Americans love Chihuahuas. They’re within the top 3 most popular breeds in 34 States, and their small size and loving nature make them a perfect breed for a variety of people. But, did you know there are actually seven different types of Chihuahua available to choose from?
Although most breeders and dog authorities such as the American Kennel Club only officially recognize two types of Chihuahua – long and short coats. There are seven different types that may not meet breed standards and be stand-alone breeds but do, in fact, exist.
Chihuahuas are small, feisty dogs that make excellent companion dogs. They’re perfect for apartment and condo living and are relatively low maintenance. The Chihuahua has a phenomenally long life span, too, of up to 20 years.
In this post, I will explain the differences between the seven types of Chihuahua, basic breed care and information, and touch on the history of this pint-sized dog.
History of the Chihuahua
The history of the Chihuahua isn’t completely traceable, and we base it today on theory and logical patterns. It is widely thought that the Chihuahua originated in Mexico and were part of Aztec and Toltec civilizations. There have been artifacts discovered that link Chihuahuas to being used for food and as companion pets during these times.
It isn’t known for sure when Chihuahuas first made their way to America, but it is believed to have been around the later 1800s when tourists brought them from Mexico to the US during immigration. It wasn’t until 1908 that Chihuahuas became a registered breed with the American Kennel Club.
Then, as well as today, the AKC officially recognized two types of Chihuahua, but there are seven unofficial types, and I will detail those further on in the post. At a glance, these Chihuahua types are:
- Long Coat Chihuahua
- Short Coat Chihuahua
- Deer Head Chihuahua
- Apple Head Chihuahua
- Fawn Chihuahua
- Merle Chihuahua
- Teacup Chihuahua
Chihuahua Quick Facts
Males: 8 – 10 inches (20.32 – 25.4 cm)
Females: 6 – 8 inches (15.24 – 20.32 cm)
Males: 2 – 6 lbs
Females: 2 – 6 lbs
Average Life Span: 12 – 20 years.
Chihuahua Exercise and Training
One of the most appealing aspects of the Chihuahua is its small size and adaptability to inner-city living – as the smallest breed in the world, this dog doesn’t need a lot of space. They can also make for a highly affectionate housemate.
Although the Chihuahua has the biggest brain to body size ratio of all dogs, they’re not in the league of the Border Collie when it comes to intelligence – and don’t make any of the top lists for dog intelligence. However, they are smart, and as any Chihuahua owner will tell you, this breed learns fast. Mental stimulation is vital for this dog to prevent undesirable behavior.
Chihuahuas have been used as ratters; their high-prey drive and love for all things squeaky make toys like squeaky balls the perfect plaything. Like any dog, Chihuahuas love interactive toys, but these toys need to fit into their little mouths too! Small plush toys will provide hours of entertainment for a Chihuahua and are very affordable too.
The Chihuahua is responsive to training and shines when one-to-one attention is given. Dog whistles are a great way to begin training with a Chihuahua. They are incredibly receptive to the high-pitched noise, which, combined with positive attention, will result in a fast-training process.
A retractable leash is a favored option for small breeds, especially ones with feisty personalities like the Chihuahua. This breed doesn’t require copious amounts of exercise, and 20-30 minutes walking a day is sufficient.
Temperament of the Chihuahua
In short, the Chihuahua is a tiny dog with a massive personality. They can be wholly devoted to their owner, making them a top choice for those looking for lap dogs or companion dogs. The Chihuahua is a fearless breed; with seemingly no understanding of his small size, he will take on the most giant dog in the neighborhood!
A Chihuahua can be a very vocal member of the family, who needs training from the beginning and rules laid out firmly, or there is a real danger of this breed (despite its size) ruling the roost! Their big personality can make them slightly unpredictable, and this, combined with their fragile size, means they’re more suited to a home with older children.
Chihuahuas often favor one family member and will follow them around the house with an urge to have that person in eye-shot at all times. This trait makes them unsuitable to homes where they will be left alone for long periods, as separation anxiety would be very much apparent.
7 Different Types of Chihuahuas
Now that you know a little about the origins and temperament of the Chihuahua, I will outline the seven types available to provide a better understanding for prospective owners out there.
#1 Long Haired Chihuahua
The long-haired Chihuahua sheds very little, despite its long coat, and grooming can be little more than routine baths to keep the coat looking at its best. It can take up to 3-years for the coat to grow to breed standard by the AKC, and this will result in a soft, dense coat that does require daily brushing to keep it free from knots and tangles. The King Komb is designed by Chihuahua lovers and the best brush for this breed.
