Meet The Chihuahua
Are you looking for a companion that is an extrovert yet is content to lie quietly in your lap or by your side while you read? A companion that eats little, requires little space, and doesn't need to be taken out every day for exercise? Then you may enjoy having a Chihuahua, the smallest recognized breed of dog in the world. Not just small, but ALL NATURAL! The Chihuahua is the only "natural" toy breed, that is, the only small dog NOT bred down from larger versions of the same breed.
Chihuahuas are good watch dogs, as they will sound the alarm. In fact, Chihuahuas are courageous. They aren't intimidated in the least by larger dogs.
The Chihuahua is characterized by a well-rounded head, wide-set luminous eyes, a saucy expression and erect ears, which flare to the sides when in repose. They can have short soft hair or long silky hair, and some may be red, blond, blue or chocolate-colored as well as solid, marked or splashed. A unique feature of most Chihuahua puppies is the soft spot on the crown, similar to that of a new born baby.
Origin Of The Chihuahua
While there are different theories regarding the origin of the Chihuahua as a breed, it appears to have descended from a small dog called the Techichi. Other dogs said to be related to the Techichi are the Chinese Crested, Mexican Hairless and Xolo breeds. The Techichi were known to be kept by the Toltec people of Mexico as far back as a thousand years ago. Evidence for this origin is provided by a monastery in Huejotzingo that was built by Franciscan monks with stones taken from the pyramids of Cholula. The stones have ancient carvings on them that closely resemble today's Chihuahua.
Later, the Aztecs defeated the Toltec, and the aristocracy adopted these small dogs, particularly the blue ones, as objects of veneration. The dogs could reputedly guide the spirits of the dead in their journey through the underworld. Montezuma II, the last emperor of the Aztecs, was a fancier of the Chihuahua. It is said that he had hundreds of them, each with its keeper. Skeletons of Chihuahuas have been found in human graves on the Mexico/U.S. border.
Research done by the late Thelma Gray, a historian and an authority on Chihuahuas, lead her to believe that the native dog of the Aztecs was crossed with a small, terrier-type dog brought over by the Spanish conquistadors. Thus, the basis was laid for the even smaller modern-day Chihuahua. First known as Texas or Arizona Dogs because they were found along those borders with Mexico, the Chihuahua received its current name in the mid to late 1800's. American travelers to Mexico discovered large numbers of the breed in the state of Chihuahua and started bringing them back to the United States. About the same time, Carlotta, wife of Emperor Maximilian of Mexico contributed to the Chihuahua's international fame by taking the breed to Europe.
Having A Pet Chihuahua
The Chihuahua is loyal, eager to please and highly trainable. It tends to have fewer health issues then any other toy breed. Chihuahuas are primarily indoor dogs, ideal for apartment living and for the elderly or handicapped or those confined to the home. They thrive on much attention and human contact. Nevertheless, since they are so small, precautions must be taken. They can be seriously injured or killed by being stepped on, sat on or squeezed too hard. They should not be left unattended on high surfaces (table tops, bunk beds, high sofas or chairs, etc). They have little sense of height and could eaily jump off and break a bone.
Despite being called a 'toy' dog, the Chihuahua is hardier than you might think. In fact, it is the longest-lived breed! Chihuahuas are known to live a high quality of life well into their teens. Most live to sixteen years of age and some pass twenty. These dogs are energetic and playful, yet they can easily get all the exercise they need each day from just playing with some toys or roaming the house. However, since Chihuahuas do not store much energy and have tiny digestive systems, they need to eat small, frequent meals or may suffer from a low blood sugar attack (hypoglycemia). Dry food should constantly be available for them as well as lots of water.
When it comes to Chihuahuas, you can expect a whole lotta shakin' goin' on! Shivering is a normal characteristic of this breed. Chihuahuas shiver when they are excited, apprehensive, discontented or frightened-not just when its cold. One way to combat this is to be sure that your Chihuahua knows that you will care for it. Chihuahuas are the only breed of dog that tends to prefer the company of humans to that of other dogs. If you spend time with your Chi, take care of it and properly house your dog, it will tend to shake less.
