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Apple Head vs. Deer Head Chihuahuas: Key Differences (With Pictures)

Nicole Cosgrove Profile Picture

By Nicole Cosgrove

Apple Head vs Deer Head Chihuahua

Chihuahuas are one of the most recognizable dogs, especially with their place in pop culture. Famous Chihuahuas like Tinkerbell, Paris Hilton’s signature purse dog, Bruiser Woods in Legally Blonde, and the Taco Bell dog helped turn this tiny dog with a big personality into a quirky favorite.

They have two varieties: Apple Head and Deer Head, though the American Kennel Club (AKC) only recognizes the “apple head” shape as an official breed standard. As the names suggest, the Apple Head Chihuahua is the one most people know with its distinctive dome-shaped head, whereas the Deer Head Chihuahua has an elegant, refined head shape that resembles a deer.

Though these are both Chihuahuas, they do differ in appearance, size, and, perhaps most importantly, health concerns. Learn more about the similarities and differences between the Apple Head and Deer Head Chihuahua.

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Visual Differences

Apple Head vs Deer Head Chihuahua side by side
Image Credit: (L) BREEZY STOCK, Shutterstock | (R) Tanya Consaul Photography, Shutterstock

At a Glance

Apple Head Chihuahua
  • Average height (adult): 5–8 inches
  • Average weight (adult): Up to 6 pounds
  • Lifespan: 14–16 years
  • Exercise: 1+ hours a day
  • Grooming needs: Minimal
  • Family-friendly: Somewhat
  • Other pet-friendly: Often
  • Trainability: Loyal, mischievous, feisty
Deer Head Chihuahua
  • Average height (adult): 10–12 inches
  • Average weight (adult): Up to 12 pounds
  • Lifespan: 14–16 years
  • Exercise: 1+ hours a day
  • Grooming needs: Minimal
  • Family-friendly: Somewhat
  • Other pet-friendly: Often
  • Trainability: Loyal, impish, energetic

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Apple Head Chihuahua Overview

brown apple head playing Chihuahua
Image credit: kamilpetran, Shutterstock

Apple Head Chihuahuas are the most common representation of the Chihuahua breed. Though the AKC doesn’t recognize Apple Head and Deer Head Chihuahuas as separate breeds or varieties, the breed standards indicate that the rounded “apple head” is essential for traditional dog shows.

Personality / Character

Renowned for its “big dog” personality, the Apple Head Chihuahua is a little Napoleon that likes to rule the household. These dogs have a lot of terrier-like traits, including courage, alertness, determination, and stubbornness. They’re also very vocal and can be prone to destructive or undesirable behaviors like growling, snapping, and biting.


Chihuahuas are highly intelligent and alert dogs that bond strongly with one owner. They respond well to positive-reinforcement training, but they need strong boundaries and discipline to avoid negative behaviors. Early socialization is important, but Chihuahuas are generally good with other pets and children. It’s important for kids to learn to behave appropriately around a Chihuahua, however, as its small size can make it prone to injury with a rough child.

Health & Care

Chihuahuas are generally healthy, but they are prone to some genetic issues. Heart problems, such as mitral valve disease and patent ductus arteriosus, and eye diseases are common. They may also have joint problems like loose kneecaps and idiopathic epilepsy, a type of seizure disorder. Apple Head Chihuahuas are more prone to health problems because of their head shape. The sharp angle where the muzzle joins the head can increase the risk of breathing issues like tracheal collapse and reverse sneezing. Eye problems and dental problems may also be more common in Apple Head Chihuahuas. Finally, Apple Head Chihuahuas have moleras or small, soft spots on their heads where their skulls fuse together. They don’t always close completely, so it’s important to be careful with their heads to avoid injuries.


hand holding white long coat apple head chihuahua dog with collar
Image Credit: BREEZY STOCK, Shutterstock

The Apple Head Chihuahua’s most distinctive feature is its dome-shaped head. The shape resembles an apple, lending to the name, with large, protruding eyes and a short snout that meets the head at a 90-degree angle. Typically, Apple Head Chihuahuas are smaller than the Deer Head variety at five to eight inches in height and up to six pounds. They usually have short necks and legs. Like the Deer Head, Apple Head Chihuahuas may have long or short coats and come in white, tan, black, fawn, sable, and other colors with markings.

