The Chihuahua is a Mexican breed of a companion dog that earned its world-wide fame thanks to its diminutive size and big personality. This gentle, lively and proud little dog enjoys tremendous popularity in many countries. Actually for lots of people the word «Chihuahua» became synonymous to any existing toy breed.
The Chihuahua was created in a period well before the beginning of the systematic canine breeding so assumptions about its origin are based solely on archaeological findings and their interpretations. There is also a beautiful yet improbable legend that this dog is the descendent of the Fennec Fox, a predator from the Sahara Desert of North America. However, in reality the forebears of the today’s Chihuahua arrived to the state of Chihuahua from Central Mexico, although it isn’t certain when. These canines may have been brought to this area by traders prior to 1519. It’s also possible that they came there in the interval between 1519 and the middle of XIX century as companions of either indigenous people fleeing Spanish armies or Mestizo settlers.
Some European canine experts assume that the Chihuahua acquired its miniature size from European companion dogs imported to this region by Spanish invaders. But according to some written evidences the Pre-Columbian native Americans kept very small companion dogs. Additionally the Chihuahua has very little in common with any European canine variety although it bears striking resemblance to the Xoloitzcuintle, Mexico’s other native breed. In fact it’s very easy to mistake the rare variety of hairy Xoloitzcuintle with the Chihuahua and it serves as another proof of their close kinship. This tiny dog not only provided companionship but was also utilized to drive fleas away from its master. Sometimes it operated as a bottle of hot water and would lie aon a definite part of a master’s body to warm it up.
However the Chihuahua was initially invented the modern part of its history began in the XIX century. At that point American travelers who visited the state of the Chihuahua began to come across these toy-like companion dogs. They became fascinated by the breed and some of them took its pups to their homeland. Initially Americans called the breed either the Texas or the Arizona Dog but eventually its original unusual name was adopted as more appropriate.
This exotic breed quickly spread in various parts of the U.S. Early American canine fanciers preserved the original appearance of the Chihuahua but they did enhance and stabilize it. They crossed it to the Yorkshire Terrier in order to produce the Long-Haired Chihuahua. It’s also probable that the blood of the Maltese and several other toy breeds was added to its gene pool.
The American Kennel Club (AKC) recognized the breed as early as in 1904. It was formally accepted by the United Kennel Club (UKC) in 1948. Presently the Chihuahua remains a highly fashionable companion animal both in America and Europe.
The Chihuahua is considered to be one of the most unpredictable breeds in regard to its temperament. Some of these dogs are marked by an obedient and amicable nature while others are short-tempered and fierce as a typical Terrier. But if you adopt the pup from a responsible breeder you have much better chances to end up with a docile and steadfast pet. Be mindful though that even the best heredity won’t substitute early and all-around socialization. The Chihuahua is apt to form intense attachment to one family member and usually shows only tolerance to the others. Moreover it’s not the perfect variant for families with small kids as this dog dislikes the slightest demonstration of maltreatment and commonly responds to with immediate aggression. But in general the breed is good with those children who respect its private boundaries.
Strong suspiciousness, fearfulness and even hostility are standard reactions of the under socialized Chihuahua to the presence of the strange people in the house. It’s very hard to make friend with this dog but its well-trained specimen is commonly polite with newcomers. The breed is prone to be very yappy and reports about every minor change in its surroundings with its loud bark. This characteristic in combination with its well-developed protective instinct makes the Chihuahua a wonderful watcher. Obviously enough, this tiny dog shouldn’t be entrusted with guarding duties.
The Chihuahua has severe issues with canine aggressiveness. It seems to be absolutely unaware of its more than moderate size and always wants to be the pack leader. Although it’s prone to rather bark than bite, other dogs may misinterpret its intentions and attack. Since virtually any canine variety will easily kill the specimen of the Chihuahua the master should exercise extra caution as far as it concerns the interaction of his/her pet with its counterparts. This breed is perfectly compatible with all non-canine pets and particularly cats. Actually homeless cats pose much greater danger for this dog than it itself as they may wrongly take it for a prey.
The most common problems for the breed include:
· cold sensitivity;
· teeth problems;
· whelping difficulties;
· eye injuries;
· broken bones;
· weight gain;
· collapsed trachea;
· luxating patellas;
· canine brucellosis.
There are two coat varieties of the Chihuahua and they have cardinally different grooming needs. The smooth-coated specimen requires only periodic brushing with a very soft brush or a warm tissue. Since this breed is prone to catch colds the owner should thoroughly dry its hair off right after every bathing. Although the level of shedding commonly varies from specimen to specimen, in general this breed is a very intense shedder. Nonetheless the short coat and diminutive size make the amount of the dog’s fur in the house rather manageable.
The maintenance of the long-haired Chihuahua usually consumes more time in comparison with the grooming of its smooth-coated cousin. It should be brushed more frequently with a very soft brush. Mats and tangles may easily develop in this digs’ coat so they should be manually and very accurately worked out. Professional grooming is optional for this variety but some owners prefer to have their pets regularly trimmed in order to reduce the amount of its daily care. It’s also essential to carefully dry the dog’s coat after bathing because of its propensity to chills. Some of the long-haired Chihuahuas shed a great deal and won’t make an ideal pet for an allergic sufferer. However lots of its members are very moderate shedders.
The trainability of the Chihuahua depends on the individual characteristics of each specimen and varies very significantly. On average this dog is quite capable of learning basic tricks and commands with reasonable amount of repetitions. But when it comes to more advanced training techniques it usually disappoints its master.
Physical punishment must never be applied to this sensitive breed and its efforts should be encouraged with praise and little bit of treats (remember that it’s predisposed to fast weight gain). The Chihuahua is notoriously famous for issues with housebreaking. Actually some of these dogs are impossible to properly housebreak so the owners have to supply their pets with a litter box.
The Chihuahua requires very moderate amount of daily physical stimulation to preserve good health and mood. However the dog should be taken on a long walk every single day and it will be glad to have an occasional opportunity to run off-leash in a draught-free and safely fenced area.
Despite its comparatively sedate nature this dog still needs some minimum amount of exercise otherwise it will most likely acquire serious behavioral problems including aggression, continuous barking, and destructiveness.