Because of their distinct looks, Chihuahuas are relatively easy to identify. Even long-haired Chihuahuas are easily recognizable, once you know what to look for. They start developing their most famous traits as puppies, so find just a few tell-tale giveaways and you'll know you have a Chihuahua on your hands.
Weigh your puppy. Chihuahuas are the smallest breed in the world, weighing in at no more than 6 or 7 pounds as adults. If you know how old the puppy is, weigh him for your first clue. For example, a Chihuahua puppy can weigh as much as 5 pounds or so when he is 6 months old. He can also weigh as little as 1 or 2 pounds at that time. If you have a puppy that small at that age, you have your first indication that he is probably a Chihuahua.
Check his snout. Chihuahuas are identifiable by their particularly round heads with short muzzles, or what the American Kennel Club calls an "apple dome." Even as pups, their ears are large and pointed.
Feel and look at his coat. While their coats are still short after a few weeks, as your puppy develops over his first six months or so, his long coat may grow out. Not all Chihuahuas develop long coats, so if your dog has a smooth, short, glossy coat even as he grows, he is a short-haired Chihuahua. Long-haired Chihuahuas grow a soft, smooth coat that is typically straight, but may sport some light waves or curling.
- Full-grown Chihuahuas generally don't get to be above 6 to 9 inches tall. If yours is taller than that, either as a puppy or an adult, he may be a mixed breed.
- Don't use color as an indication of your dog's breed, as both short- and long-haired Chihuahuas can come in practically any color.
Tom Ryan is a freelance writer, editor and English tutor. He graduated from the University of Pittsburgh with a degree in English writing, and has also worked as an arts and entertainment reporter with "The Pitt News" and a public relations and advertising copywriter with the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh.