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The Deer Head Chihuahua: Descendent of the Techichi Dog - PawSafe

The Deer Head Chihuahua: Descendent of the Techichi Dog

Photo of Tamsin De La Harpe

Written by Tamsin De La Harpe

The Deer Head Chihuahua

The Deer Head Chihuahua is one of two types of Chihuahua; namely, the Deer Head and the Apple Head. While only the Apple Head is accepted by the AKC for show dog purposes, the Deer Head is still quite common. It is also a purebred Chihuahua that dates back as far as the Apple Head.

Its appearance and name have some people confused, mistakenly calling it the Reindeer Chihuahua. But it’s not hard to see why people make that mistake. Its long legs, delicate nose, and smaller head look precisely like an adorable baby deer.

Generally easy to care for and healthier than the Apple Head, the Deer Head is a fantastic companion for anybody who wants a fun, sassy companion with the heart of a lion.

History of the Deer Head Chihuahua

The exact history of the Chihuahua isn’t clear. Still, it’s thought to be a descendant of a small, mute dog called the Techichi kept as a companion dog by the Toltec people of Mexico as far back as A.D. 9. 

The Techichi were believed to have supernatural powers and could see into the future. They were often sacrificed to follow their owners into the afterlife. Superstitions like this continued as the Chihuahua was later thought to be able to cure asthma

DNA analysis suggests they initially entered the Americas from Siberia. However, they have been outcrossed so much with European breeds that only about 4% of the original Mexican dog exists in the Chihuahua genome.

Nevertheless, it seems that both the Apple Head and the Deer head have equally ancient origins. Wheeled dog toys found in Veracruz that date back as far as A.D. 100 are believed to be of both the Deer Head and the Apple Head types.

While the Techichi went extinct, similar small dogs were eventually found in Chihuahua in Mexico in the sixteenth century. Hence, the name. These became popular and common companion dogs, although there are reports of packs of wild Chihuahuas in the Southwestern U.S. in the 1800s and 1900s.

The first Apple Head Chihuahua, named Midget, was registered by the AKC in 1904, making them one of the USA’s earliest registered breeds. Classified as a Toy Breed, the Chihuahua is the 12th most popular dog in the United States. 

Luckily, the Deer Head Chi remains popular, even if the AKC does not formally recognize it.

Physical Characteristics of a Deer Head Chihuahua
Height8 – 12 inches
WeightAbout 10 pounds
Lifespan12 to 20 years
ColorUsually fawn, but may be any color with any pattern of coloring.
NoseBlack, tan, blue, or pink
EyesHazel, dark, or Ruby

The most obvious characteristic of a Deer Head Chi and what sets it apart from the Apple Head is the skull’s shape. The Apple head is famous for its pronounced, dome-like skull that meets a short nose at a 90-degree angle. 

It also has prominent, large eyes and a smaller nose.

By contrast, a Deer Head Chi has a long, slender snout that is more proportional to the rest of the head with less pronounced eyes. It is also slightly larger, with longer legs. Together with its perky ears, it has the exact appearance of a newborn fawn.

Although it is a purebred Chi, it cannot participate in shows since it is not AKC recognized.

The Deer Head Chihuahua is also less likely to have a molera on the top of its skull. A molera is a soft spot on the top of the head where the bones haven’t fused. It’s similar to the fontanelle on a newborn baby.

The lack of the molera and the larger size are two reasons the Deer Head is generally healthier than the Apple Head Chi.

Just like the Apple Head, the Deer Head can have either a short or long coat. In fact, two short-coated parents can give birth to a long-coated pup. 

Coat colors are usually fawn, but they may also be black, white, silver, or gray, and they also come in any pattern. This means they may be spotted, bi-color, tri-color, or merle.

General Care of a Deer Head Chihuahua
SheddingMinimal shedding
ExerciseMinimal. 20 to 30 minutes daily. Should be watched in case of overexertion
HousingCan adapt apartments. Housing should be proofed to avoid injury
TemperamentLively, loyal, protective, and feisty. May be given to shaking, stubbornness, or aggression with strangers.
TrainabilityCan be stubborn. May only learn a few basic commands.


