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Ten things you need to know about Chihuahuas before you buy one
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Ten things you need to know about Chihuahuas before you buy one

Dogs
Health & Safety

The Chihuahua is the world’s smallest dog breed, and even knowing this, the petite size of such dogs often comes as a surprise to people who see one in the flesh for the first time.

This dainty, delicate size and undeniable cute-appeal helps to ensure that Chihuahuas are in great demand as pets in the UK, and they’re also a breed that is owned by a lot of popular celebrities who share images of their dogs in the media, which helps to raise their profile and increase their appeal.

However, as is sadly often the case with popular dog breeds that are petite and cute, many Chihuahua buyers don’t undertake as much research into the breed as they should before committing to a purchase, and often, soon find out that they have bitten off more than they can chew, or are unprepared for the realities of Chihuahua ownership.

Before you buy a dog of any type, you should do your homework and give yourself plenty of time to digest the information that you learn in order to make the right decision.

This article is not intended to replace the level of detailed research you need to undertake to make an informed choice about buying a Chihuahua, but it will give you some pointers on the most important things you need to be aware of and find out more about before you reach a decision.

Read on to learn ten things you need to know about Chihuahuas – before you buy one.

Chihuahuas are very popular in the UK

First up, Chihuahuas are really popular in the UK, and so you should have no problems finding a dog of the breed offered for sale. They’re actually the second most popular dog breed in the UK overall based on Pets4Homes advert numbers from 2018, with a total of 11,741 individual adverts for dogs and litters of the breed offered for sale here during that period.

This also means that spotting and meeting Chihuahuas in your local area shouldn’t be too much of a challenge, and chatting to their owners can help you to gain important insights into the breed before you buy one.

They’re incredibly small!

The Chihuahua is obviously a very small dog, with an average height of 15-25cm and weight up to 2.7kg.

This small size also means that the dog is quite delicate, and also has other implications, such as how fast you will be able to walk and allow your dog to keep up with you, and of course, avoiding harming your dog accidentally.

Chihuahuas also need a very exact balance of food and exercise to maintain a healthy weight, and regular mealtimes to support their little metabolisms.

Keeping a Chihuahua safe and enabling a natural lifestyle can be a balancing act

Chihuahua owner have to find the right balance between enabling their dog to lead a natural lifestyle and keeping their dogs safe. A Chihuahua needs to be able to play and socialise with other dogs like any other breed, but they may not be able to play with larger dogs due to the risks involved in rowdy play for such a small, delicate breed.

Wrapping a Chihuahua in cotton wool and never allowing them to do anything that might be risky is a poor approach to dog ownership, but this breed does require vigilance and support from their owners in order to protect them and avoid accidental harm.

Chihuahuas come in two distinct head shape variants

The large, domed Chihuahua head that most of us associate with the breed is known as an apple head, but there is another variant too – called a deer head. This is a more moderate shape with a longer muzzle, which is preferred by some Chihuahua owners.

However, deer headed Chihuahuas are much less common, and so may be harder to find one offered for sale.

Some Chihuahuas have a soft spot on their skulls

Many – but not all – Chihuahuas are born with a molera or fontanelle, which is a soft, open spot on the dog’s skull that is present from birth. In many such dogs, the molera or fontanelle will close up as the dog gets older, but for those that do not, special care must be taken to protect the dog’s head from knocks or injury, as it makes them rather more vulnerable to damage.

So-called teacup Chihuahuas are best avoided

Even though Chihuahuas are undeniably small, some breeders actively work to produce ever-smaller variants of dogs of the breed, which are often marketed as miniature or “teacup” Chihuahuas.

However, whilst such a tiny dog is obviously very cute, teacup Chihuahuas are often bred from runts or are runts themselves, and may not be the most robust of dogs to begin with. Find out more here.

Chihuahuas are one of the most commonly surrendered pedigree dog breeds

Chihuahuas are in great demand all over the UK, but they are also one of the pedigree dog breeds that are most commonly surrendered to rehoming shelters too. Understandably, any given person’s reasons for surrendering their dog can be highly variable, but when it comes to Chihuahuas, a lot of dogs of the breed that are rehomed later on were initially purchased by buyers who rushed into things without thinking about the amount of care any dog needs.

Training and management issues are another common issue, and like any dog, a poorly trained Chihuahua can soon become a little terror!

They need to be trained and treated like a dog, not a toy

One of the main reasons behind the high rate of abandonment of Chihuahuas is that impulse buyers don’t think of them as dogs, but as pets or babies. This means that they are often carried everywhere, fed lots of treats, not socialised with other dogs and people, and left untrained.

This can lead to dominance issues and even dogs of the breed becoming snappy and aggressive, which owners then don’t know how to correct.

Chihuahuas need to be treated as dogs, and allowed to live a normal dog life – with walks, training, an appropriate diet, and clear rules and boundaries in place in their lives.

There are a number of potential Chihuahua health issues

Chihuahuas tend to be healthy and fairly hardy despite their small size, but their small size does make them a little more prone to injury. There are also a number of hereditary health issues that can be found within the breed as a whole, which all prospective Chihuahua buyers should research in detail before committing to a purchase.

Chihuahuas can be appealing targets for thieves

Finally, Chihuahuas are petite, portable, and in great demand among puppy buyers – which makes them an appealing and sometimes easy target for thieves.

Always ensure that your dog is microchipped and has ID prominently displayed on their collar, and don’t leave your dog unsupervised in the garden, car, or tied up at the shops. Always be speculative if a stranger offers to hold or watch your dog on your behalf, and take additional steps as necessary to secure your home and protect your dog.

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