Popularized by Paris Hilton and countless other celebrities, the teacup chihuahua has earned the heart of Hollywood and recently even had its own movie, "Beverly Hills Chihuahua." This dog may seem to have been bred to for a designer bag and endless pampering at a doggy spa, but this spirited, tiny yet vivacious pooch deserves much more consideration.
According to Dogs Central, the chihuahua's ancestor was larger and heavier, and was raised by the Toltec people of Central America as early as the ninth century. This dog likely was crossed with smaller Asian dogs that came across the Bering Strait. Regardless, the chihuahua that is known and loved today hails from its namesake city in Mexico, and was one the first breeds to be registered by the American Kennel Club (AKC) in 1904.
There are two types of chihuahuas: smooth coated and long haired. According to the professionals at Dog Breed Info Center, the smooth-coated variety has a straight, soft, shiny coat with a scruff near the neck, while the coat of the long-haired chihuahua is longer, can be curly or flat, and has a feathering of fur at the chest as long as scruff near the neck.
Colors range from white to red and brown to black, and the coat can be completely solid or patterned.
Height is not as important for the breed standard, but most chihuahuas are no more than 10 inches to the shoulder. A true teacup chihuahua weighs no more than 6 pounds.
The lifespan of this little dog is eight to 18 years.
Chihuahuas are very energetic animals by nature, and if they are not bred correctly, can be prone to overly nervous, excited behaviors. Though small, they have big personalities and need a lot of attention. They tend to bond with one person, and they can be unpredictable with small children.
You must train a chihuahua early in its life. The Chihuahua Guide stresses a positive but assertive approach when training your chihuahua, which is prone to willfulness. Chihuahuas also have short attention spans and need to be constantly challenged. Keep training on a consistent schedule so your dog understands that you want it to learn something--especially crucial advice for housebreaking. For more information, see the link to the Chihuahua Guide under "Additional Resources."
Are Teacup Chihuahuas Right for You?
Considering that they are easily portable and do not require much space, teacup chihuahuas are a great dog choice for city and apartment dwellers. Although small in stature, they can make excellent watchdogs. Because they are toy dogs, however, they are rather fragile compared to larger dogs. They also can be defensive around strangers and may bark incessantly when they feel unsafe. Known to be difficult to housebreak, the breed also can be possessive and high strung if not bred properly. One vet has gone as far as to blog about why chihuahuas are difficult dogs; find a link to it under "Additional Resources."
Always keep a chihuahua on a harness-type leash when walking it. Chihuahuas typically don't seem to realize their small size and can act aggressively toward much bigger, heavier dogs.
While training your chihuahua, use a harness--not a choke chain or leash, either of which could injure or even tear your dog's trachea.