Chihuahuas are the smallest breed of dogs known to the world. They are quirky little dogs, with their small bodies brimming with energy for what seems like most of the time.
Their personalities can be quite variable, ranging from confident to timid, lively to placid and so on. As a dog breed, they are also quite comical and eccentric as compared to other breeds and are quite popular for holding strong loyalties towards their owners.
They are named after Chihuahua, a state in Mexico, since the species is thought to have originated there.
Having a Chihuahua as a pet is akin to having a constant companion who would be with you every step of the way. No matter what you might be doing at home, your beloved Chihuahua is likely to be around you round-the-clock, and can be treated as a factor that is more or less constant in terms of its presence. In such a situation, you as the owner need to be aware of certain important facts so as to be able to handle them well.
A few important facts that characterize these little dogs and could help you to handle them well are listed as follows:
- Chihuahuas can weigh between 4 and 6 pounds.
- They are a highly intelligent breed and are eager to learn, which is why they are also quite easy to train.
- They are known for being comparatively a low-maintenance breed when it comes to grooming and exercise.
- They harbour a strong dislike for cold and wet weather.
- Like any other small dog, they are very fragile and hence are not very child friendly. A toddler can unwittingly harm the little dog while playing, even if it is through well-meaning actions.
- They have a life span of about 12-20 years.
- Chihuahuas that weigh less than 3 pounds usually have a short life span.
- These little dogs either come in a solid colour or in a combination of colours such as black and white, fawn, etc.
- They make particularly good guard dogs, given their strong sense of devotion.
- They need constant supervision. Chihuahuas are unaware of their own small size and do not hesitate to challenge a bigger dog, which could result in them getting hurt.
History – How Did The Chihuahua Come Into Being?
The Chihuahua is believed to have descended either from tiny hairless Chinese dogs or the South American dog named ‘Techichi’. Techichi was a breed of choice when the Toltec tribe ruled Mexico about a thousand years ago during the ninth century. This prehistoric dog was a larger and heavier version than today’s avatar of Chihuahua.
By the 12th Century, when the Aztecs had vanquished the Toltecs, they refined the Techichi into a comparatively smaller and lighter dog. During the 1500s, when the Spanish conquistadors toppled the Aztecs, they were considered as being an integral part of Aztec culture. According to colonial records, the Chihuahua population was pegged at high numbers, meaning the region previously occupied by the Aztecs was densely populated by this dog breed. They were also referred to as small, nearly hairless dogs back in the 19th Century.
In El Salvador, Mexico, wheeled dog toys thought to have represented the Chihuahua were unearthed. Found in Tres Zapotes, which is located in the Mexican region of Veracruz, the earliest of these were dug up and dated all the way back to 100 AD. Also discovered were dog effigy pots in Tennessee as also Georgia and these seemed to depict the Chihuahua. These date back to 1325 AD.
Back in 1850, a pot featuring a Chihuahua was excavated from the site of Casas Grandes in the Mexican state of Chihuahua. Pots found near Mexico City were argued to have been brought by the survivors of Casas Grandes, after it had been attacked by the Opatas.
As mentioned and described in one of the letters by Hernan Cortes in 1520, the Aztecs raised the little dogs with the intention of later selling them for food. A small dog, such a Chihuahua, was also used as a hot water bottle. It was widely believed at that time that the pain could be transferred from a human to an animal. This also paved the way for rituals such as burning dogs like Techichi to pardon the deceased human’s sins.
Decoding the Chihuahua’s Temperament
A Chihuahua’s temperament can be decoded as per the information gathered about the genetic temperament of its parents and grandparents. They are wilful little dogs that are prone to shivering when they are cold, excited or scared, and abhor cold and wet weather. On a cold winter night, a Chihuahua can be often found burrowed under blankets and on a pleasant sunny day, it is prone to enjoying sunbathing.
Without regular exercise and lack of social exposure, a Chihuahua may become aggressive and take to attacking any poor soul who might have unwittingly provoked it. However, they blossom in a socially active setting and are also open to being trained. Chihuahuas tend to be fiercely loyal to their owners and to this effect they can be rather over-protective of them too, especially around other people and pets.
For homes wherein there are children less than 8 years of age, having a Chihuahua as a pet is ill-advisable given their easily provoked nature. Especially if the Chihuahua is not properly house broken yet, the interaction could lead to fatal injury.
If a Chihuahua exhibits symptoms like pacing, excessive salivating, destructive chewing, or howling, growling and barking at other dogs, it may be indicative of separation anxiety as a consequence of being too close and loyal to its owner. There are various treatments to diagnose this condition and one which seems most appropriate can be applied.
Things You Should Know About Chihuahuas
Despite being a small dog, your Chihuahua needs regular care and exercise. It cannot just be deemed as a ‘purse dog’ and be toted around in bags.
A Chihuahua’s coat comes in two types: the short haired and the long haired variety. A shorter coated version will barely shed while its counterpart with a shorted outer coat but a woolly inner coat will comparatively shed more. For the long haired variety, the double long coat requires a good deal of grooming and sheds twice as much as the single long coat with feathering marking certain body parts like ears, stomach, backs of the legs and hindquarters including the tail.
Chihuahuas are more prone to injury than regular dogs owing to their small size, rather than falling victim to illnesses or diseases. Due to the small size of their mouth which provides inadequate footing for their teeth, they are particularly susceptible to developing dental problems.
There is a risk of hypoglycaemia and low blood sugar developing in Chihuahua puppies. Lethargy, too much sleep, uncoordinated walking and unfocused eyes, spasmodic neck muscles or head pulling to one side, frequent seizures and fainting spells are all symptoms of hypoglycaemia. This condition can be avoided by providing adequate nutrition and frequent meals; however, a degree of vigilance must be exercised to ensure that obesity does not set in.
Sugar supplements for pets, especially dogs, must be kept close at hand by owners at all times. In case of an emergency, these supplements should be rubbed on to the gums or on the Chihuahua’s mouth’s roof to rapidly enhance levels of blood sugar.
As in all other breeds, you must guard against obesity in case of the Chihuahua too for a dog to live its life optimally and enjoy good health throughout. Obesity can result in increased rates of tracheal collapse, joint injuries, and could even lead to chronic bronchitis. All these conditions need expensive surgery and may even cut down the life span of the little canine companion.
Courtesy of their large protruding eyes, they are susceptible to eye infections or eye injury. Dust, dry air or air-borne allergens may cause their eyes to water frequently.
Chihuahuas are also naturally prone to heart related disorders such as heart murmurs. A more serious condition is that of pulmonic stenosis, wherein the blood flowing out from the right ventricle of the dog’s heart faces obstruction while flowing across the pulmonic valve.
This dog breed is right for you if you are looking for a pet which is small and easy to carry around. It loves travelling, is very faithful to its owner, favors warm, sunny climates and doesn’t need much exercise either. Though it is rather fragile, a Chihuahua is a little dog with a huge heart and a dependable personality which implies that it will be your constant companion for many long years to come.
That being said, your beloved Chihuahua could also be cocky at times, particularly during its interaction with other animals. So, as a dog owner, the onus is on you to ensure that your beloved Chihuahua steers clear of bigger dogs and remove it before it gets entangled in a fight that it is sure to lose.
If you are single and need warmth and security, the Chihuahua is the most perfect option as a pet, companion and family member that you can hope for.