Deer Head vs Apple Head Chihuahua – What’s The Difference?

If you've done any research into the Chihuahua breed, you've probably heard of deer head and apple head being used to describe them. Breeders, veterinarians, experts and owners frequently use these terms to describe specific Chihuahuas based on their physical characteristics and appearance. The fact is that most Chihuahuas can either be classified as deer head or apple head based on how they look. So, what exactly do these unusually-sounding terms mean? Keep reading and we'll reveal the differences between deer head and apple Chihuahuas and what you need to know about them.

Naturally, one might assume that deer head and apple head Chihuahuas are a specific breed. After all, with so many people referring to their Chihuahuas with these terms, common sense should tell you that it's a certain breed. If you check with the American Kennel Club (AKC), United Kennel Club (UKC) or Chihuahua Club of America, you simply won't find these varieties officially recognized. This is a somewhat similar situation as the term "teacup Chihuahuas," which we also explained on another section of our site. Even though people use the terms apple head, deer head and teacup daily to describe their Chihuahuas, the truth is that none of these are officially recognized varieties by any major canine association.

Apple Head Chihuahua

Apple Head Chihuahua

Apple Head Chihuahua Characteristics and Information

As previously stated, no major canine associated, AKC or otherwise, recognizes apple head or deer Chihuahua varieties. You can check their website, send them an email or call them up in person if you don't believe me. However, they do place an emphasis on the "apple" shape of a Chihuahua's head as the breed standard. Both the Chihuahua Club of America and the AKC state the breed standard's head must possess "A well rounded 'apple dome' skull, with or without molera."

If you're wondering what a molera is, let me explain - Chihuahuas are frequently born with a soft spot in their skull where the bone did not properly form. Instead of having a hard, thick skull that fully protects their brain, a Chihuahua with a molera will have a cartilaginous patch under their skin. While it doesn't offer as much protection as a hard boney skull, it still offers a valuable line of defense against head injury. The exact number of Chihuahuas suffering from this condition is unknown, but some breed experts claim that up to 80% of Chihuahuas have a molera.

Here are some of the characteristics of an apple head Chihuahua:

  • Short muzzle
  • Prominent jawline
  • Large, prominent forehead
  • Round, apple-shaped head (with or without molera)
Deer Head Chihuahua

Deer Head Chihuahua

Deer Head Chihuahua Characteristics and Information

On the other side of the fence is the deer head Chihuahua, which are equally as popular as their counterpart the apple head. Because the breed standards set by the major canine associations specifically state that the head of a Chihuahua must be apple-shaped, deer head Chihuahuas are oftentimes excluded from tournaments and shows. Some people even regard them as poor breeding because of their informal shaped head. Don't let that stop you from owning one, though, as they can wonderful pets that are just as loving, playful and fun as apple heads.

Here are some of the characteristics of a deer head Chihuahua:

  • Like the apple head, deer head Chihuahuas can be found with or without a molera.
  • Tend to have less health problems.
  • Long snout protruding further out than apple head Chihuahuas.
  • More narrow skull that resembles the head of a deer, hence the name.
  • Many owners swear that deer head Chihuahuas are more obedient and less aggressive than apple heads.

Should I Get a Deer Head or Apple Head Chihuahua?

Whether you should own a deer head or apple head Chihuahua is a choice that only you can make. Because of their cute and small size, many people base their decision on looks alone. While there's nothing wrong with taking into account how a Chihuahua puppy looks, you should really be focusing on their personality and traits. Once you've found a breeder with a litter of pups, go over there a couple time to actually sit down and play with them. This will give you a chance to see which Chihuahua pups are playful, fun, loving and want to be around you. I remember choosing my second Chihuahua, Bitty, because she was the runt who came up to me and wouldn't go away. I immediately knew she was the one for me and have never regretted making that decision.

Something that's important to note is that apple head Chihuahuas are more susceptible to health problems that plague the breed. Compared to other dog breeds, Chihuahuas have relatively few health problems, but this doesn't mean they will stay 100% healthy their entire lives. Some of the most common health problems associated with Chihuahuas are diabetes, hypoglycemia (low blood sugar), arthritis and bone fractures to name a few. Deer head Chihuahuas may still suffer from some of these conditions, but the chances are lower than those of an apple head's.

