As is evidenced by the photos included in this publication, no one style is the only correct one. Wherever possible, the photos that illustrate correct examples are dogs that have won specialties or have been nationally ranked. Although the style of the dogs may be different, each is correct.
The 1985 FCI Standard states, “its diminutive size, however, does not excuse any deformity, deficiency, or lack of harmony in any of the parts.” (#8, p43)
When evaluating the Chihuahua, except for disqualifications, and deviations of the bite as specified, one fault is no worse than another; a better approach is to add up the good qualities and discern which dog is closest to the ideal. If, instead, the judge concentrates on faults, the dog that wins may have the least faults, but may not have the most desired qualities, and may not be the best dog in the ring.
Emphasis should not be placed on one fault or virtue to the detriment of seeing the total dog, which is complete only with all of its parts. Personal preference to a particular style Chihuahua should not affect the evaluation process. The standard, the condition of the dogs, and showmanship are all considered when judging. A lesser dog should not win simply based on showmanship; a very good Chihuahua should not lose because of less pleasing ring presence.
If there is concern regarding the dog’s “stability”, the judge should first offer the back of the hand. The breed may not behave perfectly on the table, but should not appear aggressive or excessively shy.
Extremely quick, unexpected movements by the judge may distress this small breed that is now several feet off the floor, is being approached by a stranger, and is expected to exhibit terrier-like temperament qualities.
Should a judge wish to compare dogs, they may be re-examined on the table, perhaps two at a time.
It is preferred that judges do not lean down over the dogs on the floor to re-examine.
In this publication, the words of the standard are presented in bold, underlined print prior to the appropriate elaboration.
A graceful, alert, swift-moving little dog with saucy expression, compact, and with terrier-like qualities of temperament.
From the original standard of 1923, through revisions in 1934, 1954, 1972, and 19990, the above words have remained the same. They present a description of the essence of the breed and are of tremendous importance.
Each of these introductory words is essential to the breed standard and helps develop the mind’s eye image of the ideal Chihuahua. An individual must have a clear mental picture that incorporates all of these attributes in order to evaluate the Chihuahua.
The Chihuahua should project the attitudes of self-importance, confidence, and self-reliance. Although the smallest breed, it has sub- stance and should not appear fragile. The breed is known for its agility and fearlessness, and its cheerful, slightly haughty, demeanor. A Chihuahua that resembles another breed (except in color or markings) is not correct.
SIZE, PROPORTION, SUBSTANCE – WEIGHT: A well balanced dog not to exceed 6 pounds.
The ideal Chihuahua exhibits balance in all respects. No individual feature should appear to be exaggerated or so prominent that it detracts from an impression of overall balance.
“Vigor, symmetry, and soundness within a small compass is our object.” (#24, p80)
Although the standard calls for the body to be slightly longer than tall, the impression of overall balance without exaggeration will be affected if a dog appears very short or overly long in back, or too short or too long legged.
The 1985 FCI standard states that “the distance from brisket to withers is the same as to ground.” (#8, p43)
The fact that the Chihuahua is a small dog does not eliminate the need for all parts to work together in coordination and balance. (No suggestion of “dwarfism” is acceptable.)
SUBSTANCE – compact; not to exceed 6 pounds.
“Compact refers to the union of various body parts, i.e., firmly joined. It does NOT mean “cobby” which relates to overall body shape...” (#13, p34 – 35)
The body should have the feel of substance with moderate chestiness and good depth of brisket; it should not be tube-shaped or weedy. Not as slender as an Italian Greyhound, nor as full-bodied as a Pug.
A well rounded “apple dome” skull, with or without molera.
A domed skull is “rounded or arched in all directions and in varying degrees. In the Chihuahua it is at its most extreme.” (#13, p122)
The ideal Chihuahua head is truly apple domed. Most sources describe the Chihuahua’s skull shape to be that of a cooking apple; the roundness is irregular, permitting the required domed width between the ears.
The skull should be clearly rounded from stop to occiput and between the ears. (The occiput is discernable but not prominent.) The structural roundness of the skull does not include the cheek muscles which should be relatively lean.
