A mix of origins
In northern Mexico, on the US border, is a city named Chihuahua, the namesake of the smallest dog in the world. There is a debate as to its origins. Does it come from Europe, Asia, or indeed the American continent, from which it takes its name? It would seem that the Chihuahua is a mixture of all these influences. However, we give the benefit of the doubt to the ancient American civilizations that apparently raised dogs with strong similarities to the Chihuahua that we know today.
Many historical and archaeological finds show that the breed originated in Mexico. Wheeled toys representing apple head and deer head Chihuahuas (see: Breed standards) have been found near the outskirts of Central America, from El Salvador to Mexico. The first objects date from 100 A.D. and were found in Tres Zapotes in Veracruz, Mexico. This proves that the breed existed there at least 1,400 years before the first Europeans arrived.
A deified dog
The Aztecs, for their part, told stories starring a little dog that closely resembled the Chihuahua. They apparently promoted the breed to a high religious rank. How many dog breeds can today boast of such an honor?
According to a common belief, Chihuahuas had the power to absolve sin. Members of the Aztec community thought that, at the end of life, it was necessary to be accompanied by a Chihuahua to get through the gates of Paradise. A big responsibility for such a small dog!
Small anecdote: the intense personality, loyalty and affection of the little dog is thought to have had a profound impact on Aztec culture. Myths about the superpowers of the Chihuahua remain. According to traditional medicine, they apparently have the ability to cure asthma. Although we would all like this to be true, unfortunately there are no scientific findings which support this assertion.
The Chihuahua’s qualities
The Chihuahua is lively, with a strong personality and an eccentric spirit. Its temperament can change easily from relaxed to dynamic, from arrogant to vulnerable. That said, in general, it is a dog with a good personality.
The Chihuahua is a great companion who loves to create strong ties with its owner and which does not require much exercise.
As the "pocket dog" par excellence, it instinctively wants to cuddle, snuggle and rub its nose against you. If it cannot be on your lap, it will follow you wherever you go. And, if it cannot follow you outside, it will sit at the window waiting for your return. All it asks is a bit of affection in exchange for the attention that it gives you – in itself, a good compromise.
Christopher Columbus apparently brought the Chihuahua to Europe. He apparently spoke about a tiny dog in a letter to the King of Spain.
But beware! Because of its small size, it will be easier to cuddle it and cover it in kisses than correct its bad behavior. This could exacerbate its personality even further, thus making its antisocial behavior completely unmanageable. Correct it when it misbehaves and see that it becomes socialized from an early age, even if it spends most of its time in a third floor apartment.
As with all breeds, its temperament is partly genetic, and partly conditioned by education. It is up to you to bring out the best in your pet. This may sound stereotypical, but the Chihuahua is indeed a big dog in a small body. It loves being the center of attention and compensates for its small size with its big personality!
Very loyal, it will follow you anywhere while you are traveling. You will never be bored in its presence, thanks to its offbeat character. This is a dog that loves heat and that will constantly show affection towards you. Once you have fallen under its spell, many years of happiness await you, since your Chihuahua has a long life expectancy!
Good to know: if you are thinking about adopting a Chihuahua, make sure that you consider all of the compromises involved in owning a "toy" dog breed. Indeed, Chihuahuas need to be constantly supervised given the injuries they can sustain from – for example – a simple fall off of a sofa. The bites of other dogs can result in serious injury, if not death in some cases… But although they are fragile creatures, they have a long life expectancy if good care is taken of them!
Is it a good guard dog? Well, yes, in some ways. It is very attentive and has excellent hearing ability – it will alert you to any unexpected noises – but, for protection, it can only do its best!
The Chihuahua’s flaws
Suspicious by nature, the Chihuahua needs regular exposure to unusual sights and sounds. In particular, it needs to be socialized with men and other animals from an early age. Without this, it can easily become noisy and hyperactive, especially if mothered or spoiled.
Very talkative, it tends to bark when an external factor attracts its curiosity. But do not be fooled by its “big mouth”: the Chihuahua is above all an extremely fragile dog, due to its small size. A moment of inattention and some drama can unfortunately happen. It is necessary to constantly be on guard. Moreover, its intolerance to cold and rain require material preparation and constant attention during walks.
The Chihahua is generally more prone to injury than to diseases or infections. Its small size makes it a vulnerable animal that requires constant monitoring and control. The most common risks are:
- Bone fractures and concussions can occur when the animal tries to jump on furniture, falls or slips from your arm, when an object strikes its head or when stepped on by inattention.
- The Chihuahua can choke on small objects. An overdose following the ingestion of a toxic product can occur very rapidly.
- If you allow it to be aggressive with bigger dogs, its neck could be broken in one abrupt movement.
- If you let it wander off without a leash, its hunting instincts could lead it straight under the wheels of a car.
