Chihuahua

Breed History

Discovered by Europeans, Chihuahuas are thought likely to derive their name from the Mexican state of Chihuahua where it is possible they originated from. Some believe the Chihuahua was fattened up and used for food. Others say that the Mexicans kept these tiny canines "in the belief they would guide the souls of the dead to a state of everlasting bliss". The Spaniards brought them back to Europe where they were bred to other toy dogs.

Chihuahuas were originally smooth coated, no undercoat and with very large ears, both of which are perfect for the very hot dry climate experienced by so much of Mexico. Interbreeding Chihuahuas with Papillionís and Pomeranians produced the more modern long coated show specimens. It is sometimes said that it is possible to distinguish Papillion or Pomeranian ancestry by looking at the type of coat possessed by your Chihuahua. These days there are 2 recognised varieties, the Long coated Chihuahua and the Smooth coated Chihuahua, with the only difference between them being the coat.

Temperament

The smallest of the Toy Group, the Chihuahua can become very protective of its owner and family. He will not be frightened to warn them in a vocal manner when strangers approach. However snappiness or overprotective behaviour should not be tolerated.  
No matter how funny it is, do not allow a Chihuahua to lunge at another dog when a reversal of the situation could be potentially fatal.
 
Many people say that Chihuahuas and children do not mix; this however, in my personal instance is not the case. I have 3 children who have all been brought up around Chihuahuas. They have however been taught to respect a Chihuahua. They are never allowed to walk around holding a puppy, if they want to stroke or cuddle a puppy they are asked to sit on the floor and hold the puppy. A tiny Chihuahua dropped from the arms of a young child could be easily injured. A puppy will enjoy the company of children of all ages, however it should be remembered that the little dog is not a toy.

Chihuahuas are just as happy as a lone pet or in the company of others; they are ideal companions and house pets for persons of all ages and circumstances.  Exercise is down to the individual dog, some will enjoy long walks whilst others are just as happy to have the run of the home and garden.

Health

Regular attention should be paid to dental hygiene and toenails should be cut regularly. Ears should also be checked regularly to ensure that they are clean. Known Health Problems with the Chihuahua are slipping patella and dislocating kneecaps. Less common ailments are heart murmurs, eye problems and collapsing trachea.

Buying a Chihuahua?

The majority of puppies are ready to leave for a new home between 6 and 8 weeks. However please do not consider taking a Chihuahua pup home until it is at least 12 weeks old. Many of the UK breed clubs make this requirement part of their membership rules.
Remember, no dog should be left alone for hours on end on a regular basis Ė always go to a reputable breeder.

Should I see both parents?

Always see at least one of the parents. Sometimes the father may not be present as the breeders use external dogs in order to extend the gene pool. The breeder should also be quite happy to let you see other dogs and not just the mother of your puppy. 
If the breeder only shows you the puppy then ask yourself why.

Why does the breeder ask so many questions, is it personal?

You may find yourself given the third degree by a breeder. Do not be embarrassed or annoyed, a reputable breeder will guard their puppies well and will want to take the time to ensure that the puppy and you are well suited.
 
Why does the breeder request the dog be returned?

A reputable breeder will always take the puppy back if it does not settle. A responsible breeder will insist that should circumstances change at any time throughout the puppies life (which can be up to 15+ years) they should be informed. Most breeders will also provide a suggested diet sheet. Always remember that if you do want to change the dogs diet do so slowly and only after your puppy has settled in properly to his new home. Rapid changes in diet can often cause stomach upsets and as well as inconvenience to the owner (and dog) this can also lead to other problems.

Should I get a dog or a bitch?

Dogs can be more territorial than bitches and tend to be more extrovert wanting to play games, whereas bitches can prefer a quieter life, although there are always the exception to the rule. Bitches also have the disadvantage of coming in season twice yearly. Having your bitch spayed will put an end to her seasons; however spayed bitches can become fat and lethargic. In my opinion unless you particularly want to breed puppies, a dog makes a better companion than a bitch. If you want to start breeding make sure you tell this to the breeder when you are buying a puppy. The puppy should be your companion rather than a money making machine, please donít think you can make money out of breeding as can I assure you it does not happen.

What is a Tea Cup Chihuahua?

The official Breed Standard describes the Chihuahua as a small dog that comes in two varieties or coats types, the Long Coat or the Smooth Coat. This is the only official description used to identify a difference within this breed. Our Standard does not categorise the Chihuahua by size, only by coat type.  

As with all living things there will be a size variance between individual dogs within this breed. Look at humans, brothers and sisters will differ in height and in weight, as well as other looks.

The additional words sometimes used to describe the size differences & physical appearances in Chihuahuas are many;

Tea-Cup, Pocket Size, Tiny Toy, Miniature or Standard.

These are just a few of the many names which have been attached to this breed over the years. These names are only used to entice prospective buyers into thinking that puppies described in this way are "rare" and of greater monetary value.

When a litter is born, occasionally, there may be a puppy that does not grow like the others and is smaller than the others. 
That pup is a small Chihuahua and nothing else. While they are adorable and can be perfectly healthy, anyone buying a small one should be cautioned as to the extra care which may be required with regard to their general health and well being. A tiny knock on the head can kill them. They may also have hypoglycemia and other conditions which may lead to expensive vet bills.

Chihuahua breed guide written by : Denise Parker (Parkbow)

About the author : With my daughter, I own the Parkbow affix and have been breeding and showing Chihuahuas for over 20 years. I have judged Chihuahuas since 1995.

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