From the very commonly adopted chihuahua mix to the trendy teacup chihuahua, all variations of this breed are some of the most beloved small dogs in the world.
Selected as often for their affectionate personalities as for their protective, guard-dog abilities, despite their small size, chihuahua dogs present an imposing front that’s not to be trifled with.
After the hit movie Legally Blonde came out in 2001, the Chihuahua breed gained even more fame as both a much desired pet and something of a fashion accessory, thanks to Chihuahua that played a starring role.
You’ve probably seen a variety of different Chihuahuas, including the smooth-coat Chihuahua, long coat chihuahua and miniature chihuahua (also known as teacups.) But all types are the same breed, and are classified as such by many different kennel clubs and registries, including the American Kennel Club, the North American Purebred Registry, the Kennel Club of Great Britain, the Canadian Kennel Club and the Australian National Kennel Club, to name a few.
History Of The Long Haired Chihuahua
The origins of the Chihuahua breed, including the Long Haired Chihuahua, are ancient and somewhat uncertain, which is somewhat of a shame considering this tiny dog is the oldest breed of dog in America.
What is certain is that the Chihuahua comes from Mexico, and that the first of this breed, as we know it today, appeared around 100 AD. But many dogs with high a similarity to Chihuahuas are depicted on ancient art and artifacts all over the world, and there is no reason to believe that these stalwart little dogs have not been with us for much longer than can be proven.
The Toltecs likely introduced the Chihuahua’s first known ancestor, the Techichi, to Mexico. But it was the Aztecs who, according to The American Kennel Club, developed this ancestral breed “into a smaller, lighter dog” that more closely resembles the Chihuahua of modern times.
These little canniness, with their fascinating and ancient bloodlines, get their name from the Sate of Chihuahua in Mexico where they are believed to have first been bred. The first Chihuahuas arrived in the United States from Mexico in the 1800’s, and the first of the breed to be recognized by the AKC was Beppie, who was registered officially in 1908.
Characteristics And Features
These little dogs don’t seem to have any idea that they are, in fact, the smallest dogs in the world.
Chihuahuas come in a range of sizes, but the average long haired chihuahua is generally between five to nine inches high at maturity and weighs between three and six pounds. They are lean but muscular small dogs.
Given a healthy lifestyle, including proper diet, sufficient exercise and a caring home life, this dog breed is probably the longest-living in the canine world. The lifespan of an average long hair Chihuahua is 14 to 16 years. But many Chihuahuas have been reported to live as long as 20 years.
The Long Haired Chihuahua’s coat can take up to two years to fully grow in. If you are unsure whether the puppy you are viewing will have a short or long coat, ask the breeder for more information. Purebred Chihuahuas should come with lineage documents that can help you determine what your adult dog might look like.
Coat colors for this breed can be any of the following: black, blue, brown, tan, red, white or cream. Their coats may be solid in color or show spots or sable patterns. Their coats may be straight or somewhat curly, and some dogs will have an undercoat, and others will not. Both are accepted as breed standard.
Both the long haired Chihuahua dog and short haired Chihuahuas can have one of two different head shapes, commonly called deer-shaped or apple-shaped heads. However, only the apple-shaped head is recognized by the AKC as fitting the breed standard. The apple head shape resembles an L when a 90-degree angle is created where the dog’s muzzle and forehead meet.
The Chihuahua’s ears appear somewhat oversized for their heads and are triangular in shape. The ears usually stand erect on their heads, although sometimes they appear to stand out to the sides, especially when the dog is relaxed.
The legs of the Chihuahua are proportional to its body, although the breed tends to appear quite squat or short-legged. This is likely because their fluffy hair stands out from their bodies, making them appear rounder than they are.
Health Issues And Hereditary Concerns
The first health concern you will likely come across with your Chihuahua, if you adopt it from puppy-hood, is the “soft spot” known as a Molera. This area of the Chihuahua’s head is similar to Fontanel on an infant human’s head, and most, though not all, Chihuahuas have one. This soft area of the skull will continue to close as the puppy matures, but it’s important to be aware of your dog’s risk for head injuries at a young age.
