The Chihuahua is the smallest dog in the world and has great popularity in every country on the planet. With a reduced size and weight, these characteristics together with its character, make it adapt well to any home and that it can live together with other pets. At Petlifey, we explain everything about the Chihuahua dog breed.
Characteristics of the Chihuahua breed
The breed chihuahua dog has a character lively, alert, lively and very courageous. A dog that is sometimes a little distrustful of strangers and warns of their presence with insistent barking, making it a good guardian.
Little aware of its true size, it has a sometimes reckless behaviour and faces other dogs much bigger and stronger than them.
It should not be treated with excessive care or with too much permissiveness so that it does not fall into the dreaded small dog syndrome (behavioral problems such as phobias, aggression, stress or separation anxiety).
Regarding its appearance, it is quite compact and well structured, it is slightly longer than it is tall and has a cylindrical shape. The withers are poorly marked and rarely exceed 3 kilograms in weight. Hence it receives its name of miniature dog or Toy (toy in English).
There are two varieties: short-haired chihuahua and long-haired chihuahua. In short-haired specimens, it is smooth, close-fitting, shiny and with a soft texture. In those with long hair, it is fine and silky, straight or a little wavy, and usually has undercoat.
But let’s see in more detail what the character of the Chihuahua is like and what its physical characteristics are like :
Character of the Chihuahua
In fact, a healthy and balanced Chihuahua is characterized by being cheerful, confident and intelligent. A temperament that the English call “spirited”, which should not be construed as being a naturally spontaneous breed.
In fact, by nature it tends to show some caution, but that should never be confused with fear. The dog observes, analyses the situation, assesses it and then decides whether or not it wants to be friends with those it meets.
This is one of the reasons why young specimens are not completely sure of themselves when faced with an unfamiliar situation. Therefore, it is necessary to start the work of socialization intensively and continuously since the dog is a puppy of a few weeks.
Good companion, fun, affectionate, daring and very adventurous. This dog can be a bit stubborn and possessive, always trying to get its way.
For this reason, it needs an owner who does not succumb to its charms and who imposes a certain discipline, always based on positive reinforcement, but applied unswervingly.
That does not mean that it is not an appropriate pet for inexperienced owners, quite the contrary. It is an easy breed to have and to maintain. Your education should not be more difficult if it is carried out with a little perseverance.
If the animal perceives that its owner is a solid leader, it not only gives them its affection but also absolute confidence. Proof of this is its reaction to the presence of strangers, immediately seeking the shelter of its master.
Potentially “cool” dog, despite its small size, the Chihuahua likes to be noticed. It barks at anyone who moves around them and struts unaware of its own strength.
This dominant attitude can be exacerbated if the dog has not been subjected to a regulated discipline, because in that case it may even try to bite children or people who come home, fortunately always without serious consequences beyond those logical annoyances that this attitude produces.
- Energy: high. Active, cheerful and lively, it needs to exercise daily and go outdoors
- Temperament: in terms of behaviour, it is brave, self-confident, adventurous. Little aware of its size and strength, it is sometimes possessive and quarrelsome.
- Adaptability: high. Loves living at home, but adapts to any environment.
- Sociability: high. It is very dependent on its family and gets along well with children, but is suspicious of strangers and often causes problems with other dogs.
- Health: good. It is a healthy animal.
- Longevity: high. From 12 to 15 years, or even something more.
- Utility: company. Since its inception, it has always been a companion dog. Lately it has also been used as a therapy dog.
- Use: companion dog.
Small, cheerful, lively, with great self-confidence and very intelligent. The Chihuahua is an excellent companion animal that loves pampering and loves to play with members of its family, including children. You just have to treat it for what it is, a great dog, although in a small package.
Physical characteristics of the Chihuahua
This is certainly the oldest breed of dog on the American continent.
Native to Mexico, it gets its name from Chihuahua, one of the states of this nation. It is characterized by being the smallest dog in the world. This quality has given it fame and notoriety since the first specimens arrived in Europe at the beginning of the 19th century.
- General appearance: it is a dog with a compact body and a harmonious and balanced constitution. The head, which is apple-shaped, and the tail, moderately long and carried high, curved or also in a semicircle, with the tip directed towards the back, are very characteristic.
- Size: miniature or Toy.
- Height at the withers: There is no established size.
