Chihuahuas are among the most popular dog breeds in the United States. Being small-sized dogs, they can be carried around easily. Nowadays, Chihuahuas peeping out of handbags is a common sight, and so, they are also known as purse dogs. Though small; Chihuahuas are intelligent, alert and come in a variety of coat colors.
It is believed that, the Chihuahua is the only native dog breed of North America and its progenitors belonged to Mexico. Some dog sculptures excavated from this place resembled Chihuahuas, and are dated back to the 5th century A.D. During 1100 A.D., the native people of Mexico - Toltecs, started ruling the central and southern parts of the country. By the 13th century, Toltecs were conquered by the Aztecs (Nahua-speaking people). Both the Toltecs and the Aztecs raised heavy-boned, long-haired dogs of small stature. These dogs were raised as pets, and were also used in religious ceremonies. This dog with a humpback was known as Techichi.
There are many stories regarding the origin of Chihuahuas. One is that, the Toltecs and the Aztecs crossed Techichi with Perro Chihuahueno, a mountainous dog of Chihuahua. It is said that, the Perro Chihuahueno had a round head, long tail, and short, erect ears. The resultant breed was named Chihuahua. Another version is related to the invasion of the Aztec empire by the Spanish invaders during the 16th century. It is said that, the Spanish invaders brought miniature Chinese dogs with them, and crossed the Techichi with the Chinese breed, that resulted in the origin of Chihuahuas.
In 1850, one of the ancestors of this breed was found in the old ruins near Casas Grandes, in the Mexican state of Chihuahua. These dogs became popular in the surrounding states of Texas, Arizona and New Mexico; and subsequently, they were introduced to the United States. The American Kennel Club recognized this breed in 1904. Today, there are many crossbreeds of Chihuahua dogs.
In general, Chihuahuas are small-sized dogs with distinct physical features. The height of this breed ranges between six to nine inches at the shoulders, and they have a body weight of one to six pounds. Their eyes are large, dark and round; and they have large erect ears, which are triangular-shaped. Their legs are strong with delicate feet, and their tails are mostly sickle-shaped. The various types of Chihuahuas are differentiated with the body type, color and type of fur.
According to the type of fur, there are two varieties - long-haired and short-haired. The long-haired ones have smooth, fine hair. They look fluffy due to the long hair, which may take a minimum time span of two years to develop fully. As against popular belief, this type shed less hair than the short-haired ones. Most of them have long furry tails, but the short-haired ones have erect tails. The Chihuahua comes in a wide range of coat colors, color combinations and patterns. The common colors include fawn, red, cream, silver, white, chocolate, blue, and black.
The two basic body types of Chihuahuas are apple head and deer head. The apple-headed Chihuahua' head is apple-shaped. It has a short snout and close-set eyes. The deer headed Chihuahua's head resembles the head of a deer. As compared to apple-headed ones, these dogs have longer snouts. However, most of the canine associations do not recognize deer-headed Chihuahuas.
These dogs are very loyal and are attached to their owners. They are attention-seekers and like petting. Chihuahuas are intelligent, and should be trained properly, to tackle their aggressive behavior. They can be easily provoked, and they use their teeth to attack. Hence, it is not advisable to keep a Chihuahua with small children. They cannot get along with other dog breeds too.
Health and Lifespan
Chihuahuas are prone to illnesses, like hypoglycemia (low blood sugar), ear infections, eye infections, tooth loss, genetic diseases, epilepsy, seizure disorders, and heart disease. Due to their small size, Chihuahuas are more prone to bone injuries. They should be protected from cold, as they cannot withstand low temperatures. They should not be overfed, due to the risk of hypoglycemia, which can shorten their lifespan. They are born with a soft spot on the forehead (molera), which would close with age. In some cases, the molera does not fully close, making the dog vulnerable to injury. Hence, such dogs require special care. The lifespan of a healthy Chihuahua can be between 10 to 17 years.
With proper training, a Chihuahua can be your best companion. The best part is that, these dogs come in different coat colors and color combinations, to choose from.