How Long Do Chihuahuas Live – 9 Intriguing Factors

How long do Chihuahuas live? – Well typically, Chihuahuas are a relatively healthy breed when compared to larger dogs and can live long lives like most other small breeds.

Various authorities cite different average lifespans, but the general consensus is that they live between fifteen to twenty years. However, not all Chihuahuas can live this long with certainty and some could surpass the twenty years max-age.

Facts About Chihuahuas

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Chihuahua is best known for their tiny size, big round eyes, pointed ears, and tend to shiver and shake. Nonetheless, this breed has a lot of interesting facts starting from their history, their popularity among people as companions for celebrities, and how long do Chihuahuas live.

Chihuahua History

There is still some debate about the origins of Chihuahuas1, nevertheless, the most likely origin of this breed is considered to be in Mexico. The name – “Chihuahua” – comes from the state with the same name in Mexico, which borders Texas, Arizona, and New Mexico.

Furthermore, it is theorized that these dogs somehow found their way into the US when they were sold to tourists traveling past the border. Simultaneously, there is evidence tracing Chihuahua’s lineage back2 to the Techichi that were companion animals domesticated by the people of Toltec culture in ancient Mexico.

Concurrently, the upper-class Toltecs believed the Techichi to be sacred animals able to guide the soul to the afterworld. Because of this, many Techichi were buried with their masters so that they could stay together in the netherworld.

Also, Chihuahuas could have ancestors older than the Techichis as part of their lineage. Moreover, artifacts with images of small, big-eyed dogs that looked like Chihuahuas were found in El Salvador, Mexico, and the US. These date back to around 100 AD and they could have been part of a child’s toy.

Chihuahua Basics

Tiny Chihuahua
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Chihuahuas are popular because they are the smallest dog breeds with Yorkshire Terriers3 coming in at a close second. In addition, they typically weigh between two and six pounds and with a height of around six to nine inches tall. As to how long do Chihuahuas live, it depends on how well they are taken care of.

Physical Characteristics

Other than their tiny sizes, Chihuahuas do have other recognizable physical characteristics. For example, these dogs tend to have large round eyes protruding from their heads and ears that stick up straight instead of lying flat or flopping around.

Additionally, Chihuahua can be born with any combination of any colors including spotted or solid. The most common colors for Chihuahuas are white, brown, black, red, and fawn.

Types of Chihuahua

Generally, there are two types of Chihuahuas – Long Coat and Smooth Coat. As their names suggest, the main difference between these two is the length of their furs. The basic rule of thumb when choosing the right type of dog for any breed is to keep in mind that long-haired animals shed more than short-haired ones.

Shorthaired Chihuahua
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Furthermore, this same rule applies to Chihuahuas’ Long Coat (longhaired Chihuahuas) and Smooth Coat (smooth-coated Chihuahuas) breeds. Also, Long Coat or longhaired Chihuahua could need more grooming and brushing to keep their fur in tip-top shape.

Along with that, Chihuahuas have two different kinds of head shapes – Apple Heads and Deer Heads. The former ones have full, round heads like the fruit apple whereas the latter have a narrower face resembling the face of a deer.

The type of their breeds does not really influence how long do Chihuahuas live.

How Long DO Chihuahuas Live?

Their physical traits may not be something to boast about, but they can live long lives like other small dogs. Moreover, these small dogs on average tend to live longer than the larger breeds. For instance, a healthy Chihuahua could live up to twenty years of age while medium and large dogs live up to thirteen years of age.

Comparatively, Chihuahuas are also a healthy breed of dogs and it can help extend their lifespans. As mentioned before, how long do Chihuahuas live depends on how well they are taken care of. 

World’s Oldest Chihuahua

Many Chihuahuas pass away before they grow past their teen years. Nevertheless, there are a few reports of Chihuahuas that grew older than two decades of age. But, unfortunately, very few or any of these reports can be considered credible/genuine.

The Chihuahua named “Megabyte” is reported to have lived for twenty years and 265 days. However, just like the snippet above, information to back up this claim is unavailable. Some even claim to know about thirty-year-old Chihuahuas, but without any proof, it is difficult to take these at face value.

