The Chihuahua holds the distinction of being the world’s smallest dog breed, and it is also the second most popular dog breed in the UK as a whole too. This means that there is a lot of demand for puppies of the breed, as well as a lot of breeders and private dog owners producing litters to serve this demand.
While the Chihuahua breed as a whole tends to be healthy and long lived, the breed and individual dogs within it can and sometimes do still inherit health issues or problems that can affect the dog’s longevity and quality of life. When you buy a puppy, it is impossible to guarantee that it will always be fit and healthy – but by choosing a good quality pup from the get-go that is bred for good health and from healthy parents, you can give yourself the best possible chance of starting your dog off on the right foot.
In this article, we will share some tips and advice on how to choose and buy a healthy Chihuahua puppy. Read on to learn more.
If you’ve already decided that a Chihuahua is the dog for you, it’s time to start researching the breed in detail to find out about their core traits, and establish what you are looking for in your new dog.
Chihuahuas can have either long or short coats, as well as two different head shapes – and understanding the distinction between the two different head shapes and their implications is covered in more detail within this article.
Decide the basics of what you are looking for from your new dog, and work from there.
As mentioned, despite their small size the Chihuahua breed as a whole tends to be healthy, and has a potential lifespan that can reach well into their late teens.
However, there are a number of hereditary health problems and other issues that can arise within the breed, which you should also be aware of. These include:
Many dogs of the breed are also born with a fontanelle – a soft spot on their skulls. This will often close completely as the dog matures, but it can make them more vulnerable to injury whilst it is open, or if it does not fully close when the dog gets older.
Whether or not you wish to buy a registered pedigree Chihuahua that has the appropriate paperwork and is eligible for showing is up to you – but if you are considering buying a Chihuahua that is sold as a pedigree without papers, it is important to find out why this is.
Whilst breeding unregistered Chihuahuas doesn’t always indicate that something is amiss, there could be negative reasons for this too. These may include trying to bypass restrictions on the number of litters a dog can have, breeding from dogs that have faults such as the presence of the potentially harmful merle gene, or breeding dogs that are ineligible for registration, or have received poor results in health tests.
Making a smart choice about the breeder that you choose to buy your new Chihuahua puppy from is really important, to give yourself the best chance of buying a heathy pup.
First of all, read this article on how to avoid buying a dog from a puppy farm, and assess any breeder that you speak to or visit objectively, looking for any indications that something is amiss.
A responsible breeder will care about the health of their dogs and the improvement of their breed lines more than they care about making money – and they will follow all of the appropriate guidelines on how to care for, breed from, and health test their dogs. Choosing a breeder that is registered in the Kennel Club’s Assured Breeder scheme helps to provide a little extra layer of security for the puppy buyer, but again, it is up to you to investigate thoroughly and pick a breeder that you feel comfortable with.
Talk to the breeder you are considering about how they work to improve their breed lines and ensure the health of their parent stock. A responsible breeder will be well informed about all of the main hereditary health problems Chihuahuas can suffer from, and keep records of the health of related dogs a well as carrying out pre-breeding health screening on their own stock where appropriate.
Find out about the health tests that are advised for the breed, and ask the breeder if they undertook them – and ask to see the results.
You can search The Kennel Club’s database of registered pedigree dogs and the health tests they have undergone online, so look up the pup’s close relatives to ascertain the veracity of any claims the breeder makes about health or health tests.
Even if the breeder says they haven’t performed health tests (which may be a warning sign in itself) search the pup’s close relatives anyway, in case you turn up a poor result that the breeder is trying to hide.
Before you commit to a purchase, make sure that you are provided with terms and conditions for the sale, and take the time to properly read and understand them. In particular, look for information on what aftersales support is provided by the breeder, if they will help you with any problems, and what their policy is for returning or caring for pups that become ill or have a health defect that becomes apparent soon after the sale.
Within a couple of days of bringing your new puppy home, book an appointment with your own vet (ideally one who knows the breed well) to get your pup checked out, to confirm their current health and the presence or markers of any potential problems. Ensure that you do this within the window of time provided in the terms and conditions of the sale, if appropriate.