Chihuahua is the smallest breed of dog in the world
and is named for the Chihuahua State in Mexico.
Chihuahuas are best known for their small size and large
The AKC (American Kennel Club) recognizes
two varieties of Chihuahua: the long-coat and the smooth-coat.
Many long-coat Chihuahuas have very thin hair, but other
long coats have a very dense, thick coat.
Breed standards for this dog do not
generally specify a height, only a weight and a description
of their overall proportions. As a result, height varies
more than within many other breeds. Generally, the height
ranges between six and ten inches at the withers. However,
some dogs grow as tall as twelve to fifteen inches.
AKC show dogs must weigh no more than six lb (2.7 kg);
the FCI standard calls for dogs ideally between 1.5
and three kg (3.3 to 6.6 lb), although smaller ones
are acceptable in the show ring. However, pet-quality
Chihuahuas (that is, those bred or purchased as companions
rather than show dogs) can, and do, range above these
weights, to ten pounds or even more if they have large
bone structures or are allowed to become overweight.
This does not mean they are not purebred Chihuahuas,
it only means that they do not meet the requirements
to enter a conformation show. Oversize Chihuahuas are
seen in some of the best, and worst, bloodlines.
Chihuahuas come in many colors, from
solid blacks to solid whites, spotted, or a variety
of other colors like fawn (tan), chocolate, blue (gray),
silver, tricolored (chocolate, blue, or black with tan
and white markings), brindle, and merle; and, each of
these colors varies in shades and tones, as fawn can
be a term to describe a tan dog from a very pale cream
to a deep (almost red) tan, or any shade in between,
and the chocolate coloration can range from a milky
light shade of brown, to a deep mahogony brown, to a
dark brown that is almost black.
Chihuahuas are prized for their devotion and
personality. Their alertness, intelligence and size
make them easily adaptable to a variety of environments,
including the city and small apartments. While Chihuahuas
are often stereotyped as high-strung, correct training
and socialization can result in an outstanding companion
Chihuahuas are not well-suited as small
children's pets because of their size and physical fragility.
However, many Chihuahuas focus their devotion on one
person, becoming overly jealous of that person's human
relationships. This can be mitigated through socialization.
Chihuahuas also tend to have a "clannish"
nature, often preferring the companionship of other
Chihuahuas over other dogs. Also, Chihuahuas seem to
have no concept of their own size, and may fearlessly
confront larger animals, which can result in injury.Chihuahuas
are sensitive to the cold due to their small body size.
Chihuahua owners often dress their dogs in sweaters
or coats in cold weather. However longer-haired chihuahuas
may be fine without additional protection and in the
summer may still be known to pant.
This breed requires expert veterinary attention
in areas such as birthing and dental care. Chihuahuas
are also prone to some genetic anomalies, often neurological
ones, such as epilepsy and seizure disorders.
Chihuahuas, and other toy breeds, are
also prone to the sometimes painful condition known
as patella luxation.
Another genetic abnormality in Chihuahuas
and toy breeds is hydrocephalus, or water on the brain.
This condition surfaces in young puppies and often results
in the death of a puppy by the time that it reaches
six months of age. It is thought that this disease is
often diagnosed by the pup having an abnormally large
head during the first several months of life, but other
symptoms are more noticeable (since "a large head"
is such a broad description). Chihuahua puppies exhibiting
hydrocephalus usually have patchy skull platelets rather
than a solid bone, and typically are lethargic and do
not grow at the same pace as their siblings. A true
case of Hydrocephalus can be diagnosed by a veterinarian,
though the prognosis is grim.
Chihuahuas are also known for their
moleras, a soft spot in their skulls. Chihuahuas are
the only breed of dog to be born with an incomplete
skull. The molera does fill in with age, but great care
needs to be taken during the first six months until
the skull is fully formed. Many veterinarians are not
familiar with Chihuahuas as a breed, and mistakenly
confuse a molera with hydrocephalus. The Chihuahua Club
of America has issued a statement regarding this often
deadly misdiagnosis .
Chihuahuas are also prone to eye infections
due to their large, round, protruding eyes and their
relatively low ground clearance.
Chihuahuas exhibiting the Merle coloration
, or out of merle parents, are prone to myriad additional
health complications. The Merle coat pattern is a carrier
of possible severe eye conditions and blindness, deafness,
hemophilia, sterility, and numerous other health concerns.
Buyers owning or wishing to purchase a merle Chihuahua
should do extensive research on the possible health
concerns of this coloration.
Although figures often vary, as with
any breed, the average lifespan for a Chihuahua is approximately
8 to 14 years of age.