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10 Surprising Facts About Chihuahuas

Written by: Dogster Team

Last Updated on January 25, 2024 by Dogster Team

brown chihuahua on green grass during daytime

10 Surprising Facts About Chihuahuas

Don’t let their diminutive size fool you; the Chihuahua boasts one of the boldest personalities. From their bat-like ears to their mysterious origins, almost everything about the Chihuahua makes them an extreme outlier in the canine kingdom. They aren’t just a unique breed; they can sometimes feel like a completely different species altogether!

We could spend all day detailing the fascinating aspects of these petite pups. For now, dig into these facts about this ancient breed.

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The 10 Facts About Chihuahuas

1. Chihuahuas Are the Smallest Dogs

Any way you slice it, Chihuahuas are tiny. One look at the numerous listings in the Guinness World Record Book proves as much since they have earned several titles in recent years, including:

  • Shortest Living Dog: Pearl F. Semler at only 9.14 cm (3.6 in)
  • Shortest Service Dog: Cupcake, a long-haired Chihuahua trained to recognize and respond to her handler’s chronic pain, at 15.87 cm (6.25 in)
  • Smallest Police Dog: Midge, a Chihuahua/Rat Terrier mix working as a narcotics dog in Ohio, at 28 cm (11 in)

Chihuahuas consistently maintain the record in several categories. For instance, Chihuahuas have held the title “World’s Shortest Dog” for several decades.

Surprisingly, they don’t hold the record for shortest dog ever, which is a designation that goes to a dwarf Yorkshire Terrier that passed away in 1945.

Chihuahua dog on hands of young woman
Image Credit: EugeneEdge, Shutterstock

2. They’re One of the Most Aggressive Dogs

There’s almost an inverse relationship between a dog’s size and their attitude. And if the Chihuahua is one of the tiniest breeds, you can bet it’s also one of the scrappiest.

Chihuahuas are big barkers, and they’re not afraid to pick a fight. One study even found them to be one of the most probable biters of any breed, a fair warning to any stranger trying to come near these unassuming spitfires.

3. The Chihuahua Is One of the Few Native Mexican Breeds

There has been much speculation around the Chihuahua’s mysterious origins. Some theorized they accompanied 16th-century Spanish conquistadors or perhaps arrived from China.

However, scientists now feel sure the breed existed in Mexico well before Columbus sailed to the New World. Descended from ancient breeds dating to Mayan times, the Chihuahua retains many qualities of their centuries-old ancestors.

chihuahua dog with opened book underneath
Image Credit: Aaron_H, Unsplash

4. Ancient Dogs Were Sacred to the Toltecs and Aztecs

While modern Chihuahuas may not seem capable of being much more than companion animals, their ancient ancestors were a culturally crucial facet of changing Mexican civilizations.

Most agree the modern dog descended from the Toltec’s Techichi, a companion breed. They were popular among royalty, and their various coat colors bore a religious significance that held importance in life and death.

In Aztec culture, sacrificing a blue dog was instrumental in a deceased person’s passage to the afterlife. Meanwhile, gold Chihuahuas were a source of luck. The dogs were so valued that their masters may have even given them human slaves to tend to their every need.

5. Chihuahuas Live a Long Time

As one of the smaller breeds, the Chihuahua also has some of the lengthiest lifespans of any dog. Here again, they hold multiple records.

At over 23 years old, a Chihuahua named Spike from Camden, Ohio, briefly held the record before losing it to a 30-year-old Rafeiro do Alentejo named Bobi. Before Spike, another Chihuahua named TobyKeith held the record when he reached 21 years old.

senior shorthair chihuahua dog sitting on grass
Image Credit: everydoghasastory, Shutterstock

6. Chihuahuas Are Loyal and Brave

There are many practical reasons for getting a Chihuahua, including their apartment-friendly sizes, resilience, and charming demeanor. Although they can have a reputation for their brassy and occasionally difficult temperaments, you can add their immense loyalty to the list.

Chihuahuas like their place as the lapdog and will do anything possible to alert and protect their loved ones, no matter the threat.

7. Chihuahuas Are Surprisingly Athletic

Chihuahuas are the ultimate city pet to many, a pocket-sized apartment accessory. They can thrive on only a short stroll around the neighborhood or quick play sessions in the house.

But you can’t let the low maintenance trick you. Chihuahuas are quick, spry, and shockingly competent in the agility ring. Don’t expect any broken records, especially considering how long it takes them to get the seesaw to fall their way.

xCute brown Chihuahua running inn the grass
Image Credit: anetapics, Shutterstock

8. Chihuahuas Have Two Coat Varieties

Characters from Beverly Hills Chihuahua, Ren and Stimpy, and countless Taco Bell commercials have given us a relatively specific image of the typical Chihuahua. But a short coat isn’t the only option with these cultural icons.

In fact, Chihuahuas with long, silky coats were more common when they became popular in the U.S. in the 1800s. The long and short-haired types earned distinction in 1952, and the AKC has set standards for both varieties.

9. Chihuahuas Don’t Do Well in Cold

There’s a reason we see most movie Chihuahuas depicted in sunny settings like California and Florida. While they’re naturally more common in the Southwestern states, Chihuahuas prefer the warmer weather.

They’re some of the least cold-tolerant dogs and will undoubtedly need a coat when the temperature drops.

Chihuahua sleeping in bed
Image Credit: otsphoto, Shutterstock

10. Chihuahuas Are One of the Most Common Shelter Dogs

The Chihuahua’s popularity has caused the unfortunate drawback of unethical breeding. Alongside the increased health problems stemming from irresponsible practices, the massive influx of dogs exceeds the demand.

Now, the breed is one of the most overrepresented in shelters and, sadly, is second only to the Pitbull in the number of annual euthanizations.

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What do you love most about your Chihuahua? Centuries have passed, but society’s adoration for the sassy and intelligent toy dogs never wavers. There’s much to discover about the ancient dog breed, but the best learning opportunity is first-hand experience with these uniquely charming pets.

Featured Image Credit: Jairo Alzate, Unsplash

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