Skip to Content

The AKC Breed Standard for the Chihuahua

Share this post!

I Love My Chi may earn a small commission for purchases made after clicking links on this page.  Learn More
The tiny but mighty Chihuahua is one of the most popular dog breeds in the United States, with their popularity ranking 33rd out of the 195 breeds registered with the American Kennel Club.
group of chihuahuas

Due to their popularity, and considering that they are among one of the first breeds of dog established in the Americas, it comes as no surprise that there are many variations of Chihuahuas.

So what is the true breed standard? Why does it matter? If I want a Chihuahua, do I need a purebred Chihuahua? Read on to find out.

What is the AKC Breed Standard?

The official AKC standard for the Chihuahua includes every physical aspect of a Chihuahua, even areas you may never think to study carefully, as well as their temperament.

As of October 2008, the American Kennel Club formalized the breed standard description below:

Expression and Temperament

happy long hair chihuahua in grass

Chihuahuas should have a saucy expression. They are alert and project “terrier like” attitudes of self importance, confidence, and self reliance”.

As amusing as this description is, most Chihuahua owners will tell you this is completely accurate!

Appearance

The AKC describes the general appearance of Chihuahuas as graceful, swift, and compact.

Coat

AKC Judges expect smooth coat Chihuahuas to have glossy coats with a smooth texture.

Heavy coats with under coats are acceptable.

The coat should be evenly disbursed all over the body, and some ruff on the neck is ideal. The coat on the head and ears should be a bit less thick.

In long coat Chihuahuas, the coat may be flat or slightly wavy, have a soft texture, and an undercoat is ideal.

The ears should be fringed.

The tail should be long with a full plume.

Judges look for a few ideal traits; feathering on legs and feet, “pants” on the hind legs, and majestic ruff on the neck.

The AKC states that Chihuahuas should only be groomed to be kept tidy, not to obtain a specific coat appearance as a Bichon would be groomed for example.

Colors

woman holding 7 chihuahuas

chihuahuas et femme

The AKC will accept Chihuahuas of virtually any coloring; solid or marked. This is good, because a significant variety of handsome colors and markings have developed over the years of their breeding.

The AKC lists the following colors:

  • Black
  • Black & Tan
  • Blue & Tan
  • Chocolate
  • Chocolate & Tan
  • Cream
  • Fawn
  • Fawn & White
  • Red
  • Black & Red
  • Black & Silver
  • Black & White
  • Black Sabled Fawn
  • Black Sabled Silver
  • Blue
  • Blue & White
  • Blue Brindled Fawn
  • Blue Fawn
  • Chocolate & White
  • Chocolate Blue
  • Chocolate Brindled Fawn
  • Chocolate Sabled Fawn
  • Cream & White
  • Fawn Brindled Black
  • Gold
  • Gold & White
  • Red & White
  • Silver
  • Silver & White
  • White

The AKC lists the following markings:

  • Black Mask
  • Black Brindling
  • Black Sabling
  • Merle Markings
  • Spotted on White
  • White Markings
  • Black Mask with White Markings
  • Blue Mask
  • Cream Markings
  • Fawn Markings
  • Red Markings

Weight

The AKC states that Chihuahuas should not weigh more than six pounds.

They do not recognize “teacup” Chihuahuas.

Proportion

Chihuahua’s bodies should be “off-square”; if their length is measured from shoulders to buttocks, this length exceeds their height at their withers.

Judges prefer that males have slightly shorter bodies than females.

Head

They should have a round shaped skull, referred to as an apple dome skull. They may or may not have a molera.

Eyes

Their eyes should not protrude from their faces, and they should be described as dark or ruby colored, full, round, and luminous.

In blond or white Chihuahuas, light eyes are accepted.

Blue eyes, or two different colored eyes, are considered faults. While this would not disqualify a Chihuahua from showing, it would severely impact their chances of winning.

Ears

Chihuahuas should have large ears, which are erect, not floppy.

They are held up more firmly when alert, and may flare to the sides at a 45 degree angle when relaxed.

Muzzle, Nose, and Bite

Their stop should be well defined, forming a 90 degree angle when viewed from the side.

Their muzzle should be short and slightly pointed.

The nose should be black, or self colored in mole, blue, chocolate, or blond coats. Pink noses are accepted only in blond Chihuahuas.

Their bite should be a scissor bite or a level bite. An overbite or under-bite is considered a serious fault. One or two missing teeth are accepted.

Neck and Body

An AKC Judge would want to see a moderately arched neck that gradually slopes to meet lean shoulders.

The shoulders slope into a level back, they should not be low.

The top line should be level.

The rib cage should be round, but not barrel shaped.

The tail should be slightly long, never tucked between legs, either curled over the back with the tip barely meeting the back, or carried up right.

Legs and Feet

Forelegs should be straight and set well, with free movement possible at the elbows.

Chihuahuas should have little dainty feet with cushioned pads, and toes should not be spread.

The removal of declaws is permitted.

