How To Choose A Chihuahua Puppy From A Litter

Once you have decided that the Chihuahua is the perfect breed for you, the next decision is how to find the perfect little Chi puppy for you. The best place to start is to get the names of a few reputable breeders through referrals, classified ads or search online.

You should ask the breeders, that you speak with, a lot of questions about the health of the dogs, including genetic diseases, as well as the overall health. You should start by asking the breeder about the parents of the puppy as well as the grandparents. You want to make sure there are no problems with the luxation of the knees, also known as the Patella Luxation. It is important that you ask other medical questions such as Epilepsy or seizures, collapsed trachea, about vaccinations, worming, as well as how they are eating.

General Health Inspection

If you're buying your puppy from a responsible Chihuahua breeder, which I strongly recommend you do, it is probably pretty safe to assume that all the puppies are of sound health. After all, the breeder has been taking care of the litter for 8 weeks or more now and they would know if one of the puppies wasn't healthy, and they definitely wouldn't try to knowingly sell you an unhealthy puppy.

Once you find a breeder you can trust, you should make an appointment to see some of the puppies. Look at them closely to see if they look healthy and clean, as a filthy dog is a sign of a bad breeder. Since all puppies will look very adorable, you need to keep an open mind and look for things such as eyes, ears, fur and rear end. They should walk well with no obvious problems with their legs or gait. Finally, they should be a healthy weight and be eating only solid puppy food at this point.

However, it's still good to do a quick health inspection of the puppy. Here's what to look for in a healthy Chihuahua puppy:

  • Puppy is energetic and playful when fully awake. (They can sleep 18+ hours a day).
  • The coat (smooth or long) should be shiny, soft and be clean.
  • You should be able to feel, but not see, the ribs (Correct portion of body fat).
  • Paws and pads should be clean. Toe nail should be trimmed.
  • Eyes should be shiny and clear, no yellow or red color and no discharge. (Excess tears are normal)
  • Inside the ears should be clean and not smelly.
  • Nose should be moist with no runny discharge.
  • Gums should be light pink, teeth should be white.
  • There should be no coughing or evidence of vomiting.
  • Bottom should be clean with no signs of diarrhea.
  • Should not have a very large pot belly, which may indicate worms.
  • No ticks or fleas. Excessive scratching or biting may indicate fleas.

Also ask questions about the puppies that were previously sold and if they had any problems that the breeder is aware of. Discuss whether the puppies are healthy and happy and if they have referrals to verify, because that will tell you a lot about the puppy that you are buying. Like every other dog breed, the Chihuahua is not free from genetic diseases, and if you want to make sure you have a healthy pup then you need to ask every question that would pertain to their overall health. Also find out if the breeder offers a health guarantee on the puppy?

Beside health concerns, you can get a good idea of what kind of temperament the puppy will have, as well as the looks that they may have when fully grown, by checking the puppy's parents, talking with the breeder and observing how the puppy interacts with you and its litter mates. The temperament and character of your Chihuahua is largely determined by the early puppy socialization and obedience training it gets from the breeder and what you provide after bring him or her home.

Choosing A Male Or Female?

Male Chihuahuas can be fiercely loyal to their families. They are able to form strong bonds with family members and become protective of them. Males are also affectionate and crave attention from their owners. They will stay close by and display more loving behavior than females will.

Males are more difficult to housebreak. House training male Chihuahuas can be a difficult task if not neutered, since they are known for "marking" their territory. Neutering your male puppy at the appropriate age (5-8 months old), will help prevent this activity and house training will become much easier.

Male Chihuahuas are considerably calmer when it comes to their temperament and moods. They tend to be less aggressive and less likely to bite. For this reason, they are considered a good choice for families with small children. Do not let this aspect fool you into thinking that they are lazy and do not play. In fact, male Chihuahuas display exuberance with puppy-like playfulness further into their adult years than their female counterparts do.

Female Chihuahuas are quicker to sound the alarm and will keep it going longer than a male will when alerted to the presents of a stranger, especially while attending their pups. Female Chihuahuas are more independent them males, but can be quick to jump in to "settle" dispute or bad behavior between other members of the dog pack. Female Chihuahuas tent to be more jealous between themselves than between themselves and male Chihuahuas

What Size Chihuahua?

Chihuahuas come in many sizes. The FCI standard calls for dogs ideally between 3.3 and 6.6 lbs. (1.5 and 3.0 kg), although smaller ones are acceptable in the show ring. Larger then that, they would be disqualified. However the Chihuahua weight range can be under two pounds and over twenty pounds in some cases. Chihuahuas do not breed true for size, and puppies from the same litter can mature drastically different sizes from one another. Small Chihuahuas are fragile and a young child may hurt the dog while playing. Most breeders won't sell puppies to homes with children younger than eight years old.

What Color Chihuahua?

