Why Does Everyone Think My Small Dog Is a Chihuahua?

To everyone who makes the assumption about my mixed breed: All little dogs aren't Chihuahuas!
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“Awww, look! It’s a Chihuahua!”

Actually, no, it’s not. It’s my mixed-breed dog, Pinch, who is forever being mistaken for a Chihuahua. Is this a huge problem in my life? No. Does it irk me more than it probably should? Yes.

Now, before anyone reading this gets upset with me, I’d like to say that I have absolutely nothing against Chihuahuas. In fact, my parents have two of these little guys and I find them totally adorable and endearing.

What does make me a bit miffed is that just because my Miniature Pinscher/Dachshund mix is a tiny little thing, people automatically assume he’s a Chihuahua. Again, there are certainly bigger problems in the world (and even in my own life), but I’m still allowed to be a little peeved and confused about that.

I suppose it all boils down to the fact that I tend to expect that people be able to distinguish between different breeds because I can. When other kids were leafing through Dr. Seuss books, I was sprawled out on my bed with a giant encyclopedia of dog breeds laid open across my knobby knees. I’d memorize random facts about different kinds of dogs and make mental notes of my favorites (Dachshunds, Whippets, Siberian Huskies and Pharaoh Hounds were my childhood preferences).

As a child, and most certainly as an adult, I would never even dream of confusing a Dachshund with a Chihuahua, but I’m beginning to think I’m an exception. I understand that not everyone is going to be so passionate about all things dog as I am, but really, how could you not know the difference?

I mean, despite the size factor, does my dog actually look anything at all like a Chihuahua?

But, alas, constant misidentification is a risk you run when you’ve got a mixed breed (or a rare breed of dog, I would imagine). People always want to know what Pinch “is” (if they aren’t just assuming he’s a Chihuahua). If I’m stopped on the street while walking him here in France, I’m very happy to answer questions about him, though. Nine times out of ten, the conversation will go something like this:

Curious Stranger: “So, what is he?”

Me: “A dog.”

Curious Stranger: “No, I mean what kind of dog is he? Looks like a [insert everything from Basset Hound to Jack Russell Terrier to — inevitably — Chihuahua].”

Me: “He’s a Miniature Pinscher and Dachshund mix, actually.”

Curious Stranger: “Oh! Like one of those wiener dogs! Not sure what a Miniature Pinscher is, though.”

From personal experience, I’ve also learned that not everyone will know what a Dachshund is if you use the actual breed name (or “un teckel” as they are called in French), but as soon as you talk about wieners or hot dogs, a lightbulb will go off over heads. Everyone knows what a wiener dog looks like.

Indeed, my Pinch is the result of a romantic liaison between a tan Miniature Pinscher father:

And a black and tan long-haired Dachshund mother:

This canine coupling produced my super cute pup:

And, sometimes, when I’m feeling a bit cheeky, I’ll tell people who ask that Pinch’s father was a Miniature Pinscher and that his mother was a Great Dane. I’ll watch as they first smile then gradually furrow their brow as you can see them trying to figure that one out.

I really like the fact that I know just which breeds my dog is. I love learning about the characteristics of both breeds and trying to figure out if Pinch has more Dachshund or more Miniature Pinscher traits in him (unfortunately, both breeds are known for barking, of which Pinch is most certainly a fan). When — and not if! — I adopt another dog one day from a shelter or rescue group, and that dog happens to be a mixed breed, I’d definitely get one of those doggie DNA testing kits to find out his or her genetic makeup. I’ve got no problems telling people I’ve got a mixed breed dog, but I’d also like to be able to talk about and inform myself on which breeds went in to creating my beloved canine companion.

I love all dogs, and I’m certainly not going to be offended if you think my dog is a Chihuahua. I simply wish that people wouldn’t automatically jump to conclusions because he’s a tiny, short-haired guy. Just come over and ask me about him; I could talk about my dog all day! There are so many different small breeds that are all worth learning about, and I’m making it my mission to educate the (unsuspecting) French public about the differences between Chihuahuas and Dachshunds, Miniature Pinschers and Jack Russell Terriers.

But, just when I think I’m making progress, something like this will happen:

While on a walk with Pinch one day, a car pulled up beside us and a woman rolled down the passenger side window. “Hey!” she shouted at me. “My Chipie looks just like your dog!” I gave a tight smile in response and braced myself for what was to come. From somewhere in the depths of the car, the woman hoisted up a little dog to show me. A Pomeranian.

Do you have a mixed breed (or a rare breed) that people are constantly misidentifying? Tell us about it in the comments!

Read more from Crystal:

About Crystal Gibson: A child-sized Canadian expat in France who is fluent in French and sarcasm. Owned by a neurotic Doxie mix, a Garfield look-alike, and two needy Sphynx cats. An aspiring writer and pet photographer with a love of coffee and distaste for French administration, she can be found blogging over at Crystal Goes to Europe.

4 thoughts on “Why Does Everyone Think My Small Dog Is a Chihuahua?”

  1. Zoe Elizabeth Way

    I've got a 7 month old Pomeranian / Jack Russell mix, and from the get go people always say she's a chihuahua. I don't know why it bothers me so much, but she's really not!
    I think she looks like a fox faced pom but with short fur. She definitely takes more after her fathers Pomeranian side in most things except length of fur.
    Her siblings had a more Jack Russell like rounder snout and I wish I was in contact with the people who adopted them so I could ask if they also get mistaken for chihuahuas.
    I've only met one lady on a walk who stopped for a talk and who looked at her and said she could see a Jack Russell mix in her. That lady knew her dogs.

  2. I’m also extremely into dog breeds and knowing a lot about them. Grew up with all the dog breed books and watching dog shows on TV instead of cartoons. ????????

  3. I have a Boston terrier French bulldog mix and I absolutly HATE when people call him a pug.
    Like commmme on! He has the smaller long legged build of a Boston at 17lbs, brindle and white with erect ears. Not even close!!!

  4. Hello,

    Pinch is cute and yes, I know the feeling! Luke is a rare breed called a Coton de Tulear and unless someone knows rare breeds, he’s either a Bichon (which is close as they’re a part of the same family), a Maltese (which is not close), or a Westie. Which if you compare a Westie to a Coton, they look nothing alike. And sometimes I have to pretend they do, “My Westie looks just like your dog!” Inside I’m saying, “No they don’t.” To the person, I smile and say, “Yes, I can see some similarities.” Because quite frankly, I don’t want to get into a discussion right now. Tried that and many look as if to say, “Jeez lady.”

    I don’t mind explaining to people what Luke is, but now I try to guess, in my head, what breed of dog they think my pooch is, hehe. And like you, I cannot use dog terms around them or a frown will cease upon their face. However, it is fun when you do meet someone who does know dog breeds and terminology.

    Luke and I hope you and Pinch have a good year! :^)

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