Have you ever heard of the Chihuahua? Of course you have! They’re the smallest ones in the dog community! They’re friendly, loyal, but also sassy dogs that tend to act bigger than their size. There is so much to love about the Chi.
But did you know these dogs are born with an incomplete skull? Or did you know that these small dogs once took over and terrorized a small town? Interested in learning why chihuahuas were sacrificed by the Aztecs?
If questions like these intrigue your curious mind, then stick around! In today’s article, we are going to count down 10 little-known facts about Chihuahuas. So sit back and stay with us till the end if you want to know how this little breed shrunk over the years.
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Table of Contents
- 10. Chihuahuas once terrorized a small town.
- 9. Chihuahuas have the largest brains of all.
- 8. Chihuahuas are born with an incomplete skull.
- 7. The world’s biggest stars owned Chihuahuas.
- 6. The Chihuahua has had multiple different names.
- 5. Some Chihuahuas were heroes.
- 4. There are several theories on the origins of the Chihuahua.
- 3. A Chihuahua was America’s most famous dog in the late 1990s.
- 2. Chihuahuas were used as sacrificial dogs by the Aztecs.
- 1. Chihuahuas have actually shrunk over time.
10. Chihuahuas once terrorized a small town.
Chihuahuas are loving toy companions that are completely harmless, right? Well, not exactly. These dogs may be small and cute, but did you know several packs of feral Chihuahuas once took over a small town in Arizona?
Not just that – packs of these stray dogs terrorized the streets and citizens of Maryvale, Arizona – a small suburb close to Phoenix, Arizona.
They would chase down school kids and swarm over bystanders while aggressively barking and nipping at residents. And according to local residents, the feral Chihuahuas were terrorizing from yard to yard in groups of anywhere from 8 to 12 dogs.
Funny enough, other larger stray dogs joined forces with the Chihuahuas, creating packs as large as 15 dogs! So many of them flooded the city that even animal administration officials couldn’t get the situation under full control.
The biggest problem was that officials played a futile game of cat and mouse. They would get a call from a resident, though when they arrived on the scene, the dogs would be long gone – the dogs were already off creating havoc in another area.
All in all, over 600 complaints were made about these little canine thugs, and the town experienced 3 times more calls to animal custody officers than normal.
9. Chihuahuas have the largest brains of all.
When you consider the size of their brains relative to the bodies, chihuahuas have the biggest brains in the canine kingdom. That’s to say, these small dogs don’t have the biggest brain of all. With their 6-pound frame, how could they?
However, Chihuahuas have the biggest brain of any dog in comparison to the size of their body. No surprise here. It’s no wonder why they’re so quick-witted and smart!
But a huge brain isn’t necessarily a good thing.
Due to the size and weight of their large heads and thus brain, these dogs are prone to developing disorders that affect their brain and corresponding nerves, including epilepsy.
Puppies can potentially develop hydrocephalus, which is essentially spinal fluid filling up around the brain.
8. Chihuahuas are born with an incomplete skull.
Don’t worry, it’s not as scary as it sounds! However, Chihuahuas are actually born with a soft spot on the dogs’ heads, called a “molera.”
It’s an opening at the top-center of the Chihuahua’s skull, where the parietal and frontal bones have not properly closed yet. It’s not a super rare thing to see in dogs, as most dogs are born with this. In fact, even human babies are born with a similar soft spot.
But while most dogs eventually grow out of their molera, the cranial gap in the Chihuahua’s skull may never close, leaving them with a molera for their entire lives.
The molera in the Chihuahua is so common that it’s even mentioned in the breed standard by the American Kennel Club.
And if you want to see if your Chihuahua has this delicate spot, simply lay your thumb softly on the center of their forehead in between their eyes and gently push up along the forehead.
Although this may seem like a scary thing for some people, it’s definitely something that owners shouldn’t lose sleep over.
7. The world’s biggest stars owned Chihuahuas.
Chihuahuas are one of the most celebrated breeds of all time. It’s no wonder some of the world’s most famous stars have decided to bring home a Chihuahua.
In fact, there have been many instances where these little toy companions have been featured in major celebrations. Many of which, include some of the most prominent figures in mainstream media.
For instance, renowned actress Marilyn Monroe once adopted a Chihuahua after she was offered her six-movie contract by Colombia Pictures in 1948.
It was Monroe’s “big break” that really became the turning point for her legendary career on the big screen of Hollywood. Some actors will buy fancy cars, others may buy a new house or throw a big party with friends and family.
Monroe on the other hand, celebrated by bringing home a Chihuahua who she named Josefa. We can’t think of a better way to celebrate than to adopt a Chihuahua too!
6. The Chihuahua has had multiple different names.
Believe it or not, the Chihuahua was actually named after a Mexican state, which is also called the Chihuahua state. This was because the breeds’ ancestors were believed to have originated from this region of Mexico around the 9th century.
However, these dogs were not always called the Chihuahua.
