21 Things You Did Not Know About Chihuahuas

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Chihuahuas have become one of the most popular breeds today. They’re little, cute and don’t shed too much, which makes them ideal for families with allergy issues. Here are 21 things you didn’t know about Chihuahuas:

1. Long-haired vs. short-haired

Unlike many other breeds, Chihuahuas can be either long-haired or short-haired or even a mix between the both, so you have a wide range to choose from depending on what you prefer. Long-haired and short-haired, or, alternatively, long-coated and short-coated, are two main types of Chihuahuas.

Usually, when you think of Chihuahuas, you think of those little short-haired fellows. In fact, short-haired is just one kind of Chihuahua. These dogs can have beautiful, long hair just like, say, Pomeranians or Japanese Chins. Their coat is usually shiny and smooth and they are a pleasure to pet.

Of course, short-haired Chihuahuas may be more low-maintenance since they need less grooming.  If you want your dog’s coat to look nice, you will have to invest at least some effort in it – wash it and comb it every now and then. Long-haired Chihuahuas come in many different coat colors, from white through beige to tan and brown.

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2. The “Teacup” myth

There are plenty of breeds that come in teacup sizes and many people think that “teacup” Chihuahuas is one of the most popular. However, there is no such thing as a “teacup” Chihuahua; the smallest ones are actually the runts of the litter.

The “teacup everything” craze has been going on for some time. Teacup animals are tiny and adorable and extremely popular, especially among kids. Sometimes, however, people mistake small animals for “teacup” animals. This happens with Chihuahuas too. There are no actual “teacup” Chihuahuas. In order for an animal to be classified as a “teacup,” it would have to be a product of genetic manipulation within a breed.

When it comes to Chihuahuas, those that are usually mistaken for “teacup” are actually the smallest ones of the litter. Most breeders avoid breeding “teacup” dogs because those animals are more prone to diseases and have a shorter life span.

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3.  Not great with kids

As with any toy breed dog, it’s not recommended to have them in your home with small children as they don’t realize how fragile they really are. This doesn’t mean that Chihuahuas and kids can’t coexist happily. It’s just that if you have children and you want to get a Chihuahua, arm yourself with patience and be ready for a lot of careful training.

Only if your Chihuahua is well-trained and absolutely obedient, it will be a good housemate for your children. This is not just because Chihuahuas are small and frail. It’s also because they can be a bit snappy or downright aggressive.

Children don’t always understand they can pinch, punch or squeeze little dogs, and if they do it to a Chihuahua, it will get defensive and may hurt them. So, if you are not able or willing to invest some time and patience into training your dog, then Chihuahua is not the best choice for your family.

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4. They hate the cold

Chihuahuas are very sensitive to the cold regardless if they’re long-haired or short-haired. You might know that Chihuahuas need a sweater to wear in cold weather, but did you also know that their little feet are extra delicate?

For cold climates or wet ground, Chihuahuas’ feet can get frostbite if left out for too long, so be sure to take short walks during winter. You know how sometimes Chihuahuas seem neurotic because they shiver and tremble a lot? Well, that’s not because of some psychological reason – they are most likely just cold!

Even if you don’t feel the cold, a Chihuahua does, because these dogs are way more sensitive. When the temperature is around 35-40 F, putting a sweater or a coat on your Chihuahua is a must. And if the temperatures are lower than that, it’s better to stay inside altogether, especially if it’s windy, snowy or rainy.

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5. Shaking is normal

Most people would think that something is wrong with their dog if they’re shaking. Chihuahuas will shake if they’re cold, excited, extremely happy or unhappy, and scared, so it’s a very normal characteristic of theirs. It can be a bit perplexing to see a tiny dog shaking like he has some sort of fit and some people get scared and want to call the vet or get some kind of help.

However, shaking or trembling is a perfectly normal thing for a Chihuahua. It is a way to show their emotions, like other dogs do with barking, growling or wagging their tail. A Chihuahua does all that, of course, and shaking is like their signature thing.

By shaking, a Chihuahua is not necessarily trying to communicate something – it is an involuntary action, just something their body does under certain circumstances. While shivering and shaking can be caused by a lot of emotions and stimuli, the most common is because they are cold.

