Are Chihuahuas Mexican? (myth or reality?)

In this article, we will answer the following question: Are Chihuahuas Mexican? We will discuss the origins and history of these small dogs, and also what makes Chihuahuas so unique. 

Are Chihuahuas Mexican?

The Chihuahua’s origins are believed to be Mexican. The chihuahueño or chihuahua receives its name from Chihuahua (state of the country of Mexico), which was the place where it was discovered and domesticated.

“Chihuahua” means “arid and sandy place”.

Although the breed is popularly known as Chihuahua, the official name of the breed is Chihuahueño, Chihuahua is the name adopted by the United States of America for the breed, due to the fact that due to phonetic issues in the English language it is not

there is the phoneme “ñ”.

The Chihuahuas were brought to the United States by North American visitors who visited the North of Mexico and who were captivated by these small dogs and presented them at fairs and exhibitions where they were made known worldwide. 

The Chihuahua dog was officially recognized by the AKC in 1904. The first recorded Chihuahua was called Midget which means dwarf.

The origins of the Chihuahua

It is a common belief that Moctezuma, the last Aztec ruler, had hundreds of Chihuahuas in his incredibly modern palace. The engravings refer to the fontanelle, so there is little doubt that the dogs were not pure Chihuahuas.

And could it also have been for the same reason that, more recently, General Santa Anna (the Mexican dictator who sold northern Mexico to the United States in 1848) kept a large number of golden-fawn Chihuahuas? 

They accompanied him to battles, no doubt to guide his soul through the nine-branched river in the event that he was killed. In fact, the dogs were at his camp when he was finally defeated and captured, in 1836.

The theory that places the development of the Chihuahua in Europe and assumes that this breed arrived in the New World in the arms of Spanish explorers, completely ignores the historical records. 

The Spanish made very unique use of dogs at that time. They brought to America horses and not dogs. When there was no possibility of hunting in the territory where they were found and there were no wounded horses that could be slaughtered, the Spanish invaded Indian settlements in search of food, and that included native dogs and, in certain tribes, dogs kept for sacrifices or as pets.

One of the first explorers of North America, Hernando de Soto, wrote that dogs were a great source of food for the hundreds of soldiers who were under his command during the exploration of the southeastern United States. The Spanish conquerors not only decimated the indigenous population from the Florida peninsula to Mexico but also exterminated thousands of dogs.

Spanish chroniclers noted that the Aztecs castrated and fattened male dogs by giving them corn and then ate them. There is no doubt that they used them in religious ceremonies, but reviewing the accounts of the Spaniards one wonders if, in reality, the Indians would not have been forced to breed dogs in large numbers to feed the conquerors who enslaved them.

There is no reliable pictorial evidence for the existence of Chihuahua-type dogs in Europe before Christopher Columbus discovered America and the continent was explored. 

There is a painting by Botticelli, dated 1481, that appears in a fresco in the Sistine Chapel. Due to its long, claw-shaped fingers, it is said that the dog represented there has a Chihuahua type, but Bull Terrier fans assure that it is an early ancestor of the English White Terrier. 

The debate has also reached a Venetian painting by Pietro Longhi because it represents a family pet with a Chihuahua type. It is still speculated that the dog descended from a Mexican dog brought back to Europe by a victorious hero with a noble heart.

In reality, it is likely that the tiny short-haired dog was crossed with European Spaniel dogs to produce other distinctive small breeds. These new-type dogs, crossed again with the Chihuahua, along with a handful of tiny Pomeranian-type dogs and other lap dogs from that era, produced the long-haired Chihuahua and were perhaps responsible for the shortening of the previously gigantic ears.

Current history of the Chihuahua

The first news of the Chihuahua as a specific breed seems to have been around 1884 when some enterprising Mexicans began selling their Chihuahua to tourists in border markets. The tiny dogs were called Mexican Texas and Arizona Dogs, depending on where one was at the time. 

Over time, they became firmly associated with the Mexican state of Chihuahua, south of the border, and that is how that dog that knew nothing of borders became known as Chihuahua.

The first officially registered Chihuahua was a dog named Midget, listed in the American Kennel Club’s Book of Origins along with three others in 1904. The United Kingdom was not far behind: it registered its first Chihuahua in 1907. Mexico made its entry into the Modern canine world a bit late, but in 1934 it guaranteed exemptions for the Chihuahua registration.

By 1915, there were 30 Chihuahua registered in the United States and that number rose to more than 25,000 in the 1970s. The breed is more popular in that country and in Europe than in Mexico itself, no doubt because everything “foreign » is always better than what has been under our noses all our lives.

Short-haired and long-haired Chihuahuas were shown together until 1952 when they were considered as two separate varieties at dog shows. In the United States, the two varieties are still crossed with each other today, so that in the same litter it is possible to find long-haired and other short-haired dogs.

