History of Chihuahuas
The Chihuahua is one of the small dog breeds that has been around since ancient times, as their Techichi ancestor appears on relics and sculptures from 300 BC. The first written record of the Chi Chi was a thousand years ago in Mexico, where the Toltecs loved their Techichi dogs — a bigger version of today’s Chi. When the Aztecs conquered the Toltecs in the 1100s, they bred the Techichi to be smaller.
Americans first became interested in Chihuahuas in the mid-1800s and found them in the State of Chihuahua in Mexico. Chihuahuas are the smallest dog breed, and they are very popular in the US due in part to the many celebrities photographed with them and being featured in movies like Beverly Hills Chihuahua and Legally Blonde.
Their popularity rose in the 1980s with the Taco Bell dog commercials.
Like other toy breeds, they bark a lot because they may suffer from small dog syndrome — trying to make themselves seem bigger and being aggressive toward other dogs.
Chihuahuas are on the list of aggressive dog breeds, but training helps them to behave with other breeds. They may be a bit difficult to train because they are considered one of the adorable dumbest dog breeds.
Chihuahua Breed Overview
Chi Chis, the national symbol of Mexico, is traced back to ancient kingdoms (pre-Columbian) and has a lot of personality. The American Kennel Club (AKC) calls them graceful, alert, funny, charming, confident, and sassy — all six pounds of them.
They are known for their rounded “apple” head, big eyes, and erect ears. Chi Chis have many coat colors and patterns and can be short-haired Chihuahua or long-haired. Their undeniable beauty and charm make Chihuahuas a favorite among dog lovers, who often love to flaunt their passion with Chihuahua shirts that are bound to turn heads.
They are loyal, charming, affectionate, playful, trainable, energetic, and protective and act like big canines, which makes them one of America’s top dog breeds. Chi Chis also need training because they’ll take over the house. They need to wear a coat in cold weather and get cozy in your lap.
The American Kennel Club first recognized the Chi Chi in 1904, but they only accept the apple head Chihuahua. They like to walk, play, or nap with their family. Chihuahuas don’t like being alone, so if you are out for more than eight hours a day, you should have someone walk or play with them.
Chihuahuas like calm canines, and very large dogs might frighten them and make them defensive. Chihuahuas are very energetic and bark a lot, so they are good watch dogs. They need a couple of 10-15 minute walks and toys (and their humans) available to play with.
Chi Chis likes to keep busy, so make sure they are engaged in good activities, and they’ll keep out of trouble.
How Are Chihuahuas Classified?
Chi Chis are a toy breed classified into seven different types determined by coat length — short or long-haired breeds, named after their color, teacup size, or grouped by one of their three head shapes: apple head Chihuahua, deer head Chihuahua, or pear head Chihuahua.
Types of Chihuahua
As discussed above, these dogs are categorized as Apple head, Deer head, Pear head, short hair, long hair, teacup dogs, or by their color. They are all the same breed but differ in physical traits.
1. Apple Head Chihuahuas
Most Chihuahuas have an apple-shaped head. Apple heads are gold, black, fawn, red, tan, cream, silver, blue, and chocolate. The apple-headed Chihuahua is 5-8 inches high, weighs 4-6 pounds, and lives 14-16 years.
The apple-headed Chihuahua is charismatic, mischievous, and brave (with the heart of a pit bull) but isn’t too fond of children. Most Chi Chis share those traits.
The apple head Chihuahua has a more rounded head than the others, which can cause breathing issues because their muzzle is slightly shorter than Chi Chis with the deer or the pear head shape.
2. Deer Head Chihuahuas
The deer-headed Chihuahua is not an official breed but has a sassy personality like the other Chi Chi types. Deer-headed Chihuahuas are loyal and loving, and deer heads need gentle, positive training to behave.
The deer head type of Chi Chis weighs 7 to 10 pounds, is 8 to 12 inches, and lives 14 to 16 years. They are too big to compete in dog shows, and they also exceed the weight limit.
