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Deer Head vs. Apple Head Chihuahua: Differences and Similarities

Emma Braby Picture

Last Updated: December 13, 2020 | 10 min read

Deer Head vs Apple Head Chihuahua

So you have decided on a Chihuahua and thought that now your only remaining decision is whether to get a short-haired or long-haired Chihuahua, right? Wrong! Although the deer head Chihuahua and the apple head Chihuahua are the same breed of dog, they have a different appearance, and with that they have differing health issues, so it is definitely something to think about.

The apple head is a term used for Chihuahuas with a round forehead and bigger eyes, whereas the deer head has a narrower skull and his head has the same look of that of a young deer. The apple head is the only shape that is accepted in most world kennel clubs, however, he also has more health issues than the deer head. The deer head is the less common of the Chihuahua breed, however, many dog parents observe that he has a friendlier and more obedient temperament of the two.

These pups shouldn’t be confused as chihuahua mixes, and we are going to look at the differences between the apple head and the deer head Chihuahua and dive straight into the details.


The Chihuahua originated as far back as the 9th Century, from what is now known as Mexico. It is believed that their ancestor was a Techichi, which looked similar but much larger. Their history in the early Toltec society is unknown, but when the Aztecs conquered the Toltecs the Chihuahua became very popular. They were believed to heal the sick, predict the future and they were sacrificed and cremated alongside their owner, as it was believed that they would guide his owner’s spirit in the afterlife. When the Spanish conquered the Aztecs, they became less popular, and their numbers diminished significantly.

When Americans took interest in the breed the majority of the specimens were found in the Mexican State of Chihuahua, and this is how they came to be known as Chihuahuas. The travellers took them back to America, refined the breed and entered them into shows. The first ‘official’ Chihuahua, named Midget, was registered with the American Kennel Club (AKC) in 1904, and he has been a big hit since then. They are a very popular family pet, and the AKC have currently ranked them as the 33rd most popular dog in America, and he is described as ‘Charming, Graceful and Sassy’.

They have also played leading roles, such as Legally Blonde’s sidekick, Bruiser Woods who was a deer head Chihuahua, and they are also a favorite amongst celebrities, such as Paris Hilton’s Tinkerbell, who was an apple head Chihuahua. In 2006 a Chihuahua, called Midge from Ohio, became the very first Police Dog Chihuahua; she is a drugs sniffer dog who is favored to get into the small spaces that the traditional German Shepherds cannot. Although this trend hasn’t quite caught on across the rest of the world, this crime-solving canine has busted drug deals and taken many lawbreakers off the streets.


Firstly, there are two types of Chihuahua, the long-haired and short-haired, and the apple head and the deer head can be either type. The breed is a small size dog who, according to breed standards, should not exceed 6 pounds in weight, and are generally 5 – 8 inches tall. He is the smallest dog breed of them all! Sometimes it is not clear which shaped head the pup has by just looking at him, so the best way to tell is to look at his parents. He will mature fully at the age of 1 and are usually fully grown by 6 months.

The apple shaped head is the most popular Chihuahua because he is currently the only head shape that is recognized by the AKC breed standards, described as ‘a well-rounded “apple dome” skull’. He has a shorter muzzle, with a 90-degree angle between the muzzle and the skull, or an ‘L’ shape as it is also described. He also has more prominent bulging eyes compared to the deer head Chihuahua. The apple head is also more likely to have a molera compared to the deer head, which is a soft spot on the skull. The apple head has smaller ears than his deer head brother.

As the apple head is the only recognized head shape, he can be presented in conformation shows, whereas the deer head cannot. The deer head, however, is not prevented from partaking in any performance related events such as agility or obedience.

The deer shaped head is the less popular of the two shapes, but not by a significant amount. Generally, deer heads are larger than the apple heads with an extended jaw line. They have a narrower skull, and the angle between their muzzle and the skull is of less of an angle than the apple, normally at around 45-degrees. They have a longer neck and a larger head compared to the apple head. He also has longer legs and looks more slender, rather than short and squat like the apple head. Although the deer head is the larger of the two, toy deer heads do exist. He has slightly larger ears that are pointier, again, similar to that of a baby deer.

Because of their mysterious Toltec history, it is unknown why there are two different head shapes or when this difference occurred. Ancient Toltec art depicts both the deer and the apple shape heads. It is theorized that, because of his head shape, the deer head Chihuahua is a cross between the Techichi and the Chinese Crested canine, who is also part of the toy group and similar in temperament.


Despite there being no scientific proof that the head shape of the Chihuahua affects their temperament in any way, many Chihuahua parent’s say that deer heads have more sociable and more obedient personalities compared to the apple head. However, it is more likely that their environment and upbringing form their temperament, and that the shape of their heads has no bearing on this.

