While many people make the mistake of judging Chihuahuas by their size, these little dogs are tougher than you might expect. Chihuahuas make good apartment dogs since they are usually no more than 6 pounds and can fit in just about anywhere. Chihuahuas are intelligent, fun-loving and make devoted companions that are equally happy to go for a walk with you or to sit by your side while you watch TV.
The exact history of the breed is uncertain, but, according to the American Kennel Club, they may be descended from the Techichi, a tiny dog kept by the Toltec people in Mexico as long as a thousand years ago. At some point these dogs may have been crossbred with the small, Terrier-type dogs of the Spanish Conquistadors, contributing to the tiny size and feisty nature of today’s Chihuahuas. During the latter half of the 19th century, American visitors to the Mexican state of Chihuahua encountered the breed and brought some of the little dogs home with them. At the same time, Chihuahuas were introduced to Europe, and they have remained popular throughout much of the world since that time.
Chihuahuas vary in size, from very small dogs weighing less than three pounds to those that reach the breed’s maximum size of six pounds. While some Chihuahuas may get even bigger than this, the Chihuahua Club of America and the American Kennel Club both disqualify any dog that does. Sometimes you may see Chihuahuas referred to as teacups or pocket dogs, but these are unofficial terms and simply mean that the dog is very small. Despite their size, these dogs need to learn good behavior just as the bigger dogs do, and Chihuahuas that have been allowed to get away with misbehaving may end up yappy and nippy and not well-behaved around people outside of the family or other pets. This is not the best breed to have around young children, since rough handling may injure a Chihuahua, but children 10 years old and older often do very well with this breed.
Chihuahuas are feisty dogs, very similar to Terriers in many ways. These little dogs don’t seem to be afraid of anything, and they make ideal alarm dogs, letting their owners know when a stranger approaches. It's important to protect Chihuahuas when they’re around other dogs, since these tiny bundles of energy won’t hesitate to challenge other dogs of any size if they feel it is called for. The breed standard calls for Chihuahuas to project a Terrier-like attitude and display self-reliance, confidence and self-importance, and dogs that have been raised with adequate social interaction clearly show these traits, though Chihuahuas that are not well-socialized may display lots of fear and even urinate when stressed. This is called submissive urination.
As you might expect with dogs that originated in a hot climate, Chihuahuas are bothered by cold weather and should not be left outside when temperatures drop. Many owners find that their Chihuahuas are only too happy to share the bed with them, sliding under the covers and snuggling up to share as much body heat as possible. Due to their active nature, this breed enjoys having room to romp and likes to go for walks on a regular basis; but because of their small size they don’t require nearly the same amount of space as larger dogs. Their grooming requirements are minimal, and a weekly brushing combined with regular toenail clipping and an occasional bath usually takes care of their needs. The smallest Chihuahuas typically need frequent feedings and special supplements to prevent hypoglycemia, but as soon as they reach three pounds, diet is not so much of a problem. Diet is especially critical in tiny puppies, and if not fed properly they can become very ill and die in a matter of hours.
More on the Chihuahua
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