- Examining your motives for acquiring a Chihuahua
- Caring for a Chihuahua
- Focusing on the Toy breed
- Making a match with a Chihuahua ) that can bring you excitement, new friends, and a sense of purpose. So what’s the problem? The glitch is that dogs purchased to relieve monotony often are ignored when the novelty wears off.
Before buying a Chihuahua, you must decide if you’ll always appreciate your pet or if you just crave some instant entertainment. Still not sure? Ask yourself this: “Am I ready to love a dog for the duration (possibly 15 years for a Chihuahua), or will a cruise to the Caribbean be just as effective for banishing my boredom?”
Chihuahuas are either smooth or long coated. Smooths have short hair that’s soft and shiny (see Figure 1-1). Long coats have (you guessed it) long hair that may be straight or wavy (see Chapter for more).
Doggy Dependents Aren’t Tax Deductible: Chi-Care Duties
Considering the long-term cost
– Quality food (see Chapter )
– Puppy shots, an annual checkup complete with vaccinations, and regular worming (see Part IV)
– Minor surgery to spay or neuter (see Chapter )
– Medication to prevent heartworm
– A crate, grooming equipment, a collar and leash, dog dishes, and a variety of toys and treats (see Chapter )
Placing your Chi in your daily schedule
Some offices allow employees to bring well-behaved pets to work. My Chihuahua spent many hours in the office when I worked for the American Kennel Club (AKC) in New York City. Sure, that’s a special case, but while we walked to work, we saw plenty of other pooches accompanying people carrying briefcases.
Fitting your Chi into your family’s future
Another potential problem is that some breeds (Chihuahuas included) don’t thrive around toddlers. It’s a no-fault, lose-lose situation. Tiny dogs are too delicate for young children, and kids under the ages of 6 or 7 still are geared toward stuffed animals. Imagine how long poor Pepe would last if a toddler tripped over him or swung him by one leg like a stuffed teddy.
Picking up after your Chi
Even though a Chi’s poops are small, they can make a big mess on the bottom of someone’s shoe. Don’t forget to clean up after your dog every time you walk him (see Chapter ). In many places, it’s the law!
Viewing the Chihuahua as a Toy Breed
What’s terrific about Toys
– Toy dogs are small. They fit anywhere — sometimes even in your pocket — and can get enough exercise in a small apartment.
– Toy dogs are cuddly and love human attention. They form extremely strong bonds with their people, and many are content to warm a lap for hours.
Toy breeds on parade
The American Kennel Club (AKC) recognizes more than 150 dog breeds and divides them into 7 groups, depending on the function each breed originally performed. The Chihuahua is a member of the Toy Group — a companion breed to us people. The AKC recognizes the following Toy breeds:
According to AKC statistics, the top three most popular Toy breeds in 2006 were the Yorkshire Terrier, the Shih Tzu, and the Chihuahua. Toy Poodles also are popular, but knowing where they rank is impossible because all three varieties (Standard, Miniature, and Toy) are counted as one.
– Toy dogs are portable. They’re ideal for people who travel a lot and like to take their dogs along with them.– Toy dogs love to show off. Most of them enjoy learning new things from upbeat trainers.– Toy dogs often are welcome where larger breeds are not. For example, some condo associations limit the size of pets.– Toys are real dogs. They’re intelligent and affectionate, with bold, fun-loving temperaments. Many of them make alert watchdogs.
In the lingo of the dog fancier, the Chihuahua is considered a natural dog. That means his coat isn’t trimmed, shaved, stripped, or plucked, and his ears and tail are left the way nature made them — not trimmed or docked (in the style of the Miniature Pinscher, among others). In dog-fancier slang, that makes the Chihuahua a wash-and-wear breed.
Potential problems with portable pets
– When Toy dog owners overdo carrying and cuddling and skimp on the training, their pets become spoiled. And that turns them into tiny tyrants or nervous wimps.
– Toy breeds are social creatures. Developing that typical Toy spirit means they need plenty of social interactions with a variety of people from puppyhood on.
– Toy dogs that are neglected during puppyhood, or that come from inferior stock, may suffer myriad physical and/or mental problems at maturity.
– Some people dislike Toy dogs and may make rude remarks about your Chi when you walk him. If you answer at all, smile and say something like, “Shhh. He thinks he’s a tiger.”