Nonetheless, Chihuahua’s lifespan can most certainly reach the age of 20 and a few of them can exceed this limit a bit. It is just hard to conclusively prove that they can do it.

For now, the answer to the question – how long do Chihuahuas live? – is still up to twenty years. 

Common Chihuahua Health Problems

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Chihuahuas are at greater risk of some health problems than other breeds and there are some notable ones discussed below. However, it must be noted that these are not the only threats to the health of the breed.

Some health problems can directly impact the pup’s lifespan, which could result in death whereas others are unlikely to do the same. Still, some of these illnesses can drastically decrease the Chihuahua’s quality of life and must be paid close attention to.

How long do Chihuahuas live also depends on how quickly you can spot the health problems and get them taken care of.

  • Dental Problems

This breed of dogs is susceptible to dental problems mostly because they live such long lives. Additionally, dental problems can wreck any dog’s quality of life and it is important to take good care of their teeth and visit a veterinarian at the first sign of such problems.

However, dental problems are rarely considered life-threatening, nonetheless, they can cause long-term changes to the dog’s eating habits. Subsequently, these could most likely lead to more serious health problems and impact how long do Chihuahuas live.

In addition, periodontal disease has been linked to heart problems, which further illustrates the importance of good oral health. Generally, Chihuahuas have small mouths making it difficult to clean their teeth and mouth.

They can easily get gum diseases or food trapped in their mouths. Proper dental care is important to avoid a dental disease so clean and brush the dog’s teeth regularly. Prevention is better than cure in the case of dental hygiene.

  • Obesity

Small breed dogs are very susceptible to weight gain and obesity and of course, it applies to Chihuahuas as well. In addition, it does not take a lot of calories to cause a surplus in such tiny puppies. It is important to keep an eye on the pets’ waistlines and ensure they stay fit.

Obesity can put extra stress on a dog’s joints, cause arthritis, breathing problems caused by collapsed windpipes, and lead to serious health issues involving the heart, kidneys, liver, and others.

However, just a suitable diet may not be enough as the Chihuahuas also need plenty of exercise and limited high-calorie treats. You can ask your vet about proper nutrition, diet schedule, and exercise as even walking/running in the backyard can be enough for them.

  • Osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis is one of the joint problems and can occur when the cartilage in the dogs’ joints wears down over time. Additionally, this will lead to bone-on-bone contact that is both extremely painful and damaging. Moreover, arthritis could occur for different reasons, but obesity and repetitive activities are the major causes.

This ailment does not contribute directly to shortening the lifespan, however, it can make a dog depressed, which in turn reduces the quality of their life and make exercising difficult. You can consult your veterinarian if you think he/she suffers from osteoarthritis. There are several treatment options available, including over-the-counter supplements, such as glucosamine.

You need to make sure that no matter how long do Chihuahuas live, they can lead happy and healthy life. 

  • Hypoglycemia

Hypoglycemia4 happens when a dog’s blood sugar is at lower than usual levels. Furthermore, this ailment can cause many varied symptoms and some of them are quite subtle. For instance, many dogs with hypoglycemia sleep excessively and behave sluggishly. Also, they frequently tremble or shake.

To avoid these symptoms, visit the vet regularly to spot this disease as soon as possible. With prompt professional assistance, this particle illness is not a very problematic condition but can be life-threatening without treatment. Keeping some honey or sugar supplements like Karo syrup on hand can be a good thing to treat dangerously low blood sugar levels in dogs.

Signs for this illness can include:

  • Lethargy
  • Sleepiness
  • Lack of coordination
  • Unfocused eyes
  • Neck spasms
  • Fainting
  • Seizures
  • Patellar Luxation

Patellar luxation is a fancy term for a medical condition that is caused by knee joints, which failed to align properly. In addition, this is a common problem for many small breeds and is typically present at birth. Also, it often fails to trigger symptoms for some time.

This condition can alter a dog’s gait and cause limping, which left untreated can also lead to arthritis. Simultaneously, there are some different treatments for patellar luxation depending on the severity of the disease.

