Skip to Content

What Were Chihuahuas Bred For? Origins of These Little Dogs

What Were Chihuahuas Bred For? Origins of These Little Dogs

Sharing is caring!

You may have been wondering what were Chihuahuas bred for, and you are wondering for a reason! There are various stories and possible reasons which stand behind the story of Chihuahuas.

Even if they are pretty small dogs, they have some larger-than-life stories behind the reason what they were actually bred for. Their origin is covered by a veil of mystery and some very interesting stories and conspiracies.

These little dogs have a rich history and were used for many different purposes. Even if they are considered to be a Mexican dog breed, we should actually dig a little bit deeper into their ancestry and origins.

Origin: What Were Chihuahuas Bred For?

chihuahua is lying on a pillow by the window

The Chihuahua dogs were bred for many different purposes, including: to be a companion lap dog, to be included in spiritual rituals and shockingly, and even for human consumption.

Kind of shocking, isn’t it? But luckily, most human beings now are pro-life when it comes to Chihuahua puppies, so there isn’t a reason to worry.

The history of the Chihuahua is far more complex than most people realise. It’s also not as noticeable as being black and white, unlike the origins of some other canines.

Having said that, let’s explore the Chihuahua’s complicated history and learn the real motivations behind what they were bred for.

From Mayans And Toltecs To Aztecs: What were Chihuahuas Bred For?

When we think of Mayans and Aztecs, we often imagine some mysterious rituals. Both of these people were Mexican inhabitants.

Evidence points to the ancient Toltec people and Aztecs’ belief that these little canines served as guardians of the soul after death as it enters the afterlife. Therefore, they were used for religious ceremonies.The Techichi dogs were found frequently placed in the grave beside their deceased owner and family members as a result.

Due to their involvement in religious rituals, the toltec civilization regarded these dogs as almost holy animals. They were also among the best-known companion animals back then, particularly in ancient Mexico.

Some argue that Aztecs in fact bred this dog breed for consumption purposes. Luckily, breeding dogs for being a food source and generally consuming them is banned.

Using Dogs For Food

Luckily, using dog meat for human consumption is now banned, except for China, South Korea, Philippines and Vietnam. Even in these countries where dog meat consumption is legal, there are not a lot of people that actually consume it.

As we have grown to mostly use dogs as family companions, luckily we have grown out of our phase of using Chihuahuas and dogs in general as a source of protein.

But sadly, Chihuahuas were at a certain point bred for their nutritious values. Most of the Mayan sources of meat were from Chihuahuas.

Perceptions don’t always hold true all over the world. Most Western countries did not ban dog meat consumption until the early 20th century. Separately, Chihuahuas (Techichi dogs) were also bred for food. In fact, about 10% of the meat consumed by the ancient Maya came from their dogs. I don’t understand why people chose to eat such “sacred” pets.

However, some researchers believe that civilisation faced severe food shortages and had to resort to such consumption.There is no conclusive evidence that supports this theory, so we can consider it as a conspiracy or a myth.

Where Do Chihuahuas Come From?

chihuahua is lying on the bed

For many years, it was believed that Chihuahuas came from Mexico. But some researchers claim that this ancient dog actually comes from a bit further away – from Asia.

There is a chinese dog breed named Chinese Crested that looks extremely similar to the Chihuahua. Many breeders and experts believe that this Chinese breed had a direct influence on the Chihuahua bloodline.

But the Chihuahua that we know today is surely developed in Mexico. Even if the xoloitzcuintli, a hairless dog breed, is the national dog of the state of Mexico, our small breed is surely more popular and known for being of mexican heritage.

Texas, Arizona, and New Mexico, three border states in the United States, immediately experienced a significant increase in the import of the canine. Since these dogs did have many purposes, they were really popular back then, as they are even now.

Did you know that these dogs were named after the Mexican state of Chihuahua? There is an actual state of Chihuahua IN MEXICO, and our ancient breed carries its name proudly.

