The Chihuahua is named for the Mexican state of ‘Chihuahua’ that borders Texas, Arizona and New Mexico in the USA. Though it has long been theorized that the Chihuahua’s ancestors were from Chihuahua (the Mexican state), this has been confirmed by DNA analysis.
It was long theorized that the Chihuahua's ancestor was the Mexican Techichi dog and now we know this to be fact.
Any online sources or books that debate a Mexican origin for the Chihuahua
are offering out-of-date information. In 2013, the KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm, Sweden released their findings regarding the ancestry of certain dog breeds.
They compared mitochondrial DNA from Asian and European dogs, ancient archaeological samples from the Americas and certain American dog breeds.
Among the breeds that that they tested was the Chihuahua, since its origins have long been debated.
They proved that the Chihuahua does share a DNA type unique to the Mexican pre-Columbian samples, thus cementing the breed’s origins to be connected to the Techichi, a small desert canine that dates back to Mayan times.
Crossbreeding the Techichi may have been done by the Toltec civilization with a dog that populated the mountains of Chihuahua, called the Perro Chihuahueno.
Further development occurred when Spanish conquerors reached the New World, though it is debated which breeds were used; most likely it was a terrier-type dog.
The Chihuahua was officially recognized by the AKC (American Kennel Club) in 1904, with a Chihuahua named Midget being the very first to be registered. At that time, the club was only 20 years old (having been founded in 1882). And in 1904 only 52 breeds had been recognized thus far.
The Chihuahua’s popularity took a while to form. This is because in the early 1900’s most people that owned dogs owned working dogs or guard dogs, not household pets. People living on farms used dogs to pull carts and herd livestock. Others owned dogs to chase away wild animals or possible intruders.
Things began to change in the 1960’s when ‘dog ownership’ moved more into ‘pet ownership’. In 1964 the Chihuahua soared to popularity, becoming the 12th most registered breed. In this year, there were 161 recognized breeds.
Since that time, the Chihuahua has held its place in the top 30. Ranking in 2013 was #22, in 2014 #24 and in 2015 #28.
Though the ranking has dropped a bit, we must remember that more breeds are added as the years go by. There are 200+ breeds.
For 48 years since its inception into the AKC, both long and shorthaired Chihuahuas were categorized the same. In 1952, The Chihuahua Club of America, which writes the breed standard for the Chihuahua, voted to split the Chihuahua into two varieties. The same standard is used; however, the two varieties are long coat and smooth coat (short haired).