Q1: What is the AKC Standard for Chihuahuas?

The Official Breed Standard as described by the Chihuahua Club of America, Parent Club of the American Kennel Club is:

Chihuahua Breed Standard

General Appearance
A graceful, alert, swift-moving little dog with saucy expression, compact, and with terrier-like qualities of temperament.

Size, Proportion, Substance
Weight - A well balanced little dog not to exceed 6 pounds. Proportion - The body is off-square; hence, slightly longer when measured from point of shoulder to point of buttocks, than height at the withers. Somewhat shorter bodies are preferred in males. Disqualification - Any dog over 6 pounds in weight.

Head
A well rounded "apple dome" skull, with or without molera. Expression - Saucy. Eyes - Full, but not protruding, balanced, set well apart-luminous dark or luminous ruby. (Light eyes in blond or white-colored dogs permissible.) Ears - Large, erect type ears, held more upright when alert, but flaring to the sides at a 45 degree angle when in repose, giving breadth between the ears. Muzzle - Moderately short, slightly pointed. Cheeks and jaws lean. Nose - Self-colored in blond types, or black. In moles, blues, and chocolates, they are self-colored. In blond types, pink nose permissible. Bite - Level or scissors. Overshot or undershot bite, or any distortion of the bite or jaw, should be penalized as a serious fault. Disqualifications - Broken down or cropped ears.

Neck, Topline, Body
Neck - Slightly arched, gracefully sloping into lean shoulders. Topline - Level. Body - Ribs rounded and well sprung (but not too much "barrel-shaped"). Tail - Moderately long, carried sickle either up or out, or in a loop over the back, with tip just touching the back. (Never tucked between legs.) Disqualifications - Cropped tail, bobtail.

Forequarters
Shoulders - Lean, sloping into a slightly broadening support above straight forelegs that set well under, giving a free play at the elbows. Shoulders should be well up, giving balance and soundness, sloping into a level back. (Never down or low.) This gives a chestiness, and strength of forequarters, yet not of the "Bulldog" chest. Feet - A small, dainty foot with toes well split up but not spread, pads cushioned. (Neither the hare nor the cat foot.) Pasterns - Fine.

Hindquarters
Muscular, with hocks well apart, neither out nor in, well let down, firm and sturdy. The feet are as in front.

Coat
In the Smooth Coats, the coat should be of soft texture, close and glossy. (Heavier coats with undercoats permissible.) Coat placed well over body with ruff on neck preferred, and more scanty on head and ears. Hair on tail preferred furry. In Long Coats, the coat should be of a soft texture, either flat or slightly curly, with undercoat preferred. Ears - Fringed. (Heavily fringed ears may be tipped slightly if due to the fringes and not to weak ear leather, never down.) Tail - Full and long (as a plume). Feathering on feet and legs, pants on hind legs and large ruff on the neck desired and preferred. Disqualification - In Long Coats, too thin coat that resembles bareness.

Color
Any color-Solid, marked or splashed.

Gait
The Chihuahua should move swiftly with a firm, sturdy action, with good reach in front equal to the drive from the rear. From the rear, the hocks remain parallel to each other, and the foot fall of the rear legs follows directly behind that of the forelegs. The legs, both front and rear, will tend to converge slightly toward a central line of gravity as speed increases. The side view shows good, strong drive in the rear and plenty of reach in the front, with head carried high. The topline should remain firm and the backline level as the dog moves.

Temperament
Alert, with terrier-like qualities.

Disqualifications
Any dog over 6 pounds in weight.
Broken down or cropped ears.
Cropped tail, bobtail.
In Long Coats, too thin coat that resembles bareness.

Q2: How long do Chihuahuas live?

Chihuahuas are the most long lived of any breed of dog. Life spans of 15+ years are not uncommon.

Q3: How much exercise do Chihuahuas need?

One of the reasons that the Chihuahua is a popular breed is that they don’t require much more exercise than they will get running around your house or apartment during a typical day. While they enjoy an occasional walk, they are not good jogging companions. Simply allowing them to run around the yard for a few minutes can often provide adequate exercise. Chihuahua’s are known for quick bursts of energy that will come and go throughout the day, and therefore do not require large exercise areas. Chihuahua’s can be trained to fetch small toys and this game is an excellent indoor activity. As puppies, Chi’s are boisterous and energetic; however, as they get older they can easily become couch potatoes. If it looks like your Chi is gaining too much weight, in addition to getting him out for a walk every once in awhile, you may want to consider decreasing the amount you’re feeding him.

Q4: Do Chihuahuas need special dog food?

Well, yes and no. They have the same nutritional needs as other dogs in proportion to their size. However, they have very small mouths and teeth so they can't handle large nuggets very well.