References:

http://www.akc.org/breeds/chihuahua/index.cfm

http://www.chihuahuaclubofamerica.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=47&Itemid=73


43 Responses to “Deer Head vs Apple Head Chihuahua – What’s The Difference?”

  1. clare says:

    There seems quite a difference in temperament between appleheads and deerheads.

    My Applehead is mellow, quiet, and nice. My new deerhead is loud, barky, and nervous…….all the traits I don’t want. They are like night & day. I would stick w an applehead if given the choice. Deerheads can look “mutty” and mine looks too much like a mini pin.

    • barbara says:

      I agree that chihuahuas are a super sweet breed and that the ‘mutts’ are the best. I have both an apple head –long haired chi and a deer head –and they are quite different. but given that they had questionable histories as they were rescue dogs from high kill shelters–I can tell you that the love they give is unquantifiable and rich. Yea!!
      –to rescue mutts and ‘chis’no matter what make and model.

    • dwayne says:

      Your deerhead must not be a purebred deerhead because they are totally the opposite. The deerhead has almost no nervousness what so ever. My choice by FAR!!!! is the deerhead hands down. Its all a matter of opinion, my neighbor is a breeder of appleheads and loves the disposition of the deerhead and wants to start breeding them and is currently looking for a purebred deerhead female to breed with mine.

    • Susie says:

      What did you do with the deer head you hate?

  2. Ann says:

    I’ve had two deer head Chihuahuas. They were both wonderful pets. The first did end up with behavioral problems due to a brain tumor. My second is 7 months very well behaved and evened tempered.

  3. laceyface says:

    My chihuahua’s are quite the opposite. Nacho is a 3 year old apple head and Olive is a 1 year old deer head. Nacho is sweet and docile, but is often nervous and depressed. He only barks at potential danger or to alert us, but he sometimes will growl at someone if he deems them a threat to me. While he played with toys a lot as a puppy he has no use for them now. He would rather be in moms lap getting his tummy rubbed. Olive is playful, outgoing and is a real “dogs dog.” She hides bones and digs but only to find bugs, food etc. She doesn’t want much affection, but will play tug of war or ball all day long. Olive is a very happy puppy. I swear she smiles! But Ollie can also be stubborn, and is not the best listener, this is because she doesn’t want to stop exploring or playing. She is a born hunter. If there is food or a bone or a bug she’ll find it. Both dogs love people. Nacho tries to stay out of the way of other dogs, while Ollie’s goal in life is to be friends with any big dog she meets. Both love to eat grass, but not because they feel sick, but because they enjoy it! Both were easy to potty train. I have always been a big dog person, but these two have opened my heart to small breeds. I have found them more obedient and quicker learners than large breeds. They are both super intelligent and adorable. They are a joy! Ps. I personally love mutts. Every pup I’ve owned has either been a stray or abandoned as a puppy. I have never paid for a dog. I gurantee you will never be disappointed if you rescue a dog! They seem to know that you’ve saved them. They repay this with loyalty, love and friendship.

  4. Dani says:

    I have two chihuahuas one long coat deer head the other a short coat apple head.

    I love them both but they are like ying and yang … as different as they come

    my deer head ia unsociable. She doesn’t like strangers or other animals she doesn’t know. She is nervous if left alone and barks when people or dogs are seen out of the window. She is very docile.

    on.the other hand my apple head is a social butterfly. he loves everyone and every animal. he loves to play and he’s very quiet doesn’t make a sound.

  5. trece says:

    Hello i have two deer head one girl and one boy Dora is very play likes to go outside and play listens very well every time i leave to any where shes at the door And Gucci is playful to just when its time to come in tha house he hides under my truck cause he doesn’t want to come in. They both are potty trained…I wouldn’t trade them for nothing..

  6. Yvette says:

    I have both Apple head and Deer head chihuahuas and I can say that my apple head is a lot more aggressive than my deer head. My deer head has a loud bark but he’s really just barking because he’s scared. My apple head is bold and thinks she’s an Akita and will run after bigger dogs. She’s done so before, even to a pit bull. But most of the time they both sleep all day and I love them. We didn’t pick them based on their looks solely, but we wanted them because they’re a small breed and we already have 2 big Akitas. :) Chihuahuas do bark a lot but that’s their breed, if you don’t like yappy dogs then I don’t think you should get one because a lot of owners choose Chi’s but then give them away because they “can’t stand” the barking but I say if you choose to own a certain breed, make sure you know everything and anything of it before choosing.