The Morela also makes the Chihuahua naturally more predisposed to developing health issues like Hydrocephalus, a condition in which a build-up of cerebrospinal fluid occurs in the brain. Symptoms of Hydrocephalus to watch for include mobility problems, disorientation, incontinence, lack of interest in food and extreme tiredness.
Further, these dogs are prone to delicate and soft bone structure in general. Their jaws and teeth, in particular, can be prone to various health problems. Proper dental care for your Chihuahua, including brushing the dog’s teeth two or three times weekly, will help prevent some dental and jaw issues.
Dislocation of the kneecap, or Patellar Luxation, is another bone related issue common in the breed. This condition is generally present from birth, and symptoms include walking irregularly, abnormal movement of the leg or lameness. Unless you witness the dislocation when it occurs, you problem won’t notice that your dog is in pain.
Hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar, can also be common in the breed. This may be due to their very low bodyfat percentage. The condition is more common in puppies, but can also persist or develop into adulthood.
If you have concerns about any of these issues, consult your veterinarian on the best course of action or treatment. Of course, regular check-ups at the vet are important to your Chihuahua’s overall health regardless.
Another very common concern for the breed, although a much easier one to deal with, is keeping them warm in colder weather. Likely due to their South American origins, the Chihuahua does not adapt well to cold climates. This may seem strange at first, considering their long, fluffy coats, however, due to their minute size and lean bodies, the breed is known to have trouble with regulating body temperature.
Typical Temperament Of The Breed
The Chihuahua dog breed has some similarities in personality to the terrier. It is thought that the original Chihuahua may have been purposefully bred to hunt and catch rats and other pests, but, as far as we know, this breed is not related to the terrier, except where crossed in a chihuahua mix, such as in the Rat Terrier-Chihuahua.
Overall, the Chihuahua is known to be a loyal and protective breed. Sometimes this trait can translate to aggression, especially when these dogs encounter strangers. Being overly protective also makes this breed a great watchdog. With proper training, they can be as good a guard dog as they are a pet.
Some Chihuahuas are boisterous and outgoing, while others may be unstereotypically quiet and shy. Most owners of the breed report that they are affectionate and cuddly animals, especially at home where they often like to share a bed with their masters.
The tendency towards high activity, loud barking and aggressive behavior, however, makes these dogs a poor choice as a family pet. Homes with small children should definitely consider another breed.
Intelligence And Training For the Breed
A Long Haired Chihuahua puppy, or full grown dog, can be moderately difficult to train. They are intelligent dogs, and consistency and routine will be necessary to create boundaries, rules and expectations. If you don’t live alone, family members or roommates will need to be brought on board for a consistent training experience.
Besides being clever, these dogs can be very stubborn and independent, presenting challenges in a few particular areas of training. Housebreaking your Long Haired Chihuahua may prove to be the most difficult task. Although not all Chihuahuas are hard to house train, many are, and some owners resort to using litter boxes and artificial indoor grass to prevent accidents around the house. But it’s important to remember that with persistence, and positive, reward-based training, you can house train your Long Haired Chihuahua successfully.
The good news is that, because they are eager to please their masters, all types of Chihuahuas do tend to be respond well to rewards and positive reinforcement. They are affectionate and like physical touch, so a good pat on the head or scratch behind the ears is often the perfect reward for a job well done.
With enough persistence, these little dogs can be taught to walk on a leash, play games and perform tricks. However, owners will need to be patient as young dogs build the stamina required for long periods of outdoor activity.
Feeding And Exercising
This breed can be prone to sensitive stomachs, and their digestive systems can seemingly be upset at the smallest change in diet. This breed is also prone to obesity and Hypoglycemia, so the most important thing to remember when feeding your Long Haired Chihuahua is consistency.
It’s easy to overfeed your Chihuahua because they will often eagerly eat more than they need, and due to their hyper personalities, they might seem like they need more than they do. On average, a healthy, adult Chihuahua will only need between 1/4 cup and 1/2 cup of dog food per day.
