Chihuahua Temperament and Personality
Small but mighty! That’s the phrase you can use to describe the Chihuahua Dog Breed. This breed is a national symbol of Mexico, where they stand as one of the oldest breeds of the Americas. These tiny dogs have a lot of heart and even bigger personalities. Weighing no more than 6 pounds, you can even carry them in your purse! It’s okay; we won’t tell anyone you just walked past the “No Dogs” sign.
Even tiny dogs require discipline and training; if not, your Chihuahua will feel like the ruler of the free world, trust us. This breed is known to possess a “big dog attitude,” most of the time acting like it’s way bigger than it is. Now, do you see where we got the phrase, “small but mighty?” Keep scrolling to read more about this pocket-sized breed!
Chihuahuas are classified as a toy dog breed. Shocker! This dog’s overall small features paired with a few large features (i.e., ears and eyes) give it its unique, stuffed animal-like appearance. This breed has a long body compared to their legs, giving them a small trot when they walk. Chihuahuas have small, compact bodies and swift-moving legs.
This tiny dog has ears disproportionately larger than its head. Their wide eyes are curious, and you can always tell what they’re thinking. Despite their size, Chihuahuas are recognized for being quite bold in temperament and personality. This dog reigns supreme over all other small dogs. Or at least it thinks so!
Let’s be honest. Have you ever seen a Chihuahua, whether purebred or not, reach double digits in any dimension? The correct answer is no, and if so, there are few and far between. Chihuahua dogs may look like they’re all bark and no bite, but you should never approach an angry dog, no matter the size! These dogs stand at about 5 to 8 inches tall and weigh anywhere from 3 to 6 pounds.
That may already seem extremely small, but breeders have found a way to breed teacup Chihuahuas. These dogs weigh under 5 pounds, making them the tiniest ever. Although the idea of a dog you can put in your coat pocket may be enticing, it is not recommended to work with “teacup breeders” as the tiny dogs suffer from health concerns due to their unnatural size.
The Chihuahua dog breed is fiercely loyal. We mean it. This tiny, quirky dog loves to give and receive attention. So what’s the problem, you ask? Well, nothing. You see, if you were the only person on this entire planet, that would be fine. But luckily for you, you have family and friends. At times, Chihuahuas don’t recognize that. All they think is stranger danger!
These dogs are not just all bark. When threatened, they will certainly try to take a bite out of you! It’s safe to say that these little guys are not very trusting of strangers. This sends them into high alert, making them a great alert dog! If your dog is not exposed to other people or animals, it will only bond with one person. That may be you, your grandma, your mom, your neighbor. You name it!
An adequately socialized Chihuahua requires exposure to many people and animals. This means getting your dog comfortable with its environment. Chihuahuas are not only wary of people, but since they’re so small, they are also scared of many noises. Getting them comfortable with sounds in the home like the vacuum or other barking dogs is extremely important to their development.
Who would guess that a dog this small would have that much energy in its tiny body? While Chihuahuas are relatively low maintenance when it comes to exercise, these dogs love playing a good game of fetch or running around. While this breed may not have the running capabilities of a German Shepherd, it is still easy to underestimate how much these dogs can handle.
A quick walk around the park or even around the block can serve as an adequate exercise for this adorable breed. You can also teach them to learn a new trick or play a game of fetch! On average, your Chihuahua should be getting at least 20 to 30 minutes of exercise a day. They can go for much longer, but remember to monitor your Chihuahua puppy for overheating and exhaustion!
Your Chihuahua may think it runs the world, and without proper training, it will run yours too. They can be destructive when bored and territorial if not trained at an early age. It’s great to establish some ground rules when welcoming one of these little creatures into your home. So they can learn that what’s mine is mine, and what yours is yours…that’s how that goes, right?
If you don’t get ahead of this now, your dog may start claiming your pillow as theirs, and even you as their property! Kidding!
As previously mentioned, the Chihuahua dog breed can be unfriendly towards other dogs and people. While you can rest assured that the average person won’t come near an angry dog, this can become a problem when encountering a bigger, more aggressive dog. Training this small breed can be a fun process! Remember, you are the boss.
Training will require a lot of patience and a lot of ignoring their cute puppy dog eyes! If you have the means, enrolling your dog in puppy obedience classes can be beneficial! This way, they are exposed to other people and dogs, allowing them to socialize properly while learning new skills.
Now we’re getting to the fun stuff. Or, in some cases, the not-so-fun stuff. Luckily for you, Chihuahuas are generally easy to house train. This tiny dog will need frequent trips to the backyard to relieve itself when it comes to potty training. The best thing you can do when potty training is to make a set schedule.
The best time to take your Chihuahua puppy to the bathroom is in the morning and after every meal. You can also try the crate method as a means of potty training. This is when you keep your dog in the crate for 2 to 4 hour periods, except at night. This may help them control their bladder and understand indoor from outdoor.
If you choose not to use the crate, taking them outside every 2 to 3 hours should help you build this skill.
