Frequently Asked Questions About Chihuahuas

1. Are Chihuahuas very expensive?

Prices can vary greatly from region to region. The price usually depends on whether you are looking for a dog to breed, show or to just be a wonderful companion. Naturally a dog meant for breeding or a show quality puppy will cost more than a nice pet. If you plan on breeding or showing your Chihuahua in either conformation or any other AKC recognized event, it is vital that you purchase a Chihuahua that can be registered with the AKC. The registration papers (which the breeder provides) mean that the parents of your Chihuahua are registered with the AKC and that the puppy is also able to be registered with AKC.

This registration can either be a full or limited registration*.

*A limited registration means that even though your Chihuahua is registered, none of his/her offspring can be registered. The dog is also ineligible to compete in conformation shows. It may compete in other events such as: obedience, agility, flyball and many others. It also does not effect his value as a wonderful companion.

Additionally, most reputable breeders will provide you with a complete health record, a pedigree of your dog, and many will use a contract to outline the terms of the sale. Do not be surprised by a contract. READ IT before signing it. Many breeders make a lifetime commitment to their dogs and are only trying to look out for the welfare of the dogs they produce. A contract should state what you can do if you are unable to keep the dog, if it becomes ill in the first weeks, and numerous other important items. Do NOT be scared off by a contract.

Registration papers: These certificates and papers ensure that the dog you are purchasing is a purebred; however, I hasten to add that just because a dog has papers, does not mean it qualifies for exhibitions and competitions. (See AKC Chihuahua Breed Standards) Additionally, papers do not necessarily insure that the breeding Chihuahuas were well cared for or that they are free from genetic defect.

Registration papers are not necessarily important when looking for a good pet, but meeting the breeder and seeing the conditions in which the dog was raised is. You should also expect to see the parents (or at least the mother) of the puppy you are thinking of buying so that you can verify that the parents are sound and of good temperament.

2. What is their average life span?

Toy breeds tend to have a rather long life span, compared to large breeds. Expect a life span of 11-18 years, if the dog is healthy as a puppy, comes from healthy parents, and receives regular veterinary care, a good diet, plenty of exercise and love.

3. How much exercise do they require?

Not much. This little breed has short bursts of energy each day which quickly die down. You should provide toys for your Chihuahua to keep it occupied. Most enjoy stuffed toys with squeakers inside (make sure that they cannot remove or swallow the squeaker). You can certainly take your Chi for walks. (You’ll make many an acquaintance due to the diminutive appearance and outgoing attitude of your Chihuahua!)

When buying a leash for your Chihuahua, remember that its neck is rather small and delicate compared to other dog’s necks. You cannot (and, indeed, should not) yank your dog around by the leash if s/he has a neck collar on. I recommend the body harness for two reasons: safety and comfort. If fitted right, it will give your Chi a secure and comfortable walk, and harnesses also ensure your dog cannot escape — a real concern if you live in an urban area.

4. Do Chihuahuas require special dog food?

No. They have the same nutritional needs as most dogs. There are many good premium quality dog foods on the market.
Chihuahuas prefer several small meals per day, rather than one big meal. We leave a bowl of dry food out for our dogs at all times so that they can eat when they are ready. (This does not work for everyone) If you free-feed you dog, be sure and watch their weight. It is not healthy to overfeed a dog.

5. I’ve heard they’re nervous, high-strung little yappy dogs. Is that true?

Yes, they can be a little high-strung. I define “high-strung” as follows: barks easily, does not adapt easily to change in environment, is suspicious of strangers and will growl at them, and flips in circles and jumps around when excited (like when you come home after a five-minute absence, for instance).

However, with the person that they have bonded with (i.e., their master[s]), they do not display most of these characteristics; in fact, they display radically different personalities. Chihuahuas are truly the “Jekyll-and-Hyde” of the dog breeds: your friends will see the worst side of them and never believe you when you tell them that your Chihuahua is really a gentle, sweet-natured dog.

There is good news, though. If you socialize your Chihuahua at an early age, they will be less stressed when new environments and people are introduced to them in adulthood. Proper socialization is critical, at the earliest age possible. Make sure your Chi has had all necessary vaccinations before going out to meet the world.

6. Are Chihuahuas good with children?

Generally, no. Be careful when walking your Chihuahua to keep your Chihuahua well away from toddlers and young children, who are often uninhibited and will approach your dog. A child falling can be a great danger to a Chihuahua.

Again, this is general good advice; some Chihuahuas are friendly around children. In this case and others, the owner’s knowledge of his or her Chihuahua and good judgment should prevail.

7. I’m allergic to dogs, but I heard Chihuahuas won’t bother me; is that true?

Opinion seems to vary on this point. Some say it’s an old-wives’ tale, while others swear that, although they’re allergic to other dogs, Chihuahuas did not bother them.

The best way for someone who has allergies to find out if they can own a Chihuahua is for them to simply spend some time around one. Some people are allergic to dog hair, while others are allergic to the dander or saliva. Since Chihuahua’s are known to lick the face of their master a lot, you’d best be sure you’re not allergic to the latter before investing in this breed. If a Chihuahua happens to “work” for some allergic individuals, this is great.

8. Is there a differences between the smooth coats and the long coats?

The issue of whether or not there is a difference between the long- and smooth-coated varieties seems to be a topic of debate within the Chihuahua community. Some claim that there is no difference, while others believe there is a great difference.

