Is A Chihuahua a Dog Or a Rodent? (Solved & Explained!)

The Chihuahua we know of today is a dog, not a rodent. The Chihuahua dog breed has Canine Genomes, the same as every canine breed, so this biologically classifies them as a dog.

Now that we know the Chihuahua is definitely a dog breed and not a rodent, read on to find out where this common misconception comes from, the origin, and how we know for sure if a Chihuahua is actually a canine!

Where did Chihuahuas originate?

While we know that the Chihuahua breed was first identified amongst the peoples of Mexico, their prehistoric records are still unknown. When the Toltecs resided in Mexico over a thousand years ago, the canine breed named Techichi was favored – which was a bigger, sturdier ancestor of the Chihuahua we know and love today.

Pictures of dogs resembling the modern Chihuahua can even be spotted in ancient paintings in Mexico.

It was all thanks to this breed, who survived two lost civilizations, that the Chihuahua became recognized worldwide as one of the smallest dog breeds – not a rodent.

The Difference Between Dogs and Rodents

The biggest indicator that we can use to differentiate between a canine and a rodent is simple – teeth.

Typically, Carnivores have upper premolars that appear to be flat, along with large front molars (carnassial teeth) that aides in the process of shredding or tearing meat. Rodents, on the other hand, have big first incisors that grow on a regular basis.

What Makes A Dog, A Dog?

According to genetics, dogs are much closer to bears and cats (Order Carnivora) than they ever were to rodents (Order Rodentia). In fact, the most common animals found to be similar to dogs are all within the Canidae family such as wolves and foxes, as indicated in a recent study of the Evolutionary History of Carnivora by BMC Biology.

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Where The Rumor Began – The Watley Review

On May 25th, 2004, The Watley Review issued an article titled “DNA Studies Finds Chihuahuas Aren’t Dogs”. The article continued by stating that many other breeds, including Chihuahuas, Shih-Tzus, and Yorkshire Terriers, were not even dogs, to begin with.

Watley Review goes as far as to state that Chi’s were descendants from large rodents, and were selectively bred to resemble canines, claiming that there were no more than 10% canine DNA in these breeds.

It’s unknown what the intention of this article was, or where it may have stemmed from, however, the very last statement made by a source named Frances LaCroix saying that “he would be ecstatic to finally get rid of the chatty group of rodents” implies that the stereotype surrounding Chihuahuas was very prominent at this time.

The Watley Review Disclaimer

So if there was such a large study conducted back in 2004 on the DNA of the beloved Chihuahua, how do we know that there isn’t some truth behind the claims? Simple – The Watley Review’s Disclaimer.

The Disclaimer easily reads that it “is dedicated to the production of articles completely without journalistic merit or factual basis, as this would entail leaving our chairs or actually working” and that “all contents are intended as a parody”.

Rodents: Debunked

The report was quickly debunked, and this brought an abundance of relief to Chihuahua owners all over the world. Chihuahuas were officially classified as descendants of wolves, not rodents, despite their small size.

Yes, it’s true – the exact same genetic makeup of DNA, or Genome, found in Chihuahuas were found in other dog breeds like Golden Retrievers, German Sheppards, or Poodles. The genetic makeup of animals is how we classify them into species – scientists can not only identify similarities between existing species , but they can identify commonalities between distant species (and those extinct!) indicating a evolutionary relationship. There is very little similarity between rodent and dog DNA.

Chi’s & Rodents: Similar Appearances

As mentioned previously, many people easily mistake Chihuahuas for rodents or, more specifically, rats simply because of their physical attributes. In comparison, a Chihuahua resembles a rodent more closely than a Saint Bernard – this much is true.

Both animals have smaller bodies, but the short, triangular-shaped ears are the biggest identifiable characteristic between the two. Tails and eye shapes are additional traits that these two animals share!

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All dog breeds reside as Canine, and rats are Muridae – which funnily enough, indicates that we humans are actually closer relatives to rats than dogs ever could be.

The Canine Genome

According to Dr. Marty Becker and the Dog Genome studies, we know that a Genome is a set of chromosomes found in the cells of each organism, and the genetic material that makes up chromosomes is called DNA, short for deoxyribonucleic acid.

This DNA is how we can securely tell that Chihuahuas are indeed dogs and not rodents.

Chihuahuas & Rodents

Due to its appearance, many people may wonder “Are Chihuahuas actually dogs?”. While they are known as one of the smallest dog breeds, it’s not difficult for some pet owners to wonder about the origin of their furry friends.

The Watley Review reported that Chihuahuas were bred to look like dogs, but were more like rodents in their biological nature and characteristics. The article had many dog owners scratching their heads in confusion – were they actually raising and caring for a large rodent, or was their beloved pet still classified as a dog?

Jury Is In: Chihuahuas Are Fully Canine

Whew – the article that pointed fingers at the Chi breed has been debunked as pure satire! This is proven with The Watley Review’s own disclaimer, as well as the simple history and biological stance of the Chihuahua.

Now that we know the Chihuahua companions are not rodents, we encourage the treatment of such! Chihuahuas can make great pets, and you can now adopt a lifelong companion without the fear of them secretly being a rodent.

Chihuahuas are most certainly canines, not rodents, and this has been confirmed!