Chihuahua (dog)

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Chihuahua
Chihuahua1 bvdb.jpg
A purebred Chihuahua showing the classic features of the breed
Other namesChihuahua
Common nicknamesChi, Chi-chi
OriginChihuahua Mexico
Traits
Weight Male 1.8–2.7 kg (4–6 lb)
Female 1.8–2.7 kg (4–6 lb)
Height Male 15–25 cm (6–10 in)
Female 15–25 cm (6–10 in)
Coat Short-haired (smooth coat) and long-coat
Color white, black, tan and many other colors
Litter size usually 2–5
Life span 12–20 years
Classification / standards
FCI Group 9, Section 6 Chihuahua#218 standard
AKC Toy dog standard
ANKC Group 1 (Toys) [Smooth Stds
Long standard]
CKC Group 5 – Toys standard
KC (UK) Toy [Smooth Stds
Long standard]
NZKC Toy [Smooth Stds
Long standard]
UKC Companion Breeds standard
Domestic dog (Canis lupus familiaris)

The Chihuahua /ɪˈwɑːwɑː/ ( Loudspeaker.svg listen ) (Spanish : chihuahueño) [1] is the smallest breed of dog and is named after the state of Chihuahua in Mexico. Chihuahuas come in a wide variety of colors, and two coat lengths.

Spanish language Romance language

Spanish or Castilian is a Romance language that originated in the Castile region of Spain and today has hundreds of millions of native speakers in the Americas and Spain. It is a global language and the world's second-most spoken native language, after Mandarin Chinese.

Dog domestic animal

The domestic dog is a member of the genus Canis (canines), which forms part of the wolf-like canids, and is the most widely abundant terrestrial carnivore. The dog and the extant gray wolf are sister taxa as modern wolves are not closely related to the wolves that were first domesticated, which implies that the direct ancestor of the dog is extinct. The dog was the first species to be domesticated and has been selectively bred over millennia for various behaviors, sensory capabilities, and physical attributes.

Chihuahua (state) State of Mexico

Chihuahua, officially the Estado Libre y Soberano de Chihuahua, is one of the 31 states of Mexico. It is located in Northwestern Mexico and is bordered by the states of Sonora to the west, Sinaloa to the southwest, Durango to the south, and Coahuila to the east. To the north and northeast, it has a long border with the U.S. adjacent to the U.S. states of New Mexico and Texas. Its capital city is Chihuahua City.

Contents

History

A Techichi, likely the ancestor of Chihuahuas Techichi.jpg
A Techichi, likely the ancestor of Chihuahuas

The Chihuahua's history is convoluted, and many theories surround the origin of the breed. Both folklore and archaeological finds show that the breed has origins in Mexico. The most common theory is that Chihuahua are descended from the Techichi, a companion dog favored by the Toltec civilization in Mexico. [2] No records of the Techichi are available before the 9th century, although dog pots from Colima, Mexico, buried as part of the western Mexico shaft tomb tradition, which date back to 300 BC, are thought to depict Techichis. [3] The earlier ancestors probably were present before the Mayas as dogs approximating the Chihuahua are found in materials from the Great Pyramid of Cholula, antedating 1530 and in the ruins of Chichen Itza on the Yucatán Peninsula. [2] However, a genetic study indicated that there was less than 2 percent pre-European mitochondrial DNA in modern Chihuahuas due to admixture with the European dogs. [4]

Archaeology, or archeology, is the study of human activity through the recovery and analysis of material culture. The archaeological record consists of artifacts, architecture, biofacts or ecofacts and cultural landscapes. Archaeology can be considered both a social science and a branch of the humanities. In North America archaeology is a sub-field of anthropology, while in Europe it is often viewed as either a discipline in its own right or a sub-field of other disciplines.

Mexico Country in the southern portion of North America

Mexico, officially the United Mexican States, is a country in the southern portion of North America. It is bordered to the north by the United States; to the south and west by the Pacific Ocean; to the southeast by Guatemala, Belize, and the Caribbean Sea; and to the east by the Gulf of Mexico. Covering almost 2,000,000 square kilometres (770,000 sq mi), the nation is the fifth largest country in the Americas by total area and the 13th largest independent state in the world. With an estimated population of over 120 million people, the country is the tenth most populous state and the most populous Spanish-speaking state in the world, while being the second most populous nation in Latin America after Brazil. Mexico is a federation comprising 31 states and Mexico City, a special federal entity that is also the capital city and its most populous city. Other metropolises in the state include Guadalajara, Monterrey, Puebla, Toluca, Tijuana and León.

