Chihuahuas are adorable little creatures that capture your heart as soon as you bring one into your life. If you’re lucky enough to have a Chihuahua as part of your family like me, you may be wondering how long they live. After all, we love our furry friends and want them to be with us for as long as possible.
We’ll take a look at the lifespan of a Chihuahua and what you can do to extend your furbaby’s life for as long as possible. Let’s dive in!
- What is the Lifespan of Chihuahuas?
- Who is the Oldest Chihuahua in the World?
- Why Do Chihuahuas Live Longer Than Bigger Dogs?
- What is a Chihuahua’s Lifespan in Human Years?
- Factors That Impact a Chihuahua’s Lifespan
- Common Chihuahua Health Issues That Affect Their Lifespan
- Tips to Help Your Chihuahua Live Longer
- Do Chihuahuas Live a Long Time?
What is the Lifespan of Chihuahuas?
Lucky for us, Chihuahuas tend to have one the longest lifespans of any dog breed.
The typical lifespan of Chihuahuas is between 12 and 14 years. Some can even live up to 20 years! That’s impressive and I hope mine does.
It’s important to remember that multiple factors affect any dog’s lifespan, so this is just a rough estimate of how long they can live.
Who is the Oldest Chihuahua in the World?
As of 2023, the oldest Chihuahua on record is the adorable Spike from Camden, Ohio, USA. He’s an amazing 23 years old!
Spike isn’t just the oldest Chihuahua in the world, he’s in the Guinness Book of World Records as the oldest living dog in the world. How amazing is that?
He lives on a farm with his family. Despite his incredible age, he still enjoys walks and going to visit the other farm animals.
Why Do Chihuahuas Live Longer Than Bigger Dogs?
Unlike many other species, when it comes to dogs, we know that smaller breeds live longer than large breeds. In general, the rule is that the bigger the dog, the shorter its lifespan will be.
Interestingly, scientists don’t know exactly why this is the case. There are several theories, but research is still ongoing.
It’s likely that a combination of factors play a part in the longer lifespan of a Chihuahua.
What is a Chihuahua’s Lifespan in Human Years?
Since dogs have a much shorter lifespan than us, it’s hard to compare ages accurately. The American Kennel Club has an excellent chart where you can work out the rough age of your dog in ‘people years’.
For example, my Chihuahua is a rescue but we estimate that she’s about 9 years old in dog years. According to the chart, that would make her 52 in human years!
Really, these comparisons are just for fun and to help us gain perspective on how old our dogs are.
Factors That Impact a Chihuahua’s Lifespan
The lifespan we’ve discussed is a general guide but there are lots of things that can impact how long your little friend lives.
We all know that eating a healthy diet matters – both for people and dogs. What your Chihuahua eats can have a significant effect on their lifespan. Their little bodies need the right fuel to function and maintain a healthy weight.
Just like humans, dogs need exercise to stay healthy. Despite many people viewing them as ‘handbag dogs’, Chihuahuas enjoy walks! Mine loves to go on adventures.
Keeping your Chihuahua active with regular walks and playtime is key to prolonging their life. Around 30 minutes to an hour of exercise a day is ideal.
It’s also vital not to over-exercise Chihuahuas. They only have little legs and not as much energy as bigger dogs, so keep an eye on your pup for signs of overexertion.
You’ll soon get to know your dog and they’ll let you know when they’ve had enough. Chihuahuas are far from shy when it comes to expressing their feelings!
Of course, your Chihuahua’s healthcare will impact their lifespan. It’s important to give them appropriate preventative care, like vaccinations and parasite treatment.
As a breed, Chihuahuas can be prone to certain health problems which can affect their lifespan (we’ll look closer at these in the next section).
A dog’s genes play an important role in their health and lifespan. Some Chihuahuas will be genetically more likely to develop certain health issues.
So, if you’re looking to adopt or buy a Chihuahua, make sure you do your research and get them from a reputable source.
Not only does spaying or neutering prevent unwanted pregnancies, but it also increases your dog’s lifespan! Research shows that spaying increases the life expectancy of female dogs by 26.3% while neutering increases the life expectancy of male dogs by 13.8%.
