Are Chihuahuas The Smallest Dog Breed? - Truth Revealed!
Tiny and sassy, Chihuahuas are famous worldwide for their miniature size that manages to behold colossal personality. However, the question remains open: are Chihuahuas the most miniature dogs in the world?
To answer this question thoroughly, it is essential to understand that we might be talking about the most diverse dog breed known to humankind. If you start researching the breed's characteristics, you may be surprised by how vivid and confusing the data is. For example, Chihuahuas weigh 3 to 6 pounds (2 – 3, 5 kg), be from 6 to 10 inches (15-25 cm) tall, and live from 12 to 20 years.
Those data differences may not seem that significant at first sight, but when we talk about such a tiny creature, the difference in several pounds or inches looks pretty dramatic. Moreover, we all know how many color and fur diversities Chihuahuas have. In other words, Chihuahuas come in all shapes and sizes within a small breed scale.
To claim whether Chihuahuas are the smallest breed or any competitors to them in this matter within the canine family, let's take a brief overview of those glorious dogs.
History of Chihuahuas and their place in small breeds' family.
Although Chihuahuas are among the most popular dog breeds worldwide, people still don't know too much about their origin and initial purpose.
Traditionally, Chihuahuas are considered to originate from Mexico, being one of the international symbols of the country. Moreover, Mexico has a state Chihuahua, which gave the name to the overall breed. Or should we say all small dogs that were so popular in the region back then?
Chihuahuas got their name only in the mid-1800s, while small companion dogs have been familiar to locals for centuries. Many historians claim that the Techichi dogs mentioned in the documents about the Toltec civilization were the original forefathers of modern Chihuahuas.
Today we won't find an authentic Techichi and compare characteristics of the breeds to claim their relation. However, what we know from the description of the dog allows us to suppose the following:
- Toltec people were already familiar with breeding techniques as dogs described in their scripts were unnaturally small for the regular canines at the time. Moreover, they were mute, and this quality was the most appreciated in Techichi as a companion dog
- According to the mummified examples found during archeological research of the area, Techichi dogs were longhaired and had floppy ears, which related them to specific types of Chihuahuas only
- Techichi dogs and Chihuahuas as their ancestors are some of the main proofs to the concept that people have been traveling between America and Asia around 9AD. Genetically, Techichi dogs appear to be closer to traditional Asian breeds than any other canine on the American continent.
On the one hand, Techichi dogs appear to be the forefathers of modern Chihuahuas. However, genetic testing and exterior characteristics prove that Techichi is related to certain Chihuahua types, not the whole breed. In other words, Chihuahua is more of a collective image of all small dogs that were particularly popular in Mexico in the XIX century.
Some of them are direct offspring of ancient Techichi; others result from mix and match of local small canines with dogs brought to the region from Europe starting with the XVI century. The culture of "Companion Dogs" was pretty popular in the Old World already at the moment.
Types of Chihuahuas.
Now we know that talking about Chihuahuas, we may mean various small dogs united under one breed name, "for the ride".
Therefore, if we want to understand whether Chihuahua is the smallest breed globally, it might be helpful to specify what kind of Chihuahuas we are talking about.
Most people distinguish between two types of Chihuahuas:
- Apple head
- Deer head
The classification is pretty understandable on the one hand. Still, if you are familiar with the diversity of the breed, you understand that it is simply unfair to separate those dogs for two types basing on the head shape only.
Also, a more precise classification will help us understand whether Chihuahuas are the smallest dog breed.
Let's go over a broader classification of the breed and take a closer look at every detail.
Short Coat ( Short Haired ) Chihuahuas.
Those small dogs became the ultimate image of the breed. Talking about Chihuahuas, most of us imagine precisely the short-haired Chihuahuas.
However, they are far from being the most miniature dogs in the world. Combined with their popularity, it is the main reason why Chihuahuas are often deprived of this title.
The main peculiarity of this Chihuahua type comes from the fur itself – short-haired Chihuahuas are believed to be the heaviest shedders in the breed. However, this peculiarity mostly comes from the fact that owners hardly consider brushing short-haired Chihuahuas.
Long Coat ( Long Haired ) Chihuahuas.
Those fluffy dogs are the closes to the believed ancestors of the breed – the Techichi dogs. Their exterior, fir characteristics, and skeleton are almost identical to those of mummified pets discovered on the ruins of Toltec civilization. They are also the closest western relatives to most Asian breeds.
Deer Head Chihuahuas.
Those small dogs are slightly different from what most people imagine talking about Chihuahuas. They are bigger, have longer legs and muzzle, steady and muscly body. Most professional breeders even don't consider them as Chihuahuas at all. Moreover, they are genetically closer to the wild canines of Central America than to other fellow Chihuahuas.
However, those dogs are also compact and make excellent companions and family pets. Moreover, due to their genetics and more stable physiology, they are the healthiest among all Chihuahuas, live longer, and are not prone to most health issues usually associated with the breed.
Apple Head Chihuahuas.
Unlike their Deer head relatives, apple head Chihuahuas are much smaller and fragile. They are famous and loved for their round heads with muzzles placed at 90 degrees angle, which gives them that cartoon-like image.
However, apple head Chihuahuas often face serious health issues caused precisely by their miniature size and such an unusual head. They often suffer from fluid on the brain or hydrocephalus due to the head's size and shape. Moreover, chasing the cartoon-like image, breeders often get disproportional dogs. It may result in joint-related problems, muscle dystrophia, and numerous other issues that severely shorten the dog's lifespan.
In other words, as tiny as they are, apple head Chihuahuas are still not the smallest in the canine world as otherwise, they would get entirely disproportional and simply won't survive.
Unlike all the previously mentioned types, fawn Chihuahuas are not that much about their physiology as the dog's coloring. In a way, Fawn Chihuahuas is a combination of Apple head type with short-haired deer Chihuahuas.
They all have short fur of a particular "fawn" coloring that may slightly differ in shades. As long as we are not talking about physiology in this case, Fawn Chihuahuas can hardly claim to be the most miniature dogs.
Even though many people consider them a separate breed due to their unusual look, Merle Chihuahuas differ from their relatives only by the exterior. They are apple or deer-headed Chihuahuas with precise coloring – a mix of white, black, brown, and even slightly blue (Merle) spots.
Another distinctive feature of this unique Chihuahua type is blue eyes, which are typical for them only. Unfortunately, because Merle Chihuahuas is a human-made breed due to prolonged and scrupulous breeding, they are most vulnerable to numerous genetic diseases and health issues. Once you get a Merle puppy, make sure to visit your Vet regularly and prepare for possible deafness and blindness that often occur among this Chihuahua type with age.
Teacup (Miniature) Chihuahua.
We finally got to the star of the show. With their average 3.9 inches (9.5 cm) height and a 1 pound (0,4 kg) weight, Teacup Chihuahuas are not only the smallest among the breed but are the ones to gain Chihuahuas the title of the tiniest dog in the world.
However, with the tiny size comes great responsibility. The careful breeding that leads to creating this Chihuahua type is often an object of severe ethical concern. Such a small creature often faces numerous dangers and challenges even in the most careful and loving household. Taking such a small dog into your family, prepare to become the center of the universe, provider, and source of life for your furry friend.
As you see, asking if Chihuahua is the smallest dog is like wondering whether Maine Coon is the biggest cat. Chihuahuas are the most diverse and vivid breed that technically unites several different dogs that are not entirely related to each other.
You can meet quite massive examples among Chihuahuas that may naturally be much bigger than other "lap dog" breeds. But having the Teacup type in their family, Chihuahuas indeed hold the title of the smallest dog breed today.