Long Coat Chihuahua
There are debates about the true origin of the Chihuahua, they are frequently said to have lived wild in Mexico and been domesticated by native Indians as companions and also for edible or sacrificial use. However there are other schools of thought that suggest the breed may have its origin further back in time in the Far East and that it had made its way across the Asian and European continents and been taken to Mexico by the Spanish Conquistadors.
Another theory is that the edible or sacrificial 'dog' thought to be early Chihuahuas were in fact rodent-type animals and that poor translation of ambiguous words led to misunderstanding.
Whatever their origins, it is generally accepted that the breed as we know it came from Mexico; that specimens of the tiny dogs were taken back to the USA by travellers and were so admired that in time their popularity became widespread as companion dogs.
The modern Chihuahua is a friendly and active small dog, most specimens weighing between approximately 3 and 6 lbs. They are naturally lively and in spite of their diminutive size they can and should be giving training and be well socialised if they are to live their lives to the full - taking care, of course, to ensure their safety when they are mixing with people and other dogs.
It is possible to train Chihuahuas to a high standard but normal methods of training may be useless as many simply are not suitable for such a small dog. A great degree of innovation may be needed. However they are capable of learning just as well as larger breeds, and they should neither be allowed nor expected to spend their entire lives as lap dogs.
Owing to their size, they are sometimes sought as pets for children, but this should be avoided unless the children are old enough to treat them with the utmost respect and care, as they are not toys and can easily be frightened or injured by careless handling.
Chihuahuas are very healthy as a whole, and can be expected to live a normal lifespan of 12 - 14 years.
One problem, however, is patella luxation, which causes lameness or hopping on one or both back legs. Unfortunately this condition may not be evident in an affected dog until it is almost a year old, so selecting puppies from sound parents is essential.
Puppies should not be sold until at least 12 weeks as they mature slowly and are not robust enough to change homes before that age.
The 'Molera' or soft spot in the skull, which used to be regarded as an indication of pure breeding, is less common than in years gone by but is not normally detrimental. However exceptionally large heads in young pups may indicate hydrocephalus and should be regarded with caution.
Likewise, very short muzzles are fashionable but may be accompanied by poor dentition.