The procedure also reduces the risk of certain cancers and infections. It can reduce the risk of your dog wandering off to try and find a mate, and potentially getting hurt.
Yes, that’s right – dogs who are happier and less stressed have a longer lifespan. Stress, anxiety, and fear can have an effect on your dog’s physical health as well as their mental health (just like it can for people).
Common Chihuahua Health Issues That Affect Their Lifespan
Several health problems can affect Chihuahuas, some of which can shorten their lifespan. I know that’s scary to think about, but it’s better to be aware so you can catch issues early.
Obesity is quite common in Chihuahuas – because they’re so little, they can gain weight quickly. Unfortunately, obesity can cause lots of health problems. Research shows that being overweight can reduce a dog’s lifespan by around two years!
Likewise, being underweight can lead to malnutrition and a weak immune system. You can keep them in shape with the proper diet and exercise.
Your Chihuahua’s dental care isn’t just about keeping their teeth healthy and their breath smelling nice – it can also impact their overall health. Little dogs like Chihuahuas are prone to tooth decay and gum disease, which can lead to bacteria entering their bloodstream and affecting their little organs.
Hydrocephalus is the build-up of spinal fluid on a dog’s brain. This leads to pressure around the brain which can damage it. Chihuahuas are particularly prone to the condition.
In many cases, treatment can allow a dog with hydrocephalus to live a normal life. However, if it’s severe it can cause disability and shorten their lifespan.
Chihuahuas are so little and delicate, so they can easily get injured. What might be a small accident for a bigger dog can be serious or even fatal for such a fragile little dog.
Studies show that traumatic injury is the third most common cause of Chihuahua death, accounting for 13.8% of deaths.
Due to the tiny size of their organs, Chihuahuas are very susceptible to kidney stones and bladder stones. This can cause severe pain and if not treated early, can even be fatal.
Tracheal collapse means that a dog’s trachea (airway) becomes weakened and narrowed. This can cause issues with breathing. Thankfully in most cases, it’s treatable unless it’s very severe.
Heart disease is the top cause of death in Chihuahuas, causing 18.8% of all deaths. This can include heart failure, abnormal heart rhythm, and issues with their heart valves. In many cases when it’s caught early, heart disease can be effectively managed.
Worms, fleas, and ticks are parasites that can infect your dog and cause serious illness or even death in severe cases. Luckily, they can be prevented with regular parasite treatments.
Tips to Help Your Chihuahua Live Longer
So, now we know what can shorten your Chihuahua’s life span – the question is, how can you extend it? Let’s take a look at ways you can help your beloved furbaby to live longer.
Regular Vet Visits
It’s important to register your Chihuahua with a reputable local vet and visit them regularly – even when your dog isn’t unwell. Your vet can do a health check to ensure your dog is healthy and catch any issues as early as possible.
I take my Chihuahua to the vet every six months to be health checked, and I also do a quick all-over body check every few days at home. I highly recommend taking them at least once a year to be checked by a professional, especially as they start to get older or if they have any additional health needs.
Preventative Veterinary Care
Remember those parasites we mentioned earlier? Well, regularly worming and de-fleaing your dog keeps parasites away and ensures your pup stays healthy.
All dogs should be vaccinated against infectious diseases like parvovirus, rabies, and kennel cough. They should have these vaccinations as a puppy and then will need booster vaccines throughout their life. Boosters are usually given once a year.
Spaying and neutering your dog has many benefits as we discussed. Although it’s best to get this done when they’re young, you can still have it done in older dogs depending on their health. I recommend chatting with your vet about your options
Daily exercise helps to keep your Chihuahua fit, healthy, and happy. I recommend one or two short walks each day, as well as some playtime.
Although they’re small, these little dogs are curious and love to visit new places. My Chihuahua adores going hiking – she’s even walked part of the West Highland Way (don’t worry, she has a carrier for when her little legs need a break).
A Proper Diet
It’s important to feed your Chihuahua high-quality dog food and follow the feeding recommendations of the amount to give each day. I’d recommend sticking to dry kibble which is high in nutrients with as few fillers or additives as possible.
