We want to know everything about dogs. Everything! But there are countless breeds of dog out there, and each one is a unique animal with its own history. That's why every week, we shine a spotlight on a different breed. This week, learn some fun facts about Chihuahuas.
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THE CHIHUAHUA IS THE OLDEST DOG BREED FROM NORTH AMERICA
An early ancestor of the Chihuahua was the Techichi, whose origins are known to go back as far as ninth-century Mexico. Because the breed is so old, the details of the Techichi’s origins are lost, but some believe that when European explorers eventually came and bred their own dogs with Techichis, they began the process of creating the modern Chihuahua.
THE CHIHUAHUA IS NAMED AFTER THE STATE OF CHIHUAHUA IN MEXICO
Remains of ancient Aztec Techichi dogs were discovered in Casas Grandes in the Mexican state of Chihuahua in the mid-19th century. As the modern version of these dogs grew in popularity with American tourists who brought them home to the United States, the breed eventually was given the name "Chihuahua," after the region where it originated.
Pictured: Casas Grandes
CHIHUAHUA ANCESTORS WERE SACRED IN TOLTEC AND AZTEC CULTURES
Techichi dogs were a normal part of Mayan culture, although they were used mostly as a food source and hunting companion, rather than a pet. When the Toltecs conquered the Maya, they integrated the dogs into their own lifestyle, but began to keep them as pets. By the time Aztec cultural dominated pre-Hispanic Mesoamerica, the Chihuahua's ancestors were revered as mystically powerful.
THE CHIHUAHUA IS THE SMALLEST DOG BREED
Although the smallest dog in recorded history was a Yorkshire Terrier, the smallest dog breed overall is the Chihuahua. The world’s current smallest living dog is a Chihuahua named Miracle Millie, who claimed the Guinness World Record when, on February 21, 2013, she was measured to be an itty-bitty 3.8 inches tall. She’ll probably hold onto her title for a while because ...
CHIHUAHUAS LIVE LONGER THAN ALMOST ANY OTHER DOG BREED
Life expectancies vary widely among different dog breeds. Size certainly plays into it, as the enormous Great Dane has one of the shortest dog life spans, and the diminutive Chihuahua has one of the longest. The breed does not tend to suffer from many serious health problems, and a healthy Chihuahua can live for up to 20 years.
CHIHUAHUAS COME IN A WIDER VARIETY OF COLORS THAN ANY OTHER BREED
The American Kennel Club lists more than 40 different colors and markings in which Chihuahuas can be found, including black, black-and-tan, white, cream, chocolate and red — to name just a few. The breed also is officially divided into the two basic groupings of smooth-coat (i.e., short hair) and long-coat. Some believe the long-coat variety comes from interbreeding with Yorkies.
THE CHIHUAHUA WAS ONE OF THE FIRST BREEDS REGISTERED WITH THE AMERICAN KENNEL CLUB
The American Kennel Club first recognized the Chihuahua in 1904, just 20 years after the organization was established. That makes the Chihuahua ones of the AKC’s earliest registered breeds. The AKC categorizes Chihuahuas in the toy group. Despite the breed’s long history, it has never won Best in Show at the AKC-sanctioned Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show.
THE LARGEST CHIHUAHUA LITTER ON RECORD CONTAINED 10 PUPPIES
In September 2011, Coco the Chihuahua gave birth to a whopping 10 Chihuahua puppies at once. It is believed to be the largest litter of Chihuahua puppies ever delivered. Coco’s owner, Bill Slater, said at the time, “When she had the fifth, we thought that was it and so for a while we started to relax.” The smallest of Coco’s puppies weighed a teeny-tiny 70 grams (2.5 ounces).
MARILYN MONROE WAS A CHIHUAHUA LOVER
Marilyn Monroe owned lots of pets, including a cat, a bird, a horse and several dogs, one of which was a Chihuahua she obtained in 1948 to celebrate signing her breakthrough six-movie contract with Columbia Pictures. Monroe named the Chihuahua Josepha, but the dog was more popularly known to Monroe, her fans and the press by a nickname: "Choo Choo."
Next: Cool Facts About Yorkshire Terriers!
SOME PEOPLE (ERRONEOUSLY) BELIEVE CHIHUAHUAS CAN CURE ASTHMA
No doctor who’s not a total quack would sign off on this one, but it’s a popular urban legend, particularly in parts of the American South, that Chihuahuas can “take on” a person’s asthma, curing the person of the respiratory disease. It’s only wishful thinking, though — Chihuahuas can’t really make asthma magically disappear.