Identifying the type of chihuahua you have is fairly straightforward, as chihuahuas are classified in two ways. One way is by the shape of their heads, either apple head or deer head; the other way is by their coat, either long-haired or smooth. However, the American Kennel Club (AKC) only recognizes the apple head chihuahua, and therefore only apple head chihuahuas can compete in AKC shows. If you are not interested in competition shows, the deer head chihuahua makes just as adorable, loving, and feisty a pet as the apple head.
Note your chihuahua's head shape
Apple head chihuahuas have rounded tops like a dome and, in totality, resemble a round apple. Their faces are compact, with short, slightly upturned snouts. Deer head chihuahuas look like small deer. Their faces have more elongated snouts that are slightly pointed, much like deer faces. Apple head chihuahuas' eyes tend to bulge a little more, and deer heads usually have a little bigger bodies.
All other characteristics are shared by the breed; both apple head and deer head chihuahuas can have all the same coats and colors, the same distinctive temperaments, and the same physical characteristics that are breed standards or are considered flaws.
Examine your chihuahua's coat
Chihuahuas can have either long coats or smooth coats, and both sometimes have a double coat. Smooth coats are soft, glossy, and close cut. Long coats have hair that is soft and either flat or slightly wavy. In AKC shows, it is preferred that long-coat chihuahuas have an undercoat; smooth-coat dogs can have an undercoat or not. Long coats that are too thin, so as to appear bare in places, are not a desirable feature. Both types of coats have a ruff around the neck.
Since there are two types of chihuahuas, apple head or deer head, and two coat types, long or smooth, there are four possible types of chihuahuas:
- Apple head with long coat
- Apple head with smooth coat
- Deer head with long coat
- Deer head with smooth coat
Compare vital statistics
Chihuahuas are considered to be the smallest breed of dog in the world. They are typically between 5 and 8 inches in height and weigh 6 pounds or less. In fact, chihuahuas weighing over 6 pounds are automatically disqualified in AKC shows. Chihuahua bodies measure a bit longer than their height, which is called "off square." Like many small dog breeds, they are prone to becoming overweight, which can lead to health problems and interfere with their otherwise rather lengthy life expectancy of 14 to 16 years. To help chihuahuas live a long life, be careful not to overfeed them. Make certain that any treats you give are wholesome foods, whether they are storebought or homemade, and be sure to count treat calories in the dog's daily diet.
Understand other "types" of chihuahuas
Many people who are familiar with chihuahuas often talk about "teacup"-sized dogs as another type of chihuahua, but this is inaccurate. Teacup dogs of any breed are simply those that are bred to be very small; they're often shown sitting in a teacup, or peeking out of a purse, as if to prove their tiny size. These teeny-tiny chihuahuas are really just chihuahuas that are much smaller than regular-sized chihuahuas; you find them weighing in at less than 5 pounds. Another "type" of chihuahua that is getting publicity as if it is newly discovered is a "pear"-shaped head. Pear-shaped heads do not exist; they are believed to be apple heads that are a bit misshapen.
Identify your chihuahua's color
Chihuahuas come in so many different colors and color combinations that you may have trouble determining exactly what color of dog you have. The solid colors should be obvious: black, chocolate, cream, fawn, red, blue, gold, silver, and white. From there, there are seemingly endless combinations: black and tan, chocolate and tan, blue and tan, black and red, black and silver, black and white, blue and white, chocolate and white, cream and white, gold and white, red and white, silver and white, black-sabled silver, black-sabled fawn, blue-brindled fawn, chocolate-brindled fawn, chocolate blue, chocolate-sabled fawn, and fawn-brindled black.
Brindling can appear as a striped pattern, or more like blotches, sometimes only in certain places on the coat. A sable pattern occurs when hair is lighter at the base and darker at the tip. So, to determine your dog's coloring, first note the colors in the coat. Then look for a brindling or sable pattern in the coat. For example, say you looked at your dog's coat and found two colors: chocolate and fawn. But, the fawn coloring was in a pattern that resembled stripes. Then you have a chocolate-brindled fawn chihuahua.