FCI GROUP: Companion and Toy Dogs

FAMILY: companion, southern (pariah)

Allowed as pet in Singapore HDB Flat: Yes

Origin: Central Mexico in the 1500s, although some experts think it may have been Malta in the Mediterranean; some suggest China. The breeds that were used to make up the Chihuahua were unclear, it is suggested that ancestry may include the long-coated ‘Techichi’, an ancient Toltec breed, and a hairless breed from Asia. Rediscovered in the state of Chihuahua, Mexico, in the 1850s.

Original Purpose: Companion.

Behaviour and Temperament: Alert, curious, loyal, mischievous, extremely spirited. Chihuahuas can become strong willed and temperamental without proper human leadership.

Breed Characteristics: Graceful, agile. Enjoys and requires a lot of attention. Barky. Great mousers. Great pets for elderly folks.

Physical Features: 15 to 25.5 cm; 1 to 2.5 kg. Generally considered to be the world’s smallest dog. Any colour or markings permitted.

Coat Type and Grooming: Chihuahuas come in Smooth and the less common Longhaired varieties. Grooming for the Smooth is minimal; the Longhaired requires brushing a couple of times a week. Light but constant shedding for the Smooth; Longhaired variety sheds seasonally.

Life Expectancy: 15 to 18 years

Health Concerns: Heart disease (pulmonic stenosis, mitral valve insufficiency), cancer, dental problems (gingivitis), orthopaedic problems (patellar luxation, fractures), cruciate ligament ruptures, hydrocephalus, enteritis, Cushing’s disease, dermatitis. Has a tendency to wheeze and snore due to their small and short muzzles. Many have an incomplete closure (molera) in the skull; this spot is vulnerable to trauma. Take caution around toxic products such as fertilizer or chocolate; this is a tiny breed and it will take just a small dosage to be lethal.

Exercise: Low to moderate. Being small, the Chihuahua also tends to be walked less, as we assume they get enough exercise just running around during the day, plus it is tempting to carry them around. However, a walk provides more than just exercise. It provides mental stimulation and satisfies the primeval instinct to walk. Because of this, small breeds such as the Chihuahua tend to become snappy, yappy, protective and untrustworthy with kids and humans they are not familiar with.

Housing: Ideal for urban areas or apartment life. However, they need space just like any other dog, being small does not mean that they can be kept in small areas. Chihuahuas are not tolerant to cold extremes.

Sociability: Tends to bond to one person. Not suited for homes with kids under the age of 12; good with gentle older children. This breed is generally not recommended for children, not because it is not good with them, but because most people handle the Chihuahua differently than they would a large dog, causing it to become untrustworthy. Because of its size, the Chihuahua tends to be babied and bad behaviours are often overlooked as cute with a small dog. Many are shy with or dislike strangers. Will get along with other Chihuahuas but not good with other breeds; good with cats and other household pets.

Trainability: Variable—medium to high; responds well to firm and positive reinforcement training. Needs extensive early socialisation. Despite their small size, Chihuahuas can become dominant or wilful if not properly trained. Some may be difficult to housebreak.

Activities: Obedience.

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