How Long do Chihuahuas Live For?


Chihuahuas are the smallest dog breed in the world, weighing just 2 to 10 pounds and standing 5 to 10 inches tall.

Before we investigate how long you can expect a Chihuahua to live for, some basics on this alluring canine.

These dinky dogs have stout and flexible bodies that are surprisingly muscular for such a small breed. They give the appearance of being longer than they are tall. Chihuahuas have rounded heads shaped like apples with dark and rounded eyes, very pointed ears, and a distinctly sloping muzzle.

There are 2 main types of Chihuahua:

  • Smooth-coated Chihuahuas: These dogs have soft and very glossy coats
  • Long-coated Chihuahuas: These dogs have lengthy hair that can be either straight or curly

You’ll find Chihuahuas in many different colors.

Where did this breed come from, then?

A Brief History of the Chihuahua

Chihuahuas are named for the Mexican state bordering New Mexico and Texas.

If you thought Chihuahuas were a modern phenomenon, you couldn’t be further from the truth. This is the oldest breed in the Americas.

According to some historians, these dogs evolved from the Techichi, wild dogs domesticated in Mexico as early as the ninth century.

In the 1850s, Mexican merchants started selling Chihuahuas to tourists. They rapidly gained popularity in the United States.

The breed was registered with the American Kennel Club in 1904.

So, let’s launch right in with the part you’ve been waiting for…

How Long do Chihuahuas Live For?


On average, you can expect a Chihuahua to live for anywhere from 12 to 17 years. This is pretty lengthy in terms of dog lifespan.

Unfortunately, these dogs are prone to developing a battery of health problems from eye infections and joint problems through to hypoglycemia and bronchitis. We’ll outline these issues and more below.

Another issue with Chihuahuas is the way their skulls fail to fully develop, resulting in soft spots called moleras that require protecting.

Although you won’t need to exercise a Chihuahua as vigorously as a larger breed, they still need a walk every day.

Bear in mind, too, that this breed tends to feel the cold. They enjoy being warm, so make sure you kit them out with a winter coat when you’re heading outside in the cooler months.

Chihuahuas are fussy eaters, but they can easily overeat. If this happens, it could trigger diabetes and shorten that otherwise impressive lifespan.

What other things come into play with the lifespan of this tiny breed? We’ll double down on that right now.

What Variables Influence the Lifespan of a Chihuahua?


Myriad factors impact how long a Chihuahua is likely to live for.

Here are the most common of these variables:

  • Genetics
  • Gender
  • Weight
  • Diet
  • Healthcare
  • Vaccinations
  • Oral care
  • Spaying or neutering
  • Activity levels


Ultimately, a great deal of any dog’s lifespan is due to genetics. This is no different with Chihuahuas.

If you’re considering adopting a Chihuahua, it’s worth paying close attention to the parents. If you encounter bubbly and energetic dogs, your potential pup will have a much stronger chance of a long and healthy life.


Female Chihuahuas live longer than males on average. There is no known reason explaining this, but it’s proven that female Chihuahuas outlive males by 1 to 2 years.


Obese Chihuahuas are liable to attract a battery of health conditions that will diminish their lifespan, the most common of these being cardiovascular disease and diabetes.

At the other extreme, an underweight Chihuahua could end up malnourished and with a compromised immune system truncating the otherwise lengthy lifespan you can expect from this breed.


You are what you eat, and so is your Chihuahua. Your dog’s diet will directly influence his lifespan.

Always offer your furball premium dog food that contains no artificial flavors or preservatives, and no cheap filler either.

Don’t throw table scraps down for your Chihuahua. This will encourage toxicosis, and it could also gradually lead to obesity, a problem for Chihuahuas as outlined above.


If you take your Chihuahua to the vet regularly, any serious health problems should be picked up on during these routine checkups, long before they reach the stage of endangering your dog.

Once your Chihuahua gets to the age of 7 or 8, consider scheduling annual wellness tests. After the age of 10, senior Chihuahuas should see the vet at least twice a year.


Chihuahuas need vaccinations as well as a series of follow-up booster shots to prevent a range of diseases from canine flu and rabies to distemper and Leptospirosis.

Oral Care

All small dogs like Chihuahuas suffer from dental problems. Make sure you stay on top of your dog’s oral health as poor oral health can allow bacteria to enter your Chihuahua’s bloodstream via bleeding gums. This then goes directly to the dog’s heart and kidneys, with potential deadly consequences.