Try to keep treats at a sensible amount, and pick healthy natural treats where possible. Avoid human food for the most part. I know they’re adorable and you want to give them all the snacks! But in the end, it’s bad for their health.
Don’t worry if your dog is currently overweight – you can turn things around! When we first rescued my Chi she was very overweight, but with time and consistency, we were able to get her to a healthy weight. Now she’s happier and healthier than ever!
Use a Harness
Since Chihuahuas are so delicate and can be prone to a collapsed trachea, it’s best to use a harness rather than a collar. This prevents extra strain on their little necks and gives you more control when you’re out on adventures.
Keep an Eye on Their Temperature
Being so little, Chihuahuas can struggle to regulate their temperature in extreme weather, especially in the cold.
Cool coats or cooling bandanas, like this one, are excellent in summer to keep their temperature down. Although if your Chihuahua is like mine, they prefer to sunbathe and won’t be the biggest fan of the cool bandana!
In the winter, keep them cozy with plenty of blankets and a warm coat when they’re outdoors. You can protect their paws from ice and snow by using boots or a paw wax.
I prefer Musher’s Secret Paw Wax as it’s more comfortable for my pooch and she can walk more naturally than when wearing boots.
Regular Teeth Brushing
Take good care of your Chihuahua’s teeth by brushing them once or twice a week at a minimum. This will keep dental disease at bay.
I know that it’s difficult to get into that tiny little mouth, and your Chihuahua might not be the biggest fan of brushing. If you’re struggling with traditional brushing there are lots of alternatives you can try like:
- Finger toothbrushes or finger teeth wipes
- Dental sprays (we use this Arm and Hammer one)
- Dental foams or gel
- Powder like PlaqueOff that’s added to their food
- Dental chews
- Dental toys
- Water additives (I like this Arm and Hammer one)
Since Chihuahuas can be easily hurt, it’s crucial to be careful when you’re handling them. Take great care when you’re lifting them, carrying them, and putting them down so they don’t fall or twist their body and hurt themselves.
Since they’re so small and cute, it’s common for children to want to play with Chihuahuas. I recommend not allowing young children to pick them up or ‘cuddle’ them, as this is not only dangerous but can also be stressful for your dog.
Take care around the house, as it’s all too easy for Chihuahuas to get under your feet or sneak into areas where they’re not supposed to be.
Pen or Crate Training
Something I’ve found useful with all my dogs is pen training (crate training can work well too).
It gives them a safe space which is like their bedroom, so they can retreat there if they’re nervous about anything going on in the house. It also keeps them safe during the night and when we’re out, so they can’t get into things that could harm them.
I know some owners find the idea of a crate or pen for their dog upsetting, but it’s far from cruel as long as it’s done right. Get them used to it gradually and never use it as a punishment.
My dogs love their pen – the gate is open at all times when we’re home during the day and they still prefer to be in there than anywhere else.
Training not only makes your life easier, but it can also increase safety. Despite common misconceptions, Chihuahuas are quite intelligent and are very trainable with patience (and provided there are lots of treats involved).
Teach your Chihuahua simple commands like sit, stay, and lie down. You should also teach them to come back to you when they’re off-leash.
Always keep your dog on a leash near roads and in very busy public places. This helps to prevent dog fights, road accidents, and them getting underfoot around strangers.
Make Your Home Chihuahua-Friendly
I’d recommend keeping electrical cords, small items, human food, and any other harmful items well out of reach of little mouths. Chihuahuas are tenacious little creatures and can be quite mischievous. Think like puppy-proofing but for Chihuahuas of all ages!
You can also make your home more Chihuahua-friendly by reducing strain on their joints. Ensure they have dog beds that are low enough for them to get onto.
You can provide easy access to the sofa or bed (if they’re allowed on the furniture of course). We use foam stairs that allow my Chihuahua to get up and down from the sofa without hurting her joints.
Do Chihuahuas Live a Long Time?
Chihuahuas tend to be one of the longest-living breeds, and can live up to 20 years with the right care! By following our tips and prioritizing your Chihuahua’s health, you and your furbaby can live a long, happy life together.