The Chihuahua has a small body but a big heart. This or similar is the description of the smallest dog breed, whose popularity has been unbroken for thousands of years. He’s a playful, loyal, and active dog who doesn’t want to be tucked into undignified suits and carried around in bags.
This breed bears the name of the largest province in Mexico, as a sign of its origin – so it explains the best-known theory. There is, however, other and older evidence of a possible origin of the Chihuahuas, but more on that later. They lived in the Mexican high valley from 900 to 700 BC. the Toltecs, a warlike tribe. Blood sacrifices were made at religious festivals, at which so-called techichi had to lose their lives. It is not certain whether these animals were the forerunners of the Chihuahua.
Even after the Aztecs conquered the Toltec empire, the miniature dogs continued to enjoy great reverence as a special pet. If a person died, they were cremated along with their belongings and their dog. The Aztecs believed that the Chihuahua would safely show his master the long and difficult path into the realm of the dead with his large eyes. The little dog was only willing to do this if he was treated well throughout his life. In times when dogs were few and far between, this funeral ceremony was reserved for chiefs and high-ranking personalities who offered their Chihuahuas the best possible life in order to get them to carry out the most important task. Numerous excavation finds from around 300 BC represent sculptures of small, fat dogs with short legs and huge ears, which could be forerunners of the Chihuahuas in terms of appearance. The common people also liked the little dog in the truest sense of the word, because it was a welcome change on the menu.
Archaeologists have found mummified small dogs with a skull fontanel in Egyptian tombs from the time of the Roman Empire. This particular trait only occurs in the Chihuahua. Miss Goodchild, one of the UK’s first Chihuahua breeders, presented a high-profile report of multi-year research in the late 1960s. According to this, dogs of this breed are said to have moved from Egypt to nearby Malta in the 7th century BC. There is one going there to 55 BC. dated a clay tablet with the clear representation of short-haired dwarf dogs on a leash, which have round heads, snub noses and the typical bat ears. The inscription on the plaque reads “A man with two Maltese dogs”. The regional breed still lives on Malta to this day. The first Chihuahua dogs were brought to Great Britain around 1570, but all the animals died due to the cold and damp weather. In the 1960s, these doppelgangers were brought back to Great Britain from Malta and accepted as Chihuahua by the Kennel Club without any problems. Another interesting occurrence is the image of a Chihuahua on a fresco in the Sistine Chapel. Botticelli created his work in 1482, ten years earlier than Columbus’ discovery of America! All historical images have one thing in common, they all show the short-haired stroke. This means that the long-haired species only emerged in the recent past through crossing into other breeds.
From 1850, American travelers began taking small dogs as souvenirs from the Mexican locals. A Chihuahua was registered for the first time in 1904, and a stud book with a corresponding breed standard was opened for the dog, which was already very popular at the time, in 1923. At the turn of the century, mini dogs began to spread worldwide from the USA to Great Britain and Europe. The first registration took place in Germany in 1956. A worrying tendency towards smaller and smaller Chihuahuas can be seen in the last few years. Names like mini-Chihuahua or teacup-Chihuahua promise true tiny dogs. The approval weight, determined by the umbrella association of German dog breeders FCI, is 500g. Dubious offers of puppies that stay small are currently flooding the internet, although no one can predict what final weight will be reached at 18 months. The prospective buyer is often told a higher age of the puppy in order to make it “smaller” and a weight table is also presented, which, however, has little informative value when cheating is carried out. An important indicator are the ears, which only stand up between the 6th and 8th week of life. Teacup Chihuahuas are arguably the smallest ones born to extremely light bitches weighing less than 1.5 kg or less. However, inheritance is not so easy that small parents produce small offspring. The lives of the dams are frivolously put at risk. In addition, dubious breeders often use excuses when asked about papers, which ultimately often means that the bitches were not allowed to breed at all by the veterinarian or the club due to their small weight and the actual date of birth of the puppy or genetic diseases such as a water head to be covered up. Serious sellers issue a sales contract or at least a receipt for the animal.
Aside from its format, the most salient feature of the Chihuahua is the shape of its head. It is as round and as big as a small apple, with a pronounced stop and wide-spaced round eyes that can be ruby red, brown, blue or almost black, depending on the color of the coat. Large, pointed ears stand at a 45-degree angle when they are at rest, and straight up when alert. The slightly pointed bridge of the nose merges into a short muzzle with a complete scissor bite. The body is longer than high with an absolutely straight back, whereby there are two basic types of Chihuahua: the dainty, high-legged “Deer type” and the strong, stocky “Cobby type”. In both species the forelegs are parallel and straight, the well-defined hindquarters are muscular. The medium-length tail is carried curved over the back like a saber. The coat has two varieties: dense, shiny and short-haired or long, smooth and silky. In the longhair stroke, the backs of the legs, ears and tail are feathered with fringes, and a lush collar adorns the chest and neck. All coat colors as well as brindle and piebald mixtures are allowed. As an exception, the Animal Welfare Act prohibits the mating of two Merl carriers, which leads to blind, deaf and deformed puppies.
The Chihuahua is a full-fledged dog that likes to run, play sports, or go into the water. Carrying around in bags should be limited to journeys on public transport, even putting on sweaters or dresses all year round is unnecessary. With enough exercise, the Chihuahua does not freeze, and like every other dog on the roadside, he would like to “read the dog newspaper” and maintain social contacts with other dogs. It is well suited for keeping at home, but dealing with small children is critical, as they see the small dog as a toy and could touch it too roughly. The other way around, a distressed Chihuahua could snap shut in a flash. His character is sunny, lively and, when the occasion arises, spirited – this dog is particularly attracted to a person, he demands undivided affection. Socialization with other animals in the household, including cats, is easy if you get used to it early. As a very attentive watchdog, he announces every visit by barking excitedly, other four-legged friends brought along can trigger almost hysterical attacks of jealousy. Even when walking, the Chihuahua shows no respect for large dogs, so his pronounced self-confidence requires early, strict training. He does not tolerate being alone, professional owners should take this into account for the benefit of the animal even before purchasing.
The Chihuahua needs very little, but high-quality food to sustainably support the body and the fragile bone structure. However, they can be a picky eater who prefers to eat soft foods. In the long run, this can lead to tartar. The position of the teeth should also be checked in the puppy, as a jaw that is too small can cause misalignments or the growth of permanent teeth in a second row of teeth. Patellar luxation, a displacement of the kneecap, is also observed. When excited, many Chihuahuas make grunting, rattling noises, which can result from airways that are too narrow. If you put a hand on his head, he will calm down quickly. Particular attention should be paid to the large eyes, as they tend to tear in drafts and dry room air from heating or air conditioning systems (ensure that the air is adequately humidified). Daily cleaning of the area around the eyes with lukewarm water removes hard secretion.
The Chihuahua at a glance
Origin: Mexico FCI breed standard number 218, group 9, section 6: Society and companion dogsSize: smallWithers height: 16 – 20 cmWeight: 0.5 – 3 kgFur color: All colors as well as brindle and piebald are allowedEye colors: Dark brown, hazel brown, blue , ruby red Use: companion dog Character: spirited, vigilant, courageous, possessive Health risks: sensitive eyes, patellar luxation, teeth Life expectancy: approx. 12 – 16 years
Image: © Depositphotos.com / melory