Chihuahua: History and Appearance
The Chihuahua has a beginning that is somewhat unclear, though ancient images resembling the breed lend to the theory that the dog has been around for centuries, and was found all over the world, including Egypt, Malta, China, Mexico, South America, and parts of Europe. There are images on artifacts and paintings, and even written records dating back to the 9th century. Ancestors of the Chihuahua are even depicted on Botticelli’s Scenes from the Life of Moses, a Sistine Chapel Fresco.
The Toltecs, who occupied Mexico for centuries, kept a breed of dog called Techichi. There are stone carvings establishing the existence of the breed in the monastery of Huejotzingo. The carvings give a head view and a full picture of the dog that resembles the modern Chihuahua of today. The Techichi would have been a silent, long haired, dog with heavier bones.
The Aztecs conquered the Toltecs in the 12th century, bringing a hairless breed of dog with them. It is believed that the modern Chihuahua comes from a crossbreeding of the Techichi and the hairless breed. The hairless breed would have caused the reduction in size. For centuries, while Aztec culture flourished, the dogs of the rich were prized. They were highly regarded, especially those with blue coats. The blue coated dogs were believed to be sacred. While the dog found fame as the pet of the rich, there is evidence that the common people had little use for it, unless it was as a meal.
When Cortez landed and brought about the destruction of the Aztec people, Montezuma II’s treasures were lost for centuries. This loss included the Aztec dogs. Canine remains of the breed were found in Chihuahua, Mexico, in ruins close to Casa Grandes, though the Toltec people they originated from lived closer to Mexico City.
Christopher Columbus wrote a letter to King Ferdinand that builds upon the history of the breed. He mentions a small, mute domesticated breed of dog near what is now Cuba.
The Chihuahua has its own legends and history. It is believed that it was both a pet and a religious requirement. The breed’s remains have been found in human graves in the U.S. and Mexico by archaeologists. The belief is that the Aztecs cremated the dog with the human so that in death, all sins would transfer to the dog. It is also thought that the dog was said to guide the human soul through the underworld to its destination.
The Chihuahua begins its history in the United States around 1850, when Americans brought the dogs from Mexico. Many came from Chihuahua, which is where the breed gets its name. Since then, American breeders have developed a small dog that has few other breeds of equal size. The breed has two coat types, smooth and long, though all other features are identical.
The American Chihuahua is accepted as the standard that is recognized worldwide. The breed was recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1904, and the first champion was entered into the stud book in 1908. Both coats were not recognized until 1955.
The Chihuahua today is valued as a pet and companion. They are described as having feisty attitudes and adoring personalities. The Chihuahua is still highly ranked in popularity as a favored breed among pet owners.
This little dog is well balanced and should not exceed 6 lbs. The body is slightly longer than the height. They have a well-rounded head that is considered apple shaped. The eyes are full but not protruding. They are set well apart and either dark or ruby colored. Blonde or white dogs may have light eyes. The ears are large and upright. The ears flare to the side on an angle, but when alert, they are held erect. The muzzle is short and mildly pointy. The nose is black, blond, blue, chocolate, or mole, depending on coat color. Pink noses are permissible in light coated dogs. The jaw has either a level or scissors bite.
The neck is slightly arched. The shoulders are lean and slope into the neck. The tail is longer and carried up, out, or in a loop touching the back. The dog has slender but strong forelegs, and muscular hind legs. The Chihuahua possesses dainty feet that are well padded. The toes are split.
Smooth coated dogs should have a glossy, soft coat. The coat lies close to the skin, though a heavier coat with an undercoat is permissible. The coat covers the body with a ruff on the neck. The hair is shorter on the head and ears. The tail is well covered,
Long coated Chihuahuas should have a coat that is of a soft texture, lying flat or slightly curled. There should be an undercoat. The ears are fringed, and the tail is plumed. The fur on the tail should be full and long. A large ruff on the neck is preferred, and there should be feathering on the feet, legs, and hind legs.
Unlike most breeds, any color coat is considered acceptable on a Chihuahua. The coat can be solid, splashed, or marked.
Showing a Chihuahua
The standards for the Chihuahua focus more on size and appearance than coloring and coat. Any dog over 6 lbs. is disqualified, as the breed is expected to be petite. The dog should have a balanced appearance. Chihuahuas should never have cropped or broken down ears; nor should they have cropped or bobbed tails. The feet should be split, but not spread. They should not resemble the feet of a cat or a hare. In long coated Chihuahuas, the coat should be full. A thin or bare coat is a disqualification.
The Chihuahua is expected to have a terrier like personality, fearless and full of confidence. This little breed should have a swift, firm gate. The front reach should equal the rear drive. When showing, the dog is expected to express alertness and be self-assured. The facial expression should be “saucy.”