Chihuahua

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Description:  Chihuahuas are very small dogs, and are the smallest breed recognized by some kennel clubs.[9] There are two main varieties recognized by kennel clubs, the short-haired and the long-haired.[9] There is a second varietal split as well, having to do with the shape and size of the dog’s head. These two descriptive classifications are “apple head” and “deer head”, but only the apple head is conformationally correct. The body is longer than it is tall. The head is well-rounded, apple in shape and the muzzle is short and pointed with a well-defined stop. Puppies have a soft spot on the top of the skull called a “molera,” which usually closes by adulthood. The large, round eyes are set well apart and are dark, ruby, and may be lighter in white dogs. The erect ears are large. Dewclaws may be removed. The tail is long, sickle-shaped and either curled over the back or to the side. The coat can be short, long and wavy or flat. All colors, both solid, marked or splashed are accepted. Colors include, but are not limited to, black, white, chestnut, fawn, sand, silver, sable, steel blue, black & tan and parti-color.

Temperament:  Chihuahua’s enjoy affection. Brave, cheerful and agile, Chihuahuas can be strong-willed without proper human leadership. They are loyal and become attached to their owners. Some like to lick their owner’s faces. Tempered Chihuahuas can be easily provoked to attack, and are therefore generally unsuitable for homes with small children. The breed tends to be fiercely loyal to one particular guardian and in some cases may become over protective of the person, especially around other people or animals. They do not always get along with other breeds.

Health: This breed requires expert veterinary attention in areas such as birthing and dental care. Chihuahuas are also prone to some genetic anomalies, often neurological ones, such as epilepsy and seizure disorders. Many Chihuahuas have molleras, or a soft spot in their skulls, and they are the only breed of dog to be born with an incomplete skull. This is not a defect; it is a normal adaptation facilitating the passage through the birth canal and growth and development of the domed type of forehead. The molera is predominant in the rounder heads often and is present in nearly all Chihuahua puppies. The molera fills in with age, but great care needs to be taken during the first six months until the skull is fully formed. Some moleras do not close completely and if particularly large will require extra care to prevent injury. Many veterinarians are not familiar with Chihuahuas as a breed and mistakenly confuse a molera with hydrocephalus. 

Chihuahuas can also be at risk for hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar, which is especially dangerous for puppies. Left unattended, hypoglycemia can lead to coma and death but can be avoided with frequent feedings, especially for chihuahuas who are younger, smaller or leaner. Chihuahua guardians should have a simple sugar supplement on hand to use in emergencies, such as Nutri-Cal, Karo syrup and honey. These supplements can be rubbed on the gums and roof of the mouth to rapidly raise the blood sugar level. Signs of hypoglycemia include lethargy, sleepiness, low energy, uncoordinated walking, unfocused eyes and spasms of the neck muscles or head pulling back or to the side, fainting and seizures. Chihuahuas have a tendency to tremble or shiver when stressed, excited or cold. Chihuahuas, especially the short-coat variety, are less tolerant of cold than larger breeds, and may require a sweater or boots in cold weather. They will seek warmth in sunshine, under blankets, or on furniture, human laps or the back of a larger dog. Chihuahuas have a notorious problem with dental issues. Dental care is a must for these little creatures. Over-feeding and insufficient exercise can result in an overweight Chihuahua. Overweight Chihuahuas are susceptible to increased rates of joint injuries, tracheal collapse, chronic bronchitis, and shortened life span. 

Size: Weights ranges 2-6 pounds for both Male and females

Height ranges from 6-10 inches tall for both male and females

Grooming: The smooth, shorthaired coat should be gently brushed occasionally or simply wiped over with a damp cloth. The long coat should be brushed daily with a soft bristle brush. Bathe both types about once per month, taking care not to get water in the ears. Check the ears regularly and keep the nails trimmed. This breed is an average shedder.

Lifespan: Chihuahua usually live to be about 15-20 years old

Exercise: Although it is tempting to carry these dainty creatures about, these are active little dogs that need a daily walk. Play can take care of a lot of their exercise needs, however, as with all breeds, play will not fulfill their primal instinct to walk. Dogs that do not get to go on daily walks are more likely to display a wide array of behavior problems, as well as neurotic issues. They will also enjoy a good romp in a safe open area off lead, such as a large, fenced-in yard.

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A Brief Look at the 2008 Omaha Dog Ordinance

If you have listened to the news in Omaha, you are probably aware of the pet owners ordinance passed in 2008 that deals with the issues of tethering, reckless owners, dogs with unsafe behavior, and pitbull restrictions. These new ordinances require owners to leave their dogs tethered outside for no longer than fifteen minutes.

In addition to limiting the tethering time for you dog, the Nebraska Humane Society says, “dog owners need to keep their pets from barking, clean up after them, contain them to the yard, walk them on appropriate leashes, license them on time and make sure they don’t have too many pets.” If you violate any of these city laws on three different occasions within two years, you can be declared a Reckless Owner and will lose the right to keep your animals.

The new ordinance also requires owners of Pitbull, American Staffordshire Terrier, Staffordshire Bull Terrier, Dogo Argentina, Presa Canario, American Bulldog or Cane Corso dogs to have $100,000 liability insurance on their animal.

These new laws were put in place to put more responsibility on dog owners, to restrict dogs that may be a safety risk to the public, and to put more safeguards around supposedly dangerous dogs like pitbulls.

So, how is this legislation working to prevent dog bites?

In 2010 the Nebraska Humane Society found that 79 dog bites were from labs, 44 were from German shepherds, 42 from pit bulls and 33 were from Chihuahuas. It’s not that labs are more violent and aggressive, its just that there are more of them and one would expect to see more bites from a breed that is most popular; more dogs, more dog bites.

Mark Langan of the Nebraska Humane Society explained that, due to the 2008 legislation, “We’re seeing a dramatic decrease of pit bull bites from 115 in 2008 to 42 reported in 2010 which tells us people are taking the muzzle harness law very seriously.”

Thats all well and good that pitbull related bites have dropped so dramatically but news sources like KETV Channel 7 and KMTV Actions 3 News never reported on the total number of dog bites, which is a vital bit of information when putting these pitbull bite numbers into context.

Here are the years and number of dog bites from the city of Omaha:

2006, 916 dog bites.

2007, 821 dog bites

2008, 808 dog bites

(Omaha Dog ordinance takes place October 2008)

2009, 875 dog bites

2010, 913 dog bites

So while pitbull related dog bites were decreasing, dog bites from other breed were on the rise. There are probably variables beyond my knowledge as to why the number of dog bites increased between 2008 and 2010 while the new legislation was in effect.

One such variable that would be important to know is the number of registered dogs in Omaha from 2006 to 2010. If the number of dogs increased from 2006 to 2010, there is need for concern and a reevaluation of the new ordinance. However, if the number of bites go up when registered dogs in Omaha go up, and the number of bites go down when the number of registered dogs goes down, there may not be an issue.

From looking online, I haven’t had much luck when searching for this information. I think it’s hard to know exactly how many dogs are in Omaha since not all the dogs in Omaha are licensed. I have contacted the Humane Society to obtain the numbers for number of licensed dogs in Omaha from 2006 to 2010 but, they seem to be pretty busy since I haven’t received a call back. I’ll be sure to do an update when I receive the information.