Toltec Pre-columbian civilization

The Toltec culture is an archaeological Mesoamerican culture that dominated a state centered in Tula, Hidalgo, Mexico in the early post-classic period of Mesoamerican chronology. The later Aztec culture saw the Toltecs as their intellectual and cultural predecessors and described Toltec culture emanating from Tōllān[ˈtoːlːaːn] as the epitome of civilization; in the Nahuatl language the word Tōltēcatl[toːlˈteːkat͡ɬ] (singular) or Tōltēcah[toːlˈteːkaʔ] (plural) came to take on the meaning "artisan". The Aztec oral and pictographic tradition also described the history of the Toltec Empire, giving lists of rulers and their exploits.

Wheeled dog toys in Mesoamerica range from Mexico to El Salvador. The earliest of these were found at Tres Zapotes in Veracruz, Mexico, which date to 100 AD, [5] indirect evidence that a Chihuahua-like breed was in Mexico over 1400 years before the first Europeans arrived. [5]

Tres Zapotes

Tres Zapotes is a Mesoamerican archaeological site located in the south-central Gulf Lowlands of Mexico in the Papaloapan River plain. Tres Zapotes is sometimes referred to as the third major Olmec capital, but the Olmec phase is only a portion of the site's history, which continued through the Epi-Olmec and Classic Veracruz cultural periods.

Dog effigy pots dating to around 1325 AD discovered in Georgia and Tennessee also appear to represent the Chihuahua. [6] In 1850, a pot featuring the Chihuahua-like dogs was unearthed in old ruins at Casas Grandes in the Mexican state of Chihuahua, which dates from 1100–1300 AD showing the long history of such dogs at this site, [5] although most artifacts relating to its existence are found around Mexico City. It has been argued that these pots arrived with survivors from the Casas Grandes site in Chihuahua, Mexico, after it was attacked and destroyed around 1340 AD.

Casas Grandes prehistoric archaeological site in the northern Mexican state of Chihuahua

Casas Grandes is a prehistoric archaeological site in the northern Mexican state of Chihuahua. Construction of the site is attributed to the Mogollon culture. Casas Grandes has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is under the purview of INAH.

In a 1520 letter, Hernan Cortés wrote that the Aztecs raised and sold the little dogs as food. [7] Colonial records refer to small, nearly hairless dogs at the beginning of the 19th century, one of which claims 16th-century Conquistadores found them plentiful in the region later known as Chihuahua. [8] Small dogs such as Chihuahuas were also used as living hot-water bottles during illness or injury. Some believe this practice is where the idea of pain being transferred to animals from humans originated, which gave way to rituals such as burning the deceased with live dogs, such as the Techichi, to exonerate the deceased human's sins. [9] Chihuahuas as we know them today remained a rarity until the early 20th century; the American Kennel Club (AKC) did not register a Chihuahua until 1904. [10]

Aztecs Ethnic group of central Mexico and its civilization

The Aztecs were a Mesoamerican culture that flourished in central Mexico in the post-classic period from 1300 to 1521. The Aztec peoples included different ethnic groups of central Mexico, particularly those groups who spoke the Nahuatl language and who dominated large parts of Mesoamerica from the 14th to the 16th centuries. Aztec culture was organized into city-states (altepetl), some of which joined to form alliances, political confederations, or empires. The Aztec Empire was a confederation of three city-states established in 1427, Tenochtitlan, city-state of the Mexica or Tenochca; Texcoco; and Tlacopan, previously part of the Tepanec empire, whose dominant power was Azcapotzalco. Although the term Aztecs is often narrowly restricted to the Mexica of Tenochtitlan, it is also broadly used to refer to Nahua polities or peoples of central Mexico in the prehispanic era, as well as the Spanish colonial era (1521–1821). The definitions of Aztec and Aztecs have long been the topic of scholarly discussion, ever since German scientist Alexander von Humboldt established its common usage in the early nineteenth century.

Description

A longhair apple head Chihuahua Brouwn chiwawa dog.JPG
A longhair apple head Chihuahua
A shorthair deer head Chihuahua Chihuahua-Dog.JPG
A shorthair deer head Chihuahua

Chihuahuas are the smallest breed recognized by some kennel clubs. [11]

There are two varieties of Chihuahua recognized by the AKC– the Smooth Coat (shorthaired) and the Long Coat (longhaired). Both the Smooth and the Long Coats have their special attractions and are equally easy to keep clean and well groomed. [12] The UK Kennel Club considers the two as distinct breeds; matings between the two are not eligible for KC registration.

