AKC Dog Breeds: Chihuahua

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Toy Group
Height: 6-9 inches   Weight: 2-6 pounds  Color: Any solid, marked, or splashed color

Rather than being bred down from a larger breed, the Chihuahua is the only toy breed that is naturally small. The smallest of the dog breeds, the Chihuahua is a dog that is lively, affectionate, loving, and entertaining. The Chihuahua is a native of Mexico, and this breed is named after the state in which it was first developed. There is much speculation about the true origins of the Chihuahua, and this ranges from being the sacred dog of the Aztecs to being around in Ancient Egypt thousands of years ago. The Chihuahua was registered with the AKC in 1904. These sassy little dogs are well known as "purse dogs" like the famous Bruiser in the movie Legally Blonde starring Reese Witherspoon.

General Appearance
The Chihuahua is a dainty, fragile looking dog, and is a very distinctive looking animal with a pretty face, and a somewhat mischievous expression. The Chihuahua has a well rounded, apple shaped head. The muzzle is tiny in contrast to the head, will be slightly pointed, and either have a level or scissors bite. Ears are large and erect, spaced far apart and will flair to the sides when relaxed. Their eyes are round and large very expressive, and should either be dark or ruby colored .The nose is short, pointed, and black. The Chihuahua coat comes in two varieties smooth and long. The smooth coat has a glossy, soft, and close coat which is full textured over the entire body, but quite scanty on the head and ears. The long coat has a soft, longer coat that can be slightly curly or flat and has an under-coat.

The Chihuahua is a lively, charming, and intelligent breed. They are very devoted to their owners, though usually only choose one or two "favorites". Not only do they give affection, they in turn demand it. Their creative and curious nature drives them to create various ways to gain your attention. Owners of more independent breeds may find the Chihuahua too needy. Households with older children are preferred, as they can be injured easily by younger children. Valued for their loyalty and courageousness, they often become "full of themselves" and will challenge much larger dogs and strangers.They are  very suspicious of strangers, making them good watchdogs, and will not let you out of their sight. It's often said they have "terrier-like" qualities, as they are very alert, observant, bold and saucy. They are very clannish nature, choosing to be with other Chihuahuas, over other dogs. Some can be quite the sun-bathers, choosing to lay in the sun for hours. Their gentleness and sweet nature makes them perfect for elderly and handicapped people. Never leaving your side, they will lay in bed with you for hours on end; preferably under the covers. They can sometimes be overly insecure and high-strung, which can result in separation anxiety. Chihuahuas are known to bark excessively when left alone for too long.  Their level of devotion to their humans can become a problem, as they are sometimes overly jealous of their humans relationships with one another and animals.

The long haired Chihuahua will need to be brushed regularly to keep his soft coat in good condition, and you may need to step up the grooming with the double coated variety, as shedding may be heavier. With the short haired variety occasional brushing and wipe down with a damp cloth will help to keep his coat looking good. The Chihuahua is a medium shedder and the short haired variety will shed all year round, whereas the long haired variety will shed on a seasonal basis. Make sure that you check his eyes regularly, as they do protrude and this can put him at increased risk of contracting eye infections and problems. Special care must be given to not get water into their ears as they are prone to ear infections. Dental hygiene is a must to prevent tooth loss.

Health Problems and Life Expectancy
The lifespan of the Chihuahua is around 15-18 years, making him one of the longer life breeds. The health issues that affect this breed include slipped stifles, open font or soft spot, eye problems, and heart disease. The Chihuahua does not tolerate cold climates and must be protected when taken outside.

Activity Level
The Chihuahua is an excellent apartment or condominium dweller. The majority of their exercise needs can be met indoors with toys or play sessions. However, they greatly enjoy going with their owners and benefit from daily walks. Using a harness is recommended instead of a leash is best given their delicate neck and bone structure.


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