Characteristics of the Chihuahua Dog Breed - Chihuahuas are toy dogs and generally considered to be the smallest breed. Most weigh between 2-6 pounds. Dogs exceeding six pounds in weight or that have broken down ears are disqualified. Most Chihuahuas are shortcoat (shorthair), longcoat (longhair) or smoothcoat (a combination of both). They have pointed ears and deer-like or apple heads. Colors vary. True Chihuahuas have not been bred down, but are naturally small.
Are you looking for a companion that is an extrovert yet is content to lie quietly in your lap or by your side while you read? A companion that eats little, requires little space, and doesn't need to be taken out every day for exercise? Then you may enjoy having a Chihuahua, the smallest recognized breed of dog in the world. Not just small, but ALL NATURAL! The Chihuahua is the only "natural" toy breed, that is, the only small dog NOT bred down from larger versions of the same breed.
Chihuahuas are good watch dogs, as they will sound the alarm. In fact, Chihuahuas are courageous. They aren't intimidated in the least by larger dogs.
The Chihuahua is characterized by a well-rounded head, wide-set luminous eyes, a saucy expression and erect ears, which flare to the sides when in repose. They can have short soft hair or long silky hair, and some may be red, blond, blue or chocolate-colored as well as solid, marked or splashed. A unique feature of most Chihuahua puppies is the soft spot on the crown, similar to that of a new born baby.
While there are different theories regarding the origin of the Chihuahua as a breed, it appears to have descended from a small dog called the Techichi. Other dogs said to be related to the Techichi are the Chinese Crested, Mexican Hairless and Xolo breeds. The Techichi were known to be kept by the Toltec people of Mexico as far back as a thousand years ago. Evidence for this origin is provided by a monastery in Huejotzingo that was built by Franciscan monks with stones taken from the pyramids of Cholula. The stones have ancient carvings on them that closely resemble today's Chihuahua.
Later, the Aztecs defeated the Toltec, and the aristocracy adopted these small dogs, particularly the blue ones, as objects of veneration. The dogs could reputedly guide the spirits of the dead in their journey through the underworld. Montezuma II, the last emperor of the Aztecs, was a fancier of the Chihuahua. It is said that he had hundreds of them, each with its keeper. Skeletons of Chihuahuas have been found in human graves on the Mexico/U.S. border.
Research done by the late Thelma Gray, a historian and an authority on Chihuahuas, lead her to believe that the native dog of the Aztecs was crossed with a small, terrier-type dog brought over by the Spanish conquistadors. Thus, the basis was laid for the even smaller modern-day Chihuahua. First known as Texas or Arizona Dogs because they were found along those borders with Mexico, the Chihuahua received its current name in the mid to late 1800's. American travelers to Mexico discovered large numbers of the breed in the state of Chihuahua and started bringing them back to the United States. About the same time, Carlotta, wife of Emperor Maximilian of Mexico contributed to the Chihuahua's international fame by taking the breed to Europe.
The Chihuahua is loyal, eager to please and highly trainable. It tends to have fewer health issues then any other toy breed. Chihuahuas are primarily indoor dogs, ideal for apartment living and for the elderly or handicapped or those confined to the home. They thrive on much attention and human contact. Nevertheless, since they are so small, precautions must be taken. They can be seriously injured or killed by being stepped on, sat on or squeezed too hard. They should not be left unattended on high surfaces (table tops, bunk beds, high sofas or chairs, etc). They have little sense of height and could eaily jump off and break a bone.
Despite being called a 'toy' dog, the Chihuahua is hardier than you might think. In fact, it is the longest-lived breed! Chihuahuas are known to live a high quality of life well into their teens. Most live to sixteen years of age and some pass twenty. These dogs are energetic and playful, yet they can easily get all the exercise they need each day from just playing with some toys or roaming the house. However, since Chihuahuas do not store much energy and have tiny digestive systems, they need to eat small, frequent meals or may suffer from a low blood sugar attack (hypoglycemia). Dry food should constantly be available for them as well as lots of water.
When it comes to Chihuahuas, you can expect a whole lotta shakin' goin' on! Shivering is a normal characteristic of this breed. Chihuahuas shiver when they are excited, apprehensive, discontented or frightened-not just when its cold. One way to combat this is to be sure that your Chihuahua knows that you will care for it. Chihuahuas are the only breed of dog that tends to prefer the company of humans to that of other dogs. If you spend time with your Chi, take care of it and properly house your dog, it will tend to shake less.
Chihuahuas that are constantly crated or caged during the first twenty weeks of their life will tend to shake more and trust people less. A better way is to keep your Chihuahua confined to an open, social area restricted with a gate. Tea Cups (Chihuahuas that are tiny and will be three pounds or under fully grown) can be kept in a baby's play pen with food and water on one side and a potty pan with newspaper or wee wee pads on the other. A few favorite toys can also be included. This is a good way to keep your tiny Chihuahua safe at night or when you're out, without making them feel abandoned.
Chihuahua females go into their first heat around six to eight months, and go into heat twice a year. Most females do not get pregnant during their first heat. Once pregnant, female Chihuahuas give birth in sixty-five days and most have from one to five pups. Puppies are ready to leave their mom and littermates by eight weeks. Many are already eating on their own and being pushed out by mom by four or five weeks, but need the additional time to develop social skills with their littermates and to be taught survival skills by mom. Chihuahuas remain puppies for the first two years of their lives.
Chihuahuas are the best kept secret in the world when it comes to being terrific pets. They require very little care and reward their owners with lots of affection and loyalty. An ancient breed, it's easy to see why Kings, Emperors and great civilizations would treasure these amazing creatures.
- Bill Knell
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