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Chihuahua – a small dog with a big ego

17.02.2024 - Reading time: 9 minutes

Nahaufnahme eines Chihuahua

Small but mighty! The Mexican Chihuahua is the smallest dog breed in the world. The Chihuahua stands at 15 to 35 centimetres at shoulder height. Weighing no more than three kilos, it comes in a handy size. However, do not make the mistake of thinking that Chihuahuas are for carrying around in handbags: this pint-sized dog wants action to match its southern temperament!


Origins shrouded in mystery

The origins of the Chihuahua have been lost to the mists of time. The Toltecs, an advanced Central American civilisation that flourished between the tenth and twelfth centuries, were said to have bred very small dogs to offer as sacrifices and eat. Another theory suggests that they originated during the older Aztec period or even in ancient Egypt. Many years later, descendants of the indigenous Mexican population sold little dogs to tourists in the province of Chihuahua. This is how the tiny pup came to the USA and began its story there, being officially recognised as a breed in 1905. Chihuahuas come in two different types: the long-legged Derry and the stronger Cobby. Both types come in long-haired and short-haired variants.

What does a Chihuahua look like?

The Chihuahua is a small, compact dog with an apple-shaped head and large, expressive eyes. Its ears are large, erect and wide at the base. Fully grown, the Chihuahua stands 15 to 25 centimetres tall at its shoulders (occasionally up to 35 centimetres) and weighs between 1.5 and 3 kilograms. Today, the Chihuahua comes in long-haired and short-haired varieties, with the short-haired Chihuahua being representative of how the breed originally looked. Unlike the shorthaired variety, long-haired Chihuahuas have longer hair, especially on their chest, ears, legs, tail and back. Long-haired Chihuahuas can have straight or slightly wavy fur. Besides their different coats, Chihuahuas also come in two distinct body types. The Cobby type has a compact, powerful build, while the Derry type has longer legs.

According to the Fédération Cynologique Internationale (FCI), with the exception of merle, all coat colours, in all shades and combinations, are permitted for the Chihuahua. Possible varieties can include cream, chocolate or red.

Newsletter Chihuahua

Society and companion dogs
15 to 25 centimetres shoulder height, in individual cases up to 35 centimetres
1.5 to 3 kg
petite, apple-shaped head with a pointed snout, curved tail
disproportionately large, round
Fur and colour
long-haired and short-haired variants with little undercoat, soft and silky; all colours
Special characteristics
gets cold easily, blankets recommended for snuggling up in the basket
lively, attentive, cuddly, tends to jealousy and overconfidence
brush regularly, bathe every six months
Susceptibility to swallowing difficulties, hypoglycaemia, eye irritation, kneecap displacement and dental problems

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Character of the Chihuahua: Is the Chihuahua a yappy dog?

The Chihuahua has very diverse character traits. This little, spirited dog is playful and cuddly with its owners. The Chihuahua is skilled at claiming the spotlight if it feels that it is not getting enough attention. The Chihuahua is sociable and adventurous by nature. It feels a strong need to be part of a pack and enjoys being surrounded by others of its kind. A Chihuahua typically has an inflated view of itself, which can be seen in how it interacts with other dogs. As the saying goes: Small, but mighty! Other than this, the Chihuahua is an intelligent dog and as such, enjoys being mentally stimulated.

However, there are differences in its character: While long-haired specimens tend to be more gentle and agreeable, short-haired Chihuahuas are often more energetic and like to appoint themselves leader. This difference in their character traits can be explained by the fact that in the past, Chihuahuas were probably bred with Pomeranians and Papillons to create Chihuahuas with longer coats. Nevertheless, it is not just the length of their fur that determines a Chihuahua’s character. Each one has its own unique character, meaning that even a short-haired Chihuahua can be gentler and more well-rounded by nature than a long-haired Chihuahua.

Many people believe Chihuahuas to be yappy, little dogs. The right training will go a long way towards ensuring that your Chihuahua does not become a serial yapper.

Is a Chihuahua hard to train?

