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|Country of Origin:||Mexico|
|AKC Group:||Toy Group|
|Life Span:||14 to 18 years|
|Color:||Any color or combination of colors is acceptable.|
|Coat:||Two coat types: Smooth - soft and glossy. Long - flat or wavy coats, ears should be fringed; tail is full and long.|
|Grooming:||Monthly grooming. Brush long coats twice a week. Clean teeth regularly.|
|Size:||Small Dog Breed|
|Height:||No height standards|
|Weight:||3 to 6 pounds|
The Chihuahua is the world's smallest dog, but it makes a spirited pet for any size home. The breed is alert and graceful with a rounded skull and large, flaring ears. Smooth coats are soft and come in any color. The long coat may be flat or slightly curly; with a ruff on the neck and a full, plumed tail. Preferred weight ranges from 2 to 4 pounds. Grooming and exercise needs are easily managed. A weekly brushing and a couple of brief daily walks or playtimes will keep this breed happy. Despite their diminutive size, Chihuahuas are hardy and surprisingly long-lived. The smooth coat needs some protection from the cold in winter if the dog is exercised outdoors. Chihuahuas are excellent watchdogs and are best suited to families with older children who can handle them appropriately.
A Chi for Thee?
Lighthearted quizzes aside, anyone who is considering a Chihuahua must be prepared for both the wonderful and challenging aspects of Chihuahua stewardship. "Chihuahua owners must be ready to give a whole lot of attention to the dog," says Sharon Hermosillo of San Jose, Calif., a breeder and former chairman of the Chihuahua Club of America Rescue.
Balettie insists that such constant companionship is far from a negative aspect of Chihuahua ownership. " Chihuahuas are so small that they don't overwhelm me when they 'pounce' into their favorite seating positions," he says. "The affection Chihuahuas give in return for the attention they demand makes it all worth it." Were you thinking a couple of petting sessions a day would be enough? A Chihuahua isn't for you.
Chihuahuas have a reputation for being clannish and unfriendly toward other dogs and suspicious of strangers. Thanks to good breeding, however, many of the more undesirable characteristics of Chihuahuas are things of the past. "The love and devotion that Chihuahuas express is so contrary to the stereotype that has been propagated over the years of Chihuahuas as 'yappy, little-old-lady dogs,'" says Balettie. "Fortunately, most of the more respectable Chihuahua breeders have bred out the yappy, obnoxious traits, leaving the sweet-tempered, affectionate dog as the standard for the Chihuahua today."
Hermosillo explains that while some lines are more suspicious of strangers, for example, much of a Chihuahua 's personality is dependent on how well the dog is socialized. "People get a Chihuahua and never take it anywhere, then wonder why it doesn't like anyone," says Hermosillo. " Chihuahuas are very social if you work with them."
What about other dogs? "They can be clannish, preferring their own kind -- they really do love other Chihuahuas -- but my daughter had a Chihuahua and a German Shepherd for four years and they were best friends," says Hermosillo. In addition, Chihuahuas almost always enjoy cats. "We have cats, and one of my Chihuahuas just loves the cats. Of course, when my Chihuahuas all get together, they get very brave, then they gang up on the cats. In general, though, one-on-one, Chihuahuas and cats do very well together."
With other pets as well as people, socialization is the answer for improving poor social skills. The more a Chihuahua is exposed to people and animals alike, the more comfortable and agreeable it becomes. Were you planning on acquiring a dog that would love all people and all other animals without any effort on your part? A Chihuahua isn't for you.
Chihuahuas are certainly not outdoor dogs. Some Chihuahuas enjoy a romp in the yard or the park, but they will be more than happy to come back inside and return to the comfort of a cozy couch cushion or, better yet, to snuggle beneath the quilts and pillows on your bed. If you're in bed, too, better still. " Chihuahuas absolutely must live inside, and they prefer to be bed dogs," observes Hermosillo. Have you always dreamed of an outdoorsy dog, patrolling the yard, accompanying you on long hikes and 5-mile runs? A Chihuahua isn't for you.
Notorious burrowers, Chihuahuas like nothing better than to wiggle their way under pillows, couch cushions, even your favorite sweatshirt-while you are wearing it. In fact, Chihuahuas like nothing better than to be with you, by you or on you at all times. Sound annoying? Would you prefer a dog that stays under the kitchen table or by the fireplace? Do you need your space? A Chihuahua isn't for you.
Furthermore, Chihuahuas require what some might call excessive indulgence. Spoiled rotten? That's one way of putting it. But who can resist those perked-up ears and plaintive eyes? Balettie's Chihuahuas demand treats from the Gourmet Dog Bakery and use their human as a comfy perch for watching television. "In the winter, we both benefit from the mutual heat generation," says Balettie. "If I were a pirate, she'd be my parrot." Not interested in catering to the sometimes-eccentric whims of a miniscule dog? A Chihuahua isn't for you.
Perhaps the most important characteristic of the Perfect Chihuahua Owner, beyond a huge capacity for love, is a sense of humor. Chihuahuas can be downright hilarious, and a good Chihuahua owner appreciates and even cherishes the antics of these tiny dogs.
Sometimes Chihuahuas are funny without intending to be. Balettie's Chihuahua, Bambi, has taken her role as watchdog to an extreme degree. "In January, my father and I were watching one of the NFL playoff games when Bambi, who had been sitting next to me in a chair in the den, started staring at my father and growling. Now, you must understand, Bambi does not growl at anyone, she has a very calm disposition. Her growls, though, became louder and more insistent.
"Finally, my father and I both realized that the object of her ire was not my father, but the timber wolf printed on his sweatshirt. From across the room, Bambi had seen this 'other dog' and wasn't happy about its presence. My father covered the wolf on the shirt and Bambi seemed to be satisfied. He uncovered the wolf and Bambi started growling again." Do you get all the humor you need from Seinfeld reruns? A Chihuahua isn't for you.
Is a Chihuahua for you? Only you can decide. Hopefully, these guidelines will help you make that decision before you bring a new little puppy into your home. Don't expect the road to be easy or free of emotion. "An ideal Chihuahua owner needs to have patience with these little dogs because their need to love and be loved is an all-consuming crusade," says Balettie. "The return on the investment, though, is much greater than the time demand."
Still thinking about a big dog? Or is the idea of a Chihuahua starting to grow on you? Be careful. You may just become the Perfect Chihuahua Owner, in spite of yourself.
-More About Chihuahuas-
More dog breed videos from the 2012 AKC/Eukanuba Dog Show >>