Named for the state in Mexico, the cheeky and spirited chihuahua is one of the most recognized breeds of dog in the world. While similar in temperament to their short-coated cousins, the sassy long-haired chihuahua has the added benefit of a beautiful, silky coat. These pint-sized pups make great pets for experienced dog owners who are looking for a loyal and lively companion but just don’t have the space to accommodate a larger breed.
Registered in the American Kennel Club’s toy group, these compact dogs have a height of around 5-8 inches and weigh no more than 6 pounds. This makes them the perfect city dog, and they adapt well to apartment life. Yet, seemingly unaware of this small size, this courageous breed will happily challenge any dog that invades their territory, no matter how big the other dog is. Never has small dog syndrome been plainer to see than in the fearsome chihuahua.
Chihuahuas, both long and short-haired, boast an ancient lineage, and that is really all that is known about them. Images of similar dogs are depicted in the artifacts of ancient civilizations across the globe. Some historians credit the breed to the Aztecs, whose Techichi dogs seem to be a larger, heavier version of the modern chihuahua. Others believe that they may have been bred as ratters, their tiny size making them ideal for chasing rodents underground.
While often pampered and babied by doting owners, long-haired chihuahuas are actually pretty smart dogs. Naturally playful and curious, they require plenty of training and stimulation to ensure they don’t develop any problem behaviors. Despite their cute faces, these pups can be somewhat stubborn and need consistent boundaries that are firmly but fairly enforced. Without these, they are likely to run their owners ragged both in the home and while out on walks.
Compared to other breeds, there is an incredible amount of variation in the long-haired chihuahua’s coat colors. The most commonly seen ones are black, chocolate, gold, fawn, and cream. However, these dogs can also be found in hues of blue, red, silver, sable, tan, brown, and white. There are also many recognized markings, with some pups having 2 or even 3 distinct colors in their coat.
A surprising thing about long-haired chihuahuas is that it takes a while for them to develop their full coat. It could take up to 2 years before they grow both their soft down undercoat and long, silky smooth top layer. Once they have it, they need weekly grooming with a long-toothed brush to ensure their hair doesn’t become matted and tangled. The good news is that despite having a double coat, these pups are light shedders.
Long-haired chihuahuas can be very wary of people they don’t know, other dogs and animals, and unfamiliar environments. They will either become very timid and nervous or bark and even snap at every stranger that comes along. Exposing them to a variety of people and animals at a young age can help with this, although some dogs remain vocal for life. These pups make excellent watchdogs, as they will always alert their owners to the presence of people nearby.
Always up for a game, these playful pups are equally happy spending time out in the garden or going for a nice walk. They need daily exercise of around half an hour split into 2 smaller sessions if possible. This is especially important in winter as these little dogs don’t do well in the cold. Chihuahuas, with their delicate necks, should wear a harness rather than a collar.
Like many other small breeds, long-haired chihuahuas have a long life expectancy. In fact, these lucky pups frequently live to see the grand old age of 20. However, their small and delicate nature does mean that they are more at risk of injury than other breeds. One specific problem is that, like human babies, these pups are often born with a vulnerable soft spot at the top of their skull that doesn’t close until they are several months old.
Fiercely loyal, long-haired chihuahuas are a great addition to any adult household. However, those with children need to be a little more careful. Kids are always keen to cuddle and love these darling dogs, which they enjoy in moderation. But they have short tempers and quickly let others know when they are not having fun. These pups will happily live with other animals, but, a clannish breed, they prefer the company of other chihuahuas.
Long-haired Chihuahuas bond very closely with a single family member and then become very protective of that person. They thrive in their owners' company and don’t do well when they are left alone frequently and for long periods. But with the right owners and plenty of attention and affection, these are deeply loving dogs who will happily travel with their family everywhere and provide them with lots of love and kisses along the way.
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