UNDESIRABLE: Flat, receding, exceedingly domed skulls (skulls that appear hydrocephalic) or lacking in stop.
Unlike most of the other toy breeds, a MOLERA, (an open fontanel), is ACCEPTABLE in Chihuahuas and is NOT a concern for judges.
Because the presence of a molera is of no consequence, there is no need for judges to feel for it; better to feel for the rounded skull. (The molera was required in the original 1923 breed standard.)
MUZZLE – Moderately short, slightly pointed. Cheeks and jaws lean.
A variety of muzzles is seen in the Chihuahua. The correct muzzle appears moderately short(a short muzzle is “one that is shorter than half the total length of the skull”) (#13, p96) – andtapers slightly from jaws to the nose. “Acutely tapering muzzles are referred to as ‘pointed’, in contrast to those ending in a blunt squared-off fashion.” (#13, p96)
The muzzle should be low on the rounded skull and should meet the skull with a very definite indented stop at approximately a right angle. The cheeks and jaws are cleanly muscular; lean, but not flat. The lips should be tight, without flews; they are not pendulous.
The tongue should not be visible when the mouth is closed.
UNDESIRABLE: Muzzles that are snippy (pinched and without enough lower jaw), very blunt (the opposite of slightly pointed), dish-faced, or down- faced. A muzzle that is too broad and cheeks that are too filled and muscular giving the impression of coarseness. A muzzle that is too narrow with pinched in cheeks lacking muscle and lower jaw is too fine. Extremely short muzzles may be too blunt and not slightly pointed. Muzzles that are too long usually do not have enough stop and appear “foxy” and plain faced.
There should be no suggestion of an expression that resembles a Pug or a Toy Manchester Terrier.
NOSE – Self-colored in blond types, or black.
In moles, blues, and chocolates, they are self-colored. In blond types, pink nose permissible.
The color of the nose may blend with the color of the coat or be black. Partially pigmented noses are not uncommon and are of little concern.
One of the unwritten but popular descriptions used by fanciers is that “the nose should be almost the size of the eye.” (#16, p51)
EARS – Large, erect type ears, held more upright when alert, but flaring to the sides at a 45 degree angle when in repose, giving breadth between the ears.
DISQUALIFICATIONS – Broken down or cropped ears.
The noticeably large ear needs to fit the head. An ear so large as to create an unbalanced head piece is not desirable. An ear that appears anything but large is also faulty. The tips of the ears may be slightly rounded or slightly pointed.
The lowest part of the ear, the eyes, and the stop should be at the same level on the head. Ear set (placement on skull) and carriage are both important. Although the ears are set on low and wide, they are correctly carried higher “when very alert at nearly 11:00 and 1:00. If the ears aim close to noon, they are usually set too high. Ears aiming to 9:00 and 3:00 are likely set too low.” (#8, p66)
The ears do a great deal toward creating the ideal expression, but judges should not expect the ears to remain alert at all times. When the Chihuahua is gaiting, relaxed, or tense, the ears may be held back along the skull. When the dogs are on the table, the ear is most often flared at 45 de- grees to the skull. These carriages are normal and acceptable and should not be faulted.
The alert carriage can be observed while baiting the dog or when the dog interacts with others in the ring. The ability to get the ears into the alert position is important; it is not important that the ears constantly be held alert. Once judge has evaluated the ear placement and carriage, a dog should not be penalized for not maintaining the alert carriage while in the ring. The standard describes both carriages as correct.
UNDESIRABLE: Weak or tipped ears, hooded/cupped ears, unmistakably too large or too small ears.
A broken down ear, one that cannot be held erect, is a disqualification.
BITE – Level or scissors. Overshot or undershot bite, or any distortion of the bite or jaw, should be penalized as a serious fault.
The standard permits two bites, level or scissors. Correct dentition and structural development is specified.
Faults of the bite and teeth should clearly be a consideration when evaluating the Chihuahua, however, it is not a breed that requires a strong, powerful bite for any described purpose.
