Chihuahua Dog Description
Chihuahua is a famous breed that is exceptionally small. Their heads are shaped like apples, and their muzzles are pointed. It has circular shaped eyes that are large and dark in color. The ears of the Chihuahua should always stand upright. The body of the Chihuahua has a length that is slightly taller than its height. The tail should have the shape of a sickle, and it will curl over the back or side of the dog. While many people are familiar with Chihuahuas that have short coats, they may also feature long coats as well. The acceptable coat colors for the Chihuahua include sand, fawn, silver, and chestnut. This breed is highly active and originates in Mexico.
The explorer Christopher Columbus wrote a letter to the King of Spain that spoke of a dog he had encountered on the island that is now Cuba. In this letter he described a “small kind of dog that seems mute as it doesn’t bark as usual.” He then went on to tell the king that the dog was domesticated.
The dog Columbus wrote about was an ancestor of the present day Chihuahua called the “Techichi.” Scholars and archeologists have been able to date the Techichi as far back as the Toltec’s occupation of Mexico in the 9th century A.D.
Solid evidence of the Techichis presence during this time period can be found in pictures carved into stones. These stones were originally part of the Pyramids of Choluda built by the Toltecs but appropriated by Franciscan monks to build the Monastery of Huejotzingo around 1530. In these carvings can be found both full body and head pictures of the Techichis that bear a striking resemblance to the present day Chihuahua.
After the Aztecs conquered the Toltecs, the small dog was still highly regarded by the rich. Both the Toltecs and the Aztecs often used the Techichi as a connection in the worship of deities as well as the voyage of the dead into the afterlife. They became popular pets with the rare blue colored being considered as sacred. The red colored ones were used as sacrifices. These sacrifices were burned to ashes with the corpse of the human dead because it was believed the sins of the human could be transferred in the burning to the dog. Once the sins were settled upon the dog, any anger by the Gods towards the human could be averted. The Techichi were also accredited with steering the human’s soul though the dark, vast regions of the underworld while protecting it from evil until the soul reached his or her final resting point.
Although the Chihuahua as we know it was discovered in the Mexican State of Chihuahua around 1850, the greatest concentration of artifacts and stone carvings depicting the small breed are found around Mexico City. Scholars of the Chihuahua believe the Chinese hairless dogs somehow crossed the ancient land bridge that was across the Bering Straight between what is now Alaska and Asia. It is theorized that somehow these two breeds were crossed and produced the tiny Chihuahuas of today.
The first modern day Chihuahua registered with the American Kennel Club was Midget in 1905. Fanciers of the Chihuahua have grown until it has become one of the most consistently popular breeds. They can be found in two varieties, smooth coated and longhaired. Of the two, the smooth coated has been the most popular but in recent years, the longhaired variety is closing in.
The general appearance of both varieties requires a dog that is compact, graceful, and alert. He should have a “saucy expression” and the courage and temperament often attributed to terrier breeds. The Chihuahua should be well balanced and not weigh more than six pounds. Any dog that weighs more than six pounds will be disqualified from conformation classes at any AKC show.
A Chihuahua’s head should be “apple domed” and appear to be rounded from all angles.
Eyes are to be very large but not protruding of preferably dark or luminous ruby color. The ears are large and stand erect when the dog is at attention but will flare to the sides at a 45-degree angle when at rest. A dog whose ears have been cropped or cannot stand erect will also be disqualified.
The Chihuahua muzzle is moderately short and pointed and should end with a bite that is considered either even or scissored. Overshot or undershot jaws will be heavily penalized. The color allowed for the nose depends on the color of the dog itself. Self-colored noses are allowed in blondes, moles, blues, blacks and chocolates. Pink noses are also permitted in blonde colored dogs.
The neck should be slightly arched and end by gracefully joining lean, sloping shoulders. These shoulders should be broad and set well over straight forelegs. These forelegs should be set well under the shoulders to allow plenty of freedom at the elbows.
The Chihuahua’s feet are very small and dainty with split up but not spread and the pasterns are very fine.
The body of the dog is slightly longer than its height. Its topline is level, ribs well sprung and rounded but not to the point of giving a “Bulldog” or barrel appearance. The tail is moderately long and can be carried like a sickle either up or out. It can also be carried in a loop over the back with just the tip touching. It should never be tucked between the legs.