Once the decision to buy a Chihuahua has been made, one must choose between the long- and smooth-coated varieties. Though there are exceptions, the following observations regarding Chihuahuas have generally proven true through my years of experience. The varieties seem to differ in five respects in particular: temperament, ability to withstand cold temperatures, desire to be a lapdog, shedding, and tendency to ear-problems.
It is my experience and opinion Chihuahua temperament differs with coat variety. Smooth coats are usually a bit more bold; long-coated Chihuahuas, while not shy, are usually a bit more reserved.

Cold temperatures are difficult for smooth Chihuahuas to endure. (This is especially true of smooths that lack undercoat.) A smooth will tolerate a brief trip outside in cold weather for exercise, but it’s wise to put a sweater on it. Conversely, many long-coated Chihuahuas love to romp in the snow. Because of their small size, even a three-inch snow accumulation creates quite an obstacle for our little ones. No Chihuahua can endure being outdoors in cold weather for extended periods. Chihuahuas should be kept warm and dry as much as possible.

Both smooth- and long-coated Chihuahuas are good lapdogs. Smooths enjoy sitting on a lap and enjoy the warmth of a person’s body. Although long coats also enjoy human contact, they are more inclined to sit beside or near a person than on a lap. If they do sit on a lap, they often become so warm that they pant. As a teenager I often sneaked my first Chihuahua into my bedroom. This smooth coat was quite content to be under the covers with me. This is characteristic of smooth coats. Long coats, on the other hand, are more inclined to lay on top of the covers when in bed.

The contrast of how the two varieties shed coat is generally the reverse of what one would imagine. Smooth-coated Chihuahuas shed year-round. Their hairs stick easily into clothing, upholstery, carpets and draperies. Long-coated Chihuahuas tend to shed more seasonally. Their long hairs, once shed, are easier to remove by brushing or vacuuming than the tiny, sharp hairs of smooth coats. The hairs of smoothes seem to embed themselves into the weave of fabrics. I know an English breeder of smooth Chihuahuas whose living-room furniture is upholstered in leather for this reason. Leather is easier to keep hair-free than fabric.

Finally, smooths seem to be much more prone to ear-leather problems. There is a tendency for the outer edges of smooths’ ears to thicken, become oily in appearance, crack, and eventually slough off. This leaves the ear devoid of hair along the edges. Though my veterinarian has never diagnosed the cause of this condition, several breeders feel that a fungus may be responsible. I have seldom, if ever, had this problem with a long-coated Chihuahua. My experience has been that once this condition starts, it runs its course in spite of intervention. The condition is not a huge problem; I’ve had smooths that have had multiple bouts of it with little ill effect. The biggest disadvantage of dealing with it comes when one wishes to show an animal while the condition persists.

Chihuahuas of both varieties make wonderful pets. They are intelligent and usually quite eager to please their owners. Prospective pet purchasers have to assess the differences between the coat varieties before they make a choice, but they should also remember that there are exceptions to every generalization.

— Richard V. Miller, 104 W. Archer Ave., Box 401, LaHarpe, IL 61450
(Taken from the Chihuahua breed column Dec.1998)

9. Are they sociable with other dogs?

Chihuahuas usually have a preference for their own breed rather than other dogs. Although they can live quite happily with other dogs and cats. Chis are very sociable with their own kind. So several Chihuahuas can be quite happy living in the same household. This includes two or more males sharing the same house.

10. Can Chihuahuas be trained?

Yes, they can be trained. The purpose of this FAQ is not to outline or advocate any training method, especially since there are many resources that deal with this topic extensively.

Chihuahuas can be trained for many purposes. Obedience, agility, therapy dog, I even saw one competing in a fly-ball competition. With time and patients there is no end to what you can train your Chihuahua to do.
Are they smart? Yes indeed, they’ve got brains inside those little heads, and they’re anxious to use them. Chihuahuas are some of the brightest around, and more than a few excel in obedience competition. Better still, they love to be the center of attention and so are naturals when it comes to learning tricks.

11. Is my Chihuahua a dog or a mole?

It is a characteristic of the Chihuahua to prefer to sleep under a cloth or blanket. They will even get under pillows in order to feel snug.
If you are raising a pup, be sure to provide them with a soft towel or blanket in their sleeping area so they can burrow underneath it.
So don’t be surprised if your Chihuahua scrambles under your blankets at night, even though your house or apartment may not be particularly cold.

12. Does my Chihuahua expect a suntan?

Chihuahuas are quite the sun-worshipers. They prefer to bask in the sun for hours and have been known to lie in a spot of sun no larger than the size of a half-dollar.
Watch your Chihuahua in hot weather to be sure that they don’t suffer from heat stroke.

13. My Chihuahua’s shivering. Is this because s/he’s cold?

Chihuahuas do shiver when they’re cold, but they also shiver when they are wary, excited, unhappy, or frightened or any other reason they can think of.

14. Is there a Chihuahua Home Page? Other online information?

The Chihuahua Club of America official Web site.

15. Is there someone to contact for Chihuahua Rescue?

Yes. The name and address of The National Chihuahua Breed Rescue Chairperson is:

Sharon Hermosillo
1004 Willow Street
San Jose, CA 95125
Phone #: 408-251-6470.

Another good rescue organisation is: Chihuahua Rescue and Transport. They can always use more volunteers.

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