Small in size but big in personality, the Chihuahua is truly one of a kind. They are energetic, affectionate, playful and fiercely loyal to their family. But even if you’re familiar with the breed, there are probably some things you don’t know about them. Check out the following 60 amazing Chihuahua facts.
#1) Chihuahuas are Named After Chihuahua, Mexico
The Chihuahua receives its namesake from the state of Chihuahua, Mexico. Also known as “The Big State” and “The Great State,” Chihuahua is Mexico’s largest state with an area of 95,543 square miles (247,455 square km). In the late 1800s, American travelers visiting the region encountered merchants selling Chihuahuas, some of which were brought back to the U.S.
#2) Chihuahuas Were Once Called ‘Arizona’ and ‘Texas’ Dogs
Prior to being universally known as Chihuahuas, people named the small dogs after the region in which they were found. This resulted in the Chihuahua being called the “Arizona dog,” “Texas dog” and the “Chihuahua dog.”
#3) Long Coat and Smooth Coat are the Only Official Varieties
Long-coat and smooth-coat Chihuahua
The American Kennel Club (AKC) and other reputable canine organizations only recognize two official varieties of the Chihuahua: the long coat and smooth coat (short hair). Smooth-coat Chihuahuas have shorter hair — between 1/2 and 3/4 inches long (12.7 to 19.05 mm) — either with or without an undercoat.
Long-coat Chihuahuas typically have softer, longer hair — between 1 and 1 1/2 inches long (25.4 to 38.1 mm) — and they too may or may not have an undercoat. Other than the nuances in coat structure, long-coat and smooth-coat Chihuahuas are genetically the same.
#4) The AKC Didn’t Separate Long-Coat and Smooth-Coat Chihuahuas Until 1952
Long-coat and smooth-coat Chihuahuas have been around for centuries, but it wasn’t until 1952 when the AKC separated the two varieties. Previously, long-coat and smooth-coat Chihuahuas were shown together. In 1952, however, the AKC separated the breed into two official varieties based on their coat.
#5) The Chihuahua is the World’s Smallest Breed
With an average weight of just 2 to 6 pounds (1 to 3 kg) and height of 6 to 10 inches (15 to 25 cm) when fully grown, the Chihuahua is the world’s smallest dog breed. Chihuahuas are smaller than Yorkshire Terriers, Pomeranians, Toy Poodles, Papillons, Pugs and Shih Tzus. The breed’s small size makes them an attractive choice for families living in apartments and small homes.
#6) Midget, the First AKC Chihuahua, was Registered in 1904
In 1904, Hamilton Raynor of El Paso, Texas registered the first Chihuahua with the American Kennel Club (AKC), a long-coat male named Midget. This was the first time the AKC officially recognized the Chihuahua, marking a new era for the breed. Raynor also registered several other Chihuahuas with the AKC, including Bonito, Chiquita, Nellie and Tiny Tinkle Twinkle (try saying that name three times fast).
#7) The Chihuahua Club of America was Founded in 1923
In 1923, the Chihuahua Club of America (CCA) — an official parent company of the AKC — was founded to promote responsible breeding and provide educational resources on the Chihuahua. During that same year, the CCA adopted the Chihuahua’s first breed standards.
#8) Chihuahuas Have a ‘Clannish’ Nature
The Chihuahua is the only breed to exhibit a “clannish” nature, meaning they prefer the company of other Chihuahuas over other breeds.
#9) Chihuahuas Were Originally Bred to be Smaller
During the breed’s early days, the AKC encouraged selective breeding to produce smaller Chihuahuas. The original AKC standards state Chihuahuas should weigh “Two to six pounds. The more diminutive, the more desirable.” The AKC later revised its breed standards, no longer giving preference to smaller Chihuahuas.
#10) Chihuahuas are Born with a Molera or ‘Soft Spot’
Chihuahua puppies molera
While not exclusive to the breed, most Chihuahuas are born with an opening in their skull. Known as a molera or “soft spot,” it’s found in approximately 80% to 90% of all newborn Chihuahuas. Normally, the molera closes as the pup matures, though some Chis live their entire lives with this cranial opening.
#11) The Chihuahua is a Descendant of a Mexican Companion Dog
As explained in The History of the Chihuahua, mitochondrial DNA analyses link the modern-day Chihuahua to a small-framed companion dog of pre-Columbian Mesoamerica called the Techichi.
The Maya, Toltec and Aztec civilizations viewed Techichis as being guardians of the afterlife, believing they would help their deceased owners cross over to the afterlife.
