The Chihuahua is the world’s smallest dog breed, and they are hugely popular with owners of all types and from all walks of life thanks to their tiny and undeniably cute size and their big personalities! Most dog lovers could identify a Chihuahua instantly if they spotted one out on a walk too, and their petite height is just one of their distinctive features-along with their overly large domed heads!
However, like a great many dog breeds today, the large and rounded appearance of the Chihuahua head is something that historically was a lot less exaggerated in most dogs of the breed-and this is known as an “apple head,” and is even noted in the Kennel Club’s breed standard for the Chihuahua as part of the desired and “correct” appearance of the breed.
While the apple head is much more common and technically desirable today-and most Chihuahuas that you see will display it-some Chihuahuas will have a slightly different head shape and so, overall appearance that is less domed and exaggerated, and this is called a “deer head.”
As well as being different to look at, the deer head and the apple head Chihuahua’s differences actually run deeper than simply their looks-and the shape and size of the dog’s head also determines certain factors about their health and propensity to health problems too.
In this article, we will look at the differences between the apple head and the deer head Chihuahua in more detail, including their physical appearance, Kennel Club breed standard, and health. Read on to learn more.
An apple head Chihuahua often has a rather disproportionately large domed skull with a similarly high forehead in comparison with the size of their body, with the rest of their bodies being delicate and petite, including their small muzzle and fine bones. Their eyes tend to be very round and sometimes prominent, and appear larger and wider than their deer-headed relatives.
A deer headed Chihuahua, on the other hand, has a rather more proportionate appearance, with a lower forehead and generally, smaller dome of the skull that is less uniformly round and acute. Their heads look more proportionate to their bodies, and their muzzles are a touch longer due to the added space. The height of the head itself is lower and less rounded, and the eyes are set further back and less protruding as a result.
In the UK, the breed standard for the Chihuahua describes the desirable appearance of the head (and so, the traits that breeders will seek when producing dogs that will rank well in shows) as “well rounded with an apple dome.” However, the size of the apple dome is not indicated in terms of proportions, and the breed standard goes on to say that while the eyes should be large, they should not be protruding.
In order to promote responsible breeding and the awarding of show prizes and accolades to only healthy dogs, Chihuahuas that have overly exaggerated heads and/or protruding eyes should be penalised in the show ring-although this does not always happen in reality.
While a Chihuahua with a deer head rather than a domed apple head is unlikely to rank well in breed shows, they are actually a lot less likely to suffer from certain health problems that can arise due to exaggerations in their conformation. Several of the conformation problems that commonly arise in the apple head Chihuahua are absent in the deer head Chihuahua, and the conformation of the two respective head shapes and sizes can have very different implications for the dog in question.
Chihuahuas with an apple head very often have a small but distinctive indentation on the top of their heads between and just above their eyes-this is called a molera, and actually indicates that the dog’s skull has a small hole or opening in it, which will be soft to the touch. In some Chihuahuas that are born with a molera, the hole will naturally close up as the pups grows older-often within just a few months-but in some Chihuahuas, the molera or hole will remain present and open for life.
The presence of an open molera itself is not a specific health problem-but if does of course make the dog more vulnerable to injuries and damage to the skull and brain through impact and injuries, which owners should be aware of.
A molera does not occur in deer headed Chihuahuas, so negating any potential risk in this respect.
Additionally, the rest of the face and muzzle of the deer headed Chihuahua is subtly different too in many ways that make the deer headed Chihuahua more likely to be healthy, and less prone to suffering from conformation-related health problems. The muzzle is slightly larger in the deer-headed Chihuahua and less flat, making deer headed Chihuahuas less prone to breathing problems and overheating in hot weather. Additionally, the trachea or windpipe of the deer headed Chihuahua is slightly larger and less delicate too, reducing the risk of the dog suffering from tracheal collapse, a specific health concern in the apple head Chihuahua.
Overall, a deer headed Chihuahua has a more natural and so, healthy conformation than an apple headed Chihuahua, and is less likely to suffer from health problems as a result of this. The greater the degree of exaggeration of the “apple” in the apple headed Chihuahua, the greater their risk factors will be.
If you are considering adopting or buying a Chihuahua pup, these are important factors to consider-a deer headed Chihuahua is unlikely to become a show winner, but they have less contributing factors for potential problems too. Apple head Chihuahuas that are bred responsibly and with the health and best interests of the dogs in mind, rather than to increase exaggeration, are also of course more likely to be healthy than dogs bred for overly large heads.
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