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Does Your Chihuahua Have A Soft Spot or Skull Molera?

Does Your Chihuahua Have A Soft Spot or Skull Molera?

soft-spot-chihuahuaSeeing an infant’s creepy soft spot is just one of the many reasons I’ve chosen dogs over babies. It gives me the willies to see a baby’s pulsating head hole. It’s a reminder that, with one tiny mistake, you could give a baby serious brain damage for life. Eeek. So, dogs it is.

However, I recently learned that dogs can have soft spots too. All puppies are born with a molera, though it’s not uncommon for Chihuahuas, Yorkies and other small, round-headed breeds to have this skull gap for their entire lives.

Since Matilda is a minpin mix, she does not have a soft spot. If she did, I think she would either be a vegetable or dead. Cow plays rough with her, and sometimes she bangs her head. Thankfully, she always bounces back, unfazed, and gets her revenge.

Are Soft Spots Part Of The Chihuahua Standard?

The American Kennel Club breed standard (PDF) for the Chihuahua states that the dogs should have a round, apple-shaped or domed skull, with or without a molera.

I discovered this interesting statement on moleras from the Chihuahua Club of America that states the Chihuahua was originally bred in the United States and Mexico to have the molera; it was a sign of purity.

Should Chihuahuas Be Bred For Moleras?

I’m hoping that most Chihuahua breeders are not breeding dogs with soft spots. Even if this was once considered a mark of purity, it’s not in a dog’s best interest. If dogs without moleras are found to be acceptable when it comes to the current breed standard, there’s no good reason for dogs to be born with large, gaping skull holes that never close.

Vulnerability To Brain Injury

A chihuahua with severe hydrocephalus. Photo source

A chihuahua with severe hydrocephalus. Photo source

A molera, in itself, is not a medical condition or injury. It’s generally considered to be normal.

Dogs with a soft spot have not been shown to be more likely to get hydrocephalus, a potentially fatal buildup of water in the brain. Even so, it’s good to know the signs: bulging eyes, seizures and behavioral changes. Dogs with hydrocephalus may also press their heads against surfaces in attempts to relieve the pressure. In severe cases, it’s noticeable in young puppies.

As you’d expect, a gaping hole in a dog’s skull leaves them vulnerable to brain injury. However, between the brain and the skin would be a layer of tissue, so it’s not as though you can touch the dog’s brain.

A Chihuahua puppy’s molera will shrink as the puppy grows and the skull fuses. The smaller the hole, the more protection surrounding the dog’s brain. If your dog has a soft spot, you do need to be extra careful about dropping them, allowing them to jump and play with other animals.

Adopting A Chihuahua With No Molera

While the molera is not considered a defect, I personally believe it should be. Chihuahua breeders may have to remove an otherwise perfect dog from their gene pool, resulting in a loss of profit, but I feel that producing healthier, more stable dogs should be a bigger priority.

If you buy from a breeder, be sure to ask if their dogs have a molera before you make a down payment on a puppy. Also ask about health testing for luxating patella, a condition caused by genetics that makes the dog’s kneecap dislocate.

If you can’t find or can’t afford a good breeder, there may be plenty of chihuahuas available in a local rescue or shelter. Chihuahuas are the #2 most surrendered and euthanized breed in United States animal shelters, particularly in states close to Mexico.

Many adoptable chihuahuas are not purebred, and may have a longer snout and a skull with a less pronounced dome shape. Some people call this a “deerhead” chihuahua, though the only AKC recognized varieties are long and short haired. “Deerhead” chihuahuas and chihuahua mixes are less susceptible to moleras, hydrocephalus and chiari malformation.

If your Chihuahua does have a molera, keep him or her safe, and remember that all Chihuahuas are beautiful – gape or not, purebred or not, apple or deerhead, shy or bubbly, big or small!

Does your dog have a soft spot? I’d love to get a head count! (Sorry, that was an awful pun.)

Lindsay Pevny
Lindsay Pevny lives to help pet parents make the very best choices for their pets by providing actionable, science-based training and care tips and insightful pet product reviews.

She also uses her pet copywriting business to make sure the best pet products and services get found online through catchy copy and fun, informative blog posts. She also provides product description writing services for ecommerce companies.

As a dog mom to Matilda and Cow, she spends most of her days taking long walks and practicing new tricks, and most nights trying to make the best of a very modest portion of her bed.

You'll also find her baking bread and making homemade pizza, laughing, painting and shopping.

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Wednesday 2nd of June 2021

My 7 week old has one the size of a pencil eraser. I'm hoping it closes.


Thursday 19th of December 2019

Hello. I have a 15 week old Chihuahua she has a molera but also has an opening by each of her eyes. When u bought her I asked the breeder if she had hydrocephalus she said no but he m getting worried now. Does anyone know if she should have so many openings in her skull or not? Please let me know.

Lindsay Pevny

Monday 23rd of December 2019

This is definitely a question for your vet, especially because your pup might need surgery or medication to ensure she develops normally. Best of luck, hopefully those holes will close as she gets bigger.

Vicki Honerkamp

Thursday 19th of September 2019

My peekashitz puppy is 8 months old and has a small soft spot. I am a bit guarded with his play when it comes to jumping off of things. Other than that he is quite active and loves learning new tricks!


Tuesday 27th of August 2019

We have an 11 month a chi puppy who ran into a post and knocked himself out and then had a seizure. We rushed him to the vet. Thankfully he is ok but we learned that his soft spot will never close. We were advised to be very careful with him and it. We had no idea of this defect. Guess we won't be breeding him!

jean bergquist

Friday 5th of October 2018

My 2 year old Chihuahua female named Mizzy has a spot when I got her the previous owners did not tell me. Mizzy is pregnant due at the end of Oct.

I am so worried something will happen to her after everything I have been reading if something happens to I dont know what I will do. Last year I had a AKC Male he was with me almost 4 years his name was Romeo. My daughter went to let her babies out to go potty that morning Romeo followed we usely never let him out unless someone stayed right by him because like Mizzy he was so tiny. My daughter let them a bit it was very cold they get tired of staying in there kennel I said it will OK since they were in the fence. Not true these hug beast jumped my fence and before my daughter could get to him they killed Romeo did not back down he would fight. This is why I am so scared I wanted Mizzy to have a litter of pups because my son wanted one shes so darn cute a bug in a rug her fetchers just so tiny her little bark adorable. I fear I made the biggest mistake if I had known my Mizzy had this spot no way she would have ever got pregnant. I got her in the spring of last this year. Please let me know what you think I cant hardly sleep I have to keep her in my bed and check on her thought the night.

Thanks a mom thats madly in love with her fur babies.


Lindsay Pevny

Wednesday 10th of October 2018

Aw, you're a good mom, Jean. I'm so sorry to hear how you lost Romeo, that must have been absolutely traumatic. Dogs are very resilient and Mizzy will probably get through her pregnancy just fine, but it's absolutely essential that you see a vet, get sonograms, and feed her more while she is pregnant and nursing. I'm not sure about the specifics of what to feed a pregnant/nursing dog, so please ask your vet about that. A lot of small dogs need emergency c-sections because the puppy can get stuck in the small birth canal, so you may want to sign up for Care credit if you're concerned about any surprise vet bills. All that said, I'd love to see photos of your girl and her puppies when they are born! You can email them or post them on the Little Dog Tips Facebook page. I may even write an upcoming blog post about what to do when your Chi gets pregnant. All the best, Lindsay

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