The Chihuahua’s origins are unclear, but there are two theories of how he came to be. The first is that he descended from a Central or South American dog known as the Techichi. The theory is that small hairless dogs from China were brought to Mexico by Spanish traders and then bred with small native dogs. The shorthaired Chihuahua we know today was discovered in the 1850s in the Mexican state of Chihuahua, from which he took his name. American visitors to Mexico brought the little dogs home with them.
Chihuahuas are very small dogs, and are the smallest breed recognized by some kennel clubs. There are two main varieties recognized by kennel clubs, the short-haired and the long-haired Chihuahuas come in two different coat types: smooth and long. The smooth-coated Chihuahua has a smooth, shiny coat that fits close to the body with a ruff of thick, longer hair on the neck. The hair on the head and ears is thinner, and the tail is furry. The long-coated Chihuahua has a soft coat that’s flat or slightly curly. On the body it’s almost as smooth as that of a smooth-coated Chihuahua, but the ears have a fringe of hair, and the plumed tail spreads out like a fan over the back. He also has a ruff on the neck and longer hair called feathering on his feet. The hind legs are also covered with long hair that resembles pants — and that’s what it’s called. On the stomach is longer hair known as a frill. Besides coming in two coat types, Chihuahuas are found in a range of colors and markings. They can be solid colors such as black, white, fawn, chocolate, gray, and silver as well as tricolor (chocolate, black, or blue with tan and white, for instance), brindle, spotted, merle and a variety of other markings. Shades can be very pale to very dark for all the colors.
The bold and confident Chihuahua is often described as being terrier-like. His alert nature and suspicion of strangers make him an excellent watchdog. He’s sensitive and thrives on affection and companionship. Chihuahuas often bond to a single person, although they’re usually willing to make friends with new people if properly introduced. Expect them to be a little reserved at first, though. Chihuahuas can be timid if they’re not properly socialized as puppies.Like every dog, Chihuahuas need early socialization — exposure to many different people, sights, sounds, and experiences — when they’re young. Socialization helps ensure that your Chihuahua puppy grows up to be a well-rounded dog.
Despite the Chihuahua’s small size, like all dogs he needs exercise and training. The amount of energy an adult Chihuahua has can be surprising. He’ll endlessly chase squirrels in the backyard and is willing to play as long as you are. Chihuahuas enjoy walks, supervised romps around the yard, and retrieving toys. They’ll go until they drop, so it’s important to make sure they don’t tire themselves out, especially on hot days.
The Chihuahua is a wash-and-go dog. Grooming him takes only a few minutes each week. Brush him weekly with a rubber grooming mitt or a brush with short, natural bristles for a shorthaired Chihuahua and a pin brush for a longhaired Chihuahua. A fine-toothed flea comb helps remove loose or dead hair. With regular brushing, a Chihuahua shouldn’t need a bath more than every month or two. Use a shampoo formulated for dogs so you don’t dry out the coat and skin.