The AKC breed standard does not recognize different "types" of chihuahua. According to the standard a chihuahua is a chihuahua, and the breed standard describes an Applehead Chihuahua. However, there are loads of both of them out there and I get several calls regarding how to tell what type your chihuahua is and the differences.
So here's an easy way to tell the two apart for those who'd like to know :)
I will base my explanation off the AKC Chihuahua Breed Standard, which describes the Apple Head Chihuahua.
(This Page is currently based on MY opinions, based on articles I've read and experience, however I have not taken the time to list my references yet)
A graceful, alert, swift-moving compact little dog with saucy expression, and with terrier-like qualities of temperament.
This describes both the Applehead and the Deer-Type
Head - A well rounded "apple dome" skull, with or without molera.
Both the Applehead and the Deer-Type may have an "Apple dome" skull, however the Applehead has a larger and more fully formed dome.
Expression – Saucy
Eyes - Full, round, but not protruding, balanced, set well apart-luminous dark or luminous ruby. Light eyes in blond or white-colored dogs permissible. Blue eyes or a difference in the color of the iris in the two eyes, or two different colors within one iris should be considered a serious fault.
Both the AppleHead and Deer-Type may have correct eyes and eye set, as well as incorrect eyes and eye set.
Ears – Large, erect type ears, held more upright when alert, but flaring to the sides at a 45 degree angle when in repose, giving breadth between the ears.
Here again, Ears are not a distinguishing feature between the two.
Stop – Well defined. When viewed in profile, it forms a near 90 degree angle where muzzle joins skull.
Ahhh... here is where we begin to see a marked difference between the AppleHead and the Deer-Type. The Applehead chihuahua has a muzzle that forms a 90 degree or very near 90 degree angle where it joins the skull. We call this area the stop. It is generally the little spot directly between your chihuahua's eyes. This area on an applehead is a 90 degree angle to the muzzle. That means there should be no slope from your dog's forehead to its nose. _| A deer-type chihuahua's nose has a slope here! A deer type chihuahuas's muzzle will slope up to the forehead, not stop abruptly between the eyes. This is not the deciding factor between the two, because there is so much cross-breeding you may never be sure, but this slope is a good indication your dog is a deer-type or has some in its pedigree somewhere.
Muzzle – Moderately short, slightly pointed. Cheeks and jaws lean.
Here we are again. Typically the Deer-type chihuahua has a muzzle that is markedly longer than the Applehead's. An Applehead's muzzle should be no longer than the width of the tip of your pointer and middle fingers combined (assuming you don't have uncommonly wide or thin fingers) :) That means you put the tip of your pointer and middle finger together and touch your dog's stop, you shouldn't be able to see its nose poking out from underneath them. That's not to say all Appleheads are show quality champions that never have noses a centimeter longer than that! Its just pointing out that dogs with 3" long muzzles are not Appleheads... or at least definitely not full Appleheads.
Neck – Slightly arched, gracefully sloping into lean shoulders.
Appleheads tend to have shorter necks than Deer-Types do. A chihuahua is not meant to have a looooong sloping neck like a giraffe!
Topline – Level.
Your dog's topline refers to the top line of its back. Did you know that is supposed to be a straight line? A chihuahua's back should NOT arch upward! That is called "roach back" and can lead to back problems later in life. I have seen many more Deer-Type chihuahuas with roach back than Appleheads.
Body – Ribs rounded and well sprung (but not too much "barrel-shaped").
This means that your chihuahua should not have a big barrel chest that arches sharply up into a tiny little waist. We call that "Tucked Up". Your dog should have a somewhat noticable waistline. But almost be a straight line from the area of its chest between its front legs, across its tummy to its groin. It should not suck inward sharply just past its rib cage. Deer-Types are often more "tucked up" than Appleheads.
Legs (This is not from the standard, just a side note to further explain the differences)
Appleheads are meant to be "Cobby"
They have an appearance that is slightly longer than tall, but not to the point of being elongated. That means their legs are somewhat short compared to their length. Deer-types often have much longer legs than an Applehead and lose the "Cobby" appearance.
Disqualifications - Any dog over 6 pounds in weight.
Appleheads should always be under 6lbs. You will see them larger, 7 or even 8 lbs in some larger lines, but this is not acceptable in the show ring and is undesirable as far as conformation is concerned. Deer-types have a tendency to be larger than Appleheads and can often be found as large as 10 or 12lbs.
(Quick Generalized Overview)
(Quick Generalized Overview)
This is not to say that because your chihuahua has a 90 degree muzzle it is an Applehead, or a long-legged dog is definitely a Deer-Type. Its just a bit of info I've picked up to help you identify which type your dog more closely resembles for your own identification purposes. From a show/breed standard perspective the Applehead is the correct type, however many people prefer the Deer-type from personal preference. There is a great deal of misconception out there regarding Appleheads being "sickly" or "Less healthy" than Deer-types, and this information is quite untrue. When purchasing EITHER type of chihuahua, you should be doing thorough research into where your dog is coming from. If you are truly concerned with health issues, buy only from quality breeders that health test their dogs and can guarantee against genetic disorders and have healthy, happy breeding stock. The only thing that could give the Deer-type an edge over an Applehead is hybrid vigor... because Deer-Type chihuahuas sometimes have another similar breed in their lineage, like a min-pin or a dachshund, rat terrier, etc... and hybrid vigor could play a part there... but that also means you don't have a purebred chihuahua. I hope this helps you decipher the type your dog most closely resembles. As always, feel free to message me with any comments regarding this article.
The AKC Chihuahua Breed Standard information was gathered from the AKC website, and can be found HERE.