Good things, they say, come in small packages. Ask Chihuahua owners and they’ll totally agree: these small, feisty dogs have huge personalities that makes them the most fun, loyal companions. They count among the most popular dog breeds in the US and have featured in everything from TV commercials to Hollywood movies. These 11 facts about Chihuahuas will help you learn more about this weird and wonderful dog breed.
Fact 1: Chihuahuas are the smallest dog breed in the world. Adults usually weigh less than 10lbs. The FCI (an international federation of dog kennel clubs) recommends that show quality dogs weigh even less at just 6-7lbs.
With adults this tiny, you can only imagine how small a Chihuahua puppy must be. It isn’t uncommon for newborn pups to weight only a few grams and fit in the palm of your hands!
Fact 2: Chihuahuas are a lot of things, but smart is definitely not one of them. The breed ranks a lowly 67 in Stanley Coran’s Intelligence of Dogs book, just ahead of Lhasa Apso and Bullmastiff. This is classified as “Fair Working Intelligence”, meaning Chihuahuas require 40-80 repetitions to learn new commands and obey first command 30% of the time or better.
In contrast, Border Collie, which ranks first on this scale, obeys first commands 95% of the time or better and requires just 5 repetitions to learn a new command.
But don’t fret, Chihuahua owners – your dog still does better than Bulldogs (rank 77) and Chow Chows (rank 76)!
Fact 3: In 2013, Chihuahuas ranked as the 22nd most popular dog breed in the US as per annual registrations. This is just ahead of Boston Terriers, and one place behind Shetland Sheepdogs. Labrador Retrievers ranked first.
It isn’t uncommon for pop culture to influence a dog breed’s popularity. In 2006-07, when Paris Hilton was still relevant and could be found toting around her Chihuahua everywhere, the breed ranked no.11 on the popularity charts. With Hilton fading away, Chihuahua popularity has dropped as well.
Fact 4: The Chihuahua is named after the Mexican state of the same name. Dog effigy pots, some nearly 700 years old, have been found in the Chihuahua region in architectural digs. The dogs in these pots resemble Chihuahuas, and hence, the current name.
Fact 5: Expanding on Chihuahua’s ancestry, there is significant consensus among scientists that the breed possibly descended from the Techichi,
a companion breed popular among the Toltec people. Pots resembling the Techichi breed have been found in Mexican tombs dating back to 300 BCE, indicating that the dogs had high status, or were, at the very least, beloved companions.
Fact 6: Chihuahuas were not always named after the Mexican state. Early on, they were often referred to as the “Arizona Dog”, especially within America. This made sense because “Chihuahua” is
notoriously difficult to spell.
Fact 7: For 15 years between 1994 and 2009, the official Taco Bell mascot was a Chihuahua named “Gidget”. Some say that the mascot was instrumental in not only improving Taco Bell sales, but also making the dog breed mainstream in the US.
Fact 8: Most dog lovers know that larger breeds tend to have shorter lifespans. Since Chihuahuas are the smallest breed, it should come as no surprise that they can live up to 18 years. In fact, the oldest Chihuahua ever died a full 20 years, 265 days old, and was named “Megabyte”.
Fact 9: Black, white, grey, brown? There is no certain color for Chihuahuas and they vary wildly in pattern, color and coat length. In fact, Chihuahuas have one of the widest color distribution among dog breeds, matched only by Border Collies.
Fact 10: Chihuahuas have often appeared in art throughout history. Their earliest depictions date back to 300 BCE, when pots featuring their shapes were common. After their introduction to Europe, they were featured in paintings like “Two Courtesans” (1510) by Vittore Carpaccio, “Scenes from the Life of Moses” (1482) by Alessandro Botticelli, and “The Concert” (1741) by Pietro Longhi.
By Kasia Mikoluk