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Monday, May 10, 2010

Chihuahua | Teacup Chihuahua

No quiero Taco Bell y no hablo español. Huh? Attention all chihuahuas and teacup chihuahuas. Do people stop you in the streets to speak to you in spanish that you don't understand? Maybe that is because you're from Asia. Nobody is certain about the chihuahua's origin. While the first chihuahuas purchased by Northern Americans came from  across the border of Juarez Mexico, and while their name is from the Mexican State of Chihuahua, there are no indications that the Toltecs and Aztecs had any domesticated animals, including dogs. There is also no record of any dwarf dogs in Mexico until the year 1875. A possible theory is that the chihuahua arrived that year to the New World on a ship from Asia. 

Physical description: The chihuahua is a tiny toy sized dog with a rounded head and a short and pointed muzzle. The chihuahua puppies are born with a soft spot on the top of their skull, not unlike human babies. It is called a "molera" and it usually does not close. They have large, rounded eyes, set apart. Their ears are erect and large. The coat can be of various lengths and textures. The chihuahua makes an excellent companion dog. Despite its strong will and adventurous personality, the chi is a loyal dog that becomes attached to its owners. No wonder it's rated among the top twelve most popular breeds. 

Size challenge: One more advantage chihuahuas have is their hardiness. But while they're small and mighty, the truth is, especially with tea cup chihuahuas, that they're vulnerable. Teacups usually weight under five pounds and are therefore rather susceptible to physical harm. As joyful and curious as they are, they can easily end up under your foot or you can roll on them in your sleep. Drop a rambunctious teacup chihuahua from less than a foot height, and the poor chi will most likely end up in the emergency room with a fracture or two. Teacup chihuahuas should ideally not be raised in households with small children or large dogs who may accidentally hurt them by merely trying to engage in play. All chihuahuas are to be supervised when outdoors, since they can become victims of all  predators, including birds of prey. 

Training: Due to their strong personalities, chihuahuas need to be trained and disciplined. With today's economy, it's a relatively low cost dog, vet bills excluded, and its messes are easy to clean up. Depending on the household, chihuahuas can be turned into adventurous hikers or couch potatoes. It's up to the owners. Speaking of discipline, there is one issue that needs to be addressed, potty training. All small dogs are particularly difficult to housebreak. Not only do they have tiny bladders, but they also make such small messes that are easy to go undetected, therefore, the best approach is to limit their space, until you are sure they are fully potty trained. An old mess that went undetected will draw them back. If you don't  want to shell out the money for special pet store odor eliminating and enzyme based products, you can clean up and erase all traces of smell by using distilled white vinegar. No worries, after about five minutes the vinegar smell dissipates and then disappears altogether. 

Temperament: Chihuahuas are by nature excessive barkers. Due to their size they are easily overwhelmed and they will either break out into barking or even snapping. Their voices are high pitched and annoying but all those problems can be eliminated with proper training, firm, consistent, and gentle. Balanced chihuahuas, are easy to introduce to an existing pack, and they even get along with cats nicely. 

Some of the chihuahua's health problems are bladder stones, arthritis, and tracheal and heart diseases. They are also prone to seizures. ¡Ay, caramba! One thing I highly recommend to all chihuahua owners, and especially teacup chihuahuas, is have some Nutrical handy. It's a caloric supplement paste, loaded with valuable nutrients, that can jump start a finicky eater too without burdening the digestive tract. Tiny toy dogs cannot last without food for as long as a regular sized ones. They tend to "crash" and the next best solution is a trip to the dog vet for IV fluids. Nutrical can help prevent that. 

Chihuahuas recently gained even more popularity with the release of the movie Beverly Hills Chihuahua (2008) and of course as a purse accessory through media's darling, Paris Hilton. Similar to the effect 101 Damatians (1996) had for the dalmatian breed, the pounds were soon overwhelmed. The need for chihuahua rescue was obvious. Because the main concentration of the media victims was exaggerated on the west coast, in the past few months, there have been movements to mass transport these little guys to no-kill-shelter States. One of those that captured the attention of the media was Operation Chihuahua Airlift

As if the tiny chihuahua wasn't enough, breed variations are growing in popularity as well. They are called designer dogs. Here are a few examples:

chihuahua +  doxie =  chiweenie
chihuahua +  corgi =  chigi
chihuahua + dalmatian = chimation
chihuahua +  havanese = cheenese
chihuahua + chinese crested = chi chi
chihuahua + jack russel terrier = jack chi
chihuahua + maltese = malchi
chihuahua + italian greyhound = italian greyhuahua
chihuahua + pomeranian = chiranian
chihuahua + poodle = chipoo
chihuahua + pug = chug

The list goes on and on (you can see the extended version through the American Canine Hybrid Club), anything is possible but sometimes one wonders if there is a step ladder involved, as in the case of the chimation or the italian greyhuahua. 

All scientific facts aside, both the chihuahua and the teacup chihuahua, are adorable. They make sweet baby grunts, burrow on their owners, and make them feel like the center of their universe. There is a multitude of chihuahua geared products being sold to enhance your and your chi's experience, from blingy outfits and designer dog leashes, to beds and even strollers and carry ons. Do your research and if you think this breed is appropriate for your household, go get your own chihuahua, preferable a rescue dog. And try to speak chinese to it. You never know. 

Happy and muddy teacup chihuahua

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