By Connie Limon
The Chihuahua is one of the few breeds native to the Americans. Ancestors of the Chihuahua trace back to the early Olmec, Toletec and Aztec civilizations of Central American and Mexico.
It remains a secret, however, how the Chihuahua originated, how it interacted with its people and what became of its ancestors. Chihuahua history is put together from artifacts and occasional writings. Some breed experts think the Chihuahua is actually of European or Asian origin. The Chihuahua matured and prospered with the Americans. The Chihuahua will forever be identified with the land we know as Mexico.
From the carvings of the Olmecs’ successors and the Toltecs we can conclude the Olmecs of Central America probably developed the earliest Chihuahua. The carvings are of small plump dogs with rounded heads and erect ears that clearly look like a Chihuahua.
The Techichi is believed to be the ancestor of most Central American breeds. The Aztecs further developed the Techichi along with several distinct types of dogs. Their dogs served as sources of food and hair. As sacrificial offerings, the Aztecs sought to ensure prosperity by appeasing their gods with ceremonial blood offerings of captive humans. When humans were not available, they sacrificed dogs usually the red or gray Techichis that lived in the temples of the priests.
Many early cultures held beliefs that there were associations between dogs, illness, and death, which are probably why dogs were used as sacrifices. They also believed a little dog placed on an aching joint could make the pain go away. The Aztecs took the belief further and sometimes burned dogs along with the deceased in the belief that sins of the human would be then be transferred to the dog. It is possible the people believed they were merely sending their pet along with its master or to live with the gods.
With the arrival of Hernando Cortes in the 1500’s the Spaniards took over the Aztec treasures but ignored the little dogs. It is felt they probably brought back a few dogs to Spain. Many of the little dogs just perished, others escaped to the Mexican mountainside where they lived off the birds, reptiles, rodents and insects and whatever else they could find. These early Chihuahuas were larger and had longer hair. They were better suited for life in the wild. It is unknown exactly how these early Chihuahua dogs developed into the modern Chihuahua. It is felt the Techichi Chihuahuas were crossed with very small Asiatic hairless dogs brought in by migrating Indian tribes. Others think European influence from the Manchester Terrier occurred. It was more than 300 years until the dog now known as the Chihuahua emerged from these early dogs.
In 1850 small dogs with long hair and short hair, some even without hair were found near the Mexican border state of Chihuahua. The long and short-haired dogs were named Chihuahuas. The hairless varieties were called Mexican Hairless. Throughout the early 1900s the Chihuahua remained a rarity. The first Chihuahua was registered by the American Kennel Club in 1904.
Connie Limon, author of this article, owns Little Guys Dog Clothes Shop. Purchase designer clothes and accessories for your Chihuahua, Mexican Hairless and other toy breeds at: http://www.littleguysdogclothesshop.com
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