The smallest dog breed on Earth, Chihuahuas are loyal pets that form strong connections with their owners. They enjoy the company of humans, do well with families, and can thrive in both large or small homes.
Named after a Mexican state, the breed thrived throughout Central and South America for hundreds of years. Nobody is sure where they first came from, but they were originally bred for their friendly personality and small size.
The canines are small, but they are also extremely energetic. They need a lot of exercise to stay lean and keep busy. On top of that, they are one of the smartest dogs around. Mental stimulation is incredibly important for the breed.
However, as fun as they are to have in your home, the dogs can be stubborn and loud. Early exposure is important, as are consistent training practices.
The breed also comes in a wide range of colors. The Brown Chihuahua, Tan Chihuahua and Black Chihuahua are all prevalent, but the Brindle Chihuahua and White Chihuahua are popular too. Tri color Chihuahuas exist as well.
Other Names: Chi, Chi-Chi
Height: 6 to 9 inches
Weight: 3 to 6 pounds
Life Span: 12 to 20 years
Colors: Cream, Fawn, Black, White, Gold, Chocolate
1. Personality & Temperament
The Chihuahua’s small size makes them excellent companion animals for homes and families. They love attention and will actively show affection to people they trust. Though they do lounge and are largely considered lap dogs, they can be quite energetic when excited.
Due to their small size, many owners ask “are Chihuahuas smart?” Though small in size, the dogs are extremely intelligent. They need to be entertained, and can become irritable or noisy if bored. On the flip side, they will gleefully participate in any activity they find fun.
As they are so loyal, the dogs tend to distrust strangers. In fact, that protective energy is one of the most common Chiwawa traits.
The canines will watch your house with rapt attention and bark at anyone they don’t know. That makes them excellent watchdogs, though they cannot do much more than alert you.
Even so, the canines will warm up to family friends or anyone else you welcome into your life. Proper socialization is important for the breed. It will help them become much more personable as they age.
2. How to Care for a Chihuahua
Chihuahuas are small dogs that do not need a lot of food to make it through the day. They typically only eat between a half cup and one full cup a day, depending on their size and how much activity they get.
High-quality options, like the ones in this article, are important, but the brand and type do not matter. Chihuahuas are not picky eaters and they will gladly consume any healthy treat. That being said, kibble is better for long-term health.
Choose a brand that packs their food with nutrients and be sure to never overfeed your pup. The dogs are quite susceptible to obesity and can quickly put on the pounds if given too much during each feeding period.
There are many types of Chihuahuas, but both the long haired Chihuahua and short hair Chihuahua need minimal grooming compared to other small breeds.
Even so, the answer to “do Chihuahuas shed?” is yes. It is important to brush their fur. Rub them down once a week to keep their coat as healthy as possible.
Bathing is also important, but it should only happen about once a month. More frequent baths, while sometimes necessary, should be kept to a minimum. Constant moisture can cause problems with your Chihuahua’s skin.
You also want to trim your dog’s nails once every three months and wipe the area around their eyes each and every day. These small steps go a long way toward preventing more serious health issues.
They may be small, but Chihuahuas love to run. The breed needs roughly 20 to 30 minutes of exercise a day. Walks are a great way to get them out. Once a day may be enough, but two different walks are a good option for dogs cooped up at the house while you’re at work.
If you cannot easily get your dog outside, these great carriers can move them in style.
The breed also enjoys indoor games. Fetch is an old staple, but the connection with their owners also leads Chihuahuas to love chase. You can run around after them, but they love coming after you as well.
Training a Chihuahua can be tough. The small dogs, while affectionate, are quite stubborn. It does not matter if you’re house training, obedience training, or crate training, it takes a lot of time and patience to keep them in line.
Always begin training while your Chihuahua is a puppy. That increases socialization and makes them more likely to warm up to strangers. If you want to keep your pup off the furniture, a good dog bed gives them a place to go when they follow instructions.
3. Common Health Issues of the Chihuahua
When analyzing the breed, you may wonder “how old do Chihuahuas live?”, the toy dogs can live anywhere between 10 to 20 years.
Even so, no matter how long the Chihuahua life expectancy is, there are a few more problematic health issues that should always be kept in mind.
Hypoglycemia, also known as low blood sugar, is a condition that affects many smaller breeds and Chihuahuas are on that list. It is incredibly common within the breed, so much so that you should always monitor your pup for symptoms.
Chihuahuas with the condition typically show fatigue and become tired easily. In more extreme cases, they may also shake or become extremely restless.
Such issues can easily shorten the Chihuahua lifespan. If you see any symptoms, give your dog a bit of sugar and hurry them to the vet.
Chihuahuas have small mouths that are naturally prone to dental problems. Overcrowded teeth not only serve as a breeding ground for bacteria, but they also can push on the jaw in uncomfortable ways.
Daily brushings, along with routine cleanings, go a long way towards long-term health. Regular dental check-ups are vital as well.
Small dogs, including the Chihuahua, are prone to tracheal collapse. This issue happens when the cartilage in the windpipe breaks down in a way that restricts breathing.
Dogs with this condition tend to have trouble breathing and may gag or have a rough cough. Such issues tend to get worse when they eat or drink.
Though surgery is the only true treatment option for more serious cases, mild or moderate symptoms can be taken care of with medicine. Using a harness rather than a collar with your Chihuahua works as prevention.
4. Children & Other Pets
Chihuahuas are energetic, playful dogs that do great with families. Even so, they can be a bit tricky when it comes to kids.
Children might love playing with your Chihuahua, but the breed can be aggressive when put into situations they don’t like. They may also bark or snap if grabbed too hard.
Always oversee interactions between your dog and child and make sure your children know how to properly handle and act around the canines.
Unfortunately, while they may warm up to kids, Chihuahuas do not get along with other pets. They are territorial and enjoy having their own space. Other dogs in the house will not sit well with them. They will actively chase after cats and rodents as well.
However, they can do well with other Chihuahuas if the pair is raised together.
5. The History of the Chihuahua
There are many types of Chihuahuas. All of them, from Deer Head Chihuahuas to the Chihuahua apple heads and Long Coat Chihuahua, trace their ancestry back to Mexico.
The breed is named after a Mexican state, but historians believe they came about long before their discovery by settlers in 1850.
It is likely the Aztecs or Incas developed the dogs into the modern breed that exists today. However, the original canines started much earlier. They were first bred throughout Central America due to their religious significance, and some sources suggest they may have also served as food.
The canines stayed in the region for hundreds of years before coming to the United States in the early 18th century. They then reached popularity as a result of their small size and loyal demeanor. The American Kennel Club officially recognized them in 1904.
You can read more historical Chihuahua facts here.
6. The Regular Expenses of Owning a Chihuahua
Breeders sell purebred Chihuahua puppies for anywhere between $500 and $1200. However, some can be found just outside that range depending on location.
7. Chihuahua Rescue Groups
Chihuahuas are loving dogs, but there are still many without homes. To help those pups, various groups work hard to unite Chihuahuas with caring owners.