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.
- AKC: Get to know the Chihuahua
- AKC: Chihuahua: Did You Know
- Vetstreet: Chihuahua
- The Chihuahua Club of America: Teacup Statement: The Chihuahua is a Chihuahua
- Pet MD: Chihuahua
- Modern Dog: The Chihuahua
- AKC: Chihuahua: History
- AKC: Chihuahua: Colors and Markings
- The Chihuahua Club of America: Chihuahua Puppy General Care
- Chihuahuas (Complete Pet Owner's Manual); Caroline Coile, Ph.D.
- The Everything Chihuahua Book; A Complete Guide to Raising, Training, And Caring for Your Chihuahua: Joan Hustace Walker
- Chihuahuas for Dummies; Jacqueline O'Neil
- AKC: Breeder Referral Search
- National Chihuahua Dog Rescue Group Directory
- Be the Pack Leader: Use Cesar's Way to Transform Your Dog . . . and Your Life; Cesar Millan and Melissa Jo Peltier
- Cesar's Rules: Your Way to Train a Well-Behaved Dog; Cesar Millan and Melissa Jo Peltier
Based in Cleveland, Ohio, Susan Spisak has been writing pet- and travel-related articles since 2005. She is a graduate of the University of Dayton and holds a Bachelor of Arts in communication with a concentration in journalism.