32 fun facts about Chihuahuas

Chihuahua dog sitting outside
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Like most breeds, their exact heritage is hazy, but Chihuahuas are likely to have been established in Mexico centuries ago, where their ancestors were deemed to have sacred powers in Aztec and Toltec culture. Today, they are among the most popular small-breed companion dogs, liable to choose one person as their favorite and proving unstintingly loyal. 

They may be tiny, but a Chihuahua is never the underdog. Feisty, charismatic, and fun, with their huge expressive eyes and flared ears, the “Chi” is a little dog with a big personality. They also have a big appetite to match their personality so having the best dog food you can find is a must. 

Let’s take a look at some of the fun facts about the lovable Chihuahua. 

32 fun facts about Chihuahas

1. The smallest breed in the world

teacup chihuahua peering under fence

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The Chihuahua is officially the world’s smallest breed. The American Kennel Club breed standard states that they should not exceed 6lb. The Guinness World Record holder of the title of the world’s smallest dog, a Chihuahua by the name of Pearl, weighs in at just 1.22lb and 3.59in tall.

2. Mexican origins

Chihuahua on mexican blanket

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The Chihuahua may now be one of the most popular little dogs across the globe, but their roots lie in Mexico. While their ancient ancestry may even hark back to Malta, archeological evidence points to them being developed as companion animals for the Toltec and Aztec civilizations. 

Mexico anyway lays claim to the breed, which is named after the Mexican state of Chihuahua. This was also the border crossing point for Americans importing them in the 19th century when they started to gain popularity. 

3. A meeting of rivers

Chihuahua dog on raft on river

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The name Chihuahua is derived from the local Mexican language of Nahuatl, meaning a place between two waters. The city itself is likely to have been established by silver and gold hunters panning the rivers. But to us dog lovers, it only has one meaning – adorable, feisty little dog breed.

4. Two breeds

Long and smooth coated Chihuahuas

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There are officially two Chihuahua breeds, the long and smooth-coated. Having been established as one breed in 1904, the American Kennel Club split it into two breeds in 1952.

5. Snow white rarity

White Chihuahua

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While Chihuahuas come in many different colors and patterns, pure white is the rarest of all. This means they have no black pigment in their skin, so often even their nose, nails, and ears will be pale. They are not albino but require two pure-white parents.

6. Apples and deer

Chihuahua with apple-head shape

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Chihuahuas can have two different head shapes: apple or deer. An apple-headed Chihuahua has a domed head with a shorter muzzle, whereas a deer-headed Chihuahua has a longer muzzle and the head is much less round. 

Although the apple head is the breed standard and therefore required in the show ring, the deer head is less susceptible to a range of health problems, such as reverse sneezing and tracheal collapse due to the shorter snout of the apple head. 

It’s also possible that a Chihuahua can display aspects of both apple and deer heads, for example, a short snout with a less-rounded head. 

7. Toys or teacups?

Tiny Chihuahua puppy

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Tiny Chihuahuas are often referred to as “teacup Chihuahuas”, and it’s true that the puppies probably would fit in a teacup. However, there is no distinct teacup, miniature, or pocket breed – these are merely marketing terms. All Chihuahuas fit under the umbrella of toy dog breeds, and they are all just perfect the size they are. 

8. Spiritual powers

Chihuahua looking like angel with big white ears

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Chihuahuas had a spiritual role back in Aztec times. When an Aztec leader died, they would kill a Chihuahua – ideally a blue one – to bury or cremate it alongside the human body. The dog was believed to act as a guide to lead the deceased noble across the water into the afterlife. As a consequence, keeping packs of Chihuahuas was popular in Aztec high society.

9. Chilly Chihuahuas

Chihuahua in snow with blue coat

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As befits a dog with its roots in the Mexican desert climate of Chihuahua, this is not a breed that copes well with the cold, they are definitely one of the best dog breeds for warm climates. 

Their small size and lack of dense fur means they don’t tolerate even mildly cold weather, and find temperatures below 50º quite uncomfortable, both psychologically and physically. 