The Chihuahua dog breed learns more efficiently when they are rewarded with positive reinforcement. This can be in the form of treats, praise, belly rubs, and playtime with a favorite toy. Like many other breeds, Chihuahuas don’t do well with negative reinforcement. Yelling or berating your dog isn’t going to make it pick up a skill or learn a trick faster.
It is important to keep a level head and practice patience, Chihuahuas, are quick learners.
Chihuahua, Mexico…no, that’s not the name of our Chihuahua. It’s a state in Mexico! The Techichi was a sacred dog of the ancient Toltecs. It may be the ancestor of the Chihuahua. The ancestors of the Chihuahua dog breed may have existed before the ninth century!
One theory about the Chihuahua dog breed is tied to the Toltec civilization. Toltec carvings date to the 9th century C.E. depicting a dog that resembles the Chihuahua. These dogs were called Techichi, and their purpose is still unclear. When the Aztecs conquered the Toltecs, they adopted the Techichi into their society. They were used in Aztec rituals and lived in temples.
The Aztecs believed that the Techichi was some kind of magical creature with mystic powers. It was normal to kill a red Techichi and cremate them with the remains of the deceased.
Another theory is that Spanish traders brought small hairless dogs from China to Mexico and bred with small native dogs. Despite the previously mentioned theories, the modern Chihuahuas were first discovered back in the 1850s in the Mexican state of Chihuahua. American tourists became enamored with the tiny dog and brought them to the United States.
It wasn’t until 1909 that a Chihuahua by the name of Midget was registered and recognized by the American Kennel Club.
The origin of the long-haired Chihuahua is still unclear. It is thought that this breed may have come about when other miniatures like Papillons or Pomeranians were crossed.
Rise To Fame
You know deep down that everyone’s chasing their 60 seconds of fame. No? Just me? Moving along. The Chihuahua had a rise in popularity in the 1890s by becoming a well-known breed in dog competitions. The first signs of fame for this breed began in the 1930s and 40s where Xavier Cugat, a famous Latin musician, became associated with the breed.
In the United States, Chihuahuas rose to fame through some Hollywood classics! What did I tell you? 60 seconds of fame! Because of their size, they may have spent most of the movie inside someone’s designer purse or being pampered. Remember when we mentioned that this breed feels like it’s all about them? This is what we meant!
While we know most celebrities have pets, the most famous dog that could be seen peeking out of any designer purse was Tinkerbell, Paris Hilton’s pup! This little one was just as iconic as her owner. She knew how to strut her stuff. Now that’s hot!
Chihuahua Health Problems
With the proper care, Chihuahuas can live a healthy 15 to 20 years of life. This is a long lifespan as far as dogs go! Who knew such a tiny body could withstand the test of time. Most of their maintenance can be done by visiting the vet regularly to ensure that your Chihuahua is receiving the utmost care.
Luckily for all Chihuahua owners, this breed is relatively healthy. But these are a few medical issues that your furry friend might be predisposed to.
Hypoglycemia is just a fancy word for low blood sugar and is considered a common problem for all toy breeds. Luckily, it is easily treatable in its early stages. If not treated or detected on time, it could be fatal. Chihuahua puppies can start displaying signs as they slow down. This is followed by trembling and shivering.
If this is the case, it is important that you place honey under their tongue and immediately take them to the vet. It is considered an emergency when your toy breed is limping and has a bluish-gray tongue and gums. Hypoglycemia occurs in toy puppies who don’t have enough fat reserves to supply enough glucose or eat regularly.
This is a problem that is prevalent among small dogs. Patellar luxation happens when the patellar (femur, patellar, and fibia) are not aligned properly. This lineup causes lameness in the leg, followed by an abnormal gait. Just another fancy way of saying that their walking patterns will not be normal. They may give a little hop here and there.
Although this is a condition that occurs mostly at birth, the actual misalignment doesn’t occur till later in life. The rubbing caused by this may lead to arthritis. There are four ranges of patellar luxation. Grade I is an occasional luxation, causing temporary lameness in the joint. Grade IV is so severe that the patella cannot be realigned manually.
Because of the severity of this final grade, it can cause a bowlegged appearance in your dog. This may require surgical procedures.
Heart murmurs are when there is an abnormal sound that occurs during blood flow. These murmurs are caused when there is a disturbance in blood flow through the heart’s chamber. Heart murmurs can indicate that there may be an underlying disease that your veterinarian may have to keep monitoring. Murmurs are graded by sound, one being the softest and five being the loudest.
If the disease is evident through X-rays and echocardiograms, your vet may prescribe an actual medication, diet, or exercise routine.
The rapid inhalation of air could cause the trachea to flatten, making it difficult for air to enter the lungs. It is not entirely understood how this occurs, but it is inherited. If the tracheal rings or cartilage lose rigidity or the membrane becomes slack, the rings will flatten when air is drawn into the airway. This is what causes tracheal collapse and makes it hard for the lungs to fill with air.