The Deer Head Chi is an alert little guy with a surprising amount of energy, but it is limited due to its size. While it may not be able to keep up with a 10-mile run, it will still need a lot of playtime and stimulation. 

In fact, Chi’s are high energy and so often under-stimulated that they cause more property damage than other dogs. 

In the United Kingdom, it was reported that Chihuahuas damaged an average of £ 865 over their lifetime, such as ripping furniture and digging up gardens. This is more than any other breed.


A Deer Head should not be kept outside. Their diminutive size means it’s harder for them to regulate their body heat. Luckily, this makes them great apartment dogs. 

Since they tend to become very attached to one owner, staying as close as possible to that person is best. These are great dogs for older or single people who lead a quiet life and appreciate the companionship a devoted Chi can bring. 

It is best if these dogs are not left alone for long hours. 

Also, keep in mind that Chi’s have tiny bladders and stubborn personalities, so they are among the most challenging dogs to potty-train.

Food & Dietary Requirements

A Deer Head Chihuahua will need regular small meals throughout the day, as they may suffer from low blood sugar if they go too long without food. 

Many Chihuahuas are bred smaller and smaller to achieve the so-called “teacup” or “micro” sizes. This causes congenital defects such as liver shunts that require a low-protein or low-phosphorus diet. 

Teacup Deer Head Chihuahuas are less common, and the average Deer Head is generally healthier than an Apple Head. Still, it is best to speak to your vet about the best possible diet for your Chi’s health.


Short-coated Chi’s need to be given a once-over with a brush at least once a week, while long-coated Deer Heads will need to be adequately brushed at least three times a week. 

The occasional visit to a professional groomer won’t go amiss. However, these dogs are usually relatively low maintenance when it comes to grooming. 

Contrary to popular thinking, long-haired Chihuahuas actually shed less than short-haired ones, making them even better apartment dogs.

Make sure to trim nails regularly, using either a clipper or grinder. The grinder is incredibly safe to use on their delicate little nails.

Nails and teeth should also be cleaned regularly. These dogs can be prone to dental issues, and the delicate hairs inside the ears of the long-haired variety should be trimmed to help prevent ear infections.

The Health of the Deer Head Chihuahua
Severe Health Problems Patellar luxation
Heart problems
Collapsing tracheas
Mild to Moderate Health ProblemsDental diseases
Respiratory issues
Occasional Health ProblemsObesity
Liver Shunts


Since the Deer Head Chihuahua is an active, spritely soul that needs stimulation and exercise, we recommended various fun activities for them. Although they can enjoy a few daily walks, exploring new places, and socializing with other dogs, their small size precludes them from doing this in excess.

This means Chihuahua owners need to get inventive to keep their bold little dogs entertained. They can be taught games like hide-and-seek, picking up toys, chasing bubbles and small balls.

They are also portable and can be taken with you wherever you go. A good stuffed Kong can keep them busy for a while, as well as homemade doggy puzzles.

Do not allow your Deer Head Chi out in extreme weather since their little bodies will struggle to cope. When going for a walk on a hot day, take water and a collapsible water bowl with you to keep your pup hydrated. 

Always feel the ground with your hand to check it’s not too hot for their little paws. Likewise, be sure to keep them wrapped up in cold weather.

Another important aspect of walking your Chihuahua is their fragile neck and their tendency to gain trachea injuries through the use of collars. Instead, invest in an extra small harness. 

They are also agile and can leap from a car in the moment it takes to blink, so consider keeping your pup buckled up with a doggy seatbelt when inside a vehicle.


Good news! The Deer Head Chihuahua is considered healthier than the Apple Head for several reasons.

Firstly, since they have fewer soft spots on their skulls, they are less prone to head and brain injury. The apple-dome shape of the standard AKC accepted Chihuahua is also commonly thought to be more inclined to fluid in the brain, a condition called hydrocephalus. Although there is no clear evidence for this.