- Weight: between 500 g and 3 kg in both males and females.
- Origin: Mexico.
- Varieties: short hair and long hair.
- Body: with a harmonious and balanced body structure, the Chihuahua has a compact and slightly rectangular body, since the length of the trunk slightly exceeds its height at the withers, especially in the case of females.
- Head: the skull has a characteristic apple shape and the forehead is domed over the insertion of the muzzle, which is short and sharp at the tip, with a somewhat upturned nose.
- Skull: apple-shaped, very round and bulky.
- Muzzle: Quite short, straight seen in profile and broad at the base, but gradually tapers closer to the tip.
- Nose: moderately short and upturned.
- Eyes: they are large, round and a little prominent, without being bulging. Sometimes they appear light, but usually they are dark and very expressive.
- Ears: They are large and the dog wears them stiff and well deployed. Wide at the base, they end in a slightly rounded tip. When they are at rest they form an angle of 45o to the sides.
- Nose-frontal depression (stop): it is pronounced and wide.
- Jaws: The bite is scissor or pincer.
- Neck: the upper profile of the neck is slightly arched and the lower one lacks a dewlap. In general, in males it is thicker than in females, and in the specimens of the long-haired variety it has a longer mane of hair.
- Chest: broad and deep, down to the level of the elbows and the ribs are well arched, but not barrel-shaped.
- Back: The top line is straight, with a short and firm back, a strong and muscular loin, and a broad and powerful rump.
- Forelimbs: straight and long, they have good poise. The shoulders are muscular and form good angles. The elbows are firm and close to the body, but without hindering the dog’s movements.
- Hind limbs: muscular and with long bones, they are parallel to each other and with good poise. The knees are well angled. Their hocks are short and they have developed tendons. Seen from behind they are separated, straight and vertical
- Feet: they are small and oval, with the fingers separated and endowed with curved and quite long nails, and with developed and very elastic pads. Some specimens have dewclaws, which in countries that allow amputation are often removed.
- Tail: moderately long, set high, broad at the base and gradually tapering towards the tip. A characteristic feature of this dog is the bearing of the tail, which in movement is raised, arched or in the shape of a semicircle with the tip directed towards the back. At rest it hangs and forms a slight hook, but without getting between the legs. It is well covered with hair that forms fringes in the long-haired variety.
- Skin: it is smooth and elastic.
- Hair: in terms of hair, depending on its length, there are two varieties of this breed, one with short hair and the other with long hair. The specimens of the first type have a short, soft, shiny coat of hair that is close to the body, and sometimes they have an undercoat. Those of the second type have a not very dense undercoat and a fine, silky, straight or slightly wavy and long coat, especially on the ears, neck, back of the legs, feet and tail, where it forms fringes. .
- Color: the Chihuahua can have practically any color in its coat, in all its possible shades and combinations.
- Movement: The chihuahua’s gait is long, flexible, firm, and active, with good front leg reach and plenty of rear thrust Seen from behind, the rear legs are held nearly parallel to each other, placing the feet in the paw prints previous. As speed increases, all four limbs tend to converge towards a center line of gravity. Overall, it shows great elasticity and freedom of movement, with a head always high and a firm back.
- FCI Classification: FCI No. 218, Group 9 Companion Dogs. Section 6 Chihuahua.
- Other names: Chihuahuaeño.
The truth is that they are very wrong since, under that fragile and vulnerable appearance a representative of the canine species hides. From the nose to the tip of the tail.
And, in fact, although it has always been kept as a strictly companion animal, it is a very confident dog. It is determined and with a capacity for activity well above what its size appears to be.
Its fans say that it is a giant dog in a miniature suit. Perhaps that temperament is what makes them absolutely unaware of the extent of its strength. The Chihuahua has no problem standing up to dogs of breeds much larger than them in size and strength.
Chihuahua breed puppy
If you are thinking of buying a Chihuahua, or better yet, adopting a puppy, you should know that future owners of this dog should be aware that their pet, despite being small in size, is not an eternal puppy. You cannot forgive them for certain actions no matter how funny they turn out.
In fact, a large percentage of behavioral disorders (in any breed of dog) is due to faulty handling by their owners.
Dogs are hierarchical and social animals, and they tend to find their place in the pack, but they are very clever, so they take advantage of any concessions to occupy the highest place in the ladder.