Chihuahuas that are constantly crated or caged during the first twenty weeks of their life will tend to shake more and trust people less. A better way is to keep your Chihuahua confined to an open, social area restricted with a gate. Tea Cups (Chihuahuas that are tiny and will be three pounds or under fully grown) can be kept in a baby's play pen with food and water on one side and a potty pan with newspaper or wee wee pads on the other. A few favorite toys can also be included. This is a good way to keep your tiny Chihuahua safe at night or when you're out, without making them feel abandoned. Chihuahua females go into their first heat around six to eight months, and go into heat twice a year. Most females do not get pregnant during their first heat. Once pregnant, female Chihuahuas give birth in sixty-five days and most have from one to five pups. Puppies are ready to leave their mom and littermates by eight weeks. Many are already eating on their own and being pushed out by mom by four or five weeks, but need the additional time to develop social skills with their littermates and to be taught survival skills by mom. Chihuahuas remain puppies for the first two years of their lives.
Chihuahuas are the best kept secret in the world when it comes to being terrific pets. They require very little care and reward their owners with lots of affection and loyalty. An ancient breed, it's easy to see why Kings, Emperors and great civilizations would treasure these amazing creatures.
Outrageous Tales About Chihuahuas: Some Are True!
When you look at a Chihuahua that weighs less than two pounds full grown, it is hard to imagine that it's actually a dog! That is why so many people once believed the rumor that Chihuahuas were some kind of weird mix of rodent and cannine. The rumor began after people who traveled along the Mexican Border with Texas and Arizona over one hundred and fifty years ago noticed the breed. Early Wild West novels and storybooks expanded on the rodent mix rumor and explained the small size of the Chihuahua by claiming that the animals were created through a secret process used by native medicine men or pagan priests in Mexico or South America. However, dime novels were not the only places where tale tales about Chihuahuas were spread.
Early descriptions of the dogs by Missionaries and Conquistadors traveling throughout South America indicated they were used in worship ceremonies or even eaten by faithful followers of the Aztec religion. Such descriptions were often exaggerated to make the Aztec People seem completely pagan to Christians and, thereby, justify their conquest and conversion. While we are certain that Chihuahuas were used in Aztec worship ceremonies, there is no evidence to date that any were eaten. Many have been found buried with people, so it's possible they were killed to join their owners in death.
Because Chihuahuas are much smaller and seem to be so different from other dog breeds, a number of old wives tales exist about these tiny animals. Some are true, others are just myths spread by the uninformed:
BAD BREATH - Chihuahuas have a breath odor that is no better or worse than that of any other dog breed. This rumor started because so many early Chihuahua owners fed their dogs unwanted fish parts leading to a generally horrific mouth odor. Captains, mates and others who worked aboard ships in the California of the middle to late 1800's found Chihuahua dogs to be terrific companions. Not only would these dogs sound the alarm if anyone came near their personal property, but they were small enough to be welcome aboard vessels of any size. Ship captains were particularly found of them because Chihuahuas had a knack for chasing rats out of small spaces that other dogs couldn't reach. When pups came along and they were sold to landlubbers, new owners were told that the dogs just loved fish parts!
CHIHUAHUAS HAVE GIVEN BIRTH TO KITTENS - Chihuahuas tend to get along unusually well with Cats. In fact, Chihuahuas have been known to nurse orphaned or abandoned kittens. However, I can say with great certainty that no Chihuahua has ever been known to give birth to a litter of kittens.
CHIHUAHUAS COME FROM OUTTER SPACE - Some Natives of North and South America have traditions that indicate their ancestors may have come from the stars. Some researchers believe that's an incorrect interpretation of the native people's belief that their ancestors come from a higher spiritual existence. Either way, early scholars who took an interest in the origin of Chihuahuas indicated that they had not been able to discover how, when or where the breed originated. As interest in ghosts, Atlantis and space beings first became popular in the late 1800's, many people adopted the idea that Chihuahuas must have been brought to Earth by visitors from beyond. Needless to say, this is probably not true and likely came from the same people who believe that Corn is an Alien invention unfit for human consumption.
