Breed of the month - Chihuahua

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Easily recognised by their tiny size and big dark eyes, these little cuties are cuddly comedians when hanging with their besties.

Needing little introduction – the Chihuahua, aka the Chiwawa, is a well-known breed, being the tiniest of the ‘toy’ breeds, and certainly one of the most popular.   While they can be aloof with strangers, these little cuties are known to their inner circle as tiny comedians who are playful, deeply loyal, and hugely affectionate. 

Filled with high spirits, boundless energy, and a fiercely protective nature that makes them excellent guard dogs despite their petite frame, chihuahuas are intelligent and determined dogs. Appearing completely unaware of their tiny stature, they have big hearts, constantly engaging their owners in a spirited game, or snuggling in on their lap. They can be tricky to train, being quite stubborn – but they are certainly intelligent enough to grasp good doggie behaviour if you keep with it.

The basics

Chihuahuas are described as an ‘ancient’ breed; the Australian National Kennel Council reporting they are believed to be named after the City of Chihuahua, which was once the Capitol of Mexico back in the late 1800’s. Another popular theory is they are a Chinese dwarf dog, brought to the America’s by the Chinese traders.

There are two varieties of Chihuahua; the original breed, the ‘Smoothcoat’, and the fluffier, ‘Longcoat’. Dainty and compact, they have a distinctive “apple-domed head”, large pointed ears, and those infamous large round eyes, set well apart on their faces. The Smoothcoat, as expected, has a flat, closely cropped soft coat, while the Longcoats have a fluffier, longer mane; particularly around the chest, ears and tail.

They come in almost every colour and combination of colours – from whites, fawns, reds and creams, to sables, chocolates, blues, and blacks.

Health conditions

While generally enjoying good health, these tiny toy dogs can suffer a range of hereditary diseases including slipping patella’s, where the kneecap moves and causes a swivelling action in the legs as they move. Some may be prone to heart murmurs in old age, and their teeth are prone to building up tartar – so their teeth should be monitored, and raw chicken bones given frequently.

They are also vulnerable to rough treatment; and what other dogs may consider standard handling may be too rough for their delicate frames. Their protruding eyes are at higher risk of being accidently poked and damaged, and their head has a soft spot, which does not always fully grow over, so will need to be handled with care. For this reason, they are better suited to ‘grown up’ homes – small children may injure them, and they may develop a snappier nature if they fear injury.

Caring for your Chihuahua

While Smoothcoats won’t require regular brushing, Longcoats do, so it’s best to get them used to grooming from a young age – you could also consider having them clipped regularly if their hair becomes easily matted. Their nails will also require regular clipping. In terms of exercise, they do not require much in the way of walkies, but will certainly enjoy getting out and about with you.  

Breed snapshot:

  • Height: Up to 20 cms
  • Weight: up to 2.7kgs (6lbs) with 1.8 — 2.7kgs (4-6lbs) preferred.
  • Lifespan: Most Chihuahuas live 12-14 years.

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