Time to read: 8 mins
Life expectancy: 12 – 20 years
Height: 15 – 25 cm
Weight: 1.5 – 3 kg
Chihuahuas were initially bred to be companion dogs and not much has changed. They are very affectionate towards their owners. They constantly want to be near their loved ones and be held by them. They love their owners but can be very protective over them.
Your Chihuahua might be small in size but that does not stop them from trying to rule the roost. You might find they bully the other pets in the house. Chihuahuas are often found running around wearing warm clothes, this is because their little bodies get very cold. You can use a blanket, heated pad or jumper to keep them warm.
What to consider when owning a Chihuahua
They are very smart but can be very stubborn. They can be very needy when you are home and might suffer from separation anxiety when they are left alone. Chihuahuas are infamous for barking; this is something to be aware of before bringing one into your home. While they are loving towards their owners they are, on the other hand, not known for being good around children. Children require animals that are patient and Chihuahuas can have short tempers. Chihuahuas need a lot of social interaction to get them used to being around other dogs and people. A good way for a Chihuahua to socialise is by taking them to obedience training. The sooner they start training, the sooner they will cement good habits.
Where possible, it would be best to adopt rather than shopping, however if that’s the intention then Chihuahua puppies can cost anywhere from £800 and upwards depending on their lineage.
On top of the purchase price you’ll also need to consider initial costs of things such as vaccinations and neutering, as well as ongoing costs of food and preventative healthcare. Some of these extra charges include:
You can get both a long and smooth haired Chihuahua. The maintenance of smooth haired is a lot easier than that of the longer haired variety. This is mostly due to the fact that long hair can get matted and tends to shed more. Regular grooming is still required to get rid of any excess dirt and hair, no matter the type of coat.
Chihuahuas do not need as much exercise as larger dogs but they do still require at least half an hour of exercise a day. If you have the time, it is recommended to split these walks into two shorter walks. This gives them more opportunity to socialise while spending less time exposed to the elements, especially during the colder months.
Chihuahua health concerns
In common with other breeds, Chihuahuas can be born with rare genetic heart defects that may not be apparent at birth. Some of these can include:
1.Birth defect (congenital) disorders of the heart
PDA (Patent ductus arteriosus) or ‘hole in the heart’. This can be diagnosed by your vet hearing a heart murmur during routine check-ups. Surgery is needed to prevent heart failure.
PSS (Porto-systemic shunt) is when part of the circulatory system doesn’t develop normally, affecting the liver, digestion and normal growth. Puppies can fail to thrive, although sometimes this condition is only picked up at 1-2 years old. An affected puppy or dog may not want to eat, could vomit regularly, have fits or collapse. Surgery can correct the problem successfully.
Heart disease can also be acquired, meaning it develops during a dog’s lifespan rather than being present at birth. Chihuahuas typically develop problems with the valves of their heart, so that blood can’t flow normally through the heart. This prohibits the heart from pumping blood normally around the body. If this persists then the dog will eventually go into heart failure. Any Chihuahua that struggles to exercise as much as they used to, faints, has difficulty breathing or develops a continuous cough, should see a vet as soon as possible. Once diagnosed, they will likely need medication for the rest of their life.
Epilepsy causes seizures (fits) and will lead to poor quality of life if left untreated. The good news is that seizures can often be managed successfully. An epileptic dog may show behavioural changes for days, hours or minutes before a seizure. These changes can include episodes of vague staring into space, pacing, circling and scratching at the air before having the seizure itself. A Chihuahua having a seizure will typically be lying on their side, paddling, sometimes foaming at the mouth. If you see your Chihuahua displaying any of these signs, you should contact your vet immediately.
Chiari malformation and Syringomyelia (CM/SM) is an extremely serious and painful condition where fluid-filled areas develop within the spinal cord near the brain. Often the first sign of this is your dog appearing to scratch at the air next to their ear. This may progress into circling, constant scratching, crying and seizures. Medication, surgery or even euthanasia may be needed. It is most commonly associated with dogs bred for particularly rounded skulls that may be smaller than the brain. This problem can also occur in Cavalier King Charles Spaniels and other domed or round-headed breeds. There is a British Veterinary Association/Kennel Club screening programme in place for this.
3. Mouth and dental problems
Like other toy breeds, Chihuahuas have small mouths and sometimes their deciduous (puppy) teeth get overtaken by the adult teeth coming through and the smaller teeth don’t fall out the way they naturally ought to. This is known as retained deciduous teeth. This can lead to pain and difficulty eating and it may need treatment by the vet.
The adult teeth in a Chihuahua’s small mouth can also be overcrowded, creating optimum conditions for other problems such as inflamed gums. This is caused by a build-up of food, plaque and minerals along the gum line that combine to form a hard brown deposit called tartar. Tartar undermines the gum and causes gum disease (gingivitis), leading to pain and tooth loss. With time, pockets form around the teeth where bacteria can grow and cause periodontal disease. This isn’t just a problem for the mouth though – these bacteria can spread around the body causing organ damage. It can even go so far as causing a fatal infection of the heart (pericarditis). Luckily, regular lifelong tooth brushing with descaling treatments (if needed) can help to avoid this.
4. Breathing problems
Small breeds like Chihuahuas are prone to tracheal collapse, where the sturdy cartilage rings that keep the airway open and allow free movement of the breath collapse and obstruct the airway. This produces a honking kind of cough and may cause the dog to give up on exercise earlier than they previously did. It can be life-threatening in severe cases, and surgery may be required to correct the problem. Using a harness rather than a neck lead can help to prevent this developing in some dogs.
5. Bone problems
If the ligament holding the kneecap in place is not in normal alignment it can cause the kneecap to snap in and out of place (luxating patella). Dogs may sometimes ‘leave out’ one of their back legs when walking or running or they might not use that leg at all. Some dogs find this painful. It can also put a strain on other parts of the knee which can cause arthritis. Surgery can help to correct the problem. Maintaining a healthy body weight and using food supplements for joint health can help.
If you have any concerns about your dog’s health do not hesitate to get in touch with our Careline. They will be able to answer any questions that you may have.
Pet insurance for Chihuahuas
Like most pure-bred dogs, Chihuahuas have their accompanying health issues. You never know what might happen as they get older. Find out how we can cover your pet from accidents as well as illnesses they may suffer from.
It’s normally best to insure your dogs from a young age, before any conditions become an issue. Insuring your Chihuahua from when they are a puppy tends to be cheaper. Although you can get insurance for older dogs too.
See how we can help you by getting a quote today.