The Apple Head Chihuahua (Little Dog! Big Love!) | Herepup
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The Apple Head Chihuahua (Little Dog! Big Love!)

We all know that Chihuahuas are tiny dogs with a not-so-tiny cult following within the world of canine ownership. What you may not know is there is a classification of Chihuahuas called Apple Head Chihuahuas. It’s a classification that shines a spotlight on the breed’s most endearing feature.

Stare Into the Depths of Cuteness

Let's just get this out of the way: Apple Head Chihuahuas are adorable. As this video shows, the little doggies don't even need to do anything to tug at your heart's "d’awww” response. All they need to do is stare at you with their sweet, expressive eyes.

What’s an Apple Head Chihuahua?

An Apple Head Chihuahua is defined as having a round skull top, which gives him a prominent forehead. It’s a feature that the American Kennel Club refers to as an “apple dome.” This shape of the head is also considered the Chihuahua breed standard per AKC guidelines.

The round top is the most prominent feature on an Apple Head Chihuahua’s noggin, but it’s not the only one that can be used as a differentiator. For instance, an Apple Head Chihuahua is also going to carry a short, stubby muzzle. He’s also going to have a prominent jawline.

These physical characteristics allow Apple Heads to be differentiated from the other classification of Chihuahuas known as Deer Head Chihuahuas. These types of Chihuahua are primarily identified by having a narrower skull and a longer snout, much like a deer. These features may make them look like they share characteristics with other dogs.

Another prime difference between the head of an Apple Head Chihuahua and a Deer Head Chihuahua is the eyes. In the case of Apple Head Chihuahuas, the peepers tend to be a little larger than the Deer Head, if not “bug-eyed.” This allows them to have more expressive, soulful – and some might say manipulative – eyes.

One head-related trait both Chihuahua types share is that they can come either with or without a skull depression known as a molera. This depression is a spot in the Chihuahua’s skull where the bone didn’t form properly, leaving a softer gap not too dissimilar to an infant’s fontanelle. This gap will eventually close.

The Chihuahua’s head will compensate for this gap by having a patch of cartilage under the skin where the skull would normally be. This offers some protection from various head injuries, but not as much protection as a skull bone. Having a molera is not an uncommon issue – it’s estimated by some breed experts that 80 percent of Chihuahuas have one.

The Confusing Classifications of Chihuahuas

If you aren’t familiar with the term Apple Head Chihuahua, don’t feel bad. There’s a tendency for the term to get lost in the shuffle because there are a whole bunch of different classifications associated with the tiny breed. Ironically, though, the Apple Head Chihuahua is the lone classification that’s recognized by the AKC.

The most common of these classifications have to do with the Chihuahua’s size, such as teacup, miniature, or micro. These can be apt descriptions of the Chihuahuas found on the tiny side of the breed spectrum, but they are more marketing driven than anything. Of course, these teeny Chihuahuas can officially be classified as Apple Headed.

There are two distinctive types of coats that a Chihuahua can have according to the AKC, either smooth or long. While smooth and long coats are separate classifications, both classes must have Apple Heads in order to be considered show-worthy.

Why the Apple Head Chihuahua is so Prominent Amongst Chihuahua Owners

Apple Head Chihuahua 2

There’s a good rationale for the AKC choosing Apple Headed Chihuahuas as the breed standard. They tend to be much more popular when compared to their Deer Headed counterparts. It’s also the head shape we tend to think of when we imagine a Chihuahua, whether we’re aware of the term or not.

Some of this may be driven by the AKC. After all, they will only recognize the Apple Headed type of Chihuahua as being show-worthy. Hence, it’s not too difficult to speculate this decision has had an impact on what type of Chihuahuas are produced by reputable breeders.

One may also point to pop culture for the perpetuation of the general public associating the skull shape with the breed. Chihuahuas depicted in cartoons or animated features are always drawn with an Apple Head shape. And lest we forget that pop culture’s most famous Chihuahua, the Taco Bell dog from the late ‘90s, was an Apple Head Chihuahua.

