Mexico’s Most Famous Canine

There are perhaps few breeds that create as much of a polar opposite of opinion than the Chihuahua. They’re four footed saints in one camp and they’re vicious monsters in another – truth is they can be either, depending on the handling.

While dining in a restaurant in Jasper Alabama a customer watched a couple sit at the next table, and the lady sat down a small bag in the empty chair. Movement gathered a double take and a long haired Chihuahua put her head out of the bag. Not only was this little dog absolutely quiet and discreet during the hour or so stay, but she was alert to where her handler was yet not moving from her spot. As dog folks do, a conversation was struck up and it was learned this extremely well trained Chihuahua was in fact a certified service dog, complete with vest and laminated badge. She was not only a seizure alert dog but also served a hearing impaired relative when the California wildfire evacuations were ordered. He could not hear what she could – but she made sure he knew.

There are those dogs that appear on “The Dog Whisperer” – allowed to get away with bad behavior, and many stories of individuals in the breed launching attacks on dogs much larger than them. This is the fault of the owner, not the dog but unfortunately the dog often takes the rap.

A half Chihuahua made news also as she completed K9 training. Yes, “Midge” is a certified K9 that the 125 pound German Shepherd on the force dwarfs but her job isn’t to chase down and bring down bad guys. Sheriff Dan McClelland of the Geauga County Sheriff’s department notes that she can simply fit in places and walk on things without the damage the big dogs do. “Size wise, endurance wise they last longer.”

The Chihuahua is a member of the AKC toy group, and is a well balanced dog not to exceed 6 pounds for showing. The “apple” head is a trait of the breed and there are both short hair and long haired versions of the breed. They can be any color, solid or splashed with white. By the standard they are alert with terrier like qualities.

Historically he has long been a pet as well as at one time a “religious necessity.” Dogs looking much like today’s Chihuahuas are found in ruins predating 1530 and credit for the breed goes to the area that is present day Mexico. Today’s Chihuahua is smaller, possibly due to introduction of the Chinese Crested. First accepted by the AKC in 1904, the breed has gathered much publicity and many admirers of their trainability and good attributes.

Among the famous Chihuahuas of course is “Gidget” who was “spokesdog” for Taco Bell restaurants. Boo Boo is another less famous with the title of the World’s Smallest Dog. At just four inches high and 1 ½ pounds now she weighed just one ounce at birth. The Chihuahua has also been featured on TV shows such as “That’s So Raven,” “Summer Heights High,” Transformers and movies such as “Legally Blond.”

Because the breed standard lists a top weight with no minimum weight, some people elect to breed down smaller, calling these extremely small dogs “teacup” or tiny toy or pocket sized Chihuahuas and charging a great deal of money for them. The Chihuahua Club of America does not advocate paying more money for these extremely small dogs not only from an honesty standpoint but a health one.

Due to the small size of the breed there is less fat stored around the liver which can lead to hypoglycemia. Extremely small dogs is more so and this can result in blood sugar issues which can, without fast action, result in death to the puppy. This can be brought on by stress, hunger, illness or just using up more than they’re taking in. The dog appears tired, sleepy and if not noticed may fall over and seizure. Immediate treatment is needed – put a bit of honey or Karo syrup on the dog’s tongue or gums. This is straight sugar and can fairly quickly bring the dog around. Do this before leaving for the vet! It gives you precious time.

Extra Omega 3 and Omega 6 are recommended to help build cell membranes and fatty acids. A lack of these important nutrients can create arthritis like conditions, behavior issues, slow healing, bad smell and skin issues, additional fragility heart and circulation issues, kidney or liver issues, vulnerability to infection and breeding issues.

More than many breeds it’s very important to remember fat kills. Chihuahuas have a tendency to be easy keepers, and food plus treats plus not enough exercise leads to a dog with weight issues that trigger heart disease and a shortened life.

Tracheal collapse can be prevented by using a harness on your Chihuahua and not pulling on the collar hard if they have one. The throat is weakened and in some cases the dog may appear to have something caught in his throat.

Extra small dogs have a higher chance of these things due to their extremely small size.

Chihuahuas seem a basis for “designer dogs” and can be crossed with many other breeds to sell with the illusion that they are better than purebreds. Seldom are the health tested, quality parents used, meaning you could just as well end up with a double dose of unhealthy genes.

Chihuahuas are not a high energy breed that needs a great deal of exercise. With good care they can live 15 years, an important consideration if you are taking on a puppy for life. The breed is happy with toys and things to play with, sometimes said to prefer their own breed. Because they are a small breed they can find it difficult to keep up with someone out for a walk who doesn’t consider their small stature.

Crate training gives your Chihuahua a place of his own as well as keeps him from getting into trouble. From a size standpoint it takes much less to do damage and a piece of sugar free gum, a candy bar or other item can easily give a toxic overdose.

Always keep in mind the advantage of a small sized dog in being able to live in apartments and other small spaces can equally be a disadvantage in some situations. Above all don’t fall into the thinking of “he’s just a little dog and it’s cute when he growls”. If it wouldn’t be cute in an 80 pound Doberman, German Shepherd or Rottweiller it isn’t funny in a Chihuahua either. There have been many reports of owners of these breeds having small out of control dogs attack their dog. Some find it funny until the German Shepherd or Rottie snaps back – and seriously injures or kills the small dog. There is no excuse for allowing poor behavior and, as evidenced by many highly trained Chihuahuas, they are intelligent dogs eager to learn!

Give your Chihuahua the chance of a lifetime home with a commitment not only to his training but with regard to the size and physical issues he has.

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