Chihuahua chəwä´wə [key], a breed of small toy dog probably of Asian origin and introduced into Mexico by Spanish settlers. It stands about 5 in. (12.7 cm) high at the shoulder and weighs from 1 to 6 lb (0.5–2.7 kg). There are two varieties: the smooth, with a short, close-lying, glossy coat, and the long-coated, with soft-textured, flat or slightly wavy hair that forms a fringe of longer hair on the neck, legs, and tail. The coat may be any color but is usually tan. Named after the state of Chihuahua, Mexico, this tiny dog was long believed to have been indigenously Mexican. However, there exist no archaeological remains to support this belief; the animal generally claimed to be the Chihuahua depicted in Toltecan and Aztecan art and described in the writings of early explorers of Mexico is most probably a variety of rodent. It is much more likely that the ancestors of the breed were brought by Spanish merchants by way of their trade route from China, where the practice of dwarfing both plants and animals has had a long history. Today the Chihuahua is widely popular as a house pet. See dog.
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