Meet the Breed: Short Stack
Don’t be fooled by the Chihuahua’s slight stature – this sassy breed as a big personality.
Kim Campbell Thornton
It might be the world’s smallest dog, but the Chihuahua’s personality more than makes up for its size. Weighing in at 6 pounds or less, and standing approximately 5 inches tall at the shoulder, this little hot tamale is a giant not only in its own mind, but also in the hearts of fanciers, who love its bold demeanor, multiple coat colors, sense of humor and tiny stature.
Hailing from Mexico, where it may have originated as a miniaturized version of a local pariah dog, the modern Chihuahua – named after the state in Mexico where late 19th-century U.S. tourists first encountered the breed – was developed in the 1900s by North American breeders. The American Kennel Club registered its first Chihuahua, Midget, in 1904, and the Chihuahua Club of America formed in 1923. These days, the Chihuahua is the 12th most popular breed among all breeds registered by the AKC.
The price of popularity
The breed has long been popular – who doesn’t love a pint-sized pooch? – but in recent years, the Chihuahua has become all the rage, thanks to exposure from a late 1990s Taco Bell commercial featuring a “talking” Chihuahua, media coverage of celebutante Paris Hilton’s dog Tinkerbelle, and appearances in the movies Legally Blonde (2001) and the recent release Beverly Hills Chihuahua (2008). All that publicity did a number on the breed, creating outsized demand, as well as outsized expectations.
Chihuahua breeder and CCA rescue chair Lynnie recounts the story of a call received at the pet-help hotline in San Antonio. “We got a call from a lady who had gotten a Chihuahua after the Taco Bell ad came out, and she was upset because there was something wrong with it.”
The complaint? The dog wouldn’t talk.
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