Chihuahuas are adorable little pups, but some people have misconceptions about them! There are myths about Chihuahuas being naturally mean, not needing exercise, and being hypoallergenic—but none of these are true.
Many wonder if Chihuahuas shed. Chihuahuas are low-shedding dogs and can be less allergy-triggering than larger, higher-shedding breeds. However, neither short nor long-haired Chihuahuas are hypoallergenic. Their coats need to be brushed once weekly and may shed more during the spring and autumn months.
Let’s talk about the Chihuahua’s coat, how much it sheds, and how to care for it!
Chihuahua Coat Characteristics
|Coat Length||Short to medium|
|Grooming Needs||Brush or comb coat once weekly|
|Fur or Hair?||Fur|
Do Chihuahuas Shed? Or Are They Non-Shedding?
Chihuahuas aren’t non-shedding dogs. Even long-haired Chihuahuas usually have double coats, meaning they shed like your average dog—though they are on the low-shedding end of the spectrum.
This is unlike non-shedding dogs, which are never actually shed-free. They simply have more human-like hair that sheds infrequently, like the hair on our heads.
This also means that Chihuahuas aren’t hypoallergenic. However, they might be better for people with dog allergies than other high-shedding breeds.
If you have dog allergies, always spend time with the dog you’d like to adopt before you commit to bringing them home. This can save you and the dog the heartbreak of having to return them if your symptoms are unmanageable.
Some people with allergies find that their symptoms vary even around dogs of the same breed, so make sure you spend enough time with your pup to know how they’ll affect you.
Do Chihuahuas Need Haircuts?
Short-haired Chihuahuas don’t need haircuts because their fur remains short their entire lives. Long-haired Chihuahuas can get haircuts if their fur becomes unruly or you don’t want to maintain it through grooming.
Double-coated longhaired Chis should never be shaved as it can damage their coat. Many people consider shaving their longhaired pups in the summer to keep them cool, but double coats actually help dogs maintain their body temperature, both heating and cooling them as needed.
Chihuahuas with shaved coats are more prone to heat stroke, sunburn, and other challenges.
Do Chihuahuas Smell?
Chihuahuas don’t smell more than any other dog, but all dogs tend to have a distinct odor. This will become most prevalent when your Chihuahua is wet or has just been outside.
If your Chihuahua smells terrible, it might just need a bath. Or they could be suffering from a health condition.
For instance, Chihuahuas are prone to dental disease, which can cause bad breath. Other possibilities are skin or ear infections.
If your pup’s smell doesn’t clear up after a bath, contact your veterinarian to rule out health problems. While some odor is normal, most people don’t find the smell of a Chihuahua unbearable—or even particularly noticeable. This is especially true if you’ve been living with your dog for a while.
How do I Stop my Chihuahua from Shedding?
There’s no way to stop a Chihuahua from shedding completely. Chihuahuas tend to shed in tufts, which can be annoying but is easier to clean up.
If your Chihuahua is shedding excessively, here’s what to do:
- See a veterinarian to rule out health problems. Your veterinarian might be able to find and treat a cause for the shedding, such as nutrient deficiency or skin problems.
- Bathe your Chihuahua with a de-shedding shampoo.
- Brush them regularly using the right tools. The wrong brush won’t collect fur like it should, and can lead to more fur falling out around the house.
In addition, here are some tips to manage the shed inside of your home and car:
- Cover furniture and car seats. Use blankets or furniture covers on your Chihuahua’s favorite resting spots and their seat in the car. The blankets can be cleaned easily rather than constantly using a lint roller or vacuum on the couch cushions.
- Invest in a handheld vacuum or carpet rake. Both can be used to easily clean stairs and furniture without pulling out your heavy vacuum.
- Brush your Chihuahua outdoors. This stops you from accumulating as many tufts of fur in the living room.
If your pup is on a topical parasite preventative or has long fur, be sure to pick up their fur afterward so it doesn’t harm wildlife. If you have a short-haired Chihuahua, leave it for the birds who will use it to build nests!
- Purchase vacuum attachments. The must-haves for dog people! These attachments with bristles slanted edges get into tight corners. I find these work very well on the track of sliding doors and the corners of rooms where the carpet meets the wall.
How to Groom a Chihuahua
When we think about grooming our dogs, we only consider their fur. However, I encourage you to think more broadly so that your Chihuahua’s whole body is well-cared for. Below, I’ll go over the following, including how to incorporate brief health checks into your grooming routine:
- Brushing your Chihuahua
- Trimming their fur
- Bathing your Chihuahua
- Trimming their nails
- Brushing their teeth
- Cleaning your Chihuahua’s ears
Brush Your Chihuahua Once Weekly
Chihuahuas luckily have pretty low-maintenance coats. No matter which fur type they have, brushing them once a week will keep them healthy and free of tangles.
For double-coated Chihuahuas, consider a de-shedding brush or Furminator brush. Be sure to match the brush you choose to your pup’s size and coat type.
If you’re unsure which specific brush to use for your Chihuahua’s coat type, I suggest talking to your breeder, veterinarian, or groomer.
While brushing your dog’s coat each week, it’s also a good time to check over their coat and skin. Get used to how it looks and feels so that you can quickly notice abnormalities if they arise.
Things to look for include dull or greasy coats, dandruff, skin redness, and pests.
Trim Your Chihuahua’s Coat as Desired
Longhaired Chihuahuas can benefit from haircuts, especially on their feet and backside, so they can stay clean. Many longhaired pups get debris stuck between their toes or poop caught in the fur around their bottoms.
Of course, you don’t have to cut your Chihuahua coat. It comes down to personal preference and perhaps your dog’s hygiene. Some seem to be messier than others!
Keep in mind that untrimmed pups will need more grooming maintenance, as tangled fur can become matted and painful.
