What To Expect From a Chihuahua’s Heat Cycle
Chihuahuas are often referred to as being either “deer head” or “apple head,” depending on their appearance and physical characteristics.
It’s a common assumption that deer head and apple head are official varieties of the Chihuahua. But if you read the breed standards for the Chihuahua, you won’t find them listed as such. The American Kennel Club (AKC), Canadian Kennel Club (CKC) and United Kennel Club (UKC) recognizes only long coat and smooth coat (short coat) varieties. They do, however, call for a well-rounded “apple dome” head. So, what are deer head and apple head Chihuahuas and how do they differ?
Deer Head and Apple Head: What Does it Mean?
“Deer head” and “apple head” are unofficial terms used to describe a Chihuahua’s appearance, particularly in regards to his muzzle and facial structure.
Apple head Chihuahuas have a round apple-like head with a 90-degree angle where the muzzle joins the forehead.
Deer head Chihuahuas have a longer deer-like head with a sloped junction of approximately 45 degrees where the muzzle joins the forehead.
There are other differences between the two (see below for a complete list), but you can usually tell a Chihuahua’s type by looking for these characteristics.
Somewhere throughout the Chihuahua’s history, the breed separated into two variations: the apple head and deer head. We don’t when this genetic evolution occurred, nor do we know how. Pre-Columbian artifacts discovered in Central America depict small dogs with both apple and deer-shaped heads, suggesting this evolutionary split occurred before the Europeans discovered the New World.
Some breed experts theorize that a small ancient dog known as the Techichi is the Chihuahua’s true ancestor, while the deer head variety is a cross between the Techchi and the Chinese Crested. Others believe the Techichi is the deer head’s true ancestor. Regardless of how it happened, there are now apple head and deer head Chihuahuas.
The Apple Head Chihuahua
The apple head Chihuahua is named after its apple-shaped head, which is noted in the breed’s standards.
Apple head Chihuahuas can have a smooth coat or a long coat in any number of colors or color combinations.
Here are some of the characteristics of an apple head Chihuahua:
Apple head Chihuahuas feature a prominent 90-degree angle (known as a stop) where the muzzle meets the forehead. This juncture should essentially form an “L” shape, indicating an apple head. This is the most distinguishable feature of an apple-head Chihuahua.
Also living up to its namesake, the deer head Chihuahua has facial characteristics resembling that of a young deer’s face. If you look at a young deer’s face, you’ll notice they have a long muzzle, large ears and a sloped forehead, which are characteristics of this breed variation.
Deer head Chihuahuas are also found in both smooth and long coats. While coat colors vary, fawn is the most common.
Deer head Chihuahuas are just as popular, if not more popular, than apple heads. The Taco Bell dog, Gidget, was actually a deer head Chihuahua. During her 8-year career with the national fast food chain, she was responsible for introducing this breed to millions of Americans. Gidget was the first Chihuahua many Americans had ever seen. Her adorable appearance and fun-loving personality skyrocketed the breed’s popularity through the late 1990s.
Here are some of the characteristics of a deer head Chihuahua:
The muzzle of a deer head Chihuahua is longer than an apple head’s.
Upon hearing this information for the first time, many owners assume their deer head Chihuahua isn’t a real Chihuahua. If a Chihuahua doesn’t meet the AKC’s breed standards, conventional wisdom may lead you to believe he’s not an actual Chihuahua, right? Not necessarily. You can still have a purebred Chihuahua without the characteristic apple-shaped head, and you can still register him with the AKC, assuming he’s a pedigree whose parents are also registered. However, he won’t win any ribbons for showmanship at conformation shows like the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show, the National Dog Show, the AKC/Eukanuba National Championship, or Crufts since he doesn’t meet the breed standards.
Breed standards created by the AKC and other canine organizations are used for judging dogs at conformation shows. If a competing dog fails to meet the standards for his respective breed, judges will automatically disqualify him from receiving the championship title. Spayed or neutered dogs are also disqualified from competing in conformation shows, regardless of whether they meet their respective breed’s standards.
The bottom line is that deer head Chihuahuas are real Chihuahuas; they just won’t win points or championship titles at conformation shows. The same can be said for Chihuahuas weighing over six pounds, which is also grounds for disqualification.
Should the AKC Recognize Deer Head Chihuahuas?
Being that they are so common, there’s a strong argument that the AKC should acknowledge deer head Chihuahuas as a variation of the breed — and this wouldn’t be the first time the organization has done so.
In 1936, the AKC separated the English Cocker Spaniel into two varieties: the traditional English Cocker Spaniels and the American Cocker Spaniels. A decade later, they revised the standards again to include the American Cocker Spaniel as a separate breed (only dogs of different varieties can be interbred, not breeds). While similar in appearance the American Cocker Spaniel is shorter than its English counterpart and found in more colors. American Cocker Spaniels are also “showier,” with less instinctual drive to chase prey.
1952, the Chihuahua Club of America (CCA) — the official AKC parent club for the breed –revised its standards for the breed, separating the Chihuahua into long coat and smooth coat varieties, the latter of which was preferred as pets. More than half a century later, breed standards created by all of the major canine associations recognize long coat and smooth coat varieties. Perhaps we’ll see similar action taken by the AKC in the near future, acknowledging the deer head Chihuahuas as a separate variety.
Can My Chihuahua Have Characteristics of Both Apple Head and Deer Head?
Furthermore, don’t assume that breeding two apple head Chihuahuas will result in a litter of all apple heads, or vice-versa for deer heads. When breeding two Chihuahua of the same variety, there’s always a chance that one or more puppies in their litter will be the opposite variety.
Unless you plan to compete your Chihuahua in a conformation show, don’t worry about whether he’s an apple head or deer head. While there are nuances between these two varieties, both exhibit the breed’s fierce, confident and fun-loving personality.
Is your Chihuahua an apple head or deer head? Let us know in the comments section below!