The smallest breed recognized by many kennel clubs, Chihuahuas are eccentric and agile breed of dogs. With the public’s perception shifting from owning dogs for work purposes to breeding dogs for companionship, the Chihuahua was the perfect canine companion since the 1960s. With protruding eyes and small features, this breed of dog has steadily gained popularity owing to its affectionate and fun-loving personality.
History of the Chihuahua Breed
Historians have contrived numerous theories regarding the origin of the Chihuahua breed. Like some of the modern-day dog breed that we find today, the history of the Chihuahua is also engulfed in mystery.
Some of the theories that surround the origin of the Chihuahua breed are:
Chihuahua state of Mexico theory –
Archaeological findings and folklore show that the breed has roots in Mexico. The Chihuahua state of Mexico, according to historians, is where dog enthusiasts discovered some of the primitive species of the Chihuahua in the medial 1800s.
In order to supplement their income, the Mexican merchants in the 1880s started to sell this breed of dog to tourists at the border. Many were brought to the United States to be kept as pets. As this breed of dog did not have a definite name, it was named after the region from where it was brought. Though the breed was given as many names as Arizona dog, Chihuahua dog, Mexico dog and Texas dog, the name Chihuahua is today globally accepted as the most favored.
The Techichi Descendant thesis –
Many historians have accepted the origin of the Chihuahuas from the Chihuahua state of Mexico from the mid-1800s. However, the period before the mentioned timeline has continued to cause debate even among the many historians.
One such theory that sparks a debate regarding the origin of the breed from the Chihuahua state of Mexico is the Techichi Descendant theory. The theory propounds that the breed is a descendant of the Techichi, a small structured companion dog that was tamed by several native North American tribes and pre-Columbian Mesoamerican civilizations. The theory is supported by the resemblance in the physical characteristics between the Chihuahua and the Techichi.
The role of the Maya and Toltec Civilization –
The Toltec Civilization of Mexico, according to historians, is believed to be the first to train and breed the Techichi. Archaeological findings such as ‘dog pots’ supplements to this theory. The Maya civilization considered dogs as being chaperones of the hereafter and used them in the last rites ceremonies.
Archaeological evidence of sculptures depicting dog with a striking resemblance to the Chihuahua unearthed in Colima, Mexico supplements this theory. The discovery of wheeled dog toys, effigy pots in Central America and the Toltec sculpts of petite dogs mirroring the features of Chihuahua also supports this theory.
The Aztec Civilization and the European explorers –
The Aztec, like the Maya and the Toltec civilization, also believed in the sacrificing of dogs to appease the gods. The mummifying of the canine companions with their respective owners to be joined in the afterlife was also practiced.
Like their predecessor’s tradition, i.e., the Toltec, the Aztec according to some of the European explorers’ written records such as journals by Father Joseph De Acosta documented the domestication and use of the Techichi as pets.
The Techichi Crossbreed –
Though many believe the Chihuahua to be a progeny of the Techichi, another theory suggests that it is a cross between the Techichi and a dog known as the Chinese Crested.
The theory proposes that Chinese explorers and merchants brought the Chinese Crested to America, where the cross between the Techichi and the hairless dog resulted in the modern-day Chihuahua. However, this theory has been rejected by many historians owing to the stark contrast of the physical features of the Chihuahua to the Chinese Crested.
The European Offshoot theory –
Another theory regarding the origin of the Chihuahua is that the breed is a native of the island of Malta in Europe. The Mediterranean island was at one time home to a petite dog known as the Maltese pocket dog.
The similarity is found distinctively in the physical features between the two breeds: molera, which is an opening/ hole in the skull. 80 – 90 percent of the Chihuahuas’ offspring are born with this underdeveloped anatomical feature.
Weighing approximately 4-6 lb. and standing at the height of 6-10 inches, this breed of dog universally known as Chihuahua has taken the canine companionship world to another level since the 1960s. Regardless of the many theories revolving around its origin, the Techichi theory and the Chihuahua state of Mexico theory seems to be highly favored.
Adding to these many theories, the explorers and merchants have also played a crucial role in the migration and popularization of the Chihuahua around the globe. Today, the Chihuahua consistently ranks as one of the most popular dog breeds for companionship in many regions.