Chihuahua.

Other Names:

Chi, chi-chi

Size:

Tiny

Dog Group:

Toy

Coat Length:

Short or Long

Energy:

High

Kid Friendly:

Low

Life Expectancy:

12-20 years

Available in these colours:

chocolate and gold chihuahua

Chocolate & Gold

white chihuahua

White

black and white chihuahua

Black & White

gold-chihuahua

Red

black-tricolour-chihuahua

Brindle & White

Characteristics & Tendencies:

TENDENCY TO DIG10%

10%

|
LOW

|
MEDIUM

|
HIGH

SNORING75%

75%

|
LOW

|
MEDIUM

|
HIGH

DROOLING10%

10%

|
LOW

|
MEDIUM

|
HIGH

EXERCISE NEEDS10%

10%

|
LOW

|
MEDIUM

|
HIGH

GROOMING NEEDS33%

33%

|
LOW

|
MEDIUM

|
HIGH

BARKING75%

75%

|
LOW

|
MEDIUM

|
HIGH

APARTMENT FRIENDLY

HYPOALLERGENIC

About the Chihuahua

The Chihuahua is a tiny dog with a huge personality. As a national symbol of Mexico, these alert and amusing “purse dogs” stand among the oldest breeds of the Americas, with lineage going back to the ancient kingdoms of pre-Columbian times.

Chihuahuas can have long or short coats. For long coat Chihuahuas, their exteriors are soft to the touch, with fur being generally flat or slightly wavy. It has feathering on its ears, feet and legs, and long, full tails.

FEEDING

How much do Chihuahuas eat?

1/4 – 1/2 cup of food a day

READ MORE

TEMPERAMENT

Are they kid-riendly?

Not recommended for homes with children under 8

READ MORE

EXERCISE

How much exercise?

20-30 mins of daily exercise

READ MORE

LIVING

Do they need a lot of space?

They are ideal city pets

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Top health issues

What are the most common health issues for Chihuahuas?

  • Patellar Luxation
  • Hypoglycemia
  • Heart murmurs
  • Pulmonic Stenosis
  • Collapsed Trachea

IN DETAIL

Common Chihuahua Diseases & Conditions, Symptoms, diagnosis and treatment in detail;

Patellar Luxation
Hypoglycemia
Heart murmurs
Pulmonary Stenosis
Collapsed Trachea
Patellar Luxation

Staffordshire Bull Terriers can suffer from a metabolic disorder called L-2-Hydroxyglutaric Aciduria. Dogs with L-2-HGA lack an enzyme necessary to break down hydroxyglutaric acid, which then builds up in the spinal fluid and plasma. Symptoms include a lack of coordination, seizures, developmental problems, and tremors. There’s no cure and the dogs rarely live more than a few years. A DNA test has been developed that allows breeders to know which dogs are carriers of this condition. Do not buy a puppy from a breeder who does not have written documentation that the parents are free of this condition.

Hypoglycemia

Hypoglycemia in dogs is defined as a blood glucose concentration of less than 3.3 mmol/L (60mg/dL) and is relatively common in canines. It is not a disease, but rather a symptom that may point to an underlying medical condition. Although there are many causes, the most common is the side effects caused by drugs used to treat diabetes. Dogs with diabetes are given insulin to help mitigate the condition, but an overdose or high dose of insulin given when blood glucose levels are higher than normal, may cause the body to process too much glucose. This decreases the levels of glucose in the blood, to a point that is too low for the body’s needs. Hypoglycemia may then occur, indicated by symptoms such as lethargy, loss of coordination, increased thirst or urination, muscle spasms, trembling, seizures or blindness. If you notice any of these symptoms, it is advised to see a veterinarian immediately.

Heart murmurs

A heart murmur is an abnormal heart sound that is heard when listening to the heart with a stethoscope. It is caused by an abnormal turbulent blood flow, and may be graded by a veterinarian on a scale of I-VI, based on their intensity. A Grade I is very soft or quiet, whereas a Grade VI murmur is very loud, and heard everywhere that the heart can be heard, even felt when a person places their hand on the chest in the area of the heart. 