We strongly recommend that you avoid mass-produced commercial brands of dog food. Even many of the premium gourmet brands contain all kinds of dangerous and disgusting ingredients that you really don't want to feed your dog. Chihuahuas prefer a few small meals daily, rather than one big meal We leave a small bowl of dry food out for our Chihuahuas in addition to two small prepared meals each day.

Q5: Are Chihuahuas good with children?

Chihuahuas can be very good with children if they are trained to handle it well. However, small children can be very dangerous for Chihuahuas because they may not understand how fragile these animals are or have the physical dexterity to avoid hurting them by laying, falling or stepping on them. It's always best to hold the Chi while small children are about. Then you can let the children approach to pet and pamper under your direct coaching and supervision.

Q6: What is a Teacup Chihuahua?

The short answer is: There is no such thing as a Teacup Chihuahua. The long answer is...

The Chihuahua Club of America, Parent Club of the American Kennel Club makes the following statement in regard to the teacup designation:

Tea Cup Statement

The Chihuahua Is A Chihuahua

The Official AKC Breed Standard describes the Chihuahua as a small dog that comes in two varieties or coat types. The difference in coat type (the Long Coat and the Smooth Coat) is the only official description used to identify a difference within this breed. Our standard does not categorize the Chihuahua by size.

For the purpose of showing and record keeping, the American Kennel club includes the Chihuahua (along with 19 other breeds) in the Toy Group. Therefore, irrespective of their weight or physical stature ALL Chihuahuas registered with the AKC are considered to be a toy breed of dog.

As with all living things, there will be size variance between individual dogs within this breed. Look within the human family - brothers and sisters will differ in height and in weight, as well as other physical attributes. They are described as humans, male or female, and there is seldom if ever a need to break the description down further. The same holds true in regard to the Chihuahua; they are Chihuahuas - Long Coat / Smooth Coat!

Unfortunately, the additional adjectives used to describe the size differences and physical appearances are many and have been misused for so long they now seem legitimate. Teacup, Pocket Size, Tiny Toy, Miniature or Standard - are just a few of the many tags and labels that have been attached to this breed over the years. The Chihuahua Club of America is concerned that these terms may be used to entice prospective buyers into thinking that puppies described in this way are of greater monetary value. They are not and the use of these terms is incorrect and misleading.

Occasionally, within a litter, there may be a puppy that is unusually small. That puppy is a small Chihuahua and any other breakdown in description is not correct. To attach any of these additional labels to a particular puppy is to misrepresent that Chihuahua as something that is rare or exceptional and causes a great deal of confusion among those new fanciers who are looking for a Chihuahua.

The Chihuahua Club of America does not endorse nor condone the use of any of these terms and would caution the perspective puppy buyer not to be misled by them.

We recognize that many Chihuahua fanciers do want the very small puppy. While they are adorable and can be perfectly healthy, the buyer should be cautioned as to the extra care that may be required with regard to their general health and well-being.

Q7: I've heard that Chihuahuas are nervous, high-strung dogs. Is that true?

Yes, Chihuahuas tend to be high-strung dogs, meaning that they are generally nervous about changes in their environment, tend to bark easily, and are suspicious of strangers. They also tend to be emotional and will pout when they aren't happy. express their The are also very loyal to their masters, however, and therefore can be trained and socialized to minimize these tendencies.

Q8: What are the differences between the smooth coat and the long coat Chihuahuas?

The issue of whether or not there is a difference in personality seems to be a topic of debate within the Chihuahua community. Some claim that there is no difference in personality; others claim that longcoats have a tendency to be "soft-tempered" while smoothcoats tend to be more aggressive.
Smoothcoats tend to have coarser fur than longcoats -- almost like bristles in some cases. Smoothcoats shed more than longcoats. However, longcoats do shed as well. Heavily coated longcoats require brushing about once a month, but this can be a pleasant exercise for both Chi and master rather than a chore. As far as bathing is concerned, as a general rule, the longcoats will need to be bathed more frequently, and it'll be a longer process (both washing and drying).

Q9: Is it safe to take your Chihuahua on a cold weather walk?

As long as you are aware of the fact that Chihuahuas, especially short haired ones, have a difficult time maintaining body temperature in the cold. If the temps dip below 40 degrees Fahrenheit, then a sweater or jacket is highly recommended. If the temps are below freezing, then limit the time that your pet is in contact with the ground to a few minutes at most.

Q10: Are Chihuahuas sociable with other dogs?

Chihuahuas generally do not get along very well with other dogs. However, they usually get along well with other Chihuahuas. They can also be socialized to get along with dogs of other breeds.

Q11: How Can I Prevent Kidney/Bladder Stones?