What Does Techichi Dog Have To Do With Chihuahuas’ Origin?

The Techichi dog, an ancient canine belonging to the Toltec culture of Mexico, is said to be the ancestor of the Chihuahua. The genealogy of these dogs extends all the way back to the 9th century AD!

What is interesting to me is that, Techichis allegedly did not know how to bark! They were absolutely mute dogs. It is hard to believe that they were a part of the origins of Chihuahuas, who are notorious barkers and extremely vocal.

One of the canines from Mexico’s earliest civilisations may be the techichi. It could be the ancestor of various canines, including the Chihuahua.

The ancient civilisations of Central America may have utilised techichi to transfer tiny or light items around the home and to pick crops.

Of course techichi could have also been a pet. Although mummified remains of Techichi have been found with their owners, we cannot be certain of this fact.

What Is A Ratter And Was The Chihuahua Bred To Be one?

chihuahua walks around the house and looks around

A ratter is a dog which has highlighted abilities for hunting rats and other rodents which are considered as vermin.

These dogs were created with the express purpose of assisting people in detecting and eliminating rats. Even while they make wonderful family pets, some individuals say Chihuahuas are even better at hunting tiny animals (like rats or similar vermin).

Actually, in their native Mexico, these canines are known as fearless ratters who hunt down squirrels, mice, and other rodents. Their instinctual intellect is this set of inborn abilities. The Chihuahua’s intelligence exceeds people’s expectations, partially because of this.

These hunting instincts still exist in Chihuahuas even after they have been domesticated. A Chihuahua can be your finest tool if you’re dealing with a rat infestation in your home. Remember that more rural locations are the only ones where these canines were engaged as ratters.

Other Chihuahua Breeding Purposes

Unlike Pit Bulls, Chihuahuas are tiny dogs, but they actually have something more in common than the canine ancestry. They are both great guard dogs!

It might surprise you, but these tiny dogs are extremely vocal. They have a big heart and superhero mentality – they will consider your home as theirs and will guard it. They are very good when it comes to alerting.

They are a bit sassy and they tend not to trust strangers, which is definitely a plus if you for example live alone in your apartment. They will be definitely able to sense danger and to alert you about an upcoming possibility of one.

Maybe they cannot physically protect you or your home, but there is not a single chance that these dogs won’t acknowledge someone passing by or being around your property. They make excellent watchdogs!

These dogs served many jobs and purposes earlier. In fact, the ancient Chihuahua arguably had the most unusual roles in their society. The Chihuahua was truly a multi-purpose dog.

Behavioral Characteristics Of The Chihuahua: Bred For Herding?

Don’t be fooled by this little breed of dog’s small size! Even if there are tacos bigger than them, at their heart, they are extremely brave dogs. Most of them probably think that they are a big dog, and that they can tease other dogs.

Even if we can almost surely say that these dogs were not exclusively bred for herding, they are very intelligent, and could be easily trained to be an ankle herder. Even some researches found out that around 1800, this dog breed was used to cattle sheep and goats in Mexico!

But thanks to their big personalities and sassiness, they have become best friends of many. They easily fit in a bag, so you can carry them around pretty much everywhere. And nonetheless, their size and personalities made them famous even in the Hollywood film industry.

Are Chihuahuas Bred For Being The Perfect Lap Dog?

a beautiful woman with a hat on her head holds a chihuahua in her arms

As we have concluded until now, Chihuahuas are a dog with more than one purpose. But nevertheless, we can certainly agree that this breed is a perfect lap dog due to its size.

Maybe they were not exclusively bred for this purpose, but they are surely great in this role. Modern Chihuahuas are exclusively companion dogs, and sometimes even purse dogs, as we have seen in many movies.

