The Chihuahua is a tiny dog breed named after the Mexican state of Chihuahua. Chihuahuas are known for being the smallest breed of dog and for having big personalities despite their small size. With origins tracing back to ancient Mexico, Chihuahuas remain one of the most popular toy breeds around the world.
Height: 5-8 inches
Life Span: 12-18 Years
Chihuahuas are most famous for being the world’s smallest dog breed. They are classified as a toy breed by major kennel clubs. On average they weigh just 3 to 6 pounds and stand 5 to 8 inches tall at the shoulder. However Chihuahuas come in two different coat types that can slightly alter their appearance.
The smooth coat Chihuahua has a short, shiny coat that lies close to the body. The smooth coat is easy to groom but sheds somewhat seasonally. In contrast, the long coat Chihuahua has a soft, fine coat that can be flat or curly. The long coat requires more grooming but is not considered hypoallergenic. Chihuahuas come in a wide range of coat colors and patterns including black, tan, fawn, chocolate, blonde, and tricolor.
Despite being small dogs, Chihuahuas have high metabolisms and need to eat high-quality foods designed for toy dog breeds.
Chihuahuas should be fed a complete and balanced diet that meets their nutritional requirements. Look for a dog food formulated specifically for toy or small breed dogs. The kibble should be miniature in size to suit a Chihuahua’s tiny mouth and jaw. Avoid feeding a Chihuahua from an ordinary dog food bag, as those kibbles will be too large.
Chihuahuas only need about 1/2 cup to 3/4 cup of dry food per day split into two meals. Overfeeding or free-feeding can easily lead to an overweight Chihuahua. Owners need to measure out portions carefully based on the dog’s size, age, and activity level.
Despite their small size, Chihuahuas are prone to certain health problems. One of the most common is hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar. Chihuahuas have high metabolisms and quick energy needs, so they are susceptible to crashes in blood glucose. Feeding multiple small meals per day and keeping nutritious snacks on hand can help prevent hypoglycemia episodes. Collapsing trachea is another condition seen in the breed where the cartilage rings supporting the windpipe weaken, causing the airway to collapse. Signs include a goose-honk cough. Mild cases can be managed with medication and harness collars that remove pressure from the neck. Chihuahuas are also prone to dental disease due to their small jaws, so regular tooth brushing and professional cleanings are important. Luxating patellas, a dislocation of the kneecaps, can also occur. Signs involve limping or skipping while running. For mild cases, rest and medication help, while severe cases may require surgery to realign the kneecap. Working with a vet experienced in toy breeds allows catching and managing these Chihuahua health issues early.
The history of the Chihuahua dates back hundreds of years to ancient Mexico. Descriptions of small dogs resembling Chihuahuas have been found in artifacts dating back to the 9th century in regions including Mexico and Central and South America. Some historians believe the breed is descended from the Techichi, a small dog kept by the Toltec civilization in Mexico.
When Spanish conquistadors arrived in the 1500s, they discovered the ancestors of today’s Chihuahua. Some experts believe the modern Chihuahua resulted from breeding between native Techichis and tiny European dogs brought by settlers. The breed became associated with the Chihuahua region of Mexico and was first registered with the American Kennel Club in 1904.
Deciding if a Chihuahua is the right dog for your home and lifestyle is an important consideration:
Taking your lifestyle and experience level into account allows finding the best match when adopting a Chihuahua. They can make wonderful pets in the right home.