While the exact origins of the teacup Chihuahua is shrouded in mystery, Chihuahua history remains a rich and intriguing tale.
The Techichi – The Great Ancestor of the Teacup Chihuahua
The Chihuahua is widely thought to be the descendant of a somewhat larger dog known as the Techichi. These creatures were mute and had a larger bone structure than that of the modern day Chihuahua. They are depicted on pots, temple walls and even toys as far back as the 9th century! The Toltecs, Mayans, and Aztecs are all known to have used this ancestor as a status symbol and are depicted on the walls of their religious ritual areas. It seems fitting their descendants became a favorite pet of many modern day celebrities.
Chihuahua-mania Spreads Across North America
It is unknown how the Techichi was cultivated into the breed found near the Texas border in Chihuahua, Mexico in 1884. A common theory is that an unknown hairless breed was brought over to North America by way of Asia to Alaska along a land bridge where the Bering Strait is now. Another very popular theory is that the Spanish conquerors brought a short-haired terrier breed with them in their explorations and these animals cross-bred with the Techichi. And in yet another story the Aztecs cross bred the Techichi with a foraging mountain dog called the Perro Chihuahueno, which slept in dens and had a round head and small, erect ears.
While the exact origin is unknown, the small, quite vocal animal quickly became popular with Americans. Travelers brought the tiny animal home after a trip to the Mexican border, regarding it as an exotic pet. Twenty years after its discovery it became a registered breed by the American Kennel Club and has been recognized as the smallest dog in the world.
The Celebrity Fueled Teacup Chihuahua Trend
“Teacup” Chihuahuas, the smallest of the Chihuahua breed, are bred by selecting and breeding the smallest pups in the litters. It was a term used by a breeder to indicate the size of the puppies, which as often small enough to curl into a teacup. Some have been registered to be born as small as 2 ounces!
They are not yet considered a breed unto themselves by breed registration groups, but they enjoy a large following. They require minimal grooming and become very loyal to the humans they spend the most time with. Also their tiny size and endearing personalities give them great appeal to many pet owners. Their current popularity however is due in large part to the celebrity world! It is full of famous pets and four-legged celebrities that really drew attention to the micro-pet.
The most known celebrity miniature Chihuahua is Tinkerbell Hilton, the beloved pet of Paris Hilton. In addition, almost everyone has seen Gidget, the famous “Taco Bell Dog” that was the central mascot of the well-known Mexican fast food chain. There are also a variety of famous fictional characters, like Bruiser from the Legally Blonde movie franchise, Ren from the Ren and Stimpy cartoon, and Chloe and Papi from the Beverly Hills Chihuahua movies. There are also popular children’s books like the “Skippyjon Jones” and “Dial C for Chihuahua” that inspire an affection for the breed in young and old alike.
Star-fueled ownership and celebrity status has undoubtedly played a part in the rising teacup Chihuahua prices charged by breeders.
It is most fitting that the miniature Chihuahua has such a rich and varied history. The theories of their origins are almost as varied as the breed itself! It is most fascinating to think the ancestor of the breed received the same pampering and adoration in ancient times as the teacup Chihuahua receives today.