One of the truly wonderful things about the Chihuahua breed in general is the low-maintenance schedule of grooming you need to care for them. The care for the long-coat and the smooth-coat Chihuahua is basically the same.
The rudimentary needs of a smooth-coat are simple and straight forward. Rubber curry brushes work exceptionally on their short fur and produce a nice healthy sheen while removing the loose fur. Curry brushes are also relaxing to the Chi as they emulate a massage. You should brush your smooth-coat Chihuahua 1-2 times per week.
You may bathe your smooth-coat Chihuahua as often as once a week or as little as once per month, depending on how oily their skin is. Be cautious not to bathe your pal too much if he has overly dry-skin as this can cause dandruff and worsen the dry skin. If this is an issue there are some very good oatmeal baths specifically intended for dogs. They are hypoallergenic and safe for use, even on small dogs with very sensitive skin. You may also want to consider an after-bath spray conditioner to help keep the skin soft and the fur shiny. Be careful about using scented products on your Chi as it might cause a reaction.
Brushing the long-coat Chihuahua is much the same as the routine you would use with the smooth-coat. You may want to add a flea comb to the stash of tools you keep for the grooming routine. A small flea comb can help to loosen the shedding fur underneath the coat and remove any impurities in the fur. You may also want a small, soft-bristled dog brush for around the ears and the face. You should avoid stiff bristled brushes so that you don’t scratch at the Chi’s delicate skin.
Bathing the long-coat Chi is the essentially the same as the Smooth-coat, except you may want to blow dry them on low heat afterward, as the wet fur can cause them to chill easily. This decision is based on the individual dog and pet owner. One of my own Chihuahuas is absolutely terrified of the blow dryer, so I choose to avoid putting him through the experience and rather just towel dry him and hold him wrapped in a blanket until he is warmed up. While bathing your Chi, be careful not to get soap and water in the ears as this can cause irritation.
It is strongly recommended that you take your Chihuahua in to see a professional groomer at least once a year, as they can do a full service on the dog and do all the things we tend to avoid…(such as expressing the anal glands.) They will also check for ear mites and flea eggs and larva.
The smaller the Chihuahua the slighter and more delicate the nails are going to be. If you are very fortunate, you will have a dog that has clear or semi-clear nails. This makes clipping the nails much easier. If you can visibly see the quick (Vein) in the top portion of the dog’s nail, then you will be able to tell where to clip.
If you have a dog with dark nails, this may not be possible. If that latter is the case, then there is another way to tell when you are close to the Quick. Try trimming off very small bits at a time with your dog’s paw firmly supported by the opposite hand of the one you have the trimmers in. When you start seeing a powdery-like substance and the nail looks almost as if it is disintegrating, the quick is located right behind that and you have clipped far enough. If you do accidentally hit the vein and cause your dog to bleed, you can simply use some styptic powder to stop the bleeding. Also, treats are a nice way to say I’m sorry.
There are various styles of clippers you can use based on what you are comfortable with, how big your dog is and how patient you and the dog are. For my smallest Chi, I use a simple pair of baby nail safety-trimmers which can be found in the baby section at any superstore. They are small and lightweight and have an extra handle to grab onto which makes me more comfortable with those tiny little paws because I don’t feel as apt to slip if my dog moves his foot.
I sometimes use a regular pair of adult clippers to do a little thicker nails. I recommend turning them to the side and clipping that way so you don’t compress the nail and crack it. Please make sure that the clippers are not dull and are in proper working order before and after every use to avoid injury or discomfort to your Chi.
There are many styles of dog nail clippers on the market. Some come with a clip guard that is supposed to prevent you from cutting all the way to the Quick. This is a good idea in theory, however many Chihuahuas nails are so tiny that the guide doesn’t do any good. If you were to shove your dog’s nail all the way to the guard you might be at his shoulder!
There are many filing products for dog’s nails available on the market as well. I have used one of these and was not thrilled with the results I got with such a small dog. Your experience may vary, but I found that the file put too much pressure on the nail and frightened the dog more than the simple act of clipping the nails the standard way. There is also expense to consider. The battery-operated files requires batteries and replacement heads, which can be costly if you have more than one pet and do all the nail trimming yourself. The best advice I believe is to try a few different things and decide which is the most comfortable for your dog and easiest for you.
Cleaning the ears
There are a lot of products on the market that you can use to clean out your dog’s ears. I clean my dog’s ears using a small amount of peroxide on a cotton ball. While holding open the ear canal with gentle pressure, gently swab inside the ear to clean it of any impurities and dirt. Use a flashlight to check for anything that looks unusual inside the ear at this time. If you happen to notice anything out of the ordinary, such as small bugs or any kind of infection, contact your trusted vet for further instructions.
Chihuahuas, like many small dogs, are likely to have active tear ducts. The tears they cry can make them appear to have a sad appearance, but tears are normal for Chihuahuas. Since they are very small and close to the ground and also have very large eyes, tears are the eye’s natural way of cleansing the dust and impurities they attract. Because they have large and protruding eyes, somewhat like pugs, Chihuahuas are prone to eye infections. If you notice any discharge coming from the eye that is not clear, this may be the first sign of an infection. Again, it is better to be safe than sorry and you should check with the veterinarian.
Skin and Hair care
As you are brushing and grooming your pet, you may want to take the opportunity while they are in a relaxed state to check for anything abnormal in their coat and skin. Preventative medicine can mean the difference between catching a major health problem when it is still treatable, or not finding out until it is too late. Run your hands along the body and feel for any lumps, bumps, cuts, infections or other abnormalities. This way you can ensure both the health and proper grooming of your small companion.
It is best to familiarize your Chihuahua with a grooming routine early in your relationship. This practice will establish trust and prevent you from having further problems later. Always try to give your Chihuahua the fastest bath possible as they get cold rather easily.
You may wish to use a small pair of grooming scissors to trim the hair around the legs, ears and face but be careful not to clip too close to the skin as you may slip and cause and injury. Even small cuts on such a tiny dog can cause a serious infection.
Sometimes, if done right, grooming can be special for both the owner and the dog, giving them a chance to bond privately and spend quality time together. Depending on the individual dog, you may only have to fully groom them once a month. If your dog has a tendency to spend a lot of time outdoors, you may want to bathe them more frequently as dirt can build up, especially in the long-coat, rather rapidly.