Chihuahuas are one of the most popular canine breeds around and no wonder. They are loyal, adorable and have loads of personality. Chihuahuas can be seen in many parts of the world being walked by their owners, or carried in tiny dog purses decked out in rhinestones. Chihuahua owners love to dress up their pooches in tiny clothes made specially for them, and celebrities can be seen toting them around Hollywood, even on the red carpet. Chihuahuas are often called Chis for short.
Early Origins of Chihuahuas
The Chihuahua breed originated in ancient Mexico and is considered one the oldest breeds of canine in Mexico. Most people believe Chis are descendants of the Techichi. Techichis were a canine breed of dogs that dated back to Mayan times and were described as being extremely tiny. The Mayans were conquered by the Toltecs, and the Toltecs are believed to be the first to domesticate the Techichi and bring the dogs into the home as pets. The Toltecs also used the Techichis for religious purposes, and some believed the dogs were sacred. Techichis have been depicted in Mayan, Aztec, and Toltec writings and drawings found in ancient tombs and pyramids.
In 1850, Techichi dogs were found in the Mexican state of Chihuahua near old ruins built by Emperor Montezuma. When explorers came searching for the new world, it is believed that the Techichi bred with a canine specie brought over from the explorers, and that resulted in the Chihuahua we have today.
Chihuahuas In America
The first Chihuahua was registered by the American Kennel Club in 1904 and was named Midget. Chihuahua popularity in the United States was slow during the early 1900’s. In the early 1900’s, most people lived on farms and wanted dogs that could serve a purpose. Folks opted for dogs that could herd livestock, chase off varmints, scare off predators, or be used in hunting. Because of their smallness, Chis were considered useless on the farm.
One of the myths going around back in the day, was that having a chihuahua sleep next to a person in their bed, would transfer their illness (usually asthma or other lung diseases) from the human to the dog. One of our readers told about how her uncle did this and it actually worked, but killed the poor chihuahua. Glad we don’t use chihuahuas in that way anymore!
During the 1960’s, the population in cities started to boom, and many people were living in small apartments or houses. Because of this trend, people were now wanting a smaller dog that was suitable for household living and companionship. The smallness of the Chihuahua pertained well to city folks, so the popularity of the Chis was on the rise. Chihuahuas were first popular in the states that border Mexico, such as Arizona, Texas, and New Mexico. Eventually, the Chihuahua breed spread to other cities all over the United States, and even in other countries.
Chihuahuas and Foxes?
Ever notice how Chihuahuas sort of resemble a fox? There is a reason for that. It has long been thought that Fennec foxes were bred with the early Chihuahua ancestors. The argument against it was that a dog and a fox cannot interbreed. Well that argument was put to rest in 1980 when a Chihuahua and a Fennec fox were successfully bred.
Characteristics of the Chihuahua
Chihuahuas are known for their tininess, but have other neat characteristics as well. Chis have the longest lifespan of any other dog breed and can live well past the age of 20. Chis are also known for not backing down toward other dogs, no matter how big they are. Chihuahuas have over the top personalities and can become fussy. They have been referred as “spicy little tamales”. In 2013, Chihuahuas were listed as the 22nd most popular dog in America. But in my book, they are the most popular in my house (I may be biased).