  7. Christina says:

    I don’t agree with statement that deer head Chihuahuas aren’t pure bred. The chihuahua originated in Mexico and those originals are deer head Chihuahuas.
    I have two of them. I have never owned a small dog before because I prefer and have only ever liked large dogs. But almost 2 years ago my husband got me a deer head Chihuahua. She just turned 2 in August and my newest one is 5 months old today actually. They are both Very smart which I never expected from a small dog. They both learn new commands very quickly. Many times they will learn new commands in 5 minutes or even just by watching my German Shepherd do something.
    They can be stubborn though when they really just don’t want to do something. My female barks more then my male he usually doesn’t bark until she starts. And man do they have some personalities!! I never thought I could like let alone love a small dog. I just love how they can look like a baby deer it just melts the heart when they gove you that face!
    I love how they aren’t like “normal chihuahuas or small dogs”.
    I say if you are thinking about getting a chihuahua then definately chose a deer head. They are pure bred.

    • enri says:

      I love deer head Chihuahua, agree on that they are pure breed, sadly the dog assocs. don´t recognize them, we have to bring them back!!!

    • dwayne says:

      You are correct the Deer Head is the original Breed!!! They were bred for royalty centuries ago. And I might add the apple head is much more aggressive than the deer head and the apple head are a very nervous and shaky breed. The apple head came later on after breeders mixing breeds to create a smaller version of the dog. The apple head also has large bulging eyes. Deer heads love attention and are a very protective dog. Great companions!!!!

  8. Val says:

    I have a deer head chihuahua (just like his mom), although he has the character of his dad, who has an apple head. In my experience, the shape I their head do not matter.

  9. Jacob says:

    I like both my deer heads ally was hard to train but she is adorable And oreo was easy to train

  10. Alan says:

    I’d like to pay a tribute to my beautiful little smooth coat applehead Chihuahua, Nick (15 May 2000-29 August 2013).

    He was the most obedient, quiet friendly dog I have ever had. I got him when he was 4 months old (I was his second owner as the first felt his mix of colours wouldn’t win her enough shows). Her loss. Nick was allowed to be himself and not put on show – to their owner every dog is the most beautiful.

    Even as a puppy he never damaged anything other than one tiny (6″ strip) of wallpaper when he was left on his own too long one day and got bored.

    He never bit, or snarled in all his 13 years, and the tail was always wagging.

    There will never be another Nick

  11. Tari says:

    Three cheers to Nick! What a great dog!
    I recently rescued an apple head (wire hair coat), Twinkie. I’ve never owned a chihuahua before, but she is nothing like I thought they were. She’s friendly & greets everybody, she gives me lots of kisses and she rarely barks (mostly just during play). She gets along great with my dachshund, Mr. Pickles and has even got him running around playing again. I just love my little girl! <3

  12. Debbie Childs says:

    I am not sure of the type Chihuahua I have now, but love her so much. Tomorrow I get an applehead. I can”t wait to see her, I loved reading what I have read. Thank you so much.

  13. Lucy says:

    I am bottle feeding four orphaned chihuahua for a rescue organization. Someone decided to breed their chihuahua but couldn’t afford the vet bill when one of the puppies got stuck for several days. She was very ill and did not make it. My question is, how early can you tell what type of chi you have? These babies are four weeks old and have little round heads. Is there a chance they will grow out of that?

    • Hey Lucy,

      You can usually tell whether a Chihuahua pup is an apple head or deer head at 4 weeks of age. Apple heads have a rounder face and snout, whereas the deer heads are longer and narrow. However, their facial features and physical characteristics will become more prominent over the next couple of months, making identification easier.

    • Robin says:

      Where are these pups?? I also foster, but am looking for one for my husband.

      • Hey Robin,

        Try calling local animal shelters in your area to see if they have any Chihuahua pups. Even if they don’t have any, they may know a different shelter or owner who does. You can also check Craigslist, newspaper classified ads, eBay classified ads, and PuppyFind.com.

  14. L Spurgeon says:

    I have two rescued chihuahuas, one is an apple head the other a deer head. Honestly they are quite a bit alike. The deer head is more dominate, but both desire my attention. They both seem to like people, and only bark when I drive up to the house or when they see someone close to the house. The deer head seems a little more playful but that may be an age related thing. Not sure how old apple head is, lost some teeth due to being a puppy mill breeder. I don’t think I would have a preference for either breed as I adopt rescues, and always accept each one with whatever problems they may bring with them….they just want to be loved.

