Height: 6-10 in
Weight: 4-10 lbs
Life Span: 12-20 yrs
Coloring: Nearly any color pattern and combination is accepted; merle colorations will cause a dog to be disqualified from registration due to health problems associated with the merle genes
Area of Origin: Mexico
Similar Breeds: Chinese Crested Dog, Brussels Griffin, English Toy Spaniel
History and Origin:
Evidence of Chihuahua-type dogs (known as the Techichi) in Mexico date back to the ninth century; the tiny Techichi was an important part of the Toltec civilization. While there are no written records of the breed prior to this time, the excavation of a tomb dating back to 300 BC revealed depictions of small dogs close in stature to the Techichi. Hernan Cortés, the Spanish conquistador who led the fall of the Aztec empire, indicated in a 1520 letter that the Aztecs raised and traded Chihuahua-type dogs for meat. While the Spaniards of the sixteenth century were clearly aware of the breeds existence, the earliest recorded evidence of the Chihuahua in Europe does not occur until the late nineteenth century.
Personality and Temperament:
Vibrant and spunky, the Chihuahua has a personality that would suit a dog twice or three times its size. It is an extremely adventurous breed, and is typically fearless and courageous. An intelligent breed, the Chihuahua is prone to developing Small Dog Syndrome as it is so small, and frequently treated like a human baby. It tends to develop a strong relationship with one person, and can be hostile toward others. If spoiled, it becomes demanding and willful. While the Chihuahua can be good with children, its small stature makes it more suitable for older children who are aware of its fragility.
Exercise & Training:
The Chihuahua, while tiny, is a quite active dog requiring regular walks. While there may be a tendency to carry it because of its small size, it is independent, and is capable of being an active walking partner. To avoid Small Dog Syndrome, the Chihuahua should be trained from puppyhood; firm, gentle, and affirmative training methods will help the little dog realize its position in the family, and will help prevent nipping or snapping at children or strangers. The Chihuahua can be a good breed for a new owner, as long as it is treated like a dog, and not a little human.
The Chihuahua can have either a smooth or long coat. Both coat types are easy to care for; a good brushing a few times a week is adequate to remove dead hair. It is a low to moderate shedder, tending to shed more excessively in the spring and fall. When the long-haired Chihuahua sheds out its undercoat during these seasons, it may be helpful to brush more vigorously to help it eliminate all of the dead fur. Bathe once every month or two so as not to risk drying out the dogs skin.
As an ancient Mexican dog fully developed before it was discovered by and imported to Europe, the Chihuahua is not largely influenced by other breeds. It has gotten smaller since its introduction to the Europeans, likely with the help of Chinese Crested Dog interbreeding. It also shares similar qualities with other toy breeds such as the Brussels Griffin and the English Toy Spaniel.
Interesting Facts about the Chihuahua:
1. A letter from Christopher Columbus to the king of Spain mentions the Chihuahua.
2. The fast-food chain, Taco Bell, uses the Chihuahua as a spokesperson and mascot.
3. Evidence of the Chihuahua has been found in the Pyramids of Cholula, indicating religious significance to the Aztec people.