Raising a Chihuahua in Singapore: A Comprehensive Care Guide

Explore the world of Chihuahuas, petite dogs with big personalities perfect for Singapore’s compact living spaces. These small dogs are more than just lap warmers; they’re full of sass, vigour, and a surprising amount of courage that belies their small frames.

In Singapore’s high-rise havens, Chihuahuas are the ideal companions, requiring minimal space but offering unlimited love and entertainment in return. Through this article, we’ll explore the ins and outs of nurturing a Chihuahua in the vibrant context of Singaporean life, from care tips to local nuances that every Chihuahua owner should know.

*Disclaimer: This article should not be used in place of professional advice from vets – it’s only meant for general knowledge. You’re recommended to consult a vet for a reliable and accurate diagnosis of your pet’s medical condition.

Infographic showing all the things you need to know about Chihuahuas

Key Physical Traits of a Chihuahua

As one of the most recognisable breeds, Chihuahuas boast a variety of physical traits that set them apart. Each of these energetic little dogs comes with a distinct personality and flair that endears them to their owners. 

Here, we’ll break down the signature characteristics of Chihuahuas, showcasing the diversity within this charming breed.

Weight0.9 - 2.7kg
Height12.7 - 20.3cm
Lifespan12 - 20 years
Coat typesSmooth coat (short-haired), long coat
Coat coloursBlack, white, fawn, chocolate, and more
Head shapeMostly apple-headed, as recognized by the AKC

Note: The above table provides a general guide to the Chihuahua’s physical traits. Individual dogs may vary, and these variations can be due to several factors, including genetics and breeding practices. The American Kennel Club (AKC) recognises the apple-headed Chihuahua as the breed standard, emphasising its distinctive “apple dome” skull shape. 

For the most accurate information, always refer to the breed standard provided by kennel clubs and consult with breeders. 

Common Personality Traits of Chihuahuas

Chihuahuas are much more than their tiny stature might suggest. Each one possesses a rich blend of traits that make them as unique and endearing as any other dog breed. Some of their common personality traits include:

Loyal

Chihuahuas are known for their fierce loyalty to a single person, often becoming highly devoted to their primary caretaker. This loyalty can border on possessiveness, as they may become protective, always staying close to the person they have bonded with most deeply.

Feisty

Don’t be fooled by their size; Chihuahuas pack a bold spirit. They are alert and spirited dogs, often displaying confidence and courage that’s unexpected in such a small build. This feistiness also means they can be quite tenacious when they set their minds to something.

Affectionate

With their families, Chihuahuas are affectionate and sweet-natured. They thrive on attention and return it in kind, often seeking out cuddles and lap time as their favourite part of the day. Their affectionate nature makes them excellent companions, as they form strong, emotional connections with their owners.

Energetic

Despite their small frames, Chihuahuas have a surprising amount of energy. They enjoy being active, whether that means playing with toys, engaging in training activities, or simply exploring new sights and smells on a walk. Regular play sessions are essential to keep them mentally and physically stimulated.

Caring for a Chihuahua in Singapore

Chihuahua lying on a pillow

Chihuahuas make charming, spirited companions, but they require special care in Singapore’s environment. This section covers the essential things you need to know to ensure your Chihuahua lives a happy and healthy life in the city — from their eligibility to reside in HDB flats to their specific grooming and exercise needs.

Housing Your Chihuahua in an HDB Flat

Chihuahuas are ideal companions for HDB residents, thanks to their small size and agreeable temperament. As an HDB-approved dog breed, they fit comfortably into the apartment lifestyle, provided they have their little corner to unwind and sufficient play to stay happy indoors.

Grooming a Chihuahua

Grooming your Chihuahua not only keeps them looking their best but also serves as a check-in on their health and wellbeing. It’s an activity that can strengthen the bond between you and your pet, all while maintaining the condition of their coat, nails, and teeth. 

While grooming requirements may vary slightly between the smooth and long-coat varieties, the basics of grooming a Chihuahua remain the same.

Grooming activityFrequencyNotes (if any)
Brushing
  • Short coat: Once a week
  • Long coat: 3 times a week
  • Regular brushing distributes natural oils and prevents matting in long coats.
    Bathing
  • Short coat: Once a month, or as needed
  • Long coat: 2 times a month
  • Short-haired Chihuahuas often need less frequent bathing if they remain indoors.

