The Chihuahua breed of dog takes its name from the Mexican state that bordered west Texas and New Mexico, but likely originated from the ancient Techichi dogs of the Toltecs, crossed with hairless dogs from the Orient. Historians have described the Techichi as a heavy-boned small dog with a long coat that was indigenous to Central America and definitely connected to the Toltec civilization near present-day Mexico City. The Techichi was larger than the modern Chihuahua and was, surprisingly when one considers the vocal nature of many Chihuahuas, mute.
After the Aztecs conquered the Toltecs, they adopted the little dogs as sacred icons of the upper classes, used in religious ceremonies to expunge sins and as guides for the spirits of the dead. At some point, it appears that the Techichi was crossed with an Oriental hairless breed that made its way to the New World via the Bering Strait land bridge and the smaller, smooth-coated, vocal Chihuahua of today was born.
The breed was discovered in Chihuahua State in the 1850s and quickly became popular, f first registered with the American Kennel Club in 1904.
Adorned with its characteristic big eyes, big ears, and bigger than life attitude, the Chihuahua is the epitome of cocky canine in a petite package. In a nutshell, this tiny little dog breed is unaware of its diminutive size, clearly master of his universe and fearing little. These characteristics make him a most suitable pet for some people, while being the worst possible choice for others. The Chihuahua is a popular pet for elderly owners and apartment dwellers that crave canine companionship, but have little space.
Chihuahuas are very sensitive little dogs that are very in tune with, and acutely aware of, their environment. They are graceful, athletic, and energetic, and compact in their movements. Many possessing terrier-like qualities of being territorial, aggressive, and even downright nasty when provoked (sometimes provocation does not require much from the other party). This terrier-like quality also often extends into aggression toward other dogs. Overall, the temperament of the Chihuahua makes them not good candidates for household with small children.
Unfortunately, the Chihuahua’s natural curiosity, intelligence, and loyalty/affection for his owner, often get lost in the prevalent description of the more prominent, if less than perfect, features of his temperament. There is no mistaking, however, that under the right circumstances, a Chihuahua makes a wonderful companion.
As pets, the Chihuahua’s loyalty and clear passion for being close to his owner makes him a gratifying companion, and his small size makes him a convenient one. Chihuahuas have been known to ride inside a pocket, in a purse or tote bag, or tucked firmly under the arm of their owners. They fit nicely in soft-sided pet carriers for an airplane ride or a jaunt in the car, and they enjoy outings of this kind greatly.
At home, Chihuahuas are curious and mischievous. Left to their own devices, the Chihuahuas toilet paper and entire house or chew up papers, mail, or newspapers into tiny little pieces. Although he is not much bigger than a minute, he could also wind up as master of the household, for he can manipulate owners with great finesse.
Chihuahuas in many instances get along with others dogs of their own breed, while seeming to harbor dislike for dogs of other breeds. For this reason, in homes where
there is an existing Chihuahua and another dog is desired, one should consider getting another Chihuahua. In homes where a canine that is not a Chihuahua already exists and another dog is desired, it is not recommended that one select a Chihuahua for the home.
Chihuahuas tend to be 6-8 inches tall, and weigh 3-8 pounds, with little difference from male to female. The overall appearance is of a fine-boned but muscular dog. The head is distinctive with its rounded skull, large eyes, and large ears that perk upright when the dog is alert and flare out to the sides of the head when the dog is resting. The muzzle is moderately short and slightly pointed; teeth are arranged in a level or scissor bite.
Smooth-coated Chihuahuas have a soft, glossy, short coat that is full over the body and scanty around the head and ears. The long-coated dogs have a longer soft coat that can be flat or slightly curly.. Either coat can be any solid color, spotted, or tricolor.
Chihuahuas tend to have a fontinelle, asoft spot on the top of the head and closes usually by 4-6 months of age. For this reason, and bumps to the head should be carefully avoided during this time. Genetically, netically, Chihuahuas are predisposed to medially luxating patella, collapsing trachea, and allergic tracheobronchitis. A prospective buter should ask the breeder for documentation of pre-breeding screening of the bitch and sire prior to purchase of a puppy. Adult Chihuahuas are very susceptible to dental disease, making regular check-ups with the vet, a well as recommend teeth cleanings, very important.
Life expectancy tends to be long, averaging 13-15 years.
Roger L. Welton, DVM
Founder and Chief Editor, Web-DVM.net
President, Maybeck Animal Hospital