I recently found myself sitting by a camp fire in conversation with a Chihuahua owner. We talked about “Peanut” and her mischievous ways. We joyfully discussed different dog breeds and origins. Yet when asked about the Chihuahua breed’s origin; I was finally stumped. I had absolutely no clue. My knowledge of dog breeds are a deep and vast well of information yet the little Mexican mascot’s origin had me at a loss. The owner and I began our research to find out, right then and there, and what we found out was amazing. I am going to share with you, the history of the Chihuahua and I am sure that you will find this information fascinating as well.
I began my search on the internet, like most of the world’s population would do, and believe it or not; I couldn’t find much that was of any factual use. So I dug out my AKC Breed book circa 1992, that I received as a child. I opened the dusty cover and found myself suddenly on a rich and timeless adventure.
Chihuahua’s are believed to have existed in their native Mexico since the 9th century. Although many records show their existence as early as the 5th century, it has yet to be accepted among the dog community as a whole. At the time of the 9th century and for several centuries after; the Toltec’s were inhabitants of the area and recorded much of a dog they called the “Techichi.” The dog was found depicted on stone carvings and remains were even found in gravesites along with human remains.
The Techichi was small, with heavy bone structure and long hair. One of the most notable characteristics was that this breed was mute- as noted once in a letter from Christopher Columbus to the King of Spain. Upon the arrival of the Aztecs, a new chapter opened up for the Chihuahua. One very contrast and yet deeply meaningful. It was at this time that if a person were of a wealthy status, the Techichi would be kept as a beloved and adored house pet. However if you were of a lower class; these Techichi’s were instead eaten as food.
Both the Toltec’s and the Aztec’s placed high religious value on the Techichi. There were often great ceremonies involving the Techichi. The dog was believed to purify the soul, a protector from evil spirits, a guide for a soul during the transition into the afterlife, and much more.
It is believed that the Chihuahua is undoubtedly derived from the Techichi, and although color variations have undergone tremendous changes, at one point having a ‘blue’ color, the breed itself essentially has only been variated once, and bred with the Chinese Hairless to create the smooth coated Chihuahua.
The Chihuahua is described as “clannish.” Meaning that it recognizes and prefers dogs of its own kind and is generally unaccepting of dogs of other breeds. The smooth coated is most numerously found in the United States which indicates that this is in fact the most prefered type.
The history of the Chihuahua is rich indeed. It is a marvelous tale that spans centuries. Uncommon to other dog breeds which variate over decades, the Chihuahua proves to be one of the oldest dog breeds. The Chihuahua full of culture, history, and personality- still thrives today.