Chihuahuas may be the smallest dog breed on the planet, but if you ask them, they are the biggest. This little “big” dog, according to the 2010 American Kennel Club Dog Registration Statistics, is ranked number 13 in popularity in the United States. However, there are some little known facts about the Chihuahua.
Mexico is the Chihuahua’s country of origin, right? The exact origin of this breed is unknown and there’s several theories as to where Chihuahuas came from. The first theory claims they came from a small animal with large bat-like ears and huge round eyes, the Fennec Fox, a native of the Sahara Desert in Northern Africa. Although there are similarities between the two, there isn’t enough evidence to back up this theory and it’s unlikely the dog breed originated in this region of the world.
Another theory claims a dog breed similar to the Chihuahua made their way to North America with Spanish traders and these dogs were bred with the Techichi, a local dog breed kept by the Mayans and Toltecs civilizations in Mexico. The Techichi was a little larger than the Chihuahua and had a longer coat.
It’s possible, the breed originated somewhere in Europe and came with Columbus to America. This theory has some validity to support it with evidence in a fresco painted by Sondro Botticelli in 1482 in the Sistine Chapel; which was completed ten years before Columbus set sail for the New World. In the painting a woman is holding two dogs that are similar to Chihuahuas.
Another theory is the Techichi was bred with an earlier version of the Chinese Crested that ended up in Mexico with Spanish settlers who traded with China. It’s possible the dog was brought from Asia via the Bering Strait. However, both theories are hard to prove because in the 1500’s, the Spanish discovered a native hairless dog called the Xoloitzcuintli (Mexican hairless) that stills lives in Mexico and South America. It’s not known if the Chinese took dogs from this region back to China or if they traded their dogs with the Indians living in Mexico. Archaeologists have found evidence of little dogs living throughout Mexico and South America. However, it’s in the area known as Chihuahua, Mexico where the earliest remains of Chihuahuas were found and it’s where the breed gets its name. Regardless of how they came to the Americas, the Chihuahua is considered to be the oldest dog breed in North America and the breed we know today originated in Mexico.
It was believed Chihuahuas would guide the soul through the underworld. The Toltec civilization sacrificed early ancestors of the Chihuahua in religious rituals because it was believed the little dog would take on the sins of his master and please the gods. When the dog’s owner died, he was scarificed, cremated and buried with his master so he could guide the person’s soul through the underworld and into the afterlife. His job was to protect his owner from the evil spirits they would encounter along the way. Chihuahuas were also used as a food source.
Chihuahuas are the ultimate companion dog. He may be small, but he sees himself just as big as a Great Dane and will do his best to protect the one he loves. They were bred to be a companion to humans and that’s their only job. This little dog prefers being with humans and other chihuahuas and that’s it. He’s a brave little dog, but can be jealous, overly protective and yappy, especially if he feels he is the boss. Some dogs will choose just one member of the family to bond with. They love to be with their owner at all times and need human contact.
Chihuahuas have healing powers to cure disease. There is no medical proof that animals, including Chihuahuas, have healing powers, however, children that grow up in homes with pets or on farms with other animals have stronger immune systems. The Aztecs believed the early ancestors of the Chihuahua had the power to take a disease from the human and transfer it to themselves as a way of protecting their owner and that myth is still alive and well today.
Evidence of little dogs similar to the Chihuahua goes back to the 9th century and comes from archaeologist findings in written accounts, artifacts and in artwork from different areas of the world. We know Chihuahuas from movies like “Legally Blonde” and “Beverly Hills Chihuahua“. They are portrayed by Hollywood as the perfect purse dog. However, Chihuahuas aren’t accessories or purse dogs. They need exercise just like any dog and can be just as difficult to care for as a big dog. They have terrier qualities and can be a terror if their owner doesn’t take the lead role. But, if you’re looking for a loyal, loving, and fun little dog, the Chihuahua is a great family pet.
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