Suitable For:

Chihuahuas are the ideal city dog. Because of their small size, Chihuahuas can live comfortably in small apartments and homes. They’re easy to exercise in a small space as well since they don’t need a lot of room to run and play.

Though they’re energetic, a Chihuahua is not ideal for an owner looking for an active, outdoorsy breed to take on long runs or hikes. They can be great family pets alongside children, other dogs, and cats, but it’s important to supervise children and larger dogs around the Chihuahua because of its small size.

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Deer Head Chihuahua Overview

Deer head Chihuahua
Image Credit: Toro_The_Bull-Arturelia, Shutterstock

Deer Head Chihuahuas are a common, larger variety of Chihuahuas. Because they can’t show in traditional breed shows according to AKC standards, these dogs may have gotten larger as breeders weren’t concerned with keeping them aligned with height and weight requirements. These dogs can be registered as purebred Chihuahuas, however.

Personality / Character

The Deer Head Chihuahua is similar to the Apple Head in personality and demeanor. It’s also a terrier-like dog that’s brave, alert, strong-willed, and independent. Though the Deer Head can be affectionate and sweet, without proper training and enrichment, it can develop bad behaviors like aggression and reactivity.


Deer Head Chihuahuas are also intelligent dogs that form an attachment to a single owner. They respond best to gentle but firm methods of training that enforce strict boundaries to avoid destructive behaviors. Deer Head Chihuahuas may be slightly larger than Apple Head Chihuahuas, but it’s equally important that children are careful playing with them and avoid rough play that can lead to injuries–especially with the teacup variety of the Deer Head Chihuahua.

Health & Care

Deer Head Chihuahuas are healthy dogs overall. They can be affected by some of the same genetic health conditions as Apple Head Chihuahuas, however, such as heart problems, loose kneecaps, and seizure disorders. Unlike the Apple Head Chihuahua, however, Deer Head Chihuahuas don’t have the same risks of breathing problems due to their head shape. Moleras also occur less frequently with this variety than the Apple Head.


deer head chihuahua dog standing on a pile of dried leaves
Image By: Tanya Consaul Photography, Shutterstock

Deer Head Chihuahuas have more deer-shaped heads without the broad dome of an Apple Head Chihuahua. Their heads are more angular and narrower, with a gentle 45-degree slope from the forehead into the snout. They also have larger and less-pronounced eyes and tend to be a little bigger than Apple Head Chihuahuas. It’s common to see taller, heavier dogs that approach a foot tall and weigh 10 or 12 pounds. Like the Apple Head, Deer Head Chihuahuas may be long- or short-haired and come in white, black, tan, sable, red, and other colors with several markings. Famous Deer Head Chihuahuas include Bruiser Woods from Legally Blonde and the Taco Bell mascot.

Suitable For:

Though the Deer Head Chihuahua may be a little larger than the Apple Head Chihuahua, it’s still an ideal size for smaller homes and apartments. They can get plenty of play and exercise without a lot of room and enjoy short, frequent walks.

Similarly, Deer Head Chihuahuas are not ideal for extremely active owners who want a jogging companion. They get along well in family environments, especially with proper socialization at a young age.

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Apple Head and Deer Head Chihuahua Breeding

Apple Head and Deer Head Chihuahuas are not separate breeds, so it’s possible for one Chihuahua to display characteristics of both varieties—especially if the litter has one Apple Head and one Deer Head parent. It’s also possible for a litter to have both Apple Head and Deer Head puppies or identical individuals that look like a mix of the two varieties.


Which Breed Is Right for You?

The Apple Head and Deer Head Chihuahua varieties are essentially the same, other than size and appearance. Choosing between them is largely about personal preference, especially if you prefer a smaller dog. That said, it’s important to keep in mind that the head shape of the Apple Head can contribute to additional health problems.

Featured Image Credit: (L) BREEZY STOCK, Shutterstock | (R) Candice Legge, Shutterstock

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