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Tip of the Month

10/15/2012 Breed Spotlight: Chihuahua

Chihuahua

Chihuahua Breed Spotlight

Characteristics

The Chihuahua or Chi is a toy sized dog and the smallest of all breeds. It is recognized by the AKC as part of the toy breed group. Weights vary from 2 to 6 pounds but they can reach weights of 10 pounds in some cases. Colors can vary greatly from black, white, fawn, and tan. The Chihuahua coat comes in two types. Smooth coats are the typical short hair Chihuahua. Some short-hairs can appear to be bald due to how thin their coat can be. Long coat Chihuahuas have thin but longer hairs throughout the body but tend to shed even less than their short haired counterpart. Both require little to no grooming as far as their coats go. Nails, however, should be trimmed as needed. Chihuahuas provide little to no problems for owners with allergies, making them a popular companion dog.

Chihuahuas As Pets

Lively and loyal, Chihuahuas are great companion dogs. They do well in apartment living and can also thrive in large yards with acres to run on. Socialization from a young age is required. Due to the Chihuahua’s size, they are often treated differently from other dog breeds (small dog syndrome), which can lead to several behavioral problems, such as guarding, snapping, or suspicion of strangers. Also, many Chi owners will allow their dog less daily exercise than that of a larger breed. It is easy to pick them up and carry them throughout daily tasks, taking away from daily interactions and mental stimulation needed for a canine of any size. It also takes away from important leadership exercises that should be practiced every day between the owner and dog.

Chihuahua Training Tips

The best training tip would be to treat your Chihuahua like you would any large dog. Do not baby them due to their size. Many Chihuahuas can grow to be very demanding and overly assertive. Establish yourself as a strong leader. Coddling the Chihuahua, offering free attention and treats can often force the Chihuahua into the leadership role. They tend to be very strong willed so it is important to strengthen your relationship on a daily basis. Everyday leadership exercises can include making sure to not give anything away for free. If your Chi is to get your positive attention or a food reward it should be earned by following basic commands. Also, since they are such a small breed it can be easy to allow them on furniture whenever they choose. This can encourage behavioral problems such as guarding.

Socialization is also required from a young age. Chihuahuas can be very suspicious of new people or animals so it is important to begin exposing them to everyday situations once they have the appropriate vaccinations. Long walks, play dates, and enrolling in a dog training or obedience class will help with socialization.

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