Their larger bodies also make them hardier. Especially since they are less likely to be bred for famous “teacup”, “micro”, or “mini” sizes. 

Breeding practices that breed for extremely tiny dogs often use unethical breeding techniques such as breeding runts, introducing the dwarfism gene, or stunting a puppy’s growth with malnutrition. 

This means teacup dogs are especially prone to congenital defects such as liver shunts.

Luckily, the Deer Head Chihuahua is most likely to avoid all of that. Their most common causes of death are heart disease, trauma through injury, or infection.

They are also prone to shifting kneecaps known as patellar luxation, obesity, dental issues, and low blood sugar (hypoglycemia). Happily, most of these problems are easily avoided with proper diets and routine care.


The Deer Head Chihuahua is probably the longest living breed globally, with an expected lifespan of between 12 and 20 years.

The Trainability, Temperament, and Intelligence of a Deer Head Chihuahua

Chihuahuas are incredibly bright and intelligent, and some do very well in obedience and agility. They can be stubborn and independent, and so they will need experienced and patient training. 

In some cases, due to their feisty personalities, owners only ever manage to teach a few basic commands. “No” is the most common since Chi’s are known barkers. But, this does make them excellent watchdogs. They are also notoriously difficult to house train.

They have a tendency to shiver and tremble and can become aggressive if not well-socialized or given gentle but firm boundaries.

They tend to pick a favorite person in the household and love to “claim” their human. Although this kind of resource guarding should be nipped in the bud from an early age. 

They love to burrow in anything they can, including blankets or furniture. When properly raised, they make for scrappy, comical, and enjoyable little dogs who make great companions.

Sociability with Other Pets

Your Deer Head Chi should get along fine with other dogs provided she is appropriately socialized from a young age. Unsocialized Chis can struggle with fear-aggression or dominant personalities that to drive other dogs away from their stuff, including their humans.

A Deer Head Chihuahua should also be watched with bigger dogs and animals as they can easily be hurt by accident due to their size. 

Ideal companions for Chi’s include the Havanese, the Yorkshire Terrier, or the Papillon.

Suitable Home

A Deer Head Chi is suitable for a small home with only a few other small breed pets. 

Little children should be avoided, and the home should be proofed to prevent accidental injury, such as by leaping from high furniture or falling through slats in stairs. 

An owner who is home most or all of the day is the ideal companion for a Deer Head Chihuahua. Special care should also be taken to make sure they are always warm enough with comfy beds and jackets in the winter.

What You Can Expect To Pay For a Deer Head Chihuahua

Coming from a reputable breeder, Deer Head Chihuahua puppies go for between $400 and $1,200. 

However, Chis are such a popular breed, it is relatively easy to find one through rescue organizations such as Chihuahua Rescue and Transit. 

The Chihuahua is a feisty and energetic little dog that thrives on activity and attention. They do well in quiet homes with owners who are present who can see to their needs for stimulation and exercise. 

They return these efforts with bucket loads of love and devotion. As a healthier dog than the Apple head, the Deer Head Chihuahua may be the perfect companion for somebody looking for a low maintenance mutt with a big personality.

Meet Your Experts

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Tamsin De La Harpe


Tamsin de la Harpe has nearly two decades of experience with dogs in rescue, training, and behavior modification with fearful and aggressive dogs. She has worked closely with veterinarians and various kennels, building up extensive medical knowledge and an understanding of canine health and physiology. She also spent two years in the animal sciences as a canine nutrition researcher, focusing on longevity and holistic healthcare for our four-legged companions. Tamsin currently keeps a busy homestead with an assortment of rescue dogs and three Bullmastiffs.

Tamsin de la Harpe has nearly two decades of experience with dogs in rescue, training, and behavior modification with fearful and aggressive dogs. She has worked closely with veterinarians and various kennels, building up extensive medical knowledge and an understanding of canine health and physiology. She also spent two years in the animal sciences as a canine nutrition researcher, focusing on longevity and holistic healthcare for our four-legged companions. Tamsin currently keeps a busy homestead with an assortment of rescue dogs and three Bullmastiffs.