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The Chihuahua, also known “Chi” is the smallest breed of dog in the world. The pint sized dogs are listed by kennel clubs as a toy and companion breed. These pint sized dogs make great companions and are relatively easy to care for. Although their origin is debatable, the Chihuahua most likely originated in the Chihuahua region of Mexico and is a descendant of the Techichi, a small companion dog of the Toltec civilization. The breed became popular in the United States of America and Great Britain during the twentieth century. Being small, the chihuahua is a fragile dog and not meant to socialize with small children or larger dogs. The Chihuahua mostly lives up to its reputation as a feisty, quirky, entertaining pet.
The dogs are easy to care for and make great apartment pets because they don’t require much exercise. The Chihuahua has been crossbred with several other breeds for a unique variety of dogs with interesting temperaments. Easy to care for with a lifespan that typically is 15 to 18 years, the Chihuahua makes a wonderful companion pet for someone looking for a dog that will be playful and loyal.
Here are 20 fun facts you didn’t know about Chihuahuas.
The Chihuahua is the smallest breed of dog recognized by most kennel clubs including the American Kennel Club. It is a toy breed. Most pure bred chihuahuas weigh just two to eight pounds. Dogs over 6 pounds are not considered for show. Chihuahua bodies are longer than they are tall.
Their height is usually between just 6 and 9 inches but sometimes 12 to 15 inches. The head is usually apple shaped, rounded with a pointed muzzle. The large ears stand erect and are called “radar” or “dish” ears. The eyes are large and often described as luminous. Chihuahuas often have great eyesight. Apple-headed chihuahuas are recognized by the American Kennel Club, but sometimes the dogs are more “deer-headed”. Although not recognized by international kennel clubs, deer-headed chihuahuas became popular during the mid-twentieth century. The chihuahua’s tail is often curved or arced. Chihuahuas have sharp claws developed for digging.
A very small chihuahua is called a teacup Chihuahua. Contrary to popular belief, the teacup chihuahua is not a separate breed. It’s just a very small Chihuahua. The dogs are often the runt of the litter and weigh less than 3 pounds. The teacup Chihuahua puppy may still grow into a full sized chihuahua, but often these little dogs stay small. People will even pay more money to buy a teacup chihuahua than a regular sized dog. Teacup Chihuahuas were made popular by celebrities carrying their tiny pets in their purses wherever the paparazzi followed. Teacup Chihuahuas remain popular pets today.
The most well known color of the Chihuahua’s coat is tan. Most people are familiar with the tan colored Chihuahua, but the dogs actually come in a variety of colors. Some dogs even have markings. While many Chihuahuas are tan, the dogs can be found in sand, fawn, chestnut, blue, silver, white and black. Some Chihuahuas have markings on their coat. These include tri-color, brindle and spotted markings.
The Chihuahua can have either a short or a long coat. Either coat requires little grooming. The dogs do shed, but regular washing and brushing will keep the loose hairs at bay. The Chihuahua can have a single layer or a double layer coat. The double layer includes a fluffy undercoat that keeps the dog warm.
Chihuahuas are known as freeze babies who crave warmth, so the undercoat is helpful. With the double undercoat, the dog will shed more. Short hair Chihuahuas are common and have a shiny short coat that rests close the body. Long coat chihuahuas have a short coat over the body, but feature feathering along the ears, stomach, back of the legs, hind quarters and tail. A Chihuahua with a long double coat often resembles a pomeranian. The British Kennel Club lists the short coat and long coat Chihuahua as different breeds while the American Kennel Club does not.
Any dog’s natural temperament should be noted when choosing a breed to become a part of your family. Although the common stereotype of the Chihuahua is that the breed is feisty, quirky and yappy, this is not necessarily true for all Chihuahuas. The dog’s temperament is mostly the result of genetics. A good breeder will avoid mating a stubborn Chihuahua with another stubborn Chihuahua. Chihuahuas have a large variety of traits that reflect in its temperament. Some Chihuahuas are bold, stubborn and confident. Some are mellow, nervous or eager to please. It all depends on its parents and grandparents. As with any dog, early training and socialization will help suppress bad behavior and enhance good behavior. Every Chihuahua will maintain its innate personality to some degree, but with early training, your Chihuahua should be able to adjust to your personality. Chihuahuas are incredibly loyal to their owner and most are eager to please that person and will enjoy reward for good behavior and enjoy when their owner is pleased.