It’s not generally recommended to shave double-coated dogs, so avoid this unless your Chihuahua is single-coated or it’s absolutely necessary.
Bathe Chihuahuas As-Needed
You’ll know it’s time to bathe your Chihuahua if they develop a stench or its coat doesn’t look as lovely as usual. How often they need a bath will depend on their lifestyle and sometimes their fur length.
Dogs who spend a lot of time outdoors are more likely to get dirty than those who only go for daily walks on the sidewalk and spend most of their time indoors.
To bathe your Chihuahua, use dog shampoo as it’s the healthiest option for their skin and coat. Lather the shampoo into their coat down to the skin, then rinse thoroughly to remove all soap suds.
Pay extra attention to their hind end, feet, and stomach to ensure they’re fully clean.
Trim Your Chihuahua’s Nails Monthly
When your Chihuahua doesn’t have its nails trimmed, it gets painful to walk. In extreme cases, the nails can curl into the paw pads and grow into the skin. Other risks include the nails getting snagged or broken.
To avoid this, trim their nails at least once a month. You can trim them more often if you notice them getting long or sharp.
Here’s how to trim a Chihuahua’s nails:
- Start with a sharp pair of nail trimmers made for small dogs.
- Handle your Chihuahua’s feet. This gives you both a chance to get used to how it feels! Take things slowly, starting with petting their feet gently and ending with being able to separate their toes and touch their nails. Make sure to reward cooperation with treats!
- Train your Chihuahua to accept the trimmers by slowly introducing them. Let them sniff, open and close the trimmers from a distance, touch them to your Chihuahua’s feet, and finally clip one nail at a time. Reward good behavior.
This may take weeks to accomplish, so don’t move too quickly.
- Learn where the quick of the nail is located, and never cut into it. Light-colored nails are easy to see, as the quick will look like a pink spot at the base of each claw. On darker-colored nails, it can be impossible to see the quick and you should only cut a bit of nail at a time to avoid it.
The quick is full of blood and cutting into it will hurt your dog. It can also make them less likely to accept nail trims in the future!
- Use cornstarch or flour to stop bleeding. While we never want to hurt our dogs, accidents happen. Keep one of these on hand and blot it on the edge of the nail to stop it from bleeding.
If the nail continues to bleed for more than a few minutes, see a veterinarian for help. This can mean that the injury is severe.
Brush Your Chihuahua’s Teeth Daily
Chihuahuas, along with other small breeds, are prone to dental disease. Although brushing their teeth isn’t the only step to keeping their mouths healthy, it’s one of the most important alongside dental cleanings at the veterinarian.
Ideally, your Chihuahua’s teeth should be brushed after they eat just like you’d brush your own. Even teeth brushing once a day or once weekly can benefit them greatly. Aim for what you can do and don’t get too caught up on perfection.
If you’ve never brushed your Chihuahua’s teeth before, here’s how:
- Purchase any toothbrush and a dog toothpaste. Make sure the toothbrush is small enough for your Chihuahua’s mouth—one made for cats or small dogs will be best. There are all types of dog toothbrushes on the market, so you can choose the one that works best for you.
Never use human toothpaste to brush your Chihuahua’s teeth, as dogs don’t know to spit toothpaste back out. It’s toxic if swallowed, which is why dog toothpaste is made to be safely consumed.
- Desensitize them to having their mouth handled. Most dogs don’t like having things stuck in their mouth (unless it’s food!) and some might even bite if you take things too quickly.
Slowly train your Chihuahua to accept having their mouth touched, either by your hands if you’re comfortable, or with the toothbrush.
- Get your Chihuahua comfortable with the toothbrush. I’ve found that allowing them to taste the toothpaste is the best starter, as most dogs like licking it! Also allow them to sniff the brush, feel it motionless on their teeth, and eventually work up to brushing.
- Be as thorough as you can. But, know that perfection is unlikely, especially at first. Your Chihuahua will likely squirm, lick or bite the toothbrush, and generally interfere with you brushing their teeth.
You and your pup will get more used to it over time, but it’s okay if you can only brush a couple of teeth at first.
When brushing your Chihuahua’s teeth, it’s also important to look for signs of dental disease including bad breath, tooth decay, and plaque build-up. Seeing a veterinarian early on can stop your Chihuahua from becoming toothless, which is unfortunately common in small senior dogs.
Clean Your Chihuahua’s Ears Monthly
Lastly, cleaning out your Chihuahua’s ears monthly keeps them free of debris and can help prevent ear infections.
Some dogs are more prone to ear infections than others, such as those with allergies—so your vet might recommend cleaning your pup’s ears more often. Of course, always follow your veterinarian’s guidelines.
Here’s how to clean your Chihuahua’s ears:
- Choose an ear-cleaning tool. This can be a q-tip, cotton pad, cotton ball, or even a paper towel.
- Purchase an ear-cleaning solution. The one I use is from my veterinarian, but you can also buy dog ear wash over the counter or use a small amount of baby oil.
- Gently wipe your Chihuahua’s ear. Don’t use too much pressure, just enough to remove any wax or debris. You might also need to clean the fur around your pup’s ears if it’s looking messy.
- Never stick anything in your dog’s ear canal. Q-tips can be used to reach into the folds of your dog’s outer ear, but never to clean the ear canal. This can push wax further inside, which risks compacting it inside of the ear or damaging the ear drum.
If you see any redness, abnormal discharge, excessive amounts of ear wax, or the ear canal is dirty, see your veterinarian. They can clean the ear canal if needed and diagnose any ear problems your Chihuahua might be having.
The last step, though it sounds odd, is to smell your Chihuahua’s ears—if they smell musky or sweet, your pup might have an ear infection that requires veterinary attention.
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