Chihuahua became a pop culture icon back in 1997 after a Chihuahua named Gidget captivated millions when she starred in a Taco Bell commercial. Since then, Chihuahuas have appeared in movies, TV shows, and even in the tabloids, often peering out of celebrities’ purses.
Chihuahuas are one of the oldest and most popular breeds in America. Tiny, cute, and feisty, they are easy dogs to love. Check out 10 most interesting facts about Chihuahuas.
1. Chihuahuas are the smallest breed of dog
While some “designer” dogs have been bred down to the one-pound range, the Chihuahua is the smallest breed recognized by the American Kennel Club (AKC). The biggest Chihuahuas are about nine inches tall and weigh about seven pounds.
Chihuahuas are famous for having personalities that far outstrip their little bodies. A Chihuahua defending its owner thinks nothing of taking on a much larger dog. What’s amazing is how often those larger dogs back down!
2. Chihuahuas are the oldest breed in North America
Chihuahuas’ ancestors, the Techichi, were an important part of Mayan culture. But those dogs were a good bit bigger than the modern Chihuahua. Historians think that, at some point, the Chinese Crested Terrier was introduced to the bloodline, leading to the smaller dog we see today.
They eventually traveled to other parts of the world with European explorers. Chihuahuas were recognized by the AKC in 1904.
3. Chihuahuas have huge brains
When you look at the size of their brains in proportion to their bodies, Chihuahuas dominate all other breeds. And that big brain resides inside a skull with a soft spot – just like a human baby’s. The soft spot, or molera, usually closes as the puppy grows, but that doesn’t always happen.
A Chihuahua’s head, already vulnerable because of its tiny size, is even more subject to injury if it has a lingering molera.
4. When it comes to their coats, anything goes
Most breeds of dogs share similar coats, whether in color, length, or texture. But there is no standard Chihuahua coat. Their coats can be either long or short, silky or wiry, and of just about any color that exists in the dog world. Even Chihuahua puppies from the same litter can have very different coats.
5. Chihuahuas were once thought to be sacred
The Mayans weren’t the only ancient culture to prize Chihuahuas. The Aztecs and Toltecs didn’t exactly worship them, but the little dogs were an important part of their religious life. They believed yellow Chihuahuas escorted their owners to the afterlife. The dogs were often sacrificed before the owner died so that they would be there waiting. Red Chihuahuas, on the other hand, were believed to take on their owners’ sins and were often sacrificed in their funeral pyres.
6. Some people claim Chihuahuas can cure asthma
While there is no scientific proof for this, many Chihuahua owners insist the little dogs cured their respiratory ailments. It’s easy to see where the idea came from, because their noses are so small, Chihuahuas often wheeze and snort. To a Chihuahua owner who started feeling better with no obvious explanation, it must have seemed as if their asthma had passed to the dog.
7. Chihuahuas only like other Chihuahuas
Even the AKC admits that Chihuahuas tend to not get along with other dogs – unless those dogs are Chihuahuas. Then they seem willing to share everything, even their food, and their humans. Conversely, they tend to be aggressive with other breeds. However, socialization plays a huge role. Chihuahuas who are introduced to other dogs as puppies, and whose owners refuse to tolerate aggressive behavior, should do just fine with other breeds.
8. Chihuahuas are one-person dogs
Just as Chihuahuas prefer other Chihuahuas, they also tend to favor one human companion. While they usually bond well with everybody in the household, their loyalty lies with one particular person. Chihuahuas have been said to die (presumably from a broken heart) shortly after their primary caretaker has died.
9. Chihuahuas live a long time
Small dogs usually outlive larger breeds, but Chihuahuas really stand out. The average lifespan for a Chihuahua is ten to eighteen years, but it’s not unusually for a Chihuahua to live for twenty years or more.
10. Chihuahuas can be found in museums all over the world
Chihuahuas have been discovered in Mexican art dating back to 200 B.C. And Bottiicelli included a Chihuahua in his Sistine Chapel fresco, “Scenes from the life of Moses.” If you visit the Chapel, you can find a Chihuahua curled up in a little boy’s arms. Artists like Vittore Carpaccio, Pietro Longhi, Sir Edward Landseer, Charles Van den Eycken, and Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec have included Chihuahuas in their work, too.
Chihuahuas are the epitome of a big personality in a tiny package. They’re fearless, feisty, and intensely loyal. Even their personality quirks are endearing, and they often use that supersized brain to convince their owners to carry them everywhere they go. And who knows? They might even cure your asthma. Do you know any other interesting facts about Chihuahuas?