A kibble formulated specifically for smaller dog breeds is ideal, and a dry food is usually best. Since they require such a low daily caloric intake, it’s important to select a dog food that provides a lot of nutrients per serving. Feed your Chihuahua a quality dog food that is high in protein and fiber and low in carbohydrates. The low carbohydrate factor is also helpful in preventing or treating low blood sugar.
Dividing your Chihuahua’s daily food into a few small meals, rather than a single daily meal, may help prevent Hypoglycemia, and this practice will also more than likely help your dog feel less deprived.
As far as exercise, this breed doesn’t need a lot. A 20 minute walk may suffice for most Chihuahuas, however, 30 to 40 minutes of total exercise a day is not too much, provided that you allow your tiny dog to rest between walks or play sessions.
If you take your Long Haired Chihuahua for a walk in cooler weather, your dog should wear a sweater or coat.
Grooming For The Breed
The Long Haired Chihuahua requires a moderate amount of grooming. This breed does shed a lot, and regular brushing will help prevent tangled hair, matting and excessive shedding around your home. However, their coats tend to shed in clumps, rather than as single hairs, which does make cleaning up after them easier than some breeds.
Compared with the smooth coat, which needs less brushing, you will need to brush your long coat Chihuahua at least twice a week. A wire brush or a comb will be most effective in removal of excess hair. Be gentle around your Chihuahuas head while brushing to prevent injury to the Molera.
Brushing your Chihuahua’s teeth should be considered a regular part of the grooming routine. Their somewhat soft teeth make easy breading ground for bacteria which can lead to infections and decay. Inadequate dental hygiene in the breed often leads to tooth loss.
Sometimes Chihuahua puppies fail to lose all of their milk teeth after their adult teeth come in. If you notice this with your dog, it’s wise to make an appointment with the vet. If all of your dog’s adult teeth have come in, your vet may recommend having the remaining milk teeth pulled to prevent overcrowding of teeth and other jaw problems.
Baths are not needed frequently, but when you do bathe your Chihuahua, be careful to prevent water from entering the ears. Their large ears can be prone to infections and infestations of mites, fleas or ticks.
Occasional nail trimming may be required, especially if your Chihuahua spends most of its time indoors. The dewclaws can be safely trimmed, but it’s always best to have this procedure done by a professional to prevent accidents.
FAQ On The Long Haired Chihuahua
1. How much is a Long Haired Chihuahua puppy?
A purebred Long Haired Chihuahua puppy costs anywhere from $500 to $1,500. If you are paying this kind of price, you should expect to see paperwork showing lineage and any health records available. If you adopt a rescue puppy, or an unregistered Chihuahua, you should expect to pay around $300. Where a breeder is asking $500 or more, and they do not provide paperwork, you should consider this an untrustworthy breeder.
2. How do I know if my puppy is short or long haired?
If you purchased your Chihuahua puppy from a registered breeder, you should have access to documentation that will tell you what kind of coat your dog will develop as it matures. It’s important to remember that Chihuahua puppies all tend to have short coats, and that the long haired coats can take several months to two years to fully come in.
3. Is the Long Haired Chihuahua the right breed for me?
Determining what dog breed you should adopt will come down to many factors. The personality of the Long Haired Chihuahua is as endearing to many people as it is annoying to many others. If you want a loyal companion, you could do far worse, but if you want a dog that’s peaceful and quiet, the Chihuahua is probably not for you. Homes with children are also not ideal for this breed.
4. How do I prevent my Long Haired Chihuahua from becoming overweight?
To keep your Long Haired Chihuahua at a healthy weight, start by following the basic feeding guidelines found above. However, bear in mind that food requirements will differ based on age, gender and daily activity for your specific dog. If you aren’t sure how much to feed your Chihuahua, consult your veterinarian for a more personalized feeding plan. Daily exercise will also help to prevent your Chihuahua from becoming overweight.
5. When should I train my Long Haired Chihuahua?
Whether you have a puppy or an adult dog, it is vital to begin training your Long Haired Chihuahua immediately. Instilling patterns and boundaries will become harder the longer you wait with this breed due to its intelligence and stubborn personality. For this reason, it’s also preferable to purchase or adopt Chihuahuas as puppies, or to acquire them pre-trained.