The long-haired Chihuahua is a popular breed for people who want to show their dogs, although this breed is less popular than the short-haired Chihuahua.
#2 Short Haired Chihuahua
The short-haired Chihuahua is the most popular choice of the Chihuahua types, as their no-frill fur means that they are incredibly low maintenance. The coat is very dense, and shedding can be an issue, so this type of Chihuahua is not the best choice for homes with an allergy sufferer.
Their short coat means that daily brushing isn’t necessary, but brushing with a deshedding brush can help to reduce the amount of fur around the home. It is recommended to bathe this breed once a month to keep their skin and coat healthy. You can keep this dog clean in between baths very easily, and the coat maintenance is extremely low.
#3 Deer Head Chihuahua
The deer head Chihuahua has a head and body shape that differs slightly from the traditional Chihuahua. This makes them less popular with breeders and organizations but more so with people.
The deer head Chihuahua has a slightly more elongated head, and the muzzle is more narrow and more prolonged than typical Chihuahuas. The eyes of the deer head are wider set and the skull flatter – much like a deer, which is why they got the name.
This type of Chihuahua will have longer legs and a more elongated body, so they are not accepted as a ‘true’ Chihuahua classification for showing or breeding. But, this head and body shape makes them less prone to health issues, so they’re more appealing to families who just want a dog as a pet.
#4 Apple Head Chihuahua
The head of the apple head Chihuahua is very rounded, reminiscent of an apple. There is often a very small and short muzzle, sitting at a 90-degree angle from the face, and the eyes can be closer together and slightly bulged from the sockets.
The type of head that the apple-head Chihuahua has is a primary requirement for being classified as a Chihuahua by show groups, organizations, and breeders. However, this type of Chihuahua tends to have a more petite body, shorter legs, and a stockier neck, making the head very often disproportionate in size.
Sadly, the apple head Chihuahua is prone to health issues, especially fluid on the brain or hydrocephalus, because of the head shape and size.
#5 Fawn Chihuahua
Because there are theoretically only two types of Chihuahuas, the fawn Chihuahua is a mythical type that doesn’t really exist. However, because of its recognizable color and distinct coat, the fawn Chihuahua has very much become ‘a thing’. Both long and short-haired Chihuahuas can have fawn-colored coats, as can all other types I have listed, and the fawn Chihuahua is more color than a breed.
Several shades and hues of fawn can make classifying a Chihuahua as a fawn Chihuahua difficult. If you have a Chihuahua or are looking at a Chihuahua that has a tan or light-brown coat, this is most likely what people will call a fawn Chihuahua.
#6 Merle Chihuahua
Merle is similar to fawn in that this term relates to coat colors rather than breed types. The merle patterns can be so striking and different that people can easily assume this is a specific type of Chihuahua.
A merle Chihuahua will be typically multicolored, with brown, black, blue, or ‘merle’ patches on the coat. It’s not unusual to find a Chihuahua with this coat to also have bright blue eyes, making them even more distinctive. Merle Chihuahuas can have long or short coats and apple or deer heads.
Breeding two merle Chihuahuas can result in puppies that face a lifetime of health problems. The merle gene can increase the risk of eye problems, blindness, and deafness.
#7 Teacup Chihuahua
The final type of Chihuahua is the teacup, and this is not a term free from controversy. Teacups are not recognized by the American Kennel Club, and dog experts claim the breeding practices used to create Teacup breeds are unethical. A teacup Chihuahua should be brought with caution, as reputable breeders do not produce these types of dogs.
However, the teacup Chihuahua is a highly popular breed and has the same temperament and personality as the standard Chihuahua – just in a smaller form. The teacup Chihuahua weighs under 5lb when adulthood is reached and will stand under 9-inches high.
A teacup Chihuahua can come with many health problems, more so than its standard-sized cousin. It is fair to assume that the life expectancy of a teacup is much shorter than a standard Chihuahua and that this will mean a 12-year life span, rather than the 20-years you could get with a typical Chihuahua.
Finding the Best Type of Chihuahua for you
If you are looking for a Chihuahua Puppy, I would advise looking through the registered breeders with the American Kennel Club. However, here you will only find the long or short-haired type of Chihuahua. If you’re looking for a different kind of Chihuahua or could adopt an older dog, then there are several charitable organizations where you could find the perfect dog.
Because of the long life span of the Chihuahua, you could find a young and already trained, inoculated, and neutered pet at one of the following organizations:
Forrest is a lover of dogs, the wild outdoors, deep mysterious conversations… and coffee. He is the owner of several websites, including Canine Weekly. He resides in Austin, Texas.