CHIHUAHUAS CAN HEAL SEVERE INJURIES OR REDUCE PAIN - Early settlers who came to the Southwest United States noticed that Mexicans and some Native Americans would tie Chihuahuas to parts of their bodies that seemed to need healing or where pain was a problem. This practice lead to the theory that the dogs were magical and could cure an assortment of physical problems. In reality, Chihuahuas have been known to lie near or on parts of their owner's bodies where pain was being felt, an infection had set in or other health problems may have existed. The warmth of their tiny bodies probably helped ease pain a bit. The licking of infections or open wounds may have helped clean out microorganisms or infected tissues. Interestingly enough, it has become known that some dogs seem to possess the ability to diagnose cancer or other health problems in various parts of the human body.
CHIHUAHUAS CAN CURE OR REDUCE THE SERVERITY OF ASTHMA AND ALLERGIES - Most people with Asthma or severe Allergy problems have a problem with furry pets. Not so, it seems, with the Chihuahua. Although there is no known medical evidence to support the idea that they can cure any disease, many Chihuahua Owners who suffer with Asthma or severe Allergies claim the dogs help. It has not been uncommon for people living in the Southwest to get a Chihuahua for a child or family member with Asthma or Allergy problems. The dogs sometimes lie near that person's mouth while they are sleeping and later become ill. At the same time, the person involved would wake up feeling better. The idea was that the problem was transferred from the suffering human to the dog. Whether that part of the tale is true or not, it is a fact that Asthma and Allergy sufferers seem to do better with short or long haired Chihuahuas then with any other dog breed.
CHIHUAHUAS COME FROM CHINA OR EGYPT - There is some evidence that Chihuahuas may have already existed in Africa and Asia before they were discovered in America, but none so conclusive to say that they originated in any of those places. We are just now discovering that seafarers may have visited our shores long before Columbus or even the Vikings. This may account for the presence of Chihuahuas in other parts of the world. No one really knows the exact origin of the Chihuahua.
IF REALLY UPSET, A CHIHUAHUA'S EYES WILL FALL OUT OF IT'S HEAD - The 'bug eye' look of some Chihuahuas undoubtedly lead to this myth. Modern science has shown this to be false.
SEWER RATS HAVE BEEN SOLD AS CHIHUAHUAS - This is yet another branch of the false rodent identity once attributed to Chihuahua dogs. Years ago, a story appeared in one of the supermarket tabloids proclaiming that a couple visiting Mexico came upon the hybrid of a rat-dog mix that looked like a Chihuahua. The story went on to say that purchased the creature and brought their discovery back to the USA. Once home, the animal attacked and killed cats and even large dogs in their neighborhood leading to the need for its destruction. This lead to the often repeated and equally nonsensical rumor of a couple who vacationed in Mexico and brought home a sewer rat they had purchased as a Chihuahua.
AN ANCIENT CHIHUAHUA WAS DISCOVERED PERFECTLY PRESERVED IN A SOUTH AMERICAN PYRAMID - Here is another crazy story courtesy of our friends at the supermarket tabloids. This one appeared in an early 1970's tabloid article. A perfectly preserved Chihuahua was said to have been discovered in a South American pyramid amongst a king's ransom in gold and jewels. The article claimed that the animal was so perfectly preserved that the dog's flesh was still edible, blood samples could be extracted from the dog's body and the animal's eyes were a color never before seen in animals(???). Well, they made it up, not me!
The craziest thing about all the tale tales that surround the Chihuahua Breed is that some may actually be true. The Chihuahua is the world's smallest dog breed and longest-lived. Animal Behaviorists tell us that Chihuahuas are the only dogs that tend to prefer the company of humans to that of other dogs. They will nurse kittens and seem to have helped people who suffer from various maladies. With a background like that, I suppose almost anything is possible. However, one thing is for sure. They make the world's best pets!
