Wondering if Chihuahuas originated from Mexico?
You’re not alone!
There’s a lof of people who wonder where Chihuahuas come from (some say Mexico, some say China, and others say Europe).
In this article you’ll find answers. Quickly read further to discover:
- What historians have to say about the origins of Chihuahuas.
- 3 myths & 5 funny facts about the amazing Chihuahua breed.
- The most common theories on where Chihuahuas are originally from (#2 is crazy).
- And much more…
Are Chihuahuas from Mexico?
Historians are still unsure of the origin of the Chihuahua breed. Yet, it is speculated that the tiny dog family began in the state of Chihuahua, Mexico. This would make a lot of sense, due to the coincidence of them both sporting the same names.
While historians have a little trouble trying to decipher where the Chihuahua breed originated… they continue to believe that this well-known dog family comes from the state of Chihuahua, in Mexico. Despite the lack of information.
Chihuahua is Mexico’s largest state
Estimated to be around 94,571 square miles and 12.6 % of the national landmass.
Chihuahua is calculated to be roughly the size of the United Kingdom. Which when you think about it, is enormous!
This is the most common theory historians believe. As it is known that in 1884 tourists who visited Mexico would often buy one of the tiny dogs.
Tourists were known to pay merchants in Mexico for a Chihuahua, and then bring them back to their homes in the U.S.
Most often, these tourists would be visiting from Texas and Arizona. This resulted in people associating the breed with these locations.
This derived the nicknames of ‘Arizona Dog’, ‘Texas Dog’, ‘Mexico Dog’, and ‘Chihuahua Dog’. Can you guess which name stuck?
Over time, some of these names were used less often. Only one name began to stick around as a household name for the tiny breed.
What other theories are there?
It is known that Chihuahuas were bought by American travelers from Mexico in the 1800s. What about before that?
Surely the Chihuahua breed didn’t spawn rapidly like a game of Red Dead Redemption. They must have evolved over time before being discovered in Mexico – but where?
Here are some of the most commonly discussed theories on the origins of Chihuahuas:
Descendent of the Techichi
Techichi was a small breed of dog that is now extinct. Historians are not clear on the reason for the disappearance of this breed. yet there could be many factors that built up to their extinction.
One of these factors could have been due to excessive breeding with other breeds of dog. This would have slowly phased out the Techichi family.
Another factor adding to their disappearance may have been the desire for their meat. Mexicans sadly developed a love for the meat of the Techichi dog.
This resulted in them becoming very popular to sell to locals for food.
The Techichi dog was believed to have been bred by the Toltec civilization. It was believed to hold some sort of religious symbolism amongst its people.
Before they became a popular Mexican meal, they would sketch images of the animal. Usually onto walls – supporting the theory of the breed having importance in the society.
The Techichi line was also believed to be a great and popular companion. Yet excessive breeding with other breeds may have caused this line to fade – fast.
The Chihuahua family is speculated to be connected to the long lost Techichi breed
They seem to be of similar stature to their supreme ancestors.
Yet the Techichi is believed to have been around double the size of the average Chihuahua.
The average weight of the Techichi was suspected to be around 10 to 20 pounds. Whereas the average household Chihuahua is estimated at around 3 to 6 pounds.
Not a lot is known about the Techichi, but it is believed that they only had long coats. Whereas the Chihuahua has been bred to have both short and long fur. The Techichi is also suspected to be mute, and unable to bark.
It is believed that the Techichi was generally used for hunting purposes. This may explain why Chihuahuas tend to have an aggressive and snappy nature.
Images of the Techichi have been discovered on burial pots in Mexico. Some of which date back to 300 BCE – that’s over 2000 years ago!
Other Techichi theories
Most historians believe that the Chihuahua is a descendent of the Techichi family. But, some think differently.
Some think that the reason for the appearance of the Chihuahua is down to cross-breeding. Most often suspected: breeding between the Techichi, and the Chinese Crested dog.
The Chinese crested dog is a strange (but cute) looking creature that weighs around 10 to 13 pounds. They are larger than the Chihuahua, and more like the size of the Techichi. But they hold some common similarities.