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6. Weak knees

Since their joints are so tiny, Chihuahuas can develop knee problems further on in their life. A trip to the vet will let you know the condition of their knees and let you know how to deal with the situation.

Knee problems are the most common health issue for these tiny dogs. This doesn’t come as much of a surprise, considering how small and frail their little legs and joints are. Health issues regarding knees are particularly frequent in older dogs, which means that they require extra care and attention.

One of the signs your Chihuahua has a knee problem is if he or she holds one of the legs up, especially back legs. If you notice this in your dog, make sure to take him to the vet as soon as possible, to get some advice and care and try to prevent a bigger problem from emerging.

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7. Smallest dog breed

Chihuahuas are officially the smallest breed of dog that exists today. We are certain that you have seen some big Chihuahuas and some small other dog breeds, but canine experts have agreed on one thing, they are the smallest dog breed in general.

Of course, there are dogs that are smaller than a regular Chihuahua – puppies, of course, as well as the “teacup” varieties of other breeds. On the other hand, there are also Chihuahuas that are obese or have grown quite big for their breed, for whatever reason. These dogs are considered “outside the norm.” But if we are talking about regular Chihuahuas, those that fit the size and weight norms for the breed, they are definitely the world’s smallest dog breed.

In fact, the current record holder in the category of the world’s smallest dogs, according to the Guinness Book of Records, is Milly, a Chihuahua from Puerto Rico.

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8. Named after a state

The Chihuahua is named after the state of Chihuahua in Mexico. Chihuahua, officially the Free and Sovereign State of Chihuahua, is one of the 31 states which, with the Federal District, comprise the 32 Federal Entities of Mexico. Now guess the name of its capital? Of course, the answer is Chihuahua.

It is believed that the breed itself originated in Mexico. It seems that the ancestor of today’s Chihuahua dogs was a companion dog named Techichi, very popular among the Toltecs. The earliest evidence of their existence is from the 9th century AD. The Techichi were small, but not as small as the modern-day Chihuahuas.

Some experts believe that the tiny frame of today’s Chihuahuas is the result of cross-breeding between Techichi and a small, hairless dog brought to the Americas from Asia. The earliest traces of the present-day Chihuahuas were found in the Mexican state of Chihuahua, which is how the breed got its name.

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9. Genetic anomalies

Chihuahuas are prone to some genetic anomalies and often require expert medical attention relatively early on in their lives. Genetic anomalies are most likely to be neurological, so it’s no wonder that a lot of Chihuahuas suffer from epilepsy.

Seizures and epilepsy in Chihuahuas can sometimes go unnoticed for a while, since shivering and shaking, which are some of the symptoms of seizures, are not uncommon for these dogs. Chihuahua owners should pay extra attention to their dogs and their behavior so that anything outside their normal behavior can be reported to a vet.

Another genetic condition typical for Chihuahuas is called patellar luxation. It can affect all dogs, but Chihuahuas are particularly prone to it. It involves the dog’s kneecaps, which can slip out of their place. When this happens, the dog is unable to flex the knee normally and put the foot on the ground. Taking extra care of the dog is the recommended treatment in most cases, except in the very severe ones, where a surgical procedure may be required.

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10. Uncertain origins

There are many theories that explain how this breed came to be, but the prevailing one says that the Chihuahua originated from the Fennec Fox, a very small animal with big eyes and ears. The runner-up theory claims that they descended from the Techichi, a companion dog favored by the Toltec civilization in Mexico.

The Fennec Fox is a strange little creature. This tiny desert creature, considered to be the world’s smallest canine, shares many historical and zoological similarities with the Chihuahua. In fact, the Fennec is so different from other kinds of foxes that it constitutes a separate genus – Fennecuszerda.

Some of the early photographs of Chihuahuas show that this breed was in past much more similar to the Fennec fox than it is today, especially by looking at the feet with finger-like toes. The other theory claims that Chihuahuas descended from the Toltecs’ favorite dog, Techichi, which was cross-bred with some kind of Asian hairless dog.

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11. Den dwellers

As you might have noticed, Chihuahuas just love dens! They will make a small fort, out of pillows or whatever they find in their vicinity, and curl up in it because this is the place that they feel most safe in. It is really not surprising that Chihuahuas love warm, safe and closed environments.