#12) The Chihuahua May Have European or Asian Origins
Since mitochondrial DNA is only passed down from the mother (not the father), DNA analysis alone doesn’t reveal the whole story behind the Chihuahua’s origins. Some breed experts theorize that the Mexican Techichi was crossed with either the Chinese Crested or Maltese “pocket dog” to produce the Chihuahua.
#13) It was Believed that Chihuahuas Could Cure Asthma
Centuries-old folklore suggests Chihuahuas can cure respiratory ailments, such as asthma and allergies, by absorbing the condition from their owners. If a Chihuahua was placed next to a person with asthma, it was believed the Chihuahua would take his or her asthma. While there’s no evidence supporting this theory, many people kept Chihuahuas around for this very reason.
#14) Chihuahuas are Light Shedders
With the exception of certain hairless breeds, all dogs shed. The Chihuahua, however, is considered one of the lightest shedders in the canine kingdom. According to a survey of 249 veterinary professionals conducted by VetStreet, Chihuahuas rank #7 among breeds that shed the least amount of hair. Surprisingly, however, many owners find smooth-coat Chihuahuas shed more than long-coats.
#15) Chihuahuas Have Saved Lives
Don’t let their small size fool you; Chihuahuas are quite capable of scaring away predators and protecting their families. In 2007, a ferocious five-pound Chihuahua named Zoey protected her owner’s 1-year-old grandson from a rattlesnake by jumping in front of the serpent. Zoey was bitten, though later recovered after receiving medical treatment.
In 2008, a four-pound Chihuahua named Honey saved her owner’s 8-year-old granddaughter from a vicious attack by a much larger dog. And there are numerous cases in which Chihuahuas have alerted their owner during fire and medical emergencies, making this breed a true life-saver.
#16) The ‘El Paso Chihuahuas’ is a Minor League Baseball Team
In an effort to differentiate its brand from the San Diego Padres, the minor league baseball team the El Paso Padres held a naming contest in 2013. After receiving more than 5,000 submissions, the team chose the “El Paso Chihuahuas” as its new name. Not surprisingly, the team’s new logo is a growling Chihuahua wearing a spiked collar.
#17) Chihuahua Means ‘Between Two Waters’
The name “Chihuahua” derives from a Nahuatl word, meaning “between two waters.” Historians believe the name is older than the Spanish Conquest of Mexico, which began in 1519.
#18) Chihuahuas are Celebrated on Cinco De Mayo
Because of their Mexican origins, cities throughout the U.S. celebrate Chihuahuas on Cinco De Mayo by hosting events such as costume contests, owner-dog lookalike contests, running of the Chihuahuas, and parades. Some veterinary clinics and animal shelters also offer free spay/neuter services for Chihuahuas during this time of year.
#19) Arizona’s State Dog is the Chihuahua, Unofficially
Pennsylvania has the Great Dane, Massachusetts has the Boston terrier, and North Carolina has the Plott Hound. While unofficial, New Mexico’s state dog is the Chihuahua.
#20) Packs of Wild Chihuahuas Were Common Throughout the Southwestern U.S.
In the late 1800s and early 1900s, packs of wild Chihuahuas were a common sight throughout the southwestern U.S. Hamilton Raynor — the man who registered the first AKC Chihuahua — actually spent several years capturing the small dogs, which he used to start a kennel.
#21) Wild Chihuahuas are Still Seen in the U.S.
Even today, you can still find wild Chihuahuas roaming in certain parts of the U.S. In 2014, thousands of wild Chihuahuas were sighted in a Phoenix, Arizona neighborhood, prompting animal control workers to step in and catch the small dogs.
This wasn’t a one-time occurrence, either. Several neighbors in the San Francisco Bay Area experienced a similar problem, as large packs of wild Chihuahuas roamed the streets.
#22) The Chihuahua has One of the Longest Lifespans
Living 15 to 20 years on average, the Chihuahua has one of the longest lifespans of any dog breed. Of course, smaller breeds tend to live longer than larger ones, but another key factor contributing to the Chihuahua’s longevity is the relatively few health problems to which the breed is predisposed.
#23) The Chihuahua has Never Won Best in Show
Best in Show Chihuahuas
Held annually in New York City, the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show is a conformation show in which purebred dogs are judged based on how well they conform to their respective breed’s standards. Since its first show in 1877, however, the Chihuahua has never won Best in Show — and it’s only won Best in Group (Toy) once.
