The Chihuahua Breed Standard
Type and Soundness
The two terms are defined as follows:
Chihuahua breed type is defined by the standard. One must go beyond the standard to understand the physical and mechanical factors underlying the surface appearance and study how body parts fit and work together. Type and Soundness go together and the standard not only refers to the head. The standard stresses equal weight to head, body, legs and gait. It does not suggest that the head should be emphasized any more than any other part of the dog yet a great many see a pretty face and classify that dog as "type" , regardless of what the rest of the dog looks like.
A graceful, alert, swift-moving little dog with saucy expression, compact, and with terrier-like qualities of temperament.
Drawing by Nancy C. Shonbeck
Size, Proportion, Substance
Weight - A well balanced little dog
Proportion - The body is off-square; hence, slightly longer when measured from point of shoulder to point of buttocks, than height at the withers. Somewhat shorter bodies are preferred in males.
Head A well rounded "apple dome" skull, with or without molera.
Expression - Saucy.
Eyes - Full, but not protruding, balanced, set well apart-luminous dark or luminous ruby. (Light eyes in blond or white-coloured dogs permissible.)
Ears - Large, erect type ears, held more upright when alert, but flaring to the sides at a 45 degree angle when in repose, giving breadth between the ears.
Muzzle - Moderately short, slightly pointed. Cheeks and jaws lean.
Nose - Self-coloured in blond types, or black. In moles, blues, and chocolates, they are self-coloured. In blond types, pink nose permissible.
Bite - Level or scissors. Overshot or undershot bite, or any distortion of the bite or jaw, should be penalized as a serious fault.
Neck, Top line, Body
Neck - Slightly arched, gracefully sloping into lean shoulders.
Muscular, with hocks well apart, neither out nor in, well let down, firm and sturdy. The feet are as in front.
In the Smooth Coats, the coat should be of soft texture, close and glossy. (Heavier coats with undercoats permissible.) Coat placed well over body with ruff on neck preferred, and more scanty on head and ears. Hair on tail preferred furry.
In Long Coats, the coat should be of a soft texture, either flat or slightly curly, with undercoat preferred.
The Chihuahua should move swiftly with a firm, sturdy action, with good reach in front equal to the drive from the rear. From the rear, the hocks remain parallel to each other, and the foot fall of the rear legs follows directly behind that of the forelegs. The legs, both front and rear, will tend to converge slightly toward a central line of gravity as speed increases. The side view shows good, strong drive in the rear and plenty of reach in the front, with head carried high. The topline should remain firm and the backline level as the dog moves.
Alert, with terrier-like qualities.
Sponsored by The Chihuahua Club of America
The official A.K.C. Breed Standard describes the Chihuahua as a small dog that comes in two varieties or coat types. The difference in coat type (the Long Coat or the Smooth Coat) is the only official description used to identify a difference within this breed. Our Standard does not categorize the Chihuahua by size.
For the purpose of showing and record keeping, the American Kennel Club includes the Chihuahua (along with 16 other breeds) in the Toy Group. Therefore, irrespective of their weight or physical stature, ALL Chihuahuas registered with A.K.C. are considered to be a toy breed of dog.
As with all living things, there will be a size variance between individual dogs within this breed. Within the human family, brothers and sisters will differ in height and in weight, as well as other physical attributes. They are described as humans, male or female, and there is seldom if ever a need to break the description down further. The same holds true in regard to the Chihuahua; they are Chihuahuas-Long Coat/Smooth Coat, Male/Female.
Unfortunately, the additional adjectives used to describe the size difference and physical appearances are many; and have been misused for so long they now seem legitimate. Tea-cup, Pocket Size, Tiny Toy, Miniature or Standard - are just a few of the many tags and labels that have been attached to this breed over the years. The Chihuahua Club of America is concerned that these terms may be used to entice perspective buyers into thinking that puppies described in this way are of greater monetary value. They are not; and the use of these terms is incorrect and misleading.
Occasionally, within a litter, there may be a puppy that is unusually small. That puppy is a small Chihuahua and any other breakdown in description is not correct. To attach any of these additional labels to a particular pup is to misrepresent that animal as something that is rare or exceptional and causes a great deal of confusion among those fanciers who are looking for a Chihuahua.
The Chihuahua Club of America does not endorse or condone the use of any of these terms and would caution the perspective puppy buyer not to be misled by them.
In some respects, bringing your new Chihuahua puppy home is like bringing home a tiny newborn human baby. Most important! Chihuahuas, like many other toy breeds, may be susceptible to a form of low blood sugar called hypoglycaemia..
You probably won’t experience low blood sugar (with your particular puppy) but, in the event that you do, it is an emergency. Small dogs, especially Chihuahuas, have a very small fat reserve around the liver. When they get stressed for some reason (like going to a new home), or if they play too hard (using a lot of energy), or miss a meal, the fat reserve is used up and the body will begin to draw upon the blood sugar for energy. If this condition is left unchecked the dog will grow progressively weaker until it falls into a coma and eventually dies. The good news is that this condition is easily arrested and puppies that do experience hypoglycemia will usually outgrow it by 16 weeks of age. Your goal, as a new owner, should be to keep the puppy s stress level as low as possible during the critical period.
