the tiny watch dog...

Chihuahuas are the smallest of all dog breeds and come in both long and short haired varieties weighing in at just 2 -3 kgs. They look delicate and fragile. Their size is not indicative of their personality. These are larger than life, confident and assertive animals. They will bark incessantly at anything they are not happy with including strangers and frequent visitors alike. They will choose for themselves when they will accept your visitors and you cant rush this process - it may take many meetings before they decide your friends are okay.

Equally, they are not fond of other dogs but will befriend dogs and cats in your home if introduced to them early. Large dog companions are not ideal as, despite 'Chihuahua' cockiness; they can be easily hurt playing with much bigger, heavier dogs.

Children can be tricky for Chihuahuas, too. Boisterous, loud, very active youngsters will stress these animals and they can become snappy if poked and prodded by little fingers too often.

Early socialisation of Chihuahuas is vital, but when all is said and done, they will always prefer a quiet home with one or two adult masters and maybe another Chihuahua for company. They great things is, they don't need much space, making them ideal for flats, don't need much exercise and don't eat much. They are happy to spend hours just sitting next to you while you read of follow you around while you clean. Whilst they love short walks, they'll get most of the exercise they need just running around the house.

There are a few health issues common in Chihuahuas, the commonest being luxating patellas. Jumping up and down off furniture really is a long way for these little guys and this puts enormous strain on their little legs and kneecaps. Pick them up and help them down wherever possible.

These dogs will reward you with exceptional loyalty and affection for many years. Some have lived beyond 20 years!

<ul> <li> Very small dog.</li> <li>Great watch dog.</li> <li>Needs very little exercise.</li> <li>Long life expectancy.</li> <li>Can struggle with children and other pets.</li> </ul>