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Breed Standards for the Chihuahua

Breed Standards for the Chihuahua

What are Breed Standards?

For the purpose of judging Chihuahuas (or any dog) at a dog show, the dog is compared to a set of standards called breed standards.

All breeds of dogs recognized by national Kennel Clubs have a specific set of breed standards.

The standards describe height, weight, body structure and even discuss temperament for some breeds. 

Breeders strive to meet the standards through selective breeding of ideal breed specimens. 

For Chis the breed standards are the same for short and long haired Chihuahuas except for differences in coat expectations.

It sounds very heartless to breed Chihuahuas simply to meet an arbitrary set of standards written in a Kennel Club manual somewhere but this is not the case.  Breed standards are set out in most cases to showcase an ideal specimen.  Breeding to attain this level of dog both physically and in temperament means a healthier stock of dogs.

Think of it this way:  if a Chihuahua with a terrible overbite and overcrowded teeth also had severely luxating patellas both these traits could be passed on to puppies.  Breeding a dog with obvious health defects weakens the breed as a whole because each one of the puppies would also carry the possibility of passing on the same defective traits.  Several generations down the road the number of Chihuahuas with severe dental issues and luxating patellas would increase.

As owners, we love our Chihuahuas and find it difficult to think of their small problems as defects.  However, wouldn’t you rather have a pet with fewer health and temperament problems?  Not only do you lead a happier life with your Chi but they are happier and healthier too.

Chihuahua Breed Standards

It is important to note that different countries can have slightly different breed standards and that the following standards are a summary from the UK Kennel Club.  For a more complete listing refer to the Kennel Club website.

Chihuahuas should be small and dainty but be alert and move with briskness.  They should be intelligent and spirited but not snappy or shy.  These are general traits that should be present when the dog is being shown in the ring.

Physical attributes include a well rounded apple shaped skull and a moderately short muzzle which is slightly pointed.  The eyes should be large but not protruding and the eye color can be light if the Chi’s coat is light coloured.  The ears should be large and flaring and set on a 45o angle to the head.  The upper teeth should closely overlap the lower teeth making a complete scissor bite.

Judges also feel the dogs for body structure and marks are given for how the Chi’s shoulders are set, how level their back is, the length of their neck, musculature of the hindquarters, and how the knees look and feel.  The feet are supposed to be small and dainty and are checked to make sure they don’t turn in or out.  Judges even look at the length of the nails!

Long haired Chihuahuas should have a soft textured coat which can be flat or slightly wavy, but never tight and curly.  Short haired Chis should have a smooth soft coat which appears glossy.

As far as the variety of colours that Chihuahuas come in, all are acceptable as part of the breed standard except for Merle (or dapple) coats.  Many kennel clubs worldwide have refused to accept Merle colouring as a breed standard because it is caused by a recessive gene.  This gene is also responsible for other physical defects and it has been determined that part of the standards cannot include colouring associated with physical defects.

Chihuahuas should weigh between four and six pounds maximum.  Many pure bred Chihuahuas that make wonderful house pets weigh over the six pound limit.  This doesn’t mean that your Chi is not pedigree, it simply means that as an individual specimen they exceed the breed standards for weight.

If you are considering entering your Chi into a dog show, contact your local Kennel Club for advice and instruction.  The dog show world can be complicated for a new owner so get as much information as possible before your start.

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