The Chihuahua is the smallest dog breed that derives its name from the state of Chihuahua in Mexico.
As expected, that already speaks to its origin. But as you shall find, the origin of this dog breed remains largely shrouded in mystery. So far, all we have is a list of theories pointing out to the possible origin of one of the world’s smallest yet agile dogs.
Chihuahuas are bred for a number of reasons depending on what the owner is looking for. However, due to their unparalleled obedience and unquestionable loyalty to their owners, Chihuahuas are commonly bred as companion dogs.
They are especially popular in the pop industry, where they offer the much-needed companion to pop stars.
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More about Chihuahuas
Though they may be small, these dogs are not the kind to be trodden upon. When they feel threatened, Chihuahuas will not hesitate to stand up to the threat. That’s why some breeders have also recommended them as watchdogs.
According to the American Kennel Club, there are two different kinds of Chihuahuas namely the short haired Chihuahuas [also known as the Smooth Coat] and the long haired Chihuahuas [also known as the Long Coat].
Despite the slight variance in their coats, both of these Chihuahua varieties are fairly easier to keep as they require minimal grooming needs.
Chihuahuas are characterized by either an apple head or a deer head.
Apple heads are marked by rounded heads as well as eyes that are close-set. Their legs and ears are also relatively shorter than their deer head counterparts.
On the other hand, deer heads are characterized by heads that are more flat-topped, with eyes that are widely set.
In terms of temperance, Chihuahuas are obedient and exhibit so much loyalty that they tend to be overprotective of their owners.
Due to their small size, they are easily frightened and will seamlessly go on the offensive at the slightest hint of danger. That explains why they are not an ideal breed in homes with small children.
However, like any other dogs, adequate training is all that it requires to make the dog adapt to house living. But even though they are currently known as great companions, what were Chihuahuas originally bred for? Read on to find out.
The Mystical History of Chihuahuas
Compared to other major dog breeds, the Chihuahua is probably the only one whose history remains very mysterious. And that is despite the fact that the dog clearly shares a name with a state in Mexico.
There are lots of theories that have been advanced to try and explain the history of the Chihuahua.
First, there is a theory suggesting the dog traces its roots in China where it was developed before Spanish traders transported it to the Americas. In America, the dog was then interbred with other smaller native dogs.
There is yet another theory that suggests the Chihuahua might have come from the South and the Central America regions. According to this theory, the dog was descended from a native dog known as the Techichi.
Techichi was a small, mute and red dog breed originally offered as sacrifice in certain religious rites practiced by the Aztecs and the Toltecs.
All that was motivated by the belief that upon death, Techichi offered a safe passage of souls into the afterlife. This explains why this dog was kept in nearly all families and offered as a sacrifice to accompany the deceased into the underworld.
As well as offering companionship to the underworld, families that kept the Techichi also occasionally slaughtered and ate it.
Since it was difficult to track the population of Techichis, they gradually became endangered. However, in the 1500s, Hernán Cortés led an onslaught on the Aztec Empire, consequently decimating it. Small dog breeds were rescued as part of the spoils.
In 1850, three dog breeds that closely resembled the modern-day Chihuahua were discovered in the state of Chihuahua in Mexico.
Though not adequately proven, it is believed that the abundance of these dogs in this state led to breeders christening them Chihuahuas, a name that they have held to date.
As there were no strict border policies then, these three distinctive dog breeds thought to be native parents of the Chihuahua were freely brought into the US via the border states of New Mexico, Texas and Arizona.
In fact, there was a time Chihuahuas were commonly known as Texas dogs or Arizona dogs. And when the Cuban-born Latin music artist named Xavier Cugat frequently appeared in films with a Chihuahua, the dog’s popularity immediately shot.
So, what were Chihuahuas used for? That question shall form our next section.
Chihuahua Breeding Facts
Like any avid dog owner, you may be asking yourself, what are Chihuahua dogs bred for?
