History of The Chihuahua
The Chihuahua is a fun-loving breed that has easily become one of the most wanted household pets in the U.S. with their popularity rising in other parts of the world as well. But, these loyal little canines didn't just appear to us overnight. Like all breeds, there's a long history behind them that tells the story of how they came to be.
Origin of The Chihuahua
The Chihuahua gets its name from the state of Chihuahua, Mexico where some of the earliest specimens were discovered in the mid 1800's. It's likely, though, that Chihuahuas inhabited much of the region of Mexico, not just the northern part, as remains have been found scattered throughout central, southern, and northern Mexico which date back as far as the 5th century. To really find out the origin of the Chihuahua, we have to look further back.
It's important to note that much of the Chihuahuas history is unknown and there are many different theories regarding the origin of this breed. One of the most common theories is that Chihuahuas descended from small, although not quite as small as the Chihuahua, long-haired dogs known as Techichi. These dogs were a favorite among the Toltec civilization who lived in Mexico from around 900 to 1150 A.P. They used the Techichi as pets and believed dogs would lead them to the afterlife. Carvings of dogs which resemble the Techichi have been found among the ruins of the Toltec. Some believe that the Toltecs may have crossed the Techichi with another type of dog which inhabited the mountains around northern Mexico, known as Perro Chihuahueno. Around 1300 A.P., when the ancient Aztecs conquered the Toltecs, they also continued to use the dogs as pets and for religious purposes.
Another theory regarding the origin of the Chihuahua is that they were a cross between the Techichi and a small terrier dog from China. It's possible the Chinese developed a small dog similar to a Chihuahua through cross breeding, which the Spanish settlers came across and brought over to Mexico as they invaded the region.
A third possible answer to the origin of the Chihuahua is that they're of European descent and came from the the Malta island in the Mediterranean. Here, a similar dog inhabited the island which possessed a soft spot on the top of the skull known as a natural molera. These soft spots are essentially an opening at the top of the skull and are extremely rare in dogs, although the Chihuahua (about 80% of them) oftentimes carries this trait. More evidence of this theory lies in none other than Italy's Sistine Chapel. A painting done by Sandro Botticelli in 1482 depicts a boy holding a small round-headed dog which looks like a Chihuahua. What makes this an important piece of evidence is the fact that the painting was done ten years before Columbus traveled to the new world, therefore it would've been impossible for Sandro Botticelli to have seen a Mexican dog, yet he was able to paint one that was almost identical to the Chihuahua.
Chihuahuas in the United States
No matter what the true origin of the Chihuahua is, it's known that in the 1850's people from the United States visiting the northern area of Mexico, in what's now known as the state of Chihuahua, saw some of the smallest dogs they've ever seen or heard of. They immediately fell in love with this new breed of dog and traveled back to the U.S. with their new pets. Not long after, Chihuahuas were used as show dogs and the first one, Midget, was registered with the American Kennel Club (AKC) in 1904.
In 1923, the Chihuahua Club of America was founded with the purpose of creating a community for the breeders to further the Chihuahua population in America. Some of the notable achievements of the club are protecting the health of the Chihuahua through sponsored research and setting standards for the breed. In 1952, the club separated the breed into two separate categories - long coat and smooth coat.