Chihuahuas try to fix this situation on their own by straightening the legs and relaxing or tightening the leg muscles. Small breed pet owners may want to consider getting dog insurance early instead of thinking about how long do Chihuahuas live.

  • Hydrocephalus

Hydrocephalus is a condition where spinal fluid builds up in the brain and this ailment is typically present from birth as identified by a swollen head. Nonetheless, there is not a cure available and many Chihuahuas born with this tend to die before reaching the age of four months.

But, mild cases can be treated with steroids and moderate cases could be partially resolved if a shunt is installed to divert some fluid away from the brain.

  • Heart Disease

Chihuahuas are also prone to several heart diseases that can shorten their lifespans. Murmurs are abnormalities or disturbances in the flow of blood through the heart.

Although they might not be a big problem, they can still indicate the presence of other more serious issues of the heart. Nevertheless, most of the murmurs are treatable by using medications or special diets. Also, dogs with heart problems may need to take it easy by limiting the amount of exercise.

Heart problems can be divided into three forms – heart failure, arrhythmia, and heart valve issues. These conditions will most likely end the dog’s lifespan at the age of 14. Chihuahuas mostly suffer from heart valve problems in which the valves become weak and do not close properly. As a result, the blood flows back through the valve straining the heart.

  • Collapsed Trachea

Various small breeds are susceptible to a condition named collapsed trachea. This ailment is a frightening condition that makes it difficult for a dog to breathe leading to strange coughing sounds. Furthermore, this collapsed trachea is supposedly inherited in some cases and is thought to occur in conjunction with other respiratory conditions or obesity.

Occasionally, surgery is mandatory to treat particularly severe cases, but some dogs may respond to medications living somewhat normal lives with this condition.

  • Bladder and Kidney Stones

Older Chihuahuas, especially males are more prone to bladder and kidney stones. Moreover, it can cause intense pain, blood in urine, and difficulty to urine among these small dogs.

  • Trauma

Traumas are a serious issue for any dog that can easily lead to death and this is especially serious in small breeds like Chihuahuas. Severe trauma or serious injury can cause extreme cases like car accidents, falling from heights, or people stepping on the dog accidentally.

  • Soft Spots

Soft spots are something apple-headed Chihuahuas are born within their skulls. This genetic trait is where the bones have not fully formed or closed together and is also called a Molera. This is not exactly an abnormality for Chihuahua, but rather a trait that allows their large, round heads to pass more easily through the birth canal. Owners of Chihuahuas need be to aware of the soft spot and be careful to not injure it. These soft spots usually close up at about six months of age. 

How Can Chihuahua Owners Ensure Their Dogs Live Long and Healthy Lives?

Protecting Chihuahuas from all the health threats may not be possible, but there are things you could do to avoid or limit such issues. Following are some of the healthy ways Chihuahua owners can choose to ensure their dogs live a long and healthy life.

  • Vaccination

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No matter what breed of dog you have, you will need to make sure he/she receives all of the necessary vaccinations that your vet recommends. This is vital because of the many diseases that could become fatal including parvovirus, rabies, leptospirosis, and distemper, among others, which can be prevented with proper vaccines.

Furthermore, you will need regular booster shots to ensure the immune system is working properly and routine checkups with vets. Only a vet can recognize certain health concerns that Chihuahuas suffer from and illnesses that require prompt veterinary assistance.

  • Get a Collar and ID Tag

It is important to get a collar and ID tag for your dogs even if they never leave your house or yard. Dogs are temperamental and they could escape without knowing it. So, you will need an ID Tag showing its name, owner name, and contact details or maybe GPS collars to track them quicker.

ID tags do not guarantee you will get your dog back but they certainly improve the chances that someone else returns him or her to you safely. Moreover, owners are even taking a step further by installing a small microchip under the pet’s skin.

This chip can easily be read by animal shelters or vets who can access your contact information and contact you.

  • Have a Leash on Hand

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Having a leash while walking Chihuahuas is critical because leaving them unleashed to run around is a bad idea. Because of their size, these dogs are particularly in danger of getting run over by bicyclists, cars, or other vehicles. Also, other dogs or animals like squirrels can turn your dog into a frenzy mode, which could cause injuries or something worse.

