Characteristics of the Chihuahua
Chihuahuas are social animals that prefer associating with veritable bands of dogs.
Barbara J. Andrews
On one such occasion, the flashlight illuminated huge gold eyes in the rolling expanse just before a wooded copse. Standing on the bedroom balcony, my husband Bill fired a shot skyward. The eyes blinked and the Chihuahuas barked one last“so there!” and that was that.
On another moonless night, the ChiChis alerted us although the other dogs were quietly snoozing. Puzzled, Bill checked from inside the house and, seeing and hearing nothing, was about to return to bed when he heard a metallic clink and saw tail lights in the equipment yard. Sure enough, one of our plumbers was quietly picking up a jetter machine for an emergency call. When he started the truck to pull out, the big dogs roused and barked ferociously, but by then the Chihuahuas were quiet. They had done their job and when they knew that Bill was aware of the “problem,” they returned to their sleep.
Chihuahuas are blessed with a strong immune system, overall hardiness and very few genetic defects. They are also less afflicted by the effects of bantamization than are other toy breeds. Perhaps because they have been tiny for so long? Who knows?
Small dogs have a higher metabolism and are therefore more affected by extreme heat or cold, yet the Chihuahua is remarkably unperturbed by either. For example, our dog family is comprised of three Akitas, six Mini-Bull Terriers and four Chihuahuas. This provides a unique opportunity to observe large Arctic-coated and small short-coated dogs in exactly the same environment, a situation that is often good for a laugh.
When the sun is blazing, the ChiChis are basking, the Mini-Bulls alternate between sun and shade and the Akitas are decidedly unhappy even though shaded by the roof. Invite them to play and the ChiChis fly around like little bullets, the Mini-Bulls go happily spronging after them and the Akitas refuse to move.
When it’s snowing and blowing, the ChiChis are contentedly snuggled in bed, the Minis are shivering and the Akitas are smiling. No surprise! But again, invite them for a romp in the yard and the Chihuahuas and Akitas are thrilled to come out and play, while the Mini-Bulls are polite for only about ten minutes before they sneak back to bed.
The point is that despite their size and in direct contradiction to our tendency to spoil them, the Chihuahua is the most adaptable breed we have ever owned! Rain or shine, hot or cold, their thermostat works perfectly. This should come as no surprise, for the desert is fiercely hot during the day but temperatures can plummet to below freezing at night.
A note of caution: Common sense must prevail. Left to his own good judgment, the little dog won’t go sledding in a blizzard or beach-hopping in the mid-day sun. If we tempt them into foolhardy activities contrary to their instincts, then we should dry and warm the wet dog or cool down the overheated dog.
All our dogs are fed exactly alike, although proportionately. The Chihuahuas receive a bit more people food such as peas, green beans and fruit. They prefer a more varied diet and we indulge them because they are omnivorous gourmets, displaying a decided attraction to fresh foods over canned or dry. A properly reared Chihuahua will eat anything that is natural, wholesome and nutritious as opposed to some breeds that will select a scoop of ice cream over raw chicken or a cricket!
He rarely shivers from fear or cold but will tremble if nervous or excited. You will soon come to know what triggers the response. If he is uneasy in a strange situation, don’t praise him. “It’s OK, darling, mommy loves you” sounds like praise. It’s best to laugh to reassure him there is nothing to be concerned about. If his safety is actually jeopardized, pick him up but try to maintain a casual attitude, not one of “Oh dear, let mommy protect the baby,” which would only reinforce his fear.
And the Chihuahua should be fearless, i.e., terrier-like. Sometimes you wish he had a little better judgment, such as when he takes a high dive from the sofa before he’s grown enough to handle the landing or when he flies in the face of a large aggressive dog. Lend him a little of your common sense. Don’t put him on the couch and walk away when he’s a puppy. Never let him go at a large dog. It could be fatal.
When held in your arms, he can be very aggressive toward other people. OK, so it is cute— after all, he’s protecting you, the love of his life, but be careful that your “No” doesn’t sound like “OK, how cute!” when you correct such unacceptable behavior.
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