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The Chihuahua: What you need to know as an owner!

Three chihuahuas laying on a white fuzzy blanket on a grey couch

Stars of commercials, films, and family gatherings all over America, the Chihuahua is one of the most recognizable dogs. Their tiny stature shouldn’t cover what’s inside, they’re a bubbly well of personality and can make a great addition to anyone’s family. Beloved, silly, and playful, these pups popped up in 1850 in Mexico where they rapidly became popular with tourists and made their way to the United States. It’s thought that they originated as a wild dog called the Techichi, but the modern Chihuahua is a cozy cuddler and a faithful friend to their human companions.


The Chihuahua is a desert-dweller by nature, so the cold and wet are going to be uncomfortable for them. Even a long-haired Chihuahua is still susceptible to low temperatures, preferring a warm sunbeam to the air conditioning.

These puppers are as varied as humans, each one a unique individual that has their own nature and personality. While there are some genuine consistencies, Chihuahuas can be as naturally varied as their human families and will make sure you know it.


Older chihuahua getting a bath with sudds on its head

Be aware that these pups aren’t hypoallergenic, no matter what you may have heard. Chihuahuas don’t shed much, but they do shed. Thankfully it isn’t much, and regular grooming will take care of it!

There are two types of Chihuahua coats, the long-haired and short-haired. There is a marked difference between grooming the two. Short-haired pups have been popularized in media such as television and film, cementing their popularity. These are, thankfully, the easier variety to take care of. They shed very little and only need a bath once a week or so. The long-haired puppers are a different matter. You’ll need to brush your friend regularly to avoid tangles. The longer their hair, the more it can get tangled up and that will be very uncomfortable for the dog. The long-haired dogs also need to have their hair trimmed every now and then, especially near their private areas. That will make going to the bathroom much easier for them and keep any extra poop out of their fur, making both you and your furry companion happy.


Long haired blond chihuahua running through a back yard

Chihuahuas are happy to entertain their human friends and prove to be quite simple to train. As with all pups, consistency is important and regular training is a must, but the Chihuahua is eager to please and loves the attention. This breed’s personalities vary more than most, and because of that, some dogs will be more stubborn than others. While they’re easy to train, some pups might push back here and there.

Chihuahuas only need to learn a few keywords, things like “yes” or “okay,” but the most important word to teach them is “no.” This is important because Chihuahuas can be suspicious of strangers, with some pups even barking at visitors to their home. Being able to quiet them down is going to be important and will help your furry friend learn how to behave with a group. Treats and loving praise always scores points with a Chihuahua, and all of that positive reinforcement will make for a happy pup and a more well-behaved friend!

A word of warning! Housebreaking a Chihuahua can be a challenge, and anyone wanting to add one of these tiny furballs to their family will need to be patient. These dogs also hate the cold and the rain so putting them out during this kind of weather will be difficult. Some Chihuahuas are trained to use an indoor litter box, and because of their high intelligence and easy learning ability, this is a smart option.


Three short-haired chihuahuas sitting on a fur rug with matching purple knit sweaters

These tiny bundles of fun are great for families with children, but it’s important to keep an eye out while they play. Small children might not understand how much heavier they are compared to the Chihuahua and the pup might get hurt. Aside from that, this breed is friendly with its family and will happily participate in most activities.

Because of the way they bond and love their humans, the Chihuahua also makes a great companion to single people as well! They’re small and easy to handle, which makes them excellent friends to the elderly or housebound as well.

Live in an apartment and want a dog suited to that lifestyle? You’re in luck, the Chihuahua is an excellent apartment dog! Low-maintenance grooming and their teeny size are all good for that environment, and once through the difficulty of housebreaking them, the dogs are great for an apartment!


Long-haired multicolored chihuahua looking into the camera

Chihuahuas are live long lives, anywhere between 12 and 20 years when taken care of properly! There are some things you can do to help them stay happy and comfy throughout all of that time. These teeny pups may be adorable, but being the smallest dog breed in the world does create some health concerns to be aware of.

The Chihuahua is more likely to get hurt than it is to get sick, and this comes with a coupling of their size and their fearlessness. Tiny pups accidentally getting stepped on, jumping from too high of a position, or even aggressively getting into a scrap with another dog are all things to watch out for because the pup can be injured easily.

A major problem to be aware of is a dental disease, caused by their small mouths. Their teeth are crooked and set at odd angles, allowing tartar to build as quickly as you can brush it out of there. Tiny mouths make it difficult to maintain good dental hygiene. 

These pups are also prone to liver shunts. Livers are part of the digestive system, used for filtering toxins out of the bloodstream during digestion. A liver shunt causes food to skip this process and the toxins will build up in the dog. This needs to be fixed surgically and it is a very difficult procedure.

Because of their large eyes, the Chihuahua is also prone to eye scratches and corneal ulcers. There isn’t much that can prevent this; all you can do is be on the lookout for these problems and get them to the veterinarian as soon as you can when you notice them.

Fun Facts

The Chihuahua is a fierce pup, compensating for its tiny size with a bold attitude and a dangerous bite. In 2014 the town of Maryvale, Arizona was even terrorized by a pack of these dogs! There were between 10 and 15 of them roaming the streets, chasing children on bikes and frightening neighborhoods. One young girl even went to the hospital after being swarmed by the pack!

Bold, playful, and loving, the Chihuahua is a fun pet for those that want a smaller pup in the house. Love them, train them, and make regular veterinarian visits, and you’ll be rewarded with a friend for years!

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clint westbrook author at sitstay.com

Clint Westbrook 
A lifelong writer and lover of dogs! Clint can be found at either running around with his furry friends like skittles in his picture or at his computer writing everything and anything about dogs.

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