Chihuahuas are the ideal lovable, loyal and long-term pal. When you're alone in the house with a Chihuahua, you're never alone -- they sleep on your lap, sit by your side, or follow you from room to room while you do chores. When you're not home, they protect it like their personal domain, barking at the sign of any approaching stranger (making them surprisingly effective watchdogs). This endearing love and devotion, however, can sometimes evolve into a fierce protectiveness, making them a force to reckon with when they try to compete with other pets or family members for your attention. Nevertheless, this big-time attitude packed inside a pint-sized frame has a remarkable way of being endearing rather than annoying. Whether in an apartment, a house or a palace, a Chihuahua is perfectly accommodated. And they're fairly easy to care for, needing minimal exercise and food. But don't skimp on the attention: Chihuahuas crave affection and companionship to the point where they may resort to attention-getting tricks. And watch out: They are so quick-witted and cunning and sweet, you might find yourself doing an overtime shift of petting, scratching and cuddling.
- 2-6 pounds
- 6-9 inches
Ideal Human Companions
- The elderly
- The housebound
- Apartment dwellers
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- Small, stocky size
- Apple-shaped head
- Round, dark eyes
- Short, pointed muzzle
- Lively and loyal
- Cocky and energetic
- Strong-willed and outspoken
- Nimble and quick
Things You Should Know
Chihuahuas have a long life expectancy -- as much as 17 years -- but they have a tendency to develop health problems like hypoglycemia, joint ailments, eye infections and bronchitis. Also, the tops of their skulls never fully develop, leaving soft spots ("moleras") that should be protected. Though Chihuahuas don't need as much exercise as larger dogs, they need daily walks. And they also like to be warm, so you might consider a little sweater for winter walks. Though picky eaters, they can easily be overfed. An obese Chihuahua is more susceptible to diabetes and a shorter lifespan. Bear in mind: The world's smallest dog could also be the world's cockiest. And Chihuahua owners will note -- during their very first walk in the park -- that this breed is fearless when it comes to confronting larger dogs. Don't be so sure that your Chihuahua will know when it has met its match; i.e., always remove them from conflict. Some people believe that Chihuahuas are one-person dogs and therefore not suitable for families. In truth, they may not be suitable for a small child -- since they would not tolerate teasing or random play -- but with proper training and gentle, positive reinforcement, they can adapt to any home.
The Chihuahua -- named for the Mexican state that borders Texas and New Mexico -- is the oldest breed on the American continent. Historians believe they evolved from a wild dog called the Techichi that was domesticated by the Toltecs in 9th-century Mexico. Some even claim the modern Chihuahua originated from a cross between the Techichi and a hairless dog that came to North America from China via the Bering Strait. Chihuahuas were discovered around 1850 in Mexico, where merchants were selling them to tourists. They quickly became popular in the United States and were registered with the AKC in 1904.
The Look of a Chihuahua
Chihuahuas are the world's smallest dog breed, normally weighing between 2 and 8 pounds with an average height of 6 to 9 inches. Chihuahuas have a "cobby" body -- stout, stocky and slightly longer than tall -- that still seems flexible, sturdy and muscular. Their rounded, apple-shaped heads feature dark round eyes, pointed ears and a slightly pointed muzzle. The necks slope down to level backs and sickle-shaped tails that sometimes curl up or to one side. Smooth-coated Chihuahuas have a soft, glossy coat, while the long-coated variety have curly or straight hair. Chihuahuas can come in practically any color or combination of colors.
Talk About Chihuahuas
The best dog I've ever had
My Chihuahua, Peluche, is a long coat and the best dog I ever had. I grew up with big dogs so Peluche was my first little dog. At 5 lbs. she's small, but so much fun to be around. In fact she comes to work with me every day and I put her to work modeling our inventory of pet products. She is the most intelligent breed I've owned, she's very food motivated and can perform an amazing array of tricks. It's wonderful to see her interact with other Chihuahuas, they seem to always know their own breed even though Chi's come in so many different varieties. Her desire to be with us at all times is what makes her so special. She'll sleep with us, go on bike rides in a front-mounted basket, loves to hike, take long walks, play chase with our cat twice her size, and is a great watch dog. But, nothing compares or strikes so much emotion when she curls up in your lap for a nap.
