Chihuahua

The very smallest dog breed, the Chihuahua is ever vigilant and fleet of foot, with a spunky attitude. Compact with a terrier-like temperament, the Chihuahua has the appearance of a fine-boned but muscular dog that carries his sickle-shaped tail like a flag. The distinctive apple dome head features large eyes, dark or a luminous ruby in color, and large ears that stand erect when the dog is alert and flare out to the sides when at rest. The muzzle is short and pointed with a self-colored nose. Chihuahuas have two coat types, smooth and long. The smooth coat should be soft and close, with a perceptible sheen. Long coats can be flat or wavy, with an undercoat, fringed ears, feathering on the feet and legs, and a tail that looks much like a plume. A Chihuahua's coat can be of any color or patterning. Many Americans recognize the Chihuahua as the Taco Bell Dog from the popular "Yo quiero Taco Bell" advertising campaign.

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Fast Facts

Toy
15 - 18 years
Mexico
16th century
Less than 6 lb
Less than 6 lb
6 - 9"
6 - 9"
Chewawa, Chihuhua, Chiwawa or Chihuawa.
None

Chihuahua Temperament

Alert with terrier-like qualities, the Chihuahua can be irritable, overconfident or downright nasty when provoked....

Nevertheless, this spunky little Toy's intense devotion to its "person" has earned the affection of millions of owners. The Chihuahua is brave and is known to defend itself and its home from large dogs and invaders by barking in protest and threatening mayhem. Chihuahuas are not recommended for homes with small children but do well with elderly individuals or couples, or an owner who loves to spoil. The Chihuahua is typically wary of strangers and unknown dogs (except other Chihuahuas), but gets along well with other pets in the house.

Caring For a Chihuahua

Chihuahuas are a long-lived breed with minimal grooming needs....

The smooth coat type should be brushed or wiped with a cloth occasionally; the long coat should be brushed daily. A monthly bath is recommended, but take care to keep the ears dry. This breed is an average shedder. Resist the temptation to carry these little dogs everywhere. They are much happier and fitter when walked; use a harness rather than a collar. Chihuahuas dislike the cold and appreciate a sweater on cool days. They are perfect for apartment living. Their “shivering or trembling” is not always a cold or health issue but often happens when the dog is excited or stressed. Do not allow your Chihuahua to jump off high furniture or from your arms as the impact could have serious consequences. For the same reason, do not allow children to play roughly with or to carry a Chihuahua. A rather healthy breed, the Chihuahua may nevertheless suffer from pulmonic stenosis, patellar luxation, hypoglycemia and hydrocephalus. Have your veterinarian perform all appropriate tests.

Chihuahua History

A Brief History of the Chihuahua

Rich with history and legend, the tiny Chihuahua dates back to pre-Columbian Mexico, and is the oldest breed in the Americas....

Chihuahuas are believed to descend either from the Techichi, mute companions to the Toltecs, or from small Chinese dogs brought to the Americas by the Conquistadors; it is also possible that both theories are accurate and the Chihuahua is a mix. The Techichi historical record only goes back to the ninth century but it is likely that the Chihuahua’s ancestors predate the Mayans. The remains of dogs resembling the Chihuahua have been found in the Pyramids at Cholula on the Yucatan Peninsula, which predate the 16th century. The Aztecs, who eventually conquered the Toltecs, adopted the Chihuahua as a sacred icon of the upper class. It is said the dogs were used in religious ceremonies to redress sins and as guides for the spirits of the dead. Christopher Columbus refers to the tiny dog in a letter to the King of Spain. Without doubt, the Chihuahua’s principle home was present-day Mexico, but the breed’s immigration to Europe may have been Columbus’ doing.The present day Chihuahua is far smaller than its forebears. Some believe that the Chinese Crested Dog was responsible for the reduction in size, a smoother coat, and the Chihuahua’s voice. Modern Chihuahuas come in a plethora of colors and in both long and shorthaired varieties. Rediscovered in Chihuahua, Mexico in 1850, the dog has remained consistently popular to this day, and is among the most common breeds seen in American homes. The Chihuahua was recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1904.