Chihuahuas are characterized by their small size, heights ranging between 6 – 10 inches but some grow as tall as 15 inches. The breed standards indicate that a Chihuahua should not weigh over 6 pounds. However, companion Chihuahuas usually range above these weights and even above ten pounds.
Chihuahua breeders often use terms such as Teacup, Pocket Size, Tiny Toy, Miniature or Standard but these terms are not recognized as breed standards and are considered marketing gimmicks to inflate the value of puppies. Chihuahuas are often referred to as either Apple (round head with short nose) or Deer heads (elongated head with long nose). The breed standard recognizes an apple head.
The breed can have either a long or short coat (smooth coat) but a smooth coat isn’t always smooth, it can have a velvety feel or feel course. Long-haired Chihuahuas usually are smoother and soft, with a down-like undercoat, which makes for a fluffy appearance. Neither coat requires requires any trimming and only requires minimal grooming. Typically, the long-haired chihuahua sheds less than a short-haired.
The Chihuahuas breed can come in almost any color, from marked to solid , from solid white to solid black, spotted, sabled, and a variety of other patterns and colors. Some common coat colors are white, cream, fawn, red, chocolate, and black.
Chihuahua 2013 Calendars
Choosing a Chihuahua should be carefully considered as they are a more aggressive breed and is inclined to be bossy. It is important to note that the energy and character of its owner can dramatically affect a dog’s temperament. Chihuahuas have a tendency to be very protective and loyal of their owner and can be easily provoked to attack. Chihuahuas do best with an owner who is patient and calm so generally they are unsuitable for homes with small children. However, if properly trained and socialized can be incorporated in families with older children.
Chihuahuas usually favor the companionship of their own breed, often not getting along well with other types. Chihuahuas love the safety and darkness of being buried under blankets, the inside of pillows making their own den. This actually puts them at risk of being stepped or sat on so all members of a household must take great care.
This small breed should have veterinary care with a vet who is an expert in small breeds. Chihuahuas are prone to some genetic anomalies such as epilepsy and seizure disorders and other neurological issues.
Chihuahuas are also prone to hydrocephalus which is often diagnosed during the first few months of life by the presence of an abnormally large head . Since “a large head” is quite a broad description, other noticeable symptoms can be a patchy skull plates as opposed to solid bone, lethargy, and a slow growth rate compared to its litter mates. A conclusive diagnosis by a veterinarian usually has a grim prognosis.
Chihuahuas are born with a small opening on the top of their head called a molera which is essentially a skull that is not fully formed. The molera does usually fill in within the first 6 months, but special care is during this time until the skull is completely closed. However, the molera in some chihuahuas never close completely and will require extra care to prevent injury. Veterinarians unfamiliar with the Chihuahuas breed may mistakenly diagnose molera with hydrocephalus.
Chihuahuas, especially the smaller ones and puppies, can be at risk for low blood sugar (hypoglycemia). Frequent feedings (every three hours) will help reduce the risk. If left unattended, hypoglycemia can lead to coma and death. Signs of hypoglycemia include sleepiness, lethargy, low energy, uncoordinated walking, unfocused eyes and spasms of the neck muscles or head pulling back or to the side. Chihuahua owners should always be prepared and have honey, Karo syrup, or a simple sugar supplement on hand to use in case of an emergency. To rapidly raise your dogs blood sugar, rub the sugar on the inside of the cheek, gums, or roof of the mouth.
Chihuahuas are prone to eye infections and eye injury due to their large, protruding eyes and their low ground clearance due to their short stature. Special care should be taken to prevent children or visitors, unfamiliar with the risk, from accidently poking their eyes.
Collapsed trachea is also a health concern that is characteristic of the chihuahua breed.
A Chihuahua can be known to be a discriminating eater and you need to ensure that they get adequate food and proper nutrition. Being prone to hypoglycemia it is critical that they do not go too long without eating, although care ought to be taken to not overfeed them. Refrain from feeding human food as sugary or high fat treats, even small ones, can lead to an overweight Chihuahua. Being overweight increases a chihuahua’s risk of joint injuries, chronic bronchitis, tracheal collapse, and a shortened life span.
Chihuahuas have a tendency to tremble but it is not usually a sign of a health issue. It mainly occurs when the dog is stressed, excited or cold. Cold can be a problem for chihuahuas in colder climates. They often will keep warm by wearing sweaters and coats when not snuggling in a blanket.
Chihuahuas are notorious for having dental issues. Care should be taken to provide good oral hygiene for your pup.
Chihuahuas are also susceptible to a luxating patella which is a genetic condition causing the ridges forming the patellar groove to be too shallow. If a dog has shallow grooves, the patella will slip out of place, causing the leg to ‘lock up’ forcing the chihuahua to hold its foot off the ground. If the patella luxates from the femur groove, it is usually unable to return to its correct position while the muscles are contracted in a bent position. The knee cap slipping across the femur can be cause for discomfort but once it is out of position they feel no discomfort.
Chihuahuas also have a higher incidence of some heart-related disorders, such as heart murmurs and pulmonic stenosis, a condition where the heart’s right ventricle blood out flow is obstructed at the pulmonic valve.
Although figures often vary, the average life span of a healthy Chihuahua is between 10 and 18 years.