Chihuahua

Canis Lupus

Last updated: March 6, 2022
Verified by: AZ Animals Staff
Image Credit Arthur Lookyanov/Shutterstock.com

They are so small that they can fit inside of a purse or bag.

Chihuahua Scientific Classification

Kingdom
Animalia
Phylum
Chordata
Class
Mammalia
Order
Carnivora
Family
Canidae
Genus
Canis
Scientific Name
Canis Lupus

Read our Complete Guide to Classification of Animals.

Chihuahua Conservation Status

Chihuahua Locations

Chihuahua Locations

Chihuahua Facts

Fun Fact
They are so small that they can fit inside of a purse or bag.
Diet
Omnivore
Common Name
Chihuahua
Slogan
Curious and devoted personality!
Group
South

Chihuahua Physical Characteristics

Skin Type
Hair
Lifespan
18 years
Weight
2.7kg (6lbs)

Chihuahua as a Pet:

General Health
Energy Level
Shedability
Trainability
Intelligence
Tendency to Chew
Size
Family and kid friendliness
Yappiness / Barking
Moderate
Separation Anxiety
High
Preferred Temperature
Warm climate
Exercise Needs
Low
Friendly With Other Dogs
Moderate
Pure bred cost to own
At least $500 from a professional breeder
Dog group
Toy
Male weight
1-6 lbs
Female weight
1-6 lbs

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The Chihuahua is a popular breed that has captured the hearts of millions of owners around the world with its big, charismatic personality and playful behavior.

Evidence suggests that this breed descended from the ancient Techichi, which dates back all the way to the 9th century in Mexico. It was so popular at the time that it permeated many aspects of Mesoamerican culture in paintings and artifacts. After the conquest of the Aztecs, the Techichi retreated back to Mexico’s countryside. When it was rediscovered by the wider world in the 19th century, the breed had undergone significant change. In fact, the modern Chihuahua is largely Eurasian in origin. It is now a national symbol of Mexico.

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The Chihuahua has a distinctive and unmistakable appearance: a rounded apple head, big bulging eyes, erect ears, and a small body and frame. There are generally two variations of the Chihuahua: the long hair and smooth coat. Both types actually have smooth fur around the body. The main difference is that the long hair Chihuahua has fringed ears, a fan-like tail, and feathering around the legs. The smooth coat has shorter hair around most of its body, but despite the name, part of the fur around the neck is actually rough to the touch. The white, tan, brown, or black coat come in almost any pattern or variation you can think of.

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3 Pros and Cons of Owning a Chihuahua

Pros!Cons!
Charismatic and friendly
The Chihuahua has a big personality that expresses itself in many different ways.
Sensitive and fragile
The Chihuahua requires a firm but light touch.
Alert
The dog’s rather goofy personality conceals its alert and attentive demeanor.
Dental problems
This breed requires specific attention to the teeth.
A good low-maintenance companion
This breed is happy to just chill out with its owner.
Suspicious of strangers
This breed may not get along well with everyone it meets.

Chihuahua Size and Weight

The Chihuahua is one of the smallest dog breeds in the world. They are so small that they can fit inside of a purse or bag. Some dogs measuring less than 6 inches are sometimes called teacup Chihuahuas. This name is given because they can fit inside of a teacup. The teacup Chihuahua is not a unique breed or variation, but just a very small individual. There is also minimal difference in the size between the male and female dogs.

Height (Male)Up to 8 inches
Height (Female)Up to 8 inches
Weight (Male)Up to 6 pounds
Weight (Female)Up to 6 pounds

Chihuahua Common Health Issues

Despite the small size and apple head, the Chihuahua is actually a healthy breed with a long lifespan of some 14 to 16 years, but there are some serious health problems you should be aware of. These include heart diseases, eye conditions, epilepsy, low blood sugar, hydrocephalus (caused by the accumulation of fluids in the brain), and patellar luxation (in which the kneecap actually moves out of its normal location). Another potential problem is open fontanel in which the puppies’ soft spot on the top of the head doesn’t properly close, making it very vulnerable to accidents. Many of these health conditions are genetic in origin and can be minimized with a reputable breeder who screens for them. Cancer is also something you should look out for, especially in the dog’s old age. To sum up the most common health problems:



  • Heart Diseases
  • Eye Conditions
  • Cancer
  • Low Blood Sugar
  • Patellar Luxation

Chihuahua Temperament

The Chihuahua possesses a friendly and loyal personality that wants to please its owner, with whom it forms a very strong bond. Although feisty for its size, this breed exhibits rather goofy and playful behavior. One of its more appealing traits is its adaptability. It can easily relax and chill out with its owner, or it can enjoy some playtime and exercise. And for owners who want to train their dogs, the Chihuahua is actually quite diligent and receptive to commands. For all of its outgoing behavior around friends and family, though, this breed can be rather wary of strangers. It takes some time to really earn this breed’s trust. That is why the Chihuahua actually makes for a decent guard dog, despite its small size.