Celebrities Love Chihuahua Dogs
She may not be able to put up with Simon Cowell and his sharp-tongued criticisms on American Idol or The X-Factor, but Paula Abdul can’t get enough of her three Chihuahuas- Thumbelina, Tulip and Tinkerbell. There’s no doubt that if there were an American Canine Idol contest for dog breeds, Chihuahuas would receive a solid ’YES’ from Paula when it comes to cuteness, intelligence and hug-ability! When it comes to celebrities, Paula is certainly not alone in her adoration of Chihuahuas.
Marilyn Monroe grew up in Los Angeles. As a child, she had a black and white dog that followed her to school. She named the dog Tippy and played with it during recess. A neighbor shot the dog dead in 1932 claiming that Tippy had repeatedly damaged his garden. After that incident, Marilyn seemed to have cooled to the idea of pet ownership. She shared a spaniel while staying with the Goddard Family in 1940, but didn’t actually adopt her own pet until after she signed with Columbia Pictures about eight years later. While making movies at Columbia, Marilyn adopted a Chihuahua she named ’Choo Choo’ in 1948. One story says that Marilyn saw a few grips and camera operators playing with a Chihuahua while on a break and instantly fell in love with the Breed. Another version claims that the studio encouraged Marilyn to adopt a tiny puppy for the sake of publicity. It is more likely that she choose the pup for her own reasons.
Marilyn became a bit of a trendsetter by adopting a Chihuahua during a time when glamour dogs like toy and full-sized Poodles were considered more chic. Looking back, it was a terrific move that immediately separated her from most other Starlets of the day. The more Marilyn and her Chihuahua were seen and photographed together in public, the more interest people began to have in the Breed. Another sexy, bleached blond film goddess soon followed Marilyn’s example. Jayne Mansfield owned at least two Chihuahuas and was said to have been an animal lover. One of her dogs died in the car accident that took her life in 1967. The following year saw the release of The Wild, Wild World of Jayne Mansfield. Perhaps the campiest semi-documentary of all time, this film had four directors and was obviously a vehicle designed to make money off her death. Filled with nude scenes and real life weirdoes, the best actor in the movie was said to have been Jayne’s Chihuahua.
Today, Paris Hilton seems to be the trendsetter when it comes to Chihuahua popularity. While it is doubtful that Paula Abdul was inspired to adopt her Chihuahuas by Paris, the two celebrities both have females named Tinkerbell. Although we haven’t seen Paula’s pets on American Idol, Paris has made her tiny toy dog a canine superstar by appearing with Tinkerbell on magazine covers and featuring her in episodes of The Simple Life series on Fox TV. Paris once told reporters that she was inspired to adopt a Chihuahua after seeing Legally Blond, starring Reese Witherspoon and the unstoppable Bruiser. Film inspired dog adoptions are nothing new. Films like Benji, 101 Dalmatians and Beethoven had moviegoers scrambling to find look-a-likes for themselves or their children. This wasn’t always a good thing for the dogs or breed in question.
Most people who wanted a ‘Benji’ for themselves chose Yorkies, Silkies and Terrier mixes that just love to chew on anything they can find. Contrary to what was portrayed in the film, those who adopted a Dalmatian probably made the unfortunate discovery that this breed can be very temperamental and downright mean with children. As for Saint Bernard’s, few people have the space for them. Those who do may not want the huge feeding and veterinarian bills that come with such a large breed of dog.
Those who saw Legally Blond and decided they wanted a Chihuahua were pleasantly surprised. Chi’s are generally sweet animals that do not have a tendency toward destructive behavior and love to be with people. They may well be the easiest of all dog breeds to care for. One of the big advantages to owning a Chihuahua is that they love to go everywhere and are easy to transport because of their size. That suits the lifestyle of most celebrities who always seem to be on the go. It’s no wonder that so many have chosen a Chihuahua as their canine companion.
Anne Heche loves her Chihuahua and has been known to spend big bucks on all kinds of goodies for her pet. It’s been reported that Anne likes to shop at high fashion doggie stores like the pricey Fifi and Romeo which is based in Los Angeles (where else?). The Osbournes, the world’s most famous four-letter word family, also have a thing for Chihuahuas. Ozzie probably appreciates having a small dog breed that hasn’t turned his home into one large litter box as some of their bigger dogs have. Despite all the advantages of Chihuahua ownership, these canines have not always enjoyed the amount of popularity they do now.
