Chihuahuas are the quintessential Toy breed, given a higher profile by celebrity owners including Paris Hilton and their appearance in films like "Beverly Hills Chihuahua" and "Legally Blond." Chihuahua breeding is a lucrative business venture for some people. It is very important for chihuahua breeders to be well-informed about the dog's reproductive processes and habits, especially as it concerns the number of litters a she can have in her lifetime.
Chihuahuas of both sexes live on average for between 14 to 18 years, a very long time even for small dogs. The question of how many litters of puppies a chihuahua can have in her lifetime depends on several factors. Chihuahuas (like many other dog species) can reach sexual maturity as early as six months, but most often around one year of age. Also, like other dogs, they have two estrous periods per year, when females are in heat and will mate. Therefore, theoretically, a chihuahua could get pregnant a deliver a two litters a year until it is no longer healthy enough to do so
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Pregnancy is very risky and potentially deadly for chihuahuas because they are such small animals and cannot accommodate a large litter. The female chihuahua can give birth to up to four puppies in a litter. These chihuahua puppies can weigh up to 25 per cent of the mother's weight, much more than the percentages for larger dogs. So, female chihuahuas rarely have several litters during their lifetime even if they are bred. The average is about two to three litters for chihuahuas used in breeding. Also, chihuahuas often have caesarean sections because the birthing process is such a strain on the dog.
Chihuahua puppies are incredibly small, weighing usually only a few ounces after birth, and chihuahua owners must take care that the mother does not harm the puppies after birth. For breeders, caring for chihuahua puppies and their mother can be a laborious process. If a female has a larger litter (four or five), the female will like be at greater risk of health complications after labour. Puppies may need to be bottle-fed as often as every three hours if the mother cannot produce enough milk or does not survive birthing.
Because of the demand for purebred dogs, chihuahua breeding can be provide some extra income to those who are willing to do the work. However, breeding chihuahuas (especially for dog shows) is particularly difficult because the breed does not have many uniform characteristics -- other than its small size -- to breed for. Still, a healthy chihuahua puppy with a strong, documented pedigree can easily fetch between several hundred dollars.