Both the apple head and the deer head are equally as confident, intelligent and stubborn. They both employ a no-nonsense approach and do not suffer fools easily. Despite this they are very cheery pups who have a love for life. They love to play and are very friendly and affectionate towards their family. They are both described as having cheeky terrier-like temperament qualities, so that means that they are full of beans! They crave companionship, which makes them very sociable, but it also means that they are known to suffer with separation anxiety.

Chihuahua’s are also known to be very barky when not trained and socialized properly. This can result in over-protectiveness of their family and can become snappy if their behavior is not corrected. They are both wary of strangers, and if they don’t like something or someone then you will know about it. So, if it’s a small protective dog that you are after, these guys are known to be quite the guard dog.

Despite being part of the canine ‘toy group’ they both have a medium prey drive, which means that when they see something small and furry, they will chase it! They are both very quick pooches, but because the deer head has longer legs and is more athletic than the apple head, he will disappear out of sight much quicker than the apple head if something catches his eye.

Because of their feisty personality, the chihuahuas are popular dogs to mix with other breeds.  Some great examples of this are the chug dog mix, the Pomchi, and the dachshund chihuahua mix.


The Chihuahua’s lifespan is, on average, 14 – 16 years, but they are known to have one of the longest canine lifespans, and often live to around the age of 20 years old. The deer head, with less health problems than the apple head, tends to be the longer living out of the two.

The shape of the apple head and their shorter muzzle means that he suffers from breathing problems more so than the deer head. The apple head is considered to suffer more intensely with Brachycephalic Syndrome than the deer head because he has a flatter face. Brachycephalic Syndrome is an umbrella term for severe respiratory diseases caused by the flat face. It also means that they suffer with the heat, and have trouble regulating their body temperature if they are hot. It is a serious syndrome that can be life-threatening, so if you are a prospective owner be sure to research what it means for your pup and you, and how best to manage it.

In addition, the apple head is also more prone to suffering from a collapsing trachea. It is unknown exactly why this is caused, but it is believed it is because he has a smaller and weaker windpipe. Smaller dogs breathe more rapidly than larger dogs, and so if you imagine a soda straw being sucked and the walls squeezing together blocking the air flow, that is what can happen inside the Chihuahua’s neck.

The apple head, because of his protruding eyes, is also more prone to eye injuries and infections, more so than the deer head. So, if you notice that his eyes aren’t as they should be then take him to the Veterinarian immediately.

Both the apple head and the deer head can have what is known as, a molera, put simply, this is a soft spot on his skull where his skull has not fused properly, similar to that of newborn human baby. However, the molera on the Chihuahua’s does not normally fuse together when they mature. Although this is accepted according to breed standards, this ultimately is an area of no protection and as such it could be dangerous to his health. Veterinarian’s and many breed fanciers argue that this should be bred out of the breed completely. The apple head is more likely to have a molera than the deer head.

Aside from the above, they are known to share the same health issues. According to the national breed club the Chihuahua’s parents are required to undergo a cardiac examination to test for Mitral Valve Disease, an ophthalmologist evaluation to test the health of his eyes, and a patella evaluation of his knee joints. This is all required in order for the pup to obtain their health certificates.

Exercise and Training

The apple head and the deer head are similar in both their exercise and their training. Both the apple and the deer head are considered to be medium energy dogs, and as such need about 30 minutes a day. The Chihuahua does not require particularly intense exercise, and as such walking will suffice as their exercise. If you have an enclosed yard then they will happily have a good romp around chasing birds and squirrels. Be mindful that the apple head is likely to suffer more with his breathing, so on hotter days his exercise should be monitored. If necessary, only take them out early in the morning and later at night when it is cooler.

These guys are quite intelligent pups, and as such they are known to pick up commands quickly. However, they are fiercely independent, and as such if they decide that today is not the day to partake in training then you are unlikely to be successful. As such, early obedience training is key. Because of their yappy barks and aloofness with strangers, it is important to socialize them very early, so that they are comfortable with other humans and larger dogs. If you plan to harness train your Chihuahua, make sure you look at Chihuahua sized harnesses to make that transition easier for this headstrong breed.


The apple head and the deer head have the same nutritional needs. They both require around ½ cup of food a day, however this will be dependent on their size and activity levels. If they are a lapdog, then they will need slightly less, and if they are out chasing squirrels all day, then slightly more food will be needed. Despite being one of the smallest breeds he still needs the best nutrients to keep him healthy, so be sure to feed him superior quality kibble. Ensure that the biscuits aren’t bigger than him, as most Chihuahua’s struggle to eat standard sized biscuits.


The grooming needs are the same for both the apple head and the deer head, as this is only dependent on the type of coat he has. If he is a short-haired Chihuahua, then a brush with a rubber mitt once a week will suffice to keep him looking shiny and healthy. If he is a long-haired Chihuahua, then he will require brushing twice a week to ensure that his hair does not get tangled.

As long as he is brushed regularly then the Chihuahua should only require one bath every two months. Chihuahuas do shed, so you’ll want to maintain regular grooming habits to manage it.

