|Size:||Extra Small (Under 10 lbs.)|
|Lifespan:||Long (12 to 15+ years)|
Chihuahuas (or "Chis") might be the smallest breed of dog, but that certainly doesn't make them the least imposing. Chihuahuas, originally from Mexico, have wide, expressive eyes and independent ears, giving them tons of character and an unmistakable profile. As for personality, these dogs make themselves known in any environment. Often described as having a "Napoleon complex", the pocket-sized Chihuahua is fearless and ferocious (if only in its own mind) and is adaptable to any environment. Since Chihuahuas are so tiny (and oblivious of their own size), special care must be given to ensure a their safety--especially around young kids and other dogs (like hounds and terriers bred to hunt small game). Chihuahuas can make great pets with proper training, however this breed isn't recommended for kids and would be better suited to a city couple or retired senior who can lavish this dog with affection, attention, and take them along everywhere they go.
The most famous modern-day Chihuahua is probably Gidget, the spokesdog for Taco Bell's "Yo Quiero Taco Bell!" ad campaign, or Bruiser, Reese Witherspoon's dog in the Legally Blonde series.
Chihuahuas really are big dogs in a tiny body. Care in all aspects is generally minimized with toy dogs: cost, mess, shedding, grooming, and training. Training especially can be much easier with a toy breed than other dogs, making them a good fit for the first-time dog owner. Chihuahuas especially can be pee pad or litter box trained, and their petite size allows them to accompany their owners into establishments where most dogs wouldn't be welcome. As the AKC mentions, it's always easier to control a ten-pound dog than one ten times its size. Depending on how they are raised, Chihuahuas are generally good with kids, seniors, and strangers (although due to their tiny size, small children should always be supervised around a toy dog). Chis are tough-natured and big-egoed dogs that will attempt with all their might to protect themselves (and their owners) if they perceive mistreatment. Common health problems include: injury to the molera, the soft spot Chihuahuas have in their skulls; hypoglycemia; neurological disorders; obesity; epilepsy and seizure disorders; and death by crushing. Chihuahuas require veterinary supervision throughout a pregnancy, and will require yearly dental cleanings.
For more information on Chihuahua ownership and care, check out ChihuahuaRescue.com.