The Chihuahua isn’t the only breed to have never won Best in Show. Others include the Labrador Retriever, Golden Retriever, Great Dane, dachshund, Shih Tzu, Shetland Sheepdog (Sheltie), and Miniature Schnauzer.
#24) The World’s Smallest Dog, by Height, is a Chihuahua
A female Chihuahua named Miracle Milly holds the title of being the world’s smallest living dog by height. Born December 1, 2011, Milly is a 1-pound (0.5 kg) apple-head Chihuahua owned by Vanesa Semler of Dorado, Puerto Rico. When officials from the Guinness World Records measured her on February 21, 2013, she stood just 3.8 inches (9.65 cm) tall. That’s one miracle-sized Chihuahua!
“To get an idea of just how petite she is, when she was first born she received milk from an eyedropper,” said Semler when talking about Miracle Milly.
#25) The World’s Smallest Dog, by Length, is Also a Chihuahua
Miracle Milly may hold the title of being the world’s smallest dog by height, but another Chihuahua is the world’s smallest dog by length. Born on New Year’s Eve 2003, Heaven Sent Brandy is a long-coat female Chihuahua that measures just 6 inches (15.2 cm) from the tip of her nose to the back of her tail. In 2005, Guinness World Records awarded Brandy with the title of being the world’s smallest dog by length.
#26) Chihuahuas Have a Natural Instinct to Burrow
Whether it’s bed linens, blankets, towels, pillows or dirty clothes, Chihuahuas burrow under just about anything. Scientists believe this instinctual behavior was passed down to the Chihuahua from its Techichi ancestors. When Techichi roamed Central and North America, they likely burrowed in the sand and vegetation for warmth and protection from predators.
#27) Chihuahuas Were Gifted in Bouquets of Flowers
What’s better than receiving a Chihuahua as a gift? Receiving the pint-sized canine in a bouquet of flowers. In the late 1800s and early 1900s Mexico, it wasn’t uncommon for the groom to give his bride a bouquet of flowers with a Chihuahua inside.
#28) The Chihuahuas is One of the Oldest Breeds Recognized by the AKC
First recognized in 1903, the Chihuahua is one of the AKC’s oldest official dog breeds. Since then, the AKC has added dozens more to its list, including the Affenpinscher, Alaskan Malamute, Belgian Sheepdog, Bearded Collie, Brussels Griffon, Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, Doberman Pinscher, German Shepherd, Great Pyrenees, Lhasa Apso and many others.
#29) Wild Chihuahuas Used to Climb Trees
While most Chihuahuas today prefer lounging in their owner’s lap, these small dogs were once adept tree-climbers. They’ve been said to climb trees and near-vertical hills with the grace of a squirrel, presumably for warmth and protection from predators.
#30) Chihuahuas are Often Described as ‘Apple Head’ or ‘Deer Head’
Chihuahuas are typically described as “apple head” or “deer head,” depending on their facial characteristics. Apple-head Chihuahuas have a round head with a 90-degree “stop” where the muzzle meets the forehead, while deer heads have a longer and more angular head, similar to a deer’s head.
#31) The Chihuahua has One of the Largest Varieties of Coat Colors
From black and fawn to red and blue, Chihuahuas have a wide variety of coat colors. In fact, the AKC currently recognizes 30 different coat colors and color combinations for the breed. And even if a Chihuahua has a different coat color that’s not mentioned by the AKC, he can still compete in the show ring for conformation titles.
#32) Solid White is the Rarest Coat Color in Chihuahuas
Chihuahu with solid white coat
Of all the coat colors in which Chihuahuas are found, solid white — without other markings — is the rarest.
#33) All Small Dogs in Northern Mexico and Southern U.S. Were Once Called Chihuahuas
In the late 1800s and early 1900s, all small dogs found around the Mexico-U.S. border were called Chihuahuas. This led many people to believe that the Mexican hairless Xoloitzcuintli was actually a Chihuahua.
#34) Two Smooth-Coat Chihuahuas Can Produce a Long-Coat Pup
Because the long-coat gene is recessive, two smooth-coat Chihuahuas can produce a long-coat pup. Two long-coat Chihuahuas, however, cannot produce a smooth-coat pup.
#35) Chihuahuas Have Been Featured in Artwork
Two Venetian ladies with a Chihuahua
Some of the earliest depictions of Chihuahua were discovered on pots and sculptures dating back to 300 BC. The small dog later appeared in paintings such as The Trials and Calling of Moses (1482) by Sandro Botticelli, and Two Venetian Ladies (1490) by Vittore Carpaccio.
