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Deer Head vs. Apple Head Chihuahua: Differences and Similarities

Have you decided on a Chihuahua but realized you need to make one more choice between a Deer Head Chihuahua and an Apple Head Chihuahua? Fear not! Though these are the same breed, there are a few differences to be aware of.

Emma Braby Picture

Last Updated: May 6, 2021 | 10 min read

Deer Head vs Apple Head Chihuahua

So you have decided on a Chihuahua and thought 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 comes different health issues, which is something to consider.

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 as that of a young deer. The apple head is the only shape accepted in most world kennel clubs; however, he also has more health issues than the deer head.

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

Breed History

Small Dogs on a Fluffy Pink Pillow
These spunky dogs were originally found in the Mexican State of Chihuahua, giving them their name.

The Chihuahua originates as far back as the 9th Century, from what is now known as Mexico. It is believed 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 them were found in the Mexican State of Chihuahua, which is how they came to be known as Chihuahuas.

Travelers 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.

They are a very popular family pet, and the AKC has them currently ranked as the 33rd most popular dog in America. 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. They are also a favorite amongst celebrities, such as Paris Hilton’s Tinkerbell, who was an apple head Chihuahua.

Appearance

Profile Views of Two Similar Dogs
The biggest difference between the two is the shape of their heads.

There are two types of Chihuahua, long-haired and short-haired. 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 six pounds in weight, and are generally 5 to 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 one and are usually fully grown by six 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. However, the deer head 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 apple heads with an extended jawline. They have a narrower skull, and the angle between their muzzle and the skull is 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 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-shaped heads.

Because of his head shape, it is theorized that the deer head Chihuahua is a cross between the Techichi and the Chinese Crested canine, who is also part of the toy group and has a similar temperament.

Temperament

Dogs With Erect Ears Looking at the Camera
These dogs have slightly different temperaments even though they are the same breed.

Despite there being no scientific proof the head shape of the Chihuahua affects their temperament in any way, many Chihuahua parents say deer heads are more sociable and more obedient compared to the apple head. However, it is likely their environment and upbringing form their temperament, and the shape of their heads has no bearing.

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 toward their family. They are both described as having cheeky terrier-like temperament qualities. They crave companionship, which makes them very sociable, but also means they may suffer from separation anxiety.

Chihuahuas are known to bark a lot when not properly trained or socialized. This can result in the over-protectiveness of their family. They may snap if their behavior is not corrected.

They are both wary of strangers, and if they don’t like something or someone, you will know about it. So, if it’s a small protective dog that you are after, these guys are known to be quite good guard dogs.

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

Because of their feisty personality, 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.

Health

Small Senior Dogs With Gray Faces
Chihuahuas are known to live very long lives compared to other breeds.

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

The shape of the apple head, their shorter muzzle, and flatter face mean he suffers more intensely from breathing problems more so than the deer head. One common issue is Brachycephalic Syndrome, which is an umbrella term for severe respiratory diseases caused by the flat face. It also means they suffer from the heat and have trouble regulating their body temperature if they are hot. Because these are life-threatening concerns, be sure to research what it means for you and your pup and how best to manage it.

The apple head is also more prone to suffering from a collapsing trachea. The cause is unknown, 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 airflow, 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 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. Simply put, this is a soft spot on his skull where his skull has not fused properly, similar to that of a newborn human baby. However, the molera on the Chihuahua’s head does not normally fuse when they mature.

Although this defect is accepted according to breed standards, this ultimately is an area of no protection and it could be dangerous to his health. Veterinarians and many breed fanciers argue 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 for the pup to obtain their health certificates.

Exercise

Dogs Exercising Outside
The apple head and the deer head are similar in their exercise needs.

Both the apple and the deer head are considered to be medium energy dogs who need about 30 minutes a day. The Chihuahua does not require particularly intense exercise; walking will suffice. 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.

If you have an enclosed yard, 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.

Training

Dogs Sitting Outside
Obedience training from early on is essential for these pups.

These guys are quite intelligent pups, and they are known to quickly pick up commands. 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.

Because of this stubbornness, early obedience training is key. It is also important to socialize them very early so that they are comfortable with other humans and larger dogs. This will help with their yappy barks and aloofness with strangers.

Nutrition

Small Dogs Licking Their Lips
Chihuahuas eat a very tiny amount, only a half cup of kibble each day.

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 treats aren’t bigger than him, as most Chihuahua’s struggle to eat standard-sized treats.

Grooming

Dogs With Erect Ears Standing Outdoors
Grooming will differ between short-haired or long-haired Chihuahuas.

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 keep him looking shiny and healthy. If he is a long-haired Chihuahua, he will require brushing twice a week to ensure his hair does not get tangled.

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

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

Puppy Price

Tiny Puppies Looking at the Camera
Expect to pay about $300 to $500 for your Chihuahua.

The average price of a Chihuahua puppy is $300 to $500 from a reputable breeder for both the apple head and the deer head. If you are looking for a Chihuahua from a championship lineage, then expect to pay a lot more, starting around $1,500. Remember though, 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, so the price of the pup may be slightly more. However, as they are a common canine, breeders tend not to factor in this extra cost.

Breeders and Rescues

Close Up of Two Dogs
Chihuahuas are very common and can often be found at your local shelter.

The Chihuahua Club of America (CCA) lists breeders in America by each state who have signed their code of ethics, meaning they pledge to uphold stringent processes to ensure the best breeding practices. If you are interested in one particular head shape, remember to mention to the breeder that this is important 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 lists rescuers state by state.

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 different health problems which all prospective owners should be aware of.

The shape of their head has little bearing, if any, on their temperament, and is likely this is 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

14 Comments

Carol

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!

GREG

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!

Sandra

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!

Jessica Pritt

April 22, 2021 at 5:50 pm

This information is great!!! Helped me out finding what is best for my Chihuahua and what type she is!! Thank you!! I learned a lot!!

Kelly Wilson

April 25, 2021 at 3:08 pm

Thank you, Jessica! Glad you found the information helpful!

Terri Martini

June 14, 2021 at 7:42 pm

I love my little She-wawa. She's cream and chocolate mix, and has very nice coat color with lighter cream 'angel wings' on her shoulders. She also has white markings on the tips of her paws. Lots of personality and smart! She's 5 months old tomorrow.

Kelly Wilson

June 15, 2021 at 9:12 pm

Sounds like a great dog, Terri! Thanks for commenting!