ORIGINS OF THE CHIHUAHUA
The origins of Chihuahuas date back to the middle of the 19th century. It is a story that stills awaits to be discovered. There are too many theories, many of them well documented, but none documented with the accuracy needed to distinguish one breed from another. The references are reduced to animal statuettes and stone engravings (in many cases clearly a dog, being impossible to determine the breed) produced by the pre-columbian cultures who lived in the lands we now know as Mexico.
One of the versions of the origin of this dog holds that the ancestors of the present Chihuahua belonged to the toltecas and later to the Aztecas. It is thought that dogs were used as pets among the nobility of these cultures. It is also thought that they had something to do with beliefs: They might have been part of sacrifices to the Gods or they might have been buried with their owners to be their guides in the afterlife. Some think that their culinary value was great during that epoch, which might be true since some breeds were actually used with that purpose.
To support this version, the Chihuahua has been connected to a little animal called ‘Techichi’. It is thought that this animal was bred to be served on the table, but from then, the existing documents seem to darken the research instead of throwing some light. There are references to this Techichi from the 9th century, which could well establish the origin in the 5th century but, was Techichi an ancestor of the Chihuahua? The doubts have increased now that some experts think that this Techichi, at least in part of the present Mexico, was not a dog but a rodent, similar to the black-tailed prairie dog.
Another version is that their ancestors, at least the rather small one that gave them their tiny size, was taken to Mexico from China in galleons crossing the Pacific Ocean from the Far East. These miniature dogs were crossed with the small Zoloitzcuintle. Other experts coincide in the point that the origin is China, but they think that it was taken there before Cristobal Colon ‘discovered’ America.
There are more than enough versions, another one stating that Chihuahuas come from an european dog brought to America during the colonial period. Moreover, some authors think that the exact origin is Malta, an island in the Mediterranean Sea, where there existed a very small dog whose skull was open. In a painting by Sandro Boticelli in 1482, there is a tiny dog. Apart from this, a number of legends and quite a lot of opinions, some with a point and some others absolutely pointless. Some opinions deepen in this theory and state that this dog was taken to the Mediterranean Sea from the Ancient Egypt.
There are even more theories, but the ones described so far are enough. According to some publications, remains of this dog have been found in human burials, in the North West of Mexico and in part of the United States of America. We have no details about the exact dates and location of these burials or even if it is certain the conclusion that it is a Chihuahua or one of their ancestors.
A curious detail to note is how such a funny little dog was not taken to the Spanish Court during the Colonial Period. The region of Chihuahua had already been explored by the 16th Century, and several Missions were erected there. To sum up, unless new documents providing accurate information appear in Spain, the origin of the real beginning of this breed must be found in Mexico.
THE PRESENT BREED
The History of the present Chihuahua starts in Mexico. By the mid 19th century foreign visitors found the tiny dog, with its typical open skull, and started exporting some specimens.These acquisitions have been registered in the Mexican state of Chihuahua, although it is also said that the dog was very popular in Mexico City. Some authors think that the name given to this dog comes from the Mexican state were it was found, others think that it had already been named like that in Mexico City for the same o unknown reasons.
Kennel Federations in the USA were first created by the end of that century. The description of the desired Chihuahua were laid down in the rules of these federations. The first specimen of this breed, called Midget, was inscribed in 1904 in the AKC (American Kennel Club). Ever from that moment, the History of the smooth-coated Chihuahua is accurately documented. However, the origin of the long-coated Chihuahua cannot be fixed to date.
Nowadays, breeders and the different blood lines are present all around the world. For this reason, it is important for anyone who wants to buy a puppy of this breed to get to know the existing blood lines by visiting canine beauty expositions, by seeking advice from breeders and by reading books about the breed.
Currently, there are three blood lines among Chihuahuas: mexican, american and english.
The Mexican line, in which the breed has hardly changed since the beginning of the breed. The dogs of this line are thinner, with longer legs, snout and ears, narrower head and slim trunk.
The American line, where great efforts have been made to improve the angulation, structure and mouth of the dogs. Another feature is a good movement, although the specimens of this line generally have smaller eyes, narrower head and a longer snout.
The English line. English breeders have worked to achieve the best heads in the world, these sharing the following features: wide skull, bigger eyes and shorter snout. This emphasis on the head has made American breeders to gain some advantage in other aspects.
For all the explained above, I must say that the best breeders in the world try to combine the American and English line to get the most complete dog, this being a very difficult task because the breed has evolved in many different ways throughout the different regions of the world and therefore, this breed still has to evolve a lot to achieve a dog which is perfect to everybody, since everybody has a ‘top line’ breeder due to the great diversity of existing criteria among the experts. The most important breed clubs in the world are ‘The Chihuahua Club of America’ and ‘The British Chihuahua Club’.
Antonio Pilar · Torre del Pilar Chihuahuas