Nasty rumors about the use of Chihuahuas in traditional Aztec ceremonies many centuries ago once left a bad taste in the mouths of small dog breed enthusiasts. Many archeologists and historians believed that Chihuahuas were eaten as part of religious ceremonies! Some still believe it. This incorrect interpretation of history was based on notes taken by conquistadors and missionary priests. They failed to understand the symbolic nature of rituals depicted on stone carvings and were likely the victims of native propaganda offered up to make the Aztecs appear even fiercer then they already were. Such stories were probably the result of the outgunned Aztecs attempting to instill fear in an enemy that possessed superior weaponry.
We now know that the Aztecs believed Chihuahuas could be used as spirit guides to help the dead find their way through the underworld. As a result, many were probably killed for the sole purpose of assisting nobles and royalty on their journey through death. They were not eaten! These ideas may have come from religious ceremonies practiced over a thousand years ago by the Toltecs. After their conquest by the Aztecs, Toltec ceremonies and rituals were adopted by their conquerors. However, there is sufficient evidence to prove that many of these rites had already been changed or abandoned by the time the conquistadors arrived.
Montezuma II, the last emperor of the Aztecs, had hundreds of Chihuahuas. Each dog had its own keeper and these animals were given royal protection. The Emperor’s love for the Breed is said to have been handed down to him by several of his predecessors who may have outlawed the killing of Chihuahuas and changed their part in religious ceremonies. By the time the Conquistadors arrived, these dogs were more pets and living good luck charms of the Emperor and Aztec nobility then anything else.
Chihuahuas have always had an almost supernatural appeal to humans. Their ability to warm the hearts of people is legendary. When you add to this the fact that Chihuahuas are the world’s smallest dogs and longest lived, is it any wonder why celebrities like Rosie O’Donnell, George Lopez, Noah Wylie and others can’t get enough of them? The votes are in. It's Chihuahuas that have caused celebrities to go to the dogs!
Tinkerbell: A Cautionary Dog's Tale
In the midst of the 2004 political season and a Presidential Election it was a bit odd to find a story about a lost dog topping the news. But that’s just what happened in August of 2004. The missing dog was a Chihuahua named Tinkerbell and her owner was Paris Hilton. Even stranger, the dog has become as famous as her owner. Tinkerbell captured the imagination of many who watched Paris and her friend, Nicole Ritchie, try to live THE SIMPLE LIFE on the Fox TV Network. Tinkerbell was featured in a number of episodes.
In an effort to retain a degree of privacy, while still trying to get the word out about her missing pet, Paris released as little information as possible. In fact, she originally tried to retrieve Tinkerbell via posters placed throughout the Hollywood Hills. Listing the owner of the lost dog as Wendy, she offered a modest $1000 reward and didn‘t list the dog‘s name on the poster. When that didn’t work, the story was leaked to the media. At that point the real identity of the dog and her owner became known and the story appeared throughout the world! Those who could still find them, collected the missing pup posters from around Hollywood and sold them on Ebay for thousands of dollars.
Although details are still sketchy and some say Tinkerbell was never lost at all, the dog was reunited with her owner less then a week later. Whether Tinkerbell was lost or merely left with a relative and forgotten as some have reported, the incident brought to light the need for pet owners to act responsibly when it comes to their pet’s safety and security. Like Paris, many just assume that their dogs are safe in the hands of electronic security systems and amateur pet sitters. In reality, anyone can find themselves suddenly faced with the tragedy of a missing or stolen pet. The best way to help prevent such a disaster is to act as responsibly toward a pet as you would toward a child.
Responsible parents teach young children not to bolt out of doors and set boundaries for them using security systems, gates, fences and locks until they learn where they can and cannot go. The same should be true of pets. While security systems, gates, fences and locks are helpful, they are poor substitutes for training a dog not to bolt. Your pet should be taught what territorial limitations are best for its safety. A variety of training methods and tools are available to accomplish this. Visit http://advice.azpuppies.com for free training tips.
