The Chihuahua dog is perhaps the most recognizable dog there is for dog lovers in the world today. The history of the dog is not very clear but there have been some facts put forward as regards to the dog’s origins. The state of Chihuahua in Mexico could be a good explanation on the origins of this popular dog. This dog could have been discovered in the mid to late 1800s in the ruins around Casas Grandes. Once it was found, it was adopted in Mexican cities by residents who were curious about the new breed. These residents who took the dogs under their care were the first to name the “Chihuahua,” after the state where they are believed to have been found originally.
Origins of the Chihuahua dog
Another explanation on the origins of the Chihuahua dog is an ancient dog called the Techichi which existed in the Toltec civilization. The Techichi had a small frame and similarities in size just like the Chihuahua. In that particular age of the Techichi, it was the most revered dog around, it had a heavy cultural and spiritual symbolism. It was believed that it they were dogs which would follow the Toltecs into the afterlife. When their owners died, the dog would be sacrificed along with them. Several archeologists have concluded that the Techichi’s bone structure could be similar to that of the Chihuahua although this comparison is still cloudy.
Could it be from Europe?
Some believe that the dog’s roots lie in Malta. From history, there was a similar dog, same shape as the Chihuahua which inhabited the islands of Malta. This theory is further enhanced because, Chihuahuas have a soft spot on their skull known as natural molera just like the dog in Malta. It is not just Malta but Italy is claiming a stake in the origins of the Chihuahua. A renowned Italian painter Sandro Botticelli, painted a picture of a boy holding a dog similarly looking like a Chihuahua in 1942 and this painting is on display at the Sistine chapel in Italy.
Finally, the Chihuahua’s roots are traced back to China. When Spanish invaders took over parts of ancient China, it is believed that they took the Chinese crested dog and had it cross breed with the Techichi dog therefore the Chihuahua came into being.
Feeding the Chihuahua
Correct feeding habits will ensure that your Chihuahua is well taken care of. The dog can tend to overfeed and be overweight and that causes health problems. Excessive weight causes canine diabetes and joint problems. The Chihuahua is supposed to well-fed on proteins as its digestive tract is designed to process large quantities of proteins. Again, feeding depends on whether it is a puppy or an adult dog. The best food for Chihuahuas is protein based. You should buy dog food that is rich in lean meat such as chicken, bison and fish. Even organic meat such as liver and kidneys are good for the Chihuahua. Meat is a good source of protein for the dog. Carbohydrates are also good for the Chihuahua. Complex carbohydrates such as sweet potatoes and brown rice are a must if the dog is to avoid hypoglycemia. Fats are able to preserve the coat that covers the Chihuahua. You should feed your Chihuahua with food which contains plenty of minerals and antioxidants.
The amount of calories which you feed your dog should be determined by the age, activity level and metabolism. Chihuahuas are insanely active and they burn great number of calories. They burn calories three times more than an average large dog. This poses a problem as most owns are tempted to overfeed their dogs. A typical Chihuahua will need food which has 200-250 calories. Older Chihuahuas needs 167 calories while the active ones have to be fed 324 calories.
What determines the lifespan of a Chihuahua
The lifespan of the average Chihuahua dog is an average of 15 to 20 years. Factors which influence the lifespan of the dog can be controllable – such as good feeding habits. Others are unfortunately not within your control. The 15 to 20 year lifespan is the most dominant finding but owners can make sure that they give their dog the fullest life possible. The factors that influence the lifespan of a Chihuahua are the kind of diet they take.
Nutritious food that is well-balanced with no additives will go a long way into increasing the quality of life of your dog. Overfeeding your dog will succumb it to obesity and canine diabetes which will lessen their chances of living long.
Influential to a Chihuahua’s lifespan is weight. Obesity is the main threat that Chihuahuas face and this exposes them to diseases such as cardiovascular diseases and diabetes. Also underweight Chihuahuas face trouble such as a weak immune system and malnutrition. Another circumstance that is not in your control is the genetics which is determining factor in a Chihuahua’s lifespan. The best you can do is picking a puppy with parents who are healthy. Play is another important factor in the health and lifespan of a Chihuahua. Ensure that it is as active as possible. Play with it games such as fetch and walk it around as much as possible to sustain the energy levels of the dog. By playing, it also builds its fitness, strengthens its immune system, burns excess fat and staves off illnesses. Neutering a male Chihuahua before the age of one will prevent its chances of getting testicular and prostate cancer. And fixing female Chihuahuas before their first heat cycle will ensure that they will not be at risk of getting ovarian and uterine cancers. Spraying Chihuahuas will make them live longer.