Hind Quarter

AKC Judges expect Chihuahuas to have muscular and sturdy hind quarters. Angulation of hind quarters should be equal to forequarters. Hocks should be well apart, and set neither out nor in. Declaws are permitted to be removed.

Gait

AKC Judges will look for Chihuahuas to carry their heads high, and display a sturdy, swift and firm gait.

Their front reach should be equal to their rear reach.

The front and rear legs should coincide toward their central line of gravity as they move faster.

The hocks should remain parallel when observed from behind, the top line should remain firm, and the back line should remain level when they move.

Disqualifications

If a Chihuahua has any of the following physical characteristics, they will be disqualified from showing:

  • Weight exceeding 6 pounds
  • Cropped or broken ears
  • Cropped tail or bobtail
  • In long coat Chihuahuas, a very thin or nearly bare coat

A dog with these physical traits would likely never be bred by anyone who shows, as this would risk passing these traits to puppies.

Why does the breed standard matter?

From a practical standpoint, breed standards matter because they define what a typical dog of a particular breed should look like. The name of the breed and what it looks like is formally defined by the American Kennel Club. It is comparable to a dictionary telling you what a word means. If you think of a certain breed of dog, you likely picture him a certain way; this picture was painted by the AKC.

In everyday life, the AKC’s breed standard only matters if you plan to show your Chihuahua. Some people enjoy owning dogs that conform to a breed standard even if they never plan to show the dog simply because that is what they prefer.

Others plan to breed dogs, and want quality stock to breed from. Showing and breeding are often linked, and Chihuahuas who conform to the breed standard are most valued in these circles. Chihuahuas who have won shows fetch a higher price per puppy when bred. Breeders who actively show dogs may offer their puppies who do not conform to the breed standard for a reduced rate and refer to them as pet quality puppies.

If you are interested in showing Chihuahuas, here are two Westminster Dog Show videos for your reference: the Short Coat Chihuahua Group and the Long Coat Chihuahua Group.

Do I need a pure bred Chihuahua?

blond woman hugging chihuahua

If you just want a Chihuahua as a pet to love and enjoy, it does not matter if they conform to the official breed standard.

Chihuahuas who are not conformed to the breed standard are not less healthy or any less valuable as an individual.

In fact, dogs who are not pure bred may have fewer health problems than those who are pure bred, due to the simple fact that their genes were collected from a more diversified pool.

Further, Chihuahuas who are not born to an AKC official litter are often less expensive to purchase, as puppies purchased from “pet quality” breeders tend to cost less than puppies bred by breeders who breed Chihuahuas to conform to the AKC standard.

That being said, there are many Chihuahuas who need homes in the world due to their long life span.

If you plan to adopt a Chihuahua, you will easily be able to find a mixed breed or purebred adult, a mixed breed puppy, or even a purebred puppy, if you search diligently.

 

 

 

 

 

 

PIN FOR LATER:

4 chihuahuas on a beach

Previous
How to Choose the Best Dog Sitter
Next
What Makes a Chihuahua a Personality-Packed Pooch to Fall in Love With?

Angela Edwards

Tuesday 25th of February 2020

I love my Eva and Alfie, I have never thought about them being breed standard or not, I have posted a pick, are they deer or apple headed and what would their colouring be classed as?

Cathy

Tuesday 25th of February 2020

Your cuties look like appleheads to me Angela. I can't totally tell from the photo about the coloring but the lighter one looks to be a cream or a fawn and the other one looks like a black mask with white markings.

KellyAnn Piergiorgi

Saturday 22nd of February 2020

I really enjoy this newsletter. It gives so much useful info about Chis that I never knew. I have four and have had them for a while, oldest being 15, youngest being 3. I love them all w/all my heart. Two are rescues & the other were given to me. I don't care if they re show standard or not, they give me purpose , joy, unconditional love & make me very happy. Thank you for providing this newsletter.

Sandra owens

Monday 24th of February 2020

My fawn one looks just like one of yours. Love both my males with all my heart. I have one apple head and one deer head.

Cathy

Saturday 22nd of February 2020

I'm so glad you enjoy it KellyAnn! I'm like you. I don't care if they are show quality or not. My little Lucy would have been show quality except she has crooked front legs. Because of that, no one wanted her. Their loss, my gain! She is a wonderful little dog!

Barbara Gosine

Saturday 22nd of February 2020

I grew up on a farm & we always have had dogs. They were spoiled and very loving. Until i got a rescue chihuahua i never knew the love and devotion a dog could give. My Rosie was wonderful. I knew God gave her to me to help with my loneliness. My kids going off to college Rosie's love is just what i needed. I can never see my life without a chihuahua.

Cathy

Saturday 22nd of February 2020

I'm so glad you have your sweet little Rosie Barbara!

Irene Fitch

Friday 21st of February 2020

Great article on chi breed. Do you know if there is a site where there are pictures that actually show all these different colors of chihuahuas. Do Chi’s have more accepted AKC colors than any other breed. It always seems like Chis have more colors than other breeds to me.