Petite, sweet, and full of personality, Chihuahuas prove that great things come in small packages. As a dog lover, you obviously want to maximize the time you get to spend with your furry friend, and if you’re exploring adoptions, it’s natural to ask, “How long do Chihuahuas live?”
On average, you can expect your Chihuahua to spend 15 to 17 years with you.1
So that’s it, end of the article, you’ve got all you need to know… Well, actually there’s a lot to explore when it comes to Chihuahua lifespan, health risks, and long-term care, and we’re about to dive into it.
Why Do Chihuahuas Live So Long?
Curious about the secret of Chihuahuas’ longevity? There’s no puppy fountain of youth, just a combination of genetics and environmental factors that contribute to this small breed’s long lifespan.
Notably, not all Chihuahuas live for two decades. TobyKieth, a dog who lived for 21 years and 66 days holds the record for oldest Chihuahua, but that’s not necessarily the norm.2
Still, the average lifespan of Chihuahuas is rather long in comparison to other dog breeds. This is likely due to factors including:
- Small size – Scientists don’t understand everything about puppy aging, but evidence points toward smaller dogs living longer than their larger counterparts. While large animals, in general, tend to have long lifespans, the smaller breeds within a species tend to have the longest lives. Besides Chihuahuas, smaller breeds such as dachshunds, beagles, pomeranians, and more also have longer lifespans. It may be that large dogs grow faster, putting them at risk for age-related diseases at a younger age.3
- General health – Some pups just aren’t as robust as Chihuahuas. Sure, this small breed has some serious health concerns to keep your eye on, but Chihuahuas are very resilient and robust despite their rather fragile looks and small stature. Additionally, puppy health can depend on genetics. Since Chihuahuas have been around for several centuries, many less adaptable traits may have been bred out of the breed.
- Low exercise needs – Every Chihuahua enjoys playtime, but you won’t have to worry about exhausting yourself to attend to your Chihuahua puppy’s exercise needs. This might sound like a convenience for you as a dog owner, but it could also contribute to your Chihuahua’s longevity. Because their exercise needs are relatively low, they may experience less strain and pressure on their joints and bodies, keeping them spry well into old age.
What Major Health Problems Do Chihuahuas Have?
As mentioned, Chihuahuas aren’t sickly pets. But like any dog breed, they are susceptible to minor and major health issues. If you’re looking to adopt a four-legged friend in the near future, explore your options for health screenings and genetic testing to minimize the chance of your Chihuahua dealing with a life-threatening illness.
Ultimately, there are treatments for most health issues that your pup could face, and by knowing the signs and symptoms of the most common issues, you can help protect your pup’s health every day.
Common health problems may include:
- Joint issues – Knees and elbows are places of concern for any dog. In particular, Chihuahuas are vulnerable to osteoarthritis—the wearing down of joint cartilage—as well as patellar luxation, a condition where joint bones do not align properly.4 Joint issues typically stem from a combination of genetic factors and general wear and tear. They can lead to mobility problems as well as serious pain for your pup if left untreated.
- Dental issues – Gingivitis, gum disease, and related dental diseases can be a major concern for many Chihuahuas. Not only do dental issues lead to increased pain, but they can also interfere with proper chewing and eating habits, and even lead to further health problems. Keep your pup’s teeth clean to mitigate any potential dental issues, and visit your vet if you notice (or smell) a problem in your dog’s mouth.
Related Article: Chihuahua Dental Problems: Why Do Chihuahuas Have Such Bad Teeth?
- Heart problems – Some unfortunate Chihuahuas deal with heart problems including murmurs, which may lead to exercise difficulties and fatigue. For pups that seem winded or exhausted a little too often, it could be wise to schedule a heart checkup. There are treatment options for dogs with heart issues. Often, the most important factor is early detection, so don’t hesitate to investigate.
- Obesity – Dogs love to eat and it’s up to you to tell your Chihuahua when enough is enough. Obesity is a common issue for many Chihuahuas and over time, the condition can contribute to liver, heart, and kidney problems. Their small body size and low exercise needs can work against them when it comes to consuming excessive calories, so do your best to ensure your pup maintains a healthy weight.
Tips for a Long and Happy Life With Your Chihuahua
We’re all eager for our doggy to have a long life. The more time to walk, run, play, and snuggle up with your Chihuahua, the better.
The very best thing you can do for your dog is to spend time with them and provide them with a high quality of life, no matter how long they have. That means paying attention to their needs, prioritizing their care, and making every moment that you share unforgettable. Explore these simple and effective methods of keeping your pup happy and healthy.
We’ve mentioned exercise a few times, and it bears repeating—make it part of your daily routine. Besides sleeping and eating, exercise is just about the most important thing to a Chihuahua. They take it very, very seriously.
