1. Make sure that everyone living in your household wants to have a dog living in the house-
It is not fair to the dog to come into an environment where not everyone is interested in having him around. Even the most carefully watched puppy can get into mischief. Will someone "go bananas" if their favorite pair of shoes gets eaten or if an expensive handbag is bitten up? If the puppy was not truly welcomed from the beginning or was an impulse buy, the answer to this question is sure to be yes! Once you are sure that you, and everyone living with you, are willing to blame yourselves if your Chi gets into mischief [ good dog, bad human :) ] move on to number two.
2. We strongly recommend that you choose your puppy based on temperament and lifestyle-
Every puppy is cute but keep in mind that they often change as the mature... sometimes a great deal. Color, markings, head shape, length, and proportions in general can all change, so if it is only the way the dog looks that lures you in, you may wind up feeling disappointed when those looks change. This isn't always the case but we would like for you to be aware and would love to see you choose based on the puppy himself not solely his coloring or markings.
3. A boy or a girl? This question seems to stress people the most-
Here's what I know-
both male and female dogs "hump" or mount. This behavior isn't solely a mating ritual, it's a display of dominance, so two girls will display this behavior as readily as any male. "Spraying" or scent marking is a behavior that mature males use to let other doggies, male and female, know he's in town..kind of like a greeting between two people, it's how they know who's around or who just passed through. Dogs sniff backsides for a similar reason, it's similar to a hand shake between humans. Submissive urination (peeing when they get excited or nervous) can also be exhibited by both male and females although I tend to see it more with females. Spaying and neutering by the age of 6 months will greatly reduce the chance of annoying behaviors such as mounting and scent marking! A neutered or spayed pet is a happy, healthier pet which is one reason we have a spay and neuter contract here at Say Chis.
Here's what I think-
it depends on the dog... not the gender. I absolutely love my male dogs and none of them sprayed before 5-6 months of age. Only at reproductive maturity did I begin to see these behaviors. Some people refuse to even consider males based on old wives tales and myths but they are just that... male puppies make great pets! In fact, if I had to choose... I'd say that the males are my favorite. I planned to own only two, but I couldn't resist them.
4. Long or short hair? Neither has a clear advantage over the other in my opinion-
As far as coat length goes... both long and short hairs belong to the same breed. The AKC does not differentiate between the two and believe it or not the short haired variety, commonly referred to as a smooth coat, seems to shed a bit more than the long haired variety. Neither variety is a huge shedder when compared to certain other breeds. I've heard people say that the long haired dogs tend to be more docile. Again, not in my experience. Consider this, some litters can have long and short hair within the same litter. The long hair is dominant, so two longs will produce long haired puppies but it can go either way with a long and a short and either way with two short haired dogs. It can get confusing, so please ask if you'd like to know more.
5. Grooming and maintenance... how often will I have to have my Chi groomed?-
Chis are small and most of them like bath time so you may find it convenient to bathe your Chi at home as we do. You may use your sink or bathtub, whichever is easier and whichever you prefer. I like the sink so that I have the sprayer handy, this makes rinsing a cinch. Use a puppy or dog shampoo and not a human shampoo as the PH levels are different. Human shampoo can irritate a Chi's skin and dry them out, not to mention burn the eyes terribly. We use a conditioner on our longs to help keep them shiny and tangle free. We brush the longs once a week or so as a regular maintenance and to loosen any dirt or debris they may have gotten into, and we bathe our dogs monthly. We find that an easy schedule is to bathe them just before you apply their flea and tick remedy (Frontline/Advantix for example) which is applied every month. This way you are not at risk for washing the medicine away and when its bath time again, it will be time for the next flea and tick treatment. Did you know that Chis with long hair grow into a "style"? The classic Chi coat exaggerates at the "pants/bloomers" at the back the hind legs, with a "mane" around the neck, ear "feathering", and if you're lucky, beautiful tail "plumage". They DO NOT keep growing like a Yorkie or other long haired dogs. We find this to be a huge plus when it comes to saving time and money on grooming. Long hair with very little upkeep! We do trim the backside slightly on certain dogs who need it for sanitary reasons and we do trim around the toes and pads under their feet to allow for proper traction.
6. Lifespan..how long will my Chi live?-
Chihuahuas have one of the longest natural lifespans of any dog. They can live for twenty years with the average being 10 to 17 years! Smaller dogs tend to live longer than their bigger counterparts in general with the Chi topping the list. This is just another reason to choose a Chi when considering bringing a dog into your home.