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How Long do Chihuahuas Live? 5 Potential Health Problems

The Chihuahua is a small and energetic breed that is known for their long lifespan. The average lifespan of a chihuahuas is between 12 and 20 years, with some living even longer.

It is a common misconception that small dogs, such as Chihuahuas, live longer than larger dogs. In reality, the lifespan of a dog is determined by a variety of factors, including:

  • Genetics
  • Breed
  • Diet
  • Exercise, and overall health.

In this blog post, we’ll explore the lifespan of Chihuahuas and what you can do to help your Chihuahua live a long and healthy life.

A Short History on the Chihuahua

The Chihuahua is a small breed of dog that is believed to have originated in Mexico. The breed gets its name from the state of Chihuahua, which is located in northern Mexico.

There are several theories about the origins of the Chihuahua. Some experts believe that the breed is descended from small dogs that were kept by the ancient Toltec people of Mexico. Others believe that the Chihuahua is descended from small dogs that were brought to Mexico by Spanish traders.

The Chihuahua as we know it today was developed in the 19th century. The breed was recognized by the American Kennel Club (AKC) in 1904. Today, the Chihuahua is a popular companion breed known for their small size, energetic personality, and loyalty to their owners.

Chihuahuas have a huge personality in a tiny body

Important Things to Know About the Chihuahua

Size

As one of the smallest dog breeds, the Chihuahua is a popular choice for those looking for a small, energetic companion.

Adult males typically weigh no more than 6 pounds and females weigh no more than 5 pounds.

Energy Level

Despite their small size, Chihuahuas are energetic dogs that need regular exercise and mental stimulation to stay happy and healthy.

Chihuahuas are energetic little dogs that need regular exercise to stay healthy.

In general, adult Chihuahuas should get at least 30 minutes of exercise per day, while puppies may need more.

Health Issues

Like all breeds, Chihuahuas are prone to certain health issues.

These can include dental problems, obesity, and hypoglycemia (low blood sugar). It’s important to keep an eye on your Chihuahua’s health and to consult with a veterinarian if you have any concerns.

Separation Anxiety

Chihuahuas are known to bond closely with their owners and can become anxious when left alone. It’s important to provide them with plenty of attention and to gradually acclimate them to being alone if necessary.

Barking

Some Chihuahuas are prone to barking, especially if they are not properly trained.

Trainability

They can be easy to train, but they can also be stubborn. Like all dogs, they respond well to positive reinforcement, such as treats and praise, and they can be trained to perform a variety of commands and tricks.

However, they can also be prone to small dog syndrome, which means they may try to assert themselves as the alpha dog in the household.

This can make training more challenging if they become overly bossy or dominant. It’s important to be consistent and patient when training a Chihuahua, and to use positive reinforcement techniques rather than punishment or intimidation.

With patience and persistence, most Chihuahuas can be trained to be well-behaved, obedient pets.

Temperature Sensitivity

Chihuahuas have a thin coat and can be sensitive to extreme temperatures. They need to be kept warm in cold weather and to provided with shade and plenty of water in hot weather.

Interactions with Children

Chihuahuas can be good with children if they are socialized and trained properly. It’s important to supervise interactions between children and any small dog and to teach children how to handle a Chihuahua gently.

Potential Health Problems in the Chihuahua

As a small and energetic breed, Chihuahuas can make great companions. However, like all breeds, they are prone to certain health risks. Here are some potential health risks to be aware of if you own a Chihuahua:

Obesity

One of the most common health risks for Chihuahuas is obesity. Some of the specific health issues that obesity can cause include:

  • Joint problems
  • Respiratory problems
  • Heart problems
  • Diabetes
  • Skin problems
  • Reduced lifespan

A high-quality, healthy diet and regular exercise should help prevent obesity. See below for suggestions on the best diet choices for Chihuahuas.

Dental Problems

Chihuahuas are prone to dental disease including tooth decay and gum disease. Try to brush their teeth regularly and to have their teeth professionally cleaned by a veterinarian.

Hypoglycemia

Chihuahuas are prone to hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar.

This can occur if they don’t eat enough or if they are under stress. Symptoms of hypoglycemia include:

  • Lethargy
  • Weakness
  • Tremors.

Heart Issues

Unfortunately, Chihuahuas are vulnerable to cardiovascular disease, including problems with their heart valves. There are several different types of heart valve problems that can affect Chihuahuas including:

  1. Mitral valve stenosis: This is a condition in which the mitral valve (which controls the flow of blood from the left atrium to the left ventricle) becomes narrowed or blocked, causing the heart to work harder to pump blood.
  2. Tricuspid valve stenosis: This is a condition in which the tricuspid valve (which controls the flow of blood from the right atrium to the right ventricle) becomes narrowed or blocked.
  3. Mitral valve prolapse: This is a condition in which the mitral valve bulges or prolapses into the left atrium, causing the heart to work harder to pump blood.

Heart valve problems can be caused by a variety of factors, including genetics, infection, and injury.

These problems can be difficult to detect, as they often do not cause symptoms until they have progressed to a more serious stage. Have your Chihuahua regularly checked by a vet to ensure that any potential heart problems are caught and treated early on.

