Linda Simon
Dr Linda Simon (MVB MRCVS, University College Dublin)
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Developed during the last few decades, the Chi-Chon is a new designer breed made up of the Chihuahua and the Bichon Frise that is growing in popularity thanks to its tiny size and affectionate personality. Rarely growing larger than 5kg, this small dog has a compact body that is covered in soft, fluffy fur. With ears that hang down and deep brown eyes, the Chi-Chon is not dissimilar to a real-life teddy bear.

Some interactive puzzles and toys, as well as a couple of short walks to the park, will keep the Chi-Chon content. On top of this, they thrive when in the company of their families, so should be allowed to spend as much time with them as possible. When left alone, the Chi-Chon may become anxious so is not a good choice of pet for those who work full-time.

About & History

Have you ever wished that you could have a Bichon Frise that was smaller and daintier? Well, now you can! The energetic Chihuahua has been crossed with the affectionate Bichon Frise to create the Chi-Chon, a small hybrid that is quickly gaining a reputation for itself as a super little family pet. Though the Chi-Chon was only developed in the last 20 years or so, both of its parents have a much more impressive history.

The Chihuahua

The Chihuahua holds the accolade of being the tiniest dog in the world and is thought to have descended from ancient dogs domesticated by the Toltec empire in Mexico. It was not until the 1800s that the breed gained national recognition within Mexico and was subsequently standardised.

Owned by the likes of Britney Spears and Paris Hilton, the Chihuahua has become a very popular breed internationally in recent times. Kept purely as a companion animal, the Chihuahua has never really been bred to carry out any specific role.

The Bichon Frise

The Bichon Frise roughly translates to the ‘curly lap dog’ in French and is a breed known for its sweet temperament and frizzy white fur. Despite their French name, the breed actually originated in Spain in the 14th century – possibly on the island of Tenerife.

It is a breed with a coloured past and has previously been employed as a circus dog, a status symbol among the higher classes and a muse for many famous paintings. Nowadays, this lovable dog is a popular pet and is commonly seen in dog shows.


Newly-developed designer dogs will not have a uniform appearance until many generations have been bred and there is a quite a bit of variation within the Chi-Chon population.

Most dogs will have a small, rounded skull, large dark eyes and little triangular ears that hang neatly to the side of their face. Their muzzle is quite short and abrupt. Their body is small and compact, supported by short limbs. Their tail is slim and of medium-length, often covered in dense fur and curling moderately over their back.

The fur of the Chi-Chon more closely resembles their Bichon Frise parent and is quite fluffy. Despite the abundance of soft fur, this dog sheds minimally. Some individuals are hypoallergenic, but this does not hold true for all. While many will have a completely white coat, some will have patches of black and brown and others will have coats that are predominantly brown or fawn. Reaching heights of just 20cm to 25cm and weights of 3kg to 4.5kg, this is one pocket-sized dog.

Character & Temperament

As the Chihuahua is fun-loving and spirited while the Bichon Frise is sociable and affectionate, most Chi-Chons will have a lovely disposition and a mischievous streak. Though feisty at times and full of confidence, most Chi-Chons have hearts of gold and are very good-natured. A dog that lives life to the full, you will rarely find this breed moping around.

Happiest when in the company of other dogs and humans, the Chi-Chon does not particularly like being left alone. In some dogs, separation anxiety can become a real issue so this breed is not suited to those that spend a lot of time away from the house. Similarly, constant yapping can become a problem when dogs are left alone for too long so this is a breed that really benefits from having someone around at all times.

Attention-seeking and always happy to play, the Chi-Chon makes a lovely pet for those families with children. Though more robust than the slim-boned Chihuahua, this breed does still need supervision when in the company of small children, as their small size can make them prone to injury if stepped on or dropped.


A dog that has the ability to learn quickly and has a decent level of understanding and intelligence, the Chi-Chon can be good fun to train. However, some individuals may be more stubborn than others and can question their trainer at times. For most, keeping training sessions interesting and rewarding desired behaviours with delicious treats is a recipe for success.

Chi-Chon dogs should be trained from a young age to not jump up, beg, whine or nip. Some owners will wrongly assume that behaviours like this are ‘cute’ and acceptable in small dogs, which is simply not the case. Treat your Chi-Chon as you would a larger dog in order for them to develop into a confident and well-behaved adult.


Certain health issues are experienced more frequently by the Chi-Chon than by other breeds. Though mixing two pedigree dogs together can widen gene pools and reduce the incidence of certain diseases, this does not make these hybrid dogs immune to genetic conditions.

Patellar Luxation

Small dogs are over-represented when it comes to the orthopaedic condition ‘patellar luxation’. Owners may notice that they skip for a step or two every now and then and, for some, their signs will worsen as they get older. Osteoarthritis is commonly associated with luxating kneecaps in older dogs. While surgery may be needed for some, those that are not significantly affected may respond well to conservative management, such as hydrotherapy and joint supplements.

Atopic Dermatitis

A chronic skin inflammation that leads to flare-ups throughout a dog’s lifetime, atopic skin disease can be frustrating to live with. Dogs can react to practically anything in their environment and many will react to a number of things. Allergens can include storage mites, grasses and moulds. Whenever possible, a dog should avoid the allergen which they react to.

Most cases will be managed with anti-itch medication, soothing shampoos and courses of antibiotics to treat secondary infections. Many dogs will also be plagued with chronic ear infections and anal gland issues that need to be managed as they develop. Recently, several novel anti-itch medications have been developed, which are being used with good success. There is also the option of immunotherapy injections – although these can be cost prohibitive to some.


Hydrocephalus is a condition whereby cerebrospinal fluid accumulates within the skull and puts pressure on the brain. Too much pressure can lead to irreversible brain damage with devastating consequences. Dogs with congenital hydrocephalus will be have a dome shaped skull and their fontanelle (soft spot) will be wide open and easy to feel.

Some may have difficulty walking and will not develop at the same rate as their litter mates. Imaging studies, such as CT scans and MRI scans, can confirm the diagnosis. Medications can help and many will benefit from a surgery to divert the CSF fluid to the abdomen.

Exercise and Activity Levels

A truly tiny dog, while the Chi-Chon is energetic and fun-loving, their exercise needs can be met with a few short walks a day. On top of this, they love to be able to take part in canine activities, such as fetch and agility, and should be given the opportunity to exercise in wide number of ways.

This breed does well in small homes and urban environments and does not necessarily have to have access to a garden. However, owners should try their best to give these guys plenty of outdoor access and to allow them to socialise. Dog parks and doggy day care are both fun places for Chi-Chons to make friends.


As well as a brush from nose to tail a few times a week, the Chi-Chon looks its best if groomed professionally a few times a year. They should not be over-bathed, as to do so can dry out their skin. Canine dry shampoos can be used in between baths to keep their fur smelling fresh.

As the ears of the Chi-Chon hang down and the canals may contain fur, they need to be checked regularly for signs of infection. Those prone to infections may benefit from regular ear plucking and all dogs should have their ears cleaned a couple of times a month to remove wax and any other debris that has built up.

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