What were Chihuahuas Bred For?

  • By: Mick Whitefield
  • Time to read: 8 min.

Everyone has seen the movie depicting a rich woman – usually dressed to the nines – going shopping with a Chihuahua in her Purse/Handbag. Long before the Chihuahua became the iconic “Purse Dog” did you know that this small breed had more mystical origins?

So, what were Chihuahuas bred for? The oldest theory tells us that Chihuahua’s were bred from a very ancient breed called the Techichi, which were sadly often used in sacrificial rituals by the Mayan and Toltec People and also as a food source by the Aztecs (around 1500). In Mexico however (Around 1800) the Chihuahua was used to help herd animals such as goats and sheep and possibly cattle. Finally, in 1904 a Texan named H. Raynor registered the Chihuahua breed with the AKC at which point the Chihuahua became a firm Companion Dog.

Quick Facts about the Chihuahua

How long do Chihuahuas live for?
A Chihuahuas Lifespan is quite varied at between 10 to 18 years

Height at the Withers for both Males and females is
15 to 25cm or 6 to 10 inches

A Chihuahuas Weight should be
1.8 to 2.7 kg or 4 to 6 lbs

Recognised Pedigree Breed
Yes in the Toy Group by the KC

Average Price in the UK
Just over £700 for KC Registered Dogs
Just over £500 for Non KC Registered Dogs

What Does the Chihuahua Look Like

Chihuahuas are small compact dogs that are often very dainty, yet despite their size they often described as having a considerably feisty nature, yet I have known several of these dogs at TopLapDogs.com and they can also be very timid.

Chihuahua Longhair
Long haired Chihuahuas

There are a variety of differing looks from long legged to short legged, long haired to short haired (smooth) and very soft to the touch. There is also an enormous range of colours.

Chihuahua Jacket
Smooth (short) Coat Chihuahua

They have round heads with large pointed ears and eyes that appear to almost pop out of their heads. The longer legged breeds have slim well-defined jaws and the shorter legged breeds tend to have shorter well-defined muzzles.

The long-legged dogs tend to be extremely graceful and bouncy in nature. The shorter legged tend to be a little stiffer and strutty in their walk, but both are extremely well defined bodily. Generally having a good chest and slim waist with head held high and proud. Feet are small and slim with legs well-spaced apart and tails that often have a soft curled shape, usually carried high.

Today’s Chihuahua is often described as having an “apple-shaped” head. As such, this feature is theorized to come from the Chihuahua’s ancient ancestor, the Techichi. Which was also described as having the same head shape when depicted in ancient carvings.

Ancient History of the Chihuahua

It is possible that the Chihuahua is a cross breed of the Techichi and the Chinese Crested but the European records claim that the breed came from an unknown cross with the Maltese Pocket Dog.

Stronger DNA records though link the breed back to Mexico, which would give the original theory of the Chihuahuas roots back to the Techichi.

From what historians understand as today’s standing theory, Chihuahuas are a very ancient breed. Long before their discovery in Modern Mexico in the of Chihuahua (how the breed got its name), the Chihuahua, or a close relative, was found in carving created by the ancient Toltec Civilization.

This dog, which was referred to as the “Techichi” was believed to be a larger version of what we now know as the Chihuahua. However, it was believed to have mystical powers.


When the Aztec Civilization took over, the Techichi took its place in the Aztecs’ rituals. The Techichi was once believed to be a part of leading souls to the underworld. Which may be a contributor to the fact that the Techichi was often used in Sacrificial Rituals as the Sacrifice itself.

Beyond Sacrifice, the Techichi was also known as a healer. This dog supposedly had mystical powers as well that extended beyond the present.

However, as mystical and protected as the Techichi may have once been, the Toltecs were also known to sell the Techichi for food and sometimes use this breed as the food itself.

As the years passed, the Techichi breed began to develop into what we now know as the Modern Day Chihuahua.

This breed was discovered in the State of Chihuahua in Mexico in the early 1800s. As such, the Chihuahua is much smaller than it’s Techichi ancestor, usually weighing only about 6 pounds as an adult.

The breed took off in the United States and has been a part of the country ever since. It is crazy to think that when you are watching little Bruiser on Legally Blonde, that this is what his ancestors were up to.

Modern History of the Chihuahua

After its discovery in the 1800s, the Chihuahua took off as a special companion dog for many owners.

Official records of so-called breeding are first registered in 1904 by Texan H. Raynor and at this point the breed is formally recognised in its own right by the AKC and later by the KC thus all Chihuahuas come as a fixed breed both in the US and Europe.