Two distinct types of Chihuahuas
As the smallest dog in the world, the Chihuahua comes in two types: “apple head” or “deer head.” The breed standard does not, however, recognize the “deer head” type, but do not be discouraged by this small detail.
The term "apple head" is used to describe Chihuahuas which have a round or domed skull, similar to the shape of an apple. The upper part of the Chihuahua’s skull is thus wider than the lower portion of its jaws.
If you look closely, you will see that the top of most Chihuahua’s skulls is slightly dimpled, like the top of an apple. This area, called a fontanel, is a membranous gap between the skull bones of a child or a fetus, similar to the “soft spot” present on the head of a newborn human.
The term "deer head" is used to describe Chihuahuas that have a long nose and a head shaped similarly to that of a fawn. They are also much less prone to most health problems generally attributed to Chihuahuas.
Small anecdote: in 1850, pots revealing Chihuahuas of the deer head type were found in the ruins of Casas Grandes in the Mexican state of Chihuahua, dating from between 1,100 to 1,300 A.D.
General appearance of the Chihuahua
- Skull: well-rounded head shaped like an apple (a characteristic of the breed.
- Stop: well-pronounced, deep and broad since the forehead bulges over the base of the muzzle.
- Nose: Moderately short and slightly raised; all colors are allowed.
- Muzzle: short. Seen from the side it is straight; at its root it is wide, tapering towards the lips.
- Lips: dry, close fitting.
- Jaws/teeth: articulated as scissor or pincer bite. Both over and underbites are severely penalized.
- Eyes: large, rounded, very expressive, not protruding, perfectly dark; light colored eyes are permissible, but not desired.
- Ears: large, upright, open wide; broad at the base, gradually tapering towards their extremities, which are slightly rounded. At rest, they should be inclined laterally forming a 45° angle.
- Upper side: slightly arched.
- Length: average.
- Shape: thicker in males than in females.
- Skin: new dewlap; in the long haired variety, the presence of longer hair forming a mane is highly desirable.
It has a compact and well-built appearance.
- Upper line: straight.
- Withers: not very prominent.
- Back: short and strong.
- Kidneys: strongly muscled.
- Croup: broad and strong; almost flat for slightly sloping.
- Chest: broad and deep, well-sprung ribs; front view, roomy, but not exaggerated; seen from the side, it reaches to the elbows; not barrel-shaped.
- Bottom line: clearly drawn by a well-tucked up belly. g.
- A slack belly is permitted but not desired.
Any deviation from the above should be considered a defect which will be penalized according to its gravity and its consequences with regard to the health and welfare of the dog.
Persistence of primary teeth.
Arched or hollow back (lordosis or kyphosis)
Narrow chest, flat ribcage.
Short or twisted tail; improper attachment.
Overly tight posterior area.
Small, deep set or protruding eyes.
Over or underbite.
Instability of the patella.
Agressive or overly shy individual.
Any dog clearly showing physical or behavioral abnormalities will be disqualified.
“Deer” types (atypically built or extremely stylized dogs: finely chiseled held, long neck, slender body, long limbs).
Persistence of the fontanel.
Drooping or short ears.
Deformation of the jaws.
Extremely long body.
Absence of a tail.
For the long-haired variety: very long, fine and wavy hair.
From the smooth-haired variety: bald patches (alopecia)
Individual weighing less than 500g or more than 3 kg.
Destruction, barking and socialization are all real challenges, but ensuring that it obeys you is not difficult. It depends both on the temperament and personality of your dog, as well as on your training skills.Choco
Coat of the Chihuahua
Two types of coats exist: long and short. The long coat is flexible, ranging from smooth to slightly wavy. Fluff can be found on the ears, legs and hindquarters. The tail is long and bushy.
Colors of the Chihuahua
Chihuahuas can be found in every imaginable color and none of them is considered more valuable than another. The merle coat, partially spotted, is not however traditionally considered part of the breed standard.
Care for the Chihuahua
For such a small dog, molt is not a problem in most cases.
Unlike the majority of breeds, long-haired Chihuahuas do not require grooming. In fact, long-haired Chihuahuas lose less hair than their short-haired namesakes. It may take three or more years for a fully furnished coat to develop.
One theory suggests that the Chihuahua is linked to the Fennec, a desert animal that stands out from its cousin, the fox, through a single gene. The Chihuahua and the Fennec indeed have many attributes in common: big ears, bright eyes and similarly shaped legs. The Fennec prefers to live in small groups of its own kind – unlike other foxes – in the same way that the Chihuahua prefers to socialize with other Chihuahuas rather than other dog breeds.
A Chihuahua in good health can live from 15 to 20 years
The Chihuahua is a difficult dog to train, but do not despair! It will respond favorably to any training that involves positive reinforcement, affection and firm correction.
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