Not all dogs respond well to territorial training and they may need to be restricted to one area while their owners are out. The old school thought of letting a dog roam the property outside a house to protect it and avoid a mess inside the home is not practical today. Not only does this place the animal at risk of being stolen, but it also places a pet owner at risk to litigation if the dog escapes and harms someone, attacks another pet or does some sort of property damage.
If you want or need a guard dog, then you should purchase one just for that purpose and pay for professional training. Leaving the family pet as a guard dog to watch over things while you’re out is like having a young child home alone to take care of the house and guard against robbers. Even worse, many people ask their friends, relatives and neighbors to take on the responsibility of watching their pets. People just assume that a dog will respond to others the way they do to them, but the opposite is usually true.
I recall getting an email from a person who had what she considered to be an obedient dog. The animal was about two years old and showed no tendency towards bolting or running away. Given that, this person offered to pay her next door neighbor’s teen daughter to feed and care for her dog twice a day during a planned two week vacation. The dog was a valuable breed and the owner was hesitant to board the beloved pet at a kennel. She was afraid the animal would be harmed, contract an illness or be mistreated.
Just two days into the vacation, the owner received a call. The next door neighbor told her that the dog had ran out the door while her daughter was entering the house to feed, water and walk the animal. Needless to say, the owner was beside herself and became convinced that the neighbor had been careless and allowed the dog to run away. Then she imagined that the neighbor might have stolen the animal and sold it. The end of this story is an all too common one. A beloved pet is gone and friends become enemies over poor choices on both their parts regarding animal care. The better choice for this pet owner would have been to use a professional pet sitter or licensed kennel with a good reputation and excellent references.
Every dog owner can take some simple steps to protect their pet:
PHOTO IDENTIFICATION: Regularly take photos of your animal from all sides for the purpose of identification.
DNA: Have a DNA sample taken in case a pet is found and a dispute occurs over ownership.
LICENSE YOUR PET: Be sure you have adhered to any local laws regarding dog licenses. This can also help identify your pet and get it home quicker it the unthinkable happens.
DOCUMENT YOUR PURCHASE OR ADOPTION: Keep any and all papers related to the purchase or adoption of your pet.
WORK WITH YOUR VET: Be sure your Vet keeps clear and complete records of any vaccinations, treatments and examinations involving your dog. These could be useful if an identity dispute develops or in case your dog is involved in an altercation of some sort.
USE LOCKS: Lock up yard gates and other access points to any outside or indoor areas your pet is kept in. Most dog thieves look for animals that are the most valuable and easiest to abduct. An unlocked gate or dog allowed to wander unescorted in a front yard or on a porch are a Welcome sign to criminals.
HIRE PROFESSIONALS: Use insured kennels or pet sitters with impeccable references when you need someone to watch your pet.
LEAVE QUIETLY: Do not upset your dog by picking up, acting out, hugging or holding them when you go out. Just go! They will quickly learn that coming and going is a normal part of your day and will not get upset when you leave.
ASK YOUR VET ABOUT MICROCHIPS AND TATOOS: They are not for all dogs, but can be helpful in identifying a lost or stolen pet.
RESTRICT THEIR TERRITORY WHEN YOU’RE NOT HOME: Select a safe area to keep your pet in when you go out. This area should be inside your home. It can be a baby’s playpen for tiny dogs or a room for larger ones. Place food, water, their favorite toys and a comfortable doggie bed or blanket to sleep on with in them. Use newspapers, wee wee pads or a litter box for potty needs. Make sure this area is always available to them (even when you’re at home) so they do not feel that being placed there is punishment. If this area is a lockable room, lock it! Anyone who might burglarize your home is unlikely to go through the trouble of breaking into a room with a dog of unknown temperament in it. This will not save your belongings, but it might save a beloved pet from being stolen or lost during a burglary.
Remember, no one will ever care as much about your pet as you will. It’s up to you to take the steps necessary to protect your dog and act responsibly when it comes to their safety and well-being.