10. Multicolor magic

Tan Chihuahua with two different colored pups

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Chihuahuas come in myriad coat colors, from the appealingly named gold or wolf sable to solid black or chocolate. According to the UK Kennel Club, some 37 colors are permitted according to the breed standard, while the American Kennel Club states that “any color – solid, marked or splashed” is permitted.

11. Floppy ears

Chihuahua puppy with floppy ears

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Chihuahuas may be known for their trademark large pointy ears, but they are born floppy. They should flare up to a pointy position from around five to 15 weeks, sometimes one after the other. By the time they have finished teething, the ears have typically gone upright, but it may be as late as eight months. 

Occasionally they stay floppy forever – which means they are disqualified from the showing circuit (but they are still oh-so cute).

12. They know their own

One Chihuahua licking another

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Chihuahuas are the only canine breed that really prefers its own type to others. Most dogs – if they enjoy canine company – are indiscriminate, but Chihuahuas are known for favoring their own clan. Call it narcissistic, or just good taste.

13. Big brains

Woman holding Chihuahua

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When it comes to the size of the brain in proportion to body size, the Chihuahua comes out top. The smallest pup has the biggest brain. 

However, according to Stanley Cohen’s list in his 1994 book The Intelligence of Dogs, which rates dog breeds’ smartness according to factors such as adaptive or instinctive intelligence and obedience, Chihuahuas languish towards the bottom of the list. 

That doesn't mean you can't try out some quick and easy tricks to teach your dog.

14. Small but mighty

Chihuahua barking

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Chihuahuas may be diminutive but they are fiercely loyal and protective. If you have an intruder crossing a Chihuahua’s threshold, they’ll certainly know about it – as will the rest of their household. They are vocal and animated and despite their stature never see themselves as the underdog.

15. Soft spot

Chihuahua head shot

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Around 80% of Chihuahuas are born with an opening up to an inch wide in their skull, known as a molera or soft spot – similar to a newborn baby’s fontanelle. This skull opening typically fuses together as the puppy grows up, although in some cases remains soft into maturity.

The American Kennel Club does not regard this as a fault, while the UK Kennel Club disqualifies show animals with a molera. 

16. Medicinal myth

Chihuahua on smiling man's shoulder

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Folklore from bygone times suggests that Chihuahuas were able to cure various respiratory ailments, such as asthma and other allergies. People believed that if the sufferer sat next to a Chihuahua, the dog would absorb their condition, taking on their asthma. This theory appeared in medical journals as recently as the 1960s, but there is no evidence to support it. 

17. Wild packs

Chihuahua loose on street

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Wild packs of Chihuahuas were fairly common in the southwestern states of the US in the 19th and 20th centuries. They might not be an obvious street dog, with their love of warmth and creature comforts, but they still exist today, albeit to a lesser extent.

Packs of wild chihuahuas have been spotted in both Arizona and San Francisco this century.

18. The state dog of Arizona

Chihuahua in the desert with cacti

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Unofficially, the Chihuahua is recognized as the state dog of Arizona, though only 13 states have an official state canine. This could be why Arizona is one of the top US cities to have a dog.

Although most people believe the modern Chihuahua first became established in Mexico, it has also been known as the Arizona dog, the Texas dog, and more. With Arizona bordering Mexico, it seems fitting its inhabitants have adopted this feisty little breed that thrives in warm climates.

19. Long lives

Elderly Chihuahua

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Small breeds typically live longer than large ones, and the Chihuahua’s average lifespan is 12–18 years. Some even make it to the venerable age of 20! Naturally, a good diet, a healthy weight, vaccinations as well as good genes all play their part. 

20. They love to burrow

Chihuahua in blanket burrow

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Perhaps it’s the terrier instinct, or their desire to conserve heat, but Chihuahuas typically love to burrow into a cozy place to sleep. It may also hark back to their status in the wild as such a small dog could be a target for predators, so this enabled them to hide from larger animals. 

