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Chihuahua

Recommended for: Older people
Maintenance: Low
Lifespan: 10-14 years

Appearance
The Chihuahua is a lightly-built dog, tiny and fragile with a large rounded skull and big dark eyes. They are usually less than 20cm (8″) tall and weigh between 0.9-1.8kg (2-4lb). There are two types, the smooth-coated and long-coated. The smooth-coated which has a soft, short, close coat; and the long-coated has a long, soft, flat or slightly curly coat with fringed ears, feathered feet and legs and a ruffle around the neck. Coat colors range from white through cream, sable, sand, blue to black.

Temperament
Owners describe their dogs as feisty, saucy, cunning, clever and protective. They can become very attached to their owners and reserved around strangers, and especially around children if not used to them.

Health
While not as fragile as their appearance may suggest, it would be wise to deal with reputable breeders as Chihuahuas have potential problems, some hereditary: Slipping patellas, a condition where the kneecap moves and causes a swiveling action in the legs as the dog moves, are found in this breed. This is an inherited condition and good breeders do not breed from affected dogs. The prominent eyes can also be vulnerable to injury or infection.

Grooming
Chihuahua toenails grow quickly and if not clipped regularly can cause the dogs to slip on hard surfaces. They are low maintenance with a weekly brush being the main requirement.

Exercise
Chihuahuas really need to live indoors and their diminutive size means their space and exercise needs are accommodated inside the home. However, they are active little dogs that enjoy a walk.