Your First Chihuahua

When you are ready to start looking for your chihuahua puppy, please beware of purchasing from pet shops (breeders registered with Dogs West are prohibited from supplying to pet shops) or backyard breeders (a person who is not registered with the state canine controlling body). There is a great risk of not getting a purebred chihuahua.

The chihuahua is the world's smallest dog. It must, however, be stated quite categorically that:

There are simply chihuahuas which vary in size, weighing up to 2.7kgs (6 lbs). They can be either smooth coat or long coat.

All breeds of dog have some potential health issues and in the chihuahua, these can include hydrocephalus, epilepsy and luxating patellae. It is possible for these conditions to cause distress and veterinary expense. Most chihuahuas are, however, strong and robust, and others live long and happy lives with some of these conditions.

Chihuahuas do enjoy great longevity, frequently up to fifteen years of age and more. Do not allow your dog to become overweight - the breeder will advise you about a feeding regime - and you will be rewarded with years of great companionship. The chihuahua thrives on the company of humans and other animals and is lively, spirited and intelligent. If it has been properly socialised, it will not be snappy or withdrawn and it will be an excellent watchdog.

The chihuahua coat can be either smooth or long, both of which are easy to keep groomed. The dog is no trouble to care for in small homes or apartments but must have a good secure fence around its yard. It is a clean dog and easily trained provided you are consistent and it has free access to the yard. When he does do something wrong, just a firm voice is sufficient reprimand.

Your home needs to be as safe for your chihuahua as for an infant. Guard against power leads, open doors and gates, closing car doors, swimming pools, fish ponds, chemicals and poisons, plants, high verandahs, steps and stairs, bigger dogs and the like.

And never ever leave your dog in your car - not even "just for a minute". As well as the obvious risk of heat stress, the car could catch fire or be stolen. Having said that, most chihuahuas love outings in a car. A safe method of travel is in an airline crate which can be strapped in with a seat belt. The crate can also provide a secure spot for your dog when visiting or in the presence of small children or other animals.