Signs of hypoglycaemia vary; usually the dog will get a sad forlorn look on its face, then it will become inactive, eventually staggering, falling down, or just laying down, followed by what looks like sleep. This sleep like condition will turn into a form of tooth-clenching seizures and spasms, followed by a comatose condition, and, eventually, death. Not all symptoms may be seen at any one time so watch for any lethargic behavior or lack of coordination. If your puppy seems too sleepy, wake him up, stand him up and make sure he stands and can walk normally. If he lies back down, falls, or staggers, then get some sugar into him. If you are unsure of how to proceed then call your breeder and/or your veterinarian.
Hypoglycemia is seen most often in smaller specimens of Chihuahua puppy, but I caution all new owners to watch your puppy carefully until he is at least 16 weeks of age. If the puppy is a ‘tiny’, I won’t even sell a puppy until it is 12 weeks of age. This can cause bonding and socialization problems because the first 120 days of the puppy’s life are like "the formative years" in the life of a human child. What it comes down to is a judgment call by the breeder as to when the puppy is strong enough to leave. Once that call is made the new owner has to take over and become the puppy's ‘Guardian’. It is hard to hold the breeders responsible for hypoglycemia when they aren't there. While hypoglycemia could be a potential problem to any puppy, given the proper circumstances, it can be easily treated.
Sugar in the drinking water, pancake syrup, nutri-cal vitamin paste, nutristat, (generic nutri-cal and less expensive), kids sugarcoated breakfast foods will help restore lost blood sugar. In severe cases a veterinarian may have to inject a glucose solution into the dog’s bloodstream. This occurs usually in cases where the dog is unconscious and unable to swallow. The injection is usually made into a major blood vein such as the jugular vein in the throat.
One good idea is to make sure your dog eats just prior to his being out of your sight for any extended period of time. by feeding raw it lowers you chances of having a run in with low blood sugar since there is no sugar spike after they eat like some gain based food. the sugar is released slowly and used up more evenly by the body.
Stress can be a real problem to some Chihuahuas. Common sources for high stress are, being sold and taken to a new environment, a temporarily depressed immune system caused by vaccinations, a radical and sudden change of diet, being terribly frightened by something. Some things humans might consider being of little consequence, such as trimming his toenails or giving him a bath, can be terrifying to your little dog. Like people, some dogs will handle stress better than others. The point being that you should minimize stress in your puppy’s life whenever possible and keep him eating to offset any possible bouts of stress-induced hypoglycemia.
THE CHIHUAHUA'S MOLERA
Sponsored by The Chihuahua Club of America
Historically, the Chihuahua as developed in Mexico and the United States has displayed a "soft spot" on the top of the head. In the Chihuahua, this spot, or fontanel, is know as a MOLERA, and is the same as that found in human babies. In the past, this molera was accepted as a mark of purity in the breed, and it is still mentioned in most Chihuahua breed standards the world over.
It is important to note that while many Chihuahua puppies are born without the molera, there are probably just as many born with one, and its presence is nothing to become alarmed over. The molera in a Chihuahua will occur on the top of the head and may vary in shape and size when present.
Unfortunately, many lay people (and some Veterinarians not familiar with the Chihuahua) have tried to link the mere presence of a molera with the condition known as hydrocephalus. This has caused many new comers to the breed serious concern and undo worry. The truth is that a domed head with a molera present does not predispose the Chihuahua to this condition.
Along with the observations of devoted breeders over the years, there is adequate medical evidence to support this statement:
While it would be impossible to list all the medical documentation in this paper, these few included here are perfectly clear: the presence of a molera does not mean the dog has a medical problem.
The Chihuahua is a little dog! They belong in the house, at their owner's side, returning all the love they deserve to receive. With or without a molera, the healthy Chihuahua that is loved and given proper care will live well into its teens as an irresistible member of the family.
Hydrocephalus can occur as a congenital condition as well as a result of trauma or a brain tumor, for instance. Hydrocephalus is a condition in which excessive fluid is found within and around the brain. The body may form too much fluid or, as occurs in most cases, the fluid that is produced cannot drain from the central nervous system as it normally does. Within the brain are fluid-filled spaces called ventricles. In a hydro-cephalic dog, the ventricles fill with too much fluid. They become swollen, and the increased pressure damages and/or prevents development of brain tissue. Toy breeds such as Maltese, Yorkshire Terriers, Pomeranian's and Chihuahuas are commonly affected. Hydrocephalus occurs in other breeds as well.
What are the symptoms?
Typically, hydrocephalus is first diagnosed when the dog is young, usually less than four months of age. The head takes on a dome-shaped appearance and the skull bones at the top of the head fail to close. A soft spot may be noticed on the top of the head. This is termed an 'open fontanel.' The affected dog may be blind, have seizures or have an altered gait. Hydro-cephalic dogs are commonly mentally dull and have a limited ability to learn. Different levels of severity exist.
What are the risks?
The hydrocephalic dog typically has a very limited life span. Severity differs, but few dogs with this condition live to be over two years of age.
What is the management?
Most cases go untreated. Veterinary neurologists can be consulted and occasionally the excess fluid can be drained. Sometimes lifelong treatment with prednisone and Lasix is tried. With surgery or medical treatment, however, the dog will rarely live a normal life. Treatment is often unsuccessful and expensive. But just the same some grow out of it per-say