Chihuahuas have a huge personality that defies their tiny frame, known to be highly active and intelligent canines.
Illustration courtesy of the Swedish Kennel Club
Chihuahuas at a glance
The world’s smallest dog breed, the Chihuahua makes up for its lack of size with a huge personality. Recently, the popularity of this quirky dog has soared. Described as having Terrier-like traits, Chihuahua dogs are smart, fun-loving, and known for their adaptability. With the right training and socialization, they can thrive in city or rural locations.
This kind of dog’s appeal lies in their small stature, long life span, and cuteness. They are highly loyal and people-orientated dogs; however, their fragility and spiritedness means that this breed requires proper training to be a family dog in a home with young children.
Interested in learning more about Chihuahuas? This article covers everything you need to know — from training tips to grooming. At the bottom of the page, you’ll find information on the genetic health risks Embark tests for that are particularly relevant to this breed.
While the Chihuahua we recognize today was first discovered in Mexico in the mid-1800s and taking its name from the Mexican city of Chihuahua, the ancestry of this tiny breed is somewhat of a mystery. The most common theory is the Chihuahua descended from an ancient South American dog called the Techichi, with connections to the Toltec civilization followed by the Aztecs. It is thought the Techichi were seen as mystic and spiritual guides that protected souls on their path to the underworld. This dog breed made their way to America in the late 19th century. This tiny toy dog was first recognized by the AKC in 1904.
A notable feature of the Chihuahua breed is their tendency to shake when cold, excited, or scared, providing many sweater-loving dog owners the opportunity to dress up their mini pooch. This fun-loving and active breed is certainly people orientated and often seeks a lot of attention.
The AKC breed standard for all Chihuahuas is to be between six and nine inches to the shoulder and to weigh no more than six pounds. There has been an increase in demand for “teacup” varieties, also known as toy Chihuahuas or mini Chihuahuas, with some purposefully bred to be as small as possible. The smaller varieties are more likely to have health issues, including bone fragility around the skull and other areas.
The smooth-coated variety is more common, but long-haired Chihuahuas are also prevalent. Both types of Chihuahua are susceptible to the cold. If you get chilly winters where you live (below 45 degrees Fahrenheit), they may need a sweater. Chihuahuas have long, sickle-shaped tails and large, erect, and pointed ears.
Studies have shown that Chihuahuas have an increased risk of obesity. With tiny dogs, even the smallest change in portion size and activity levels can have a significant impact.
Toy breeds, like Chihuahuas, are also more susceptible to overcrowded teeth and, consequently, dental disease. Regular tooth brushing is beneficial for every dog. Feeding a quality dry kibble rather than a wet diet and offering safe chew toys can also be helpful.
Short-coated Chihuahuas only need occasional brushing to lift out dead hair and encourage a healthy shine. The coat of a long-haired Chihuahua, on the other hand, can quickly become matted and uncomfortable. You’ll need to pay close attention to the areas around the ears, the scruff of the neck, and the top of the legs.
Even though these dogs are small, they still require regular exercise. They’re agile, alert, and active dogs. They aren’t going to need long hikes to ensure contentment, 20-30 minutes of exercise should suffice for this dog’s energy requirements. Daily walks and playtime will help keep the weight off and prevent problem behaviors from surfacing as a result of boredom. When out with your Chihuahua, you may want to use a harness instead of a collar to avoid injuring the small dog’s trachea.
Health and aging
A healthy Chihuahua can live to around 18 years, so an owner should be prepared to train this energetic breed to ensure they don’t control their lives.
Embark screens for the following health conditions in Chihuahuas:
Do you own a Chihuahua or do you think your dog might be part Chihuahua? Learn more about your dog with an Embark dog DNA test, the most accurate on the market.
Chihuahuas on Embark
Explore some Embark dogs that share Chihuahua ancestry.
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