Dogs of either coat type may be identified as either "apple head" or "deer head" Chihuahuas, particularly in the United States. Apple heads have rounded heads, close-set eyes, and relatively short ears and legs. Deer heads have flat-topped heads, more widely set eyes, larger ears, and longer, more slender legs. While deer heads were popular in the mid-20th century, current breed standards defined by registries such as the AKC specify the apple-head conformation. [13]

Appearance

Breed standards for this dog do not generally specify a height; only a weight and a description of their overall proportions. Generally, the height ranges between 6 and 9 in (15 and 23 cm); [11] however, some dogs grow as tall as 30 to 38 cm (12 to 15 in). [14] Both British and American breed standards state that a Chihuahua must not weigh more than 5.9 lb (2.7 kg) for conformation. [11] However, the British standard also states that a weight of 4–6 lb (1.8–2.7 kg) is preferred. A clause stating. "if two dogs are equally good in type, the more diminutive one is preferred" was removed in 2009. [15] The Fédération Cynologique Internationale standard calls for dogs ideally between 1.5 and 3.0 kg (3.3 and 6.6 lb), although smaller ones are acceptable in the show ring. [16]

Pet Chihuahuas (that is, those bred or purchased as companions rather than show dogs) often range above these weights, even above 10 lb if they have large bone structures or are allowed to become overweight. [11] This does not mean that they are not purebred Chihuahuas; they just do not meet the requirements to enter a conformation show. Oversized Chihuahuas are seen in some of the best, and worst, bloodlines. Chihuahuas do not breed true for size, and puppies from the same litter can mature in drastically different sizes from one another. Also, larger breeding females are less likely to experience dystocia (obstructed labor). Typically, the breed standard for both the Long and Short Coat Chihuahuas will be identical except for the description of the coat. [17] Chihuahuas have large, round eyes and large, erect ears, set in a high, dramatically rounded skull. [11]

The Kennel Club in the United Kingdom and the AKC in the United States recognize only two varieties of Chihuahua: the long coat, and the smooth coat, also referred to as longhaired and shorthaired. [18] The term smooth coat does not mean that the hair is necessarily smooth, as the hair can range from having a velvet touch to a whiskery feeling. Longhaired Chihuahuas are actually smoother to the touch, having soft, fine guard hairs and a downy undercoat, which gives them their fluffy appearance. Unlike many longhaired breeds, longhaired Chihuahuas require no trimming and minimal grooming. Contrary to popular belief, the longhaired breed also typically sheds less than its shorthaired counterparts. Up to three or more years may be needed before a full longhaired coat develops.

Chihuahuas occur in virtually any color combination, from solid to marked or splashed, [18] allowing for colors from solid black to solid white, spotted, sabled, or a variety of other colors and patterns. Colors and patterns can combine and affect each other, resulting in a very high degree of variation. Common colors are fawn, red, cream, chocolate, brown, mixed, white, and black. No color or pattern is considered more valuable than another.

The merle coat pattern, which appears mottled, is not traditionally considered part of the breed standard. In May 2007, The Kennel Club decided not to register puppies with this coloration due to the health risks associated with the responsible gene, and in December of that year, formally amended its breed standard to disqualify merle dogs. [19] The Fédération Cynologique Internationale, which represents the major kennel clubs of 84 countries, also disqualified merle. [16] Other countries' kennel clubs, including Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and Germany, have also disqualified merle. However, in May 2008, the Chihuahua Club of America voted that merles would not be disqualified in the United States, and would be fully registrable and able to compete in AKC events. Opponents of merle recognition suspect the coloration came about by modern crossbreeding with other dogs and not by natural genetic drift. [20] [ citation needed ]

Temperament

How a Chihuahua behaves depends on the genetic temperament of his or her parents and grandparents. [21] However, as with all dogs, socialization and training are very important. Like many small dogs, Chihuahuas are less likely than large dogs to be given obedience classes, socialization, or appropriate exercise and training. Frequent victims of "small dog syndrome", in which owners feel no need to provide the kind of training and socialization routinely provided for larger dogs, untrained Chihuahuas suffer the same predictable behavior problems as other untrained dogs regardless of the breed. However, they thrive well when given appropriate socialization and training. [22]