#36) The Chihuahua has the Largest Brain-to-Body Ratio of any Breed
Ironically, the world’s smallest dog has the biggest brain. Research shows that Chihuahuas have the largest brain-to-body weight ratio of all dog breeds.
#37) Chihuahuas are Excellent Watch Dogs
With a strong sense of hearing and a constant state of alertness, Chihuahuas make excellent watch dogs. If your Chihuahua hears another person or animal snooping around your home, he’ll bark loudly to get your attention.
#38) Papillons or Pomeranians Crossed with Smooth-Coat Chihuahuas to Produce Long Coats
It’s believed that long-coat Chihuahuas were developed entirely in the U.S. by crossing the smooth coat with the Papillon or Pomeranian.
#39) Chihuahuas are Popular Among Celebrities
Countless celebrities throughout history have owned Chihuahuas. The 19th-century Italian-French opera singer Adelina Patti owned a small Chihuahua named Benito, whom she received as a gift from Mexico’s President Porfirio Diaz. Patti brought Benito on several tours, introducing the small and lovable dog to many people for the first time. The Spanish-American bandleader Xavier Cugat owned several Chihuahuas, one of whom became the subject of a 1979 children’s book titled “Pepito the Little Dancing Dog: The Story of Xavier Cugat’s Chihuahua.”
Other celebrities who’ve owned or currently own a Chihuahua include Adrian Brody, Anne Heche, Ashton Kutcher, Billie Holiday, Cesar Millan, Christina Ricci, Demi Moore, Enrico Caruso, George Lopez, Hilary Duff, Jayne Mansfield, Jennifer Love Hewitt, Katharine McPhee, Lupe Velez, Madonna, Marilyn Monroe, Mickey Rourke, Paula Abdul, Reese Witherspoon, Sandra Bullock, Scarlett Johansson and Sharon Osbourne.
#40) There’s No Such Thing as a ‘Teacup’ Chihuahua
While many breeders tout their Chihuahuas being “teacups,” neither the AKC nor any other reputable canine organization recognizes teacup Chihuahuas. Breeders use the term to make their Chihuahuas appear more valuable to prospective buyers.
#41) The First CKC Chihuahua was Registered in 1928
In 1929 — more than two decades the AKC received its first Chihuahua registration — the breed was finally registered with the Canadian Kennel Club (CKC).
#42) ‘Chico’ is the Most Popular Name for Chihuahuas
What’s your Chihuahua’s name? According to a study of 3.2 million small dog names, “Chico” is the most popular moniker for Chihuahuas. This is appropriate considering that Chico comes from the Spanish language meaning small boy.
#43) Taco Bell Made Chihuahuas Popular
The Tex-Mex restaurant chain Taco Bell helped popularized the breed in the 1990s by launching a series of TV commercials featuring a talking Chihuahua named Gidget. During her career, Gidget starred in several commercials in which she spoke catchphrases like “¡Yo quiero Taco Bell!” “Drop the chalupa!” and “Viva Gorditas!” For many Americans, this $500 million advertising campaign was the first time they had ever seen a Chihuahua.
#44) ‘Chihuahua’ is One of the Most Frequently Misspelled Words
If you have trouble spelling the word “Chihuahua,” you aren’t alone. According to a 2017 Google Trends map, “Chihuahua” ranked as the single most difficult word for users in Arkansas and South Carolina to spell.
#45) Chihuahuas are Prone to Reverse Sneezing
While common among many toy breeds, Chihuahuas are particularly prone to a medical condition in which air is pulled through the nose. Known as reverse sneezing, the Chihuahua will extend his head and neck while making wheezing sounds during an episode.
#46) Japan’s Police Force has a Search-and-Rescue Chihuahua
In 2010, a six-pound long-coat Chihuahua named Momo became an official police dog for the Nara Police Department in Japan. Momo’s small size allows her to crawl through tight spaces and dense rubble during search-and-rescue missions.
#47) Chihuahuas Can Be Destructive
Although small in size, Chihuahuas can cause big damage. According to a study conducted by the UK insurance firm PayingTooMuch, Chihuahuas cause more property damage throughout their lives than any other breed. Researchers found the average Chihuahua causes about $1,300 of damage by ripping, chewing, staining, scratching and digging.
Of course, this could be because many owners neglect to train their Chihuahuas, or maybe it’s because the Chihuahuas has one of the longest lifespans.