Chihuahuas are the smallest breed of dog on the planet. These jovial little clowns come in long- and short-haired varieties, and may be designated as deer-headed or apple-headed, based on the overall shape of their skulls.
A Chi History
This diminutive breed hails from the warm, arid country of Mexico. Chihuahuas are believed by many to be descendants of the techichi, a small, doglike mammal native to the region. The Toltecs domesticated these little dogs, keeping them as companions and using them in religious ceremonies. People in the Mexican state of Chihuahua claimed the breed in the mid-19th century, and they were crossed with other small breeds to develop the modern Chihuahua. The breed was recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1904 and is among the most popular companion breeds in the United States today.
Deer-headed Chihuahuas have longer, more angular faces than their apple-headed counterparts. They have elongated muzzles and narrow faces, with skulls that resemble wedges of cheese instead of apples. Deer-headed Chihuahuas are a deviation from the American Kennel Club standard, which states that the dog should have a "well-rounded 'apple dome; skull.” The loveable little dog in the Taco Bell commercials is the most famous example of a deer-headed Chihuahua.
Apple-headed Chihuahuas are the epitome of the breed. They are the closest thing to the standard. They have domed, apple-shaped skulls. Apple-headed Chis have short, wide muzzles and a small depression, also known as a molera, in the middle of their foreheads. This variation of Chihuahua has more dental issues than deer-headed Chis, due to the lack of space along the gums. Another hallmark of apple-headed Chis is the full, deep stop at the top of the muzzle.
Are There Any Other Differences?
Whether deer-headed or apple-headed, Chihuahuas are virtually the same in every other aspect. Both types of Chi have the same triangular, upright ears. Cropped ears are a violation of the standard; they should stand perky and erect without assistance. Both apple- and deer-headed types come in either long or short-coated varieties, and the coat may be solid, spotted or merle. Chihuahuas of either type have full tails that may curl up over the dog’s back.
Louise Lawson has been a published author and editor for more than 10 years. Lawson specializes in pet and food-related articles, utilizing her 15 years as a sous chef and as a dog breeder, handler and trainer to produce pieces for online and print publications.