The Chihuahua is the smallest dog breed in the canine world. It comes in two coat varieties, longhaired and smooth. Originating in Mexico, this small dog breed is among the longest-living puppies in the world. Generally speaking, small dogs live longer than large dogs, but the Chihuahua is special. Do you want to know more about Chihuahua lifespan?
Well, let’s take a look at how long Chihuahuas live, as well as other aspects like health problems, how you can improve your dog’s quality of life, and so on.
How Long Do Chihuahuas Live?
One of the healthiest breeds in the world, the Chihuahua has a personality similar to terriers. Fearless and devoted, this small dog has one of the longest lifespans in the canine world.
Generally speaking, a Chihuahua can live between 12 and 18 years. But most Chihuahuas reach the upper limit of their lifespan.
Originating in Mexico, this dog breed is known to live longer. On average, Chihuahuas get up to 15 years.
The small size of the breed is one of the main reasons why the dog lives that long. It is not a surprise for a Chihuahua to reach 20 years of age.
Average Life Cycle of Chihuahua
When you talk about the Chihuahua lifespan, we have to touch on the topic of the average life cycle.
Newborn Chihuahua puppies are born without their senses and weigh only 5 ounces or less. They grow daily, gaining 7% of their body weight in mass per day. By around 6 or 7 weeks, they begin to get their senses and are capable of moving around on their own.
From two months of age, a Chihuahua puppy starts to become more active, curious, and growing. By the end of three months, your new puppy will reach around 40% of its full adult weight.
Puppies need plenty of socialization and exposure to different things. They are fearful and hesitant, so they need to be in contact with different experiences and create positive associations with them.
According to The American Kennel Club, your Chihuahua puppy is an adult after it passes the 1-year-old threshold. Until the age of 2 and 3 years, your pet is still a young dog. By 3 years of age, Chihuahuas develop their personality traits and preferred levels of affection and exercise.
Chihuahuas reach senior dog status between the age of 8 and 9 years of age. The good news is they face fewer health issues compared to large dog breeds.
This tiny dog needs plenty of playtime even in senior years. But it should also be kept warm and comfortable in your arms.
Potential Health Issues
Whether you have a smooth-coat Chihuahua or a long-coat Chihuahua, the potential health issues are the same. We all take care of our dogs, yet, sometimes, they are still prone to health issues. While Chi puppies are healthy, making them a perfect candidate for crossbreeding, they still have some issues.
When it comes to Chihuahuas, there are some potential genetic health conditions. Let’s take a look at the common problems that can affect Chihuahua’s lifespan.
One of the most common chronic problems in pets, it affects Chihuahuas as well. It begins with tartar build-up on the teeth and can progress to infection afterward.
One of the big problems with Chihuahuas is obesity. It can be a serious problem, given that Chihuahuas are a small size breed.
This tiny dog has to retain its ideal weight. Otherwise, obesity can cause or worsen joint problems, digestive disorders, and back pain.
Obesity often occurs due to owners. It might be tempting to give your puppy human food as it looks at you with soulful puppy eyes. But resist the temptation if you want your pet to live longer.
Eye problems can greatly affect the quality of life of your small dog. Glaucoma is an eye condition that can affect people and Chihuahuas. The extremely painful disease can rapidly lead to blindness if left untreated.
Another health issue is dry eye, when the tear glands no longer produce enough tears to keep the eye moist. It can result in sore, itchy eyes, and infections.
The leading cause of death among Chihuahuas is heart disease. It happens often in their golden years. Most heart issues in dogs, Chihuahuas as well, are caused by the weakening of a valve. The heart valve slowly becomes deformed and no longer closes tightly. Because of that, blood can leak back around the valve and strain the heart.
Often called mitral valve disease, it cause a heart murmur in your pet.
As we said before, Chihuahua owners have to be wary of their dog’s weight. When overfed, Chihuahuas can suffer from knee problems. That happens when the kneecap slips out of place. This condition, called patellar luxation, can cause your dog to run and walk differently.
If symptoms are severe, your dog might need to be put under the knife. Surgery and veterinary care can realign the kneecap to keep it from popping out of place.
The painful degenerative hip condition remains a mystery for most veterinarians. They cannot completely understand the exact cause of the condition. The logic is that it is a problem with the blood supply to the hip, causing the femoral head to become brittle and easily fracture.
Chihuahuas’ lifespan is often affected by a liver problem called portosystemic shunt, or PSS. It happens when the blood supply that should go to the liver goes around it instead. It deprives the liver of blood flow.
When that happens, the liver cannot remove toxins from the bloodstream effectively.
Factors That Impact Your Chi’s Lifespan
The average lifespan of your Chi puppy depends on several factors. And genetics is just one of them. A responsible dog owner should take care of his puppy and try to eliminate factors that can cause problems for their dog. Here are some of them:
- Diet directly impacts the lifespan, as it can increase the weight of your dog. Try to feed your puppy high-quality dog food, without any fillers, preservatives, or artificial flavors
- Weight is equally important and influential, as obese Chihuahuas are prone to health conditions like diabetes and cardiovascular diseases
- Proper healthcare and veterinary care, like regular checkups will help you diagnose issues early on
- Genetics, or good genes can prove your dog lives a longer life. That doesn’t mean you should not adopt a rescue Chihuahua. But make sure to ask about the history of the dog, whether you adopt one or get one from a breeder
- Gender, for some reason, a female Chihuahua lives longer than a male Chihuahua. The exact cause is unknown, but statistics show that females live one or two years longer on average
- Spraying and neutering, Chi dogs that are sprayed or neutered live longer, because they no longer have a risk of developing testicular and prostate cancer for males, or ovarian cancer for females. But you have to fix your female Chihuahua before the first heat cycle to reduce the risk of uterine and ovarian cancer
- Regular vaccination that protects your Chi from diseases like parvovirus, canine influenza, distemper, and rabies
- Activity levels, remember, Chihuahuas are high-energy smaller dogs that want to run around. Even a toy Chihuahua needs plenty of exercise. Chihuahuas are no lap dogs
How To Ensure Your Chi Lives A Long Life?
Let’s talk about a couple of proper routine care you can schedule for your Chihuahua to live a longer and happier life.
- Supervise your pet while they play with children
- Brush their coat to prevent mats and tangles, if you have a long coat Chihuahua
- Clean their ears weekly
- As they are sensitive to cold, make sure to dress them in a warm winter wardrobe
- While they are suited for apartment living, they still need regular daily physical exercise
- Keep your dog’s diet consistent
- Do not give your puppy people food
The World’s Oldest Chihuahua
As we said before, Chihuahuas are among the longest-living dog breeds. The world’s oldest Chihuahua on record is Megabyte, a dog that passed away in January 2014. He lived for 20 years and 265 days, before passing away on New Year’s Day in 2014.
There have been other reports of Chihuahuas living for 21, 22, or 23 years of age. But they have not been verified.