International Chihuahua Appreciation Day
Tiny and feisty, we’re all familiar with the famous Chihuahua breed of dog. Depending on temperament and training, the chihuahuas you’ve encountered could be adorable, sociable lapdogs, or tiny little packages of rage. While chihuahuas are an immensely popular dog, there are also many myths surrounding this breed. Some people believe that chihuahuas are more inclined to bark, or to be bad-tempered.
Another common misconception around chihuahuas (and other small breeds of dog) is that they somehow require less care and attention than a larger dog, specifically less exercise.
Let’s address this myth, as well as more information and advice concerning these courageous, pint-sized little dogs. Should you consider adopting a chihuahua? More importantly, how can you properly care for a chihuahua?
What’s a Chihuahua?
Chihuahuas are the smallest dog breed on earth. They’re so small, in fact, that you can comfortably carry one in your purse. (This doesn’t mean that you should)
However, this lapdog conception can actually be somewhat harmful to chihuahuas. They can be treated like toys or accessories, and often don’t get the kind of exercise and mental stimulation that they need. These dogs live for around 14 to 16 years, considerably longer than some larger dogs.
Named after the Mexican state of Chihuahua, this breed of dog has been around since the 1800s. Officially recognized as a breed in North America from 1904, the chihuahua has been one of the most popular dogs in the States for decades.
Breed Standard and Appearance
The average chihuahua weighs three to six pounds. However, these dogs can quickly become overweight, particularly if they don’t get enough exercise and are overfed.
Chihuahuas are generally split into two categories: long haired and short haired. They have small, neat paws, and measure around 15-22cm in length. Both long and short haired chihuahuas need weekly grooming, likely in the from of a good brush!
Temperament and Personality
Chihuahuas are very intelligent dogs. They learn quickly, but because of this, a poorly trained chihuahua can be somewhat self-willed. While some chihuahuas are outgoing and feisty, they can also be shy and timid. Remember, this is a tiny dog in a large world!
Chihuahuas tend to bond strongly with one member of the household. They are loyal, affectionate, and playful. Chihuahuas aren’t known as an aggressive breed, but they do tend to forget how small they are. Because of this, your chihuahua may try squaring up to much larger dogs in a misguided attempted to protect their family.
Health Care and Social Needs
Chihuahuas are very social dogs and shouldn’t be left alone for hours at a time. A regular, healthy meal schedule is essential for a growing chihuahua. However, once they’ve reached their full growth (at around 12 months) it’s important to avoid overfeeding.
It can be tempting to sneak your dog extra treats and snacks, but chihuahuas can quickly become overweight, which can lead to further health problems. Always feed your dog good-quality dog food and pay attention to the portion size recommendations. An extra handful of food a day can quickly mount up for a dog as small as a chihuahua.
Caring for a Chihuahua
While smaller dogs may require less exercise than larger dogs, that doesn’t mean you can neglect your chihuahua’s walks.
The traditional, unflattering view of a chihuahua (or other small dogs) is that of a yappy, badly-behaved dog, bouncing around uncontrollably.
An experienced dog owner will recognize this behaviour as a sign that the dog is not burning off their excess energy and is simply bored and pent up.
Chihuahuas need around 30 minutes of exercise a day. On top of that, they need mental stimulation, social interaction, as well as love and attention, just like any other dog.
While leaving your dog alone for short periods of time is unavoidable, chihuahuas are social animals and don’t like being alone. Be sure to leave some toys for your dog to play with while you’re gone. If you’re going to be out for more than a few hours, it’s a good idea to ask a friend or neighbour to look in while you’re out.
Just like many other dogs, anxious, distressed, or bored chihuahuas can become destructive!
Adopt or Shop?
While there are plenty of dog breeders who care for their animals and genuinely love that particular breed, this is far from the norm. Unfortunately, there are far too many “career” dog breeders, who consider the animals as little more than commodities and useful tools.
Puppy farming is a growing epidemic, with hundreds of breeding females being kept in appalling conditions and bred repeatedly until their health gives out. The puppies are then sold, earning the breeders a small fortune.
Certain breeds are more prone to puppy farming, and chihuahuas are one of them. Buying puppies from puppy farmers fuels the industry, meaning that even more dogs will suffer. Aside from the cruelty towards the breeding dogs, this can result in higher animal deaths, inbred defects in the puppies, and serious health conditions.
While there’s nothing wrong with buying a chihuahua puppy from a reputable breeder, be sure to do your due diligence, and ensure that you really are buying a puppy from a happy home.
Alternatively, you could consider adopting. Since chihuahuas are one of the most popular dogs around, this unfortunately means that there are many of them up for adoption and rehoming. Giving a dog a second chance at a new life is one of the most rewarding things a person can do.
Chihuahuas: Are They Right for You?
Chihuahuas are beautiful, loyal, affectionate, and fun dogs. They make a wonderful addition to any family. This breed has a rich history and a personality of its own. Chihuahuas are dogs with a big personality stuffed into a tiny frame, but don’t worry – their bark is often worse than their bite. If you think this kind of dog would suit you down to the ground, you should definitely consider bringing a chihuahua into your home.