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Xavier Cugat and Pepito - Music and Chihuahuas

As preservation breeders, we are always fascinated by the origins of our breed and love discovering historical encounters with Chihuahuas. With our very own Nikita starting her appearances at the World Busker's Festival 2019 - Bread and Circus this week, we thought it might be cool to look back over the life of another famous performing Chihuahua.

So allow us to introduce Senor Xavier Cugat and Pepito,

Born in 1900, Cugat was a Spanish musician who spent his formative years in Havana, Cuba. A trained violinist, he was a leading figure in the spread of Latin music into popular music.

In the late 1920s, as sound began to be used in films, Cugat worked on short musical films. By the early 1930s, he was appearing with his group in full length feature films. His first notable appearance occurred in 1942, in You Were Never Lovelier with Rita Hayworth and Fred Astaire. Most of his subsequent movies were made at MGM, and among others, included the Esther Williams musicals Bathing Beauty (1944), This Time for Keeps (1947), On an Island with You (1948), and Neptune's Daughter (1949). In 1930's New York he was the leader of the resident orchestra at the Waldorf–Astoria and in the 1940's after World War II.

Through all this, his trademark was holding his beloved Chihuahua, Pepito, while conducting his orchestra with the other hand. There is even a book about Pepito's life, too, illustrated by the talented Senor Cugat, as well as many albums and recordings left behind by his adoring owner.

Cugat died of heart failure in 1990 in Barcelona and was buried in his native Girona. He was posthumously inducted into the International Latin Music Hall of Fame in 2001. We don't know the fate of Pepito, but it's probably safe to say he lived a full and adventurous life as a little dancing dog.

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