Chihuahua History & Origins: About the Breed Past to Present
Chihuahua History: Ancient History of the Chihuahua
Chihuahua history is still debatable and mysterious with many theories and ideas surrounding the origin of the toy breed. Some archeologists have uncovered artifacts showing that the chihuahua did originate from Mexico. One of the most common theories of the chihuahua history is that the breed is a descendant of the “Techichi”, a companion dog of the Toltec civilization in Mexico. It was believed that the Techichi guided the soul into the after world at death and were buried with their masters at death. Although the Techichi were highly respected, they were also used as a food source. There has been archeological evidence that the chihuahua dates back to 300 B.C. as chihuahua depicted pots part of the Toltec civilization where found. There has been theories that even eariler ancestors of the chihuahua have been present as some of the oldest chihuahua type artifiacts found date to 100AD! Dog forms with wheels thought to be toys were found from El Salavdor, USA and Mexico. In many of the Mexican ruins, there has been materials, depictions and pots depicting the chihuahua, ranging from apple head to dear head chihuahuas. There are also colonial records from the 19th century that talks about an almost hairless dog that is present in the State now known as Chihuahua in Mexico. It was rumored that chihuahua was once a bit larger than the breed standard today and speculated that the introduction of small Chinese dogs such as the crested were brought into North America from the Spanish and were bred to the chihuahua to decrease the size.
Note: The chihuahua is the the smallest dog breed and is classified in “Toy Breed Group”. The name “Chihuahua” is named after the state Chihuahua in Mexico. The chihuahua comes in a wide variety of sizes, multiple colours, two coat lengths and two distinctly different head shapes, although only apples are recognized in the breed standard of the CKC and AKC.
Chihuahua History: Rise to Fame- Late 19th & Early 20th Century to the present
The introduction of the Chihuahua breed into the United States occurred around 1884 when enterprising Mexicans began selling them to Tourists at the border markets in Tucson Arizona and El Paso Texas. The Chihuahua was Twenty years later, the breed was recognized by the AKC. The first chihuahua to be registered with the American Kennel Club was in 1904. A chihuahua named Midget born on July 18, 1903 belonging to H. Raynor of Texas. The first Champion of the breed was Beppie, belonging to L.A. McLean of New Jersey a couple of years later. Some of the foundation Kennels that helped to shape the breed include La Rex Doll Kennels of Philadelphia, La Oro Kennel producing a number of Champions which produced the first chihuahua to be ranked #1 in the toy group. The migration of the Chihuahua into England occurred from the USA and Mexico at around 1897. In 1907 the breed was allowed registration after formally being introduced at the Ladies Kennel Club Show.
Even with the financial depression of the 1930’s The rise in popularity of the breed increased. It can be credited to celebrities such as Xavier Cugat a popular band leader who is synonymous for being pictured with his chihuahuas in the 1930’s. As well as other notable figures such as Miss Lupe Velez a popular actress of the 1930’s, Abbe Lane (Cugat’s Wife), Enrico Caruso an Opera Star. 1934 Florence Clark who won Titles for her chihuahuas at Westminster Kennel Club Show in NY.
In Canada, the first Chihuahua Registered to the Canadian Kennel Club was in 1928.
In England, prior to WWII, there were less than 100 chihuahuas registered. The small population of registered breeding stock was severely impacted by the devastation of the war. By 1949 only 8 registered chihuahuas remained, however this number rapidly increased post war. Families turned to the chihuahua as a source of companionship and they thrived due to their small hardy nature requiring little space and inexpensive to feed. By 1953 the number of registered chihuahuas with the Kennel Club was back up to 111.
Back in the USA, the chihuahua still thrived. The chihuahua remained a celebrity favorite by actors such as Marilyn Monroe and Jane Mansfield chihuahua in the 50’s. In 1952, the two classifications of coat length were distinguished by the American Kennel Club: Long Coat and Smooth Coat varieties. Prior to this, chihuahuas of both coat lengths were shown in the same category.
By the early 1970’s over 25,000 chihuahuas were registered with the American Kennel Club. The chihuahua’s rise to fame continues to escalate and remains an all time favorite breed in the USA. Today, more than 20,000 chihuahuas are registered with the American Kennel Club each year.
