When many people think of a little dog, a Chihuahua is often the first breed to come to mind. They are considered by most to be the smallest breed of dog. They have been used in advertising and are often seen being carried around in purses by celebrities. But what is a Chihuahua really like?
The exact origins of the breed are unknown. Their name comes from the Mexican state of Chihuahua and the breed is thought to have originated in Mexico. According to the AKC there is even a historical letter written by Columbus to the King of Spain that references the tiny dog. Chihuahuas were first registered by the AKC in 1904.
Chihuahuas come in two varieties, long and smooth coat, and also come in a wide variety of colors, including black, fawn, white and more. They are very small, the breed standard requiring they be six pounds or less, so they are not a good choice for young children, since they aren’t sturdy enough to withstand rough handling. On the plus side, they won’t require near the amount of exercise that larger breeds do, so they’re a good choice if you live in town and don’t have access to a fenced yard for them to run in. They should never be kept outside.
Chihuahuas are sometimes known for being stubborn and hard to train when in fact many of their behavior issues stem from people treating them as babies instead of dogs. If not well socialized they can become one person dogs, so it’s important to make sure they have many positive encounters with all types of people, especially when they’re younger.
There are some health issues you should be aware of as well. Very small Chihuahuas and young puppies can be prone to hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar. Like many other small breeds, they can have luxating patellas or ‘trick knees’ and if overfed can become obese, which can lead to arthritis. Those domed shaped heads can sometimes be affected with hydrocephalus, a fluid buildup around the brain which can be fatal if untreated. Most Chihuahuas are healthy dogs though, that can live 12+ years if taken care of. Dogs living into their late teens are not uncommon.
If you decide to adopt a Chihuahua you can find breeders through the Chihuahua Club of America. There are also many Chihuahuas looking for homes through shelters and rescues. Petfinder is a good resource to find a rescue dog. Chihuahuas are cute, small dogs with lots of personality, and for the right person, make a wonderful addition to your family.