Chihuahuas are the world’s smallest canine breed.

These dinky dogs stand between 5 and 10 inches high. Chihuahuas weigh from 2 to 10 pounds or so.

Before we highlight the life expectancy of chihuahuas, a few chi basics.

Unlike many small breeds, chihuahuas have lithe, flexible, and muscular bodies. These dogs seem to be longer than they are tall.

Chihuahuas have small, rounded heads – they look like apples at a glance – set off with dark and rounded eyes, pointy ears, and trademark sloping muzzles.

There are two types of chihuahua:

  • Smooth-coated: Smooth-coated chihuahuas have soft, glossy coats.
  • Long-coated: Long-coated chihuahuas have long hair which is either curly or straight.

 Chihuahuas come in a range of colors.

This breed was first registered with AKC (American Kennel Club) in 1904.

How Long do Chihuahuas Live For?


Chihuahuas have life expectancies of between 12 and 17 years. This makes the chi one of the longest-living dog breeds.

Regrettably, chihuahuas are susceptible to developing various health complications, including:

    • Joint problems
    • Eye infections
    • Hypoglycemia
    • Bronchitis

Explore these health issues and more complications associated with chihuahuas below.

Additionally, the skulls of chihuahuas do not fully develop. This leaves them with moleras – soft spots – that need protecting.

Chihuahuas have modest exercise requirements. Walk your chi once a day and they will be perfectly content.

This breed feels the cold, so make sure they have some doggie clothing if you live somewhere with a cooler climate.

Although naturally fussy eaters, chihuahuas tend to overeat. This can bring about diabetes and reduce that impressive canine lifespan.

What Variables Influence the Lifespan of a Chihuahua?


Many factors influence the lifespan of a chihuahua. The most common of these factors aside from genetics are:

  1. Gender
  2. Weight
  3. Activity levels
  4. Diet
  5. Spaying or neutering
  6. Oral care
  7. Vaccinations
  8. Healthcare

1) Gender

Female chis tend to live longer than males. Although the reason for this discrepancy in lifespan is unknown, a female chihuahua is liable to live for a year or two longer than a male.

2) Weight

An obese chihuahua will be at increased risk of developing many health complications, any of which could reduce their lifespan. The most common culprits are diabetes and heart disease – more on these below.

Underweight chihuahuas, on the other hand, can develop compromised immune systems and malnourishment.

3) Activity levels

If you keep your chi fit, active, and stimulated, this will help him live for longer. Regular exercise combined with a good diet will:

  • Build lean muscle
  • Strip excess fat
  • Boost the immune system

4) Diet

What a chihuahua eats will directly impact his lifespan.

Premium foods contain no artificial preservatives or flavorings, and no filler either.

Avoid giving your chi table scraps. This can trigger toxicosis and lead to obesity over time.

5) Spaying or neutering

If a chihuahua has been spayed or neutered, they will typically live for longer than if they had not been fixed.

Neutering male chihuahuas reduces the risk of testicular or prostate cancer developing. Fixing female chihuahuas minimizes the likelihood of uterine and ovarian cancers.

6) Oral Care

Small dogs like the chihuahua are always more prone to developing dental problems.

Make sure you allow for this. Poor oral health in a chihuahua can cause bacteria to penetrate their bloodstream through bleeding gums. If these bacteria reach the heart or kidneys, it can be life-threatening.

7) Vaccinations

Chihuahuas require vaccinations and a series of booster shots. These are designed to prevent a variety of diseases from rabies and canine flu to Leptospirosis and distemper.

8) Healthcare

Make sure you take your chi to the vet on a regular basis. Stick to a schedule and you should ensure that any health complications can be diagnosed early.

When a chihuahua reaches the age of 7, think about scheduling an annual wellness test.

Senior chis aged 10+ should have twice-annual sessions at the vets.

What Health Complications Could Shorten the Lifespan of a Chihuahua?


There are many health issues that plague chihuahuas. The most common and the most serious of these are:

    • Cardiovascular problems
    • Hydrocephalus
    • Dental problems
    • Obesity
    • Hypoglycemia

Cardiovascular problems

Chis often develop heart conditions. All of these cardiovascular issues can significantly reduce the lifespan of a chihuahua.

Heart murmurs are perhaps the most common CV issue associated with this breed. Heart murmurs are abnormalities or irregularities in blood flowing through the heart. In themselves, heart murmurs are not especially dangerous. Most murmurs, though, point to a more serious underpinning issue.

In most cases, heart murmurs can be treated with a combination of dietary changes and medication. Intervention is always recommended and will prevent future complications from developing.


Hydrocephalus is an incurable condition in which spinal fluid starts accumulating in the brain of a chihuahua. This condition is characterized by a severely swollen head.

Most chihuahuas who suffer from hydrocephalus die in the first fourth months after birth.

Dental problems

It is believed that up to 90% of chihuahuas will experience a variety of problems with their teeth and their gums.

If your chihuahua has dental problems, this can affect the way they eat, potentially leading to undereating and malnourishment.

Beyond this, periodontal disease is associated with cardiovascular disease in dogs.

If you spot any dental problems, even if seemingly benign, take your chi straight to the vet instead of taking an unnecessary chance.


They might be tiny dogs, but chihuahuas are also at elevated risk of becoming obese. With such small frames, even minor overeating can easily cause a chi to become obese.

Obesity in chihuahuas can cause problems in the following areas:

  • Joints
  • Heart
  • Liver
  • Kidneys

You can avoid these issues if you feed your chi a balanced diet with small portion sizes suitable for this breed. You should also refrain from doling out too many calorific treats, and you should give chihuahuas plenty of exercise, especially if they are straying into obesity.


Hypoglycemia occurs of blood sugar levels fall below normal levels.

Unfortunately, while this condition can prompt various adverse symptoms, it can be challenging to diagnose.

If you feel that your chi is sleeping more than normal, or if he is acting in a more sluggish manner than usual, this could be indicative of hypoglycemia. If you have noticed your chihuahua trembling or shaking regularly, this is another red flag for hypoglycemia.

Prompt veterinary intervention should eliminate any serious complications from this condition. If left untreated, though, hypoglycemia could prematurely end the life of your chihuahua.


We trust today’s guide to chihuahua lifespan has cleared up any confusion about how long this alluring toy breed lives for.

If you choose to become a pet parent to one of these dinky dogs, pay attention to the pointers related to health issues and ensuring your chi has as long a life as possible.

Take a moment to bookmark GO Boxer Rescue before you head off and make sure you pop back very soon!

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