    Long-haired Chihuahuas should be bathed at least twice a month, especially if they're active outdoors, to keep their coat clean and free of tangles.
    Teeth brushingAt least twice a dayPrevents tartar build-up and promotes good oral health.
    Eye cleaningOnce a dayChihuahuas can be prone to tear stains and eye discharge that need regular cleaning.
    Ear cleaningOnce a monthClean ears help prevent infections, especially in long-coated dogs with more ear hair.
    Nail trimmingEvery 2 weeksKeeps paws comfortable and prevents overgrowth that can lead to discomfort or injury.

    If it’s a busy season in life for you, or if you’re looking for a professional touch, you can visit a pet groomer to assist you in these grooming activities instead.

    Exercise and Activity Needs of Chihuahuas

    Chihuahua running while holding a stick in its mouth

    Despite their small size, Chihuahuas have a considerable amount of energy and require regular exercise to maintain their health and happiness. A daily routine of 30 minutes to an hour of physical activity is ideal for these lively companions. This can be divided into shorter and more frequent sessions, especially in Singapore’s hot climate, to avoid overexertion.

    Chihuahua puppies, with their boundless energy, may require short bursts of play interspersed with rest to accommodate their developing bodies. As they grow into adulthood, the focus can shift to longer walks and consistent playtimes to keep them engaged and fit.

    Diet of a Chihuahua

    Chihuahua eating kibble from a person's hand

    Managing the diet of your Chihuahua is key to their health and longevity. For an average adult Chihuahua around 2kg, a daily intake of 200 – 250 calories from high-quality dog food is generally sufficient. 

    Puppies, with their rapid growth and development, may need more energy-dense nutrition with frequent meals throughout the day. As they mature into adulthood, the focus shifts to maintaining a balanced diet to prevent weight gain, which can be managed with measured portions of dog food and occasional healthy dog treats for positive reinforcement.

    Remember to always have fresh water available, and consult your vet for the best advice on your Chihuahua’s dietary needs. They can help you understand how to incorporate the right dog food and treats into your pet’s diet effectively, ensuring your furry friend stays happy and healthy.

    Training a Chihuahua

    Training your Chihuahua is an essential aspect of their development and ensures they grow up to be well-behaved members of the family. It’s about setting the stage for clear communication and building a relationship based on mutual respect.

    Establish Limitations and be the Leader of the Pack

    Begin by asserting yourself as the pack leader to set clear boundaries. For example, have your Chihuahua wait for their food until you give the signal, and restrict their access to furniture, allowing them only on their own dog bed

    Feed your Chihuahua at Set Intervals

    Feeding your Chihuahua at the same time each day aids their digestion and instils a sense of routine, contributing to their overall obedience and well-being.

    Teach Quiet Commands

    To manage your Chihuahua’s natural inclination to vocalise, teaching ‘quiet’ commands can be incredibly effective. These commands are cues like “hush” or “quiet” that, when spoken calmly and firmly, encourage your Chihuahua to stop barking. 

    The key is to introduce the command when they are barking, and then reward them with treats and praise as soon as they obey and fall silent. Over time, they’ll associate the command with the action of being quiet, helping to keep your home more peaceful.

    Socialise your Chihuahua

    Early and ongoing socialisation is essential for your Chihuahua to become a friendly and well-adjusted companion, comfortable with various people and settings. For instance, ​​regular walks and allowing them to interact with friendly dogs and people can help them become well-adjusted. 

    The variety of experiences helps them to become comfortable with the world around them. This, in turn, reduces fearfulness and promotes confident behaviour across different environments and situations.


    Training tips!

  • Use treats as positive reinforcement
    Keep their favourite treats handy to reward good behaviour. Positive reinforcement encourages them to repeat behaviours that earn them rewards.

  • Be patient and keep training sessions short
    Repetition is key in dog training, but patience is equally important. Aim for brief 15-minute sessions with plenty of breaks to keep your Chihuahua focused and eager to learn.

  • Avoid aggression in training
    Avoid using aggressive techniques. Trust is the cornerstone of effective training, and aggression can damage the trust between you and your Chihuahua.

  • Common Health Problems in Chihuahuas

    Chihuahuas are beloved for their tiny stature and big personalities, but like all breeds, they’re prone to certain health conditions. 

    Regular veterinary checkups are key to managing these conditions and ensuring your Chihuahua lives a full and happy life. Here are some of the most common health concerns for Chihuahuas:

    Dental and Gum Disease

    Dental issues are common due to the Chihuahua’s small mouth, leading to crowded teeth.

    Symptoms

    • Bad breath
    • Loose or discoloured teeth
    • Bleeding gums
    • Loss of appetite

    Treatment

    • Daily dental care routine, including brushing with pet-safe toothpaste
    • Regular veterinary cleanings

    Glaucoma

    Glaucoma in dogs, typically resulting from optic nerve damage, can be painful and lead to loss of sight. 

