The Chihuahua’s loyalty and affinity for being close to his master or mistress makes him an amiable companion, and his size makes him a convenient one. Chihuahuas have been known to ride about inside a pocket, in a purse or tote bag, or tucked firmly under the arm of their owners. They fit nicely in soft-sided pet carriers for an airplane ride or a jaunt in the car, and they enjoy outings immensely.
The Chihuahua tendency to shiver or tremble is not a health issue but takes place when the dog is excited or stressed. One explanation is the toy dogs have a higher metabolism and so dissipate body heat faster than larger dogs. Shivering helps to generate body heat – that’s why people shiver when we are cold. However, rapid dissipation of body heat is a distinct disadvantage in cool or cold climates, so Chihuahuas should always be protected when taken outdoors in these areas. Fortunately, there are dozens of styles of protective sweaters available.
The Chihuahua’s history is puzzling and there are many theories surrounding the origin of the breed. Chihuahuas were used in the sacred rituals as they were considered holy in pre-Columbian Indian nations. They were also popular pets among the upper class. The breed draws its name from the Mexican State of Chihuahua, where the first of the breed were discovered.
Some historians believe that the Chihuahua came from the island of Malta in the Mediterranean. More evidence for this theory lies in European paintings of small dogs that resemble the Chihuahua. One of the most famous paintings is a fresco in the Sistine Chapel by Sandro Botticelli dated 1482. The painting, Scenes from the Life of Moses, shows a woman holding two tiny dogs with round heads, large eyes, big ears, and other characteristics similar to the Chihuahua. The painting was finished ten years before Columbus returned from the New World. It would have been impossible for Botticelli to have seen a Mexican dog, yet he depicted an animal strikingly similar to a Chihuahua.
Both folklore and archeological finds show that the breed originated in Mexico. The most common theory and most likely is that Chihuahuas are descended from the Techichi, a companion dog favored by the Toltec civilization in Mexico.
A long-haired tan chihuahua
Historical records indicate that the Techichi hunted in packs. They can only be traced as far back as the ninth century but it is highly likely that this is the Chihuahua's native Mexican ancestor. Evidence of this is that the remains of dogs closely resembling, but slightly larger than the average Chihuahua have been found in such places as the Great Pyramid of Cholula, which dates back to the 2nd century BC and predates the 16th century. There is also evidence to suggest that the Techichi may predate the Mayans.
The Toltecs were conquered by the Aztecs, who believed that the Techichi held mystical powers. In terms of size, the present day Chihuahua is much smaller than its ancestors, a change thought to be due to the introduction of miniaturized Chinese dogs, such as the Chinese crested dog, into South America by the Spanish.
A progenitor of the breed was reputedly found in 1850 in old ruins near Casas Grandes in the Mexican state of Chihuahua from which the breed gets its name. The state borders on Texas, Arizona and New Mexico in the United States, where Chihuahuas first rose to prominence and were further developed. Since that time, the Chihuahua has remained consistently popular as a breed, particularly in America when the breed was first recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1904. Genetic tests place the Chihuahua with other modern breeds originating in the 1800s.
A green eyed beige female Chihuahua.
The Kennel Club in the United Kingdom and the American Kennel Club in the United States only recognize two varieties of Chihuahua: the long-coat, and the smooth-coat, also referred to as short-haired. They are genetically the same breed. The term smooth-coat does not mean that the hair is necessarily smooth, as the hair can range from having a velvet touch to a whiskery feeling. Long-haired Chihuahuas are actually smoother to the touch, having soft, fine guard hairs and a downy undercoat, which gives them their fluffy appearance. Unlike many long-haired breeds, long-haired Chihuahuas require no trimming and minimal grooming. Contrary to popular belief, the long-haired breed also typically sheds less than their short-haired counterparts. It may take up to two or more years before a full long-haired coat develops.
The American Kennel Club Chihuahua standard lists under color: "Any color-Solid, marked or splashed". This allows for all colors from solid blacks to solid whites, spotted, sabled, or a variety of other colors and patterns. A few examples are Fawn, Red, Cream, Chocolate, Blue, and Black. Merle coloring is a spotted coat.
Classifying Chihuahua colors can be complicated due to the large number of possibilities. Examples would be a blue brindle or a chocolate and tan. Colors and patterns can combine and affect each other, resulting in a very high degree of variation. The classic Chihuahua color remains fawn. No color or pattern is considered more valuable than the others, although blue is considered rare.
More than most other breeds, how a Chihuahua turns out depends largely on the genetic temperament of his parents and grandparents (entire lines are social or antisocial) and how it is raised (socialization and training) when brought home. A Chihuahua must be chosen with care, as the temperament of its owner(s) can make a difference in the temperament of the pup. The AKC describes the breed as, "A graceful, alert, swift-moving little dog with saucy expression, compact, and with terrier-like qualities of temperament." The breed tends to be fiercely loyal to one particular owner and in some cases may become over protective of the person, especially around other people or animals, but may be attached to more. Although some chihuahuas do well with children, one must train their chihuahua by introducing them to children at an early age.
^ "Chihuahua Dog History". Retrieved 08-07-10.
^ The Chihuahua Handbook, D. Caroline Coile, Ph.D., published by Barron's, 2000; ISBN 0-7641-1521-9.
^ Chihuahuas: facts and information, Tenna Perry, ESortment.com, 2002, retrieved on July 29, 2007, although most artifacts relating to its existence are found around Mexico City.
^ Ostrander, Elaine A. (September–October 2007). "Genetics and the Shape of Dogs; Studying the new sequence of the canine genome shows how tiny genetic changes can create enormous variation within a single species". American Scientist (online). www.americanscientist.org. pp. seven pages. Retrieved 08/09/2008.
^ "FCI Chihuahua standard". Retrieved 2009-08-14.
^ "CCA-Teacup Statement". Chihuahuaclubofamerica.com. 2009-05-30. Retrieved 2009-08-14.
^ a b c d American Kennel Club Chihuahua page, retrieved on July 29, 2007.
^ "Kennel Club breed standard". Thekennelclub.org.uk. 2006-05-15. Retrieved 2009-08-14.
^ "FCI-Standard N° 218 / 21.10.2009 / GB". Fédération Cynologique Internationale. 07-28-2009. Retrieved 2010-07-21.
^ a b The Chihuahua, Dog Owners Guide at canismajor.com.
^ About Chihuahuas, British Chihuahua Club, retrieved on July 29, 2007.
^ Pet Health 101 - Chihuahua, retrieved on July 29, 2007
^ Molera Statement
^ Chihuahua Health, Dog-breeds.in