As with any small dog, as they have smaller mouths and their teeth are more compact than that of a larger dog, then their teeth will require brushing two or three times a week to prevent any periodontal diseases.


The price of a Chihuahua puppy is, on average, $300 to $500 from a reputable breeder, and this is for both the apple head and the deer head. If you are looking for a Chihuahua from a championship lineage then you can expect to pay a lot more for them, starting from around $1,500. Remember though, that this is only in the case of the apple head as deer heads cannot be shown!

The birth of apple head Chihuahuas is generally more difficult because of the shape of their skull and the difficulty that can occur passing through the birth canal. For this reason, they are often delivered by cesarean birth, and as such the price of the pup may be slightly more, dependant on the breeder. However, as they are a common canine breeders tend not to factor this extra cost in.

Breeders and Rescues

The Chihuahua Club of America (CCA) list breeders in America who have signed their code of ethics, which means that they pledge to uphold stringent processes to ensure the best breeding practices. Their breed directory lists these breeders state by state. If you are interested in one particular head shape, then remember to mention to the breeder that this is an important factor to you.

Rescuing a dog is a great thing to do. Not only could you save some money compared to the costs outlined above, but you would be giving an orphaned pooch a loving home! If you are interested in rescuing a Chihuahua, then the CCA also list rescuers state by state, and this link can be found here.

Final Thoughts

The apple head and the deer head have very different shaped heads, and you don’t have to be a Chihuahua expert to see the difference. The apple head has a rounder forehead and the deer looks like a baby deer. Because of the differences in their head and nose they have differing health problems which all prospective owners should be aware of.

The shape of their head has little bearing, if any, on their temperament, and it is likely that this is just a result of their upbringing. Nor does it affect any training, grooming or nutritional needs.

Whoever you decide to choose, know that you will be getting a great family pet who will, despite his size, give you plenty of laughter and memories for many years to come!

Leave a Comment



October 30, 2019 at 2:11 am

Thanks so much for a very informative article. I love my deer head. We rescued each other!

Kelly Wilson

October 31, 2019 at 3:49 am

Thanks for the feedback Carol! We love Chihuahuas as well!

David MacLane

November 18, 2019 at 7:13 pm

I have an Apple Head girl named Dinamita (Dynamite) Dina for short.

People ask me everyday if she is a Chihuahua, and I tell them to examine a breed standard Apple Head along side of her, and then try to convince me that they are the same breed. Dina has longer legs, a longer neck, longer face, narrower skull, more teeth, and looks nothing like a classic Chihuahua.
I tell people that she is descended from the ancient Techichi dog of the Toltecs.

I have not found anything in my studies to convince me that deer heads are actual Chihuahuas, and until DNA evidence shows me that she is in fact a Chihuahua, she will remain a Techichi.

I believe that Apple heads are genetic mutants created by breeders in their efforts to produce the smallest dog possible. They do this by breeding litter runts and some dogs affected by dwarfism. Look at the bare skulls of the two types, Deer and Apple, and if you believe they are the same breed...good for you...however I do not.

Kelly Wilson

November 25, 2019 at 2:09 pm

Thanks for the comment David!


December 20, 2019 at 10:17 pm

I have both of the breed, the apple head and the deer head chihuahua. You talking about fun..My wife and I enjoy them both..Precious and Sassy.. we love you girls!

Kelly Wilson

December 27, 2019 at 1:55 pm

Thanks for the comment Greg, sounds like a busy house!


May 16, 2020 at 11:54 pm

I have an apple head and a deer head. Love them both! My apple head is more aggressive when around new people. My little deer head screams like a girl and runs!!

Kelly Wilson

May 17, 2020 at 6:15 pm

Thanks for commenting Sandra, sound like fun little pups!

Amy M Brown

August 7, 2020 at 6:37 pm

I have a deer head (Evee) she is 2 and was given to me from a horrible situation my 4 pounds 2 oz. The pup went through everything a dog should never have to go through before I got her. I have completely spoiled her she is my best friend my protector and my baby.

So tiny but very mighty NOTHING scares her she gets very jealous if another dog or person comes near me lol. Ppl think I saved her but in all reality, SHE ABSOLUTELY SAVED ME and all with unconditional love and in return, she never has to be mistreated or scared or starved or have her toenails so long they was curled under ever again as well as being spoiled and loved back UNCONDITIONALLY daily for the rest of her life and of course keeping up to date on shots and seeing an actual vet when needed.

They are amazing she is amazing I honestly don't think I could have made it much longer without my beautiful girl she came into my life when I was ready to quit life and I swear she knows when I have a bad day all she does is make sure I'm ok and or comfort me. They are amazing dogs all the way around everyone should have one. I could go on and on about my girl and chihuahuas in general but I'm sure yall get the ideal.

Kelly Wilson

August 11, 2020 at 10:33 pm

Sounds like a wonderful dog Amy! Thanks for taking the time to stop by and comment!