Well before the Chihuahua was ever a famous dog from Mexico, and well before its relative's stupendous run with the ancient cultures of Mexico, this little dog, as all dogs, began its evolution from the wolf. This is the first phase of evolution and the phase that gave them all their canine instincts: to hunt, a pack mentality, marking territory, and even digging.
Now, you may be thinking, "That's just impossible, my Chihuahua looks nothing like a wolf." Don’t' worry, I thought the same thing. Which is why I dug deeper and found some interesting facts on domestication. Through the process of domestication, we have significantly altered the genetic makeup of wolves.
Fast-forward many thousands of years to the mysterious and wonderful ancient cultures of the Mesoamerica’s. The Chihuahua is actually a descendant of the oldest dog breed known to the Americas. The real dog from Mexico is called the Techichi, which is actually just a miniature Xoloitzcuintli– both breeds are alive and well today.
The pre-Columbian cultures loved their dogs a great deal. In fact, the Xoloitzcuintli was so helpful to people that these dogs became god-like and played significant roles– some as healers, some as spiritual guides. Thousands of artifacts in their likeness have been found, from pottery to toys, all of which confirm their importance and in some cases, become the only artifacts to remain of the culture itself.
As the Spaniards came to the New World, they seemed to have mixed things up a bit. Much of Chihuahua dog history becomes misconstrued, probably for lack of better understanding. The Spaniards may have confused the dogs for other South American forest animals. As well, the Spaniards depicted horrible treatment of these dogs by the native people, however, colonial records tell us that the Spaniards may have been far more indifferent.
It took several hundred years for the dust to settle after the conquest, but the good news is that the Techichi survived– and in the 19th century, a turn of events began the next evolutionary phase for the dog. Driven by the popularity of creating new breeds for showing, early breeders in America came across this little dog running around the dusty remote towns of the Southwest.
Although quite well known to the Indians and Mexicans of the Southwest, it was a new undiscovered dog nonetheless to much of America. They picked a handful of the smallest they could find and off they went back to Philadelphia to refine and create standards for the dog.
Amazingly, with all of the mixtures and changes to the original breed –a hundred years' worth, not to mention the continual change to the the breed standards – we can still say that the Chihuahua is an American breed. Born and bred in America.
Fortunately though, if you look real close you can still see the little Techichi in each and every one of them– a tribute to this little dog that has traveled so far and endured so much.