  15. Ragdoll says:

    I love deer heads! Go read the Wiki article about Chihuahuas if you want to know more. I have had both types and cant tell any difference. Of course my dogs were rescued, sometimes from abusive situations and so this has affected their personalities.
    I do love the look of the deer types and I believe they should be an allowed and registerable variety oc Chihuahua. I do think the show breeders are breeding for too rounded heads and short snouts, as well as stocky bodies to the detriment of the dogs health and appearence.

  16. Pitluvs says:

    I too have both head types and my deerhead male (15months) is more aggressive, less sociable and very jumpy. He’s also scared of everything. My apple head female (10months) is very calm, sookie, fearless and overall a sweetheart that likes everyone. I don’t know if it’s sex, breeder, head type etc but there is a big difference with my two.

  17. Beth says:

    I have a 9 month old female deer head and she’s the sweetest thing. I think we’ve only heard her bark maybe 3 times. She’s a lover that even our 1 year old nephew can drag around without issue (would never nip). Maybe it’s environment or that she’s been raised by a 10 year old loving lab. She’s incredibly smart and easily trained. She’ll play with the cat one minute then sit on your lap for 4 :) She sleeps with our 16 year old daughter all night without waking…… But you do have to let her out during the day every few hours or she’ll go by the back door :/ my only complaint!!!

  18. harley says:

    I need to know how old they are supposed to be to breed I’ve got a deerhead & applehead mix 7 months old.

  19. Linda says:

    I rescued a sweet silly chihuahua from the pound.  Of course they estimated her age at 2 1/2  and said that she was a Chihuahua mix.  She seemed to me to be a purebred, her attitude, her little corkscrew tail, her big perky ears, her looks, her feet and legs, and everything except weight and her head shape.  But I’d seen LOTS of chihuahuas that looked like her.  After w doing a lot of research, this is what I have found.     I believe she, Honey, is a techichi, an older version of chihuahua – the deerhead variety.  She is eight pounds instead of five or six as the akc standard requires.  The applehead, or akc accepted, is actually only 100 years old, the techichi being much older and connected with the Aztecs and Mayans.   As for personality, I know she’s not as clever as my 2 lhasas, and she has many problems.  I believe she was in a group of chihuahuas who were confiscated from a puppy mill.  She was in the pound for quite some time, adopted, and returned after three months.  After a couple more months I found her and brought her home.  She may have been taken from her litter WAY too soon and probably kept in a cage.  I get this from some of her quirks like mouthing, licking excessively (not herself, but people), she cowers and she pees when frightened (more like leaking).  She does bark at most noises, but with those big ole ears, she must hear everything!  But she plays well with the other girls (the lhasas) and the leaking is slowly getting better.  She is getting more comfortable and secure, after all she IS in her forever home.  (After all, I leak, too!)  She is very much potty trained, and crate trained as a bonus.  In fact the last time she peed, I scolded her and before I could say, you pee outside, she ran outside.  I am so glad I saved her, and she really did need to be exactly here, with us.    
    After all, it sounds like many consider the deerheads to be inferior, but I believe they are stronger, sturdier, healthier and more ancient, and therefore to me, more valuable than the designer modified appleheads that are the accepted AKC chihuahua breed/variety.  I hope in the future, AKC will appreciate their value and raise the weight and head requirements.. We all know that AKC does not value a “natural” dog, requiring tail docking, ear cropping and other modifications that are nothing but cruelty to so many other breeds.

  20. I have a deer head and a applehead.they are as different as day and night.my male the deer head.he is very high strung.loves to run and play. He chews anything he can find.pencils, paper,plastic. My apple hear female.she’s so lazy. All she wants to do is lay on the couch and sleep.she is now pregnant by my deer head and I’m so excited.

  21. Kristiane VanTine says:

    I own to deer-head female Chi’s and they are total opposites. Tinkerbell 11 yrs old, is an outgoing “social bug,” she will jump into almost anyone’s lap and lick them to death. Billie my 8 yr old is timid, shy, and nervous. She doesn’t like anyone and if persuade she will growl and try to bite them.

  22. motorgirrl says:

    That deer head pic looks a lot like my dog, not a Chihuahua at all but a basenji-miniature pinscher mix. It bugs me when people point at my dog and say “chihuahua!” but don’t bother asking.

