Aug 18, 2007

Chihuahua Connection

Meet Rosalita, known as Rosalita-demon to her owner, Janice. Her proud owner relates that her dog's cute moments are few and far between, and that, in fact, she is a 'raging ball of evil incarnate'. Now that is a glowing endorsement.

I did some research on the history of the Chihuaha. I recommend you do the same--it's pretty interesting. It looks like the consensus is that this small breed is most likely descended from an Egyptian/Sudanese fox-like canine called the fennec, and not a hairless New World canine. Some of you may know that Chihuahua's, especially those that are hair-challenged, tend to lose their teeth early in life. This has been ascribed to the 'toy dog' effect of over breeding. But the fennec is known for having poor dentition. So, in the Chihuahua's case, the tooth loss may be a defect that predates its domestication.

Wow, I never thought that a conversation about dog teeth could be so thrilling. Come back for more, people!

UPDATE: Bats, in her wisdom and expertise, has pointed out that dogs are descended from wolves. However, I suggest you click the link above. It does give some pretty convincing arguments for the ancestry of the Chihuahua. In the end it is only a theory and one on which I am not qualified to pass judgment. An interesting sidenote is this: according to this article, wolves (and therefore dogs) can successfully breed and produce fertile offspring with coyotes, dingoes, and golden jackals.

Thanks for the photo, Janice.


Adam said...

"The difference in chromosome numbers (39 in dogs vs. 32 in the fennec) makes it impossible for the two species to breed and produce hybrids."

Fennec fox article on Wikipedia.

It may be ugly, but it's still a dog...

bats :[ said...

Dogs is dogs, and they all descended from the wolf (multiple points of domestication throughout the world, but the wolf is the wild stock (and probably mortified to know that it's related to Rosalita)). Dogs have a quick generational turnover (producing at least one litter annually if give the chance), so it the 14,000 years or so that they've been domesticated, a lot of changes can happen.

My old zooanthropology professor (who did a ginormous amount of research on the evolution of the domestic dog -- hence my interest in the subject) told us once that there was (or still is, maybe) a veterinarian in San Diego that collected dogs' skulls (he even would go to the landfill to "rescue" them), to demonstrate the difference in breeds. Evidently the variation is even scarier when you look at the skulls. Dogs still have the 44 teeth that wolves do, but when you try to jackhammer all of those into a very short or non-existent muzzle (like a Peke), things can get pretty ugly pretty fast.

Miss Cellania said...

But the fennec fox is so cute! How could they posibly be related?

Jack Ruttan said...

I notice from the picture, they've bred out the bones, as well.

Kritter said...

Hideous! An excellent choice, Wombat!

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