The Downside of Having an Apple Head Chihuahua

If you have an Apple Head Chihuahua, you have the breed standard that you may be able to show. You’ll also have a pooch that small dog aficionados will swoon over, in small part because the combination of round dome and expressive eyes is such an infectious sight. However, owning one comes with risks not as prominent in their Deer Head counterparts.

For instance, Deer Head Chihuahuas tend to have fewer health problems than Apple Heads. Some of these health issues typically associated with the breed include patellar luxation (that is, kneecap dislocation) and dry eyes.

Perhaps the widest health-related vulnerability between Apple Heads and Deer heads have to do with tracheal collapse. Because Deer Heads have longer muzzles, they have more room to breathe easily and comfortably. This puts less pressure on windpipe, which means it won’t get overworked as easily.

There are some circles that will tell you that Deer Head Chihuahuas are easier to train than Apple Head Chihuahuas. This supposed inherent curbing of the breed’s headstrong instinct tends to make them less aggressive and more obedient. However, this has really never officially been proven or debunked.

Caring for an Apple Head Chihuahua

The distinctive dome head and big eyes of an Apple Head Chihuahua may make it easy for you to experience love at first sight. However, you should keep this sense of ardor in check. Like any other dog, Chihuahuas may be a perfect breed for you, or they could be a disastrous choice.

For instance, the Chihuahua has no idea how small he is, and he’s not afraid to act like he’s a big dog. This bravado may get him into trouble with other larger dogs, particularly if the latter happens to have aggressive tendencies.

The larger-than-life attitude the Chihuahua possesses, combined with his surprisingly high intelligence, can create a dog that thinks he’s the alpha dog if not properly trained and socialized. This could lead to the development of particularly unpleasant behaviors like finicky eating habits or destructive behavior.

While Chihuahuas tend to be good family dogs, it’s inadvisable to have a Chihuahua if you have a toddler in the home or are planning to become pregnant. Chihuahuas may be brave, but they are brittle. A toddler in the throes of doing toddler things may end up unwittingly hurting the little guy.

Chihuahuas also have a reputation for being barky little beasts, and although they aren’t quite as yappy as other breeds, they aren’t exactly quiet either. While their small size can make them ideal for apartment living, you may end up driving your neighbors crazy if you don’t try to keep his mouthiness in check.

The Chihuahua’s reputation for being a little ball of energy is also a bit of a misnomer. They are a playful, fun-loving breed once they get going, but they are also a bit of a lazy breed that would have no qualms about curling up on the couch next to you and sleeping the day away.

Because of this, it’s important that you initiate exercise with the pooch. About 20 to 30 minutes of exercise is all that’s needed to help them stay active and healthy, although they do possess the stamina to go longer. If he exercises outside, make sure he’s not unsupervised – hawks and other birds of prey may look at your little guy as a snack.

Another reason why you need to keep to a strict regimen of activity with a Chihuahua is because he’ll gain weight like nobody’s business. Since the dog can weigh as little as 2 pounds, he doesn’t require a whole lot of food. If you’re not careful, you can easily overfeed him, and you can have a fat pooch on your hands in no time.

Finally, know that everything you’ve heard about the shivering Chihuahua is true. This breed does get the shakes when he’s excited, scared, or cold. To combat the latter condition, make sure you have a sweater you can slip over his body.

The Apple of Your Eye

There's something about that round bulbous noggin that makes an Apple Head Chihuahua instantly adorable, especially if small dogs are your speed. And if you have what it takes to handle this tiny pooch with a big attitude, then you’ll find him to be more than a handsome face. You’ll find him to be a great companion equipped to bring you joy at every turn.


Laura Harris

Dr. Laura Harris is our resident dog health expert. She started to fact-check dog health-related information for HerePup during her internship and contributes since then. Her expertise is in dog nutrition, senior dog care, especially critical care medicine and internal medicine.

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