The chihuahua or chiwawa is one of the so-called toy dog breeds from Mexico, and it is among the smallest regular breeds of dog that exist today. Despite this, these dogs have a temperament more reminiscent of that of a terrier, with a strong instinct to guard their owners and possessions, as well as to go hunting if possible. Chihuahuas, which are sometimes known as “chis” by affectionate owners and breeders, do require careful handling and are not really suitable for young children because of their fragile bodies. However, they are spirited and quick-witted, and their compact frames and bright-eyed alertness allow them to make swift movements.
Considering how small they are, chihuahuas can have a remarkably large personality, as well as exhibiting a lot of variety from one dog to another in terms of coat colors and types. If they are well trained, they are perfectly capable of competing successfully in obedience and agility competitions at dog shows. They also make surprisingly capable watchdogs, despite their small size. As long as they are carefully groomed and kept away from dangers, chihuahuas make excellent pets. They are very loyal and affectionate to their owners and families, and the amount of exercise they need is relatively small.
According to the breed standards which are now widely accepted by breeders and owners, the best chihuahuas are those which have a length a little greater than their width, with front legs being about half their overall height. A good dog will have a straight, strongly-defined back line, with not much tuck-up in the loin. The shape of the rib cage should give the dog a heart-shaped appearance if considered in cross-section from behind. As far as the front of the chest is concerned, the healthiest chihuahuas will have a very slightly curved line from the main part of the body to where it joins the front legs.
Although there are quite a few different chihuahua body types, those which are most widely accepted by breeders and showers tend to fall into two broad categories – the “deer” and “cobby” types. Of these two, the deer type is generally considered to be the more elegant, with a fairly light body structure and rather long legs. Single-coated dogs are preferred if you have a deer-type chihuahua. On the other hand, the cobby type is usually found in the double-coated animals, and has a rather larger head. The general impression given if you glance at the two types together is that the cobby version is more compact. This is the more popular type today.
There are two basic types of chihuahua coat, the short coat and the long coat. Each of these can be further sub-divided into single and double coated varieties. Which one your dog has will have a major bearing on how much it sheds its coat. It’s true to say that the small size of the breed means that shedding is unlikely to be a really major problem, but even so it is always best to be prepared for these things. Unfortunately, it is quite often stated by sellers that chihuahuas hardly shed their coat at all, a claim which is not really true. You don’t want to find that out too late!
Generally speaking, double-coated dogs shed more than their single-coated equivalents. The long-coated variety also sheds more than the single-coated version. You can see from this information that a double-coated, long-coated chihuahua is going to be shedding the most hair. If you have this type of dog, then you’ll need to be ready to spend a good deal of time with the comb and brush, as well as giving your dog a blow-dry every time it has a bath. At the other end of the spectrum, a single-coated short-coat has a much smoother, sleeker appearance, and will shed the least hair of any chihuahua variety. Hairless dogs are not allowed, but a sparse, smooth coat is acceptable.
Chihuahuas have a similar temperament to various types of terriers. They are well known for their spirited natures, as well as for boldness out of proportion to their body size. They can come across as a little on the self-important side, but that is simply the flip side of their attractive confidence and their self-reliant attitude. Intelligence is considered one of the chihuahua’s most desirable characteristics, and this aspect has been recognized for a long time by most breeders. The times have happily largely gone when these dogs were discriminated against by show judges simply because of their smallness.
Although they have a good deal of confidence, chihuahuas are not excessively impulsive dogs. They are willing to make friends fairly easily, but only after they have had the opportunity to take stock of their surroundings. Young puppies can come across as rather nervous, but this is generally simply because they are still getting used to the world around them. As soon as they realize that they are in a safe environment, they will become more relaxed as long as they don’t feel threatened or under pressure. It is usually a bad idea to pick up a chihuahua unless the dog knows you very well, as they do not like this.
Chihuahuas are generally a home-loving breed of dog, but that doesn’t mean that they will stay clean, any more than any other breed! These dogs should be bathed properly at least once a month, perhaps more of they are in the habit of exploring dirty places like the back yard. Their long hair is a bit of a magnet for dirt, so this will need to be combed carefully, and the same applies to the hair on their backs. A combination of a soft cloth, comb, and soft brush will be the most effective in getting your dog to look its best. You should pay particular attention to the dog’s ears, since these can be quite badly affected by dirt. Finally, make sure that you trim a chihuahua’s claws on a regular basis – these grow much faster than the claws on many other breeds of dog.
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