Many have debated the origin of the chihuahua. No one knows for sure how these cute little dogs came about, but most agree their origin is in the Chihuahua region of Mexico. Unearthed artifacts from the ancient Toltec civilization that lived in that region depict small dogs that resemble the chihuahua on pottery and toys. It is most commonly accepted that the modern chihuahua is a descendant of the Techichi. The Techichi was a companion dog of the Toltecs. The dog was often buried with its owner because the society believed these loyal pets would help usher the human soul into the afterlife. The dogs were sometimes sacrificed because of the strong spiritual beliefs of the Toltec people. There are theories that the chihuahua originated from China and were brought to the Americas by Spanish merchants. The chihuahuas image has been found in architectural digs throughout Central America and South America. The Chihuahua is the oldest breed of dog in North America.
The breed’s development
The Chihuahua found its way to the United States of America in the 1880’s. The dogs were sold to tourists in markets based near the United States border with Mexico. These markets were located in Tucson, Arizona and El Paso, Texas. The little dogs that made great companion pets were soon scattered across the United States. During the late 1800’s and early 1900’s, there were many packs of wild Chihuahuas in the Southwest region of the country. Hamilton Raynor of Texas began gathering them up and created a kennel. Raynor was the first to register his Chihuahua, Midget, with the American Kennel Club in 1904. Soon after, a Chihuahua named Beppie and owned by L.A. McLean from New Jersey was registered with the American Kennel Club. The dogs continued to grow in popularity as both pet and show dogs. Several American kennels helped develop the American Chihuahua. These kennels included La Rex Doll Kennels and La Oro Kennel. The dog was also introduced overseas in England. Soon the dogs were registered with the Ladies Kennel Club Show there.
As American and British kennels continued to develop the Chihuahua breed, the dogs became increasingly popular pets during the Great Depression and after World War II. Much of the reason for this was the need for an easy to care for small dog that would offer companionship to its owner. Chihuahua popularity also increased as celebrities were photographed with their own pets. During the 1930’s, famous band leader, Xavier Cuget, and his wife, Abby Lane, were photographed often with their pet Chihuahuas. Popular opera singer, Enrico Caruso, was often photographed with his pet Chihuahua in the 1930’s. Around the same time, popular actress, Miss Lupe Velez, was photographed with her own Chihuahua. The tiny dogs were a hit with the public. A couple of decades later, Marilyn Monroe owned a pet Chihuahua named Choo-Choo.
Later in the twentieth century, Chihuahuas made a huge resurgence as a pet dog. This was due to the 1993 advertisement campaign by the popular fast food restaurant chain Taco Bell. At the height of the fast food “burger wars”, Taco Bell, hit hard. The ads featured a Chihuahua played by a dog named Gidget. Gidget was depicted as a Mexican Revolutionary and would wear a beret, sombrero or bandido in print and television ads. Using special effects, the dog appeared to speak. The voiceover was done by Carlos Alazraqui. The campaign featured toys. The Chihuahua played by Gidget coined popular catchphrases iincluding “Yo quiero Taco Bell”, “Drop the Chalupa!”, and “Viva Gorditos”. The ads continued through 2004.
Celebrities and their purse pets
With the Taco Bell ad campaign, came a surge in owning Chihuahuas as pets. Many Hollywood stars were photographed by paparazzi with their beloved little companions. Paris Hilton and Brittany Spears were often seen toting their teacup Chihuahuas in their purses around town. Other celebrity Chihuahua owners include Paula Abdul, Alyssa Milano and Demi Moore. Madonna had three Chihuahuas, Chiquita, Evita and Rosita. Wrestler and movie star Mickey Rourke owned Chihuahuas. He claims his Chihuahua, Loki, helped pull him out of a deep depression. At the same time, Chihuahuas were featured in movies like “Beverly Hills Chihuahua” with George Lopez in 2008 and “Chihuahua: The Movie” in 2010.
Not only are Chihuahuas easy to care for, they are mostly healthy dogs. Their lifespan is usually long, between 15 to 18 years. Chihuahuas are not prone to genetic disease. They do tend to have heart issues including murmurs, mitral valve disease, and pulmonic stenosis. Some have eye abnormalities. Chihuahuas are prone to knee joint problems. They often have dental issues due to their tiny mouths. The biggest issue with the Chihuahua is its small size. They are fragile and must be supervised. They could get hurt just leaping off a couch.
The tiny Chihuahua can be very fragile. They can easily be injured do to their size. They must be supervised. These small dogs cannot participate in rough play. The Chihuahua’s brain is very large in proportion to its body. The Chihuahua is born with a soft spot on the skull much like an infant’s head. The Chihuahua’s head should be protected. It should not be left alone with small children or large dogs. The Chihuahua really deserve to be pampered so the owner of a Chihuahua should be prepared to dole a lot of attention on their precious little companion.