  23. andrea says:

    I have a 3 year old male deer head chihuahua. He is chocolate and tan. He looks like his black and tan min-pin “sister”. He is such a love bug. Sits on me all day, sleeps next to me all night. All my “kids” are rescues. I actually thought he was a min-pin at first glance. Regardless he is a joy. He even saved my husbands life a month ago. I tell him he now has to tell everyone he owes his life to an 11pound chihuahua.

  24. Steve says:

    We have two deer head rescue chis, who couldn’t be more different. Rocky is a total clown, outgoing and friendly, and Boris is quite shy, shaky and timid. It seems clear to us that their life experience moulded each dog, as we know Boris suffered trauma. Both are lovely, loving guys who we wouldn’t part with for anything.

  25. Michelle says:

    Mocha is a deer head, mini pin mix. She prances, runs and hops like a deer. She is very loveable and is immediate friebds with everyone. She only barks to alert us of a visitor or another dog in the distance. She is the absolute joy of our lives, not to mention best friends with my daughter’s orange tabby.

  26. Vic says:

    First of all thank you for all the information you have included on this website.

    I have a singlecoat longhair,deerhead,chihauhau, everyone assumes he is a papillion. He is 3 now. He was left in my care in august 2013. His owner had to give him up due to personal issues. It was suppose to be temporary but now he is part of my family.

    In the past someone would mention the word chihuahua and I would think, ugh. Yappy, snappy, mean and just plain physco, was my impression. (Was terrorized by a couple of em as a child).

    I did not know my buddy Jack was a chihuahua, when he came to stay with me, I assumed he was a papillion.

    He is the sweetest, most mellow dog, and not nervous or skiddish. Hes very submissive where im concerned, but a six pound brut when it comes to large dogs like german shepards and golden retrievers. He loves to play rough with them, Made me nervous at first, but now I know he can take care of himself.

    I had a 14 year old cocker spaniel, that had gone deaf. 3 weeks after Jack arrived she went blind. Im not sure how, but Jack knew she couldn’t see, and he would position himself between her and the wall and furniture, to help her find her way around my home. She has since passed, but I will be forever grateful, to Jack for his patience and help with her.

    I hate to sound like a sap, but he is my little wingless angel.. Hes burrowed next to me between me and the back of the couch, but I know he is exactly where he is supposed to be, and with me for a reason…

  27. Laura says:

    They are not separate breeds, apple and deer are only words used to describe the dogs features. Only the apple head is desirable to meet breed standard and is a very good sign of being pure bred. If the dog has a deer head, I would bet that it’s probably a bit of a bigger Chihuahua as well. Another sign of mixed breeding in there lol. Chi’s are around 6lbs and under also. Well, unless they are a bit fat and spoiled. Fat is not large though and I’ve never seen a large applehead. They act so different people because one is a mutt or low quality backyard bred, and the other is a Chihuahua .

  28. Alison says:

    I have a 6 month old deerhead chihuahua who looks very much like a minature pinscher. He is fabulous, he only barks if someone comes to the door. He is incredibly sociable and loves adults, children, our 16 year old cat.

  29. robin says:

    I have a deerhead and an apple head as does my g/f. All four are outgoing and social dogs. My Apple head was adopted at 7 mos and earned her AKC CGC title about 8 weeks later. My deer head was a shelter rescue, very ill and thin. He earned his AKC CGC title 7 weeks later and learned to search for drugs(scent descrimination) at the same time as well. Neither had any prior training and neither had learned to walk on a leash. I have 6 dogs and do rescue and the 2 Chihuahuas fit right in. We are training one of my g/f’s Chis as her Service Dog. None of the 4 are yappy and only shake when cold.

  30. Sarah says:

    My chihuahua is an apple dome and just wants to play, I think it’s just up to personality.

  31. Emma says:

    I have an apple dome chihuahua called Maisee she is very playful and confident supposing we only got her a few days ago. The silly dog thinks she can fly haha.

  32. Ken says:

    This is an interesting conversation. I didn’t read ever word, but no one addressed the obvious. One or the other is dominate, therefore one of the two types should occasionally throw the other (the recessive one)if they are the same breed as many claim. This is like black dogs can produce red ones, but red dogs do not produce black ones because black is dominate to red.

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