Ay, Chihuahua(s)!

Background

Chihuahuas have appeared in the canine limelight several times in the past decade, with the beloved pooches starring in Disney’s Beverly Hills Chihuahua films. The films’ recurring theme of “We are tiny, but we are mighty” hearkens back to the breed’s origination in ancient times. Although there is a bit of controversy over the exact origin of this breed, most sources agree that Chihuahuas were originally viewed as sacred animals in Mexico and other South American countries. In fact, a Mexican Indian legend says Chihuahuas were once “important religious objects.” According to one source, Chihuahuas’ souls were thought to travel for eternity, bearing their masters’ sins along with them. The breed was officially discovered in Mexico in 1850. Since then, their role in society has shifted from objects of religious reverence to tiny, lovable household companions.

Shapes and Sizes

With both males and females measuring just 5 inches long and weighing 2-4 lbs on average, Chihuahuas are officially the smallest dogs in the world. Their endearingly large ears and “apple-dome-shaped” heads are two of the breed’s most distinctive features. The breed can have either a smooth or long coat, both of which require minimal grooming. Coat colors range from sand white to blue, with multiple combinations.

Chihuahua 3 -- Pumpkin and Charlie
Pumpkin and Charlie, two members of the Animal Medical Center family, pose for a Halloween glamour shot.

Personality Traits

The American Kennel Club describes Chihuahuas as “intelligent, graceful, charming and sassy.” In 2015, Chihuahuas were ranked the 29th most popular dog breed. Although Chihuahuas can be perceived as hyper and do require some daily exercise, their size ultimately makes them best suited as indoor pets.

Health Issues

Chihuahuas typically have minimal health problems. That being said, there is always a possibility that some health issues will arise over a dog’s lifetime. For Chihuahuas, some of the most prevalent issues are dental disease, hypoglycemia (most common in younger dogs) and patellar luxation, which essentially causes the kneecaps to slip out of place. Chihuahuas normally live 14-18 years, which is one of the longest life expectancies for canines.

Chihuahua 2
Two more adorable Animal Medical Center chihuahua pups.

Fun Facts

  • In terms of a brain to body size ratio, the Chihuahua is thought to have one of the largest brains of all dog breeds.
  • Both of the dogs who starred in Beverly Hills Chihuahua — Angel, who played Chloe, and Rusco, who played Papi — were originally rescue dogs.
  • Chihuahuas are named after the Mexican state of Chihuahua, where they are thought to have originated.
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