There is no standard color when it comes to Chihuahua puppies. According to AKC Standards, a chihuahua can be "any color - solid, marked or splashed". The main colors are Black, Chocolate, Fawn, White and Blue (any shade of gray). There are many two color combinations and tricolor Chihuahuas also. There is nothing wrong with having a color preference, but do not select a Chihuahua puppy based on its color alone. First look at its activity level, personalty and size, then pick the one color you like best. The merle coat pattern, which appears mottled, is not traditionally considered part of the breed standard. Opponents of merle recognition suspect the coloration came about by modern cross-breeding with other dogs, and not via natural genetic drift. For this reason we do not recomend, sell or breed any merle colored Chihuahuas.

Smooth Coat or Long Coat Chihuahua?

Smooth (short hair) coated Chihuahuas need very little grooming due to their short hair. Long coats need occasional brushing but still require minimal grooming. The term smooth-coat does not mean that the hair is smooth, as the hair can range from having a velvet touch to a whiskery feeling. The short coat sheds more than the long, but the long does require daily brushing to keep it from tangling. The coat can also be single or double. The single lays flatter on the skin while the double is thicker having a soft undercoat and a coarser topcoat usually of different colors.

Selecting Your Chihuahua

Now that you decided on the gender and found a breeder, how do you pick your Chihuahua puppy from a litter? Chihuahuas, like people, have different temperaments, unique personalities and levels of intelligence. Those with personalities and temperaments that blends with you and your life style will be best suited to you. The breeder will most likely point out which puppy is the best match for you once they get to know a little about you and what you are looking for.

Chihuahua temperaments can be divided into four categories.

  1. Submissive
  2. Calm
  3. Independent
  4. Dominant

You can get a good idea of which of these temperaments your Chihuahua puppy will have as an adult, by doing this 5 point temperament test on him or her in the breeders home. A puppy who is Calm is your best choice, an overly independent and dominant puppy will be harder to train, an overly submissive puppy will tend to be a little quieter around the home and shy in social situations.

Keep in mind that this is not an "all or nothing" test that the puppy can pass or fail. Some puppies will just suit certain people better. If you are an assertive person who can establish yourself as the "pack leader," than a more dominant Chihuahua will be fine for you. If you are more laid back, than a dominant Chihuahua will be more of challenge to train and may try to make himself the pack leader of the house. A Chihuahua with a Calm personality will be your best bet in most cases. The test also gives you a rough idea of the type of personality the puppy will have when grown.

You should conduct the test a few times in an unfamiliar environment to the puppy (a separate room in the breeder's home). Each puppy you are considering in the litter should be tested alone in the room by itself. It's a good idea to video tape the test so you can review each puppy later and have a good think about each one.

To make it easier to keep track of the different puppies you test, download and print out the Chihuahua Temperament Test .

Temperament Test

  1. Gently restrain the puppy on his or hers back for 20-30 seconds. Does it fight for a few seconds and then submit, happily laying there? Then check "Calm." Does it fight or cry the whole time. Then check "Independent or Dominant". Does it lay there licking your fingers? Then check "Submissive."

  2. Cradle the puppy in your palms, underneath his chest, and lift it off the ground for 30 seconds. Does he struggle for a moment, then accept its position, possible looking around the room? Then check "Calm". Does it struggle to get free for most of the time it is held there? Then check "Independent or Dominant". Does it just hang there submissively right from the start? Then check "Submissive".

  3. Get the puppies attention by patting your leg, walk forward, in a friendly voice call it to follow you. Does he or she follow you as you walk forward? Then check "Calm". Does it look and then ignore you to go off and do its own thing? Then check "Independent ". Does it rush up to you and bite your shoe? check "Dominant". Does he or she stay where it is, and possibly sit down, or follow you with its tail between its legs? Then check "Submissive".

  4. Get down on your knees and softly clap your hands and in your most inviting voice call the puppy over to you. Does it come? Then check "Calm". Does it come, but then bite at you? Then check dominant. Does he or she ignore you? check "Independent". Does it come slowly, with his body low to the ground, possibly with its tail between its legs, and/or roll on to its side or back when it gets to you? Then check "Submissive".

  5. Take your keys and rattle them loud enough to get the puppy's attention, but not so loud that they scare him or her or tap ypur fingers on the floor. Does it come over to investigate? Check "Calm". Does it come to investigate and then pounce or bite when it arrives? check "Dominant". Does it comes with tail between his or her legs, with caution? check "Submissive". Does it ignore you all together? Then check "Independent".

A Chihuahua puppy with a temperament that will be good for most families and people will score "Calm" in the majority of tests. If he scores mostly "Dominant" or "Independent" he will need an owner who is assertive and always positive while training him or her and will be fine in a noisy or action packed household. If it scores is mostly "Submissive" he or she will suit a quieter household and a more laid back owner.

Once you've chosen and purchased your puppy, you should take your puppy to the vet that same day for a thorough health check up. A good breeder's, puppy purchase contract, will allow you a 48-72 hour money back health guarantee. So if the Vet finds any health issues with the puppy that you or the breeder has missed, you can take him or her back for a refund or to select a different puppy.