Chihuahua Dog Breed Information
Named for the Sovereign State in Mexico, the Chihuahua is the American Kennel Club’s 30th most popular dog breed. Chihuahuas are recognized for their loyalty and intelligence, but they are best known for being the smallest dog breed in the world. If you are thinking of adopting a Chihuahua, here is what you need to know.
A Little History
To this day, the Chihuahua’s history is largely debated. Some believe they were first bred in China before arriving to the Americas via Spanish trade ships. Others credit the Aztec Empire for refining the breed (at that time, called the Techichi) as a religious guide to the afterlife. Regardless, their ancestors narrowly escaped extinction following the Spanish colonization of the 1500s. Then, in 1850, their descendants were discovered in Chihuahua, Mexico, and by 1900, their appearance in early films gave rise to their fame.
What are Chihuahuas Like?
If you’ve ever known a Chihuahua, you probably know their behavior is chiefly influenced by those around them. They are fiercely loyal to their masters, and will display a friendly affection for those within their circle. Outsiders, however, should not expect such a warm welcome. Chihuahuas will do almost anything to protect their families, but most often this feat is achieved with a derisory bark.
Their coats can be short or long, with soft, glossy or straight hair. Slightly longer than they are tall, Chihuahuas stand 6 – 9 inches high, at a weight of just 2 – 6 pounds. They are born to a diversity of colors, including black, white, or tan, and may even have a variety of spots or patterns. Litters generally yield 1 – 3 Chihuahua puppies.
Caring for Chihuahuas
Although you may be tempted to carry them, Chihuahuas benefit from a daily walk. Nevertheless, their exercise needs are low compared to other breeds. While a long-haired Chihuahua may require biweekly brushing, their short-haired cousins may need little or no coat care at all (apart from an occasional bath). You should brush their teeth routinely and ensure their environment is not too cold, as they prefer to stay warm.
With a relatively long life-expectancy, a healthy Chihuahua should live 14 – 18 years. Despite that, they are prone to develop conditions such as hypoglycemia, pulmonic stenosis, patellar luxation, and hydrocephalus1. It’s important to visit a veterinarian regularly to monitor their health.
Most breeders charge between $300 and $500 to adopt a Chihuahua, however teacup Chihuahuas can cost as much as $2,000. Be prepared to spend up to $500 on pet supplies and initial veterinary expenses (vaccines, exams, spaying/neutering), and up to another $400 on veterinary expenses each year after. Patellar luxation surgery costs $1,200 – $2,500, while surgical treatment for hydrocephalus can cost $5,000 – $10,000. A pet insurance policy with 4Paws Insurance helps pet parents provide important veterinary care for their fur-babies by reducing the burden of unforeseen costs.
Comments from our Chief Pet Officer
The Chihuahua is a great breed if you live in a condo or apartment. They are easy to train, but be careful when giving them treats, because they are prone to obesity. Also, they typically have a long-life expectancy. I know of pet owners that have had their dog(s) for more than eighteen years. Unfortunately, like any purebred dog, they are prone to some congenital conditions. For that reason, check with your breeder to ensure that they are tracking and testing their litters regularly. Dental hygiene is very important to all breeds and there is no exception here. While they are young get your Chihuahua used to you brushing his or her teeth. This will help them live a long and healthy life.