There is something very special about the eyes of a Chihuahua, and while they are often ridiculed for being so small their spirit is amazingly large. Peluche is a great communicator and is capable of letting us know what she's thinking. She'll direct us with her head and lead us to her wants and needs. We still enforce rules, boundaries, and limitations to keep a happy and healthy balanced dog. Her true colors shine through when being photographed. She'll do most any pose and provide the endearing head tilt when necessary. Her photographs have helped our business, GW Little, reach the small dog loving community in a big way, and Chihuahuas are our number one fans.
~John G., owner of several Chihuahuas
Need another shadow?
To live with a Chihuahua is to have a shadow, a heating pad and a friend that never gets mad at you. Well, most of the time! Liberty is the cutest little prima donna and we love her for it. She is a people dog and doesn't bark without reason. We cannot walk anywhere without someone stopping us to pet her. She even loves kids, having been raised with them. She is a little dog shy, though. Chis are very smart dogs. They are easy to train, but can be sneaky! We call them our cheap entertainment, as you never know just what they will do! I recommend these dogs to anyone. You cannot go wrong with a Chi. Once you see their smile and their wiggle butts, your heart is gone!
~Cali, owner of a Chihuahua
Easy to care for and so lovable!
I love how my Chihuahua is my best friend! She is small enough to take everywhere with me. Anywhere I go she goes. The best thing about having a Chihuahua is how small they are and how big their personality is in comparison. My Chi's name is Sophia. I can tell her anything and she listens and is very smart. When I brought her home she was puppy pad trained after two days.
I would recommend a Chihuahua to anyone wanting a small dog that they can take care of easily. I give Sophia a bath once a month at least and every two weeks at most. I also love having a chihuahua because I can dress her up and pretend she is my baby. I am too young to have kids but still want something to baby so I got her. She is easy to clean up after, fun to have, and doesn't cost me a lot in grooming. Many people have told me that Chihuahuas are a one person dog and I have only found that to be true in a dog that is not well socialized.
After Sophi had all her shots I took her everywhere. I handed her to people and encouraged them to love on her and hold her. I made sure that all my friends came over and played with her and gave her treats. You have to make sure your Chi is socialized well and that all of their interactions are great ones. I don't allow small children to hold her or grab for her because I don't want her to feel like she should be afraid or become snappy with them.
Don't allow anyone to baby your Chihuahua or encourage bad behaviors like play biting just because they're small. I informed all my friends how to play with her correctly, and to not tease her. Many friends and family will do this without even realizing that they are encouraging bad behaviors. Sophia is growing up just fine. She is social, she likes to dress up because she knows it will get her attention, she minds very well and she is so affectionate. I would not recommend anyone with small children to get a Chihuahua because they're just too little of a dog. Good luck to anyone looking for a Chi as their next best friend, you won't regret it!
~Leena K., owner of a Chihuahua
My heart dog
Chihuahuas have my heart. They are the most loyal little things ever. My Chihuahua, Rosey, gives me so much love and affection. They will stay by your side no matter what. They'll fight the biggest dog for their beloved human companion. Feisty and outgoing, they will go wherever you take them. They are my heart dogs.
~Darci S., owner of a Chihuahua
A true blessing
I went to visit a friend once, and when she opened her door I was greeted by the cutest little boy Chi. My friend was given the dog because his owner couldn't have pets. I fell in love and for some reason he fell in love with me as well. I had just lost my father and a (now ex) husband of 20 years and I ended up taking him home with me. It was like I just met a cross between my best friend and a newborn baby. I named him Spunky. His little dark eyes are always watching me and he has an unbelievable way of letting me know exactly what he wants. He even tells me what time we need to go to bed: he will sit at the bedroom door and not leave until I agree to go to bed! He won't get under the covers until both my new hubby and I are in the bed.
They are such wonderful animals to live with, so snuggly and loving.They don't ask for much and they give so much back. Spunky filled a very big hole and really helped me in an emotional time. I would tell any one who wants a Chihuahua that they mostly require a lot of affection and my little guy is very frightened by loud or sudden noises. I don't run my vacuum when he is in the room.
I sometimes get a little jealous of the attention my hubby gives Spunky, but that lasts for about 2 seconds and then I just enjoy watching the love my hubby has for the little boy that has become almost like a child. Spunky has us trained and we love it!
