Like many other modern-day dog breeds, the history of the Chihuahua is shrouded in mystery. While scientists and historians have speculated on its origins for quite some time, there's still no definitive proof as to where the Chihuahua actually came from. However, there are a few different likely scenarios that may answer this age-old question. If you're wondering where the Chihuahua breed came from, keep reading and we'll uncover some of the facts regarding their history and origins.
The State of Chihuahua, Mexico
While there's a lot of speculation surrounding the true origins of the Chihuahua breed, we do know some of them were discovered during the mid-to-late 1800s in the ruins surrounding Casas Grandes in the state of Chihuahua, Mexico.
Once these dogs were discovered, they were brought back to some of the nearby populated Mexican cities where they were bred. Residents here loved this feisty new breed, naming it "Chihuahua" after the Mexican state in which some of the earliest specimens were discovered.
So, we know for a fact that a small number of Chihuahuas were originally discovered in some old ruins in Chihuahua, Mexico, but how did they get there? This is where some historians and breed experts butt heads, as there's no definitive answer to this question. With that said, there are a couple different possible scenarios regarding the Chihuahua's origin.
Techichi, a Possible Ancestor of The Chihuahua
One of the most plausible scenarios is that the Chihuahua is a descendant of a small-framed dog known as the Techichi, which were revered amongst the Toltec civilization. During their reign (950-1140 A.P), the Toltecs believed their Techichi companions would follow them to the afterlife; therefore, they oftentimes sacrificed and buried them along with their owners.
Several archaeological discoveries has revealed the bones of Techichis in ancient Toltec tombs. Old carvings have also been discovered on the walls of the Toltec ruins and surrounding area.
The Chinese Crested Theory
It's possible that the Chihuahua is a direct descendant of the Techichi breed, but other historians believe it was crossed bred by with another small dog known as the Chinese Crested dog.
When Spanish invaders took over parts of ancient China, they may have picked up the Chinese Crested dog and brought it over to Mexico when they invaded the region. Once the Chinese Crested was in Mexico, it would then have the chance to breed with the Techichi, and the Chihuahua would have been the result. Of course this is simply speculation, but many people believe this is how the Chihuahua originated.
Yet another possibility is that Chihuahuas are from European descent, more specifically the island of Malta in the Mediterranean. The reasoning behind this theory is that there was a small dog that inhabited the island. Like the modern day Chihuahua, this dog breed also had a soft spot on their skull known as a natural molera.
You can feel these soft spots by running your hand over a Chihuahua's head, as the skin will sink down a bit. Essentially, these soft spots, or natural moleras, are small openings in the skull that roughly 3 out of 4 Chihuahuas have.
Another piece of evidence reinforcing this theory lies in a painting that's on display at the Sistine Chapel. In 1481-1482, Sandro Botticelli painted a fresco of a boy holding a small dog that seems to have an uncanny resemblance to a Chihuahua. This fresco, known as "Scenes From The Life of Moses" is now on display at Italy's Sistine Chapel. One could argue that Botticelli painted a Techichi that was brought over from Mexico, but the fact is that he painted the fresco 10 years before Columbus sailed to the Americas; therefore, it would have been impossible for him to know what the Techichi looked like.
The fact is that any one of the popular theories listed above could be the true origin of the Chihuahua, or it may be something completely different. In any case, we know that Chihuahuas appeared in the state of Chihuahua, Mexico around the mid to late 1800s. Once they were brought into some of the populated cities around the region, word spread about this small, affectionate dog that no one had seen before. During this time, a group of Americans were traveling to the region when they saw the Chihuahua and immediately fell in love. They decided to take several Chihuahuas back to the states where they used them as show dogs.
With the Chihuahua breed now in the U.S., the American Kennel Club (AKC) saw their first registered Chihuahua in 1904. The first AKC registered Chihuahua, named Midget, was owned by a Texan resident who was looking to increase the breed's awareness. The club's second registered Chihuahua, Beppie, came just years later. Before long, the breed's popularity in the AKC climbed higher than anyone could have expected. In 1952, the AKC separated the Chihuahua breed into two different varieties -- the smooth and long coat.
The Chihuahua Club of America was founded in 1923 with the goal of creating a community tailored to this popular new breed. This club enabled Chihuahua owners to come together to share advice on health problems, grooming and general breed characteristics. As you can expect, this provided valuable information that helped breeders to raise their Chihuahuas with better health.