Chihuahuas are known to most people as the smallest dog breed, so you may be surprised to encounter a larger Chi. So, are they actually the smallest breed of dog? Why are some Chihuahuas bigger?
Are Chihuahuas The Smallest Breed Of Dog?
The American Kennel Club (AKC) breed standard for the Chihuahua says that Chis should stand about 5 to 8 inches high at the shoulder and weigh a maximum of 6 pounds, making this breed the smallest breed of dog.
Some Chihuahuas may be marketed as “teacup” Chihuahuas, however, the breed standard does not include the term teacup to describe the Chihuahuas on the shorter end of the height and lower end of the weight range accepted by the AKC.
The breed is simply the Chihuahua, with some flexibility in the size of the dogs. This makes the term “teacup” a red flag, as poor breeding practices may be behind the litter.
Why Are Some Chihuahuas Big?
The reasons that some Chihuahuas are larger than others fall into one of two categories:
Even if a breeder intentionally and carefully selects a male and female who conform to the breed standard (known as “show quality dogs”), that does not guarantee that their puppies will also conform. These non-conforming puppies are known as “pet quality” dogs.
Not every breeder breeds dogs to conform perfectly to the breed standard; some breeders will intentionally breed pet quality dogs for the purpose of providing pets to individuals and families who do not intend to show.
Further, some pet parents choose not to spay and neuter their pets. When they interact with other unaltered pets, unplanned litters happen.
These most often result in pet quality puppies, or sometimes, mixed breed puppies.
Generally speaking, pet quality and mixed-breed Chihuahuas tend to land on the higher end of the weight scale more often than the smaller end of the weight scale due to their genetics being more diverse.
Even Chihuahuas bred to the breed standard can become a little larger if they are not properly cared for. This breed is frequently overweight because most of them are foodies and expert-level beggars.
Despite the stares that could knock a glass off the shelf, despite the urgency of the paws pressing against your leg, against the heart-wrenching facial expressions paraded out to manipulate those at the dinner table, the most loving answer to give a begging Chi is NO.
Allowing a Chihuahua to carry excess weight strains their joints and heart and negatively impacts their overall health, which could shorten their life span or exacerbate other health issues.
Why Do People Want Big Chihuahuas?
The breed’s diminutive stature begs the question, why do some people want a bigger version of these feisty Mexican jumping beans? Consider these reasons:
Greater genetic diversity. If the puppy’s parents were not show quality, their genes are more diverse. Some pet parents believe these dogs may be more healthy, avoiding medical conditions that are passed straight down the generations due to the small pool of specially selected parents.
Size anxiety. Some people find the size of a breed standard Chihuahua to be anxiety-inducing; they may fear sitting on, stepping on, or tripping over such a tiny dog; or shutting them in a door or dishwasher if they do not hear them, etc.
Adding a larger Chi to the family allows these people to enjoy the temperament of this breed of dog while having fewer worries.
How Can I Find A Big Chihuahua?
If you are hoping to find a larger Chihuahua, search by breed on Pet Finder to view adoptable Chihuahuas, or search for pet-quality Chihuahua breeders near you. You can check on Puppy Spot although most of the chihuahuas I have seen there are smaller.
Your best bet would be to begin the search on Pet Finder, as many Chihuahuas in rescue are on the larger end. While you certainly may find a purebred pet quality Chi on the larger end of the scale, more often than not, they are mixed with other breeds.
The most commonly Chi mixed breeds are pugs, beagles, Jack Russells, Rat Terriers, and various other small breeds. “Cheagles”, Chihuahua Beagle mixes, tend to look the most similar to a Chihuahua, if that is important to you.
Why Do People Want Breed Standard Chihuahuas?
Other people prefer pups on the smaller end of the scale, most often for these reasons:
They intend to show. If you want to show your Chi, he or she must conform to the breed standard to participate in official AKC shows. However, there are other doggy sports, such as barn hunt, that allow dogs of any conformation and heritage to participate.
Personal preference. Some people simply prefer petite pups. A breed standard size Chi is easy to travel with, less expensive to care for, has low exercise requirements, is the perfect lap size, and is easy to include in most of your daily activities.
How Can I Find A Standard Size Chihuahua?
If your goal is to have a Chi who conforms to the breed standard, use the American Kennel Club (AKC) Market Place to locate a breeder near you.
Which Size Chihuahua Makes A Better Pet?
Depending upon what you are looking for and what effort you are willing to put forth, Chihuahuas of either size make excellent pets. Keep the following in mind:
Children. The safety of your children and your Chi should not cause you stress; it should be manageable. If you have small children, consider a large Chi, as a smaller dog will likely be more difficult to manage.
Training is crucial to having a well behaved dog that you actually enjoy spending time with. If you do not put effort into training your Chi, he or she will likely exhibit unwanted behaviors. This breed is especially notorious for running the house when training is neglected!
Truly wanting a velcro side kick. Chihuahuas bond very strongly to their humans and want to be the velcro side kick to one special human. If you do not enjoy "clingy" dogs, you will not enjoy sharing your life with a Chi of either size.
Big Chihuahuas are created when show quality litters produce surprise puppies, breeders breed for pet quality puppies, or from unplanned litters. A big Chihuahua can make just as wonderful a pet as a standard-size Chihuahua, depending upon your personal preference, and the provision of proper care.
I’m an avid dog lover and I’ve had many dogs throughout my life. When I rescued my first Chihuahua, I was hooked on the breed.
I have had dogs all my life and have trained as a dog groomer. I also have been a kennel worker, worked in a pet hotel through PetSmart, and still am a pet sitter.
Read my full bio on my About page