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From Ancient Mexico to the Runway: The Chihuahua’s Fascinating History

Chihuahuas are one of the most popular dog breeds in the world, and for good reason! These lovable pups are known for their big personalities, their wide array of colors and patterns, and their adorable apple-shaped heads. But did you know that Chihuahuas have a long and fascinating history? Let’s take a look at where these pups come from and how they became the stars they are today.


A Brief History of the Chihuahua

The Chihuahua is named after the Mexican state of Chihuahua, which is where the breed is thought to have originated. And while there is some debate about the origins of the Chihuahua, most experts believe that they descend from a dog called the Techichi. The Techichi was a small, mute dog that was kept as a companion by the Toltec people of ancient Mexico. After the Toltecs fell to the Aztecs in 1100 AD, the Techichi nearly went extinct. However, a few survived and were taken to present-day Chihuahua by Spanish settlers in the 1500s.

It wasn’t until 1884 that the first Chihuahua was registered with the American Kennel Club (AKC), and it wasn’t until 1898 that they were recognized as a distinct breed. In 1904, two American breeders began importing Chihuahuas from Mexico and breeding them in the United States. And by 1923, the AKC had recognized three varieties of Chihuahua: short-haired, long-haired, and wire-haired. Today, only the short-haired and long-haired varieties are recognized by the AKC.

The Rise to Fame

Chihuahuas really began to increase in popularity in America during the 1950s thanks to some famous faces. In 1952, Walt Disney released “Jiminy Cricket” — an animated musical film based on Carlo Collodi’s 1883 book “The Adventures of Pinocchio” — which featured a scene where Pinocchio is accosted by a gang of wallets led by a peg-legged Chihuahua named Honest John. Then, in 1954, another Disney film — “The Shaggy Dog” — was released. This live-action comedy starred Robert McMurray as Wilby Daniels, a boy who turns into a shaggy sheepdog… but not before an accident causes him to turn into a mouse, cat, bird… and yes, you guessed it, a Chihuahua! Suddenly everyone wanted a pint-sized pup of their own.

Whether you love them or hate them, there’s no denying that Chihuahuas are one of the most popular dog breeds in America. Thanks to their starring roles in some classic Disney films and their unique apple-shaped heads, these pups have stolen the hearts of people all over the world. If you’re thinking about getting a Chihuahua of your own, now you know a little bit more about where they come from and what makes them so special.

- Vivian van Zyl

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