More about the breed….
The chihuahua breed standard specifies it’s overall proportions and weight but not for it’s height, the chihuahua’s height varies more than most other breeds(6-10 inches). The American kennel club states the chihuahua should range from 3 – 6 pounds and the Federation Cynologique internationale (FCI) standard state 3.3 – 6.6 pounds. Pet-Quality chihuahuas or chihuahuas that are for companions and to for show, have tendency to be larger and reaching up to 10 pounds or more. This does not mean they are not purebred but that they do not meet the requirements for the conformation shows, larger chihuahuas can be bred even in the best bloodlines.
Chihuahuas are often called Teacups, Pocket sized, Tiny Toy, and miniature, these terms are not recognized by the breed standard but merrily for marketing purposes by the breeder. Chihuahuas are either called apple heads or deer heads, apple heads have shorter noses and a more rounded head forming the shape of an apple and the deer heads have a longer nose and elongated head. The chihuahua breed standard is a well rounded apple head with a well defined stop at the nose.
The chihuahua height ranges from 6-12 inches, some chihuahuas can also grow up to 15 inches as well.
Note: The breed standard for long and short coat chihuahuas are the same.
The Canadian and American kennel club recognize two types of chihuahuas, long and short coats. Genetically they are the same, they only differ in appearance. The term smooth coats does not mean they are smooth, they also be more of a whiskery feel. Long hair chihuahuas are smoother feeling than short hair chihuahuas, having a soft fine hair and a downy undercoat, that gives them a more fluffy appearance. Unlike other long hair breeds, the chihuahua requires a minimal amount of grooming and no trimming to the coat.The long hair chihuahua takes up to 2 years before the full coat has fully developed.
Note: The long hair chihuahua will shed less than the short coat chihuahua
Chihuahuas come in almost any colour combination, varying from solid colours to splashes of colour, sabled markings to even the merle pattern. Because of the variations of colours and patterns in the chihuahua coat they can combine to get some amazing markings. In one litter you could see a variation in colour from fawn, red, cream, chocolate, white and even black.
The merle coat pattern is not considered part of the breed standard in most kennel clubs with the exception of the American kennel club. The Kennel club banned merles in 2007, the Canadian kennel club in 2008 and also the Federation Cynologique internationale, which represents 84 countries. These countries believe that the merle gene was introduced to the chihuahua from cross breeding and not from natural genetic drift. In May of 2008 the American Kennel Club voted that the merle chihuahua would not be disqualified and that it would be fully registrable and able to compete in AKC events.
The temperament of a chihuahua and of its owner play a huge role in the development of your chihuahua from puppy to adulthood. Socialization with humans and other dogs in their early stages is critical to developing a dog that is calm and obedient. Chihuahuas have a tendency to be loyal to one person and may be over protective at times. Chihuahuas are a pack animal and mainly enjoy the company of other chihuahuas over other breeds, but if raised from a puppy and socialized correctly, the chihuahua can adapt to any situation. Chihuahuas love their dens and tend to burrow themselves in clothes hampers, blankets, and pillows where it is darker and where they can feel safer as if they where in there own den. Chihuahuas are alert, graceful and intelligent animals. They may exhibit more terrier like qualities especially in the short coat variety and bark at an unknown passer by. This is why training and socialization is critical for even the smallest chihuahua!
Note: Long hair chihuahuas tend be more submissive and calmer than short hair chihuahuas, making the long hair chihuahua more suitable for families with children.
Chihuahua Health Concerns:
The Chihuahua generally has few health issues. Those that arise can range from a number of factors as a result of birth defects, genetic traits or poor care. Chihuahuas can be prone to having neurological issues such as epilepsy and seizures. Chihuahuas are also prone to hydrocephalus, Chihuahuas are at risk of hypoglycemia or low blood sugar which can cause lasting health concerns or even death. Collapsed trachea, chronic bronchitis and even obesity is common in the chihuahua breed. Chihuahuas are also prone to heart diseases such as heart murmurs, pulmonic stenosis. The chihuahua breed is also prone to a genetic condition effecting the knees legs and hips called Luxating Patella.Chihuahuas may also have moleras (soft spot on the head) and are the only breed to be born with an incomplete skull.