The chihuahua is a breed of dog which originated in the state of Chihuahua in Mexico, it is classed as the smallest breed of dog.
Many theories surround the origin of the Chihuahua breed, but both folklore and archaeological finds prove its origins in Mexico. The most likely theory is that the Chihuahua descended from the Techichi, a companion dog favoured by the Toltec civilization, which are thought to date back as far as 300BC. The earliest records of the Chihuahua were found in materials from the Great Pyramid of Cholula and in the ruins of Chichen Itza on the Yucatan Peninsula which predate the 1530s.
There are two varieties of Chihuahua recognized by the American Kennel club, the smooth coat (short haired) and the long coat (long haired), the UK Kennel club considers the two as distinct breeds, crosses between the two are not eligible for Kennel club registration.
Dogs of either coat can be identified as either Apple head or Deer head Chihuahuas, particularly in the U. S, Apple heads have rounded heads with close-set eyes, and relatively short ears and legs. Deer heads have a flatter head, with eyes more widely set, larger ears and longer slender legs, current breed specifications tend to specify the Apple head conformation.
Breed standards don’t generally specify height, only weight and a description of the overall proportions. Normally the height ranges between 6 and 9 inches, however some do grow as tall as 12 to 15 inches. Both British and American Kennel clubs state that a Chihuahua must not weigh over 2.9kg for confirmation, however the British standard also states a weight between 1.8 and 2.7kg is preferred.
Pet Chihuahuas, (those purchased as companion dogs and family pets rather than show dogs), often range above these weights, some can weigh as much as 4 or even 5kg. This does not mean they are not purebred Chihuahuas, they just don’t meet the requirements to enter a conformation show, oversize Chihuahuas are seen in some of the best and worst bloodlines.
Chihuahuas can occur in all sorts of colour combinations, from solid to marked or splashed, allowing for colours from solid black to solid white, spotted, sable or a variety of other colours and patterns. Common colours include, fawn, red, tan, brown, chocolate, cream and black, no colour is considered more valuable than the other.
How a Chihuahua behaves depends on the genetic temperament of its parents or grandparents, their small size makes them vulnerable to injuries and attack from larger animals. Like all dogs they will benefit from appropriate socializing and training, Chihuahuas can be easily frightened or provoked, as such they can be unsuitable for homes with small children. The breed tends to be fiercely loyal to one particular person and in some cases may be over protective.
Chihuahuas love their dens, often burying themselves in pillows, clothes or blankets, they are often found under the covers or at the bottom of the bed, deep in the comfort of what they perceive to be their den. They sometimes act like cats and climb up on the highest point of the settee and curl up into a ball, they also like to spend time in sunlight.
The lifespan of the Chihuahua ranges between 12 to 20 years, like a lot of small dogs they can suffer from heart murmurs, these are controllable with medication. Dental care is also important, as their jaw size makes for weaker teeth.