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Facts about the Breed

by Bill Knell

Are you looking for a companion that is an extrovert yet is content to lie quietly in your lap or by your side while you read? A companion that eats little, requires little space and doesn't need to be taken out every day for exercise? Then you may enjoy having a Chihuahua, the smallest recognized breed of dog in the world. Not just small, but ALL NATURAL! The Chihuahua is the only "natural" toy breed, that is, the only small dog NOT bred down from larger versions of the same breed.

Chihuahuas are good watch dogs, as they will sound the alarm. In fact, Chihuahuas are courageous. They aren't intimidated in the least by larger dogs.

The Chihuahua is characterized by a well-rounded head, wide-set luminous eyes, a saucy expression and erect ears, which flare to the sides when in repose. They can have short, soft hair or long, silky hair, and some may be red, blond, blue or chocolate-colored as well as solid, marked or splashed. A unique feature of most Chihuahua puppies is the soft spot on the crown, similar to that of a new born baby.

Origin of the Chihuahua

While there are different theories regarding the origin of the Chihuahua as a breed, it appears to have descended from a small dog called the Techichi. Other dogs said to be related to the Techichi are the Chinese Crested, Mexican Hairless and Xolo breeds. The Techichi were
known to be kept by the Toltec people of Mexico as far back as a thousand years ago. Evidence for this origin is provided by a monastery in Huejotzingo that was built by Franciscan monks with stones taken from the pyramids of Cholula. The stones have ancient carvings on them that closely resemble today's Chihuahua.

Later, the Aztecs defeated the Toltec, and the aristocracy adopted these small dogs, particularly the blue ones, as objects of veneration. The dogs could reputedly guide the spirits of the dead in their journey through the underworld. Montezuma II, the last emperor of the Aztecs, was a fancier of the Chihuahua. It is said that he had hundreds of them, each with its keeper. Skeletons of Chihuahuas have been found in human graves on the Mexico/U.S. border.

Research done by the late Thelma Gray, a historian and an authority on Chihuahuas, lead her to believe that the native dog of the Aztecs was crossed with a small, terrier-type dog brought over by the Spanish conquistadors. Thus, the basis was laid for the even smaller modern-day Chihuahua. First known as Texas or Arizona Dogs because they were found along those borders with Mexico, the Chihuahua received its current name in the mid to late 1800's. American travelers to Mexico discovered large numbers of the breed in the state of Chihuahua and started bringing them back to the United States. About the same time, Carlotta, wife of Emperor Maximilian of Mexico contributed to the Chihuahua's international fame by taking the breed to Europe.

Having a Pet Chihuahua

The Chihuahua is loyal, eager to please and highly trainable. It tends to have fewer health issues than any other toy breed. Chihuahuas are primarily indoor dogs, ideal for apartment living and for the elderly or handicapped or those confined to the home. They thrive on much attention and human contact. Nevertheless, since they are so small, precautions must be taken. They can be seriously injured or killed by being stepped on, sat on or squeezed too hard. They should not be left unattended on high surfaces (table tops, bunk beds, high sofas or chairs, etc). They have little sense of height and could easily jump off and break a bone.

Despite being called a 'toy' dog, the Chihuahua is hardier than you might think. In fact, it is the longest-lived breed! Chihuahuas are known to live a high quality of life well into their teens. Most live to sixteen years of age and some pass twenty. These dogs are energetic and playful, yet they can easily get all the exercise they need each day from just playing with some toys or roaming the house. However, since Chihuahuas do not store much energy and have tiny digestive systems, they need to eat small, frequent meals or may suffer from a low blood sugar attack(hypoglycemia). Dry food should constantly be available for them as well as lots of water.

When it comes to Chihuahuas, you can expect a whole lotta shakin' goin' on! Shivering is a normal characteristic of this breed. Chihuahuas shiver when they are excited, apprehensive, discontented or frightened-not just when its cold. One way to combat this is to be sure that your Chihuahua knows that you will care for it. Chihuahuas are the only breed of dog that tends to prefer the company of humans to that of other dogs. If you spend time with your Chi, take care of it and properly house your dog, it will tend to shake less.

Chihuahuas that are constantly crated or caged during the first twenty weeks of their life will tend to shake more and trust people less. A better way is to keep your Chihuahua confined to an open, social area restricted with a gate. Chihuahuas can be kept in a baby's play pen with food and water on one side and a potty pan with newspaper or wee wee pads on the other. A few favorite toys can also be included. This is a good way to keep your tiny Chihuahua safe at night or when you're out, without making them feel abandoned.

There is no such thing as a "Tea Cup" Chihuahua. Breeders may want to call their "special" little dogs "tea cups" which will grow to be 3 pounds or under fully grown. This is NOT good. These dogs will not form appropriately and will most likely have a myriad of problems. Chihuahuas should optimally be 4-6 pound when fully grown.