Mitral valve disease

This is a common heart problem in small breed dogs, including Chihuahuas. It occurs when the mitral valve, which is a valve that controls the flow of blood between the left atrium and left ventricle of the heart, becomes weakened or damaged. This can cause blood to flow backwards and lead to an accumulation of fluid in the lungs and other organs. Symptoms of mitral valve disease can include coughing, difficulty breathing, and fatigue.

Patent ductus arteriosus (PDA)

This is a birth defect in which a blood vessel that should close after birth remains open. This can cause abnormal blood flow and put extra strain on the heart. Symptoms of PDA can include rapid breathing, a rapid or weak pulse, and difficulty breathing.

Heart murmurs

A heart murmur is an abnormal sound that occurs when blood flows through the heart. It can be caused by a variety of factors, including valve problems, heart disease, and other underlying conditions. Heart murmurs may not cause any symptoms, but in severe cases, they can lead to heart failure.

If you think your Chihuahua may be experiencing heart problems, it’s important to consult with a veterinarian as soon as possible. Treatment may include medications, surgery, or lifestyle changes, depending on the underlying cause of the problem.

Joint Issues

Chihuahuas are prone to joint issues such as hip dysplasia and patellar luxation. It’s important to have your Chihuahua’s joints checked regularly by a veterinarian and to follow any treatment recommendations.

Health Problems of the Teacup Chihuahua

Teacup Chihuahuas are a small variety of the Chihuahua breed. They are known for their very small size, which is typically 4 pounds or less.

While some people may find the small size of Teacup Chihuahuas appealing, it’s important to be aware that they can be prone to a variety of health issues due to their small size.

Toy breeds can have health issues that include fragile bones, low blood sugar, and respiratory problems.

The term “Teacup Chihuahua” is not recognized by the American Kennel Club (AKC) or other reputable breeding organizations. Some breeders may use this term to sell very small Chihuahuas at a higher price, but it is not a recognized variety of the breed.

If you’re interested in owning a Chihuahua, it’s a good idea to do your research and choose a reputable breeder who follows responsible breeding practices.

Avoid purchasing a Chihuahua from a breeder who is primarily concerned with producing very small dogs, as this can lead to health problems for the dogs and disappointment for their owners.

Chihuahuas are prone to heart valve problems

How to Ensure Your Chihuahua Lives A Long and Happy Life

1. Healthy Diet

One of the most important things you can do for your Chihuahua’s health is to feed them a high-quality diet.

Look for a commercial dog food that is formulated for small breeds and appropriate for your Chihuahua’s size and age. Avoid giving them too many treats and table scraps, as this can lead to obesity.

Avoid giving your dog human food.

Here are a few brands of dog food that are generally considered to be good options for a Chihuahua’s diet

  1. Royal Canin: Royal Canin offers a variety of dog food formulas that are specifically formulated for small breeds like Chihuahuas.
  2. Purina Pro Plan: Purina Pro Plan offers a variety of dog food formulas that are specifically formulated for small breeds like Chihuahuas.
  3. Wellness Complete Health: Wellness Complete Health offers a variety of dog food formulas that are made with high-quality ingredients and are suitable for small breeds like Chihuahuas.
  4. Nutro Wholesome Essentials: Nutro Wholesome Essentials offers a variety of dog food formulas that are made with high-quality ingredients and are suitable for small breeds like Chihuahuas.
  5. Hill’s Science Diet: Hill’s Science Diet offers a variety of dog food formulas that are specifically formulated for small breeds like Chihuahuas.

Keep in mind that every dog is different, and what works for one Chihuahua may not work for another. It’s important to choose a dog food that is appropriate for your Chihuahua’s size and age, and to consult with a veterinarian if you have any concerns about their diet.

2. Maintain a Healthy Weight

Obesity can lead to a variety of health problems in Chihuahuas, including diabetes and joint issues. Keep an eye on your Chihuahua’s weight and consult with your veterinarian if you have any concerns.

3. Regular Exercise

There are a variety of ways to provide your Chihuahua with the exercise they need. Walking is a great option, and you can vary the length and intensity of your walks to suit your Chihuahua’s needs.

You can also provide your Chihuahua with toys and activities that encourage them to move and play, such as puzzle toys or fetch. If you have a small yard, you can set up an agility course for your Chihuahua to navigate.

It’s important to pay attention to your Chihuahua’s energy levels and not to over exercise them.

If your Chihuahua is panting heavily or seems tired, it’s time to take a break. It’s also important to provide your Chihuahua with plenty of water during and after exercise to help prevent dehydration.

4. Grooming

Grooming your Chihuahua is an important part of keeping them healthy and looking their best. Here are some steps you can follow to groom your Chihuahua:

Brush their coat

Chihuahuas have a short, fine coat that requires regular grooming. Use a slicker brush or a comb to gently brush your Chihuahua’s coat, starting at the head and working your way down to the tail.

Be sure to brush all the way down to the skin to remove any tangles or mats.