This occurs when there is an excess of cerebrospinal fluid that has leaked inside a dog’s skull. This causes the brain to swell and can be noted in puppies with an abnormally large head where fluid has accumulated. There is no cure for Hydrocephalus. In severe cases, puppies will pass away within a few months of age. For this reason, it is recommended to wait to purchase a Chihuahua puppy until it is about six months old.
The fontanel is a soft spot that Chihuahuas are born with. It is on top of their heads and usually closes when they get older. Unfortunately, at times it will not close. These dogs require the utmost care because even a mild blow to the head can kill them.
Although shivering is common among this breed, the reason why they shiver so much is unknown. It happens when they are cold, stressed, or even excited!
How To Care For A Chihuahua
Caring for any dog means giving a lot of attention and patience, no matter the breed. Grooming will be at the forefront of your priorities with any Chihuahua due to its excessive shedding. First-time Chihuahua owners are always slightly surprised at how active these little pups are. Despite their size, these dogs need to be trained and exercised regularly.
These little balls of energy may not know when to call it quits when running around. Make sure to check in on them to not overexert themselves, especially when it’s hot! There’s only so much that a tiny body can take! These dogs were not meant to live outside. I mean, look at them! They can fall victim to larger prey such as hawks, coyotes, or other larger carnivores. If they’re light enough to carry in your pocket, then they may end up in another animal’s tummy!
Nutrition and Feeding for Chihuahuas
So we know we’ve drilled the fact that these dogs are small into your brain. But have you thought about how small their jaws are? When it comes to Chihuahuas, it is important to feed them food proportionate to their size. Make sure to purchase dry food meant for small breeds. This way, the bites are made specifically for our small furry friends!
Like many other breeds, these dogs require a balanced diet of healthy fats, proteins, and carbohydrates. Don’t be afraid to experiment with a few brands to see what works best to fulfill your dog’s needs. Portioning food can be like a game of Russian roulette; you just have to see what works best! It is recommended to feed your Chihuahua about 1/4 to 1/2 cup of dry food per day.
If you suspect that your dog is gaining weight, consult your veterinarian about food options and adequate weight control measures.
Coat Color and Grooming
You better break out that broom and dustpan because this breed is no stranger to shedding! It is a well-known fact that having a pet requires a lot of time, care, and patience. Grooming happens to fall into one of those requirements! How much fur they shed depends mostly on whether they have a single or double coat. A double coat adult dog will shed more than those with a single coat.
The Chihuahua dog breed’s coat comes in two different types; smooth or long coat. The smooth coat is short and close to the skin. It can come in either the single coat or double coat variety. A long-hair Chihuahua can also have a double coat. If they have a lot of fur in their undercoat, it will puff up, making them look like a Pomeranian of some sort. Single coats fall closely along the body.
Ears and Nails
A Chihuahua’s ears are prone to wax buildup and dry skin. It is important to clean their ears appropriately. Consult with your vet about the correct method to clean their ears. Trimming their nails is a good way to pamper your dog, if they are used to it, that is. This is also a great way to prevent their owns nails from causing them distress. Extremely long nails can curl into their paw pads and later require veterinarian assistance.
The options for coat color in this dog breed are practically unlimited. This breed comes in solid colors including, black, white, gold, brown, silver, and blue. They can also be marked, which means they have a solid-colored coat with a few distinctive markings. Usually, these markings are of different colors ranging from the face to the tail’s tip.
A splashed coat is like splashing some creamer into your freshly brewed coffee! Kidding, just making sure you’re still awake. This just means there are patches or spots of different colors on an overall white body.
Children and Other Pets
Chihuahuas and young children do not mix well. These dogs are fragile, and a toddler may hurt the dog by playing or mishandling them while holding them. A reputable Chihuahua breeder will usually not sell a puppy to a home with children younger than seven years of age. On another note, Chihuahuas can be highly friendly with other dogs and pets. This is as long as they have been socialized from a very early age.
Unfortunately, these dogs are often purchased without any knowledge of how to handle them, resulting in the need for rehoming. Luckily, there are many verified Chihuahua rescue groups. These dogs are extremely smart and receptive. This adds to the many benefits of adopting a Chihuahua. They may come house trained, have some obedience training, and are already done with the destructive puppy stage.
Here are a few reputable rescues where you just might find your new best friend!
The Chihuahua is one of the oldest dog breeds on the American continent. It was first registered by the American Kennel Club (AKC) in 1904 and is one of its smallest toy breeds. The AKC website provides a wealth of information for Chihuahua owners and those looking for resources on adopting. They’ve long been trusted for their expert advice and support to dog owners.
Here are a few other organizations that work to educate the public about these furry creatures:
More About This Dog Breed
Chihuahuas Were Once Called “Arizona” and “Texas” Dogs. Before they were universally known as Chihuahuas, people named the small dogs after the region where they were found. This resulted in the Chihuahua being called the “Arizona dog,” “Texas dog,” and the “Chihuahua dog.”
After the curtains close, this small dog leaves behind its life of glitz and glamour for a night cuddled up to its favorite human. These little creatures make excellent and loyal pets. Just remember who’s in charge…it may not always be you!