the loudest barkers in the canine world, they will bark at almost any sign of movement
- One of the most loyal dogs in the canine world, they are devoted to the bone to their human companions and became protective of them
- They have a keen sense of awareness and are always on alert. Chi puppies tend to be watchful and will quickly pick up changes in the environment
- They pack a stubborn streak and independence in them
- Chihuahuas have an affectionate nature, and they love nothing more than to be beside their human dog owner. They will seek physical contact and attention at all times
- Generally speaking, they are intelligent dogs and can be quick learners if they want to
- Strong-willed, these dogs have a strong personality, and often want to have things their way
- Chihuahuas have a playful side and enjoy engaging in activities that will challenge them both mentally and physically
- They are usually wary and anxious around strangers or unfamiliar situations
- These puppies have a strong protective instinct toward their owner and territory
- They became assertive when they perceive a threat, often barking and displaying signs of guarding behavior
- They develop a strong attachment to their living space and are quite territorial
- Chihuahuas have high energy levels despite their small size
We have to mention that Chihuahua training can be quite challenging. These dogs have a stubborn and independent streak in them. They want to get things their way. And often, that means clashing, ignoring commands, and trying to move at their own pace.
On the other hand, they tend to form a strong bond with their owner and are quite loyal and affectionate. So, how do you train a Chihuahua? By motivating them with your affection.
Chihuahuas crave attention, and if you reward them with affection and attention, they will perform much better. Positive reinforcement is the key here. But they are not driven by toys. Food will work as well, but the best motivation is affection.
Do not demand something out of your Chihuahua. When these dogs sense that you demand something, they will turn to their stubborn side and ignore your commands.
It is best that you are patient, and practice short training sessions.
As we said before, these small dogs are high-energy canines, despite their small size. You might think that a dog with such a small size will have little energy, but that is not true.
Generally speaking, Chihuahuas and their mixes need at least 45 minutes of exercise per day, with one hour being the preferred choice.
How much an adult dog eats depends on the size, age, build, metabolism, and activity level. Chihuahuas are a tiny dog breed. And they need very little food to feel full.
The general amount is between ¼ and ½ cups of high-quality dry food. But it might vary from one food brand to another.
And remember, dogs are individuals. Just like people, they do not all need the same amount of food.
Considered one of the healthiest dogs around, the Chihuahua lives between 14 and 16 years. But it is not uncommon for a Chi puppy to get up to 18 or 20 years. This is one of the reasons why breeders have used Chihuahuas for crossing with other puppies.
Whenever you are getting your dog from a reputable breeder, ask about the breed’s history and genetics. You want to find out as much as possible about hereditary diseases that might have affected the parents of your puppy.
That being said, here are some possible health issues that might affect your Chi dog.
- Patellar luxation, also known as slipped stifles, is a common problem in small dogs. In this case, the patella is not properly lined up. The rubbing caused by the condition can often lead to arthritis
- Hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar levels, is another possible problem that can affect all toy-breed dogs. A puppy with the condition will slow down and become listless
- Heart murmurs are caused by a disturbance in the blood flow through the chambers of the heart
Grooming depends on the coat type of your Chi dog. Depending on whether your puppy has long hair or short hair, grooming needs are different. Generally speaking, both types need regular bathing, once every 3 to 4 months.
But depending on the coat type, you might need to brush your puppy more often. For example, you need to brush your long-haired Chihuahua two times per week. And for your short-haired version, you can do it only once per week.
But here is a fun fact. The long-haired Chi sheds less than the short-haired Chi. Long-haired dogs shed two times per year a lot, but if you brush them, the shedding will not get out of control. But short versions shed all the time.
What Is The Ideal Environment For A Chihuahua?
One might think that the ideal environment is for a Chihuahua to be a lap dog. But that is not true. These dogs still need plenty of exercise. That means daily walks and playtime.
Because of their sensitive character and small size, they need a calm home environment. These dogs prefer a house without little children, who might make the dog anxious or hurt it by accident.
They are adaptable and can live in both small apartments and big houses. The
Ideal human companionship is someone who will have a lot of time. Chihuahuas are prone to separation anxiety when left along for long period.
Pet parents will have to spend quite a lot of time on training and socialization with their puppy. Because they are wary of strangers, you need to socialize them, so that they can be friendlier and more sociable outside.
Now that we talked about the breed characteristics, appearance features, training and temperament traits, as well as potential health issues, let’s take a look at some fun and interesting facts about Chihuahuas.