If the deviations, such as overshot, undershot, wry, evident tongue, are visible when the mouth is closed, they should certain be considered when evaluating expression.
“Most judges show reasonable tolerance towards minor imperfections, but penalize heavily in severe cases... jaw development... is probably of
greater importance than actual incisorial alignment.” (#13, p23)
“The brachycephalic (short muzzled) formation of the Chihuahua jaw is prone to deviation from the norm exhibited by those dogs having balanced muzzle/ skull proportions resulting in ineffective and even missing premolars in our desirable shortened muzzle.” (Nancy Shonbeck)
An undershot bite with a pronounced lower jaw suggests a bulldog’s expression; an overshot bite results in a receding lower jaw that appears weak and suggests a bird. These formations are not typical of the Chihuahua and should be heavily penalized.
NECK, TOPLINE, BODY
NECK – Slightly arched, gracefully sloping into lean shoulders.
A Chihuahua must have enough length of neck to permit a slight arch and a graceful slope into the shoulders. The neck should blend smoothly into the shoulders and into the chest cleanlywithout excess skin, wrinkles or dewlap.
Good length of neck is necessary for the preferred uplifted head carriage when gaiting. Theperception of neck length may be affected by the ruff that is preferred in both varieties. The ruff, with its slightly stand off coat on both the Smooth and Long Coat, should not be misinterpreted as a lack of neck or too short neck.
UNDESIRABLE: Dogs with heads that appear to be set on at the shoulders; a short, thick neck, a too long neck, or a ewe neck.
TOPLINE – Level.
According to Spira’s Canine Terminology, the topline would be more correctly referred to as the “backline”, the portion of the entire topline that begins behind the withers and ends at the tail.The back should be level.
Occasionally a slight depression or rise may occur behind the shoulder where the heavier neck coat (referred to as the mantle) meets the shorter body coat; this slight variation is due to coat, NOT structure. When evaluating the backline with the hand, no dip or rise at the shoulders should be felt; the juncture should be level.
UNDESIRABLE: Low shoulders, roached or sway backs, high rears, rounded rears, low tail sets, and backs that slope upward or downward.
TAIL – Moderately long, carried sickle either up or out, or in a loop over the back, with tip just touching the back. (Never tucked between legs.)
DISQUALIFICATION – Cropped tail, bobtail.
The tail is the finishing touch of a deserving specimen. Although the standard does not mention the set of the tail, the back is level, thus the Chihuahua tail should not appear low set.
There is no ideal carriage. Carriage may be up, out, or in a loop over the back. These three tail carriages may affect the perception of body length, thus hindering the ability to determine the proportion and balance of the dog. (see illustrations, next page.)
If, after gaiting the class, there is a question of body length, the dog may be re-examined on the table and the slightly off-square body proportions verified by measuring with the hand from the desired points.
The tail should never be tucked between the legs; that objectionable carriage is not typical of the preferred terrier-like qualities of temperament.
The preferred tail is described as a sickle; “a tail carried over the back in loose semi-circular fashion, but not snapping flat against the back.” (#13, p134)
Additional descriptions of the tails of both varieties are included in the discussion of COAT on pages 30 and 31.
UNDESIRABLE: tucked between the legs; too short; low set; carried flat against the back.
The angulation of the shoulders and front assembly permits excellent reach during gaiting. The Chihuahua is a swift-moving little dog. The shoulders slope smoothly backward, are well laid back, and combine with forelegs that are set well under. This construction permits a reaching front movement comparable to that of many working breeds.
UNDESIRABLE: Narrow chests; dip at withers; forelegs that are out at the elbows; bowed forearms; feet that turn out; and fiddle fronts.
Muscular, with hocks well apart, neither out nor in, well let down, firm and sturdy. The feet are as in front.
The firm, muscular rear legs should be strong; their angulation with the pelvis corresponds to that of the forearms and shoulder. Here, the word “hock” refers to the entire rear pastern. The point of hock should be as close to the ground as possible while remaining perpendicular to the ground and parallel to each other.
