The smallest dog breed on the planet, the Chihuahua saw its popularity skyrocket in the late 1990s when a furry little (and kind of yappy) Chihuahua became the “spokesperson” for Taco Bell in their television commercials.
Almost overnight, interest in this breed skyrocketed, and over the next couple of decades, millions of people became Chihuahua owners.
However, it didn’t take long for Chihuahua fans to notice that not all Chihuahuas looked exactly the same.
Most of them have a very distinct “apple shape” head, giving them the breed’s classic look.
However, some had a slightly longer face, slightly longer snout, and larger ears that weren’t always in the “upright and locked position.”
These dogs earned the moniker “deer head Chihuahuas” almost right away!
Deer Head Chihuahuas – For Real or Phony?
We can tell you with 100% certainty that dear head Chihuahua dogs are very real and legitimate animals – not like a jackalope or something wild like that – but they are not exactly a distinct breed (or even a sub-breed) of the Chihuahua itself.
The American Kennel Club (as well as the overwhelming majority of other canine clubs and associations around the world) have two specific types of Chihuahua breed standards that they recognize:
- Short hair Chihuahuas and
- Long hair Chihuahuas
… That’s it!
That’s the whole breakdown of the list.
At the same time, breeders of these dogs have definitely taken it upon themselves to market “apple head Chihuahuas” and derr head Chihuahuas” as two completely different dog breeds.
This terminology is pretty commonplace in the Chihuahua community right now, to the point where more people ask whether or not your new puppy and companion dog is an apple or a deer head than whether or not it is a short or long-haired dog.
It’s an interesting shift, to be sure, but there are many people (and we mean LOTS of people) who want to be sure that they are getting their hands on either an apple head or a deer head. This isn’t something new owners of this toy breed are indifferent about (most of the time).
So while you might not see an official designation for deer heads with this toy dog in any official dog registry or dog organization, it’s a defining feature that some owners and breeders are looking for specifically from this small dog.
Major Differences Between Traditional Chihuahuas and Deer Heads
When it comes to the biological differences between deer head chihuahuas and apple head chihuahuas, you’re not going to find any real “daylight” between the two.
That’s because (as we highlighted a moment ago) apple head and deer head chihuahuas aren’t two separate dog breeds at all. Instead, they’re basically the same dog across the board, aside from the outward appearance of their skull.
To be fair, though, deer heads look significantly different than apple head chihuahuas. Even someone totally unfamiliar with the breed would have no trouble telling the two apart -- or which was which.
Apple head chihuahuas are going to have a much rounder, much fuller-shaped skull. These dogs are far and away from the most common of the breed, with 8 out of 10 chihuahuas being born with a rounded look.
Their snout is very short and narrow as well, kind of pressed into the apple shape. It almost looks like their skull was smoothed by hand (into like a baseball) shortly after they were born.
On the other hand, Deer heads kind of look the way that a baby deer does.
The forehead of these dogs isn’t quite as flat but slanted to more of a 45-degree angle.
Their features are extended and longer, their snout much more pronounced, and they could pass (at a glance) as a fawn. But, truth be told, they don’t look much like a chihuahua at all, but more like a Jack Russell terrier that had been shruken down.
Deer head chihuahua dogs are also (usually) a little bit taller. This is because their legs are longer, their erect ears are longer, and their eyes sit in a different spot because of the shape of their head.
Typical Characteristics of Deer Head Chihuahuas
Of course, there are a couple of other things that seperate deer head chihuahuas from the rest of the chihuahua pack, so to speak.
They’re Generally Bigger Dogs
As we mentioned a moment ago, deer head chihuahuas -- even deer head teacup chihuahuas -- are going to be slightly larger dogs.
No, these dogs aren’t going to be monster-sized. These are still little dogs. It’s just that deer heads are a little bit larger (all over) than their small, apple head brethren.
The longer legs on these dogs help to give them even more of that young deer apperance. Combine that with these dogs often having a fawn-colored coat, and you might not want to lose one of these in a petting zoo!
Deer heads are a little heavier in the weight department, too.
While apple head chihuahuas can be as small as a couple of pounds (especially when you get into the teacup version of these dog breeds), you’ll usually see deer head chihuahuas tipping the scales between 10 and 15 pounds. Of course, somethinges they can get even heavier, but you usually want your toy dog breeds to be around 10 pounds.
They Can Have Coats in All Different Colors
The color most of the deer head dogs feature help cement the moniker they’ve earned. Almost all of these kinds of chihuahuas having a light brown, almost golden coat -- a fawn color.
Fawn is recognized as a coat color by the AKC and other canine groups, and the whole reason it’s called fawn in the first place is because it’s the color of baby deer.
Chihuahuas (of any kind) are almost always fawned colored, so it’s no surprise that most of the deer heads are going to be this color, too.
That being said, it’s not at all odd for a deer head to be black, white, spotted, or even a light grey called blue. It all comes down to the genetics of the dog parents that created the deer head chihuahua puppy, to begin with!
Deer Head Chihuahuas Generally Have a Calmer Demeanor
Deer head chihuahuas are also known to have a much calmer and more relaxed demeanor than the apple head chihuahuas.
This isn’t always the case – these dogs are little more high-strung, little more energetic, and a little more “wired” than other dog breeds for sure – but generally, you are going to get a much more even-keeled deer head chihuahua than you would an apple head.
These dogs are still incredibly loyal and form very strong attachments with their “human pack.”
They love hard, are super loyal, and are always looking for ways to show their affection. But becareful if you come between even deer head puppies and their favorite humans -- they aren’t shy about barking up a storm or even biting people they feel are threatening their humans.
