Updated: Nov 15, 2019
When you consider bringing a Chihuahua into your home, you might think the best thing to do is save one from a shelter or a rescue organisation and we would never discourage anyone from bringing a rescue Chihuahua into their home. We admire the people who work with these dogs, who are often the victims of neglect or mistreatment, and the enormous amount of work they do to rehabilitate them.
There would be far fewer dogs in shelters, however, if they had been purchased from a responsible breeder in the first place.
Probably the worst places to get a Chihuahua is a pet shop. Pet shops source their stock (and to them, that’s what a puppy is - “stock”) from backyard breeders, or worse, commercial breeding operations which are simply puppy mills. These mills pump out puppies for profit from dogs who are typically housed in crowded, unhygienic conditions where the bitches live miserable lives in small cages.
Buying from a pet shop not only keeps these awful places in business, but contributes to the dogs who end up in shelters. Pet shops are only interested in a sale, and have no care or interest in the welfare of a dog or its new owner’s ability to care for it, once the money has been handed over and the dog has left the store.
Only slightly less irresponsible are the backyard breeders, who breed for profit. You will find many of these on TradeMe. They are Chihuahua owners who have figured out there is a tidy profit to be made from people who can’t resist a cute puppy photo.
The standard of care varies greatly among backyard breeders, but you can be sure of 2 things: they are breeding to make money and they do not want any responsibility for the dog once they have sold it to you. Health problems? Too bad. Genetic faults? They had no idea.
Careless and/or ignorant breeding can predispose Chihuahuas to hereditary afflictions like dislocating kneecaps, eye problems, permanent hair-loss (common among Chihuahuas who carry the blue “merle” gene), and aggression, as well as genetic conditions such as heart diseases, autoimmune disorders, and seizures.
Many of these breeders will claim NZKC registration, and that might be the case, but consider, to become an “NZKC Breeder” you fill out a form and send in your money. An “NZKC Registered Litter” is also just a case of filling out a form and paying a fee. There are no inspectors to ensure you have any clue about breeding and no guarantee the pedigree you are given is legitimate, as it relies entirely on the honesty and integrity of the breeder.