The rear feet are well-padded with each toe distinct and are not flat. Rear dewclaws may be removed.
UNDESIRABLE: Straight rears lacking angulation; rears exhibiting stifle problems; rears with sickle hocks. Overly long hocks, a rear that is tucked under, and a stance that is too wide or too narrow are also faulty.
Rear feet that do not point straight forward indicate structural problems such as cow hocks or barrel hocks.
Patella luxation is a structural fault that is seen in the breed. “In one type, the patella slips, the hock joint becomes straight and the joint at the foot over-flexes to compensate. Movement may not be effected, but the patella will slip if the dog stands still very long. In another, the patella slips out of the grooves of the joint. If gaiting, the dog may skip or hop until the patella slips back into the groove. This type may also be seen when the dog stands up on its rear legs.” (#16, p56)
The Chihuahua is a breed shown in two coat varieties, Long and Smooth. There must be a distinct, easily recognizable coat difference between the varieties. A long coated specimen must be truly long coated.
The two varieties are based SOLEY on COAT – everything else is IDENTICAL. Do not forget that the two varieties are the same breed under their coats.
Whiskers may be trimmed, but it is not required. Some trimming for neatness may be performed on both varieties; it should not appear radical, but of course, will have no effect on structure.
Both varieties experience seasonal shedding periods. The lack of coat that results is different from the bareness that requires a disqualification in Long Coats.
SMOOTH COATS – The coat should be of soft texture, close and glossy. (Heavier coats with under coats permissible.) Coat placed well over body with ruff on neck preferred, and more scanty on head and EARS. Hair on TAIL, preferred furry.
The coat of a Smooth needs little elaboration. There is no disqualifica- tion in Smooth Coatsinvolving the coat. The coat of a blue Chihuahua may be more scanty than that of other colors.
A Smooth Coat with the preferred ruff on the neck and the preferred furry tail will likely have the permissible undercoat. (The ruff on the neck of the Smooth Coat should not be trimmed off.)
The tail coat of a Smooth Chihuahua is distinct in the Toy Group. This unique tail coat has long-been a breed characteristic. It is said that the completion of the original standard was delayed due to disagreement regarding the description of the tail. Many authors caution against the loss of this trait.
The coat continues from the body onto the tail and becomes furry with stand-offish hair on the sides, widening towards the center of the tail and narrowing to a point at the tip. Although it appears flatish from the underside, this is a result of coat, not structure.
UNDESIRABLE: A thin round tail, a “rat” tail, and an overly curly tail.
Tail carriage is described on page 23.
LONG COATS – the coat should be of soft texture, either flat or slightly curly, with undercoat preferred. Feathering on feet and legs, pants on hind legs and large ruff on the neck desired and preferred.
DISQUALIFICATION – In LONG COATS, too thin coat that resembles bareness.
The Long Coat ranges in appearance from heavily coated to much lesser amounts. The coattexture should never be that of a Smooth. The undercoat is not dense enough to cause the coat to “stand off” from the body. There are specific places that the longer coat should be present,in- cluding fringing on ears, feathering on feet and legs, pants, a ruff around the neck and a plumed tail.
The feathering on the feet of a Long Coat is often trimmed for neatness. This is acceptable but not required.
The disqualification for lack of coat in Long Coats emphasizes that the coat is the singular difference between varieties.
EARS – Fringed. (Heavily fringed ears may be tipped slightly if due to fringes and not to weak ear leather, never down.
The ears of a Long Coat must have fringes; they should not be smooth- coated ears.
Most Chihuahua fanciers have never seen the ears of a Long Coat tip due to the weight of fringes on the ears.
TAIL – Full and long (as a plume).
The tail carriage is described on page 23.
Any color – Solid, marked or splashed.
No color is preferred; all colors are acceptable. There are no mismarks.
Markings can be misleading, however; a black spot may appear to be a dip in the back or obscure the tail set. Assessing the proportion of those with black and tan markings may be difficult because their legs may appear too short; the height/length ratio may be verified by measuring with the hand while the dogs are on the table for examination.