How to Take Care of a Chihuahua

The Chihuahua requires some special care due to its unusual physiology and behavior. The teeth in particular are an area of high concern and may require special attention from the vet. You will also want to socialize the puppy as early as possible to make it less wary of people. As always, you should plan for annual checkups at the vet to catch early health problems as soon as they arise.

Health and Entertainment for your Chihuahua

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The Best Dog Food for Chihuahuas

The Chihuahua’s recommended diet is no more than a half cup of high-quality dry food every single day based on its size, age, and activity level. Dogs susceptible to low blood sugar should eat a hearty meal ninety minutes before exercising to stay balanced.

You can also give it intermittent treats as part of a positive training regime. If the dog begins to gain weight, then you may want to cut back on the calories. The vet can help you find an appropriate diet regime for your dog. Legumes in dog food may lead to heart failure, so talk to your vet about legume-free dog food that may reduce your Chihuahua’s heart disease concerns.

A-Z Animals says that the best dog food for Chihuahuas is Royal Canin Breed Health Nutrition Chihuahua Adult Dry Dog Food. Have a look at our list of the best food for Chihuahuas here.

You and your Chihuahua both know your companion is basically royalty, so it’s perfect that Royal Canin makes dog food just for Chihuahuas and their particular health needs. There are no worrisome legumes, just a chicken, oat, and rice base brimming with taurine for the eyes, vitamins, and antioxidants. The glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate contribute to joint mobility, even as Chihuahuas age.

Pick up Royal Canin Breed Specific Nutrition Chihuahua food on amazon today.

Overall Best
Royal Canin Breed Health Nutrition Chihuahua Adult Dry Dog Food
  • Formulated to meet the nutritional needs of purebred Chihuahuas
  • Features an exclusive kibble that is easy for Chihuahuas to pick up and chew
  • Support your pup’s skin and coat health with omega-3 EPA and DHA and biotin
  • Highly palatable
Check Chewy Check Amazon

Chihuahua Maintenance and Grooming

The Chihuahua is a fairly light shedder (but not enough to be hypoallergenic). The frequency of grooming care depends on the length of its coat. The smooth coat Chihuahua requires infrequent brushes perhaps not every week but enough to any tangles or mats. The long hair requires more frequent brushes about once a week or so. Regular baths, nail trimmings, and ear cleaning are also necessary to keep both types of dogs healthy. But like many smaller breeds, dental care is by far the most important grooming need. You should brush the dog’s teeth at least two or three times a week, and for best results, it should be daily. The vet may also recommend specialized treats to keep the teeth clean.

Chihuahua Training

Despite its rather charismatic and silly reputation, the Chihuahua is a smart and alert dog that wants nothing more than to please its owner. Because of its sensitive nature, you should take a firm but gentle approach with this breed. The dog may try to goof off, but don’t let it get away with unacceptable behavior. Positive training works remarkably well to set boundaries. It is even possible to teach this breed an array of different tricks and sports, as long as it’s done within reason.

Chihuahua Exercise

The Chihuahua is usually satisfied with a low to medium amount of exercise per day. Toys or playtime in small indoor or outdoor spaces should be enough to cover its needs. Daily walks of around 30 minutes are always recommended to burn off excess energy and maintain a good weight, but don’t push the dog too hard. Its small frame isn’t quite built for heavy exercise. If the dog begins panting hard, then it may be a sign to stop. It is also a good idea to prepare your dog for extreme weather situations. Due to its shorter coat, the Chihuahua handles the cold particularly poorly.

Chihuahua Puppies

Because of the Chihuahua’s reserved nature around strangers, it is a good idea to buy your dog as a puppy so you can develop a strong relationship as soon as possible. For best results, make sure puppies have plenty of exposure to different people and situations early on in its life. An early trip to the vet is also necessary to screen for any signs of health problems and get it up to date on vaccinations.

