The chihuahua and the xoloitzcuintle, known as the Mexican hairless, are the two miniature dog breeds that originated in Mexico. The chihuahua was named after the Mexican state of Chihuahua. The xoloitzcuintle, the national dog of Mexico, was named after the Aztec god Xolotl combined with the Aztec word for dog, itzcuintl. Both breeds were believed to be sacred animals.
Physical Traits of the Chihuahua
Chihuahuas are longer than they are tall, measuring between 6 and 9 inches, and weighing 2 to 6 pounds. Their heads are apple-shaped with a short, pointed muzzle. The chihuahua's round, bulbous eyes are spaced wide apart and usually dark colored. White dogs may have lighter eyes. They have long tails that curl over their backs. Their coats may be long or short, straight or wavy and come in all colors, solid or spotted.
Temperament of the Chihuahua
Lively and adventurous, chihuahuas are courageous little dogs. They're affectionate and intelligent, but training them can be difficult. Being strong-willed sometimes causes behavior issues such as aggressiveness, jealousy and overprotectiveness, and they can be untrustworthy around children if not properly socialized. Chihuahuas need plenty of socialization with positive reinforcement, along with owners who are strong-willed and ready to be pack leaders. Daily walks can offer much-needed stimulation in addition to exercise.
History of the Chihuahua
The oldest breed on the North American continent, the chihuahua originated in the Mexican state of Chihuahua. They arrived in Europe at the end of the 19th century. Throughout history chihuahuas were desired by the upper class and were considered to be sacred by pre-Colombian Indians. Today they are valued for their small size, with some dog fanciers coveting chihuahuas that weigh under 2 1/2 pounds.
Physical Traits of the Xoloitzcuintle
Xoloitzcuintles are bred in three sizes -- toy, miniature and standard, weighing from 10 to 50 pounds. They have almond-shaped eyes, large erect ears, long necks and a sleek body. Hairlessness is a dominant trait, but they may have a few hairs on tops of their heads, the tips of their tails and their toes. Their tough, close-fitting skin is black, bluish gray or red. Xoloitzcuintles born with recessive genes have short, flat coats.
Temperament of the Xoloitzcuintle
Xoloitzcuintles are intelligent, curious and energetic dogs. They have great social instincts and develop strong bonds with their owners. Xoloitzcuintles make excellent hunters. They reach their adult size by their first birthday but aren't socially mature until they're 2 years old. Puppies are high-energy and playful. They are chewers and should have plenty of chew toys. Xoloitzcuintles require lots of physical and mental stimulation and should be well socialized with other dogs.
History of the Xoloitzcuintle
Ancient Mexican Indians believed that the xoloitzcuintles protected homes from evil spirits.They were valued for their healing and mystical powers. Clay images of the xoloitzcuintles have been found in tombs of Aztec, Colima, Mayan, Toltec and Zapoteca Indians. Xoloitzcuintles were sacrificed and buried with their owners as afterlife companions. Remote villagers still believe the xoloitzcuintle is a protector and healer, often using their warmth as a hot-pack for toothaches, rheumatism and insomnia.