The Chihuahua dog breed‘s charms include his small size, outsize personality, and variety in coat types and colors. He’s all dog, fully capable of competing in dog sports such as agility and obedience, and is among the top 10 watchdogs recommended by experts. He loves nothing more than being with his people and requires a minimum of grooming and exercise.
Dog Breed Group: Companion Dogs
Height: 6 inches to 9 inches tall at the shoulder
Weight: 3 to 6 pounds
Life Span: 10 to 18 years
The Chihuahua is a saucy little hot tamale and not just because of his association with a certain fast-food Mexican restaurant. He’s renowned for being the world’s smallest dog, but he may well have the world’s biggest personality stashed inside that tiny body. That larger-than-life persona makes him appealing to men and women alike. Fun loving and busy, Chihuahuas like nothing better than to be close to their people. They follow them everywhere in the house and ride along in tote bags when their people run errands or go shopping. It’s not unusual for Chihuahuas to form a close bond with a single person, and they can become very demanding if they’re overindulged. Besides being affectionate housemates, Chihuahuas are intelligent and fast learners. They can compete in agility and obedience trials with just as much enthusiasm and success as larger dogs. That said, they’re willful little dogs. You’ll be most successful if you can persuade them that competing — or simply doing as you ask — is fun. Use positive reinforcement in the form of praise and food rewards when training your Chihuahua. He won’t respond to harsh treatment. It’s important when considering the Chihuahua to take into account his small size. Chihuahuas are curious and bold explorers. They’ve escaped from yards through small gaps in the fence and can squeeze into places that other puppies and dogs wouldn’t be able to fit. And even though they tend to rule the roost, they can be accidentally injured by rambunctious larger dogs.Chihuahuas are not recommended for homes with children under the age of eight, simply because of the chance of injury by a young child. Regardless of your family situation, it’s important to remember to socialize your Chihuahua to children, adults, and other animals. Chihuahuas are mistrustful of strangers, which makes them good watchdogs, but they need to learn to meet people in a friendly manner. It’s also important to remember that Chihuahuas tend to forget they are small and will stand up to a larger aggressive dog; as a result the Chihuahua needs vigilant supervision in new situations, while they’re on walks, and when they’re in the yard. The Chihuahua’s personality and unique size make him a wonderful go-everywhere companion. People who live with Chihuahuas become devoted to them, and many say that once you share your life with one, there will be no other dog breed for you.
As with so many breeds, the Chihuahua’s origins are unclear, but there are two theories of how he came to be. The first is that he descended from a Central or South American dog known as the Techichi. When we look at the evidence of the Chihuahua coming from Central and South America, we find ourselves looking back to the Toltec civilization. There are Toltec carvings dating to the 9th century C.E. that depict a dog resembling the Chihuahua, with the same large ears and round head. These dogs were called Techichi, and their purpose in Toltec civilization is obscure. When the Aztecs conquered the Toltecs, they absorbed the Techichi into their society. Many of the dogs lived in temples and were used in Aztec rituals. The Aztecs believed that the Techichi had mystic powers, including the ability to see the future, heal the sick, and safely guide the souls of the dead to the underworld. It was customary to kill a red Techichi and cremate him with the remains of the deceased. The Aztecs also used the Techichi as a source of food and pelts. The Spanish conquered the Aztecs in the late 1500s and the Techichi faded into obscurity. The second theory is that small hairless dogs from China were brought to Mexico by Spanish traders and then bred with small native dogs. Regardless of which theory is accurate, the shorthaired Chihuahua we know today was discovered in the 1850s in the Mexican state of Chihuahua, from which he took his name. American visitors to Mexico brought the little dogs home with them.