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The Chihuahua is the smallest breed of dog and is named for the state of Chihuahua in Mexico. Chihuahuas come in a wide variety of sizes, head shapes, colors, and coat lengths.

History

The Chihuahua’s history is puzzling and there are many theories surrounding the origin of the breed. Both folklore and archaeological finds show that the breed originated in Mexico. The most common and most likely theory is that Chihuahuas are descended from the Techichi, a companion dog favored by the Toltec civilization in Mexico. No records of the Techichi are available prior to the 9th century, although dog pots from Colima, Mexico, buried as part of the western Mexico shaft tomb tradition which date back to 300 BC are thought to depict Techichis. It is probable that earlier ancestors were present prior to the Mayans as dogs approximating the Chihuahua are found in materials from the Great Pyramid of Cholula, predating 1530 and in the ruins of Chichen Itza on the Yucatán Peninsula.

Dog effigy pots dating to around 1325 AD discovered in Georgia and Tennessee also appear to represent the Chihuahua. In 1850, a pot featuring the "deer head" variety of Chihuahua was unearthed in old ruins at Casas Grandes in the Mexican state of Chihuahua, which dates from 1100–1300 AD showing the long history of the breed at this site, although most artifacts relating to its existence are found around Mexico City. It has been argued that these pots arrived with survivors from the Casas Grandes site in Chihuahua, Mexico, after it was attacked and destroyed around 1340 AD.

Temperament

There are two varieties of Chihuahua – the Smooth Coat (short haired) and the Long Coat. Both the Smooth and the Long Coats have their special attractions, are equally easy to keep clean and well groomed. The UK Kennel Club considers smooth and long coated Chihuahuas two distinct breeds, matings between the two are not eligible for KC registration.

Dogs of either coat type may be identified as either "apple head" or "deer head" Chihuahuas, particularly in the United States. Apple heads have rounded heads, close-set eyes, and relatively short ears and legs. Deer heads have flat-topped heads, more widely-set eyes, larger ears, and longer, more slender legs. While deer heads were popular in the mid-twentieth century, current breed standards defined by registries such as the Chihuahua Club of America and American Kennel Club specify the apple head conformation.

Appearance

Breed standards for this dog do not generally specify a height; only a weight and a description of their overall proportions. Generally, the height ranges between 15 and 23 cm (6 and 9 in); however, some dogs grow as tall as 30 to 38 cm (12 to 15 in). Both British and American breed standards state that a Chihuahua must not weigh more than 2.7 kg (6 lb) for conformation. However, the British standard also states that a weight of 1.8–2.7 kg (4–6 lb) is preferred. A clause stating that 'if two dogs are equally good in type, the more diminutive one is preferred' was removed in 2009. The Fédération Cynologique Internationale (FCI) standard calls for dogs ideally between 1.5 and 3.0 kg (3.3 and 6.6 lbs.), although smaller ones are acceptable in the show ring.

Pet Chihuahuas (that is, those bred or purchased as companions rather than show dogs) often range above these weights, even above ten pounds if they have large bone structures or are allowed to become overweight.This does not mean that they are not purebred Chihuahuas; they do not meet the requirements to enter a conformation show. Oversized Chihuahuas are seen in some of the best, and worst, bloodlines. Chihuahuas do not breed true for size, and puppies from the same litter can mature drastically different sizes from one another. As well, larger breeding females are less likely to experience dystocia. Typically, the breed standard for both the long and short coat chihuahua will be identical except for the description of the coat. Chihuahuas have large, round eyes and large, erect ears, set in a high, dramatically rounded skull.

Health

How a Chihuahua turns out depends mightily on the genetic temperament of his parents and grandparents.[17] Chihuahuas can be easily provoked to attack, and are therefore generally unsuitable for homes with small children.[18] The breed tends to be fiercely loyal to one particular person and in some cases may become over protective of the person, especially around other people or animals. They do not always get along with other breeds, and tend to have a "clannish" nature, often preferring the companionship of other Chihuahuas or Chihuahua mixes over other dogs. These traits generally make them unsuitable for households with children who are not patient and calm. If properly managed by older children, 13 and up, they can adapt to this kind of living with a dedicated owner. The temperament of its owner can make a difference in the temperament of the pup.

Chihuahuas love their dens and will often burrow themselves in pillows, clothes hampers, and blankets. They are often found under the covers or at the bottom of the bed, deep in the dark and safety of what they perceive as their den. Chihuahuas also enjoy time in sunlight.

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