Graceful, alert and swift-moving with a saucy expression, Chihuahuas are highly intelligent and should not be underestimated even though small in size. The breed can be any color – solid, marked or splashed and the coat may be long or short. These sassy little dogs are well known as "purse dogs" like the famous Bruiser in the movie Legally Blonde starring Reese Witherspoon.
Chihuahuas are alert dogs with terrier-like qualities. They are good with families if the children are gentle and patient. Because of their small size, they require little exercise and are good city dogs, but can be sensitive to cold temperatures. Smooth coated Chihuahuas need very little grooming due to their short hair. Long coats need occasional brushing but still require minimal grooming.
The Chihuahua does require regular bathing and brushing. This self-confident little dog can be bathed as frequently as every week up to no longer than 6 weeks, depending on lifestyle and activity level. Somewhere in between is a happy medium. A bathing and brushing schedule should be designed to facilitate management of healthy skin and coat. Ideally, a Chihuahua’s skin should appear smooth, soft, and vibrant with the coat being glossy, soft in texture, and lustrous. Proper care of the skin and coat paired with careful selection of products make this a combination that will allow you to achieve the best possible end result.
Before the bath, if there is excess undercoat, which is acceptable in smooth coats and desirable in long coats, card it out. Excess undercoat not only distracts from the ideal breed profile, it can also cause skin issues like dry skin. After the excess undercoat is carded out, it is time for the bath. First, do a preliminary bath to remove any dirt, debris, oil, and environmental factors to bring the coat back to a natural state. The second bath is used to enhance the coat, whether you are trying to enhance the natural coat color, provide intense hydration, or simply geared toward managing a healthy coat.
The next step is a conditioning treatment in order to seal in moisture. A light conditioning treatment is essential to reduce static electricity making it more manageable and easier to brush. It also serves to replace essential oils that were temporarily removed during the bath and lock in moisture. The conditioning of the skin and coat is an important aspect to maintaining healthy skin and coat.
Finishing the Dog: Tools and Finish Grooming
The coat should be soft in texture and glossy. In the long-coated variety, spend some extra time with the brush out paying particular attention to the feathering in the feet and legs, pants in the hind quarters, and the large ruff around the neck. A comb should easily glide through the coat with no resistance all the way down to the skin. The Chihuahua should be groomed only to create a neat, natural appearance.
General Health Care
Prep work is the foundation of all grooming. Prep work includes ear cleaning, nail trimming, trimming the pads, anal glands, and proper dental hygiene. Mastering these skills sets the professional pet stylist apart from the rest. Prep work should be done before every bathing and grooming appointment. All dogs need to have their ears checked and cleaned on a regular basis. Some need to have the hair plucked from the ear canal. This allows the ear to have proper air circulation. It is not necessary to remove all of the hair in the ear, as some serves as a barrier to foreign debris. It is imperative that you are properly trained to pull ear hair before attempting this endeavor. Proper nail care is also very important. Long, unsightly nails are uncomfortable for the dog, as well as anyone they might jump on. Long nails also compromise the shape of the foot. Trimming the pads of the foot helps give the dog good traction on different surfaces and can minimize the amount of dirt the dog tracks into the house. It also affords the opportunity to treat and condition the paws from cracks and abrasions. Anal glands should also be checked and expressed if they are full. Some caring pet owners prefer to have the anal glands done by their veterinarian. Good dental hygiene is essential for a healthy pet too.
In order to maintain healthy skin and coat as well as overall health, it is important to provide good nutrition to your dog through a well–balanced diet, vitamins, and healthy treats.
Do they require a lot of grooming?
Chihuahua’s do require regular bathing and grooming like all dogs in order to maintain healthy skin and coat. However, as long as they are kept on a regular schedule, they are easy to maintain.
What is a common problem in Chihuahua's?
Chihuahua’s are known to have minimal amount of health issues overall, but patellar luxation is one of the more common. Knee problems are more common in toy breeds, and it is always recommended to take precautions with toys because of this issue. Tracheal collapse is another concern. It is a condition when the trachea partially flattens out as the dog is trying to breathe. This leads to irritation, gagging, coughing, and wheezing. One other health concern that Chihuahua’s can develop are eye conditions since they have a larger, more prominent eye. Kerato–Conjunctivitis, commonly known as dry eye, is more common in the breed. When the glands of the eye do not produce enough tears, the cornea and surrounding tissue become inflamed. Common signs of dry eye include redness, irritated eyes, constant blinking, recurring eye infections or corneal ulcers, or reduced vision.
Do Chihuahua's shed or cause allergies?
Chihuahua’s do shed. However, to minimize shedding and dander frequent baths will help reduce the amount of dog hair you find in the house.
Are Chihuahua’s good with children?
Due to their small size, this breed is not the best selection for families who have small children.
What if I have a show dog?
Whether you have a show dog or a companion dog, the same basic care is given regarding nutrition, socialization, and hygiene. The difference is the maintenance, conditioning, and training for the show ring. It is always helpful if your breeder is willing to mentor you to lead you in the right direction upon entering the wonderful world of showing dogs. A great place to start is with the national breed club like the Chihuahua club of America, www.chihuahuaclubofamerica.com.