Nowadays, when we see the Chihuahua, we don’t think of it with any kind of mystical abilities. We may see the “Taco Bell Dog” or think of “Beverly Hills Chihuahua” before we even think to consider the Chihuahua’s ancient origins.

Rather, today’s Chihuahua is depicted as the quintessential companion dog. They truly are just bred most frequently now as house pets. Some chihuahuas are cross-bred with other dogs to create smaller breeds of other dogs.

Chihuahua Sofa 2
A wonderful companion dog

The Chihuahua today is not like most other breeds that have been registered by the American Kennel Club. This dog is definitely in no way a “Working” Dog. It has (mostly) been strictly bred to be a companion for the world around us now.

Even though the Chihuahua is not usually considered a working dog here in the United States, its purpose in its home territory may surprise you.

Like most dogs, the Chihuahua has a natural instinct to hunt. But, since Chihuahuas are in fact the smallest breed of dog in the world. There really isn’t much out there that is smaller than the Chihuahua in the animal kingdom.

However, Mexico has found a way to find a solution for that.

In Mexico, it is not uncommon to see a person training or allowing their Chihuahua to be used for hunting purposes. There, on the home turf of the Chihuahua it is often used to hunt small rodents, such as Mice, Rats, and even Squirrels!

So the next time a mouse is loose in the house, don’t be surprised if you notice your Chihuahua going after it. They are small for a reason, after all. They can get in those places that other dogs cannot.

Behaviour and Characteristics of the Chihuahua

A great companion dog particularly for the elderly or infirm, due to their light weight and agile abilities. A chihuahua is very capable of leap frogging onto chairs or sofas which means that any owner who struggles with movement will not have to worry about picking them up. It also means that should they need to carry them it creates very little effort.

These dogs are generally friendly affable little dogs with great loyalty traits.

They definitely fall very much into two characters when it comes to courage. They are either extremely feisty or very timid.

Chihuahua On Stair
Some Chihuahua can be timid rather than fiesty

They all tend to be quite clever and are often obstinate, but if taught respectful commands at an early age they rarely forget their place in the hierarchy of the house. Potty training is usually fairly easy but the nervous ones may well need you to stand outside with them while they defecate, for  ease though because they are so small they can be trained to use a litter tray.

They immerse well with children when bought up with them from a puppy, but you may find that they struggle with children if you are adopting one from a rescue home. Through nerves alone they can become snappy when children move too fast for them, but if handled calmly by your children they will happily adjust to their company.

These dogs enjoy company and don’t like being left alone for long periods, without something or someone to occupy them mentally they can become destructive.

Health Problems of the Chihuahua

Due to the prominence of their protruding eyes their can be a few problems with corneal dryness and secondary glaucoma and occasionally wetness and tearing of the eyes.

One strange common problem for some would also appear to be snoring or wheezing, this can obviously be common for many dogs and it may simply be due to having a short muzzle.

One disease that has come to fore in recent years is GME, which is Abstract Granulomatous Meningoencephalomyelitis. It is a disease of the central nervous system brought about by lesions within the brain and/or spinal cord.

Chihuahua Apple And Deer Head

This condition appears to affect those Chihuahuha that are described as having apple shaped heads as opposed to those that have a deer shaped head. Unfortunately for those dogs that contract this crippling disease there is no known cure although it can go into remission.

Exercise for the Chihuahua

Due to their small size you can get away with simply exercising your dog indoors by simply playing games like fetch, obviously though a short walk would be better. If exercised regularly they will happily walk a few miles but will sleep well afterwards. They are generally better at short but frequent exercise periods.

Our Conclusion about the Chihuahua

As a whole, Chihuahuas make a great pet for everyone nowadays. They love to be around people and please their owners. They really are an amazing breed that needs more appreciation for what they do for people.

This is a great little companion dog for those of us that are unable to handle larger dogs. Loyal, friendly and great warning dogs they make great apartment dogs and are perfect for the elderly and disabled.
From a puppy they are an excellent family dog and will happily sit or play with the kids, quite happily allowing the kids to dress them up for Halloween.

Chihuahua On Chair
The Chihuahua is a great little companion dog

Young children need to watched with these delicate bundles though as they are easily broken by rough inquisitive hands.
If you are going to adopt one from a rescue home you may well need a considerable amount of time and care and patience to help them settle into their new home as they don’t always deal well with big changes.

This page is linked to our A to Z of Lap Dog Breeds

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