First in Series: The Chihuahua
By Kathleen Knowles
America loves their pets! There is no denying that. Most people today who own a dog consider their canine furball as a member of the family and rightly so. For if you don’t……buy a fish.
Dogs for centuries have provided their human counterparts with love, affection, and joy. They have become essential in the daily lives of many disabled individuals. To some of us, it is unthinkable to be without at least one canine in the household! More than one for some of us is a must!
Choosing a dog to become a family member is a big decision. You must determine whether you want a mix-breed dog or a pedigreed one. A mix-breed is exactly what it implies, more than one breed of dog mixed together. A pedigreed dog is one breed only with nothing but that breed in its pedigree going back for generations. What size is right for you? Should you buy a long-haired dog or a short-coated one? A big dog or a small dog?
Advertisements - Click the Speaker Icon for Audio
This writer has been involved with purebred dogs her entire life. There are some advantages to both the mix-breed and the pedigreed dog. Mix-breeds are generally cheaper to purchase and can be found at the local Humane Society. All of them are worthy of forever homes. Purebreds normally will cost more, but you will have the advantage of knowing what the puppy will look like when he or she grows up. You will also have an idea of how big your puppy will become, which could be very important if you live in a one-room apartment.
Naturally, as a former breeder of Pekingese as well as a professional handler of the breed, I have attended hundreds of AKC (American Kennel Club) dog shows. Therefore, I believe in purebred dogs and encourage them over mix-breeds. I personally prefer to purchase from a show-breeder as they care about the health and well-being of their lines. Not all dogs bred by show breeders will come up to show standards. All of them will at times have pet puppies to place in forever homes. Breeders also will remain as consultants for any problems that might arise with your new puppy.
In this series of articles, we will discuss some of the different breeds of pedigreed dogs, how they would fare as pets and whether or not the featured breed is the breed for you.
The Chihuahua as a Pet
Chihuahuas are named after the state of Chihuahua in Mexico and are living proof that great things come in small packages. Despite some peoples’ impression that Chihuahuas are little “ankle biters,” they make excellent pets. Weighing in at a top weight of six pounds, (per the AKC standard) and standing generally between six and nine inches tall, (although the AKC standard does not specify the height of the dog), they are the smallest of the Canine Kingdom.
If you are looking for a loyal pet, you can do no better than a Chihuahua. They can be a bit needy as these tiny dogs want to be with the person they love as much as possible. If you live alone, they may be perfect for you as they quite often attached themselves to one person. Temperaments vary in this breed. They can be bold and feisty; some have no idea how small they are and can be willing to take on dogs many times their size. Others can be timid and nervous. A great deal will depend on breeding and socialization.
They come in two varieties: smooth-coat (the most common) and long-coat. Which one you choose will depend entirely on your preference.
There are many advantages to owning a Chihuahua. For one, they don’t take up much room. They are ideal for small apartments or houses. Unlike keeping much larger dogs clean, bathing a Chi is easy. They fit just fine in the kitchen sink!
Chihuahuas can be trained to go outside to relieve themselves or trained to use a “pee-pee pad” in the house in extremely cold weather. There are a variety of coats and sweaters which can be purchased to help keep your little canine friend warm in the winter. However, it is not recommended they be left out very long in the cold; just long enough to do their business. They are not outside dogs regardless of the climate in your area and must live in the house with you year around.
Like any other dog, these little fellows will need exercise. However, a large yard is not needed to accommodate them. Minimal exercise is adequate. Your little buddy will also enjoy a daily walk. Chihuahuas only require small beds to sleep in, although it is guaranteed, they will much prefer to sleep in your bed with you. Don’t be surprised when he burrows under the covers!
Another advantage of owning a Chihuahua is they are one of the longest living breeds of dogs out there. It is not uncommon for them to live for fourteen to eighteen years. You will be able to enjoy your canine friend for a long time.
Although Chihuahuas are generally healthy dogs, like all breeds there are some conditions to look out for. The breed can be prone to a collapsed trachea, heart disease, slipping patellas and dental disease. By the most part, with good preventative veterinary care, they can be expected to live a long healthy life.
If you have children, you will need to teach them how to handle and treat a Chihuahua. Obviously, they are entirely too small for a child to lay on or treat roughly. Children and Chihuahuas can easily co-exist if they are taught to respect the small size of the dog. Chi’s can also get along with other canines. Two or more of these little guys can become best friends. It is not uncommon for them to rule the roost when larger dogs are present!
Even though a Chihuahua cannot protect you, despite their small size, they still make good watchdogs. With their excellent hearing, your Chi will alert you when strangers are near, especially if someone rings the doorbell!
All in all, Chihuahuas have a larger than life attitude; are energetic, comical, entertaining, sometimes clingy, but are loving and loyal. They make excellent pets for the right people.
Kathleen Knowles is a life-long resident of Port Huron and a 1973 graduate of Port Huron High School. After attending St. Clair County Community College, she has worked for credit unions all of her life as well as a professional dog show handler, known for handling Pekingese. Kathleen has been writing fiction for years as a hobby, having posted many stories online.