The Deer head Chihuahua is one of two commonly accepted types of the breed. It has a head shape similar to a deer or hound.
Deer head Chihuahuas are bigger than their apple head counterparts. They also have longer legs and larger ears. Some people call them reindeer Chihuahuas!
Their care needs and personality are the same as any other type of Chihuahua. But some argue they are a healthier strain.
Let’s take a closer look at the truth of this.
Deer Head Chihuahua Contents
- What is a deer head Chihuahua?
- Deer head Chihuahua vs apple head Chihuahua
- Appearance of deer head Chihuahuas
- Temperament and personality
- Deer head Chihuahua health and care
- Is a deer head Chihuahua right for me?
- Similar breeds
What is a Deer Head Chihuahua?
Few dog breeds are as iconic as the Chihuahua. Whether settled in the handbag of a celebrity or yapping at passersby from behind a fence, Chihuahuas pack a lot of personality into that small frame.
A deer head Chihuahua is not its own breed. But, while major kennel associations don’t distinguish between Chihuahua breeds beyond long and short hair varieties, deer head and apple head are two commonly accepted varieties.
The reindeer Chihuahua’s rise to popularity was cemented in the 90’s by the energetic Taco Bell Mascot, Gidget. Since then, people have fallen in love with the breed because of its fierce loyalty and saucy attitude.
Where Does the Name Come From?
A deer head Chihuahua has, as you may have guessed, a head shape similar to that of a deer (or hound). They have a relatively long snout that meets their skull at a 45-degree angle.
It’s quite distinct from the apple head variety, which has a round, domed head and a snout that meets the skull at a perfect 90-degree angle.
While the shape of the head is the easiest way to tell the difference, there are a few other tricks.
Deer Head Chihuahua vs Apple Head Chihuahua
The differences between these two dogs are mostly superficial. There’s no real difference in personality or energy levels.
The proper care for apple head and deer head Chihuahuas is the same.
The only important differences are those regarding health issues. While anecdotal, many people who have owned both types claim that deer head Chihuahuas are less affected by the diseases that plague toy breeds.
There is little hard evidence to support this, but apple heads more often have a molera (a soft spot on the head, like a human baby’s). Moleras are linked to hydrocephaly – an unfortunately common issue for Chihuahuas.
Deer Head Chihuahua Appearance
Like previously mentioned, the deer head Chihuahua weight is usually greater than that of an apple head. Deer heads tend to weigh in at 4 to 7 lbs.
So, they are still firmly in the toy breed category.
Deer heads have a long snout, with large triangular ears.
Long Haired Deer Head Chihuahua
It is possible to get a long haired deer head Chihuahua, or a short haired version.
But, the long haired reindeer Chihuahua needs significantly more care than the short haired variety.
Owners must be prepared to groom them regularly. Keep their coat tangle free, and bathe them so that it never gets dirty.
Short haired varieties will need this too, but their maintenance is much easier than the popular long coat version.
These little dogs come in a variety of colors. But, fawn-colored is most common.
Black deer head Chihuahuas are topped in rarity only by pure white ones! And, black deer head Chihuahuas are becoming more popular as time goes on.
Deer Head Chihuahua Temperament
When you envision a Chihuahua, the first thing that comes to mind is their larger-than-life personality.
Words like saucy, sassy, and feisty are often used to describe Chihuahuas – and with great accuracy. They have some intangible quality that other dogs lack. Perhaps they’re just particularly expressive with their face.
That’s not to say they don’t express love and devotion like other dogs. On the contrary, Chihuahuas are loyal to a fault. They’ll ferociously defend their ‘pack’ against any perceived threat, no matter how big it is.
An interesting quirk of the breed is that they tend to latch onto one person in particular, usually whoever spends the most time with them.
They’ll show preference to this person in obedience, as well as defending them against anything (even other members of their ‘pack’).
To Be Aware Of
Like all dogs, deer head Chihuahua temperament is determined by that of its parents and by their level of training.
Unfortunately, there’s a pervasive notion that small dogs and toy breeds don’t need the same training or socialization as large dogs. That’s false, and the cause for many poorly trained reindeer Chihuahuas.
It’s a shame, because Chihuahuas are fairly easy to train. Since they develop close relationships with one person, they can learn quickly when time is regularly devoted to training.
Remember, though, that Chihuahuas are not a breed known for their patience.
They’ll get irritated by poking and prodding from children. Be sure to watch children playing with Chihuahuas carefully.
Deer Head Chihuahua Health
The unfortunate reality of Chihuahuas is that they often suffer extensive health problems. The same breeding that made them so cute has inadvertently conferred many congenital and chronic health issues.
Kirk N. Gelatt noted in his book, Essentials of Veterinary Ophthalmology, that Chihuahuas have a high incidence of senile iris atrophy. As the dog ages, the muscles in the iris decay, causing sensitivity to light and vision loss. There’s no treatment for this disease.
Small breeds, or those with oddly-shaped faces, are particularly susceptible to brachycephalic airway problems.
Chihuahuas are no exception. They’re predisposed to suffer from reverse sneezing. Rowena Packer found in her 2015 study that the ratio of muzzle to cranial length is an influencer of brachycephalic airway issues, such as tracheal collapse.
Her findings do suggest, however, that deer head Chihuahuas might be less affected than apple heads since they tend to have longer snouts. You can read more about brachycephalic airway problems here.
Furthermore, as veterinary doctor Ross Clark notes, Chihuahuas are well known for periodontal issues such as early tooth loss and mandibular degeneration.
Toy Breed Health Problems
There are a number of problems that toy breeds all suffer from. These are to do with their size.
Toy dog breeds like the reindeer Chihuahua are prone to problems like hypoglycemia, low body temperature, and bladder problems.
You may find that potty training is more difficult because they have such tiny bladders.
And a final important note, is the fragility of this tiny breed. Deer head Chihuahuas can easily get hurt if not handled properly.
They easily suffer from broken bones, bumps, scrapes and more. So, they are not well suited for homes with small kids or large, boisterous dogs.
Is a Deer Head Chihuahua Right for Me?
Deer head Chihuahuas are fun loving, energetic, affectionate, and will be very loyal to their owners.
But, they won’t suit every home. They need owners that can commit time every day to training, socialization, and exercise.
Even though they’re small, they have a lot of energy that must be worn off.
They are also prone to a lot of health issues due to their tiny size. Potential owners should be aware of this risk, and be prepared to pay some costly vet bills.
Deer head Chihuahuas won’t suit homes with small children or boisterous pets. These little dogs are very fragile, and need owners that can handle them with care and delicacy.
If you love the personality or small appearance of the deer head Chihuahua, but want a breed that’s a little healthier, there are plenty of others you can consider.
Here are some of our other breed guides that can help you learn about the alternatives.
Deer Head Chihuahua Summary
Do you have a deer head Chi at home, or are you just considering this breed as a new pet?
Let us know in the comments your favorite thing about this version of the tiny Chihuahua breed.
References and Resources
- Gawor, J. ‘Skull and Dental Radiography using Medical X-Ray Techniques’, Practical Veterinary Dental Radiography (2017)
- Gelatt, K. ‘Essentials of Veterinary Ophthalmology’, Wiley Blackwell (2014)
- Packer, Rowena M. A. (et al) ‘Impact of Facial Conformation on Canine Health: Brachycephalic Obstructive Airway Syndrome PLoS ONE (2018)
- Clark, Ross D. ‘Medical, Genetic and Behavioral Risk Factors of the Toy Breeds’ (2017)