As we have already pointed out earlier on, the Chihuahua was, and is still bred as a companion dog. Unlike other dog breeds like the Toy Fox Terrier, the Dachshund and the Rat Terrier, Chihuahuas are among the smallest dog breeds that were not bred as working dogs.
There are various characteristics of the Chihuahua that qualify it as a great companion dog.
First and foremost, the dog is very obedient and loyal to its owner. During your usual walks, you will realize that your Chihuahua does not wander too far away from your side. And the best part is that the dog follows all your commands, easily staying away from trouble.
For instance, a Chihuahua is an ideal dog to go on shopping with as it is unlikely to mess the shelves even when walking in a shopping mall. He is not clumsy and will not resort to any destructive behavior unless he finds himself alone and abandoned.
The Chihuahua is also very intelligent, compared to other smaller dog breeds. His high intelligence and alertness make him very easy to train and socialize.
The dog has a way of remembering faces and places from several months ago. His high intelligence has seen some people adopt him as a watchdog.
Gentleness and grace are yet some admirable traits that the Chihuahua has. However, that does not mean they are not attention-seeking.
In fact, Chihuahuas are very eager to please. When at home, they love to be in and around their dens. You will often find them burrowing in pillows and blankets.
And though they are small, they are also fairly hyperactive, though much of their escapades take place indoors. They will occasionally venture outdoors to catch some sunlight but as soon as they are warm enough, they always rush back in to where their owners are.
These dogs are especially taken by the idea of laundry, and laundry days happen to be some of their best moments.
Other Reasons for Breeding The Chihuahua
Though the Chihuahua is more adaptable as a house pet, there are other purposes that have been achieved by breeders beyond companionship.
For instance, the dog has been crossbred with various other dog breeds so as to create smaller breeds of those other dogs.
And while it may be small in size and appear gentle and harmless, Chihuahua is, above all a dog. Therefore, the dog has not lost its primal hunting instincts.
? In places like Mexico, Chihuahuas are often bred as hunting dogs. They are especially used to hunt small rodents like mice and squirrels in the backyard. When hunting, their small size may make them less intimidating to their prey.
However, it is their very small size that comes in handy whenever they need to dig through burrows too narrow that the average-size dogs cannot go through.
Due to their natural hunting traits, Chihuahuas are generally territorial. That means they do not like dogs of other breeds and will often snap at them, regardless of how comparatively large the other dogs are.
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Chihuahua’s Unending Popularity
As a breed, the Chihuahua was officially recognized by the American Kennel-Club in 1904 and from then on, its popularity has always been on a consistent rise.
It is important to remember that the Chihuahua were among the first dog breeds to be officially recognized by this organization. But since the dogs were not primarily trained as working dogs, their popularity did not shoot once.
In fact, the dogs were very rare during the first half of the century. After the first half of the century, the Chihuahua became popular among urban dwellers.
Their small size made them perfect for apartment dwelling and due to their graceful and cultured disposition, they were mainly adopted by those living in suburban areas.
As the world’s population gradually moved into urban centers, the dog’s popularity proportionately increased. But the popularity of this dog breed truly shot when it became an icon in the pop culture.
First was Adelina Patti who was awarded a gift in the form of a banquet of flowers containing a Chihuahua puppy, when she paid a visit to the Mexican president.
Then came Xavier Cugat who featured in a film carrying a Chihuahua. In the early 1990s, a Chihuahua named Gidget featured in various Taco Bell commercials.
Much recently, celebrities like Madonna, Marilyn Monroe and Paris Hilton have tried to enhance the popularity of Chihuahuas by frequently appearing with the dog in commercials, films or runways.
So, what were Chihuahua dogs bred for? As it has now become abundantly clear, Chihuahuas were bred as companion dogs.
A combination of small size, intelligence, alertness, obedience and a mellow attitude makes them some of the most companion dog breeds today.