- Activity Level: low
- Grooming Level: low
- Trainability: high
- Adaptability: moderate
- Kid/Pet Friendly: often
- Average Size: Small
- Average Lifespan: 14-16 years
- Prey Drive: low
- Watchdog: aware
- Registered?: aca, akc
Chihuahua Breed Profile
The Chihuahua is a national symbol of Mexico and is one of the oldest dog breeds in the Americas. Their ancestors appear in ancient paintings in Mexico and their lineage can be traced back to pre-Columbian ancient kingdoms. The Toltecs ruled Mexico over a thousand years ago and had the Techichi, which is considered a larger and heavier ancestor of the modern Chihuahua.
When the Aztecs conquered the Toltecs, they refined the Techichi into a smaller and lighter dog. It was so valued within the Aztec culture that it became known as one of Montezuma’s fabled treasures after the Spanish conquistadors toppled the civilization in the 1500s. Americans started to take interest in the breed in the mid-1800s and found several in the State of Chihuahua, which is how the modern breed got its name. The first recorded Chihuahua registered by the AKC was in 1908. His name was Beppie.
This dog breed is very alert and playful. Often referred to as a ”tiny dog with a huge personality”, they tend to have a charming, graceful, and sassy personality and can be bold or shy. Socialization early and often ensures they are confident, regardless of whether they have a bold or shy nature. They tend to be gentle with children and other pets. However, a poorly socialized and poorly trained Chihuahua can develop “small dog syndrome”, which will cause them to be potentially aggressive towards other people or animals and to bite or nip when nervous.
Chihuahuas are moderately adaptable. They do well in apartments as well as houses. They can adjust to almost any lifestyle as long as they get plenty of attention. However, their small size does not make them a good fit for roughhousing with children. They are also extremely sensitive to the cold, so special care must be taken when temperatures start to drop.
Overall, the Chihuahua is a healthy dog breed. As with any dog breed, there are some breed-specific health issues to be aware of. Some of these health issues include heart problems, like mitral valve disease and patent ductus arteriosus, patellar luxation, idiopathic epilepsy, and eye disease. Reputable breeding cuts down on a lot of the concern for these issues as it ensures puppies are as genetically sound as possible. Asking the breeder about the genetic history of the parents and to see any relevant health tests can allay concerns about these health issues.
Chis are alert and highly intelligent. They also love to please their owners, but know exactly how to get their way, which means they can sometimes have a stubborn streak. They are relatively easy to train and respond well to training with positive rewards, but that also means it’s easy to train them into undesirable behaviors as well. It’s important to enforce that you are in charge and to never allow your Chihuahua to do anything as a puppy that you do not want them doing as an adult. Training and obedience classes are a good idea, especially for novice owners.
The Chihuahua has a short, soft coat that is close to the skin and glossy or a long coat that is fine and glossy. Their coats come in many patterns and colors. The short, smooth-coated Chihuahua needs only the occasional brushing and bath to maintain a healthy coat. A long-haired Chihuahua should be brushed at least once a week, if not more, to prevent mats and avoid tangles. Your Chi’s nails should be trimmed regularly and their ears cleaned regularly as well. Brushing your dog’s teeth daily is recommended to prevent tartar buildup and reduce dental problems.
This dog breed may get a burst of energy every now and then, but they wear out quickly. They love to run and play, which means they can usually get enough exercise even in a very small space. Short walks are generally sufficient to keep your Chi in good shape. You do need to be wary of overexertion. If your Chihuahua is panting heavily and having trouble keeping up, it’s time to head home and you might need to carry them there.
Chihuahuas generally stand 6-9 inches tall at the shoulder and weigh up to 6 pounds.
A Chihuahua will generally live 14-16 years.
El Paso, Texas has a minor-league baseball team called the Chihuahuas. Chihuahuas were the stars of the show in the 2008 Disney film “Beverly Hills Chihuahua” and held major supporting roles as iconic “purse dogs” in “Legally Blond” and “Sex and the City”.