Gender is a determinant to the lifespan of a Chihuahua. Like in human beings, women tend to live longer than men as science has told us. It is the same for Chihuahuas where the female Chihuahua will live longer than the male by 1 or 2 years.
On a side note, the world’s oldest Chihuahua lived for 20 years and 265 days setting a record before it passed on in January last year.
Health of the Chihuahua
The quality of healthcare which you give your dog will definitely determine the lifespan of the Chihuahua. It is the duty of the owner to take them to the vet whenever they get unwell. If you do not take them to the vet in time, they will succumb to their ill-health. So regular checkups are important. Diagnosing diseases before they become full blown crises is the way to go in ensuring the quality of life if your dog is safeguarded. Along with this is the fact that Chihuahuas have to be vaccinated. They have to be vaccinated against parvovirus, kennel cough, canine influenza and rabies. Vaccination is a sure way of taking care of your dog and making sure that it lives its full years. Ensure that you take care of the oral health of your Chihuahua, they are vulnerable to gum disease and tooth decay. If a Chihuahua is not attended to while it has oral problems, bacteria enters the bloodstream through the diseased gums and goes straight to the heart and kidneys where maximum damage will be inflicted.
Grooming the Chihuahua
The Chihuahua requires grooming. Grooming it moderately will make them look good. It does not matter if it is a longhaired or shorthaired dog, brushing is an important element which keeps the coat healthy. Shorthaired Chihuahuas are recommended to be brushed once per week and for the longhaired ones, ensure that you brush it 3 times per week. The tail, legs and lower chest should be properly combed. Before brushing the coat, you should mist it first as a dry comb will lead to split ends which will lead to ill-health of the coat. Mist the coat using a canine conditioner or grooming spray that will protect the hair and leave the fur clean and shiny. When you are brushing ensure that you brush deep enough to get rid of dead hair along with debris that has hang around the coat. Doing this also stimulates natural oils which make the coat and skin healthy. You should do this for around 10 minutes.
Bathing the Chihuahua is mandatory and should be done at least once every 3 to 4 weeks. Use high quality canine conditioner and shampoo. There are several tips for bathing the Chihuahua. You should probably bathe it in a small space like a sink since it is a small dog. A smaller space allows the dog to be handled better and makes the dog less afraid of the bathing experience. When washing the dog, do not use human shampoos and conditioners. Canine conditioners shampoos and conditioners have the appropriate PH balance for a dog’s skin. Rinsing the dog thoroughly is a must. Leaving soap behind exposes the dog to skin infections. Your attitude and tone during bathing time will influence how well you wash your dog. Praising it will make it react well to the grooming and bathing exercise.
Parts that should be keenly considered when cleaning and grooming
There are several areas to check when you are cleaning your Chihuahua. Trim the nails every 3 months. The nails have to be checked because they can cause discomfort to the dog. Trimming the nails will avoid skeletal damage which caused by irregular gait and ingrown nails. The dog’s anal glands also have to be washed very well since it is the part which scent glands are produced and makes sure they mark their territory. Aside from that, the glands help to know the health status of the dog. The ears of a Chihuahua are easily recognizable and are a key part of cleaning and grooming the dog. Cleaning the ears well removes dirt and debris lodged in the ears, it reduces chances of ear infections and removes excess wax from their ears. When washing the dog place a clean piece of cotton in the ears to prevent water from entering the canals. Do monthly ear cleansing to remove excess wax from the dog’s ears. Wax tends to build up. Signs that your Chihuahua has an ear problem are incessant scratching of the ears, when a bad odor emanates from the ears and when a discharge is coming from the ears.
Allergies and allergens
There are three types of allergies that a Chihuahua suffers. There is the external, internal and inhaled. External allergies can be brought about by things such as bathing materials (shampoos, detergents, the materials of brushes that are used to groom the dog etc.). Some allergies may be caused by the clothes that are used to clothe the dog. Internal allergies are caused by things which the dog ingests. It could be an allergic reaction caused by the food that it has eaten. And finally the inhalation, allergies could be caused by pollen and grass. Dust mites are also responsible for this kind of allergic reaction.
The Chihuahua is a very energetic dog, the owner will need to have the time and energy to keep up with it. Its temperament is very loyal but it also depends on the dog. The dog becomes very attached to humans through activities like playing, grooming and training. The Chihuahua interacts well with other dogs as well as cats. It is fiercely loyal if it senses that its owner is in danger from an unknown person or thing, it will bark and show it is fearless. They are clingy and scared too sometimes. But there is a warning, Extreme Chihuahua aggression might manifest in them. This is when they bite people who already know it such as family members. They can be shy and have mood swings as well.
Generally, the Chihuahua dog is an interesting one to have. Having known important aspects of the dog, you can make a decision on whether to acquire it or not.