Spaying or neutering

A Chihuahua that’s been neutered or spayed usually lives longer than one that hasn’t been fixed.

By neutering a male Chihuahua, you’ll reduce his risk of developing prostate or testicular cancer. Fixing females can minimize the risk of ovarian and uterine cancers.

Activity levels

Make sure you keep your Chihuahua active and stimulated to maximize his lifespan. You’ll help him to build muscles, strip surplus fat, and bolster his immune system with regular exercise. All of this will serve to extend his lifespan.

How Old Was The World’s Oldest Chihuahua?

The world’s oldest Chihuahua was reputed to be 20 years and 265 days. That said, we can find no hard evidence of this dog, supposedly named Megabyte, beyond a few unsubstantiated references.

You’ll encounter a few reports online of Chihuahuas aged 20, but we are again unable to unearth any verifiable primary sources.

Even given the lack of proof, it’s commonly believed that a Chihuahua could feasibly hit 20 years old, even if this is much longer than the average Chihuahua lifespan.

Now, there are many health issues plaguing Chihuahuas despite that lengthy average lifespan, so it pays to be aware of the problems that could lie ahead if you bring one of these dogs into your family.

Read our related article, Why Are So Many Chihuahuas in Shelters Today? Chihuahuas are often surrendered to shelters and we explore why in this guide.

5 Common Health Problems that Plague Chihuahuas

  1. Hydrocephalus
  2. Heart problems
  3. Obesity
  4. Dental problems
  5. Hypoglycemia

1) Hydrocephalus

With hydrocephalus, spinal fluid accumulates in your Chihuahua’s brain. It’s characterized by a swollen head, and there is regrettably no cure.

This condition is usually responsible for Chihuahuas dying before they get to 4 months old.

2) Heart problems

Chihuahuas are prone to a range of heart conditions, all of which can dramatically reduce their lifespan.

One of the most common of these problems, heart murmurs are irregularities or abnormalities in blood flow through the heart. While not intrinsically a serious issue, heart murmurs typically point to the presence of a more serious underlying heart issue. Most murmurs are treatable with medication and dietary changes. Do not leave heart murmurs untreated.

3) Obesity

Tiny dogs, Chihuahuas are nevertheless at high risk of obesity. Since they have such small frames, even a relatively small amount of surplus calories can push them into the territory of obesity.

Obese Chis end up with stressed joints, as well as problems with the kidneys, liver, and heart.

By feeding your Chihuahua a balanced diet in the right portion sizes, giving him plenty of exercise, and using a light touch with any high-calorie treats, you shouldn’t find too much difficulty keeping him within his recommended weight range.

4) Dental problems

As outlined above, chihuahuas suffer from many dental problems. As many as 90% of this breed experiences problems with their teeth and gums.

Although it’s seldom a dental problem itself that reduces a dog’s lifespan, issues with teeth can change the way your dog eats.

Also, periodontal disease has been associated with heart disease in dogs.

You should always take good care of your Chihuahua’s teeth so you can reduce the chance of things going amiss. If you notice any problems at all, head straight to the vet rather than taking any chances.

5) Hypoglycemia

Hypoglycemia comes about when a dog’s blood sugar levels fall below what’s considered normal.

This condition can trigger a variety of symptoms, some pretty difficult to pick up on unless you know what you’re looking for.

If you notice your Chihuahua sleeping more than he usually does, or acting in a sluggish manner, this might point toward hypoglycemia. The same is true if you spot your Chi shaking or trembling on a regular basis.

In the event of prompt veterinary assistance, you shouldn’t find any serious problems from hypoglycemia. If you fail to take action, though, this condition could be lethal for your Chihuahua.


If you arrived here today wondering how long do Chihuahuas live for, you should now be clear that the average lifespan is 12 to 17 years.

We hope, too, you’ve found the pointers concerning prolong your Chihuahua’s lifespan useful, too.

Be sure to bookmark BarkVA before you head off, and we hope to see you soon.

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Jesse Hopping, CCDT

Jesse is a natural-born dog-lover certified dog trainer (CCDT), dog foster, and former volunteer at Richmond SPCA and surrounding dog shelters for over 10 years. Her pack includes a Bernedoodle and 3 Boston Terriers. She’s sipping caramel coffee and watching her pack play in the sun when she’s not writing blogs. Jesse has her Certified Dog Trainer designation from CATCH Canine Trainers Academy since 2018 and and majored in English from the University of Virginia.

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