Chihuahua Dog: Characteristics, Temperament, Origin, Lifespan

The Chihuahua dog is the smallest breed of dog. It is named after the Mexican state of Chihuahua. It is also known by some other nicknames. It’s common nicknames are Chi, Chi-chi and Hua-hua.

History of the Chihuahua dog breed is convoluted, and many theories surround the origin of the breed. Both folklore and archaeological finds show that the breed has origins in Mexico.

The most common theory is that, ‘Chihuahua is descended from the Techichi, a common companion dog favored by the Toltec civilization in Mexico. No records of the Techichi are available before the 9th century. Although, dog pots from Colima, Mexico, buried as part of the western Mexico shaft tomb tradition, which date back to 300 BC, are thought to depict Techichis.

The earlier ancestors probably had been present before the Mayas as dogs approximating the Chihuahua are found in materials from the Great Pyramid of Cholula, antedating 1530 and in the ruins of Chichen Itza on the Yucatán Peninsula.

However, a genetic study indicated that there was less than 2 percent pre-European mitochondrial DNA in modern Chihuahua due to admixture with the European dogs.

Hernan Cortés wrote in a 1520 letter that the Aztecs raised and sold little dogs as food. Colonial records refer to small, nearly hairless dogs at the beginning of the 19th century, one of which claims 16th-century Conquistadores found them plentiful in the region later known as Chihuahua.

Small dogs such as Chihuahua were also used as living heating pads during illness or injury. Some believe this practice is where the idea of pain being transferred to animals from humans originated, which gave way to rituals such as burning the decreased with live dogs, such as the Techichi, to exonerate the decreased human’s sins.

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The Chihuahua dogs we know them today remained a rarity until the early 20th century. The AKC (American Kennel Club) did not register a Chihuahua until 1904.[1]

Chihuahua Dog Characteristics

The Chihuahua dog is the smallest breed recognized by some kennel clubs, but they are very beautiful.

There are actually two varieties of Chihuahua dogs recognized by the AKC and the UK Kennel Club. These two varieties are the Smooth Coat and the Long Coat varieties.

The UK Kennel Club considers these two varieties as to be distinct breeds, and mating between these two are not eligible for KC registration.

The AKC considers Smooth and Long coated Chihuahua to be the same breed. Typically, the breed standard for both the Smooth and Long coat Chihuahuas will be identical except for the description of the coat.

Both the long and Smooth coats have their special attractions and are equally easy to keep clean and well-groomed. The term smooth coat does not mean that the hair is necessarily smooth, as the hair can range from having a velvet touch to a shiskery feel. Longhaired dogs are actually smoother to the touch, having soft, fine guard hairs and a downy undercoat, which gives them their fluffy appearance.

Unlike many longhaired breeds, the longhaired Chihuahuas require no trimming and minimal grooming. Contrary to popular belief, the longhaired breed also typically sheds less than it’s shorthaird counterparts.

The Chihuahua dogs have large, round eyes and large, erect ears, set in a high and dramatically rounded skull. The stop is well defined, forming a near 90 degree angle where the muzzle meets the skull.

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Average body height of the mature Chihuahua dogs is between 6 and 10 inches at the withers. And their average live body weight is between 1.8 and 2.7 kg.

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Temperament

Smaller size of the Chihuahua dogs makes them delicate and vulnerable to injuries and attacks from large animals.

How a Chihuahua behaves depends on the genetic temperament of their parents and grandparents. Like all other dogs, they benefit from appropriate socialization and training.

They tend to learn better when being rewarded positive reinforcement, such as a treat or praise. With the proper training a Chihuahua needs, this dog can be extremely intelligent. The way a dog is trained will influence its behavior.

Lifespan

Average lifespan of the Chihuahua dog is between 12 and 20 years.

Feeding

How much a mature dog eats depends on it’s size, age, build, metabolism and activity level. Dogs are individuals, just like people, and they don’t all need the same amount of food.

The Chihuahua dogs are the smallest breed available, and they are not highly active. So, their diet should be formulated for a smaller sized breed with average exercise needs. You can consult with a vet in your area for better feeding recommendations.

Caring

Taking good care of the animals is very important for raising Chihuahua dogs. You should keep up with your dog’s regular veterinary checkups to detect any health concerns early.

These dogs get cold easily, so they tend to love their dens and will often burrow themselves in pillows, clothes hampers and blankets. They are often found under the covers or at the bottom of the bed, deep in the dark and safety of what they perceive as their den.

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They also enjoy time in sunlight. They sometimes act like cats and climb up to the highest point on a couch, usually on top of the pillows, and curl up into a ball.

This breed requires expert veterinary attention in areas such as birthing and dental care. Dental care is a must for these small dogs, whose jaw size makes for weaker teeth.

Although daily brushing provides the best preventive measure, feeding a dental diet or using dental chews for dogs is an effective approach pet owners can take to help prevent and control accumulation of plaque and tartar to avoid consequences of severe periodontal disease.

Health

The Chihuahua dogs are generally healthy. But like all other dog breeds, they are also prone to certain health conditions.

Their common health problems include hydrocephalus, low blood sugar etc. Obesity is another common problem which can result in increased rates of joint injuries, tracheal collapse, chronic bronchitis and shortened lifespan. Always try to keep good contact with a vet in your area.

Breed NameChihuahua
Other NamesAlso known as Chi, Chi-chi and Hua-hua
Breed SizeVery small
HeightBetween 6 and 10 inches at the withers
WeightBetween 1.8 and 2.7 kg
Good as PetsYes
Climate ToleranceAll climates
ColorAny color except merle
Lifespan12 to 20 years
Good for ChildrenYes
RarityCommon
Country/Place of OriginMexico