By the end of the 1800s, Mexican merchants had migrated to the adjacent American states to sell to border tourists. Unsurprisingly, the Americans loved the Chihuahua and the breed became an instant hit around the border states before spreading to the rest of the country.
But because the popularity stemmed from just a few states, they were originally known as the “Arizona dog” or the “Texas dog.” Others referred to them as just the “Mexican dog.”
However with some time, these little dogs would become universally known as the Chihuahua, which eventually stuck with the international crowd. And if you’re curious, the name is believed to have originated from a Náhuatl word meaning dry, sandy place.
5. Some Chihuahuas were heroes.
When you think about hero dogs, a few breeds come to mind. There’s the brave German Shepherd that’ll leap into a burning home without hesitation. Or the loyal Doberman that’ll fiercely protect their loved ones from strange intruders.
However, sometimes the smallest things can make the biggest impact. And MacKenzie, the 4-pound Chihuahua, is proof of this – after beating out over 400 dogs to claim the title of “country’s most heroic dog.”
So how did the smallest dog become the biggest hero? Well, Mackenzie was born with a cleft palate, and spent the first year of her life being fed through a tube while battling a constant recurring case of pneumonia.
After she made a full recovery, Mackenzie was enlisted to work at the Mia Foundation, where she nurtures other animals with similar birth defects and mutations. Since then, she’s provided motherly love and care for countless animals and has become one of the best at the job.
Not only does she nurse, clean, comfort and cuddle with the baby rescue animals, but she also teaches them how to socialize and play. It’s no wonder she received the Humane Hero Dog Award! What an extraordinary award for an extraordinary dog.
4. There are several theories on the origins of the Chihuahua.
Like many other dog breeds, the true origins of the Chihuahua is a murky one. So far, we know that the modern Chihuahua came from its namesake state in Mexico around the mid to late 19th century.
But what about the breed’s ancestors? Well, there are a few theories that are wildly different. The most common belief is that Chihuahuas were descendants of a small dog from ancient Mexico, called the Techichi.
Another popular theory is that the ancestors of the Chihuahuas were actually toy companions from China. And not just any toy companion, but the hairless Chinese Crested.
Some historians seem to think that Spanish invaders who had taken regions in ancient China actually brought the Chinese Crested back to Mexico, where they were then mixed with the local dogs.
Others believed that these dogs originated from Malta because the island was known for being inhabited by small dogs that looked eerily similar to the Chihuahua.
However my personal favorite theory is that the Chihuahuas’ ancestors came from outer space – at least, according to the native North and South Americans.
But no matter where the Chihuahua came from, I think we can all agree that they’re… “out of this world.”
3. A Chihuahua was America’s most famous dog in the late 1990s.
From 1997 to the year 2000, a Chihuahua was the mascot for the fast food chain, Taco Bell. But despite the popularity of the dog, few people knew the “Taco Bell Dog” had a name – Gidget!
The campaign was a wild success, and Gidget soon appeared on prime time television, billboards, magazines and more. Gidget soon became a prominent canine celebrity and carved herself a permanent place in American pop culture – and rightfully so!
Fun fact: Gidget was so successful that she appeared in an advertising campaign for GEICO insurance in 2002! And although Gidget’s career was a relatively short one, she lived a long life, passing away at the age of 15 in July of 2009.
2. Chihuahuas were used as sacrificial dogs by the Aztecs.
Early versions of the Chihuahua, known as the Techichi dog, were popular among religious ceremonies during the times of ancient Mexico. Unfortunately, this meant that Chihuahuas were sacrificed during sacred Toltec practices.
But why on earth would they sacrifice these canine companions?
Well, evidence suggests that the ancient Aztecs and Toltecs believed that these dogs guided the human soul to the underworld after death. For this reason, these dogs were often buried with their deceased family.
But it’s not all bad. Aside from the sacrificing part, these dogs were taken cared of very well and almost treated like royalty in these ancient civilizations.
Thanks to their connection to religious ceremonies, Techichi dogs were regarded as sacred animals that needed to be pampered and spoiled during their lifetime. And as you may have guessed, they were the top choice for companions back then too!
1. Chihuahuas have actually shrunk over time.
Today, the Chihuahua is known as the smallest purebred dog. They stand roughly at 6 to 10 inches tall and weigh no more than 6 pounds. However, this wasn’t always the case.
It’s believed that the early versions of the Chihuahua were much larger than they are now. Not only were they much heavier, but also taller dogs.
For this reason, some historians believed that these dogs did some light work around the Toltec villages as well.
However when the Aztecs conquered the Toltecs in the 12th century, they took the Techichi dog and refined them into a smaller and lighter dog – much more like the modern Chihuahuas we see today.
And as modern society began to label Chihuahuas as a true toy companion, they were bred to become even smaller!
So….what was your favorite Chihuahua fact? Were there any interesting facts that we missed? Let us know in the comments section below!
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