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Apple VS Deer Head

Apple head VS Deer Head Chihuahuas 


There is often confusion among Chihuahua owners, potential owners and even breeders in regard to the applehead Chihuahua and the deer head.
Are there two different varieties of Chihuahuas? The answer is no, in regard to head shape, size or body structure. There are 2 different varieties in regard to coat…

There is the short haired (or smooth coat) which is the most widely known and most popular and the long haired which is increasingly becoming more popular in both the show ring and for owners. No matter which type, both should follow the same standards regarding appearance (aside from coat length) and body structure.

The different between an apple head and a deer head Chihuahua is:
  • The skull on an apple is rounded, the skull on a deer head is more narrow
  • The snout on an apple is moderately short, the snout on a deer head tends to be longer
For this reason, a deerhead Chihuahua will resemble an actual deer or a small baby doe. 
Over the course of many generations, breeders have been producing different shaped heads. As this physical traits became more and more apparent, the breed was unofficially categorized with one of the two head shapes.

The terminology that is used is based how the Chi’s dome, muzzle and overall head are shaped.

While many people believe that either type fits the standard, this is not so. 

Now, do keep in mind that both are popular and both are found in purebred Chihuahuas. The main time when this issue would come into play is if one wished to enter their Chi in an AKC, CKC or FCI conformation event, where the dog is judged on how closely he resembles the ideal standard in regard to appearance. 
There is debate over which feature should be a breeding goal: to meet AKC breed standard guidelines for the betterment of the breed or meet the high demand of potential owners who favor one shape over the other.

Which Head Shape Fits the Standard

Surprising to many people, it is the apple head that is the standard and not the very popular deer head. In fact, so many breeders purposefully breed for the deer shape and so many owners have them, that many people mistakenly believe it is the standard or that it is an accepted variance. 

It is very popular and if you look at photographs of this breed, you'll see just as many deerheads as apples.  
Breeders just starting out may have a limited selection to choose for their program, should they want to pursue breeding only applehead Chihuahuas. It can take quite a bit of time to pull together a small stock of dogs that not only fit the apple standard but also carry that physical trait in the bloodline as to produce puppies with this head shape.

Let's Take a Look at the Head/Face/Skull Standards from Around the World

According the AKC guidelines a Chihuahua should have:

Head: A well rounded "apple dome" skull, with or without molera. Muzzle – Moderately short, slightly pointed. Cheeks and jaws lean. Stop - Well defined (the stop is the angle of change between the skull and the nasal bone near the eyes).

Take note of the term “moderately short” in regard to muzzle. Appleheads have shorter muzzles, while deers have much longer muzzles.  

The CKC (Canadian Kennel Club) calls out for the exact same physical traits:

Well-rounded apple-dome skull, with or without molera. Cheeks and jaws lean. Muzzle moderately short,

The UK (Kennel Club of the United Kingdom) calls out for a very similar appearance:

Well rounded 'apple dome' skull, cheeks and jaws lean, muzzle moderately short, slightly pointed. Definite stop. 

The FCI ( (Fédération Cynologique Internationale - International kennel club with 84 member countries) defines the face and skull shape in this way:

Skull : Well rounded apple head (a characteristic o f the breed) Stop : Well marked, deep and broad as the forehead is rounded above the set-on of muzzle. 
Note: There are many Chihuahuas that fall somewhere in the middle between the 2 types. Each dog is an individual...he or she will vary in size, body structure, weight, etc...And the exact shape of the head will vary as well.

Mixtures of Both Types

Many look at the muzzle and apply the term that they feel would fit best, however both terms also refer to the dome (skull). 

Therefore, there are many Chihuahua dogs that have a medium to long muzzle (which looks "deer type") that is combined with the round apple shape that is set in the AKC guidelines. 

These are the ones that through many cross breedings are a mixture of the two types.

Some argue that producing Chi that do not meet the AKC standard is not for "betterment of the breed" and should not be done. Others counter this by stating that all dog breeds over the centuries have been "tweaked" and over time their size, coloring and features have changed.
Sometimes, the change is so great that after a certain point, if a particular look is widespread and consistent, it has broken off into its own variety. And in some cases, it has even branched out to become its own separate breed. 

For example, the Akita breed has two types: The American and the Japanese Akita Inu...They are different sizes and with very distinct and different coloring. Some countries now recognize them as one breed but 2 varieties and other countries see them as 2 distinct and separate breeds.

We don't see this happening any time soon with the Chihuahua. This breed already has both longcoats and shortcoats varieties and they have not been separated into their own breeds. 

Since the deerhead is not even in the written standards of any clubs or kennels, one would be hard-pressed to make a case that both would not only be acceptable and recognized but in addition, off-shoots of the purebred Chihuahua. 

When Head Shape Matters

There are plenty of deerhead Chi's that make fantastic pets as owners tend to want a dog whose looks emphasize what is popular and not what would place high in a show ring. There are 2 instances in which the matter of apple VS deerheads truly matter:

1) With breeding and the goal producing puppies that meet the AKC conformation standards. This is often referred to as breeding for 'betterment of the breed'. One carefully takes into consideration the written standards and then creates parings that will have the best chance of producing puppies that decrease faults and increase desired physical traits.

2) In the conformation show ring. When you compare Apple VS Deer in an accredited show ring, judges will favor the apple, which meets the strict guidelines of the breed standard.

Behavior Differences

There are some who will say that the apple is calmer than the deer or vise-versa. It should be noted that any behavioral differences are due to the dog's individual personality and has nothing at all to do with head shape. In regard to shyness, aggression, nervousness, barking or any other behavioral trait the head shape or any other structural element such as size or weight of this breed does not come into play. 

Apple VS Deer Head Facial Structure

Apple head Chihuahua profile
This Chihuahua is an applehead. The muzzle is short (in comparison to the deerhead) and the overall shape and curvature of the head resembles an apple.
Deer head Chihuahua profile
This is a deerhead Chihuahua, and in comparison one can see how the extended muzzle and thinner head does resemble a deer.
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