If your dog is still a young puppy and the murmur is of low intensity, your veterinarian may recommend a re-examination in a few weeks time to track whether the murmur has decreased in intensity or disappeared, indicating it to likely be an innocent murmur. A dog with a murmur caused by a structural heart disease or an extracardiac problem will generally show symptoms that may be attributed to the disease. These include poor appetite, weight loss, breathing problems, pale gums and/or coughing. In the majority of these cases, further diagnostic testing should be performed immediately so that potential treatment may begin as soon as possible.

Pulmonary Stenosis

Pulmonary stenosis (PS) is the third most common congenital heart disease occurring in dogs. It refers to a narrowing of the opening of the pulmonary artery, often caused by an abnormal pulmonic valve, resulting in the obstruction to the blood flow from the heart to the lungs. This congenital disorder is most often identified in brachycephalic breeds (e.g. bulldogs, Boston terriers), terriers (Jack Russel Terriers), Samoyeds and Labrador retrievers. It is also hereditary, and therefore breeding of affected animals is highly discouraged. PS is generally detected with the presence of a heart murmur during a routine physical examination of a dog. Diagnosis is best achieved through simple chest X-rays, electrocardiograms and echocardiography with doppler to elucidate the abnormal change in the dimensions of the heart and blood flow through the region of the pulmonic valve. 

Unfortunately, there is no cure for pulmonic stenosis. However, there are options to help improve and control the disease. Medical treatment with drugs called beta-blockers are usually employed to try and “protect” the heart muscle and reduce the occurrence of electrical instability, and possibly sudden death. A more definitive treatment consists in trying to reduce the obstruction by a minimally invasive procedure called balloon valvuloplasty.

Collapsed Trachea

Tracheal collapse is a chronic, irreversible disease of the trachea, or “windpipe”, a tube made up of sturdy rings of cartilage through which air is transported to and from the lungs. Small breed dogs are particularly prone to the disease, such as Yorkshire terriers, Pomeranians, Poodles and Chihuahuas. Affected dogs are generally middle-aged or older, although it may occur in some young dogs as well. Some signs of a collapsed trachea include a honking cough, exercise intolerance, laboured breathing and a bluish tinge to the gums. These signs may also be provoked by excitement, eating, drinking, tracheal irritants such as smoke or dust, obesity, exercise and hot or humid weather. A collapsed trachea is generally revealed through radiographs or fluoroscopy, and in most cases is treated with cough suppressants, bronchodilators corticosteroids and/or antibiotics. If medical management produces no response in two weeks, or if severe signs begin to appear, surgery is recommended. A procedure called tracheal stenting may benefit dogs who suffer from advanced forms of the condition. This procedure involves permanent placement of a rigid structure inside of the windpipe to hold it open.

Feeding

How much does a Chihuahua eat?

Chihuahuas should do well on a high-quality dog food, whether commercially manufactured or home-prepared with your veterinarian’s supervision and approval. 

Any diet should be appropriate to the dog’s age (puppy, adult, or senior) and adjustments will be required as their needs change with age. Some dogs are prone to getting overweight so watch your dog’s calorie consumption and weight level. Treats can be an important aid in training, but giving too many can cause obesity. Learn about which human foods are safe for dogs, and which are not. Check with your vet if you have any concerns about your dog’s weight or diet. Clean, fresh water should be available at all times.

Shedding

How often does the fur fall off?

Chihuahuas do shed moderately, but being small, there isn’t that much hair to lose. 

Surprisingly, long-haired Chihuahuas tend to shed less than their short-haired cousins.

Grooming

Are Chihuahuas high maintenance?

The Chihuahua is a wash-and-go dog. Grooming him takes only a few minutes each week. Brush him weekly with a rubber grooming mitt or a brush with short, natural bristles. A fine-toothed flea comb helps remove loose or dead hair.

A Chihuahua’s undercoat may come out in little clumps. Regular brushing will help keep shedding under control. With regular brushing, a Chihuahua shouldn’t need a bath more than every month or two. Use a shampoo formulated for dogs so you don’t dry out the coat and skin. Ears are an important area to check when you are grooming your Chihuahua. If you smell an odour or see wax, clean the inner ear with a cotton ball, using a cleanser recommended by your veterinarian. Avoid going into the depth of the ear, past where you can see. If the ears are dry along the edge, rub a little baby or coconut oil onto them. Some Chihuahuas develop tear stains beneath their eyes. You can carefully wipe the eyes to remove discharge, and there are products available to remove the stains. A Chihuahua’s nails grow quickly. Keep them trimmed short. If you can hear them clicking on the floor, they’re too long. The earlier you introduce your Chihuahua to nail trimming the less stressful the experience is. At the same time, check the pads for any foreign objects or injuries. Like many small breeds, Chihuahuas are prone to poor dental health. Brushing their teeth can help their mouths stay healthy. Brush the teeth at least two or three times a week — daily is better — to remove tartar and bacteria. Start when your puppy is young so he’ll be used to it. As you groom, check for sores, rashes, or signs of infection such as redness, tenderness, or inflammation on the skin, in the ears, nose, mouth, and eyes, and on the feet. Ears should smell good, without too much wax or gunk inside, and eyes should be clear, with no redness or discharge. Your careful weekly exam will help you spot potential health problems early.

