Form and Function
The Chihuahua is graceful, small, and compact, slightly longer than he is tall. The Chihuahua has a saucy expression and alert, terrier-like attitude. The coat can be smooth, with soft, glossy hair, or long, with soft straight or wavy coats and fringed ears.
Friendliness To Dogs
Friendliness To Other Pets
Friendliness To Strangers
Ease of Training
Area of Origin
Date of Origin
The smallest breed of dog, the Chihuahua has a controversial history. One theory holds that it originated in China and was brought to the New World by Spanish traders, where it was then crossed with small native dogs. The other theory contends that it originated entirely in Central and South America, descending from the native Techichi. A small red dog was believed to guide the soul to the underworld, and every Aztec family kept such a dog that was buried with any deceased family member. To make matters worse for the Techichi, the Toltecs and their conquerors, the Aztecs, often ate dogs and the Techichi may have sometimes been on the menu. Despite what may have been short lives, the Techichis apparently were well cared for during life by the priests or their families. In fact, the most likely origin of the Chihuahua is a combination of these theories: the native Techichi was probably crossed with tiny hairless Chinese dogs, but again the date when this occurred is controversial.
The Chinese dogs may have been brought over when a land bridge spanned the Bering Strait, or they may have been brought later by Spanish traders. When Cortes conquered the Aztecs in the sixteenth century, the little dogs were abandoned and left to fend for themselves. About 300 years later, in 1850, three tiny dogs were found in Chihuahua, Mexico. A few were brought to the United States, but they aroused only moderate attention. Only when Xavier Cugat (“the rhumba king”) appeared in public with a Chihuahua as his constant companion did the breed capture the public’s hearts. It experienced a meteoric rise in popularity and has continued as one of America’s most popular breeds.
The saucy Chihuahua has earned his place as a favored toy dog because of his intense devotion to a single person. He is reserved with strangers but good with other household dogs and pets. Some try to be protective, but they are not very effective. Some may be quite bold; others may be timid. He may often be temperamental. Some bark.
The Chihuahua is a lively dog that nonetheless can get his exercise running from room to room indoors. He enjoys exploring the yard or going for a short walk on leash and especially enjoys accompanying his owner on outings. He hates the cold and seeks out warmth. Coat care for the smooth is minimal. Care of the long coat entails brushing two to three times a week.
- Major concerns: none
- Minor concerns: pulmonic stenosis, hydrocephalus, patellar luxation, KCS, hypoglycemia
- Occasionally seen: none
- Suggested tests: cardiac, knee, eye
- Life span: 14–18 years
- Note: A soft spot (molera) in the skull (due to incomplete fontanel closure) is a common breed trait.