This month I want to feature the Techichi - an ancestor to the Chihauhua of today. I've found in my research that Mexican breeds have a very long, very rich, and sometimes very disturbing history. The Techichi does not disappoint!
My excerpt from Morris' book "Dogs: the Ultimate History of 1000+ Breeds" describes the Techichi as...
Also known as the Small Indian Dog, this breed was primarily used as a source of food by Indian tribes in the Pre-Columbian Americas. Its Indian name is somteimtes given as Techichi. It has also been called the Carrier Dog, although acting as a beast of burden does not appear to have been one of its regular duties.
Okay - they were eating these little guys? That's a tad bit disturbing. Turns out, many other breeds were also lunch for some civilizations across the globe though. In my Morris book, there is a whole chapter for "edible dogs." Moving on...
A slender, small-headed, sharp-nosed, fox-like little dog, the Techichi extended its range into both North and South America, although Mexico seems to have been its stronghold. It was common among the native tribes of the east coast of North America, right across the southernmost parts, down into Central America and even into north-western South America.
The first European to encounter the Techichi was the Spanish explorer Francisco Hernandez, who reported its existence in 1578. He commented that the native Americans ate them as commonly as his own people ate rabbits. In other words, they were not specially reserved for sacrificial ritual or celebratory feasting, but were everyday-food items.
Sort of like a box of cereal for us today I guess?
It has been estimated that at least 100,000 Techichis must have been consumed by visiting Spaniards exploring the New World during expeditions. Not suprisingly, later travellers found few of these dogs, and by the 19th century they appear to have vanished altogether.
The rest of the story for the Techichi is sad actually. Apparently bred for only two reasons: for food and the puppies served as entertainment for children, the breed has gone extinct.
Artistic renderings of the Tachichi dogs of Mexico