Chihuahua puppy

Arthur Lookyanov/Shutterstock.com

Chihuahuas and Children

The Chihuahua is friendly with children, but due to its small size and fragile nature, you need to pay special attention to the way your children approach and handle this breed. You should always teach your children to be very gentle and kind toward the Chihuahua. It is a good idea to never leave this breed alone with your children for long periods of time. Some experts may recommend that a Chihuahua should not be introduced into a house with children younger than eight.

Dogs Similar to the Chihuahua

If you enjoy the company of small toy dogs, then you should also check out the following breeds:

  • Chinese Crested Dog – The Chinese Crested Dog is a small friendly breed that was bred primarily as a companion for royalty. It comes in two varieties: hairless and powderpuff. Despite the name, the hairless dog still has fur around its face, neck, and feet.
  • Shih Tzu – This Chinese breed has long, elegant fur. Like the Chihuahua, it can stay indoors for most of the day, curled up on its owner’s lap.
  • Boston Terrier – This breed is actually not part of the toy group, but its alert and friendly personality has sometimes been compared to the Chihuahua. It also has a similarly rounded apple head and big eyes.

Famous Chihuahuas

The Chihuahua is a common emblem of pop culture. Here are some of the most famous examples of the breed:

  • The famous Chihuahua that appeared in the Taco Bell commercials was a female named Gidget (who lived 1994 to 2009).
  • A Chihuahua named Moonie (1998 to 2016) starred in the two Legally Blonde films alongside Reese Witherspoon. He actually lived with Gidget for a time.
  • Paris Hilton owned a Chihuahua named Tinkerbelle, which appeared alongside her in the reality show “The Simple Life.”

According to the website Rover.com, these are the 10 most popular names for the Chihuahua:

  • Bella
  • Coco
  • Lola
  • Daisy
  • Peanut
  • Luna
  • Chloe
  • Lucy
  • Max
  • Charlie

Last update on 2022-06-28 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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Chihuahua FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) 

How long do Chihuahuas live?

The lifespan for the Chihuahua is some 14 to 16 years. With a bit of luck and good health, this breed may have a lifespan up to 20 years, which is excellent for a dog.

Are Chihuahuas good pets?

That depends on what types of dogs you’re looking for. If you want a small companion who will follow you almost everywhere, then the Chihuahua may be right for you. Among many of its qualities, this breed is alert, sensitive, charismatic, and playful.

What problems do Chihuahuas have?

Chihuahuas are rather fragile dogs (due to their small size). They have serious dental problems that require regular attention. And they can be rather standoffish and reserved around strangers. But all of these problems can be mitigated or overcome with a diligent owner who knows how to handle this breed.

Are boy or girl Chihuahuas better?

The choice of sex comes down to personal preference. If you are worried about dominant behavior, aggression, and other undesirable traits, then you should choose to have your dog neutered or spayed. The choice becomes a little more complex when adding a second dog to your home, however. Males are more likely to become aggressive with other male dogs or chase females around the house. Again, neutering the dog may serve to minimize some of this behavior.

How big do Chihuahuas get?

The Chihuahua rarely grows larger than 6 pounds and 8 inches high. This makes it one of the smallest pure breeds of dogs in the world.

Are Chihuahuas herbivores, carnivores, or omnivores?

Chihuahuas are Omnivores, meaning they eat both plants and other animals.

What Kingdom do Chihuahuas belong to?

Chihuahuas belong to the Kingdom Animalia.

What class do Chihuahuas belong to?

Chihuahuas belong to the class Mammalia.

What phylum to Chihuahuas belong to?

Chihuahuas belong to the phylum Chordata.

What family do Chihuahuas belong to?

Chihuahuas belong to the family Canidae.

What order do Chihuahuas belong to?

Chihuahuas belong to the order Carnivora.

What genus do Chihuahuas belong to?

Chihuahuas belong to the genus Canis.

What type of covering do Chihuahuas have?

Chihuahuas are covered in Hair.

What is an interesting fact about Chihuahuas?

Chihuahuas have a curious and devoted personality!

What is the scientific name for the Chihuahua?

The scientific name for the Chihuahua is Canis Lupus.

Sources
  1. American Kennel Club, Available here: https://www.akc.org/dog-breeds/chihuahua/
  2. Brittanica, Available here: https://www.britannica.com/animal/Chihuahua-dog
  3. Rover, Available here: https://www.rover.com/blog/best-chihuahua-names/

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