Dog experts believe that the modern Chi Chi resulted from breeding the Techichi and the Chinese crested dog (a strange and weird dog breed), although they are still working on an accurate DNA map of the Chihuahua breed.
They are also trying to figure out when Chi Chis split into deer heads and apple heads. The deer head looks more like the Techichi than the apple head because of its longer snout.
Deer heads have larger ears, longer muzzles, and wider set eyes. They were very common in the 1950s, but they lost popularity once the Chihuahua Club of America published a list of traits that were considered appealing in the breed.
They recommended larger eyes, a rounded head, and smaller ears. Short-hair deer head Chi Chis are more common than long-haired ones.
3. Short Hair Chihuahuas
Short-haired Chihuahuas are more common than long hair Chihuahuas in general, and those with short hair are known as smooth coat Chihuahua because the short-haired Chihuahua’s fur looks smooth.
You can brush a short-haired Chihuahua weekly, making them very low maintenance. Short-haired Chihuahuas are 6 inches to 9 inches tall, weigh 3-6 pounds, and live 10-18 years.
The American Kennel Club recognizes both the short and long-haired Chihuahua, and that’s the only difference within the breed that the AKC recognizes.
4. Long Hair Chihuahuas
The long-haired Chihuahua is less popular (odd, because the long hair Chihuahua is adorable!). Long-haired Chihuahuas need their long coat brushed every other day, and they also need professional grooming (maybe that’s why the long coat Chihuahua is less common).
It’s helpful to bring your long-haired Chihuahua to the groomer when they are young so they become accustomed to it.
In the 1800s, when Chihuahuas began popping up in the US, the long-haired type of Chihuahua was more popular. Researchers think that the short-haired Chihuahua was bred with a Pomeranian or another long-haired breed to make long hair. A long-haired Chihuahua is called a rough-coated Chihuahua because the fur looks rugged and fluffy.
They are 3 to 6 pounds, 6 to 9 inches high, and can live 14-20 years. Long-haired Chi Chis are more expensive than their short-haired counterparts.
Fun fact: It takes two years for Chihuahuas fur to grow out as long as it will be.
5. Teacup Chihuahuas
The Teacup Chihuahua was first recognized by the AKC back in 1904 and was the first dog officially recognized by the Chihuahua Club of America.
For some reason, six pounds was too big for someone, and they reduced the tiny Chi Chi to a teacup size of 3 pounds and 6 inches tall. Why not just get a hamster at that point? Thankfully, the teacup Chihuahua doesn’t seem to mind being pocket-sized.
Sadly, teacups are bred to be a smaller size without health considerations. Smaller Chihuahuas, like the teacup, only live 7-12 years due to having tiny bodies. The miniature Chihuahua is prone to health problems and may also have brain issues.
6. Pear-Headed Chihuahuas
The pear-head Chihuahua’s head shape results when puppies inherit a mix of both head shapes, thus combining an apple-headed Chihuahua and a deer-headed Chihuahua. Rather than a fancy shape, breeders may consider a pear head a defect.
Ironically, some breeders will charge extra for pear-headed Chihuahua puppies because they are a rarity.
The pear-headed Chihuahua is taller and heavier than the apple and deer head shape Chi Chis, which is bigger than the breed standard. The pear-headed Chihuahua skull is broader at the top, narrowing down into a deer-like muzzle. The pear-headed Chihuahua has a slightly flatter skull and a bigger nose than the other Chihuahuas.
Pear-headed Chi Chi breeders developed them because many Chihuahuas are born with a molera, a soft spot on their skull (human babies have this, too). This hole usually closes completely as the dog grows, but it might not. Many consider the hole a health risk.
The pear-headed Chihuahua is much like other Chihuahuas. They are 6 to 9 inches in height, weigh 2 to 6 pounds, and live 12-20 years.
7. Color-Named Chihuahua
The most popular Chihuahua puppy colors and those that the American Kennel Club recognizes in dog shows are chocolate, black, fawn, red, and cream. Have you ever seen a chocolate Chi Chi?! I haven’t. I mainly see the fawn Chihuahua. Who knew Chihuahuas come in 39 colors?!