Simultaneously, you will always need to secure your dog when you are in an enclosed space. However, there are various types of leashes and harnesses designed for fashionable looks.

  • Trips To Veterenarians

Regular trips to veterinarians for follow-up booster shots, checkups for the chihuahua’s teeth, and other health problems can be a good thing. Coming back to how long do Chihuahuas live? – A long and healthy life is only possible if you catch and treat any curable medical problems as soon as possible.

Normal people can easily miss critical symptoms that vets are trained to notice. So, regular trips to vets can help ensure that the dog gets the necessary treatment and vet getting familiar with your dog can be a plus point for the future.

  • Nutritious Food For a Healthy Diet

Healthy diets are important for both humans and animals. Picking good food that is suited for your Chihuahuas can help keep them healthy as some of those nutritious food products specifically address certain breed issues.

Diets cannot be compromised and Chihuahuas need high-quality food without any toxic ingredients/artificial preservatives. Further, a poor diet could lead to many health problems and influence how long do Chihuahuas live.

  • Exercises

Small dogs tend to easily gain weight so they must get plenty of exercises. Additionally, daily morning walks with thirty minutes of jumping, running and playing can keep the Chihuahua active. However, you must remember that Chihuahuas can easily get cold again thanks to their size, so make sure to cover them with a coat or sweater when the weather is chilly.

Little booties on their feet can be a good thing when going for walks in wet weather because cold paws equal a cold-core body temperature. Make sure that the canines are engaging enough in physical activities alone or with other similar breeds.

  • 2Gs – Gender & Genetics

How long do Chihuahuas live? Well, it also depends on innate factors like their genders and genetics.

Gender also plays a pivotal role in Chihuahuas’ lifespan as females tend to have a longer life than males. In addition, it has been said that they can leave a year or two longer than a male Chihuahua.

Good genes equal a dog that can live a healthy, happy, and long life. If you are adopting a puppy, it is a good idea to pay attention to the parents. The happier and more active the parents are the more likely the pups will be as well.

  • Mental and Emotional Health

Physical health is not the only one you need to be concerned with. How long do Chihuahuas live is also depended on your dog’s mental and emotional health. Provide your dog with mental and emotional stimulation, which can be extremely helpful in increasing the quality of life and lifespan.

Just like humans, happier dogs can live healthier lives. So make sure your little pup is not always lying in the home alone because it can cause depression which can drastically shorten its lifespan.

  • Neutering

How long do Chihuahuas live also depends on neutering? A neutered male will have very few chances of getting caught by prostate diseases and testicular cancer. In female Chihuahuas, it reduces the chances of getting caught by uterine and ovarian cancer.

Also, getting your dog neutered is a good idea if you do not plan to breed them anytime in the future. It can be a preventive measure for surprise pregnancies and the appearance of an even more surprising litter of puppies. A neutered tend to be less aggressive sometimes according to anecdotal evidence.


Chihuahua Illustration
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Overall, Chihuahuas are great dogs, but just like any other pets, they come with a lot of responsibility. These small dogs need preventative care like vaccines dental cleanings, and treatment in case of unexpected accidents or illnesses, including ailments common in small dogs. Naturally, Chihuahuas do live long lives, but there is a lot you can try to increase their lifespan and improve their quality of life. 

Hopefully, the above information has helped you gain insight into how long do Chihuahuas live. 

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Icy Health

  1. Wasserman, Mark. “The social origins of the 1910 revolution in Chihuahua.” Latin American Research Review 15.1 (1980): 15-38. ↩︎
  2. Van Asch, Barbara, et al. “Pre-Columbian origins of Native American dog breeds, with only limited replacement by European dogs, confirmed by mtDNA analysis.” Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 280.1766 (2013): 20131142. ↩︎
  3. Tipold, A., et al. “Necrotizing encephalitis in Yorkshire terriers.” Journal of Small Animal Practice 34.12 (1993): 623-628. ↩︎
  4. Cryer, Philip E., Joseph N. Fisher, and Harry Shamoon. “Hypoglycemia.” Diabetes care 17.7 (1994): 734-755. ↩︎

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