Tiny and ferocious, the chihuahua is the smallest breed and is popular among small dog owners. We decided to share what makes this little dog so special and what they need to live happy, healthy lives.
Muy caliente! Chihuahuas are a Mexican breed that were originally bred as companions and rodent hunters by the Aztec people. Chihuahuas started making their way north in the 1880’s and were finally recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1904.
Many chihuahua owners would describe their dogs as sweet and attention seeking companions. However, when you’re an animal that only weighs 3-6 pounds, the world can be a scary place and they are often reserved with strangers. This is why these canines have gained a reputation as sassy little beasts! Chihuahuas generally benefit from an owner who is knowledgeable and encourages socialization. They are energetic dogs and are also surprisingly agile. This means that they can do really well in canine sports!
These saucy little canines have one of the longest lifespans of any breed, however they are prone to a few problems. Dental problems are common in this breed. Since their teeth are so small, it can be difficult to maintain a chihuahua’s dental care. This often results in multiple trips to the doggy dentist.
Hypoglycemia can be another concern with these little dogs. A drop in blood sugar can result in nervous system problems. Making sure that they are being fed appropriately, can greatly help reduce the incidence of a hypoglycemic event.
Chihuahuas are predisposed to other health problems that are common among toy breeds, including tracheal collapse and chronic valvular disease. These diseases can be severe but can be prevented and managed by keeping a chihuahua in healthy body condition
Luxating patella is a relatively common health problem in this breed, where there is abnormal alignment of the bones and joints in the leg. This is a painful condition and is most often characterised by hopping or limping and many need surgery to correct.
Lastly, hydrocephalus is a disease where there is an accumulation of fluid in the brain. Chihuahuas are prone to this disease because they have a larger soft spot on the top of their head than most other breeds. Dogs with this disease can become very sick and even die. To treat the disease, corticosteroids and diuretics are used to help reduce the production of cerebrospinal fluid. In severe cases, surgery may be needed.
In order to reduce the chances of these diseases, it is important for potential chihuahua owners to look for responsible breeders, who conduct the appropriate health checks on their animals.
Chihuahuas can live for 14-18 years and may require changes in nutrition throughout their lifetime. Overall, chihuahuas require similar nutrition to any other dog breed. However, their diet should be adjusted according to their health status.
First and foremost, chihuahuas can be picky eaters. This does not mean that owners should feed them table scraps though! Trying different types of food and letting the dog choose which one it likes is often the solution. Nutrients like fat and protein are the factors that most greatly influence palatability. A diet higher in protein will often be more desirable to a diva dog. Alternatively, rather than leaving food out in a bowl all day, keeping a consistent feeding schedule will also help encourage dogs to eat.
If owners wish to feed their chihuahuas kibble, choosing a kibble that has small particle size may help the chihuahuas chew their food. Fresh food is a great option for chihuahuas as well. It is highly palatable and provides them with whole foods that are highly digestible. Since fresh food is highly digestible, it also helps to prevent hypoglycemia. Fresh food and canned/wet food are also easy for chihuahuas to eat if they have dental problems and/or have had teeth removed.
In chihuahuas that are suffering from luxating patella, the best that owners can do is keep their pets in good body condition. Obesity will greatly aggravate joint conditions and cause more pain. Daily exercise, in combination with a low fat diet can help to keep a chihuahua with a weight problem in check. Furthermore, joint supplements that include glucosamine can also potentially help reduce the pain caused by luxating patella.
Overall, chihuahuas can make great little pets. With the proper nutrition and some love, these sassy little dogs can live long, happy lives.