The actual origins of the Chihuahua are not what one might call clear and concise. There are multiple theories about where these tiny dogs came from. They were named after the State of Chihuahua in Mexico, Near Casas Grandes, as they were discovered there around 1850. The question remains today, where did they come from before that?
A few of the theories provided for the lineage of the Chihuahua dog are as follows: Some say that the Chihuahua may have come from the “Fennec Fox,” which has been given a genus classification of its own since it did not conform to many of the characteristics associated with the fox.
Upon comparing the Fennec Fox with the common Chihuahua, one can see that there are many similarities. The Fennec Fox is known as the “World’s smallest Canine.” They have large ears that stand erect and slightly to the side, and large, round eyes just as the Chihuahua does. The fennec is also like the Chihuahua in the respect that Chihuahuas tend to be social dogs that like to be in groups of other canines. The Fennec lives in colonies of eight to ten members. The bear family is believed by scientists to be the originally party that divided into the coyote, wolf, fox and jackal species. Perhaps there is a reason why Chihuahuas can be fiercely protective of their owners!
Other theories provide that Chihuahuas originated from the Techichi, which was a small Mayan canine. Some believe the Toltecs (conquerors from around 1100 A.D.) may have crossed the Techichi with another small dog (the Perro Chihuahueno) and the result was a canine that looked very much like the Chihuahua we know today. The Perro Chihuahueno was a very small dog with perky erect ears and rounded heads.
It is a commonly held belief, due to the uncovering of Chihuahua-like remains and statues of small dogs found in burial sites in both Mexico and South America, that the Chihuahua was used as more than just a companion. They may have been worshipped and used in religious ceremonies. Relics found at the burial sites along with other items used in religious practice lend credence to this theory.
Scholars have also noted that the Chihuahua may have European origins. Historical text has been discovered where a small dog with a molera, or soft spot, on the top of its head has been mentioned. This particular theory holds that the Chihuahua may have been brought to America by the Spanish Conquistadors. These scholars point out that a painting in the Sistine Chapel by Artist Sandro Botticelli of a small dog, closely resembles today’s Chihuahua. Knowing that the painting was completed before Columbus’ journey to America may be proof that the dog was of European origin.
The Chihuahua has been known by a plethora of names and nicknames, including the ‘Texas Dog,’ ‘Arizona Dog,’ ‘New Yorker,’ and others. They have gone on from these uncertain origins to become one of the most versatile and popular breeds today.