The name ‘Chihuahua’ comes from Mexico where its main ancestor is said to have been a dog bred to sniff out silver. The breed’s size, shape, and color are evocative of the American states of Arizona and New Mexico where many of them live and work. Though its origins may lie in the Mexican Wild West, today’s Chihuahuas are mostly docile and sweet-natured.

A Toy That Has Lifted Many Pet Owners’ Hearts

Long before they were popular among humans, Chihuahuas were beloved companions for people of all ages. In the 1930s and ‘40s, before the advent of air travel and mass production, families vacationed together often and visited faraway places like Europe or Asia via train and boat. In those days, getting a dog to travel on a train or boat wasn’t easy—especially not a chihuahua, which is half the size of average household dogs. People wrote letters to each other about their pet dogs’ adventures, bonded over their furry little friends, and sometimes even shared cab rides to increase their dog’s stress levels.

These days, owning a Chihuahua isn’t as romantic or nostalgic as it was then. Traveling with your pet dog is still difficult (if not outright impossible), but modern-day chihuahuas can be ordered online or from pet stores dotted around the world. The breed has been around long enough for everyone to know its quirks, but because of its small size and long history as a working dog, there’s still much mystery surrounding it. For example, is there any truth to the legend that chihuahuas can detect drugs or toxins? Can they help humans with disabilities? Is there any connection between chihuahuas and the hormone vasopressin, which regulates blood pressure and urine output? Perhaps the most intriguing question has to do with its temperament: Does the breed bite or claw its way through life, or does it simply snarl at the world?

They Love To Snuggle And Cuddle

If you’ve ever held a chihuahua in your arms, you’ll know exactly what we mean when we say they love to snuggle and cuddle. The tiny dogs love to be held, and they’ll often curl up next to you on a couch or in bed and go to sleep. They’re especially fond of blankets and thick towels, and they’ll steal them to keep their tiny bodies warm in the winter and cool in the summer.

In the summer of 2018, a group of German researchers set out to see just how much affection Chihuahuas show towards their owners. To avoid potential bias, the scientists used a technique known as ‘reverse psychology’. They played audio files of unfamiliar voices in the guise of potential friends or family members of the dog’s owner, then measured the pooch’s stress levels before and after the ‘interview’ (as if the dog was a human participant in a psychological test).

This experiment allowed the scientists to quantify the amount of snuggling and cuddling that takes place between a dog and its owner. In the initial stages of the study, before playing the audio file, the dogs’ ‘cuddle scores’ were consistently higher than their ‘snuggling scores’, suggesting that the animals are more likely to want to be near their owners than the opposite. However, once they heard the voice of a loved one, the dogs’ behavior changed: they became more likely to approach their owners for affectionate snuggles and rolled over for belly rubs (a sign of submissiveness in dogs).

Based on this evidence, we can conclude that Chihuahuas love to be near and around their owners and will do whatever it takes to be close to them. However, this doesn’t mean that the dogs love doing ‘doggy tricks’ for their owners, or that they want to be in the company of humans 24/7. Studies have shown that chihuahuas are wary of new people and environments, and will take time to trust you before they let their guards down. This is probably because they’re insecure with a fear of being alone, and feel safer around familiar faces or voices they trust.

They Are Intelligent, Tricky, And Creative

Though chihuahuas are generally docile and sweet-natured, they’re also intelligent, trickster dogs. One of the most famous canine tricksters is ‘Bandit’ (or ‘Bandi’ to his fans), a chihuahua who escaped from his owner’s home in Nashville, Tennessee in 2006 and robbed a bank of nearly $10,000. The dog, who was trained to jump through a window onto a motorcycle for access to an ATM, used his wits to outsmart police for almost a decade.

Another example of chihuahua ingenuity is the story of ‘Sargeant’, a dog who helped hunt down the notorious Boston serial killer ‘Ted Keaton’ in the 1960s. One of Keaton’s last sightings before his death was in the company of a dog, and he is presumed to have killed the animal after he escaped from prison in 1968. In another story, ‘Poco’, a female chihuahua with a taste for the finer things in life, is credited with saving the life of English explorer ‘Sir Walter Raleigh’ in the 16th century. Raleigh’s ship was wrecked in a storm and he was forced to walk the entire island of Santorini, Greece, in search of help. Raleigh, a devoted servant to King Elizabeth I at the time, was in no condition to travel, so he entrusted his dog Poco with the delivery of important messages and tidbits.

These are just a few of the many anecdotes surrounding the wily origins of the Chihuahua breed. Though its history may be intriguing, the truth is that all dogs have a role to play in society, be it as a working dog, a guard dog, or a pet. As with any other animal, it’s all about the person and what they represent. For example, would you rather have a guard dog or a therapy dog?

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