Breeding Chihuahuas is defined as planning and organizing the mating of two purebred Chihuahua dogs in order to produce a litter of chihuahua puppies respecting the clear guidelines as set by the official breed standard.
The truth is, Chihuahua breeding should always offer clear or subtle improvement from the previous generation. A Chihuahua breeder doesn’t just breed for the sake of breeding or profiting, he or she must breed with clear short and long-term measurable objectives.
The chihuahua isn’t the easiest breed to work with. They are small dogs prone to several health issues, but they are indeed very much sought after which makes the breed very appealing for a passionate breeder. In this article, I want to share with you pointers about how to breed chihuahuas of the highest quality without compromising on the breed’s common health conditions.
History of Chihuahua Breeding
For decades, the Chihuahua breed was thought to have originated in China, or at least developed using external blood from miniature dogs of Chinese descent. A recent research paper by The Royal Society B studied the DNA and genetic materials of ancestral American breeds along with some current Latin breeds (e.g. Chihuahua, Peruvian hairless dog, etc.)
Discoveries were clear: the modern Chihuahua shares a lot of genetic material with ancestral breeds from the Americas confirming its indigenous roots. “Our results confirm that American dogs are a remaining part of the indigenous American culture, which underscores the importance of preserving these populations.” the study confirmed.
The modern Chihuahua is descending from the Techichi, the favorite dog breed of the Toltec civilization of Mexico. Just like most very ancient dog breeds, the Techichi was a broad type of dog without any official standard. Therefore, you may find two pictures of Techichi dogs that differ very much even if both dogs are labeled the same.
On the timeline, the Techichis was formally traced back from the 9th century but pottery art from Colima, Mexico is vaguely depicting animals looking very similar to Techichi dogs back in 300 BC.
Dogs approximating the modern Chihuahua breed were then found in old materials from the pre-Mayan era, precisely in the Great Pyramid of Cholula. Perhaps due to its peculiar and very appealing look, many memorabilia or drawings of Chihuahua-like dogs have been found over the centuries in obviously Mexico, but also El Salvador, Tennessee, and the surrounding areas. All of which date from 1100 AD onwards.
Sadly, a letter from the Spanish conquistador Hernan Cortés dated from 1520 explains that these small Chihuahua dogs are being bred, raised and sold as foods. The letter, still available on Fordham University’s website, reads “There are also sold rabbits, hares, deer, and little dogs [i.e., the chihuahua], which are raised for eating.” The breed wasn’t used for any particular purpose or job, besides being a great companion dog. Small dogs like chihuahuas and techichis were thought to absorb pain and sins from humans and were allegedly buried alive with the deads, or used at live water bottles.
The first recorded mentions of a Chihuahua breed date back to 1884 when Mexican traders were breeding Chihuahuas to sell them to tourists in bordering markets. Up until the 20th century and the official recognition of the breed by the American Kennel Club in 1904, the Chihuahua was a dog with many different appearances but always characterized by its tiny size.
Health Concerns When Breeding Chihuahuas
The Chihuahua breed is notoriously small in size and extremely fragile, especially since the breed is also known to be a very excitable and active one. The risk of injuries is higher than the average dog, and puppies will inevitably require a lot of extra care and attention during their handling.
When breeding Chihuahuas, the main goals is to reduce the various health risks by carefully screening each member of your breeding stock, internal and external. The entire breed counts on each of you, Chihuahua breeders, to breed out the below common health concerns before they cannibalize the breed and it’s too late (ideally, the Chihuahua doesn’t want to be the new English Bulldog.)
Common to most toy breeds, hydrocephalus is the accumulation of too much cerebrospinal fluid in the dog’s brain. It’s generally visible due to the oversized head of the puppy, showing both an abnormal shape and size. Chihuahuas affected by hydrocephalus are often growing at a much slower rate than the other whelps, and tend to show signs of weakness and lethargy.
Because of the excess fluid within the dog’s skull, there is too strong pressure on the brain, the eyes, and the blood supply too. Chances of survival, in the long run, are rather slim, even with early veterinary attention. The solution here is to stop trying to breed to smallest Chihuahua puppies ever and focus on health rather than eye-catching appearances and Facebook likes.
Jaw & Dental Care
Because the chihuahua is such a tiny breed of dogs, their head doesn’t have much room for a strong jaw and dentition. Therefore, veterinarians tend to give extra care and run extra checks on Chihuahuas’ dental health. From X-rays to regular cleaning, breeders of Chihuahuas should always avoid breeding to smaller sizes in order to avoid huge complications. Periodontal health includes the regular use of dental sticks, but also the inevitable brushing of your dog’s teeth. Monitor the gums of a dog is also important.
Molera (Soft Spot)
Specific to the Chihuahua breed, a molera is a soft spot in the dog’s skull. It is the Chihuahua’s version of what a fontanelle is for human babies. A molera is not a disease, nor it is a defect. Soft spots generally fill themselves up with age but require a lot of attention because it is most definitely a very fragile part of the affected puppy.
At birth, the cartilage and bones forming the dog’s skull are softer anyway. But as a normal dog matures, both will strengthen and harden. Chihuahuas affected by a molera, or soft spot, will have a round or diamond-shaped softer spot that will normally remain fragile for several months until it fills itself up.
In 1989, a study paper written by Greene and Braund stated that there is no increased risk of hydrocephalus when a molera is present on the Chihuahua’s head: “Many clinically normal toy breeds and brachycephalic (short-faced) breeds also may have open fontanelles without associated hydrocephalus.“
Chihuahua Breeding's Best Practices
Although all dog breeds belong to the Canis lupus familiaris species, each particular breed of dogs has its own specificities a breeder must know before getting involved with a breeding program. The Chihuahua is a very popular dog breed and therefore requires a lot of care and knowledge.