Deer Head Chihuahuas Can Live to Be 20+ Years Old
Deer head chihuahuas will live -- on average -- for around 10 to 15 years. Some have stretched that lifespan out to 20 years or more, though. That’s quite a bit longer than even a lot of the other toy breeds.
A reasonably healthy dog, deer head chihuahuas are not without certain conditions you’ll want to be on the lookout for as a responsible owner.
The most common problems a deer head chihuahua (an apple head chihuahua, too) may struggle with include:
- Dental health issues, including tooth loss and gum disease
- Kidney and heart problems
- Moleras (soft spots on their skull, though an apple head chihuahua is more likely to struggle with this issue)
It’s a good idea to bring your deer head chihuahuas to the vet at least twice a year for a regular checkup. Have them look closely at their teeth, give them a physical examination, and perhaps even run blood tests once annually to be sure your dog is good to go!
A Deer Head Chi Can Be Born to Non-Deer Head Parents
Deer head chihuahuas generally are going to come from two deer head chihuahua parents, but that’s not always the case.
Researchers believe that the genetics responsible for the deer head shape (and the deer head chihuahua weight, legs, and other attributes) are linked to more recessive genes. An apple head chihuahua, the breed standard, is a result of the more dominant genes.
At the same time, it is possible for two apple head parents to produce a deer head chi.
Both of the apple head parents in this scenario would have to be carry the recessive gene. So the odds are pretty good. It would only express itself in a handful of the puppies from that litter, though -- so expect maybe one or two deer head chi pups instead of a whole bundle of them!
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Average Cost of Deer Head Chihuahua Puppies
Believe it or not, because a deer head chi isn’t considered the “breed standard,” you can often pick them up for considerably less than you would par for an apple head -- sometimes dramatically so.
That might sound a little counter intuitive (especially since deer head chihuahuas are so much rarer). Still, lots of chi owners are looking for that perfect apple-shaped head and want the breed standard -- either as a pet, to show and compete with, or to breed themselves.
For these reasons, it’s not uncommon to find a deer head chi for anywhere between $400 and $1500.
Puppies are going to be more expensive than adult dogs for sure, and there are some breeders out there that focus soley on these tiny canines that have much more expensive deer head chihuahuas.
At the end of the day, though, apple heads tend to cost more than their apple head counterparts. Nevertheless, it’s a great way to get your hands on a beautiful chi without having to break the bank!
Popular Deer Head Chihuahua Mixes and Cross Breeds
Though the deer head chihuahua personality is pretty solid on its own (and they don’t have the same health issues other dogs in the “little dog/toy breed” category do), there are breeders out there mixing deer head chi dogs with other small dogs.
These mixes and crossbreeds are generally done to either keep the puppies from the cross in the small dog’s category (or even to shrink them with deer head chihuahua genetics) or further to improve the personality and the deer head chihuahua temperament.
Let’s run through a couple of the most popualar deer head chi mixes right now!
Deer Head with Apple Head
These mixes are super common, probable the most common of the bunch.
Since these two types belong to the same offical dog breed, there’s nothing to worry about. Most of the time, the recessive genetics responsible for the deer head features are bred out, and you end up with more apple head dogs that have better personalities, a smooth coat, and sometimes slightly larger legs and bigger frames.
Deer Head Chis and Terriers
Terriers of all kinds are small dogs that often get crossed up with a deer chihuahua.
A good family dog, this kind of cross is sometimes called a “designer cross.” People love to mix and match different genetics from different kinds of terriers to get new and interesting coat colors and aesthetics matched up with the chihuahua deer head.
Terrier mixes -- especially with a Jack Russel -- are almost always how black deer head chihuahuas come to be, in fact!
Just know that there’s going to be a lot of energy with these crosses.
They’ll exhibit a lot of energized animal behavior for sure, so much so that they sometimes get labeled as having “small dog syndrome.”
Keep up with regular training and exercise, though, and you won’t have much to worry about.
Be prepared for these to be a long-haired chihuahua, too. The terrier genes help produce a smooth coat for sure, but the hair is a lot longer than a traditional chihuahua deer head.
The head shape will be a little different, too—much more terrier-like, really highlighting those deer head chihuahua features.
Is a Deer Head Chihuahua Right for Me?
Figuring out if a deer head chihuahua is right for you shouldn’t be too hard.
For starters, if you’re looking for a tiny dog -- one smaller than almost all other dogs -- and love the look for a chihuahua, you’re probably going to want to start your search with this breed.
Secondly, if you don’t want to worry about skyhigh costs for your pet’s health care (and a lower chance of surprises for pet’s medical costs from serious illness), a deer head is good dog to own, too.
Finally, if you want a dog that is relatively low maintenance -- not expensive or hard to train, not expensive to feed, and not difficult to get to cuddle up with you on the couch or in the car -- these dogs are right up your alley.
While not their own official breed specifically (and not recognized by the American Kennel Club or the United Kennel Club as being distinct from apple heads), a lot of people consider these chihuahuas to be the perfect dog.
A lot calmer, a lot more emotionally attached, and still sleeping on a tiny dog bed -- and weighing next to nothing, even when full-grown -- it’s hard not to fall in love with these beautiful dogs.
They come out as puppies with those large ears and round eyes, no soft spot like the apple heads, and could pass for a baby deer’s brother or sister with their fawn coloring and long, lanky legs.
Have a closer look at some deer head chihuahuas when researching your next dog. Check out the popular mixes, too. Visit your local breeders and a local shelter to see if you have some available without having to go across the country for one.
Don’t be surprised if you fall in love with the first one you see, though. There’s something almost magnetic about this kind of dogs love!