Chihuahua Breed Standard
What makes a Chihuahua unmistakably a Chihuahua? Details. A whole bunch of details combine to create a dog that looks like a Chihuahua and nothing but a Chihuahua. This page focuses on appearances and gives you the official description of Chihuahua perfection.
Next to its diminutive size, the Chihuahua’s most recognizable feature is its apple-domed head, which you can plainly see in picture. Attached to the Chihuahua’s signature head are big eyes, brimming with intelligence and an inquiring gaze), and erect ears, a bit bigger than you may expect, that add to its aspect of alertness. On top of many Chihuahua heads, practically invisible but can be easily felt, is the molera — a soft spot similar to the one found on newborn babies. The molera is also called the fontanel.
A blueprint exists for building a picture-perfect Chihuahua (and every other registered breed). The blueprint is called the Official Standard for the Chihuahua. Of course, no dog is perfect, so no matter how charming a Chihuahua appears, the knowledgeable eyes of a good breeder or dog show judge always find room for improvement. Even the best breeders always have something to strive for. Breed standards are serious stuff. Selecting breeding partners with the standard in mind is how breeders produce generation after generation of dogs that look and act like Chihuahuas. The best breeders try to produce dogs that come as close to matching the standard as possible, and dog-show judges select winners by comparing how closely each competitor matches its breed standard.
Chihuahua general appearance and demeanor:
The Chihuahua is a graceful, alert, swift-moving, and compact little dog with a saucy expression and terrier-like qualities of temperament. A Chihuahua is compact, feels solid in your hands, and appears well proportioned. Chihuahua isn’t long of body or lanky or too tall. Like a terrier, it is confident, animated, spirited, curious, and interested in everything happening around the Chihuahua.
Size and proportion:
A Chihuahua is a well-balanced little dog, weighing not more than 6 pounds (to qualify for the show ring). Chihuahua body is off-square, to quote the official standard — the Chihuahua should be slightly longer when measured from point of shoulder to point of buttocks than it is tall at the withers, or the top of its shoulders. Somewhat shorter bodies (in length) are preferred in males. A Chihuahua’s height is the distance from the highest point of its withers to the floor; its length is the distance from the point of the shoulders to the point of buttocks. The reason a little more length is desired in Chihuahua females than it is in Chihuahua males is because females need the extra space to carry puppies.
A Chihuahua needs a balanced appearance. That means every part of its body must be in proportion with its other parts. In general, many breeds are considered square, meaning that their height is the same as their length. But the Chihuahua is supposed to be just a little longer than it is tall.
To meet the standard, the shape of a Chihuahua’s head should look sort of like an apple — rounded but not completely round. If the Chihuahua has a molera, you’ll feel a slight indentation, like the soft spot on a baby’s skull, when you gently stroke the top of its head. Breeders prefer eyes to be large, set well apart, radiant, and shiny — not close together, protruding, smallish, or dull. For perfect proportions, the middle of the eyes lines up with the lowest part of the ears.
- Ears: If a Chihuahua has ideal ears, they’ll be at a 45-degree angle to its head when its resting, but they’ll come to attention, held high, when its alert. Chihuahua ears must be left as nature made them. Cropped ears (surgically shaped or shortened ears) aren’t permitted on Chihuahuas in the show ring. And broken ear cartilage, resulting in a droopy or lopsided ear, is grounds for disqualification from showing.
- Chihuahua Muzzle (snout): The standard calls for a muzzle, or snout, that’s moderately short, but that doesn’t mean shorter is better. A super-short muzzle is incorrect in the Chihuahua, because extremely short muzzles can cause breathing problems and crowd the teeth. Ideally, the muzzle should emerge from the skull at a right angle. Teeth If a Chihuahua’s upper-front teeth meet tightly outside its lower-front teeth, she has a scissors bite; if its upper and lower incisors (front teeth) meet flush with each other when its mouth is closed, its bite is level. The scissors bite is the strongest bite and is considered ideal. The teeth wear down faster when the bite is level.
Chihuahua Neck, topline, and body:
An attractive neck from a side view flows smoothly and gracefully into your Chihuahua’s withers without wrinkles or folds. Ideally, its neck is of medium length. Too short of a neck may be the result of improperly placed shoulder blades, which prevent it from moving well. If its head appears to be attached directly to its shoulders, it will look unbalanced and front-heavy. On the other hand, an extremely long neck may be a sign that it lacks substance (appears weak). It may be accompanied by too long legs and a lanky body. You should look for graceful lines. All the dog’s parts should be well balanced in relation to one another. A Chihuahua’s topline flows along the top of its back from the withers to the root of the tail (where the tail meets the body). Ideally, it should be level or straight, without a dip in the middle or a downward or upward slope. A Chihuahua dog’s conformation is the shape of its body from the top of its head to the tips of the toes and tail. It encompasses balanced body proportions and size, both of which need to be correct for the breed.