Chihuahuas are a tiny breed with a large personality! This tiny toy breed is the national symbol of Mexico, as they’re one of the oldest breeds in the Americas and have a lineage that goes back centuries. These dogs usually stand 5-9 inches tall and only weigh 2-6 pounds. Their faces are often quite expressive, with erect ears and full eyes; their coats can come in many colors, patterns, and length. And while chihuahuas are small and seem like great pets for families with kids, they don’t do well with roughhousing and can be too small for some of the gentlest games. But with the right training, they can be great companions!
The breed’s name comes from the Mexican state of Chihuahua, as some of the earlier specimens of the breed were found in the state. The exact history of the breed isn’t entirely known but it is known that the Toltec civilization lived in parts of what is now Mexico over a thousand years ago and had a dog breed known as the Techichi. The Techichi was a larger, heavier ancestor of the Chihuahua breed but were refined into smaller and lighter dogs when the Aztecs conquered the Toltecs in the 12th century.
Small Dog Syndrome: the assumption that small dogs are yappy/loud, snappy, bossy, and unaware of their own size. This syndrome and the accompanying assumptions mean that small dogs can often get away with things medium and large dogs can’t (ie barking, jumping, and growling).
These dogs would make great watchdogs, as they’re quite fond of their people/home and suspicious of any threat, real or imagined. With their people. they can actually be quite affectionate and loving! Plus, they tend to bond deeply with one or two people. While they can be a bit yappy and noisy, chihuahuas can be trained like any breed and can have great manners. Training of any kind, including housetraining, may be difficult and will take time but patience and consistency are key to helping these dogs. Their size makes it easy to baby them but like any breed, they can learn!
- Ask an Expert: Small Dog Syndrome. Training Advice for Aggressive Small Dogs by Colleen Safford, Modern Dog
With consistent training and an owner who is the clear pack leader, chihuahuas can have a wonderful, affectionate temperament. They can often be lively, courageous, and adventurous; plus, they can also be quite graceful and alert. Many might believe that small dogs don’t need that much exercise, walks with chihuahuas and other small breeds can provide exercise, mental stimulation, and enrichment. Too many treats and not enough exercise can cause problems for chihuahuas so it’s important to make sure they don’t eat too much and get daily walks. Additionally, chihuahuas with long coats will need regular brushing with a soft bristle brush while those with short coats only need the occasional brushing.
Chihuahuas would make great apartment dogs, as they’re small and prefer to live indoors, but they do need space like any dog. And because of their size and origin, they do tend to enjoy warm weather and hate the cold. But the good news is that there are plenty of places that sell sweater and jackets for dogs of all sizes if you live in a colder environment!