All puppies are adorable and one of the things that makes them so adorable is that they are born with a single coat of soft, fluffy fur, which is not just for cuddling, but actually helps regulate their body temperature. This soft baby coat eventually gives way to their adult coat, starting at around 4 months, which, once they are fully grown, is usually thicker and stiffer than their puppy coat and in many cases, a completely different colour.
Which bring us to the dreaded "Uglies".
1. What do breeders mean when they talk about the uglies?
Uglies is simply a term used to describe the transition of a pup's coat from that beautiful, fluffy soft baby coat to their final adult coat (and colour).
2. When does a Chi go through the uglies?
It starts anywhere between 4-8 months. The baby fur may start to thin, fall out or shed heavily and it's most noticeable in a long coat Chihuahuas. They are also growing fast at this age and will soon reach their final adult size, making them look a bit lanky and gangly for a while, just like a typical teenager.
Occasionally, you'll get a Chi who decides to forgo this stage (hello, Ava), but she is the exception rather than the rule.
3. How do I know it's the uglies and not a medical problem?
If you have a responsible breeder, they'll be able to reassure on this, because they will be in constant contact with you, but if your Chihuahua puppy's fur is falling out in clumps and you can see patches of bare or inflamed skin showing through, that's a medical issue, not the uglies.
Get thee and thy Chi to a vet. Pronto!
4. Will my puppy change colour?
Colour changing is not uncommon in the dog world (Dalmatians are born without spots) but it doesn't affect all Chihuahuas. A black and tan Chi will always be a black and tan Chi but may develop more white or tan as they get older (as Mexico did). A white or cream Chi at birth will remain white or cream but patches of other colours may lighten with age.
Sable or fawn Chihuahuas, however, have the most dramatic colour change and are often unrecognisable as adults, compared to the colour they were as a newborn pup. In fact, it's so likely a sable Chihuahua will come through as a different colour when they get their full coat you can almost count on it.
"Lilac" or "Blue" Chihuahuas rarely retain their colouring past babyhood, even though they are genetically identified as that colour.
5. When will they get their full adult coat?
A correct adult coat for a Chihuahua consists of 2 coats. They should have short, thick undercoat and a longer, softer and fluffy overcoat. Long coat chihuahuas tend to have softer fur than their smooth coat brothers and sisters.
This coat can take up to 3 years, however, before it is fully grown, Boys, generally, have better coats than girls, because every time a bitch comes in season or has a litter, hormone changes mean she will "drop her coat" afterwards, and has to begin the coat growth process all over again.
Because male dogs don't have this issue, their coat just keeps on growing. The good news is that once they are spayed, the girls' drop-regrow cycle is broken and they will be able to grow a coat as beautiful and thick as the boys. We've watched this in our own dogs, particularly Nikita - whose nickname used to be "Niki No-Fluff" - is coating up beautifully with her "spay-coat" now she's retired from breeding and has been desexed.