Is the Chuhuahua right for me?
Chihuahuas truly are a wonderful little breed, but they are not the right breed for everyone. Because they are very small, special consideration needs to be given on the type of home they go too. As dog breeders it is our responsibility to make sure that we find the best home possible for every puppy we place, and this means asking questions. No breeder wants his puppy to lead a stressed life, be hurt or abused by small children or other pets, or end up in an animal shelter or not cared for properly. Before acquiring any breed of dog, it is important to research that breed to ensure this is the right breed for you. Certain breeds have certain health problems, some require lots of grooming or exercise, some have breed traits such as excessive barking along with many other factors that may make it a nice breed for one person, but not the right breed for another. Never buy a puppy impulsively before doing research; remember, this is a life long commitment.
What is their life-span?
Toy breeds live the longest of any size dog. Expect a life-span of 11-18 years, although the latter is rare.
How much exercise do they require?
Not much. This little breed has short bursts of energy each day which quickly die down. You should provide toys for your Chi to keep it occupied. Old slippers are ideal, as well as stuffed toys with squeakers inside. You can certainly take your Chi on walks. (You'll make many an acquaintance due to the diminutive and unusual appearance of your Chihuahua!)
When buying a leash for your Chihuahua, remember that its neck is rather small and delicate compared to other dog's necks. You cannot (and, indeed, should not) yank your dog around by the leash if s/he has a neck collar on. I recommend the body-harness for two reasons: safety and comfort. If fitted right, it will give your Chi a secure and comfortable walk, and harnesses also ensure your dog cannot escape -- a real concern if you live in an urban area.
There are two kinds of body harnesses: one kind goes over the head of the dog and buckles under the torso in an H-design. This is good, but an even better harness is the Y-design, which doesn't touch the throat at all.
Do they require special dog food?
No. They have the same nutritional needs as most dogs. I feed mine regular kibbles, and, although the kibbles are large, my Chihuahua seems to sort of enjoy cracking each one with her jaws.
Chihuahuas prefer several small meals per day, rather than one big meal. I leave a bowl of kibbles out for my Chi and she seems to eat about three small meals a day.
What are the differences between the smoothcoats and the longcoats?
Smoothcoats tend to have coats that are much coarser than longcoats -- almost like bristles in some cases. Smoothcoats also shed more than longcoats. However, longcoats can shed as well. Heavily coated longhairs require brushing about once a month, but this can be a pleasureable exercise for both Chi and master rather than a chore. As far as bathing is concerned, as a general rule, the longcoats will need to be bathed more frequently, and it'll be a longer process (both washing and drying). The bib -- the furry part of the chest -- can easily get dirty and matted. Longcoats can also occasionally get fecal matter stuck on their "pants." You'll have to either bathe your dog or cut the bit off with scissors when this happens.
Some Chihuahua owners swear by long-hairs and wouldn't have anything else; it is as much a matter of personal taste as is coat color.
My Chihuahua's shivering. Is this because s/he's cold?
Chihuahuas do shiver when they're cold, but they also shiver when they are wary, excited, unhappy, or frightened. This is a result of having a high metabolism, and is a normal characteristic of this breed.