Some believe that the Techichi and the Chinese Crested dog were bred. In time resulting in a smaller crossbreed: The Chihuahua. Yet, there are some facts that seem to make this theory a little hazy and confusing.
One of these facts is that Chinese immigration to the US didn’t seem to happen until the late 1800s
As far as we know, the Techichi breed was not around then, as it co-existed with humans back as far as the year 300 BCE.
This would make breeding between the Techichi and Chinese Crested dogs almost impossible. Unless there were some hiding in plain sight.
Omit, it is known that Christopher Columbus did not actually ‘discover’ the Americas. There are others, such as Leif Eriksson.
Eriksson was the first European explorer to discover America. Which he did almost 500 years before the birth of Columbus!
These explorers would not have been the first people to set foot in these new lands. They are solely the first people to announce it.
This could mean that there may have been a possibility of the Chinese visiting the US, before anyone we know of. This could have led to the mixing of these two breeds.
Possible? Yes. Likely? We’re not sure.
There are some other breeds of dog, other than the Chinese Crested, that the Chihuahua could be linked to.
For example, the hairless breed of Xoloitzcuintli (Xolo). Which has been around in Mexico for thousands of years – and are still going strong today!
Take a look at this video of the stunning Xolo dog:
We think it looks like some sort of mythical creature!
Did Chihuahuas originate from Europe?
So the initial theory is that Chihuahuas originated in Mexico. But there is also speculation of them existing in Europe. This theory couldn’t get any further away from Mexico if it tried!
There is a famous painting known as ‘The Trials and Calling of Moses’ aging back to 1482. This depicts a child holding a small dog – eerily similar to the Chihuahua we know and love today. This image was painted by Italian Renaissance painter, Sandro Botticelli.
Sandro Botticelli created this painting in the Sistine Chapel. Located in the Vatican State of Italy. The artwork can be found on the second compartment of the South Wall. The reasoning behind the possible truth of this theory is the timing.
Botticelli completed this piece around 10 years before Christopher Columbus discovered the Americas. Meaning that this could be before the breed of dog was being purchased by visitors from the US.
Yet, there is still the chance that visitors before Columbus may have brought the breed back home.
3 myths about the Chihuahua breed
The Chihuahua family get a lot of mixed reviews from people who are unsure about them. This may be down to some negative stereotypes. These have been circulating for many years from non-owners of Chihuahuas.
Here are some common myths about Chihuahuas:
#1: Chihuahuas aren’t great around children
Most trained Chihuahuas should be perfectly fine around children.
Most often the way a dog acts around a child or stranger is down to how well the dog was trained. As well as how socialized it has been while growing up.
There are many dogs that hold stereotypes for being aggressive and snappy. This causes a lot of people to stay away from these breeds.
Some breeds may need extra attention when socializing and training. But with the right amount of care they can be extremely loving and loyal dogs.
The same goes for Rottweilers and Pit Bull Terriers, which have built up a bad reputation over the years.
Without proper training, these dogs may be a bit more aggressive than your average breed. Yet with regular attention and training, they are very docile. They can also be very loving around children.
This being said, it is important to keep an eye on your child whilst they are around any breed of dog, just to be safe. As we need to remember that sometimes dogs can lash out in fear, or when hurt.
#2: Chihuahuas don’t live for very long
Many people tend to believe that smaller dogs always have a shorter life span than larger dogs. Yet, this isn’t always the case!
Chihuahuas are the smallest breed of dog in the world. They have an average lifespan of around 12-20 years!
The average lifespan of all dog breeds is around 10-13 years. This means that Chihuahuas actually tend to live much longer than other breeds!
Due to them being so small, even the oldest Chihuahua is often mistaken for a puppy. This is usually a shock when they find out their real age!
Take a look at this adorable little guy who is currently the oldest Chihuahua in the world! – Taffy the Chihuahua
#3: Chihuahuas have tons of health issues
This myth only really holds truth to it when the breeding practices of the dog were very poor.
But this is the same with the majority of dogs who have been bred this way. Poor breeding can cause a whole host of different health issues for any kind.
If your Chihuahua has been bred in a safe and caring environment, there shouldn’t be any issues.