Evaluation of heads and expressions may be a challenge if only one eye is ringed with color or if one eye has a different eye rim color than the other.
Differently marked pants or rear legs, or one white leg or foot may interfere with the perception of movement.
“A judge must not fault a dog for color or markings.” (#5, p74)
The Chihuahua should move swiftly with a firm, sturdy action, with good reach in front equal to the drive from the rear. From the rear, the hocks remain parallel to each other, and the foot fall of the rear legs follows directly behind that of the forelegs.
The legs, both front and rear, will tend to converge slightly toward a central line of gravity as speed increases. The side view shows good, strong drive in the rear and plenty of reach in the front, with head carried high.
The topline should remain firm and the backline level as the dog moves.
A truly deserving Chihuahua must be able to move swiftly. A sound Chihuahua can move right around the ring with head held high, without restricted movement in the rear or high stepping in the front. The length of stride in front is equal to that of the rear. The gait should appear smooth, confident, and effortless, with no bouncing, hesitancy, etc., and no sign of weakness.
“There are at least three reasons why soundness should be insisted upon in a breed not called upon for work. One is structural consistency; to be a good dog, a Chihuahua must look like a dog and move like a dog. Second, the movement of a dog is handicapped and impeded by his unsoundness. Thirdly, unsoundnesses are heritable; unsound parents beget unsound progeny.” (#24, p64)
The hackney gait of the Miniature Pinscher is not acceptable; goose- stepping, winging, pounding, paddling, are also faulty.
An overly angulated rear may cause the appearance of crouching when standing and when gaiting, a lack of follow through will be evident. Rears should not move wide with toes pointing toward one another. There should be no crossing over, side-winding, or overreaching.
A WORKING DOG ?
Moving away, with the line of convergence. Note that the front legs are directly behind the rear legs and cannot be seen. Convergence is determined by the speed of the dog, but the dog still double tracks.
Front movement showing line of convergence. Note that the rear legs are directly behind the front legs and cannot be seen. The amount of convergence is determined by the speed of the dog. Chihuahuas double-track, even when converging.
Alert, with terrier-like qualities.
Chihuahuas should approach others (dogs and people) with
confidence and interest, even impudence, with no evidence of shyness or fright. The flattening of ears against the head is a greeting behavior and should not be interpreted as fear or hesitance.
The true temperament of each dog is more accurately observed when
it is interacting in the ring with the exhibitors and other dogs than while being examined on the table.
Chihuahuas may “spar” in the ring. This does not mean actual fighting. It is not at all unusual to see two dogs nose to nose exhibiting the very alert challenging posture typical of terriers.
The standard requires that the tail never be tucked between the legs. A tail that is tucked is faulty as it indicates the opposite of the required terrierlike temperament.
• Any dog over 6 pounds in weight.
• Broken down or cropped ears.
• Cropped tail, bobtail.
• In LONG COATS, too thin coat that resembles bareness.
Approved August 12, 2008
Effective October 01, 2008
The Chihuahua is seen in a variety of types. Breeders and judges should look for that animal which is unmistakably a Chihuahua. An animal that closely resembles another toy breed lacks type and should not be considered.
No dog is without fault. Some faults are so serious that they must cause elimination from the show ring. In the Chihuahua, these faults are the breed’s disqualifications and those faults the AKC prescribes must eliminate any dog of any breed from competition. Other faults, (such as patella luxation and bites) although not disqualifying, can be quite serious and should receive thoughtful evaluation.
Many dogs have strengths that the standard describes as ideal. While the recognition of weaknesses in an entry is important, it is the presence of the desired traits that create breed type.
The ability to recognize the ideal and the closeness to it must be delveloped by breeders and judges prior to selecting breeding stock and/or dog show winners.
References (...): the first number (#) indicates the reference source # as listed on pages 39- 40; the p.... indicates the page within the source that contains the quoted reference.
Prepared by the CCA Committee to Illustrate the Breed Standard Peggy O’N. Wilson, Chair
Committee Members: Dick Dickerson
Barbara “Kathy” Smith
Approved by the Board of the Chihuahua Club of America