There are numerous Chihuahuas matings organized daily so every (life-threatening) defect could and does spread like the plague, extremely fast. It is your duty to follow the best practices when breeding Chihuahuas in order to take the best dogs you can find today, and improve them tomorrow.
Apple-head Chihuahuas and Deer-head Chihuahuas
Although they belong to the same breed, there are two distinct body and head types within the Chihuahua breed:
- Deer-head Chihuahuas (older type) — the body has larger ears, and longer, more slender legs; flat-topped heads with more widely set eyes.
- Apple-head Chihuahuas (current standard) — a 90º angle where the dog’s muzzle joins the forehead, much-rounded heads, close-set eyes, and relatively short ears and legs.
Scientifically, the genetic reasons why these two types coexist are still unknown, but old depictions found in Central America centuries ago lead us to believe that this difference in appearances has perhaps always been there. As explained earlier in the article, the Techichi, ancestor of the Chihuahua, was a type of dog and probably some of them had deer-shaped heads, while others had apple-shaped skulls. Some breed fanciers have also hypothesized that the deer head Chihuahua could come from a cross between the ancestral Techichi and the Chinese Crested.
As a modern breeder, you do want to focus on breeding Apple-head chihuahuas since this is the type currently promoted and recognized by both the American Kennel Club and the Chihuahua Club of America.
There is a small controversy within the Chihuahua circles about Deer Head Chihuahuas and their current dissension by the official breed standards; many believe that deer head chihuahuas should be accepted since they are clearly part of the breed and still very common to this day. Things are not black and white and because of centuries of genetic intermingling, most Chihuahuas bred by hobby breeders will display characteristics from both types, apple and deer head chihuahuas. The triage is mainly performed in dog shows and pet exhibitions.
Smooth vs Long-Hair Chihuahuas
According to the respected and official American Kennel Club, there are two subtypes of Chihuahuas accepted:
- Smooth-Coat Chihuahuas showcasing a very short coat
- Long-Hair Chihuahuas boasting a longer coat all over their body
Both Chihuahua types are genetically identical with their only difference being the length of their coat — there is no best type here, just a matter of preference, with trends favoring one over the other in cycles! Either type generally requires pet clothing during cold days.
Obviously, just like with dog with longer hairs, grooming is required mainly by brushing in order to keep the coat free of tangled hair. Detangling a matted coat is a hassle that often leads long-hair Chihuahua owners to the professional groomer for a quick clip of the dog’s coat. If you are experienced yourself, you may want to clean up your Chihuahua’s rear-end area by trimming the hair so to avoid the dog soiling its own fur. “The long-coat variety tends to soft and semi-fluffy coat of hair, and they may or may not have an undercoat,” said Chihuahua Wardrobe.
When should chihuahuas breed?
The Chihuahua breed, like other small and toy dogs, tend to sexually mature earlier than larger dogs; generally around 6 months of age. Just like any other dog breed, female Chihuahuas should never be bred on their first two or three heats because fertility is not high enough to allow for a successful and smooth pregnancy.
The back-to-back breeding of smaller dogs (e.g. Chihuahua, Pomeranians, etc) is not recommended because the body and overall support system is not strong enough to cope with repeated pregnancies. Instead, you do want to skip a heat to allow your Chihuahua female a good amount of recovery.
Male Chihuahuas should be used for stud services once they are fully matured, generally after a year or two of age. You also want to wait for the stud to completely grow to assess whether or not it is a good enough specimen to use for future breedings.
What's the average litter size of Chihuahuas?
The average size of a litter of Chihuahua puppies is anywhere between one and three whelps. Four puppies and over is definitely realistic but rare.
If you are wondering how many puppies can a chihuahua have, you need to understand that with canines, the size of a litter is influenced by multiple factors: fertility of the female, size of the female, quality of the male’s semen, diet, current health, etc.
Do Chihuahuas need C-section during the delivery of puppies?
Although the newborn puppies are very small, cesarean sections (i.e. C-sections) are somewhat common for the Chihuahua breed. This is due to the tiny size of the mother’s opening. Additionally, the very small uterus of the mother Chihuahua can cause obstructions during the delivery calling for an emergency C-section.
As a responsible dog breeder, you must absolutely have the budget ready in case of urgent C-section, as well as call up your vet few days ahead to make sure they are ready to provide such surgical operation if need be. In most cases, especially with a small puppy count expected at delivery, a natural birth will seamlessly occur; but the breeder’s job is to prepare for abnormal situations.
How much should I sell a purebred Chihuahua puppy for?
The price of each puppy depends on the puppy itself (markings, shape), the pedigree analysis, your reputation, your results in dog shows, the demand in your neighborhood, the current market price, the defects your dogs are showing, etc.
We’ve written an entire article on how much you should sell your puppies for, and there is no magic number I could give you right here, right now. Remember, there is no rule that says female dogs should have a higher price tag or the opposite with males being pricier than their counterparts.
Is it worth breeding teacup Chihuahuas?
Such “chihuahuas” are flirting with death at each litter and should never be tolerated. If you are wondering how to breed teacup Chihuahuas, you’ve landed on the wrong page. Unfortunately, the race to breeding the cutest and tiniest dog is encouraged on social media and creates a demand that many breeders are happy to supply for.
The Chihuahua breed, as is, is very small and inherently shows size-specific health problems. Trying to breed smaller and smaller using selective breeding is pure idiocy. I would recommend you to stick to the actual breed standard and not try to jump on a bandwagon that will soon die down when its inherent cruelty is exposed.
Future of the Chihuahua Breed
When poring over how to breeding Chihuahuas, one should mainly focus on the present and future. Indeed, the present means acknowledging the current state of the breed and the bloodlines you have at hand. The future of the breed is where your ambition should lead you towards.