Some of the most common ailments that Chihuahuas can suffer from, that you may need to be aware of are:
This is frequent dislocation of the kneecaps, which is hereditary. The Chihuahuas knees should not be painful in day to day life – only if they dislocate them.
This issue can be closely monitored by a vet, and most of the time it does not need surgery.
Hypoglycemia could be a sign of another illness such as Diabetes. It is important to make sure your Chihuahua is properly taken care of.
Watch out for them showing signs of dizziness, weakness or loss of consciousness. If this happens take them to the vet straight away. A simple change of diet may be able to help with this issue.
Is your Chihuahua frequently coughing? There may be signs of a Tracheal Collapse. This is when the tube that carries air through the nose and mouth, to the lungs collapses.
This is a medical emergency. An obstruction may prevent your dog from breathing, and cause fatality. Ensure you take your Chihuahua to the vet as soon as you spot any signs of them coughing or struggling to breathe.
When caught early on, they can be solved with a simple course of Steroids.
5 Fun Facts About Chihuahuas
Here are some fun facts about Chihuahuas, that you may not know:
(Update: I created a new article with 101 fun and mind-blowing Chihuahua facts).
#1: Did you know that Chihuahuas are the smallest breed of dog in the world?
Chihuahuas weigh on average just 2 to 6 pounds. That’s lighter than a newborn baby! They are estimated to grow to around 6 to 10 inches in full. This often causes people to mistake them for a puppy, even at old age.
Small dogs have become somewhat of a trend over the years. Many people find their size particularly charming. They are also a common choice for those who live in smaller accommodation. For example, we tend to see them more often in smaller homes and apartments.
#2: The Chihuahua has one of the longest lifespans out of all breeds of dog
Chihuahuas tend to live for around 15 to 20 years, which is amazing for such a small dog! We do usually expect smaller dogs to have a little more fight in them, yet the Chihuahua trumps most.
Larger dogs are known to have a shorter lifespan compared to smaller ones. This may give Chis an advantage. But with breeds such as Pugs living around 12 to 15 years, and Chow Chows living 9 to 15 – the Chi seems to be a winner!
This may be to do with Chis averaging fewer health issues compared to other small dogs. Or maybe, they’re little superheroes!
#3: Chihuahuas are very good at climbing!
For such a small dog, they really are agile little jumpers. It has been said that Chihuahuas used to frequently climb trees. Once at the top they would camouflage themselves from predators.
They were also known to climb extremely steep hills with ease! We can see signs of that even today, as they jump up onto high surfaces easily and efficiently.
We often underestimate Chihuahuas abilities. They may be little, but they are able to jump an average of 2 to 10 feet!
#4: Chihuahuas seem to portray a certain personality trait that most owners have noticed. A.k.a. ‘Small Dog Syndrome’
Many smaller dog breeds show negative reactions when in the presence of a larger dog. Or even a larger animal or person. It is believed to be the main reason for their growling and aggressive behavior.
When confronted with a much larger breed, Chihuahuas will try to look intimidating. It is thought that they do this to make up for their tiny size.
This makes Chihuahuas seem very aggressive to the average person and has dubbed them as a ‘snappy’ breed. This negative stereotype does not do the little dogs much justice.
Yet, these dogs are known to be loyal protectors. So a lot of the snappy behavior is down to them feeling intimidated by larger animals. When they feel intimidated or threatened, they will bark and growl. This is to protect themselves and their owners.
So next time you see a Chihuahua yapping at you, think about how you would feel in their shoes!
#5: Even today, Chihuahuas are still seen in the wild
It is well known that there are packs of wild Chihuahuas owning the streets of Phoenix, Arizona. In 2014, animal control workers had to come out to try and deal with the problem.
These packs of Chis would chase after young kids playing in the street. As well as run after those attempting to get into their cars. This caused a lot of the dogs to be accidentally run over by locals.
Wild Chihuahuas haven’t just been seen in Arizona, they have also been found elsewhere. San Francisco has been known to have experienced similar issues. With packs of up to 20 wild Chis roaming the streets, causing trouble.
You might also like: What Do Chihuahuas Eat in The Wild? The Surprising Truth