Just imagine if you were as small as a regular Chihuahua is – you’d have to watch out for feet, for children running around and wanting to grab you, not to mention larger dogs or even cats! Also, Chihuahuas are very sensitive to low temperatures and are often cold.

Combine that with their small size and add the fact that they are easily scared and you get an animal that just prefers curling up underneath some sheets, behind the cushions or inside a small fort. So if you want to keep your Chihuahua happy, just make sure he has a warm, cozy place to hide and take a break.

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12. Extremely loyal

Chihuahuas are extremely loyal to only one person, usually their owner. They fiercely defend the owner from any perceived danger, usually with their loud barking, surprising everyone around them with their energy and vocal strength.

Because they are so small and fun, people generally think that Chihuahuas must be the friendliest creatures on Earth. This is not exactly true. A Chihuahua is an amazing companion and a great friend, but usually to just one person. This breed chooses one person right from the start and makes that person their whole world.

If you have a family, your Chihuahua will love everyone in it, but it will love you, his one true owner, just a little bit more. Strangers and outsiders – beware! Chihuahuas are tiny but they are fierce, loud and courageous, and if they sense you’re about to hurt someone they love, they will not hesitate to attack, or at least to try to attack.

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13. Chihuahuas are independent

They are very “clannish” and usually do not like to play with other dog breeds and prefer the company of other Chihuahuas. Their loyalty is believed to be behind this trait.

Sometimes a Chihuahua won’t play or socialize even with his own kind. But it rarely happens that a Chihuahua becomes good friends with a dog from another breed. This is something to bear in mind when considering getting a Chihuahua and bringing it into an environment where another dog already lives.

Chihuahuas don’t seem to be aware of their own size and if they get upset they will start a fight even with a dog four times their size. However, if other dogs let them be, they will most likely just mind their own business. Just don’t arrange any play dates with other dog breeds, or you’ll end up disappointed. If you want your Chihuahua to have a buddy or even a mate, it is better to stick with other Chihuahuas.

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14. They are the oldest dog breed in North America

Despite what you may think, the Chihuahua is not a breed created by combining two randomly chosen breeds. Just take a look at their ancestors, the Techichi dogs. The origins of the Techichi dogs go as far back as ninth-century Mexico, and there are many similarities between the two breeds.

Although many of the details concerning the Techichi dogs are lost due to the fact that the breed is very old, it is believed that the original small native dog was widespread over North and South America, from bottom to top. The epicenter was most probably the territory now known as Northern Mexico, from San Diego to El Paso.

Many things are left to speculation, but some experts agree that when European explorers came, they eventually bred their own dogs with Techichis – thus beginning the long and intriguing process of the creation of the modern Chihuahua.

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15. They were ranked the 22nd most popular dog in the U.S. in 2013

Chihuahuas have always been popular, and many a pooch can be found throughout the planet in women’s bags, arms, laps, and cars. In 2013, a survey was conducted across the US, and it turned out that the Chihuahua was the 22nd most popular dog breed. They received just a couple of hundred votes less than Shetland Sheepdogs.

So, what exactly makes the Chihuahua so popular? They are a cute breed, there’s no doubt about that. They are friendly and amicable, but some believe that pop culture has boosted their popularity. Back in 2006 when Paris Hilton was, unfortunately, still somewhat relevant, you could often see her carrying her Chihuahua everywhere, which increased the popularity of the breed. They were the 11th most popular dog in the States at the time. When Paris’ popularity diminished, the popularity of the Chihuahua dropped as well.

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16. Chihuahuas live much longer than other breeds

Even though some people believe that small breeds live much shorter than the larger ones, you’d be surprised how long you’ll have your Chihuahua if you happen to obtain one. The size of the breed definitely impacts their lifespan, but not always in ways we’d expect – the Chihuahua is the smallest breed in the world and has a relatively long lifespan while a Great Dane, being a huge dog, has one of the shortest.

