12 Defining Characteristics of Chihuahuas

Chihuahuas are one of the smallest breeds of dogs and are known for their unique characteristics and feisty personalities. They have been around since the early 1800s, originating in Mexico. In fact, these tiny “purse dogs” are named after the state of Chihuahua in Mexico.

From their bold attitude to their unique look, there is no doubt that Chihuahuas will continue to be popular among pet lovers worldwide. In this blog post, we will explore the interesting characteristics of Chihuahuas and what makes them so unique. So, get ready to learn all about these tiny but mighty dogs!

16 Characteristics of Chihuahuas

From their big, round eyes to their adorable little ears, here are 16 characteristics of Chihuahuas you should know:

1. Small But Muscular Build

Chihuahua standing in the grass
Chihuahua standing in the grass

Chihuahuas are known for their tiny size, but don’t let that fool you. Despite their diminutive stature, these dogs have a surprisingly muscular build and are quite strong for their size.

When fully grown, they often weigh between 2 and 7 pounds (1-3 kg) and are usually 8-10 inches (20-25 cm) tall. Their muscular build helps them run quickly and navigate tight spaces with ease.

2. Big, Round Eyes

Chihuahuas are known for their signature big, round eyes that can pierce your soul. These larger, more pronounced eyes give the breed a distinct appearance from other small dogs and an almost human-like quality. Their eyes are deep set and framed by medium-length ears that sometimes flop down to the side of their head, making them look even more expressive than they already are.

3. Soft, Silky Coat

Chihuahua licking its nose
Chihuahua licking its nose

Chihuahuas have a unique coat that is soft and silky to the touch. Depending on their genetics, they can have either a long or short coat that is usually white, black, tan, or brown in color.

Some may also have a combination of two or more colors, while others can even be brindle or spotted. These cute, tiny dogs also have a distinct “mask” of darker fur that encircles their eyes, giving them an even more charming look.

4. Large Prickly Ears

Chihuahuas have large, pricky ears, a unique feature that makes them stand out from the crowd. This is quite common to all Chihuahua breeds, making them highly distinguishable because the ears are disproportionately larger for their tiny heads.

Additionally, their ears are constructed quite differently compared to other dog breeds; instead of being flappy or button-like, they are pointed, pricking up toward the sky. These pricky ears help them collect sound from longer distances, making them essential sense organs for their survival as a species.

5. Short, Pointed Muzzles

Chihuahua looking at lens
Chihuahua looking at lens | Image by Thomas from Pixabay

Chihuahuas are known for their short, pointed muzzles, giving them a unique, unmistakable look. This dog breed has the shortest muzzle of any other canine, and its small size allows it to have an exaggeratedly fierce expression with large eyes.

The slightly upturned snout gives chihuahuas the characteristic scrunched-up brow and further highlights the protruding eyes. In addition to this signature look, this particular muzzle shape is involved in aiding their impressive powers of sniffing.

Their well-defined nose reaches right down to the tip of their muzzle, allowing these dogs to pick up odors more efficiently than other shorter-nosed breeds. It also helps them navigate when they’re out in the wild like they were bred to do as hunting dogs thousands of years ago.

6. Moderately Long Tail

These purse dogs have moderately long tails, usually carried up and over the back. The length of a chihuahua’s tail depends on its genetics, but most have tails reaching up to the middle of their spine, often about 3-9 inches (7-20 cm) long, and are a continuation of their spine. The tail is usually thick and tapered down at the end, with a slight curl or kink common in some individuals.

Fun fact, Chihuahuas rarely tuck their tails between their legs. Instead, they carry them C-shaped, either up or out, in a loop with the tip just touching the back.

7. High Energy Levels

Energetic chihuahua playing outside
Energetic chihuahua playing outside | image by Lauren Elyse Lynskey via Flickr | CC BY-ND 2.0

These pint-sized pups have surprisingly high energy levels, so they need plenty of physical and mental stimulation to prevent boredom. Not only do they love walking, playing, and romping around outdoors, but they also require regular outdoor time to stay healthy. But don’t let their small size fool you – when indoors, they can be quite active, so be prepared for a mix of high-energy activities and plenty of cuddle time.

8. Feisty

Chihuahuas are renowned for their fiery personalities and strong-willed demeanor. While they may be small in stature, these feisty pups can pack a lot of attitude in a tiny package.

