A pre-Columbian effigy of a Techichi
Breed statusExtinct
Dog (domestic dog)

The Techichi is an extinct breed of small, mute dog bred by the Toltec culture as long ago as the 9th century C.E. It is thought to be an ancestor of the modern Chihuahua.[1][2][3][4][5]


Techichis varied in appearance, with their coats ranging from brown, brown and white, black and white, to black. Their ears were sometimes cropped close to the head, but their tails were left uncut in their natural state.[6]


Techichis were larger than modern Chihuahuas, but were bred into the smaller, lighter dog known today by the Aztecs.[3][7] The first European to encounter the dog breed was the Spanish explorer Francisco Hernandez, who reported its existence in 1578. He wrote that the native people ate them as commonly as they ate rabbits. The Spanish, who were often short of food, ate them on their expeditions as well. It is estimated that Spanish explorers ate as many as 100,000 Techichis, and by the 19th century they had disappeared altogether.[6] It wasn't until the mid-1800s that people outside of Mexico took interest in the breed, finding many of its modern descendants in the state of Chihuahua.[8][9]

In human culture

To the Toltecs, Techichis were believed to have supernatural powers, such as seeing into the future, and they were often sacrificed so they could guide their owners in the afterlife.[10] Like the Toltecs, the Aztecs also believed that Techichis could guide human souls after death, and that they could guard pyramids if buried underneath them.[11] Several pre-Columbian artefacts have been discovered depicting the dogs, including wheeled toys[12] and effigy pots.[13] They were eaten as food by people, and certain stud males and brood females were kept to produce as many litters as possible.[6]

See also


  1. ^ "Chihuahua dog | Description, Temperament, Images, & Facts | Britannica". Retrieved 2022-11-06.
  2. ^ Humboldt, Alexander von (2004). Aspects of Nature in Different Lands and Different Climates. Psychology Press. ISBN 978-0-415-28933-7.
  3. ^ a b Cooley, Mackenzie (2022-10-26). The Perfection of Nature: Animals, Breeding, and Race in the Renaissance. University of Chicago Press. ISBN 978-0-226-82228-0.
  4. ^ Smith, Charles Hamilton (1840). The Natural History of Dogs: Canidæ Or Genus Canis of Authors. Including Also the Genera Hyæna and Proteles. W.H. Lizars, ... S. Highley, ... London; and W. Curry, jun. and Company Dublin.
  5. ^ Reed, Charles A, ed. (2011-06-03). Origins of Agriculture. De Gruyter Mouton. doi:10.1515/9783110813487. ISBN 978-3-11-081348-7.
  6. ^ a b c Morris, Desmond (2002). Dogs : the ultimate dictionary of over 1,000 dog breeds. North Pomfret, Vt.: Trafalgar Square Pub. ISBN 1-57076-219-8. OCLC 49515650.
  7. ^ Reisen, Jan (May 5, 2018). "An Introduction to Mexican Dog Breeds: The Xoloitzcuintli and Chihuahua". American Kennel Club. Retrieved 2022-11-06.
  8. ^ "Chihuahua Dog Breed Information". American Kennel Club. Retrieved 2022-11-06.
  9. ^ "A history of the biggest and smallest dog breeds – from giant Great Danes to tiny Chihuahuas". Guinness World Records. 2019-04-03. Retrieved 2022-11-06.
  10. ^ Adkins, Frankie (2021-05-28). "20 Dog Breeds That No Longer Exist". Newsweek. Retrieved 2022-11-06.
  11. ^ Rodriguez, Olga R. "Aztec dog burial site found in Mexico City". Retrieved 2022-11-06.
  12. ^ Cheesman, Paul R. (1969). "The Wheel in Ancient America". Brigham Young University Studies. 9 (2): 185–197. ISSN 0007-0106. JSTOR 43044922.
  13. ^ "Dog Effigy". Online Collection of the Walters Art Museum. Retrieved 2022-11-06.