When you have a large, strong, guard breed, people seem very aware of the need to train the dog and work with it correctly. But, with smaller breeds, such as the Chihuahua, it seems that everything can be forgiven, everything can be overlooked … until a point is reached where the possessive behavior of the dog is such that it is very difficult to coexist with the same.
Education and training of the Chihuahua
The Chihuahua is a very intelligent dog and, certainly, somewhat noisy, the result of its exultant personality and its outgoing character.
For this reason, it is very important to enhance its mental stimulation by providing it with things to play with, of different sizes and textures, and varied activities in which the dog can focus all its energy.
It is not a dog that likes to be alone, it demands a lot the company of its family, of the people it lives with, but it also likes to have a companion with which to share its games and walks.
Due to its special physical characteristics, the best companion of a Chihuahua is … another Chihuahua, since with some larger breeds some problem can occur due to the lack of awareness of this dog about its size and its own strength and those of others.
Indeed, with other dogs, and even with animals of other species, it tends to be dominant and possessive, and does not allow any doubts about its hierarchy, a circumstance that can be a sure source of problems. Thus, you must be very careful when leaving it alone with another dog, especially if it is not known or if it shows signs of being dominant as well.
On the other hand, its relationship with children is quite good. But, in addition to the education and socialization of the dog, it is necessary to promote the knowledge of the children themselves so that they are aware of the imbalance of forces between them and their pet. They must be taught how to treat the animal without doing it any harm, something that is sometimes forgotten.
Some specimens of this breed have a reputation for being loud and grumpy, but in reality it is a conditioned response to the treatment they have received throughout the process of forming their temperament.
If the Chihuahua is educated according to the idea that it has of themselves, that is, as if it were a large breed dog, greater benefits are achieved than if it is pampered and treated as if it were a fragile creature and vulnerable.
Cheerful, active and playful, the Chihuahua loves to play with its peers, but usually only gets along with other Chihuahuas. Therefore, with this breed it is essential to do a good job of socializing from puppyhood.
The main use of this breed is as a companion dog, but it can also be used in other tasks and has fun participating in different games and sports, which helps to keep it in good shape.
Chihuahua breed diet
To have a Chihuahua in optimal health, it is very important to provide it with a balanced diet.
It must be rich in nutrients and above all, good quality fats and proteins. This is why it is very important to buy high quality dog food.
The best method to prevent possible health problems and diseases in a dog is to maintain a good diet.
Nowadays it is very easy to find a wide variety of good quality food, either buying in physical stores for pets or online. There are even dog food manufacturers that sell specific food for each type of breed.
Health and diseases of the Chihuahua breed
It is a long-lived dog that easily exceeds 15 years of age and lives very healthy under normal circumstances. Due to its size, it can suffer from dwarfism problems, knee dislocation, skin allergies or suffer from a certain tendency to gain weight.
Many of these alterations are derived from the old obsession to breed smaller and smaller dogs, with which, they are easy to eradicate with a responsible work on the part of the breeders.
As always, the best health advice is to keep the animal at the proper weight using a balanced and healthy food, subjecting it to the appropriate doses of exercise for its age and condition, and, above all, following a preventive strategy with visits and controls routines to the vet.
Specific care of the Chihuahua breed
Another thing that is often neglected is the daily exercise that this dog needs to perform.
Many people believe that, as it is a small animal, it has more than enough with the exercise it does around the house, but that is not true.
All dogs tend to slow down their pace of life when they are indoors, so it is very difficult for them to do the necessary exercise if they barely go outside; you have to take them out for a walk and run around in the open air.
In addition, these daily walks are also the perfect opportunity for the animal to interact with other dogs, see different people and experience new situations, so that a socialization never sufficiently weighted in this breed is promoted.
A specimen in good physical and mental shape becomes a much calmer, self-confident, cheerful, healthy dog prepared for any situation.
The range of activities this breed can perform is limited due to its size and strength. But, as it is a very easy animal to train, it can learn a wide variety of commands.
It can be taught many different tricks, which is why it has become one of the most used breeds in shows of different kinds, in the circus or in advertising and movies.
Dog with excellent adaptability, prefers to live indoors, both in urban and rural environments, and is a good choice for inexperienced owners and for the elderly.