~Kim S., owner of a Chihuahua
My fierce but tiny protector
I love and adore my little Chi girl - she is just a little over 3 pounds. What I love the most about her is probably the fact that she never bows down to anything or anyone. She was attacked by a very large dog about a year ago and her whole left side was torn open but it doesn't stop her from barking and growling at my big dogs now.
She is my very fierce protector and doesn't allow strangers to close to me. I love her to death and she is very easy and a whole lot of fun to live with. Her name, by the way is Cookie Dough! She happened to look like chocolate chip cookie dough when she was a puppy.
~Kristin K., owner of three Chihuahuas
The sweetest dog ever
I have an almost-two-year-old Chihuahua named Missy. I love how she protects the house. Despite her small size she does all the guarding needed. It's funny how she manages to crawl on her belly to the door to let out one big bark and warn people away!
To live with her can be hard sometimes because if you aren't always completely aware of where she is you're very likely to step back and trip on her. She loves the park and plays with all the other dogs, though I don't let her in the big dog area.
If someone was considering getting this breed I would say: read about them, and learn about what they will need from you first. Getting a Chihuahua just because you see them in movies or magazines without thinking if their needs will fit your life is not a good idea.
You don't want to get in over your head, but if you've decided a Chihuahua is right for you, know that they are so wonderful and will bring so much joy and happiness to your life.
~Ashley K., owner of a Chihuahua
Better than their reputation
I was a big dog person until I rescued an adult Chi, and this tiny little thing has proven to be the best dog I've ever owned. My Chihuahua is super friendly with kids, dogs, strangers and family, he loves to snuggle and cuddle, he is 100% obedience trained and is super smart and quick to learn new commands and tricks.
He doesn't bark without reason, and he likes most dogs but seems especially fond of other Chis. He goes almost everywhere with me and is just a really wonderful pet. We walk around the neighborhood daily for 3-4 miles and he does a great job keeping up. Plus, he's cheap to maintain because Chis need smaller amounts of food and toys and accessories than larger breeds. I'm very happy with this breed and only wish he was a bit more sporty so we could do other activities together.
~Karie M., owner of a Chihuahua
They're smarter than you!
The first time i took my Chi to run in my back yard he walked around and just played a little. The 2nd time he took off like a shot and knew where there was a weak spot in the fence and tried to escape - when that was fixed he knew where another one was. Other than that they are very sweet, but are more of their own dog. They cuddle when they feel like it and don't do what they don't want to. When I leave for work in the morning he walks me to the door while my other dogs just ignore me.
~Jacqui S., owner of a Chihuahua mix
My darling boy
Buster Brown is a rescue and a work-in-progress in the social department. He took to me and my daughter right off. He watches my son and other males closely, but never approaches. He goes between my daughter and I, accepting our loving attention excitedly.
He plays with our cats, even though they are twice his size! There are two other chihuahuas he plays with and runs about, as happy as can be. He is skittish around males and small children.
Buster is a love bug who is getting better with social skills -- we just need to be patient and consistant. As long as your chihuahua is kept on a consistent schedule you will all be happy. Buster has his feeding and walks at the same time each day. He gets a treat after each potty break, because rewards are important for all good behavior. I wouldn't trade my 6-pound Buster for anything in the world.
~Connie L, owner of a Chihuahua
The world's smallest cattle dog
I inherited a Chi called Moose from a friend who moved and hasn't been able to come back to collect him. He is a big Chi, 10pounds, and wants everyone to know he is a dog and not an accessory! In fact, he loves to run with the big dogs, roll in horse poop, and chase the horses with my Australian Cattle Dog. He is a good boy and wears his coat in the winter, snuggles under the covers, and is really pretty mellow.
I had never lived with a Chi before, but I foster dogs and have become more tolerant of small dogs over the last few years. I had heard they are hard to housetrain, but that was never an issue with Moose. Also, my friend has small children and he was always wonderful with them as well.
My vets have told me what a great Chi he is, but I think he is great for any type of dog.
I would not agree with all those who want to spoil and baby these little dogs -- let them be real dogs, not surrogate kids, and they will be excellent companions.
~Rachel S, owner of a Chihuahua