Chihuahua – Choosing the Right Breed of Dog

October 8, 2009

Getting a dog can change your life. If you get a dog that is compatible with your lifestyle, it can be a very rewarding experience, but all dogs require love, attention, care and training, so before you make that decision, ask yourself these questions:ChihuahuaNolieOlieOlieo5YearsOld3

* Do I have time to give a dog the attention it requires?
* Do I have the ability to provide proper grooming, exercise and training for a dog?
* Can I afford the expenses that come with a dog?
* Do I have what it takes to be a strong pack leader?
* Do I want to buy a dog from a breeder or adopt a dog from a shelter or rescue?

If, after answering the above questions, you decide to move forward with getting a dog, it would be wise to learn about the different breeds and their characteristics, personality/temperament, possible health conditions and exercise and grooming requirements in order to make an informed decision.

This article is a basic overview of one particular breed — a Chihuahua. Read on to decide if this breed of dog is compatible with your particular lifestyle.

History/Background: The Chihuahua is said to be the oldest breed on the American continent and the smallest breed in the world. It is native to Mexico but likely came from the ancient Techichi dogs of the Toltec, crossed with hairless dogs of the Orient. It was named after the Mexican state of Chihuahua, from where it was brought to the rest of the world by travelers. This breed was used in religious ceremonies and is believed to have been sacred to the pre-Columbian Indian nations. It was brought to Europe at the end of the 19th century.

Physical Characteristics: The Chi, as it is sometimes called, is a tiny dog with an apple-shaped head and a short pointed muzzle. It has large, round, very dark eyes and large ears. Its body is stout, and it is longer than it is tall. The tail is curled over the back or to the side. There are two varieties — a short-haired type and a long-haired type. The various coat colors include fawn, sand, chestnut, silver and steel blue, black and tan and parti-colored. A Chihuahua weighs from 2 to 6 pounds and is 6 to 9 inches tall.

Personality/Temperament: The Chihuahua is a good companion dog with terrier-like qualities. Because of its small size, it makes a good traveler and usually loves outings. It craves attention, affection and petting and is intensely loyal, becoming very attached to its owners. It is a courageous, lively, proud and cocky little dog with a saucy expression. It moves swiftly to avoid being stepped on.

This breed may be slightly difficult to train but is intelligent, learns quickly and responds well to proper positive reinforcement training. It may require patience to housebreak. If the owner does not display strong pack leadership, this little dog can become strong willed and will develop other behavior issues such as jealousy and becoming suspicious of people other than its owner. This breed is not recommended for children as it is easily provoked to attack and may snap at them. If not walked daily, it may become yappy, protective, snappish and untrustworthy with children and people it does not know. The Chi should be socialized as a puppy to avoid excessive aggressiveness towards other dogs and being reserved with strangers.

Possible Health Conditions: The Chihuahua tends to wheeze and snore because of its short nose. Its prominent eyes are susceptible to corneal dryness and secondary glaucoma. It is also prone to slipped stifles (a knee injury caused by joint weakness), eye infections, gum problems, colds, stress, rheumatism, epilepsy, seizure disorder and low blood sugar. It tends to gain weight if overfed. It is vulnerable to fractures and other accidents as a puppy. This breed of dog is born with an unclosed section of skull which usually closes but can remain open throughout life and make it prone to injury. Life expectancy is about 15 or more years.

Exercise/Grooming: Although playing takes care of a lot of its exercise needs, the Chi requires a daily walk and also enjoys a good romp in an open area off leash such as a fenced-in yard.

The short-haired type should be gently brushed occasionally or wiped with a damp cloth. The long-haired type should be brushed daily with soft-bristle brush. Bathe both types only about once a month, taking care not to get water in the ears because of possibility of ear infections. The ears should be checked regularly and the nails kept trimmed. The Chihuahua is an average shedder.

Living Conditions: This little dog hates the cold and may shiver. It tolerates and even appreciates a warm sweater on cool days. It must be kept indoors and is a good dog for apartment life.

Summary: Chihuahuas make good companion dogs, travel well and require little grooming and exercise, but they may be a little difficult to housebreak and can become strong willed if not given proper pack leadership. So, now that you’ve learned a little about this breed of dog, one question remains — Is a Chihuahua the right breed for you?

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