The two coat varieties of the Chihuahua have slightly different grooming needs. The smooth-coat Chihuahua will need only occasional brushing and regular baths to look dapper, while the longhaired variety should have his coat brushed at least once a week to avoid any tangles or mats. Both varieties should have their nails trimmed regularly. Good dental care is necessary and should include brushing your dog’s teeth, and the vet might also recommend treats designed as part of a tooth-care program. Check the Chihuahua’s ears regularly, and remove any excess wax or debris to avoid ear infections.

Exercise

How much exercise does a Chihuahua need?

Chihuahuas should be taken on a daily walk and allowed to roam in an enclosed indoor or outdoor space. If their exercise needs are not satisfied, the dog may become anxious, neurotic, and develop a number of other behavioural problems.

The Chihuahua loves to run and play and can usually get enough exercise in a very small space. Simply trotting around following their people is usually enough exercise for this happy breed. Short, slow walks will keep your dog in good weight and condition. Avoid overexerting the Chihuahua. If your dog is panting and working hard to keep up, it’s time to pick him up and carry him home.

Vet Visits

How often should a Chihuahua visit the vet?

Consult your veterinarian about an appropriate diet if your pet has a health condition or is gaining too much weight.

Family Suitability

Are Chihuahuas kid-friendly and sociable with humans?

Chihuahuas are ideal city pets. They are too small for roughhousing with kids, and special care must be taken in cold weather, but Chihuahuas are adaptable—as long as they get lots of quality time in their preferred lap.

Chihuahuas are not recommended for homes with children under the age of eight, simply because of the chance of injury by a young child.

Chihuahuas are distrustful of strangers, which makes them good watchdogs, but they need to learn to meet people in a friendly manner.

Chihuahuas often bond to a single person, although they’re usually willing to make friends with new people if properly introduced. Expect them to be a little reserved at first, though. Chihuahuas can be timid if they’re not properly socialized as puppies. Like every dog, Chihuahuas need early socialisation — exposure to many different people, sights, sounds, and experiences — when they’re young. Socialisation helps ensure that your Chihuahua puppy grows up to be a well-rounded dog.

Trainability

Are Chihuahuas difficult to train?

Chihuahuas possess loyalty, charm, and a big-dog attitude. Even tiny dogs require training, and without it this clever scamp will rule your household like a little Napoleon.

The Chihuahua is a very alert little dog of high intelligence. He is eager to please his humans and responds well to positive training practices. Chihuahuas seem well aware of how cute they are and learn how to get their way. From the very beginning you must enforce the fact that you are in charge. Never allow your Chihuahua puppy to do anything that will be unacceptable in an adult. They can have a bit of a “terrier” temperament, so a firm but gentle hand is necessary when training. They can excel in obedience training and other canine sports.

Chihuahuas are intelligent and fast learners. They can compete in agility and obedience trials with just as much enthusiasm and success as larger dogs. That said, they’re willful little dogs. You’ll be most successful if you can persuade them that competing — or simply doing as you ask — is fun. Use positive reinforcement in the form of praise and food rewards when training your Chihuahua. He won’t respond to harsh treatment.

Compatibility with other pets

Do Chihuahuas get along with other dogs or cats?

Chihuahuas can be unfriendly toward other dogs if they’re not socialised when young. Chihuahuas don’t back down from other dogs and this can cause a problem if they encounter a large aggressive dog.

They are known to socialise best with fellow Chihuahuas rather than other dog breeds, so they may not do well in a household with a variety of dogs.

Need for company

How often do they need to be around humans?

Personality wise, the Chihuahua tends to bond closely with one or two people.

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