If you take good care of your Chihuahua, they will live to be around 16-17 years and there have even been examples of these pooches living up to 20 years. In fact, the oldest Chihuahua on record is Megabyte, who was blessed with the opportunity to spend 20 years and 265 days on Earth, which is incredibly long for such a small dog. How they managed to take such good care of him for so long remains a mystery, seeing as the details about his life are scarce.

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17. They were depicted in art throughout history

An ancestor of the Chihuahua appeared in art in Mexico’s Colima region from as early as 200 B.C. As travel writer Susan Dearing explains, Mayans and other Mesoamerican people often buried their dead with mummified dogs or images of dogs resembling Chihuahuas, seeing as they believed that dogs acted as guides and helped people travel safely into the afterlife. Jumping forward a couple of centuries, we learn that Chihuahuas were also an important aspect of people’s lives as well as deaths during the Renaissance.

There is a fresco done by the famous artist Botticelli entitled “Scenes from the Life of Moses,” which was completed in Rome’s Sistine Chapel in 1482. Upon closer inspection, you get to see a small dog, very similar to the Chihuahua, curled up in a little boy’s loving arms. From the 15th century on, Chihuahua-like dogs found their way to paintings from all over the world by artists like Pietro Longhi, Sir Edward Landseer, Charles Van den Eycken, and others.

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18. You shouldn’t poke their heads

Chihuahuas are characteristic because they have a soft spot on their heads called the “molera,” just like human babies.

Unlike human babies, however, Chihuahuas may end up having this spot for their entire life – whether or not they keep it depends on their size, skeletal structure, and genetics. If you’re planning on taking your Chihuahua to dog shows and your pooch has a visible molera, don’t worry, they aren’t penalized for having them.

In times past, the molera was widely regarded as a mark of purity in Chihuahuas, and it is still a notable aspect in most Chihuahua breed standards throughout the world. Their moleras vary in size and shape, and they usually occur on the top of the head where the parietal and frontal bones come together. They are fairly easy to find and see, but there’s no need for worry because your pooch is perfectly fine with the molera.

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19. They are believed to be healing dogs

There are many people who believe that Chihuahuas have healing powers, including the unique ability to cure asthma in children by absorbing the disease into themselves. This may be related to the beliefs associated with the Techichi dogs. The Aztecs believed that the Techichi dogs would not only act as guides through the afterlife but also absorb a person’s sins beforehand.

Whether or not they escorted fallen Aztecs into the afterlife and absorbed their sins, we don’t know, but their fabled ability to “transfer” something from a person to themselves still remains relevant to this day; some people openly believe that the Chihuahua has the power to cure health issues. Asthma subsides as children age, and Chihuahuas often live up to 15 years – this is probably one of the reasons the “cure” is attributed to the dog.

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20. Don’t mess with an angry Chihuahua

There’s no way you have been the target of an angry Chihuahua and managed to keep all your fingers intact. They may be small, but these tiny packages of fur, paws, and teeth are chock-full of personality.

They are generally bred to weigh less than 6 pounds, but every ounce counts – Chihuahuas have absolutely no problem with standing up to larger dogs. There was a video that went viral some time ago, where a Chihuahua made a Great Dane retreat into his owner’s lap. That’s exactly what we’re talking about.

They are bred to be companions for humans, and they take their job very seriously – they are highly protective, very jealous and will guard you 24/7 with their yappy barks. They thrive on human attention, so don’t be surprised if they pick one member of your family to love and completely ignore the rest.

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21. Despite popular opinion, they aren’t smart at all

If you were to take a look at a book entitled “Stanley Coran’s Intelligence of Dogs,” you would learn that Chihuahuas rank a lowly 67, just ahead of the Lhasa Apso and the Bullmastiff. This puts them in the category of “Fair Working Intelligence,” which means that they require between 40 and 80 repetitions in order to learn new commands. They obey their first command 30% of the time, which isn’t that impressive when compared to some other breeds.

People might think that Chihuahuas are intelligent because of their giant heads, but this is not the case. Just for comparison sake, let’s take a look at the Border Collie, which ranks first on Stanley’s scale – they require 5 repetitions to learn a new command and they obey first commands 95% of the time (some even go higher than that, but this is an approximate average). Don’t worry, though, your Chihuahua is still smarter than Bulldogs and Chow Chows!

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