Trim their nails

Chihuahuas’ nails grow quickly and can become long and uncomfortable if not trimmed regularly. Use a nail trimmer specifically designed for dogs to carefully trim your Chihuahua’s nails.

Avoid cutting too close to the quick, which is the blood vessel in the nail. If you’re not comfortable trimming your Chihuahua’s nails, consider taking them to a professional groomer.

Clean their ears

Chihuahuas are prone to ear infections, so it’s important to keep their ears clean. Use a cotton ball or a soft cloth to gently clean the inside of your Chihuahua’s ears, being careful not to go too deep. Avoid using Q-tips, as they can damage the ear canal.

Brush their teeth

Chihuahuas are prone to dental issues, so it’s important to brush their teeth regularly. Use a toothbrush and toothpaste specifically designed for dogs, and brush your Chihuahua’s teeth at least once a week.

You may also want to consider having their teeth professionally cleaned by a veterinarian.

5. Vaccinations

Vaccinations are an important part of maintaining your Chihuahua’s health. Vaccinations protect your dog from a variety of diseases, some of which can be serious or even deadly. Here is a list of vaccinations that your Chihuahua may need, and when they should be administered:

Distemper

This vaccine protects against a highly contagious and potentially deadly virus that can affect the respiratory tract, gastrointestinal tract, and the nervous systems.

Chihuahuas should receive their first distemper vaccination at 6-8 weeks of age, with booster shots given every 3-4 weeks until they are 16-20 weeks old. After that, booster shots should be given every 1-3 years.

Parvovirus

This vaccine protects against a highly contagious and potentially deadly virus that affects the gastrointestinal system.

Chihuahuas should receive their first parvovirus vaccination at 6-8 weeks of age, with booster shots given every 3-4 weeks until they are 16-20 weeks old. After that, booster shots should be given every 1-3 years.

Rabies

This vaccine protects against a deadly virus that affects the nervous system. Chihuahuas should receive their first rabies vaccination at 16-20 weeks of age, with booster shots given every 1-3 years.

Leptospirosis

This vaccine protects against a bacterial disease that can affect the kidneys and liver. Chihuahuas should receive their first leptospirosis vaccination at 12-16 weeks of age, with booster shots given every 1-2 years.

6. Mental Stimulation

Chihuahuas are intelligent dogs that need mental stimulation to stay happy and healthy. Provide them with toys and activities that challenge their minds, such as puzzle toys or training sessions.

7. Dental Care

Dental cleaning is an important part of maintaining your Chihuahua’s overall health.

Just like humans, dogs can develop periodontal disease, which is an infection of the tissues surrounding the teeth. If left untreated, periodontal disease can lead to a variety of health problems in Chihuahuas, including tooth loss, pain, and infection.

Periodontal disease has also been linked to other health problems such as heart disease, kidney disease, and diabetes.

During a dental cleaning, your veterinarian will remove plaque and tartar from your Chihuahua’s teeth, as well as check for any signs of periodontal disease.

If your Chihuahua does develop periodontal disease, your veterinarian will recommend a treatment plan to help manage the condition.

How long do chihuahuas live info graphic

Fun Facts About Chihuahuas

Chihuahuas are the oldest breed of dog in North America, with evidence of small dogs similar to Chihuahuas found in ancient Mexican civilizations, including the Toltecs and the Mayans.

They are also the smallest breed of dog, typically weighing no more than 6 pounds and standing 6-9 inches tall at the shoulder. Chihuahuas are native to Mexico and are named after the state of Chihuahua.

The breed was recognized by the American Kennel Club (AKC) in 1904. Chihuahuas are known for their energetic and loyal personality, and are often considered to be “lap dogs” who enjoy snuggling with their owners.

They come in a variety of coat colors, including black, white, tan, brown, red, and blue, and may have a solid coat color or a combination of colors.

According to the Guinness World Records, the oldest Chihuahua on record was a dog named Megabyte, who lived to be 20 years and 9 months old. Megabyte was owned by Sharon Voorhees of Largo, Florida, and passed away on June 4, 2013.

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Summary

The Chihuahua is a tiny dog that can easily wiggle his way into the soft spot of your heart. Proper diet, exercise, and regular wellness checkups will go a long way in ensuring your little dog will live to a ripe old age.

Although these tiny dogs are prone to some health conditions, you can potentially avoid many of those issues by choosing a reputable breeder that tests for genetic health conditions.

Pet owners should start training their Chihuahua as early as possible. Smaller dogs need to be as well-behaved as their larger counterparts.

At the end of the day, Chihuahua puppies need proper care and nurturing so that they can grow into healthy and happy adult dogs.

References

Chihuahua dog | Description, Temperament, Images, & Facts. (n.d.). Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved December 26, 2022, from https://www.britannica.com/animal/Chihuahua-dog

Chihuahua. (n.d.). Central Texas Veterinary Specialty & Emergency Hospital. Retrieved December 26, 2022, from https://www.ctvsh.com/services/dogs/breeds/chihuahua

Alt, K. (2014, October 29). Life Expectancy of Dogs: How Long Will My Dog Live? Canine Journal. Retrieved December 26, 2022, from https://www.caninejournal.com/life-expectancy-of-dogs/

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