AKC Toy Group
The world’s tiniest dog is named after the Mexican state of Chihuahua, where they were discovered by travelers in 1850. They are far more ancient than that, however, probably dating back to pre-Columbian Indian nations, and as such may be the oldest breed native to North America. They were popularized by Xavier Cuvat, and are a constant favorite companion breed.
The Chihuahua is a tiny dog with an apple-shaped head and moderately short, slightly pointed muzzle. This breed has round, large, very dark eyes, sometimes a dark ruby or luminous color. The trademark large ears should be held erect. Puppies have a soft spot or “molera” on top of the skull; bone usually (but not always) closes the gap by adulthood. The back is level, and the legs are strong and set squarely. The body is cobby (stout) and longer than tall, and the tail is sickle shaped, carried either up, out, or over the back. Besides the common shorthaired variety there is also a less common longhaired type. Colors include fawn, sand, chestnut, silver, and steel blues, but any color is acceptable, including black and tan, spotted, and brindle. The dog is more robust than he looks, with a level back and legs coming down straight and square.
- Height: 6 to 9 in.
- Size: Very small
- Weight: 2 to 6 lbs.
- Availability: Very popular
- Talents: Watchdog, competitive obedience
May snap at teasing children; after all, because he is too tiny to get away, the Chihuahua must resort to his sharp teeth in self-defense. Hates the cold and may shiver; will tolerate and even appreciate a warm sweater on cooler days. Can be noisy. Needs exercise—don’t think that because he’s small he should be confined to a small space. May require patience to housebreak; many owners simply paper-train this breed. His prominent eyes are susceptible to corneal dryness and secondary glaucoma. Be on the alert for slipped stifle, gum problems, and hydrocephalus; take care to protect dogs with moleras from being hit in the soft spot. Don’t let him lick or eat toxic products, fertilizer, or chocolate, because even a small amount can be deadly! The tiniest Chihuahuas may not thrive, especially as puppies, and are not as good a choice for new Chihuahua owners as larger ones. Feed lightly, as he is prone to weight gain. Chihuahua puppies are born with large heads, frequently necessitating Caesarean deliveries by a skilled veterinarian. Be sure to socialize this breed as a pup to avoid excessive aggressiveness with other dogs. (Chihuahuas generally recognize their own breed, but sometimes disapprove of other breeds.)
Good companion dog, bold and saucy. Swift moving to avoid being stepped on. Strong-willed and intensely loyal. Gives and demands affection. Intelligent. Fiercely protective of his person and his turf. Responds enthusiastically to proper, gentle (positive reinforcement) training. Usually welcomes the company of another dog.
- Children: Not recommended for children
- Friendliness: Moderately protective
- Trainability: Slightly difficult to train
- Independence: Needs people a lot
- Dominance: Low
- Other Pets: Good with other pets if raised with them from puppyhood
- Combativeness: Tends to be fairly dog-aggressive
- Noise: Likes to bark
- Indoors: Fairly active indoors
- Owner: Good for novice owners
- Grooming: Very little grooming needed
- Trimming and Stripping: No trimming or stripping needed
- Coat: Short or long coat
- Shedding: Average shedder
- Exercise: Little exercise needed
- Jogging: A poor jogging companion
- Apartments: Good for apartment living
- Outdoor Space: Does all right without a yard
- Climate: Does well in most climates; does not like cold
- Longevity: Long (15 or more years)