• By Kathy McRoberts
  • 17 Feb, 2013


The Chihuahua (pronounced chih-wah-wah) is a tiny, toy sized dog, the smallest of the dog breeds. Sometimes referred to as a Chi. They have rounded heads with short muzzles, large, round, dark ruby eyes and erect ears. Tears are often formed in abundance to keep the large eyes lubricated. The tail is long and either curled over the back or to the side. The coat can be either short of long wavy or flat. Colors include black, white, chestnut, fawn, sand, silver, sable, steel blue, black and tan and parti-color. Puppies have a soft spot on the top of the skull called a "molera", which usually closes by adulthood. Sometimes the long coated Chihuahuas go through "puppy ugglies", the awkward teenager stage between their puppy and adult coats. Chihuahua breeders often use terms like miniature, teacup, tiny toy, apple headed, or deer headed, to describe puppies, but these terms are not recognized by the breed standards and may be misleading,

Chihuahuas are well known as "purse dogs" like the famous Bruiser in the movie   Legally Blonde   starring Reese Witherspoon.


The Chihuahua is native to Mexico and received its name from the Mexican state of Chihuahua. The Chihuahua was sacred to the Pre-Columbian Indian nations, was used in sacred rituals, and was also popular as a pet to the upper class.

There are many theories surrounding its true origin. Analysis of the Chihuahua's DNA suggests that it is of Old World origin, such as from a European toy dog, and many believe that it was brought to Mexico from China over 200 years ago. The Toltecs, and later the Aztecs, had a small dog named the Techichi and it is possible that the fathers of the Chihuahua could have been the Techichi. This is the most common and most likely theory. The Aztec believed that the Techichi held mystical powers and the little dogs were used in religious ceremonies to expeate sins and as guides for the spirits of the dead. The present day Chihuahua is much smaller than the Techichi, a change thought to be due to the introduction of the miniature hairless Chinese dogs.

The breed was discovered in Chihuahua state in the 1850s, rose to prominance in the United States in the border states of Texas, Arizona and New Mexico and was first recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1904.


The Chihuahua is a strong willed lively, proud and adventurous little dog, often noted for its nervous temperament. They are loyal and become attached to their owners, often being fiercely loyal to one particular owner. They make a good companion dog but need firm leadership and training. Without proper training and discipline, the Chihuahua can assume the pack leader role and develop many behavior problems such as jealousy, aggression, and suspicion. A Chihuahua that is pack leader in the household may snap at children. This breed is generally not recommended around small children, unless proper training and leadership has been established.

Because of its small size, the Chihuahua tends to be babied and allowed to have its way far more than a larger dog would. They also tend to be walked less because their owners assume they get enough exercise running around the house. But by not being walked they miss the mental stimulation and other factors a walk provides. Because of this, Chihuahuas and other small dogs tend to become yappy, snippy, protective and unstrustworthy around children and humans they do not know. They can also be dog-aggressive. Chihuahuas tend to like other Chihuahuas and dislike dogs of other breeds.

The Chihuahua needs a lot of human contact in the form of touching, petting and general attention. And they give a lot of love and affection in return. They make great lap dogs and will lie beside you for hours or next to you in bed.

Chihuahuas are the Jekyl and Hyde of the dog breeds. Your friends may see the worst side of them and never believe you when you tell them how sweet and gentle natured your Chihuahua is. With the proper training and leadership (just as a larger dog would receive), as well as early socialization, the Chihuahua can be a wonderful little dog.


The smallest dog breed, the Chihuahua weighs in at a mere 2-6 pounds and stands 6-9 inches tall.


This breed is prone to patellar luxation (dislocation of the kneecap), otherwise known as weak knees. They are also prone to colds and gum problems and sometimes neurological anomalies such as epilepsy and seizures. The large, protruding eyes also can lead to secondary glaucoma and corneal dryness. They can be prone to hypoglycemia (low blood sugar). The Chihuahua tends to gain weight easily. The Chihuahua is susceptible to fractures and other accidents in puppyhood. They have a tendency to wheeze and snore due to their short muzzle. This breed is prone to stress, mainly due to the way their owners baby them.

Chihuahuas are sometimes prone to hydrocephalus, a disease characterized by an abnormally large head during the first several months of life. Puppies exhibiting hydrocephalus usually have patchy skull plates rather than a solid bone and typically are lethargic and do not grow at the same pace as their siblings.

Chihuahuas are the only breed of dog to be born with an incomplete skull. They have a molera, or a soft spot in their skulls, which normally fills in with age, but great care needs to be taken during the first six months until the skull is fully formed. Occasionally the soft spot remains, making them vulnerable to even a light bump on the head.


The Chihuahua generally has a long life expectancy, at 14-18 years, and is one of the longest lived dog breeds.


The Chihuahua requires minimal grooming. Regular brushing with a soft bristle brush should be done with both the short coated and long coated Chihuahuas. Bathe about once per month, taking care not to get water in the ears. Check the ears regularly and keep the nails trimmed. This breed is an average shedder.

Chihuahuas tend to shiver often, due to either stress or cold. Their higher metabolism dissipates heat faster and you'll often see Chihuahuas wearing coats or sweaters in the cold. They enjoy snuggling down into blankets to sleep.

Take care not to overfeed your Chihuahua as they can gain weight easily.


The Chihuahua is a good dog for apartment life. But keep in mind that they need space just like any other dog. Just because they are small does not mean they can be kept in small spaces. They are active dogs who need daily walks just like any other dog, although many people find it tempting to carry them about in purses or other carriers. Play can fulfill much of their need for exercise, but they still need the other things that walks provide, such as the primal instinct to walk, the mental stimulation and the bonding and leadership that a proper walk provides. Without regular walks, the Chihuahua can develop many behavior problems and neurotic issues.