Hindquarters on a Chihuahua are muscular with wide set hocks that are neither in nor out. They need to be sturdy, firm and well let down allowing for a swift gait in which the foot fall of the rear feet fall in directly behind the those of the front feet. When viewed from front or rear, the feet appear to land towards a centerline as the speed of movement increases. From a profile view, the Chihuahua has a strong driving rear, long reach in the front legs and a high, proud carried head.
Chihuahuas are often feisty with a terrier like temperament with little heed given to their actual size or the size of their opponent. Protective of owners, they often bond to only one or two persons in a household. They can also be snobbish when it comes towards other breeds of dogs, as the Chihuahua is a clannish breed that prefers other Chihuahuas for company.
As for color, any color, solid, marked or splashed is acceptable.
The coat in the smooth variety is soft textured, close and glossy although heavier coats with actual undercoats are permitted. The dogs whose coats are evenly distributed over the body but scanty on the head and ears, with a ruff on the neck are preferred as well as a furry tail.
The longhaired varieties have a soft textured coat that can be flat or even slightly curly. Undercoats are preferred as are fringed ears and a full long tail that is similar to a plume. Judges will also be looking for dogs that have feathering down the legs, on the feet and a large ruff on the neck.
New owners of Chihuahuas are often full of questions concerning their new pet. One common question is about the amount of tears a Chihuahua will produce. This is very common in such a tiny dog, with large eyes that are so very close to the floor. The same sparkling, saucy eyes that an owner will often fall instantly in love with act like a magnet to every bit of dust and dirt that can be blown or kicked up. Tears are nature’s way of cleansing the eye while keeping it moist.
The Chihuahua’s tears should be clear and have the consistency of water. A veterinarian should check out any other discharge or color as soon as possible. While sterile or distilled water can be used to flush an eye that has a foreign object in it, at no time should the owner attempt to use human medication on the eyes without the advice of their veterinarian. Certain components like cortisone and other types of steroidal products that are often ingredients in eye ointments can actually cause more damage than help to eyes in cases of corneal injuries.
Chihuahuas are not normally a finicky eater unless the owner makes them one. Small sized kibble puppy food is given from birth to at least six months, preferably up to one full year. Adult dogs will eat small kibble or “mini chunk” style food and this is the best option an owner has. Although tempting, try to steer clear of soft or canned foods as these can help promote dental problems.
Many Chihuahuas have a condition known as an open fontanel. This occurs when the bones of the head do not fuse together and leave an open or “soft spot” on the top of the head. Although undesirable, dogs with this condition can lead perfectly happy, healthy lives. As a whole, Chihuahuas are hardy little dogs with reports of some specimens living up to eighteen and nineteen years. They make wonderful pets for children as long as the child is taught to be gentle with it, adults, elderly and bed bound people.
They give an endless amount of love and loyalty, laughter and enjoyment to all who are “owned” by a Chihuahua. With a heart that belongs in a Bull Mastiff, courage of the fiercest terrier, an endless amount of energy that would make the Energizer Bunny look lethargic and a desire to be held and cuddled as a child would a favorite teddy bear, it is no wonder the Chihuahua has become one of the most consistently popular dogs of our time.
The Chihuahua is a small dog that makes a great companion. They are brave and energetic and will demand attention from their owners. These dogs can be stubborn, and their small size makes it easy for them to be injured. Chihuahuas are some of the most jealous dog breeds in the world and become strongly attached to those that care for them. These dogs are wary of strangers and can be hard to train due to their stubborn tendencies. When owners train these dogs, they will want to be kind but consistent. Because of its size, Chihuahuas are not recommended for small children, as it can bite them if they handle it roughly.
The Chihuahua may snore profusely because of its small nose. It has large eyes that are vulnerable to a number of vision problems. These dogs may also have problems with their gums, and rheumatism has been seen in this breed as well. It should not be overfed, as it gains weight easily. The Chihuahua has a maximum life expectancy of 15 years.
Because Chihuahuas are so light in weight, many owners carry them around. However, this will not help the dog stay healthy. It is important for owners to walk these dogs. Because of their size, a body harness should be used instead of a collar. Chihuahuas are one of the few dog breeds that are bred to live indoors. They cannot tolerate cold weather.
Special Grooming Needs
Owners will want to carefully brush the coat of the Chihuahua. It can also be wiped with a wet cloth. These dogs should be given a bath twice a month, and owners should avoid getting water in their ears. The nails should be kept short, and the Chihuahua will shed a standard amount of fur.