Five other solid Chi Chi colors that aren’t recognized by the AKC include blue, silver, gold, chocolate blue, and white. Then, there’s a seemingly endless list of possible color and pattern combinations.
The American Kennel Club recognizes the aforementioned solid colors and the following two-tone colors in dog shows: blue and tan, black and tan, fawn and white, chocolate and tan, black and red, black and white, black and silver, gold and white, blue and white, red and white, and chocolate and white.
The colors and two tones that are not breed standard are black and red, black and silver, black and white, black fawn and sable, silver fawn and black, blue and white, fawn blue, fawn brindle blue, blue merle, chocolate and white, silver, chocolate brindled fawn, chocolate sable, fawn cream and white fawn, brindled black gold, gold and white, red and white, silver and white Chihuahuas.
How to Take Care of Chihuahuas
Chihuahuas are pretty low maintenance. They need some exercise but not an abundance of it. A couple of 10-15 minute walks a day will make them happy.
As with any dog, you want to purchase healthy food for your Chi Chi. They do need some training, so they don’t think they are in charge. Short hair Chihuahuas only need a weekly brushing. Long-haired Chihuahuas should be brushed every other day.
They are active and need mental stimulation, so having a few toys around is a good idea. Veterinarians recommend setting up a comfortable crate for your dog so they have their own cave with toys, treats, etc. Regular vet appointments are also necessary, and spaying/neutering will prolong your pet’s life by preventing illnesses.
All canines are prone to certain health problems. Chi Chi can have luxating patellas, which means their kneecaps temporarily move out of place; hip dysplasia, in which the hip joint doesn’t fit exactly; hydrocephalus, or fluid building up around the brain; eye issues like eyelids rolling inward and dry eye.; and they can also suffer from heart disease and dental problems. Again, all breeds have health issues.
Chihuahua Clubs: Socializing with Fellow Chihuahua Owners
If you love talking about your dog (who doesn’t?!), joining The Chihuahua Club of America will provide an audience for telling stories and sharing pictures of your pooch with other Chi Chi-obsessed dog owners. People give each other breed advice, and some clubs have meet-ups.
You should be able to find local Chi Chi groups online and maybe make playdates so your Chi Chi can enjoy being with their own breed. I just Googled local Chihuahua clubs and found one a half hour from my house.
What Colors Are Considered Usual for Chihuahuas?
Chi Chis can be black, fawn, red, tan, cream, silver, blue, chocolate, and gold. There are more colors and color combinations, but not all are accepted by the AKC.
What Makes a Chihuahua Unique?
Chihuahuas are the smallest canine breed at six pounds for regular-sized ones and just three pounds for the teacup Chihuahua. They are big canines trapped in little poochy bodies — resulting in a big dog attitude. Chi Chis are great lap dogs who are always ready to have fun with their humans.
How Can I Determine the Specific Type of Chihuahua I Own?
A breed standard Chihuahua is six pounds or less, and it’s easy to recognize a long versus short coat. An apple head Chihuahua has a round head, the deer head Chihuahua has a longer snout, and the pear head is a combination of an apple head and a pear head — roundish with a longer snout.
Is a Fawn-Colored Chihuahua Considered a Type of Chihuahua?
Some people consider the fawn Chihuahua a type because fawn Chihuahuas are the most common and popular color and are a recognized AKC breed standard. Also, all seven types of Chihuahua come in fawn.
What Kind of Chihuahua Should I Choose?
Types of Chihuahuas are similar in personality, health issues, temperament, and in most ways. If you want a really tiny dog, you could choose a teacup Chihuahua. The other Chihuahuas differ mainly in appearance by color, fur length, pattern, and head shape. They are all loving lapdog pups who are up for adventure and want to cuddle with their people on the couch that will make you laugh.
The small but mighty Chihuahua is an energetic, fun, loving, loyal, and feisty breed. If you want a pup that’s pretty low maintenance but also sassy, funny, and protective, this could be the breed for you. Chihuahuas make great companion dogs, especially with a little training.