The first Chihuahua registered with the AKC was long coated.
So was the second one.
And the third.
In fact, most of the imported Chihuahuas in the late 19th century were long coated Chis, and why this is so interesting is because the long-coat gene is actually recessive. A Chihuahua’s coat length is determined by two genes, if the gene for the dominant smooth coat is present, it will completely hide the recessive long coat gene. One would assume. therefore, that long haired Chihuahuas were less common early on.
That said, having the dominant gene doesn’t always mean it will pass on to their offspring, only that if the Chihuahua has both genes, the smooth coat gene will be expressed and “overwhelm” the long-coat gene. Long-haired Chihuahuas bred together always produce a long-haired puppy because there is no smooth gene in them. If there were, it would dominate the long-coat gene and the dog would be a smooth coat. Conversely, two smooth-coat Chihuahuas can produce a long-coat pup. This accounts, then, for the preponderance of long coated Chihuahuas early in the breed’s history in the United States.
The AKC recognized the breed in 1924, and two years later, recognized the varieties of coat at the Sesqui-Centennial in 1926 (rumor has it that the first long haired Chihuahua shown at a dog show was German owned) but Smooth Coats and Long Coats weren’t divided into varieties until 1952. The year before, a Chihuahua named Ch. Attas’ Gretchen won the breed’s first Best in Show at an all breed show, a milestone for the breed, but Ch. Attas’ Gretchen was smooth coated. It was nearly 25 years before a Long Coat would win an all breed Best in Show, this happening in 1975 with a bitch named Ch. Snow Bunny d’Casa de Cris. It’s curious to many that it took so long because the two varieties are the same breed under their coats. As the Chihuahua Club of America‘s Illustrated Guide puts it: “The strengths of one variety are the same in the other; an unwanted weakness in one is not acceptable in the other.” The one disqualifying factor that is different between the two varieties is a too thin coat that resemble bareness. This disqualification for lack of coat in Long Coats “emphasizes that the coat is the singular difference between varieties.”
An interesting bit of trivia is that the first Chihuahua to qualify for police duty as a search-and-rescue specialist was a long coat. In 2010, a six pound Chi named “Momo” was one of thirty-two successful candidates out of seventy dogs. Then seven-years old, Momo (whose name means “Peach”) became an official police dog for the Nara Police Department in Japan, her small size allowing her to crawl through tight spaces and dense rubble during search-and-rescue missions.
Regardless of coat variety, Chihuahuas as police dogs isn’t as uncommon as one might think. “Zorro” (trained to be a Certified Therapy K9) joined the Marblehead (Ohio) Police Department in 2018; In 2022, the Spotsylvania Sheriff’s Office added “Brex” to their K9 Division. Brex is certified in both patrol and narcotics, and specializes in CSD (Confined Space Deployments) and BTK (Below-the-Knee) physical criminal apprehensions (a term we suspect was written tongue-in-cheek).
We leave you with a quick look at Momo:
*We fibbed. All Chihuahuas rule regardless of coat. Just saying.
Image: Long Haired Chihuahua by John Guthrie is available as fine art and in home decor and lifestyle items here.