The Teacup Chihuahua

Duchess the Teacup Chihuahua is waving hello.
She was blind and deaf at the time the photo was taken.
Disclaimer: This page is very long.
 
Myth:  Chihuahuas come in two sizes, regular and teacup.
Fact:  Chihuahuas come in a wide range of sizes, and puppies often mature significantly smaller or larger than their parents.
 
Myth:  Chihuahuas are either purebred or mixed.
Fact:  In Canada it is illegal to use the term "purebred" unless the Chihuahua is registered (or eligible for registration) with the Canadian Kennel Club (CKC). When a breeder does not file registration papers for an eligible dog, any future generations are ineligible for registration, regardless of parentage or quality.
 
Myth:  Apple-head Chihuahuas are more desirable than deer-types.
Fact:  Chihuahua head & body shapes vary, and the best shape is a matter of personal opinion. There is a wide range, not two distinct shapes.
 
Myth:  All Chihuahuas are born with a molera and susceptible to hydrocephalus.
Fact:  The molera (open fontanelles) is a soft spot on top the head between skull bones. In Chihuahuas it can be permanent, close as a puppy grows, or absent at birth. Unless the molera is overly large, it is no cause for concern.
 
Myth:  Chihuahuas come in three coat lengths: short, medium, and long.
Fact:  Chihuahuas come in two distinct coat types, short and long. There is a great variation of length, texture and density within each type.
 
Myth:  All Chihuahuas are tan.
Fact:  Chihuahuas come in many different colours and patterns.
 

Chihuahua Size

When you look for basic information about Chihuahuas, you will read that they are 6-9 inches tall at the shoulder/withers, and weigh 2-6 pounds. This information is widely published but incorrect.

Chihuahuas vary in size from <1 pound to ~20 pounds, and some are shorter than 6 inches or taller than 9 inches. They do not breed true for size, meaning puppies can grow to be much smaller than both parents, much larger than both parents, or anywhere inbetween.

A 1-pound Chihuahua has a full set of dwarfing genes; a 20-pound Chihuahua has a full set of normal-size genes; and Chihuahuas inbetween those sizes has some of each gene type. Mom gives a random half of her genes to each puppy, as does dad, and two halves make a whole puppy.

As you might expect, a typical puppy from mid-sized parents will inherit some of mom's dwarfing genes and some of her normal-size genes, plus some of dad's dwarfing genes and some of his normal-size genes, and turn out mid-sized, just like mom & dad. But the odd puppy will inherit all mom's dwarfing genes and all dad's dwarfing genes and turn into a tiny 1 pound Chihuahua, and another puppy from the same parents might inherit all mom's normal-size genes and all dad's normal-sized genes and grow to 20 pounds!

Adult
weight
Life
expectancy
Temperament, health, breeding risks, puppy sizes
1 lb<1 year
Temperament and health problems very common
Extreme risk to breeding female
Males usually also considered unsuitable for breeding
1½ lb2-3 years
2 lb5-10 years
2½-3 lb10-12 years Temperament and health variable
Very high risk to breeding female (unethical to attempt)
Most puppies 2-4½ lb with one ~1½ lb or 5-6½ lb every couple litters
(~1 lb or 7-9 lb possible but very rare)
3½-4½ lb12-15 years Temperament and health often good
Risk to breeding female high (caution)
Most puppies 2½-6½ lb with one ~2 lb or 7-9 lb every couple litters
(~1½ lb or 10-13 lb rare, ~1 lb or 15-20 lb possible but extremely rare)
5-6½ lb15 years Risk to breeding female slightly higher than larger breeds
Most puppies 3½-9 lb with one 2½-3 lb or 10-13 lb every couple litters
(~2 lb or 15-20 lb possible but very rare)
7-9 lb15 years Most puppies 5-13 lb with one 3½-4½ lb or 15-20 lb every few litters
10-13 lb15 yearsPuppies 7-20 lb, but no smaller
15-20 lb15 yearsPuppies 15-20 lb, same as parents

The Canadian Kennel Club, along with most other major breed associations worldwide, has decided the only size of Chihuahua eligible to compete in their conformation shows (beauty pageants) is 2-6 pounds. However, as you can see from the table above, 2-6 pound parents often have puppies that are smaller or larger than that range!