Currently, more than 20,000 Chihuahuas are registered each year with the American Kennel Club. Of this number, only a limited number are exhibited, but the breed remains extremely popular as breeders strive to preserve its unique characteristics.

The Chihuahua in England

Some representatives of the breed came to England, coming from the United States and also directly from Mexico, in the last years of the 19th century. In 1897, a Chihuahua was formally displayed at the Ladies Kennel Association (L.K.A.) Show. The prerogative for registration came in 1907, which might seem like a meteoric rise to fame if it weren’t for the fact that it happened 17 years before the next Chihuahua was registered.

When World War II began, there were fewer than 100 Chihuahua registered. Its small population was hit hard by the subsequent bombardment and devastation. In 1949, only eight Chihuahuas were registered.

When homes and families were reestablished, many returned to having dogs for the pleasure of their company and the Chihuahua was then a grateful little soul capable of filling the empty hearts and arms of those who had suffered terrible losses. The population grew rapidly and, by 1953, there were 111 Chihuahuas registered with the English Kennel Club.

Due to a strike by electricians, the 1954 Crufts Exhibition had to be suspended, so that the first C.C. they were actually awarded by the Scottish Kennel Club at the Glasgow Dog Show. In a tie, during the contest for the title of the first Champion of the Record, the breed entered the record books when the two best Chihuahuas of the event obtained their titles in the same show and on the same day!

By 1965, the breed had been separated into two varieties: long-haired and short-haired. In that year’s Crufts, 89 long-haired and 159 short-haired Chihuahua were entered. The total number of registered dogs had risen to more than 3,000 due to advances in veterinary cesarean section techniques.

In the following decades, the breed’s population and popularity continued to rise, despite the small number of puppies in their litters. From the UK the popularity of the Chihuahua spread to other countries, and by the late 1970s, it was obvious that the Mexican dog had found a very welcoming home in Europe.

The physical appearance and character of a Chihuahua

What characterizes the fiery chihuahua is not only its small size but also its large bat ears and disproportionate eyes. His apple-shaped head and short, pointed nose are also characteristic features of the breed.

The Chihuahua is more of an indoor dog, although it is okay to stay outside for awhile if you have a garden. He is a strong head who should be educated from an early age, working on his sociability and his anxiety for the most suspicious. 

He is a robust little doggie, his life expectancy is particularly long (minimum 12 years), especially when compared to other small dogs. Finally, you must check and clean your eyes daily to avoid irritation.

These little dogs show as much diversity in terms of their coat color as their character. According to the FCI breed standard, in which the Chihuahua is listed under No.218, group 9, all colors as well as all combinations and shades are allowed.

There are two types of Chihuahuas, depending on the length of their hair:

Long Haired Chihuahuas: Long hairs are either smooth or slightly wavy. Tapered ears, pronounced cervical collar, and fully hairy tail are also typical.

Short Haired Chihuahuas: short, dense, smooth, shiny hair on the head and body.

Surprisingly, the breed standard does not specify an exact height at the withers for the smallest dog in the world. Its small size is mainly reflected in its weight. The ideal weight for a chihuahua is therefore between 1.5 kg and 3 kg. Dogs between 500 g and 1.5 kg are however also accepted.

Animal rights activists criticize this search for the ever-smaller Chihuahua and even call it to torture, as the thinnest dogs are also much more likely to suffer from health problems.


Despite the existence of many theories regarding the origin of Chihuahuas, it is now almost certain that this breed originated from Mexico. In the Province that bears the name of Chihuahua, in northern Mexico, there are still many small wild dogs that look a lot like the Chihuahua today.

According to one theory, the Chihuahua was one of the dogs offered for sacrifice. In this religion, the role of Chihuahuas was to guide the souls of the dead to the grave. Unfortunately, this meant that Chihuahuas had to sacrifice their lives during funerals.

Another theory goes that the Chihuahuas were already used as sacrifices in ritual ceremonies among the Aztecs. Some even go back even further and believe that their ancestors were already owned by the Toltec people.

The Chihuahua breed would thus be more than 1000 years old.

According to another legend, the Spaniards are the ones who brought the animals to the country, during their conquest of Mexico in the 15th century.

None of these theories could be fully proved or disproved until today.

The history of Chihuahuas is thus only certain from the middle of the 19th century. It was around this time that farmers in the Mexican province of Chihuahua began selling small dogs to travelers from the United States.

This is how the Chihuahua’s conquest of the world began. Tourists were so enthusiastic about the “world’s smallest dog” with big eyes and big ears, that this breed quickly spread across America and then to Europe.

Do you know a different version related to the origins of the Chihuahua dogs? If so, we are curious to know!


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