As one of the smallest dogs, the Chihuahua is thought by many to originate centuries ago in Mexico. Treated as a sacred dog and even thought to help passage into the afterlife, the Chihuahua has always been a significant part of the family.
The Chihuahua has been one of the top breeds based on the American Kennel Club (AKC) tallies. Click here for the complete list of top dog breeds - Top Dog Breeds of 2012 - Most Popular Dogs.
History and Origin
The exact origin of the Chihuahua is unknown but many believe that its ancestors were an important part of the Toltecs, an ancient Mexican civilization existing as early as the 9th century. The Toltecs named the breed "Techichi." After the Aztecs conquered the Toltecs, the breed flourished for centuries. It was so revered that archeologists have found dogs in ancient graves. In 1520, Hernando Cortes conquered Mexico and little record was left of the Chihuahua. For several centuries, the breed was lost to history.
In the late 1800s, the breed was rediscovered and named 'Chihuahua' after the northern Mexican state where many statues of the breed were first found. Later, it was determined that a majority of the relics associated with the Chihuahua were found near Mexico City, but by then the name was established.
Appearance and Size
The Chihuahua is one of the smallest dogs. The breed is known for a rounded, apple shaped head with erect, pointed ears. The Chihuahua has either a short smooth hair coat or a long and soft coat. Almost any color is possible. In Mexico, the black and tan version as well as the black and white variety are popular. In the United States, the solid colored dogs are preferred.
The Chihuahua stands about 6 to 9 inches at the shoulder and weighs 2 to 5 pounds.
The Chihuahua is an active dog. Though not very sociable with other breeds, the Chihuahua seems to be able to recognize other Chihuahuas and enjoys their company. As a devoted family pet, the breed tends to be a little jealous when their owner spends time with other people. Sometimes this jealousy can create problems since the breed can also be jealous of larger dogs.
Home and Family Relations
Due to their small size, the Chihuahua is perfect for the apartment dweller and does well with the elderly. They tend not to do well with children since they do not tolerate rough play.
The Chihuahua is well known as a loving, devoted and loyal family pet. Despite their size, the Chihuahua will alert to strangers but isn't big enough to follow through.
Chihuahuas need to be socialized early in life to prevent behavior problems or aggression. The breed can also be paper-trained, which means the dog never having to leave the house.
The long-haired Chihuahua tends to require daily grooming to prevent mats and tangles. Due to their head shape, the Chihuahua has a soft spot in the center of the head. For this reason, the head should be protected to prevent damage to this area.
The Chihuahua should be protected from cold weather.