This toy breed is the world’s smallest dog and because their weight ranges from 3 pounds to 6 or more, Chihuahuas are often categorized as miniature or normal; however, the American Kennel Club and Chihuahua Club of America only recognize two varieties, long coat or smooth coat. If you've got your heart set on adopting a Chihuahua, forget the size labels and consider if this breed is right for you.
Personality and Behavior
Chihuahuas are noted for their spunky attitude and independent nature, but they require time and attention. While very affectionate and playful, they're protective of their family, making them good watchdogs. Spoiled Chihuahuas can develop alpha-like tendencies; it's important to not only socialize and train them, but provide continual structure. They're intelligent, fearless and alert, qualities that make them a natural for sporting activities like agility and tracking.
This sassy breed requires little exercise, so they're perfect for apartment or condo dwellers. Their size mandates outdoor safety precautions; they need coats or sweaters in inclement weather and should be leashed or carried. The Chihuahua integrates well with children and other animals, but because of their diminutive stature and soft spot on head called a molera, supervision is required with larger dogs and rambunctious toddlers.
While the average Chihuahua's life span is 12 to 20 years, as with all dogs, they have the potential for genetic and other health conditions. Eye and heart disease, hypoglycemia and obesity, and dental and knee issues can occur; routine veterinary intervention can avert certain problems. Talk to a veterinarian about spaying or neutering; this eliminates the risk of cancer in reproductive organs. Keep them current on shots and veterinarian recommended preventative medications.
Chihuahuas do shed and need regular brushing, especially the long coat variety. Due to their high metabolism they should be fed premium food; to prevent hypoglycemia, have kibble readily available for puppies, while older Chihuahuas can be fed twice daily. If you're adopting through a breeder, find one who performs genetic disease screening and will share the results. If you're adopting through a shelter or rescue group, request any known health and personality information.