    Symptoms

    • Watery eyes
    • Milky ocular film
    • Redness in the whites of your pup’s eyes
    • Persistent squinting
    • Bulging eyes

    Treatment

    • Medication
    • Surgery (if necessary)

    Tracheal Collapse

    Weak or malformed cartilage rings in the trachea can collapse, causing breathing problems in Chihuahuas.

    Symptoms

    • Difficulty breathing
    • Frequent coughing

    Treatment

    • Medication
    • Surgery (in more severe cases)

    Luxating Patella

    A luxating patella, or a dislocated kneecap, is a genetic condition that can affect Chihuahuas, often noticeable by a limp or an unusual gait.

    Symptoms

    • Limping
    • Skipping steps
    • Holding a leg off the ground

    Treatment

    Often, a dog’s kneecap may shift back to its place naturally, so your vet may suggest monitoring your dog for signs of discomfort or arthritis first. If their kneecap doesn’t shift back naturally, medication or weight management may be recommended. In severe cases, however, surgery may be necessary.

    Seizures

    Seizures in Chihuahuas can be alarming but are usually not painful for the dog. They can be caused by brain, spinal, or nerve issues.

    Symptoms

    • Uncontrollable shaking
    • Temporary unconsciousness or unresponsiveness

    Treatment

    • Medication

    Cost of Owning a Chihuahua in Singapore

    Chihuahua sitting inside a dog carrier bag in front of a bicycle

    Owning a Chihuahua in Singapore is not just a joyful experience but also a financial commitment. From the initial purchase or adoption to ongoing care, there are various costs associated with bringing a Chihuahua into your family. 

    Understanding these expenses can help you budget accordingly and ensure that your new companion receives the care they deserve.

    One-off Costs

    Purchase or adoption price

    The cost of purchasing a Chihuahua can vary widely based on the breeder, lineage, and age of the dog. Prices can range significantly, so it’s best to research current costs from reputable breeders or consider adoption, which may offer a more affordable alternative.

    Sterilisation costs

    Sterilising your Chihuahua not only prevents unexpected litter but also may contribute to better health and behaviour. The cost for this procedure can vary, typically between $150 to $500, depending on the veterinary clinic.

    Licensing costs

    All dogs in Singapore must be licensed. Fees range from $15 for a sterilised dog with a one-year licence, up to $230 for a non-sterilised dog with a three-year licence. 

    Microchipping costs

    A one-time fee for microchipping is typically between $50 to $100.

    Recurring Costs

    Caring for your Chihuahua also includes regular expenses for their health and happiness:

    • Food: Up to $120 each month 
    • Grooming: ~$50 per session
    • Medical and Dental Checkups: ~$50 per month
    • Vaccinations: ~$30 to $60 per vaccine
    • Accessories: Essentials like dog crates, dog beds, and toys also factor into recurring expenses

    For new puppy parents, Pet Lovers Centre offers a Puppy Bonus Plan, which provides a variety of benefits to get you started on the right paw with your new Chihuahua.

    Pet Lovers Centre Puppy Bonus Plan

    The Puppy Pack is filled with quality products from trusted brands like Pronature, Fish4Dogs, and Trustie, featuring a variety of items including both wet and dry dog food, treats, odour and stain removers, shampoo, and a poop bag. Additionally, new members are eligible for a one-year VIP membership!

    *Eligibility for the Puppy Pack requires the puppy to be under 12 months old.

    FAQs About Owning a Chihuahua in Singapore

    Chihuahuas are excellent apartment dogs due to their small size and relatively moderate exercise needs. They adapt well to indoor living and can thrive in smaller spaces as long as they receive adequate daily exercise and mental stimulation. Their alertness and vocal nature also make them good little watchdogs for an apartment setting.

    Chihuahuas can be great with children if they’re socialised properly from a young age. However, due to their small size, they can be easily injured by overly enthusiastic play, so it's important to supervise interactions with young kids. Teaching children how to gently handle and respect a Chihuahua's boundaries is essential for a harmonious relationship.

    Providing a warm and comfortable sleeping arrangement is vital for your Chihuahua's comfort during cooler nights. A snug, soft dog bed, and a warm blanket are essential, and you might also consider dog clothes for extra chilly evenings.

    Authors

    • Wai Ling

      Author:

      Foodie at heart and (almost) always with a camera in hand. When she's not busy with work, you'll find her munching around Singapore or snapping pics in some cool new spot.

    • Emilia Wong

      Author:

      Bubble tea and sleeping are two of Emilia's favourite things. She also enjoys cooking and loves to experiment with new recipes for different cuisines.

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