21. The genetics of long and smooth coats

Long coated Chihuahua running in field

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Time for a science lesson. Two smooth-coated Chihuahua parents can produce long-coated offspring, but not vice versa. This is because the long-coated gene is recessive, like blue eyes in humans. No matter which coat, your pup has you will need one of the best dog brushes to keep them looking their best.

22. Caesarians are common

Chihuahua grooming newborn puppy

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Due to their large head compared to their body size, Chihuahua births by caesarian section are relatively common compared to other breeds because they are at risk of dystocia (obstructed labor). Apple-headed Chihuahuas are known to be more likely to require a C-section. 

23. Cat-like dogs

Chihuahua sleeping like a cat

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Owners often report their Chihuahuas are cat-like in their behavior. Not only are they more like a cat in size, but they have particular feline antics such as self-cleaning and grooming, sitting on your lap like a cat and basking in the sunshine. Plus, their size makes them the ideal apartment dog – much like a cat.


24. Maternal instinct

White Chihuahua meeting kitten

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There are dozens of stories of Chihuahuas adopting orphaned kittens and raising them as part of their own Chihuahua clan. They might not always love all other dogs, preferring their own breed, but they seem to welcome kittens as one of their own kind.

25. Shivering and shaking

Chihuahua standing on city bench in falling snow

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Other dogs may shiver when they’re cold, but no other breed does it quite like the Chihuahua. While it is important to rule out any serious health conditions, it is likely to be simply because they have a very high metabolism so can be prone to low blood sugar levels, and do not tolerate the cold. There may also be psychological factors such as nerves or excitement. 

26. A longstanding breed

3 Chihuahuas

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The Chihuahua was registered as a breed by the American Kennel Club (AKC) in 1904, the same year as the boxer, Schipperke and schnauzer, giving it well over a century of established history. 

27. Nicknamed Chis

cute Chihuahua lying down

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Think Chihuahua is a bit of a mouthful (and certainly to spell)? Those in the know nickname this lovable breed the Chi. A smart little name for a smart little dog. 

28. Get the long-haired lingo

Pretty long-coated Chihuahua

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A long-coated Chihuahua has specific terms for its extra hair. Their feathery tail is their “plume”, the fronds on their legs are known as “furnishings” or sometimes “pants’, and their furry ear-hair is their “fringe”.

29. Small litters

Chihuahua with newborn puppies

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While the average litter size for a dog is five or six, according to a study by Theriogenology, the Chihuahua typically produces just one to three. Generally speaking, the smaller the breed, the smaller the litter. However, a record of a litter of 11 Chihuahua puppies was set in 2018.

30. Famous fans

Paris Hilton with her Chihuahua

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Chihuahuas have the celebrity seal of approval. Chi-loving superstars include Madonna, Paris Hilton, Demi Moore, Johnny Depp, and Britney Spears. And no wonder, they’re small enough to fit in their purse to grace the red carpet!

31. Racing Chis

Chihuahua running fast

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They may be as opposite as the leggy and aerodynamic greyhound, but Chihuahuas are also canine racetrack stars. Chihuahua races are held in several US cities, including Arizona, Denver, and Washington DC. But don’t expect them to trouble greyhounds for any speed titles – while a greyhound reaches speeds of 45mph, Chi’s top speed, with training, is more like 20mph!

32. The Chihuahua shadow

Chihuahua sitting on woman's lap; she's drinking tea

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Chihuahuas are known for their unstinting loyalty, typically forming super-strong bonds with one special person. A Chi owner will never be lonely, as their faithful friend will often shadow their human wherever they go (yes, even to the bathroom), and are ready to defend them with their life. Those tiny bodies hold gigantic hearts!

Martha Terry
Features editor

Martha is an experienced journalist working in both print and digital media. She specializes in the canine, equine and rural sphere where she has covered a wide range of topics from cloning animals and the ingredients for a perfect yard dog, to helping owners find the best canine GPS trackers on the market. When she’s not busy writing about dogs and horses, she’ll be found either aboard a horse or looking after the menagerie of pets in her care.