Chihuahua females go into their first heat around six to eight months, and go into heat twice a year. Most females do not get pregnant during their first heat. Once pregnant, female Chihuahuas give birth in sixty-five days and most have from one
to five pups. Puppies are ready to leave their mom and littermates by eight weeks. Many are already eating on their own and being pushed out by mom by four or five weeks, but need the additional time to develop social skills with their littermates and to be taught survival skills by mom. Chihuahuas remain puppies for the first two years of their lives.

Chihuahuas are the best kept secret in the world when it comes to being terrific pets. They require very little care and reward their owners with lots of affection and loyalty. An ancient breed, it's easy to see why Kings, Emperors and great
civilizations would treasure these amazing creatures.

Celebrities Discover The Amazing Chihuahua!
By Bill Knell

Some say it started with the Taco Bell dog. A five hundred million dollar ad campaign featured a talking Chihuahua which continually repeated the slogan, “Yo quiero Taco Bell,” which is Spanish for I want Taco Bell.” Then came the Legally Blond films and the unstoppable Bruiser. The topping on the cake was when Paris Hilton appeared on the cover of Seventeen magazine and later tried living The Simple Life on Fox TV with Tinkerbell, her pet Chihuahua. Celebrities have discovered what many pet owners already knew: Chihuahuas are the best dogs to own and care for. In the process, they’ve set off a Chihuahua Craze that is reaching towering proportions.

When most people think of Celebrities and their toy dogs, Yorkshire Terriers, Toy Poodles, Pekinese, Lhasas and Shih Tzus usually come to mind. That’s because famous folks like Audrey Hepburn, Zsa Zsa Gabor and Mia Farrow were regularly photographed with their beloved pets. In Audrey‘s case, it was a Yorkie. In her early days of fame, Mia Farrow was rarely seen out in public without her Lhasa. Zsa Zsa and Eva Gabor loved to walk through the hot spots of Beverly Hills and be photographed with a multitude of Toy Poodles, Pekinese and Shih Tzus. But times have changed!

The always innovative Madonna may have set the standard for change not long ago when she sported her beloved Chihuahua, Chiquita, for a press photo op. Noah Wyle, one of the hot stars of ER, was recently photographed with his Chihuahua while on holiday. Jennifer Lopez has also joined the exclusive club of famous Chihuahua owners. Younger celebrities like Hilary Duff, Paris Hilton, Christina Ricci and Reese Witherspoon have found themselves attracted to these fabulous canines and brought a huge amount of attention to them.

Chihuahuas make great pets because they are very low maintenance, the world’s smallest dogs and longest lived breed. Celebs love the fact that Chihuahuas prefer the company of humans more then they enjoy being with other animals and can easily accompany their owners everywhere. Chihuahuas love to be held or carried around in their very own shoulder bag and that makes them especially attractive to busy celebrities and people who are always on the move.

Unlike most toy dog breeds, the Chihuahua is not a created one. The first widespread mention of Chihuahuas occurred during the mid to late 1800's in weekly or monthly tabloids that specialized in tales of the American West. Highly fictionalized accounts of the small dogs spread by these publications claimed they were actually a mix of rodent and canine or had been magically created by Medicine Men. In reality, Chihuahuas were first noticed along the Arizona-Mexico border by settlers, ranchers and those passing through. This lead to the animals becoming originally-known as Arizona Dogs. Once it began obvious that these cute little dogs were actually coming out of the Chihuahua region of Mexico where they had been discovered in the early 1800's, the regional name stuck.

For the first time ever this past year, Chihuahuas have made the top ten list of most registered or licensed dogs in many areas of the USA. There can be no doubt that part of their popularity comes from the media exposure the breed has received and the fact that big-name celebrities are favoring the breed. But it also has to do with the fact that Chihuahuas are small, very easy to care for and live a long time.

Most Chihuahuas eat dry dog food and feed once every couple of hours or as their hunger moves them. A small, full bowl of dry food and dish of water easily gets them through an entire day. Chihuahuas are known for being healthy, hearty dogs that do well in virtually any situation. They can easily deal with temperatures of forty to ninety degrees Fahrenheit. When it gets a bit too chilly, doggie clothes solve the problem. When it gets too hot, Chihuahuas are always happy to enjoy their owners air conditioning. Most have few health issues and live from fifteen to nineteen years of age, with an average lifespan of sixteen years.

Because celebrities are constantly exposed to new situations and always on the go, they can appreciate the fact that most Chihuahuas tend to attach themselves emotionally to one person or family and rarely bolt if given the opportunity. All Chihuahua owners appreciate the intelligence of the breed. They are very easy to train and adjust well to change. In areas where it’s legal, Chihuahuas walk obediently near their owners without a leash.

As Chihuahuas are featured in more and more films, television shows and become the beloved pets of an ever growing list of the rich and famous,
we should all remember that they are more than just the hot breed of the moment. Chihuahuas are great pets that are very loyal to their owners. If you are planning to adopt a Chihuahua, do so because the breed is attractive to your needs, desires and lifestyle, not because Paris owns one.

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