Like any other dog breed, the Chihuahua has special characteristics that need to be taken into account when it comes to training. Good dog training helps to ensure that you and your Chihuahua can live together in peace and harmony, and should start when your Chihuahua is still a puppy. It is important that you are consistent when training your dog and that you practise regularly with it to really help it internalise what it has learned and ensure that it reacts to distractions in the way that you have practised together. Finally, throughout its life, your dog will come into contact with other dogs and people, including children. It will accompany you during your day-to-day activities, such as going to the shops, visiting restaurants or going on holiday. But you will, of course, want to be able to leave your dog alone at home without having to worry about it or your furnishings. It is therefore important that you can count on your Chihuahua and that it is not afraid of other people, animals, loud noises, unknown situations or similar. It is also important that it does not react aggressively in everyday situations and can always count on you as the pack leader.

Ein brauner Langhaar Chihuahua sitzt auf einer Box

How do I care for a Chihuahua?

As tiny as the Chihuahua is, it is a normal dog and as such, you must take it seriously. The behaviour and needs of these little four-legged friends are no different to those of larger dogs. Nevertheless, due to their delicate build, you do need to be somewhat careful with them. Make sure that they are not held too tightly or accidentally stepped on when in a crowd. A harness is better for helping to prevent accidents than a collar. The Chihuahua needs attention: if it does not get enough, it will react with jealousy. Its lively nature makes this little bundle of energy the ideal companion if you are able to offer it plenty of exercise and a range of exciting activities. Its compact size nevertheless makes it ideal for those living in cities. Chihuahuas can also live happily in an apartment, provided that they are able to exercise and play regularly. The Chihuahua is almost tireless outdoors, eager to learn and, despite its size, also well suited to agility sports.

How long can a Chihuahua be left by itself?

Many dogs become stressed when left alone, particularly in the beginning. You should therefore get your Chihuahua used to being by itself early on. If you have an adult Chihuahua that is used to being by itself, you can leave it at home alone for a couple of hours without issue. However, ensure that it has something to keep it busy if necessary, such as a dog chew or something similar, or make sure that someone pops in to check on it and take it outside. A camera, for example, will allow you to see what your Chihuahua is getting up to in your absence and how they are doing.

But even if your Chihuahua is used to being left alone, you should not leave it unsupervised for too long. If your Chihuahua needs to be left alone for six hours or more on a regular basis, it might be a good idea to look for doggy daycare.

Taking care of a Chihuahua

Chihuahuas enjoy the full package when it comes to grooming. You should regularly brush their silky coat and use this time to really pamper your dog. A soft baby brush is perfect for using on their delicate fur. During the winter months, you should ideally make your Chihuahua wear a dog coat to protect it against the cold and damp. Also be mindful of its eyes, which tend to be watery. Ideally, the vet you choose will be experienced in treating toy dog breeds. The Chihuahua is prone to problems associated with large eyes and tartar build-up. Regularly offer your dog chews to help care for its teeth.

What age do Chihuahuas live to?

The life expectancy of a Chihuahua is around 16 years and, as a general rule, the larger the animal, the longer it lives. Unauthorised breed varieties in particular, such as mini Chihuahuas, often have health problems that can affect their life expectancy.

Buying a Chihuahua: What to consider

If you are thinking about buying a Chihuahua puppy, you should first contact a reputable Chihuahua breeder. Make sure that the breeder treats their dogs responsibly and that they are happy to answer your questions about the breed. You could also rehome a Chihuahua from someone who has to give up their four-legged friend for personal or health reasons. You can also get a Chihuahua or Chihuahua mix from an animal shelter or animal welfare organisation.

There is an even smaller version of the already little Chihuahua – the Mini Chihuahua or Teacup Chihuahua. These are smaller and lighter than the ‘original’. However, reputable breeders do not breed Chihuahuas as small as these, as they are at increased risk of hereditary diseases. These dogs may live a life of suffering or die at an early age as a result. The Mini Chihuahua is therefore not an officially recognised breed. But there is more: According to the breeding regulations of the Verband für das deutsche Hundewesen (VDH), the breeding of ‘teacup’ dogs is banned. For example, they stipulate that only dogs weighing at least two kilograms may be used for breeding. But teacup dogs often weigh far less. It is therefore not advisable to buy a Mini Chihuahua that has been intentionally bred to be small.

How much does a Chihuahua cost?

It is not easy to give an average price for a Chihuahua. The price is greatly determined by whether you buy your dog from a breeder or an animal welfare organisation. As a general rule, a dog from a reputable breeder can cost 1,000 euros or more, whereas a shelter will only charge a rehoming fee for the dog, which is around 200 to 300 euros on average. The important thing is to always ensure that you are getting your four-legged friend from a reputable source.

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