The Chihuahua is a dainty, fragile looking dog, and is a very distinctive looking animal with a pretty face, and a somewhat mischievous expression. The Chihuahua has a rounded head and dark, wallowing, and protruding eyes, with ears that are very large in proportion to the rest of the head. When it comes to the coat of the Chihuahua there are two varieties available, one being the long coated variety and the other the smooth variety. The long coated Chihuahua has a soft, long coat, and this can be single or double. The smooth coated variety is soft, short, and dense. The coloring of the Chihuahua can vary and includes red, cream, chocolate, blue/gray, white, fawn, and black. He may also have white or tan trimmings. The weight of the Chihuahua is around 2-6 pounds, and the height is around 5-8 inches.
The smallest of the dog breeds, the Chihuahua is a dog that is lively, affectionate, loving, and entertaining. This is a dog that loves to both give and receive attention, he will follow you everywhere around the house and loves nothing more to cuddle up on your lap while you're watching TV. Intelligent and eager to please, the Chihuahua is very responsive and playful. However, it is important to remember that the personality of Chihuahuas can vary, and whereas some may be very confident and friendly others may be reserved and stand offish. The Chihuahua usually gets very attached to his family and he can have a jealous streak if he feels he isn't the center of attention and another pet or person is getting more attention than him. The Chihuahua gets along well with older, gentle children and will tolerate other pets when properly socialized with them.
Early and continued socialization is important in order to ensure that your Chihuahua has a stable and even temperament, and the genetic temperament of the parents of your Chihuahua will often determine how he is likely to turn out. Many Chihuahuas do have very outgoing personalities, and are very inquisitive and surprisingly bold for their size. Sociability with strangers will again depend upon the personality of the individual dog, but many are reserved and wary around strangers. The Chihuahua does bark to raise the alarm is something is amiss, and this makes him quite an effective watchdog. He has a high learning rate but a stubborn attitude at times, which makes him best suited to those with some experience of dog ownership. Housebreaking this breed can also be difficult.
The long haired Chihuahua will need to be brushed regularly to keep his soft coat in good condition, and you may need to step up the grooming with the double coated variety, as shedding may be heavier. With the short haired variety occasional brushing and wipe down with a damp cloth will help to keep his coat looking good. The Chihuahua is a medium shedder and the short haired variety will shed all year round, whereas the long haired variety will shed on a seasonal basis. Make sure that you check his eyes regularly, as they do protrude and this can put him at increased risk of contracting eye infections and problems.
Though the exact nature of where or how the Chihuahua came to be, there are many speculations of possible ways they happened to come about.
The earliest specimens were found, during the time of the Aztecs, in Chihuahua, Mexico. However, its place of origin is more likely to be the whole entire country, rather than in just the one state. Archaeologists have dated their history as far back as the 5th century A.D, as well as finding evidence of the breed in central and southern Mexico, and in South America as well.
One speculation is that a breed similar to the Chihuahua was brought to America by Spanish traders from China, where it was then mixed with the Techichi. It was then thought to have been brought to Europe at the end of the 19th century. Another theory is that the Chihuahua originated in Europe, and was then brought to America by Columbus. Proof is presented in the Sistine Chapel... a painting by Sondro Botticelli done in 1482 shows a dog resembling a Chihuahua; the painting was completed before Columbus sailed to America.
Another theory, one that is most likely, is that the Techichi were mixed with the Chinese Crested, brought from Asia to Alaska via the Bering Strait, or brought later by Spanish traders sailing from China. The Techichi, (a companion dog of the Toltecs) is believed to be the ancestors to the Chihuahua. They were often sacrificed in religious Toltec rituals. Believed to guide the soul to the underworld, the sins of the human were supposed to be transferred to the Techichi because it appeased to the gods. It's apparent that they were well for cared for during life, until they were sacrificed and buried with the deceased. Both the Aztecs and the Toltecs often used the little dogs for food. While the wealthy Aztecs regarded them as being sacred, it was the commoners that saw no use for them and ate them.
Materials have been found in the Pyramids of Cholula predating 1530, in the ruins of Chichen Itza on the Yucatan Peninsula, the Monastery of Huejotzingo (built with material taken from the Pyramids of Cholula), and on the Highway from Mexico City to Puebla. All of the pictures depict a little dog with a large round head looking very much like the Chihuahua of today.
After the Spaniards finished destroying the Aztecs, the little dogs were abandoned and left to fend for themselves. In 1850, in the ruins believed to be of Emperor Montezuma I palace, these tiny dogs were once again found. Some were brought to the United States where they were first referred to as "Texas or Arizona Dogs" because of the Texas-Arizona-Mexican borders from whence they came.
First exhibited in the United States in 1890, they were not registered by the AKC until 1904. In 1923 the Chihuahua Club of America was organized and were responsible for writing the standard, which has not been extensively changed since. It wasn't until 1952 that the Club decided to split them into two varieties depending on the coat.
Though trained fairly easily, one difficulty with this breed is housebreaking. Because of their size, some owners will try ('try' being the operative word) training them to go on a "pee pad" or in a litter box. Paper training is never really 100%, though in some dogs it can, but rarely. In reality, your dog would forgo going on grass or other surfaces, making trips a hassle as you will need a travel pad. If you plan on staying in a hotel, or being a guest in someone's home, most people would not be very welcoming to you bringing a litter box with you. Not only do most dogs miss the pad entirely, but they will then go on any paper or pad left on the floor to do their business. Proper house training should be done outside. It tends to be because of their size that most people decided to paper-train them. If one does want to only use a litter box or pad, constant praise is a MUST, each and every time they go on the pad; a pad inside of a litter box works best as its easier to clean up.
Early socialization with this breed is very important. They should be exposed to different places, people, animals and other dogs, starting at an early age. Socialization with other dogs is a major requirement as most Chihuahuas can be dog-aggressive.
The life span of the Chihuahua is around 15-18 years, making him one of the longer life breeds. There are some health problems and disorders associated with this breed and these include luxating patella, entropion, heart problems, trachea problems, low blood sugar, dental problems, sensitivity to chemicals and medications, and open fontanel. These small dogs have very fragile bones, and owners should take care to ensure that he is not treated roughly or dropped, as this could lead to injury - this is why the breed is best suited to gentler children. The protruding eyes of these dogs also need to be taken into consideration, as they could be easily damaged. Take care not to inadvertently harm the dog's eyes through rough treatment or kicking, and keep an eye out for any infections. The parents of the Chihuahua puppy should have OFA and CERF certificates.