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Chihuahuas 101

Marc Morrone brings two loveable Chihuahuas to the show to visit Martha.

Martha Stewart Living Television

One of the most popular of the small dog breeds is the chihuahua, and that's because they make great pets. Originating in Mexico, Chihuahuas have the distinction of being the smallest canines in the world, typically weighing only about 6 pounds. Named after the Mexican state where it was first discovered, the breed was also known as Mexican Dwarf dogs, Raza Fina, and the "pillow dog."

This minute breed has a few unique characteristics. Chihuahuas have apple-domed skulls, flattened furry tails, and a talonlike foot with long, curled nails. As with most dogs, their most fragile time is soon after birth; the smaller they are at birth the more fragile. In general, though, it is a very hardy breed.

If purchased from a good breeder, Chihuahuas are typically social, friendly, and easy to train. They are a very clannish breed, and like to stick with others. Happy and alert dogs, Chihuahuas adapt well to varying temperatures, but they aren't able to handle extremes and should remain inside if the weather is exceedingly hot or cold. Although some Chihuahuas tremble when they're raring to go but are not able to, a well-bred Chihuahua is a stable one.

Chihuahuas are prone to hypoglycemia and should be fed small portions of premium kibble twice per day. They're great with kids when socialized properly, just like any other dog. But, just like other dogs, they should be watched around small children -- just because they are little, does not mean they don't have the capability to defend themselves if provoked. Don't let small children pull their tails, their ears, etc.

It is important to do your homework before adopting a Chihuahua; be sure to work with a reputable breeder, one who is unwilling to ship the dog before meeting with you and who keeps a clean kennel.

Special thanks to pet expert Marc Morrone for sharing this information. To find out more about these wonderful dogs, see AKC Meet the Breeds: Chihuahua..

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