- They are named after the state of Chihuahua, Mexico, also known as the Big State and Great State. Chihuahua is Mexico’s largest state
- Americans discovered the dog breed when travelers visited the region in the 1800s and encountered merchants selling Chihuahuas, with many puppies being brought back to the States
- Before they got the name Chihuahua, people named them after the region in which they were found, with Chihuahuas called Arizona Dog and Texas Dog
- Nowadays, we have long-haired Chihuahua and smooth-coat, but it wasn’t until 1952 that The American Kennel Club separated the two varieties. Before that, they were shown together
- The puppy weighs between 2 and 6 pounds, making it the world’s smallest dog breed. They are smaller than a Yorkshire terrier, Pomeranian, Toy Poodle, Pug, Shih Tzu, and many more
- A female Chihuahua called Miracle Milly holds the title of the smallest living dog by height. Born in December 2011, the apple-head version grew only 1 pound. She stood at only 3.8 inches when the Guinness World Records measured her in February 2013
- Heaven Sent Brady, a long-coat female Chihuahua, measured 6 inches from the tip of her nose to the back of her tail, making her the world’s smallest dog by length
- The first Chihuahua registered by The American Kennel Club was Midget, owned by Hamilton Raynor of El Paso, Texas. Called Midget, the male dog marked a new era for the breed
- In 1923, the Chihuahua Club of America, a parent company of the AKC, was founded to promote responsible breeding and provide educational resources for potential dog owners of the breed
- While still being the smallest dog, the Chihuahua was originally bred to be even smaller. AKC encouraged selective breeding to produce smaller Chihuahuas. According to the AKC breed standard, the dog “should weigh two to six pounds. The more diminutive, the more desirable”. Later on, the AKC revised its breed standards
- Chihuahuas have also been part of folklore and myths. At one point, it was believed that the canine could cure respiratory ailments, including asthma and allergies. The logic was they can absorb the condition from their owners when placed next to a person with asthma
- There is a Minor League Baseball Team called El Paso Chihuahuas, with a log of a growling Chihuahua wearing a spiked collar
- The name Chihuahua, or the term, derives from a Nahuatl word, meaning “between two waters”. According to some historians, the name is older than the Spanish Conquest of Mexico, which began in 1519
- The most popular name among Chihuahuas in the world is Chico. Considering Chico comes from the Spanish language, meaning a small boy, it is a fitting name for this small dog
- Back in the 1990s, Taco Bell launched a series of commercials featuring a talking Chihuahua named Gidget. Many believe this dog was the one to popularize the breed
- Because of the Mexican origins, many cities in the US celebrate Cinco De Mayo, with some activities including running of the Chihuahuas and parades. During this period, many animal shelters and veterinary clinics offer free spraying and neutering of Chihuahua dogs
- Chihuahua is the unofficial state dog of Arizona
- It is hard to spell the name, with some believing it is the hardest word to spell. The word sounds like “Chuh-wa-wa”, joining a list of difficult words like juamave, beautiful, and pneumonia
- At one point in history, Chihuahuas were gifted in bouquets of flowers. That happened in the late 1800s and early 1900s in Mexico, with the groom giving his bride a bouquet of flowers with a Chihuahua inside
- The dog breed has one of the largest coat color variations in the world, ranging from black and fawn to red and blue. The AKC recognizes 30 different coat colors and color combinations
- With that in mind, the rarest color in Chihuahuas is solid white, without any markings
- In Japan, the police has a search and rescue Chihuahua, named Mono. He became the official dog of the Nara Police Department in 2010
- The average size of the litter is four puppies
- While many recognize the puppy for its erect ears, puppies are actually born with floppy ears. Their ears start standing erect as they get older, usually by six months of age
- There is no such thing as a Teacup Chihuahua. Breeders often use this term to make their dogs appear more valuable
- Following the American Pit Bull Terrier, Chihuahuas are the most euthanized dogs worldwide
Celebrities Who Have Owned A Chihuahua
Have you watched the movie Legally Blonde? Or Beverly Hills Chihuahua? These dogs are popular options for movies, but they have also become one of the most popular celebrities. Paris Hilton was among the first celebrities to popularize the breed.
She was the one to truly make Chihuahuas part of mainstream society. She carried her dogs in expensive bags and gave them a life of glamour and sparkles. In other words, she made Chihuahuas an accessory.
With that in mind, here is a list of some celebrities who owned a Chihuahua.
- Pop star Britney Spears owned two dogs, one called Bit Bit and the other Lucky
- American actress Demi Moore has a Chihuahua named Vida
- We mentioned Paris Hilton, who was often photographed with her Teacup Chihuahua, Tinkerbell
- Madonna, the Queen of Pop Music, had three Chihuahuas, called Chiquita, Evita, and Rosita
- Jennifer Love Hewitt has a Chihuahua dog named Siesta, referring to the Spanish tradition of taking a nap during the day
- Reese Witherspoon, the actress who appeared in Legally Blonde with a Chihuahua, has one in her real life as well
- Hillary Duff also has an adorable Chihuahua named Chiquita, a name she might have taken from Madonna’s dogs
- Marilyn Monroe had a Chihuahua named Choo-Choo
- Alyssa Milano is another actress with a Chihuahua, with her named Gibson
- Katharine McPhee from American Idol has a Chihuahua named Nena
- Christina Ricci, American actress famous for playing Wednesday Adams, has a Chihuahua puppy named Karen
- Ashton Kutcher shared there Chihuahuas with his former wife Demi Moore. He still shares photos of the adorable dogs on his social media accounts
- Rosie O’Donnell is another celebrity Chihuahua owner, with her dog named Misty
- Mickey Rourke has several Chihuahuas, including Loki. He credits that particular dog for saving his life by pulling him out of depression
- Paula Abdul named her two dogs Thumbelina and Tulip
- American actress Jamie Lee Curtis has acted alongside Chihuahuas in Beverly Hills Chihuahua, but she also has one in real life
- Sharon Osbourne has several pets, with her Chihuahua named Martin
- George Lopez also appeared in Beverly Hills Chihuahua. When you look at the actors, you might think it was a requirement to own a Chihuahua before appearing in the movie
- Cesar Millan, the famous dog whisperer, has several pets, with his Chihuahua called Coco
- Reality TV star Lisa Gastineau has Harry, a male Chihuahua
- Musician Xavier Cugat was famous for carrying his Chihuahua alongside him on tours with his band