Chihuahuas females larger than the show standard size have the least risk of complications during breeding, pregnancy, whelping and lactation. Even show breeders may breed a nice, but unshowable, 7-9 lb female, balancing out her size with a smaller male.

The smaller the female, the greater the risk breeding her causes, and the greater the risk of producing unhealthy micro-pups. The compromise is that smaller puppies are more popular.

Parents do not have to be matched for size. The male can be half the weight of the female or a little larger than her. He has minimal effect on the birth weight of the puppies.

The adult size of a Chihuahua puppy is very hard to predict.

  • Knowing the size of the parents will give a rough guess before the puppies are even born, but there are exceptions, e.g., Peekaboo & Pesto's puppies mature smaller than their parents.
  • Birth weight is meaningless as the mother's individual physiology and number of puppies in the litter have a greater influence on birth weight than a puppy's adult size potential. Birth weight is somewhat useful when compared to the rest of the litter, but there are exceptions, e.g., Indi was smallest of 5 at birth, but 2nd biggest as an adult.
  • During whelping, puppy skulls change shape temporarily, but after the first couple days, they are also an indication of size. In our experience, a puppy with a proportionately large square head will grow larger; a puppy with a small narrower head and higher forehead will grow smaller.
  • At 8 weeks, puppy size has still been much-affected by the mother's physiology, litter size, and environment. It is somewhat useful for prediction, but there are exceptions, e.g. at 8 weeks, Zephyr was 2.2 lb, her daughter Sienna was 3.2 lb. But Sienna didn't grow 50% larger, she didn't even grow 1 lb larger than her mother. As adults, Zephyr is 6.0 lb and Sienna 6.5 lb.
  • Although smaller Chihuahuas do tend to quit growing at a younger age, there is great variation among individuals; e.g., 5-6½ lb Chihuahuas may reach their adult weight as young as 5 months or as old as 13 months.

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Chihuahua Shape

The dwarfing genes affect not just size but shape as well.
    The smallest Chihuahuas tend to have very high foreheads and round skulls, proportionately large heads, large eyes, small snippy muzzles, toothpick legs, short toes and short tails.
    The largest Chihuahuas tend to have undefined stops, long muzzles and skulls, long legs, long toes, and long tails.
    The middle sizes show the greatest variation, some of which you may find more attractive than others.
Since there is no official definition of applehead, deertype, etc. the best way to choose the parents of your puppy is to see pictures - or meet them in person when possible - rather than just reading descriptions.

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Chihuahua Coat Types

There are two distinct coat types among Chihuahuas, short and long.

Long-coat Chihuahuas have finer, longer hair that is often silky and often rather thick and stand-offish. At birth, long-hairs do not have significantly longer hair, except on the face in front of the inside corners of the eyes, and often on the bottoms of the feet. However, the hair is noticeably finer in long-hairs, visibly silky on the face, and tends to waviness when wet.

Short-coats and long-coats both vary in length, texture and thickness, but the feathering on the tail, legs, and behind ears is distinctive of the long-coat variety.

Long-coat is inherited as a recessive to short-coat. Although it is considered fully recessive, there are hints as to whether or not a short-coat Chihuahua carries a hidden copy of the long-coat trait.

The coat of a long-coat will continue to grow for 1-2 years. Spayed & neutered long-coat chihuahuas will have a fuller, longer coat, so if the dog is neutered older than 1-2 years, the coat will again improve at that time.

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Chihuahua Colour

The most common Chihuahua colour is fawn or sable, the second most common is black & tan, but Chihuahuas come in almost every colour and pattern dogs can be!

