Description: Having the distinction of being the smallest breed of dog, the Chihuahua will generally weigh only 2 to 6 pounds at maturity. At the shoulder, the Chihuahua will be 6 to 9 inches. The Chihuahua has a trim build, round head, short muzzle, and large, upright ears. This dog has two coat varieties – smooth (short), and long. The coat can display a number of colors, but the most common are sand, a light fawn, black, red, or black and tan.
History: There are several theories regarding the origin of the Chihuahua. The most widely adhered to background theory is that the breed originated solely in Mexico from a native dog called the Techichi. Correspondingly, this dog was first refined by the Toltecs, then by the Aztecs to the dog we are familiar with now. The Chihuahua was utilized in religious rituals by both of these peoples.
Another school of thought believes that the Chihuahua saw its birth on Malta, a Mediterranean island. Frescoes in Italy showing small dogs very similar to the Chihuahua predate Columbus' voyage to the New World. Spaniards sailing later to Mexico brought many dogs with them, no doubt this small dog was transported across the ocean as well. It is quite possible that this small European dog crossed with the Techichi to produce the Chihuahua.
Temperament: Although the Chihuahua is a very cute and affectionate dog, it is not a good dog with small children. Chihuahuas generally bond to one person, and can be indifferent or even jealous with other household members. They are usually fine with older children who are able to understand the dog's needs. Chihuahuas love to be the center of attention and require plenty of interaction with their owner. They are basically merry, cheerful little dogs and make good companions.
Health Issues: While the Chihuahua is subject to various genetic problems, it is a long-lived dog and can often reach 16 years of age. Chihuahua's are born with a soft spot, the molera, in the top of the skull. The small dog from Malta also had this problem. The molera generally disappears as the dog grows, but if it persists, extreme care must be exercised to prevent blows to the head.
Chihuahua's teeth often present decay problems and should be checked by a veterinarian on a regular basis. Their gums can also become inflamed. Low blood sugar, a potentially life-threatening condition, can occur. If this condition is present, small, frequent meals are best. The protruding eyes should be kept clean and this dog may be subject to glaucoma.
Grooming: Naturally, the long-haired Chihuahua has more grooming requirements than the short-haired. The long-coated dog should be brushed every day with a soft brush. The short-haired Chihuahua needs only occasional brushing. A monthly bath will benefit the Chihuahua.
Living Conditions: The Chihuahua is strictly a house dog. This breed can not tolerate cold at all and must be kept warm in winter. Sweaters or coats should be put on the Chihuahua whenever the dog has to go outside in cold weather.