Of all dog breeds, the Chihuahua may be the most notoriously difficult to housebreak. Their innate stubbornness may be half the problem. Fortunately, the dogs are so small that their messes are small. The Chihuahua can be trained to do its business on a pee pad. Some owners have even trained their pet Chihuahuas to use a litter box. Hopefully, you won’t have too much trouble training your Chihuahua to do its business outside, but even if you can’t fully get that into its big head, know that the messes will not be too huge to clean up.
As mentioned above, a Chihuahua’s personality will be based mostly on genetics. However, as with any dog, early training and socialization will help your pet learn how to behave properly. Rewarding good behavior is always the best way to train your pet. Treats and praise will go along way in stopping bad behavior and enhancing good behavior. Contrary to popular belief, not all Chihuahuas are yappy. There are ways to train your dog not to bark as much if that is an issue. Chihuahuas are easy to carry or even tote in a bag, but they can also be trained to walk with a leash. The dogs do need some daily exercise. Because most Chihuahuas are hesitant around strangers or other dogs, it’s a good idea to socialize them early on with other people and other dogs. However, remember they are fragile and intensely loyal to their owner, so this may not be an easy lesson to teach your Chihuahua.
Great City Pets
One positive side to not being able to housebreak your pet Chihuahua is if you live in the city or in an apartment. You won’t have to worry about taking your dog outside in the cold or heat several times a day. Chihuahuas make great city pets and great pets for apartment dwellers. The dogs are small and don’t take up a lot of space. They don’t require a lot of exercise, so a big backyard is not a necessity for a Chihuahua. Most Chihuahuas are docile and quiet, so living in an apartment is not out of the question. Chihuahuas are small and can be carried or toted to the park, but leash walks are encouraged to give the little guy some daily exercise.
Chihuahuas love warmth. They crave it. They will find the brightest sunbeam in the room and lay there for hours. They will snuggle with a blanket or next to you. Having a couple Chihuahuas is adorable because the little ones will snuggle together all of the time. Chihuahuas love to lick each other’s ears, so its cute to have more than one. They keep each other happy and content. Chihuahuas often shake when they are cold, so be sure to keep them warm.
Chihuahuas have been bred with several other breeds of dogs. There is a long list of dog breeds that work well with the Chihuahua. The result is a cute new dog, hopefully with a pleasing temperament. Popular Chihuahua crossbreeds include the Chipin (bred with a Mini Pinscher), the Chipit (bred with an American Pit Bull Terrier), and the Bullhuahua (bred with a French Bulldog). Other crossbreeds with the Chihuahua include the Dalmatian, the Greyhound, the Jack Russell Terrier, the Pomeranian, the Poodle, the Pug, the Corgi, and the Shih Tzu. The variations are nearly endless.
The female Chihuahua typically has a small litter. The size is usually just 1 to 3 puppies. Sometimes larger litters, such as 6 puppies, occurs. Chihuahuas are often delivered by Caesarian Section. This is because the puppies have such large heads that the mother has difficulty delivering them. This may also be the reason for smaller litters. The largest Chihuahua litter was 10 puppies. This occurred in the United Kingdom in 2011.
Chihuahuas are considered clannish in their behavior toward other dogs. Unlike other breeds, the Chihuahua prefers another Chihuahua than another breed of dog. They love to have a same breed companion. They will share food, share space, and share their human owners only with another Chihuahua. The Chihuahua will often be aggressive and snarl at another dog breed. Early socialization can help, but for the most part, a Chihuahua prefers the company of only another Chihuahua. This is why we see people often owning two or three Chihuahuas as pets.
The Chihuahua has many innate tendencies similar to a Terrier. This is not that the Chihuahua was bred this way but it just occurred. The Chihuahua will burrow and also will retrieve items. The dog has fun playing fetch. Chihuahuas will also shake. This may be do to low body temperature but also can be due to anxiety. The Chihuahua often does what’s called a “reverse sneeze”. The dog stretches its head and neck and makes a wheezing sound. People with asthma have sworn that their pet Chihuahua cured them, but this really might just be that the Chihuahua wheezes more than its owner. Most Chihuahuas suffer from “small dog syndrome”.
Any Chihuahua owner will say that the dog’s best trait is its loyalty. Chihuahuas become very attached to their owners. They serve as a constant companion. They provide love and affection. They also enjoy entertaining their owner. They can be feisty, energetic, playful and fun. Although Chihuahuas tend to be skeptical of strangers even with early socialization, they sometimes welcome a visitor to the home. Perhaps the biggest attraction of owning a Chihuahua as a pet dog is its loyalty and love for its master. Chihuahuas give so much love and attention to their owners that they have been said to help get their owners out of depressive moods. The Chihuahua is definitely a one person pet.