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What are Chihuahuas Descended From?

Two long haired chihuahuas in a field of wild flowers

The family tree and first homeland of Chihuahuas are always up for debate among canine lovers. According to the most popular belief, Chihuahuas descended from a small desert canine called Techichi. However, historians have theorized several other origins for this small breed. Keep reading to know about some of the most popular theories regarding the lineage of Chihuahuas.

Some dogs were bred for hunting, some for speed, but what were chihuahuas bred for?

What are Chihuahuas Evolved From?

Most historians believe that Chihuahuas are the direct descendants of Techichi. These ancient desert canines date back to Mayan times and were domesticated by the Toltec civilization. The physical features and DNA of Chihuahuas are quite similar to those of Techichi. According to research, nearly 70% of Chihuahua’s DNA matches the DNA of Techichi. Likewise, the apple-shaped (or deer-shaped) head of Chihuahuas is a massive similarity.

Is Chihuahua a Crossbreed?

 Chinese Crested standing outdoors in grass

On the other hand, a significant number of historians believe that Chihuahuas were created by crossing Techichi with another breed. The Chinese Crested is considered one of the most probable ancestors of Chihuahuas because of its small size and hairless coat.

This breed is known to have accompanied humans on trade journeys and has been found all around the world. Hence, Chinese Crested may have crossbred with Techichi to produce Chihuahuas. However, the DNA analysis of the Chinese Crested doesn’t show a lot of similarity with this breed. Similarly, the shape of their heads (rectangular) is also quite different.

Mexican Xoloitzcuintli and Maltese Pocket Dog are other common breeds that are linked with the ancestry of Chihuahuas. However, there is not much evidence to support the presence of these breeds in the DNA of Chihuahuas. The only thing that makes the Maltese pocket dog a potential ancestor of Chihuahuas is a painting by Sandro Botticelli (an Italian painter). It was painted in 1482 and shows a boy who is holding a small dog with a significant resemblance to Chihuahuas.

How Did Chihuahuas Get Their Name?

Wooden arrow sign nailed to a stick in the dessert that reads "Chihuahua"

Despite the debate around the origin of Chihuahuas, they got their name from a Mexican state (Chihuahua). This is because these unnamed pups (at that time) have been around Central and South America since the late 19th century.

Mexican people used to breed and sell these cute, little dogs to tourists coming from different parts of the world. The tourists from the U.S were among the top buyers and that’s why this breed got popular in the country.  The breed was officially registered (as Chihuahua) by the American Kennel Club in 1904.

What Do Chihuahuas Like to Play With? Click here to find out.

Did Chihuahuas Descend From Wolves?

A pack of wolves

It is common knowledge that a lot of modern-day dog breeds have evolved from wolves. Chihuahuas also found themselves on this list as historians believe that they may have descended from Canis lupus or grey wolf. It does seem like a long shot given the origin of Chihuahuas, but the ancient history of dog evolution can offer a reasonable explanation.

According to scientists, dog breeds have descended from a selected list of wolves. All of this happened when the humans were still nomadic (about 100,000 years ago) and the animals were not domesticated. When the humans started settling down, they adopted these canines as pets and used them for agriculture and security.

Previously, it was believed that humans initiated the process of breed development and about 150 dog breeds were made in the last 150 years. However, a scientific report (in 1997) cleared the air by showing that several breeds, like Chihuahuas, were present well before. The researchers used DNA evidence to prove that domestic dogs (Canis familiaris) are the descendants of grey wolves. 

Did Chihuahuas Descend From Fennec Fox?

a Fennec fox standing in dirt outdoors

There is no scientific evidence to prove any genetic relation between Chihuahuas and Fennec foxes. It is, biologically, not possible for foxes to interbreed with dogs or wolves. However, the amazing resemblance between the two species is shocking as well as intriguing for animal lovers. In addition to physical features, Chihuahuas also have some character traits that are similar to a Fennec fox. 

The large ears of Chihuahuas are one of the first things that you would notice in a Chihuahua. This is because they are different from other dog breeds and make this small dog unique. Many dog breeds tend to erect their ears so that they could hear their prey easily. However, Chihuahuas don’t need to make this effort because they are naturally equipped to hear well with their oversized ears.

This physical feature is usually associated with Fennec foxes. It helps them to find their prey as they can listen better with these wing-like ears.  Similarly, they may help these nocturnal animals to counter the sunlight if they decide to go out during the day.

Another feature of Chihuahuas that is extremely identical to Fennec foxes is their long and narrow feet. They help both these canines to run on the sandy surface and dig deep holes in the ground. Hence, it is very common for Chihuahua owners to suggest that their pup likes to dig holes and chase rodents in the ground.

Last but not least, the diet of wild Chihuahuas is also very similar to Fennec Foxes. They would love to feast on rodents (like rats), insects, and vegetation.

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