Puppies: a responsible choice
By: A. P. - Paolo Tartaro - Francesco di Paola Nuzzo - Photos: Di Rio Galeria & Music Velvet chihuahuas

A Chihuahua puppy, with its lively eyes and that cunning and intelligent expression ready to steal every movement around it, who might resist it? And who could be free from the spell of that peculiar way, attractive and wary at the same time, of inviting to play? Choosing to adopt a puppy should not be a decision made lightly on the impulse of the moment.

A puppy pees around, barks and needs to sleep just when you would like to play with it, same as the other way round. As a matter of fact, a dog has doggy needs; when adopting a puppy we should never forget this and before we decide to adopt one, we'd better ask ourselves if we are ready to understand its needs and to speak its language as it does with ours: a dog has got to learn our language and we should always strive to speak its.

Love can never be neither a one-way road nor a self-referential affair. All this might sound obvious and unnecessary to say but I thought I had to, keeping in mind what happens everyday to some little creatures that go from being cuddled on the sofa to being neglected in many different ways.

With Chihuahuas we often find a neglect of moral and psychological kind together with abuse resulting from lack of respect for the dogs' differences when compared to human beings; real abuse too often called, using a nickname, indulgence. In Italy, the actual abandonment of a chihuahua is quite unusual, abandonment that in most cases, as I stated before, comes from an unaware adoption of a dog without taking into consideration its needs and what having a dog means in terms of time and commitment involved.

Now let's talk briefly of the temperament of this breed; temperament is a trait that should always be taken into consideration when choosing one breed or another, comparing it with our needs.

Cuccioli Often mistreated by the media, this breed has got nothing to do with the image of those silly little dogs dressed with funny clothes that they convey us.
This is an old breed that with the pre-Columbian people had, among others, mystic and metaphysical roles, later, with those populations of Central and South America who took the place of the pre-Columbians, chihuahuas played the very rustic role of small guard dogs that used their courage and fighting spirit against pests; for example, they were used in the fundamental process of deratization and to keep away small mustelids that, together with rats, despoiled the products of a purely rural-agricultural system.

Only in the last part of its millennial selection path, this breed saw the home sofa as its daily living enviroment, but, fortunately, the breed's ancestral heritage and attitudes are still there. Chihuahuas are active, alert and courageous dogs, and real dogs with all the doggy needs and, I say once again, by treating them as human beings we are mistreating them, a behaviour that dogs can hardly bear. But together with this fighting spirit, chihuahuas have a great capacity for love, communicative dedication and unmatched sweetness.

We could say they are dogs in the round. Once we decided that chihuahuas are the breed suitable for us, let's talk about where we should get our little Mexican dog.

At present there are so many chihuahua puppies for sale, unfortunately quantity wins over quality; puppies of different origins coming both from serious breeders, who by breeding make a selection, and unscrupulous dog dealers who consider dogs as just a business. At first you might think that by going to a reputable breeder you could end up spending more money, but that's untrue. A serious breeder gives us more in all respects.
Cuccioli Cuccioli The average type of the dogs bred by reputable breeders is better, type testified by many of their dogs shown at official dog shows. Also, the quality of their dogs is paramount to serious breeders as, first of all, serious breeders breed for themselves, for their breeding program; their puppies are their pride and joy first and, secondly, they represent the breeders' future as breeders are the ones who will first benefit from their work.

This implies maximum commitment in the choice of the bloodlines to work with, in the dogs to breed from and absolute dedication is guaranteed during each stage of the breeding process: from the long-awaited moment of the birth, followed by the suckling stage when the breeder does little but watches a great deal; then the weaning stage, an extremely important stage particularly for the basilary imprinting, when the breeder has a key role, up to the fundamental socialization stage. Compared to other breeds, this is a more delicate phase for chihuahuas, if we wish that in its future the adult dog knows how to relate to the rest of the world in a sane way, outside of its cosy and familiar environment.

Made this necessary premise, let's talk now about the choice of our puppy: if we are just going for a pet, with the breeder's help and opinion, it will be easy to pick up the one most suitable for us among the available puppies that are typical but not really show quality. Actually, a pet is just a beautiful and typical Chihuahua, genetically identical to its more promising littermate, who has its technical value spoilt by a small aesthetic fault which will never be related to health and soundness.

Cuccioli Cuccioli It is undoubtedly more complicated to talk about a more promising puppy, that is a puppy that shows good type, good construction and bite, good temperament, good movement and good size. Said like this, it would seem that future always fulfils the promises of the past, but that is not always the case. A promising three month old puppy, the age breeders normally start letting their puppies go, may not be that promising once it has changed its teeth.

An over angulated croupe, short humerus, weak ear cartilage. etc. etc., are all problems that the new owner has to take into consideration as it must be clear that by purchasing an immature dog, as a puppy is, you are taking your risks. If you don't want to take those risks, you'd rather go for a more mature puppy of seven-eight months of age that already has its adult teeth and whose look and temperament are more defined. If breeders can guarantee show quality of a promising dog, they can never guarantee show wins as those depend on many factors, last but not least, and in a wider sense, the way the new owner takes care of his/her dog. In evaluating a dog that you have adopted, another good suggestion is to avoid thoroughly and carefully asking for opinions/advice to everybody but the breeder who gave you the dog and, if you really want an honest opinion, enter your dog at an official dog show and have it evaluated by an expert judge. Advice and opinions given by self-appointed breed experts or by people who call themselves breeders but, actually, have had their first litter one month ago and have been attending dog shows for very few years (maybe only as exhibitors), can only cause harm and confusion. Breeders will always be prepared to follow the life of their dogs from puppyhood first to adulthood later; breeders are generous with advice coming from their experience, given to help new owners with all those small problems they will come across during the years. In other words, we might say that breeders should give us morality, confidence and professionalism and also let us know about the good points and the bad points of both the breed in general and the puppy of whom we wish to be the potential new owners.

In order to find a reputable breeder you can get in touch with the Italian Kennel Club (E.N.C.I.) or, better yet, you can contact the breed club, the officially recognized society, for the protection and preservation of the breed. In case of Chihuahuas it is the Club Cani Compagnia (C.C.C.).,

Remaining with E.N.C.I. and C.C.C., breeders will not miss zootechnical checks, often attending a good deal of dog shows approved by Federation Cynologique International (F.C.I.) with dogs either bred or owned by them. Apart from a constant presence in the show rings where, with sportmanship, breeders compare their dogs to those belonging to other breeders, they do not miss the chance to be updated on morphological – technical – scientifical developments of their breed, attending precious workshops often organized by the breed club or by the E.N.C.I. itself and, also, keeping an eye on Italian and foreign publications which today are easier to get through the web.

After this strong informational hardness, coming from the need to protect our breed from the strictly commercial vandalism which today afflicts chihuahuas through a commercial web that goes from the net to pet shops, our intent is to encourage all those who, first fascinated and then in love with the breed, want to approach chihuahuas in various ways but always serious and, hence, informed and aware.

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