Chihuahuas are generally healthy. Common health problems that are found in chihuahuas are usually those associated with small breed dogs, such as hypoglycemia, patellar luxation, tracheal collapse, and teeth problems. In addition, chihuahuas are prone to hydrocephalus.
Chihuahuas are the smallest breed of dog in the world, and they are the only "natural" toy breed - meaning they are naturally small and not a result of generations of breeding-down larger breeds.
The Chihuahua is either long-coat or short-coat.
In Canada and the United Kingdom, long-coats and short-coats are considered two separate breeds. However, in the United States, there is no such distinction.
Despite their small size, Chihuahuas are blessed with mountains of energy and affection. They are also alert, observant, and agile.
Small as they are, Chihuahuas are big in personality and courage - they do not hesitate to challenge bigger dogs and they are also very protective of their families. They are ideal watch dogs for those living in a small apartment!
The Chihuahua is generally healthy with relatively few health problems. They are a long-lived breed, often living up to 16 years and beyond.
However, one common health problem with the Chihuahua is overweight and obesity. One reason is overfeeding by their owners. Since chihuahuas are small, it is important to remember that they don't require so much food to fulfill their energy need! Chihuahuas that are obese will have great difficulty maintaining healthy joints, and can easily develop early-onset joint problems.
Also, because the Chihuahua has a small mouth, teeth overcrowding results, which makes it easy for them to develop teeth and gum problems, such as plaque and tartar buildup. If you own a chihuahua, therefore, it is extremely important to brush his/her teeth daily to remove the plaque and tartar. If you don't do that, gum disease (e.g. gingivitis) can develop, which can lead to premature tooth loss.
In addition to daily tooth brushing, consider getting your Chihuahua some dental chew toys. Also avoid snacks or poor-quality dog food rich in starch and sugar.
Though not a health problem, the Chihuahua (as well as many other toy breeds) tends to shiver or tremble, especially when the dog is excited or stressed. Toy dogs have a higher metabolism and so dissipate body heat faster than larger dogs. Shivering helps to generate body heat. Chihuahuas should always be protected against the cold - a doggie sweater or blanket in the winter is necessary.
Despite the fact that they have relatively few health issues, the Chihuahua, like all breeds, do share some common health problems with other small breed dogs, such as:
In addition to the above Chihuahua health problems, they are also prone to a problem called hydrocephalus.
Chihuahuas have a special characteristic - They are born with a soft spot (called a molera) on the top of the head. The molera itself is not a health problem for the Chihuahuas - it is just a characteristic of the breed.
However, if a Chihuahua has an unusually large molera, he may suffer from hydrocephalus, a condition characterized by a build-up of fluid around the brain which may result in eventual death.
Symptoms of hydrocephalus include a swollen head, listlessness, lethargy, grogginess, poor coordination, and seizures. Hydrocephalus tends to affect most Chihuahuas before they reach 9 months of age, although some Chihuahuas may not show symptoms until they are older. Some Chihuahuas are able to live with a mild case of hydrocephalus throughout adulthood.
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