Their small size contributes to the fact that they can be a lap dog for both kids and adults. All dogs, even the larger dogs, want to be cuddled all the time and to be sitting in your lap. But, we can definitely agree that it is easier if a Chihuahua is sitting in your lap, than a Newfoundlander.

When Did The American Kennel Club Recognize This Breed?

Nonetheless, it didn’t occur until 1904 that Texas resident H. Raynor registered Midget as the first Chihuahua with the AKC. Three further Chihuahuas were registered with the AKC in the same year. And the AKC had its first champion a short time after. Thirty Chihuahuas had been registered with the AKC by 1915.

The deer head shape is distinctive to the breed. Acute expression is conveyed through the upright ears and full, lively eyes. Coats can be long-haired or short-haired and come in a wide variety of colours.

The American kennel club reports this breed becoming more popular by the year.

Are Chihuahuas A Healthy Dog Breed?

Despite the fact that the majority of Chihuahuas are generally healthy dogs, the breed can be affected by some genetic problems. In order to ensure that the puppies they produce are as genetically sound as possible, you should choose your dog from a breeder who consistently does genetic health checks on all bloodlines.

Potential heart problems (patent ductus arteriosus, mitral valve disease), eye diseases, and patellar luxation are a few of the conditions that may impact the Chihuahua.

It is highly important that, when buying any dog breed, you actually meet the breeder and feel as if you can trust them. After you are ensured that this dog breeder is your choice, you have to go to regular health checks at the veterinarians.

It is also important not to overfeed them, because they really are gourmands and extremely like dog food, as well as any type of food that would accidentally fall off your kitchen table. They can get obese, and need regular exercise.

Their lifespan corresponds to them being a small dog. At least, this dog will live for 12 years. The average lifespan is from 12 to 16 years, but they usually tend to live even longer.

Our Conclusion

The answer to what were Chihuahuas bred for lays in the ancient times, where the Chihuahua dog has been used for many different purposes.

From being sacrificed in religious ceremonies, being a food resource, even being some kind of a herder, to being a lap dog or even a purse dog.

They were most definitely bred for various purposes, therefore they are highly intelligent little dogs that may serve many roles to you, including a careful watchdog.

This dog breed has come a long way and has developed its physical and personality traits to be a great fit to their human best friends.

You’ll need to be patient with your Chihuahua if you want the relationship to work. They’re small yet independent dogs, so you’ll immediately discover this when obedience training begins.

Give them nothing less than your undivided attention and affection at every opportunity. The Chihuahua will be one of your most devoted and amusing friends in return.

They have endured many harsh experiences in their history, but have luckily become a type of dog breed that usually becomes the centre of attention of every family.

Their big hearts and even bigger personalities will for sure stay the playful little puppy for their whole lives. They will enjoy your attention and be forever grateful for it.

Related Content

Applehead Teacup Chihuahua: All You Need To Know

White Chihuahua: An Angel Among All Chihuahuas

Doberman Chihuahua Mix: Mixing The Contrasting Breeds

Friday 18th of November 2022

[…] used as companions. If we believe the claim that they come from Techichi dogs, we can also add that Chihuahuas were bred for religious rituals, and sometimes even for food. But, let’s not go to that dark part of canine […]

Male Vs. Female Chihuahua: How To Choose Your Perfect Pet

Wednesday 16th of November 2022

[…] Read Next: What Were Chihuahuas Bred For? Origins of These Little Dogs […]

Chihuahua Italian Greyhound Mix — Small Size, Big Attitude

Tuesday 15th of November 2022

[…] The Chihuahua originated in Chihuahua, Mexico, sometime around the year 100 A.D. […]

What Causes Crying Chihuahua & How You Can Help Your Dog

Friday 11th of November 2022

[…] • What Were Chihuahuas Bred For? Origins of These Little Dogs […]

Chihuahua Potty Training: How To Easily House Train Chis

Thursday 10th of November 2022

[…] Read Next: What Were Chihuahuas Bred For? Origins of These Little Dogs […]