Everything You Need to Know About Chihuahuas to Help You Adopt One

Choosing a Chihuahua
Choosing a Chihuahua

Chihuahua’s are among the smallest breed of dogs standing at a mere 6-9 inches and are 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. They’re the 30th most popular breed of dog according the AKC’s breed rankings.

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 or other pets, 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.

Special Concerns

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.

Famous Chihuahuas

Gidget the Taco Bell Chihuahua: Depending on your age, you might remember the Taco Bell commercials that were in heavy rotation during the late 90s. Gidget would later go on to star in Legally Blonde 2: Red, White & Blonde.

Bruiser Woods: In both Legally Blonde movies, Reese Witherspoon has a pet Chihuahua named Bruiser Woods.

Boo Boo: With a size of 4 inches tall and 24 ounces, Boo Boo holds the Guinness Book record for being the smallest dog.

Ren Höek: Ren, one of the two main characters in the hit 90’s show Ren and Stimpy, was a Chihuahua.

Celebrities with Chihuahuas

With their compact size and adorable little eyes, Chihuahuas make for an easy-upkeep dog that’s simply adorable. Some celebrities that have also had Chihuahuas include:

  • Paris Hilton has two Chihuahua that have both been featured in tabloids and reality televisions. There names are Tinkerbell and Bambi.
  • Sharon Osbourne has a Chihuahua named Mimi.
  • Cesar Millan, aka the Dog Whisperer, has a Chihuahua named Coco.

Common Diseases and Disorders

In general, the Chihuahua is a healthy dog with few medical concerns. However, the following diseases or disorders have been reported:

Hydrocephalus is a neurological disease in which there is excessive accumulation of cerebrospinal fluid within the ventricular system of the brain.

Hypoglycemia is a disorder associated with dangerously low blood sugar levels.

Luxating patellas, also known as loose kneecaps, can cause pain or lameness.

Cryptorchidism is a condition in which one or both testicles do not descend into the scrotum.

Urolithiasis is a condition affecting the urinary tract resulting in the formation of bladder stones.

Tracheal collapse is a weakening of the rings of the windpipe. This leads to irritation and coughing.

Chronic valvular heart disease (VHD) is a condition characterized by degeneration and thickening of the heart valves.

Patent ductus arteriosis (PDA) is a congenital birth defect caused by a blood vessel that normally closes after birth, but remains open resulting in the passage of extra volumes of blood into the lungs.

Anal sac disease is an inflammation, impaction, infection or tumors of the anal glands.

Congenital elbow luxation – is a dislocation of the elbow joint.

Testicular tumors are tumors that involve the testicles in intact male dogs.

Atlantoaxial Subluxation is a condition in which the first two cervical (neck) vertebrae are not firmly attached. Dogs are born without ligament support to their atlantoaxial joint.

Lens luxation is a dislocation or displacement of the lens within the eye.

Glaucoma is a disease of the eye that develops when the pressure within the eye increases that can lead to blindness.

Melanoma is a tumor arising from melanocytes, which are the cells that produce pigment.

Corneal dystrophy is a primary, inherited, bilateral (both sides), symmetrical condition of the cornea that is not accompanied by corneal inflammation or systemic disease.

Life Span

The Chihuahua can live 15 to 18 years.

We realize that each dog is unique and may display other characteristics. This profile provides generally accepted breed information only.