To live up to your point-eared pal’s exercise expectations, consider the following tips:
- 30 minutes per day – It’s not a lot, but 30 minutes a day can give your Chihuahua the physical activity they need to burn some calories, flex their muscles, and get that post-workout glow. Well, maybe not a glow, but they’ll probably be smiling by the end. You may not even need to leave your house to hit your Chihuahua’s daily fitness goals.
- Watch for over exhaustion – While some dogs will leave you panting at the end of a walk, with Chihuahuas, it’s usually the opposite. Watch out for your Chihuahua over-exhausting themself during their exercise regimen, and feel free to slow things down if your pup is looking too winded.
- Hydration – Along with over exhaustion, you also have the heat to contend with. Due to their tiny bodies, Chihuahuas can be prone to dehydration. If you’re spending some time outdoors, be sure to bring some water for your pup.
Feed your Chihuahua what they need. They may look like they couldn’t eat much more than a spinach leaf, but Chihuahuas (like all dogs) are voracious eaters, able to scarf down more than you think could fit in their tiny bellies.
Whether they’re waiting patiently by their food bowl or nudging you to get up, consider these tried and true ways of ensuring a nutritious diet.
- Portions – How much you feed your Chihuahua puppy can be just as important as what you feed your Chihuahua. This breed is small enough to put in your tote bag, so feeding them a bucket of kibble could lead to some serious problems in the short and long run.
- Macro and micronutrients – Typically, you’ll want to minimize starches and fillers while maximizing protein intake for your small dog. Additionally, you could even explore food designed by veterinary nutritionists and honed specifically for your dog breed. That way you can always be sure that your Chihuahua’s dietary needs are taken care of.
- Food allergies – Noticing any odd reactions around your pup’s dog food? Chihuahuas can develop food allergies at any time, leading to sneezing, itching, and gastrointestinal discomfort.
Preventative Veterinary Care
Most dogs don’t love seeing their vet, but sometimes it’s the very best thing for them. There’s no substitute for quality veterinary care, and while you might be able to do your own research about health risks, symptoms, and treatments, only a real vet can give a diagnosis.
When it comes to veterinary care, consider the following factors:
- Vaccinations – A new Chihuahua adoption typically means a vaccination appointment. From hepatitis to rabies, there are several required and optional vaccinations, depending on your local laws and ordinances.5 Vaccinations are the very best way to protect your Chihuahua against preventable diseases, so be sure to make your appointment as soon as possible.
- Yearly checkups – Don’t wait until there’s something wrong with your Chihuahua to visit your vet. Yearly checkups are the recommended minimum for keeping track of your dog’s medical health.
- Flea, tick, and heartworm prevention – Even the cleanest Chihuahua is at risk for parasites. From dog parks to hiking trails, you never know where your dog could pick up a parasite, but with proper preventative medicine, there’s nothing to worry about.
Proper Training and Healthy Habits
It’s no surprise that Chihuahuas aren’t working, hunting, or herding dogs. They’re companion dogs through and through. Fortunately, they’re highly intelligent and capable of learning manners and commands. Of course, they also have a specific list of needs when it comes to their overall wellness—both physically and mentally.
If you’re aiming to build some healthy habits, explore the following Chihuahua-specific advice:
- Practice public safety – There’s no getting around how small this breed is. Having a small dog can be a lot of fun, so long as you and your dog have an understanding of public risks. Chihuahuas are highly vulnerable to other humans and other animals (including dogs) in the wrong scenario. Stay vigilant when handling your Chihuahua in public places to avoid any accidental injuries.
- Stay warm – Chihauhaus don’t love the cold. Hailing from sunny Mexico, this breed shakes and shivers when the temperature drops for too long. If things are getting chilly, bring a blanket and warm clothes to keep your Chihuahua bundled up and protected.
- Mental health and engagement – Your Chihuahua relies on you for more than just food, water, and exercise—they need affection too. Chihuahuas are people-centric, eager to spend time with their owners every single day. Be sure you allow plenty of puppy time in your schedule, and never leave your pup alone for an extended period.
Find The Very Best For Your Chihuahua at BARK
Ready for life with one of the longest-living breeds on the planet? Chihuahuas are spunky, excitable, and human-loving pets that are fortunate enough to spend years and years with their owners. If you’re looking to make those years count (and potentially add a few more on), visit BARK today for everything you need.
As dog fanatics, we’re always looking for new ways to impress your pooch. Explore our monthly BARK Box for treats, toys, and chews delivered straight to your door. There’s a lot to discover, and we’re ready to be your guide. Visit us today.
AKC. How Long Do Dogs Live?. https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/health/how-long-do-dogs-live
AKC. Why Do Small Dogs Live Longer Than Large Dogs? https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/health/why-do-small-dogs-live-longer/
NPR. A Chihuahua has set a Guinness World Record as the oldest living dog. https://www.npr.org/2022/04/26/1094766069/a-chihuahua-has-set-a-guinness-world-record-as-the-oldest-living-dog
AKC. Your Complete Guide to First-Year Puppy Vaccinations. https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/health/puppy-shots-complete-guide/