 There are several factors that can cause stones. Some of the most common are:
  • Urine pH. pH is an indicator of acidity level. It can be measured via hydrogen ion concentration. a pH of 7 is neutral, below 7 is acidic and above 7 is alkaline. Generally, dogs tend to have slightly acidic urine around 6 - 6.5. Unfortunately, calcium oxalate stones have a propensity to form in acidic to neutral urine. Urine pH needs to be measure immediately upon voiding from the bladder for it to be accurate. Have your vet check this while assessing your Chi's symptoms. If the pH is low then you can reduce the acidity of your Chi's diet to reduce the likelihood of stone formation. The addition of 1 tablespoon of sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) or better yet, potassium bicarbonate per liter of water to your Chi's water and/or food may help.
  • Bacterial infection. The vet should also culture the inside of one of the stones to determine if bacteria is the cause, since urine is supposed to be sterile. You can also have a culture performed of your Chi's urine without the stones, but it must be performed against a fresh sample of urine, because bacteria will invade it very quickly once it leaves the body. If the culture is positive, then the vet can test several antibiotics on it to see which is most effective. and treat the Chi with that antibiotic.
  • Dehydration. Insufficient liquid intake can result in a higher concentration of minerals in the urine. This can result in more frequent occurrence of stones. Encourage your Chi to drink lots of water.
  • Infrequent urination. The longer the urine stays in the bladder, the more likely the minerals can condense and crystallize to form stones. Try to encourage your Chi to urinate 6 or more times a day if he/she is prone to stones.
  • Hard water. If you live near the beach or other lowland areas, then your tap water is likely hard, meaning that it has a higher mineral content than normal. You can use a water filter to reduce the mineral content of the water, or even buy distilled water to eliminate all mineral content, if your Chi has ongoing struggles with stones. Avoid spring water, however, since it can also be high in mineral content.
  • Diet. An imbalance of nutrients or a diet that is too high in certain minerals or too low in others can increase the likelihood of stone formation. This is a very complex topic and there are dozens of chemical processes that can be involved. in general however, if the stones are calcium oxalate, increase the amount of magnesium, phosphorus, and calcium in the diet. Increasing dietary magnesium and phosphorus decreases the amount of calcium in the urine, and increasing dietary calcium reduces absorption of oxalates from the intestines. Potassium citrate may help prevent calcium oxalate stone formation because it forms a soluble complex with oxalates and promotes the formation of alkaline urine. Some people use 1 tablespoon of potassium citrate combined with a tablespoon of potassium bicarbonate mentioned above in a 1:1 ratio added per liter of water as a preventative.
  • Genetic factors. There isn't a lot you can do about this, but some dogs are just predisposed to the formation of stones because of abnormalities or genetic mutations. You can ask your breeder if other owners have reported problems with their Chi's. If it turns out that your Chi is prone, then I would recommend using most or all of the tips mentioned above to help minimize the frequency and severity of stone formation.
  • Disease. Sometimes kidney/bladder stones are symptoms of another illness. A thorough medical evaluation is recommended to help rule out other health problems.
  • Aging. Some dogs, especially males, become more prone to stone formation as they age because of changes in hormone levels. In addition to the preventative measures mentioned above, hormone replacement therapy may also be a possible solution. 

Q12: At what age can I start walking my Chi on a leash?

The earlier you start teaching her, the better. You need to use a halter rather than a collar. A halter spreads the force of a leash across her chest, rather than focusing it on her neck.

I would start by having her wear the halter for a little while each day. You may want to start out with only 5-10 minutes, if it seems to bother her. Then gradually increase the time as she adjusts to wearing it.

After she is comfortable with the halter, you can start leash training in the house. Just connect the leash and coach her to walk in the "heel" position, which is just to the left or right of you, and slightly behind your outside foot (with her chest about even with your heel). Thsi is the safest spot for her while walking. As you gently guide her on these initial "walks", give her lots of engouragement when she does it correctly, but don't scold her if she doesn't "get it" right away.

Try to keep enough tension on the leash so she doesn't play with it or walk on it. Don't drag her, but use enough force so that she can feel the slight tug forward as you encourage her forward with your gestures and words. You can also use treats as rewards if you wish, although I prefer not to do so. I want "encouragement" to be the reward for good behavior. It has always given me the best long-term results from training.

As she begins to understand and respond to the leash, you can gradually increase the time and distance. Be patient here, and it will pay great dividends when she graduates to "outside" walking with all of the distractions that will arise.

Feel free to introduce verbal and/or hand signals if you want her to have great manners and control. This would be the time to start introducing the heel position. Have her sit when you stop, and walk in the heel position when you walk.

When she is ready to move outdoors, take short walks initially and gradually increase the time and distance.

Please let us know if you discover any other tips that help.

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