Chihuahua Information: Is the Breed Right for You?
With his self-important prance and his teensy little frame, the Chihuahua is an entertaining breed. Within his half-pint body is a proud and playful heart full of spunk. Chihuahuas are loyal to the core.
The History of the Chihuahua
The history of this feisty dog is a mystery, full of legend and debate (humorously appropriate for this big-headed breed). However, his strong roots in present-day Mexico go without question. His name is a reference to the Mexican state of Chihuahua, and it is agreed that this petite pup has been of religious importance to pre-Columbian American Indian nations, as well as a favored pet of the upper-class.
Physical Characteristics of the Chihuahua Breed
Standing 6 to 9 inches, the Chihuahua is truly a miniature breed weighing no more than 6 pounds by AKC standard. His head should be well-rounded (referred to as an “apple head”) with big, expressive eyes, and a slightly pointed nose. Both smooth and long coats are available with no difference in temperament between the two coats. The Chihuahua comes in a wide array of color options including solid, marked, and splashed patterns in every imaginable color combination. While minimal coat maintenance is required (occasional brushing will suffice), prospective owners should be aware that this dog sheds.
A Chihuahua's Personality
An eccentric little breed, the Chihuahua is chock-full of personality, typically cheerful, active, and curious. A playful companion, the Chihuahua has charisma sure to make you laugh. He is both intelligent and agile, making him a good trick dog and a quick learner. He is a fiercely devoted clan member, and territorial of his toys and home, so proper socialization and training are required to discourage aggression. While cautious of strangers, he generally gets along well with other pets in his own family, and to those he loves this breed is a champion face licker. Because of his fragile frame and propensity for snapping, the Chihuahua is best suited for homes without small children.
How to Train a Chihuahua
Despite his size, the untrained Chihuahua can be a downright terror – a reality that has sadly given this breed an unfair reputation. Too many owners treat their Chihuahua more like a toy than a dog, robbing their pup of the discipline and adventure he needs to develop a well-balanced temperament. While he may look like a doll, the Chihuahua is still entirely dog, and should be treated as such in order to make a pleasant family member. Owners must be consistent and firm, with a gentle hand since this is a sensitive breed. Here is what you will want to focus on in training:
Housebreaking a Chihuahua
This breed can be seriously difficult to housebreak. The greatest factor that plays into this is underestimating how often a Chihuahua will need to relieve himself. We are talking about very small intestines and bladders, so these dogs cannot hold it as long as even slightly larger breeds. Having a set schedule for eating times and potty breaks will help to regulate your pup and give you a feel for how often he needs to go out. It can be easy to overlook the signs your minuscule pup is giving you when he needs to go, so teach yourself to be aware of his warnings. The Chihuahua can be a bit of a diva about getting his feet wet or cold (you might too if your feet were no bigger than nickels), so consistency is key, especially in bad weather. If you find yourself failing at outdoor potty training, indoor puppy pad training is a viable alternative. However, note that you must choose one or the other or the only thing you will succeed at is confusing your pup.
How to Handle a Fearful and Timid Chihuahua
The absolute worst thing a Chihuahua owner can do for their dog is to coddle and baby him. With a puppy weighed in ounces, the temptation to carry your sweet darling everywhere and protect him from all chance of harm is strong. And due to his frailty, it is important to ensure your puppy’s safety. However, a Chihuahua that is not allowed to discover the world on his own four feet will not gain the confidence he needs to be mentally stable. It is imperative that you introduce your pup to as many sounds, sights, animals, and people as possible within the first year of his life – particularly between 8 and 14 weeks. Chihuahua’s are tremblers when excited or scared, but you must fight the urge to coddle him at every sign of shaking. There is a fine line Chihuahua owners must learn to walk between being sensitive to this delicate breed and encouraging him to be brave. The more your Chihuahua learns that he can be safe in different environments and around different people, the happier he will be.
How to Deal With Chihuahua Aggression
While aggressive behavior in a 2 to 6 pound dog may seem like a joke, the snarling and biting of a Chihuahua’s sharp little teeth can quickly become both exasperating and dangerous. A Chihuahua without proper training and socialization may become aggressive due to fear, possessiveness, jealousy, or territorial reasons. Teach your puppy from a young age that you are the leader of the pack to help him understand that it is not his responsibility to protect the home (too heavy a weight for his small shoulders). Do not allow him to think that he “owns” any member of your household, and socialize him as much as possible to help him learn that people and dogs outside his family are not a threat.
If a Chihuahua Barks Too Much
If left to do as he pleases, the Chihuahua may become a dreaded yapper. The Chihuahua is a very alert breed, and this, in combination with a territorial nature, can lead to a barking problem. Stay on top of this early to train your dog that excessive vocalizing is neither necessary, nor allowed.
Chihuahua Health Concerns
Chihuahuas typically live very long lives, sometimes reaching beyond 15 years of age. This is a fragile breed, susceptible to injury, so owners should be careful that he is not dropped, stepped or sat on, or handled too roughly. Chihuahuas frequently have moleras – soft spots on their head where the skull has not closed up fully. Particular care should be given to avoid injury to this vulnerable area. Hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) is also quite common, especially in puppies. Several small meals a day rather than one large one can help to reduce the risk. Collapsed trachea, eye injury or infection, dental problems, and weight gain are also concerns in this breed.
The Chihuahua in Fashion
A dog is a long-term commitment and should never be picked based on trend, popularity, or appearance alone. With that in mind, let’s take a look at this fiery breed in fashion.
A natural born prima donna, the Chihuahua seems to find himself absolutely charming. He walks with an air of importance and holds his head and tail high with a glamorous flair. This breed brings a bit of spice to his owner, and the Chihuahua has been known to be quite the fashionista.
Famous owners of this stylish little breed include Madonna, Britney Spears, Alyssa Milano, Hilary Duff, Jennifer Lopez, and (of course) Paris Hilton who started a Chihuahua craze with her sweetheart Tinkerbell.
Chihuahua Compatibility Questionnaire
Do you want...
Are you ok with...
A petite darling with a dainty frame?
A dog that must be handled gently and carefully to avoid injury?
A tiny companion that can easily accompany you anywhere?
Dealing with fear and timidity if your pup is coddled?
A devoted clan member?
The propensity for possessive and territorial aggression?
A spunky friend with a spirited personality?
Providing leadership and socialization to keep your prima donna from becoming a terror?
An alert and curious playmate?
Frequent yapping and barking if left untrained?
A graceful, little dog that is happy indoors?
A difficult to housebreak companion?
Perfect Chihuahua Names
If you have come to the conclusion that the Chihuahua is your perfect match – congratulations! It is an entertaining, loyal breed. I offer you these suggestions as inspiration in your search for the perfect name:
If you want something that matches the eccentric personality of this breed, try something like Demetrius, Broderick, or Zachariah for a boy, Cordelia, Evangeline, or Tiodoria for a girl.
If you would prefer something that tickles his size, try Zacchaeus (the “Wee Little Man” from the Bible), Bennett (little blessed one), or Cerin (little dark one) for a boy, Aithne (little fire), Rue (think Hunger Games), or Coralie (little maiden) for a girl.