Fawn & sable are tan-coloured dogs, ranging from creamy gold to chestnut red. Sables are usually born with black shading which fades as the puppy ages, but the shading can also be chocolate, blue, lilac or merle. Fawns are born with minimal to no shading. Puppies born with a black (or chocolate, etc.) mask and cheeks will keep the mask as adults; those born with a black etc. mask and cream cheeks will trade in their mask for a cream one around 5 weeks of age. Brindle is a sable or fawn marked with black etc. tiger stripes. If worn by the same dog, shading, dark mask and brindling will be the same colour, you cannot get a dog with black shading, a chocolate mask and blue stripes. Clear fawn is a distinct colour which is born without a single black etc. hair, including the whiskers. The colour is very even and the hair fine. Clear fawn cannot show brindle stripes.

Zephyr
fawn

Kramer
fawn

Kaida
fawn with black mask

Diego
sable, black mask

Duchess
sable with black mask

Lorien
sable merle

Fonzy
clear fawn or clear chocolate fawn

Benji
red fawn with chocolate mask

Inkling
sable

Lion
brindled sable

Lion
brindled sable

Lion
brindled sable

Lion
brindled sable
Fawn, sable, and clear fawn usually have at least a few white hairs at birth. White markings are common on the face (forehead & muzzle), underside (neck, chest & belly), feet & lower legs, tail tip and back of neck, and sometimes a full white collar. White areas shrink as a puppy grows, and are sometimes freckled with "ticking". Ticking replaces the colour erased by the white patch, e.g., fawn on the white feet of a fawn dog, black on the white muzzle of a masked fawn. However, the ticking may be darker than the original colour.

Sienna
fawn & white

Kiki
sable & white

Rohan
sable & white

Robin
red fawn & white

Chickadee
sable & white

Merlin
blue fawn & white

Lark
fawn & white, black mask

Sprite
fawn & white, ticking

Tinkerbell
blue sable & white

Peekaboo
red sable & white,
black mask, ticked

Maia
sable & white,
black mask

Freckles
white & sable,
black mask, ticked
Patched puppies are predominantly white with coloured patches. Minimally, there are usually patches around each ear/eye and one at the base of the tail. White areas can be ticked.

Indi
white & sable, black mask

Gremlin
white & fawn

Jayla
white & fawn, mask

Nutmeg
white & fawn

Nivikie
white & sable, black mask

Pixie
white & fawn, mask, ticked
Cream puppies can be either a yellowy cream or a whitish cream. Our creams are the white variety, born pure white or cream-coloured. Cream can come in combination with any pattern of white markings, but not with any black etc. or fawn/sable colouring. When the white areas on a cream are ticked, the ticking is much darker than the main cream areas. The cream colour darkens with age, and darkens more on a shorter coat than a longer one.

Pesto
cream & white, tkd

Omega
cream & white

Saydi
cream

Ermine
cream & white

Amigo
cream & white

Lancelot
white & cream
Black, Chocolate, Blue and Lilac can be either solid or pointed. If pointed, the puppy will have a standard pattern of either tan markings or brindled tan markings. These colours can have any pattern of white markings, in which case they may be called "tricolour". Merle is a random patchy pattern which affects only the black/chocolate/blue/lilac hairs, and not the tan/cream or white ones. Black is diluted to grey, chocolate to milk-chocolate, blue to silver, and lilac to a very pale tinted colour. On a tan-point merle dog, the tan points remain solid-coloured; on a fawn/sable, only the shading, mask and brindling would be merled, and often the eyes.

Luka
merle & tan & white

Sterling
blue & brindle

Stealth
black & brindled tan

Treasure
black & brindled tan

Earl
blue & brindled tan
Other rare colours include saddle-tan & wolf sable.
The only colour that does not appear to exist in the breed is Harlequin, as in Great Danes.

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Last Page Update: On or after 2012 February 2

Copyright: All information, graphics, and photographs presented on this website are owned by the author and subject to copyright laws. If you wish to reproduce any contents of this site you must obtain written permission in advance.
 
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