Small, lively and intelligent, Chihuahuas are memorable dogs with big personalities. They can live pretty much anywhere and don’t need much exercise and so can be excellent pets for singles, couples and families. However, they are not good choices for households with small children and they can be difficult to house train.
Which breed group is the Chihuahua in?
Breed group: Toy
Chihuahua breed history
The history of the Chihuaua is somewhat obscure but the remains of similar small dogs dating back more than two thousand years have been found in Mexico. The Chihuahua may well be the descendant of small dogs known as Techichi. These boasted the same large ears and round heads as Chihuahuas and were depicted in the carvings of the Toltec civilisation.
However, some believe that these characterful pooches first evolved in Spain or Malta and were taken to Mexico by Spanish invaders. Paintings and frescos which predate the voyages of Christopher Columbus certainly suggest that dogs like Chihuahuas were present in Europe before the Americas were discovered.
The first written references to Chihuahuas appeared in the 19th century when Mexicans began selling their little dogs to visitors. The breed was recognised in the United States in 1904 and its popularity increased significantly across the world in the succeeding years.
Chihuahua breed characteristics
Compact dogs with dainty appearances, Chihuahuas are also incredibly feisty. They boast rounded heads with pointed muzzles, large round eyes and large ears which flare out. Their heads can be apple shaped or deer shaped. Dogs with apple shaped heads have a hole in their skull and this remains open throughout their lives.
These dogs boast level backs and their back legs surprisingly strong. Chihuahuas have small feet with divided toes and tidy nails and they carry their tails over their backs. Coats can be smooth or long and are always soft to the touch. These dogs can be almost any colour or combination of colours except merle.
Chihuahuas are usually brave, feisty and alert. They are certainly big dogs in little bodies but don’t tend to be snappy. They are smart too but can be wary of strangers and very protective of their owners. They are notable for being highly sensitive and can pick up on moods and body language very quickly.
- Lifespan: 10-18 years
- Height: up to 25cm
- Weight: up to 2.7kg
- Rounded heads
- Pointed muzzles
- Large round eyes
- Large ears
- Tails carried over their backs
- Smooth or long coats
- Almost any colour
- Wary of strangers
Health issues with the Chihuahua
Chis boast long lifespans and are generally surprisingly robust for little dogs, but many have a hole in their skull. They can also suffer from the following conditions:
- Patella luxation
- Eye infections and injuries to the eye
- Ear problems
- Puppies are born with a molera (fontanelle)
What is the Chihuahua bred for?
Unfortunately, the role of the Chihuahua in ancient Mexican civilisations isn’t known. Today, these dogs are bred as pets, companions and show dogs.
What sort of owners does the chihuahua suit?
Intelligent and highly adaptable, Chihuahuas can live anywhere and are good with older children. They are loyal and protective which makes them excellent companions and they don’t need a great deal of exercise or grooming. Chihuahuas can be taught not to bark but house training can be a different matter. These lively little dogs are best suited to homes where there are no small children as they are fragile and require careful handling. Their ideal owners could be living in the city or the countryside and in a house or an apartment. Chihuahuas suffer from separation anxiety and so at least one person should be at home with them all day.