– Toy dogs are real dogs. Like every other breed, they need training and guidance. In other words, if you don’t train your Chi, your Chi will train you.
Digging up the Mexican connection
Chihuahuas are lap warmers, and their purpose is companionship. But in tougher times — before people owned pets for pure pleasure — every creature had to have a function. “Just for fun” didn’t cut it. Historians are still uncertain about the precise origins and uses of the earliest Chihuahuas, but legends about their beginnings abound — a combination of fact and fantasy that makes the dog world’s littlest breed one of its biggest mysteries.
Relics from ancient Mexico include sculptures of small dogs that archeologists discovered while studying the remains of the Mayan, Toltec, and Aztec cultures. Although some of the statues (you can see them at the National Museum in Mexico City) don’t look much like modern Chihuahuas, and little is known about the Mayans, some relics from the Toltecs have aroused researchers’ attention.
The Toltec Indians lived in Mexico during the ninth century, and possibly even earlier. They had a dog called the Techichi, which some historians believe is the ancestor of today’s Chihuahua. Stone carvings of these dogs exist at the Monastery of Huejotzingo (on the highway between Mexico City and Puebla), and they look much more like the modern Chihuahua than the statues that are believed to be Mayan.
Making a Match with a Chihuahua
– Pepe is the perfect pet — for some people. Because he thrives on togetherness, a Chihuahua is the ideal dog for someone who’s home a lot and spends some time sitting. That’s because Chis love to sit beside you, or better yet, on your lap. If you work from a home office, or if some of your favorite things are watching television, reading, or surfing the net, your dog will be in puppy paradise. He’s also an excellent family dog, provided the children are gentle and older than 7. But if you’re on the go all the time and can’t make space in your schedule to accommodate an accomplished lap warmer, this isn’t the breed for you.
– Pepe tires easily. He enjoys a brisk walk around the block when the weather is nice, but if you want a jogging or hiking companion, check out some of the larger breeds. No, a Chihuahua isn’t wimpy when it comes to walking. He just gets tired because he takes several strides to keep up with just one of yours.
– Pepe is an alert watchdog with a bark much bigger than he is. But he isn’t a guard dog or an attack dog, no matter what he thinks.
– Pepe is loyal and loving. He believes in family first and is vigilant and discriminating when you have visitors. Your friends may become his friends after he gets to know them.
– Pepe is easy to groom whether he’s a smooth or a long coat. If you’re looking forward to fussing with hair, many other Toys have thicker, longer coats.
– Pepe is a housedog. He can’t tolerate cold or rainy weather, garages, or drafty basements.
– Pepe is super short. That means you, your family, and your guests must watch where you walk. Don’t worry. It becomes second nature in a day or two. But when you or your children have friends over, you must remind them to be careful.
– Pepe plays games with you (you can find some in Chapter ). He may learn to fetch a ball or chase a small Frisbee, but he won’t be able to handle any rough stuff. If you want a tough dog that plays hard, get a larger pet.
– Pepe probably is a good traveler. Most Chihuahuas adapt well to the open road and love to watch the world go by from the passenger’s seat (especially when a passenger is in the seat). Of course, a crate (see Chapter ) is safer.
– Pepe must be taught manners, the same as any other dog. Little and cute loses its charm real fast when your Chi develops bad habits.
– Pepe is a natural born showoff with a good memory. After he learns a trick or two, he’ll be proud to perform for your friends (if he’s familiar with them).
– Pepe is sensitive. He tries to comfort you when you’re sad and dances for joy when you’re happy. He won’t feel secure in a house full of friction.
– Pepe is delicate. He needs your protection from bigger dogs, even if he doesn’t think so. And not just when he’s on the ground. Big dogs have been known to snatch tiny ones right out of their owners’ arms (yes, that’s rare, but I thought I should warn you).
Do you tend to get physical when you’re angry? If so, it’s best not to have any pet, especially not a Chihuahua. The first hottempered blow a Chihuahua receives will probably be his last.
– Pepe is intelligent and highly trainable. In fact, he’s capable of becoming competitive in active events like agility and obedience (see Chapter ). But don’t expect miracles. He’ll prefer indoor activities to performing on damp grass.