Chihuahuas are typically fiercely loyal and devoted to their owners, whom they love to follow around and often guard with unwavering dedication. As natural watchdogs, chihuahuas possess an irrational fear of strangers, so it’s not uncommon for them to bark or even nip, displaying their warning nature when someone new approaches. Despite their tough exteriors, chihuahuas still thrive on snuggles and cuddles from their humans!

9. Slightly Arched Neck

Chihuahuas on dog bed
Chihuahuas on dog bed

Chihuahuas have gracefully dipped necks into their characteristically lean shoulders, giving them a regal, slightly arched look. Their necks are usually quite long proportionately to their bodies and taper off towards the head. This feature gives them an elegant appearance coupled with their large ears, which further gives prominence to their neck structure.

10. Small Dainty Feet

Chihuahuas are widely known and popularly admired for their diminutive size and unique physical characteristics. One of their most exceptional features is their tiny, dainty feet.

Their toes appear to be well-separated but not overly spread, making their feet perfect for maneuvering around all terrain. The soft pads underneath the feet make them comfortable and surefooted no matter where they roam.

11. Have One or Two Dewclaws on Their Front Limbs

Chihuahuas sitting on wood
Chihuahuas sitting on wood

Chihuahuas have one or two dewclaws on the front limbs. Dewclaws are vestigial thumbs that do not touch the ground and are usually located inside the front feet. They can be removed surgically, but they’re essential for balance and control during activities like running and climbing.

Most chihuahua parents remove the declaws when they’re puppies to prevent them from getting caught in carpets, furniture, and other hazards. However, vets discourage this practice unless it’s absolutely necessary.

12. The Average Litter Size Is Three Puppies

Chihuahuas often have litters of three or four puppies at a go. Additionally, these toy-sized pooches typically have an average litter size of about three puppies – a small number for such a tiny breed.

Because the pups are born so small, it’s important to monitor them closely in their first few weeks of life and provide extra care and attention as needed. Chihuahuas also tend to be attentive and protective mothers, caring for their pups with enthusiasm and dedication.

13. Well-Sprung, Rounded Ribs

A hallmark of the chihuahua’s physique is its well-sprung, rounded ribs. These ribcages are sometimes likened to a barrel and provide ample space for all sorts of adventure!

In addition, these dogs have moderately broad chests that tuck in at the sides and round out toward the midsection – giving them an adorable little waistline. The ribs also allow for more flexibility when navigating tight spaces and jumping onto furniture.

14. Swift Gait With a Firm Stride

Chihuahua on a leash
Chihuahua on a leash | image by Krysta via Flickr | CC BY 2.0

The Chihuahua’s movements are vigorous and sturdy, carrying it forward with a strong reach from its powerful front legs. The hocks of the hind legs remain parallel at all times, creating a line from the rear that follows directly behind the forelegs.

As it accelerates, the dog’s legs will draw into the center-line of balance to help propel them toward its destination. When viewed from the side, there is an impressive impetus in its rear while keeping a proud posture by having its head held high. Its body’s contours will complement this forcefulness as in travels, with an even back and top line that resists any disruptions it may encounter.

15. Strong Bite Force for Their Size

The bite force of a Chihuahua is quite impressive, considering the size of this small breed of dog. Their clamping strength has been measured as 5 pounds per square inch, which is quite remarkable for their size. No wonder these tiny dogs have earned the reputation of being fiercely loyal and alert; their fierce bite can quickly stop any intruder in its tracks!

Broad-headed Chihuahuas will have slightly more powerful bites due to their larger head area, but this small difference can easily be offset with proper training. Keeping your beloved pet properly socialized will ensure it understands its boundaries and will help prevent any unexpected – or unwanted – potential outbursts of aggression from occurring.

16. Flat-Topped Head

Chihuahua on couch
Chihuahua on couch | image by Will Keightley via Flickr | CC BY-SA 2.0

Chihuahuas are a toy breed of dog known for their small size and flat-topped head. The unique shape of their head is also known as a “deer” or “apple” head and is attributed to the skull irregularities that form during early development.

While these skull irregularities may seem concerning, they do not interfere with the health or well-being of the Chihuahua, allowing them to live long and healthy lives. As puppies, their heads often look even more flattened than those of an adult due to their budding baby teeth, but as they grow older, these traits tend to balance out by adulthood.