Poorly socialized or frightened Chihuahuas can be easily provoked to attack, so are generally unsuitable for homes with small and undisciplined children. [23] The breed tends to be fiercely loyal to one particular person and in some cases may become overprotective of the person, especially around other people or animals. They are frequently not introduced to or socialized with dogs of other breeds, and as a result do not interact as well with them, as other dogs that have been socialized to interact with different breed types [23] and tend to have a "clannish" nature, often preferring the companionship of other Chihuahuas or Chihuahua mixes over other dogs. [24] These traits generally make them unsuitable for households with children who are not patient and calm. [18] If properly managed by older children, 13 and up, they can adapt to this kind of living with a dedicated owner. The temperament of its owner can make a difference in the temperament of the pup.[ citation needed ]

Chihuahuas love their dens and often burrow themselves in pillows, clothes hampers, and blankets. They are often found under the covers or at the bottom of the bed, deep in the dark and safety of what they perceive as their den. Chihuahuas also enjoy time in sunlight. [25] Chihuahuas sometimes act like cats and climb up to the highest point on a couch, usually on top of the pillows, and curl up into a ball.

Health

Chihuahua puppy Chihuahua puppy (toronjazul).jpg
Chihuahua puppy

This breed requires expert veterinary attention in areas such as birthing and dental care. Dental care is a must for these small dogs, whose jaw size makes for weaker teeth. Although daily brushing provides the best preventive measure, feeding a dental diet or using dental chews for dogs is an effective approach pet owners can take to help prevent and control accumulation of plaque and tartar to avoid consequences of severe periodontal disease. [26] The best physical characteristics of dog food to contribute to cleaning a dog's teeth would be food that is large and dense, so more time is spent chewing, which leads to the surface of the teeth being cleaned.

Chihuahuas, and other toy breeds, can be affected by hydrocephalus. [27] Chihuahua puppies with hydrocephalus have an abnormally large head, are lethargic, and do not grow at the same pace as their siblings. A true case of hydrocephalus can be diagnosed by a veterinarian, though the prognosis is grim.

Apple head Chihuahuas can have moleras, or a soft spot in their skulls, and they are the only breed of dog to be born with an incomplete skull. This is not a defect; it is a normal adaptation facilitating the passage through the birth canal and growth and development of the domed type of forehead. The molera is predominant in the apple heads and is present in nearly all Chihuahua puppies. The molera fills in with age, but great care needs to be taken during the first six months until the skull is fully formed. Some moleras do not close completely and require extra care to prevent injury. [28]

Chihuahua puppies can be at risk for hypoglycemia (low blood sugar). Signs of hypoglycemia include lethargy, sleepiness, uncoordinated walking, unfocused eyes, spasms of the neck muscles or head pulling back or to the side, fainting, and seizures. Hypoglycemia can be avoided with adequate nutrition and frequent feedings, especially for Chihuahuas that are younger, smaller, or leaner. Chihuahua owners should have a simple-sugar supplement on hand to use in emergencies, such as Nutri-Cal or corn syrup. These supplements can be rubbed on the gums and roof of the mouth to rapidly raise the blood sugar level.

However, as with any dog, owners should take care not to overfeed their Chihuahua, since obesity can result in increased rates of joint injuries, tracheal collapse, chronic bronchitis, and shortened lifespan.

As in other breeds with large, protruding eyes, Chihuahuas are prone to eye infections and eye injury. The eyes may water in response to dry air, dust, or airborne allergens.

Collapsed trachea is a health concern characteristic of the Chihuahua breed. [29]

Chihuahuas may tremble or shiver when stressed, excited, or cold. These dogs, especially the short coat variety, are less tolerant of cold than larger breeds, and require a sweater/coat and/or boots in cold weather. They seek warmth in sunshine, under blankets, or on furniture, or human laps.

Some Chihuahuas may present separation anxiety as a result of being so close and loyal to their owners. This is a fairly common cause behind any pacing, excessive salivating, destructive chewing, or barking, howling, or whining in dogs. Many treatments and tips can help prevent separation anxiety in dogs.

The lifespan for a Chihuahua is usually between 12 and 20 years. [30]

Chihuahuas are also known for luxating patella, a genetic condition that can occur in all dogs. In some dogs, the ridges forming the patellar groove are not shaped correctly and a shallow groove is created, causing the patella to luxate or slip out of place, sideways. The knee cap sliding across the bony ridges of the femur can cause some pain. The affected chihuahua will hold its leg flexed, and foot off the ground until the quadriceps muscle relaxes and lengthens, after which the animal feels no discomfort and continues with activity.

Chihuahuas are also prone to some heart-related disorders, such as heart murmurs and pulmonic stenosis, a condition in which the blood outflow from the heart's right ventricle is obstructed at the pulmonic valve.

See also

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