Many Chihuahuas fall into what is known as "small dog syndrome" and are allowed to get away with things that a larger dog would not be allowed to do. It seems like a 5 pound dog can't do any harm by jumping up, and their antics can be cute, so it is usually allowed. Allowing such dominant behavior leads to the Chihuahua taking on the position of pack leader in the household. The reputation Chihuahuas have for being yappy, suspicious or aggressive little dogs is largely due to a lack of proper training. Chihuahuas tend to be treated like little toys instead of dogs. It is important to train the Chihuahua in the same manner you would train a larger dog, and establish the same rules and discipline.


Chihuahuas can be wonderful small companions, can adopt well to apartment living, and are extremely loyal and loving to their human. Because of their diminutive size, they are easy to transport and take along with you just about anywhere, and most Chihuahuas love outings. Chihuahuas need firm and consistent leadership and discipline in order to prevent behavior problems, and are typically not good with children. They are a long-lived, lively little dog. A Chihuahua who is treated like a dog rather than a cute little toy will grow into the most well-behaved member of the family.

A side note:   There is a disturbing trend in Southern California sometimes referred to as the Paris Hilton syndrome. Hollywood and the media have made it so desirable to own one of these cute little dogs and carry them around as a status symbol, that Chihuahuas and other tiny dogs are being bred at alarming rates by backyard breeders and puppy mills. Once the novelty wears off and the owner realizes that what they have is a living, breathing creature, not an accessory, they tire of them and the Chihuahuas are left to suffer various fates. Most Los Angeles shelters report approximately 30% of their dogs are Chihuahuas and the dogs are being euthanized at staggering rates. Many are being transported out to other states for help with adoption. Check for a Chihuahua   rescue   nearby or check   if you are looking to adopt a Chihuahua!


Cincinnati Dog Knowledge Center

By Pets in Need 08 Jan, 2018

Education is the first step  in pet poison prevention

Pet owners should take the time to educate themselves on the various, sometimes unexpected, pet poisons in their environments. The  Pet Poison Helpline  provides an extensive list of poisonous items for pet owners to be aware of, but here are a few of the most common items seen by veterinarians:

By Pets in Need 11 Dec, 2017

Outdoor Animals:

Many people believe certain dog breed, such as huskies and malamutes, are capable of living outside all of the time because of their thick coats. However, no dog breed should be consistently left unprotected outside. According to the City of Cincinnati, when the temperature is below 20 degrees Fahrenheit or above 90 degrees Fahrenheit, a pet owner should not leave their dog outside for longer than sixty minutes without adequate shelter. For outside dogs, owners should provide a warm, dry, draft free shelter with fresh, unfrozen water. Heated water bowls are a great option to ensure consistent access to unfrozen water. Owners should also feed their outdoor dogs more during the winter because their bodies use more energy trying to keep warm. In 2016, the City of Cincinnati passed an ordinance with further restrictions and shelter guidelines for dog tethering and weather conditions, which can be found by  clicking here

A common winter hazard that vets encounter consistently with cats is engine belt injuries. Cats will climb into cars to keep warm, and without knowing they’re there, people will start their cars and harm the cats. Before starting your car in the winter, it’s advised to give the car hood a few raps to make sure there are no cats cozied up inside.

By Pets in Need 27 Nov, 2017

Pets start an estimated 1,000 fires per year. While this isn’t a huge number, it’s easily preventable. Pet owners should identify the risks in their home and make sure they’re contained from pets. Risks to consider include, open flames such as candles, space heaters, stovetops, fireplaces, and frayed wires chewed by puppies.

Even if all fire hazards are contained from pets, there’s still always a chance of a house fire. According to the   National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) , there’s a home fire reported every 86 seconds in the United States. So while the hope is that you and your pets never have to face a fire, it’s important to have a plan.

In case of a fire, pet owners should hang window clings that let firefighters know there’s a pet in the home. The   ASPCA offers a free Pet Fire Safety Pack   that includes a window decal. When leaving home, pet owners should know where their pets are and keep them close to exits if possible. Pet owners should also consider investing in monitored smoke detectors that alert homeowners of a fire when they’re not home and automatically dispatch firefighters.

By Pets in Need 14 Nov, 2017
First, let’s learn a bit of information about pet diabetes. Just like in humans, there are 2 types or diabetes in pets, which veterinarians typically refer to as insulin dependent and non-insulin dependent. One is caused when the body doesn’t make enough insulin, which is a hormone created by the pancreas that allows glucose (or sugars) to move from the blood stream into cells to create energy. With non-insulin dependent diabetes, the body is making enough insulin, but it can’t utilize the insulin efficiently. This can be caused by high body fat content, chronic cortisone administration, and/or certain hormones such as progesterone (produced during a pet’s heat period).
By Pets in Need 30 Oct, 2017

Getting your dog microchipped is an easy and relatively inexpensive procedure that drastically increases the odds that your pet will find its way home if it’s ever lost. A microchip is a tiny chip that’s about the size of a grain of rice and contains a unique identification number. It’s injected into a pet’s skin between the shoulder blades on their back. When scanned with an electric scanner, the chip will show the unique identification number and manufacturer of the microchip. This unique identification number will be linked to the pet owner’s contact information in the microchip manufacturer’s database.

If a stranger ever finds your dog, a shelter or veterinarian can scan your pet for a microchip. Once they have the identification number and manufacturer from the chip reading, they will call the manufacturer in search of the pet owner’s contact information.  Therefore, if a dog owner moves or changes their contact information, it’s extremely important for them to update the contact information associated with their pet’s microchip identification number.

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