Chihuahuas Lifespan – How Long Do Chihuahuas Live

Chihuahuas Lifespan

Chihuahuas can live up to 20 years, but not all of them do. Discover the average Chihuahuas Lifespan, how long do chihuahuas live and how to increase its life expectancy.

The Chihuahua is one of the most popular toy dog breeds in the world. Known for their large personality in a small package, Chihuahuas are feisty, intelligent, and loyal companions. Despite their diminutive size, Chihuahuas have robust health and can live quite long lives when properly cared for.

Chihuahuas are the smallest dog breed, weighing just 3-6 pounds and standing 6-9 inches tall at the shoulder. They have large, erect ears, big eyes, and a compact, dainty body.

Chihuahuas come in two coat types: smooth and long coat. Coat colors vary widely, with any solid color or pattern being acceptable per the AKC breed standard.

While small, Chihuahuas have big personalities and huge hearts. They form very strong bonds with their owners and do not do well when left alone for long periods of time.

Chihuahuas can be wary of strangers and territorial, but are devoted and protective of their family. They also tend to be bold, intelligent, and stubborn. Proper socialization and training is important for Chihuahuas from a young age.

As one of the most popular breeds in America, Chihuahuas are beloved as loyal, playful companions. Their portability and longevity make them ideal pets for many households. But how long is the average lifespan of a Chihuahua?

Average Chihuahuas Lifespan

Chihuahuas Lifespan
How Long Do Chihuahuas Live

The average lifespan for Chihuahuas is 12-18 years. This makes them one of the longest living dog breeds, especially given their small size. With proper preventive healthcare and responsible pet ownership, many Chihuahuas live 15-20 years.

There are even records of Chihuahuas living over 20 years, such as Megabyte, who lived to be 20 years and 265 days old! While not typical, these extreme long-livers showcase the impressive lifespan Chihuahuas are capable of under optimal conditions.

Of course, lifespan varies from dog to dog based on a number of factors.

Genetics, environment, nutrition, reproductive habits, and veterinary care all play a role in determining longevity.

Well cared for Chihuahuas tend to fall within the average lifespan range, while those with health conditions or who lack proper care are more likely to fall short of the average.

Factors That Influence How Long Do Chihuahuas Live

Factors That Influence How Long Do Chihuahuas Live

How to increase Chihuahua’s life expectancy. There are several key factors like sex, coat type, size, genetics, diet, and healthcare, that impact how long a Chihuahua will live. Taking these factors into consideration will help you to increase your chihuahua lifespan.


Yes, Female Chihuahuas tend to have a slightly longer average lifespan compared to males. Reports indicate that females live 12-15 years on average, while males tend to top out around 12-14 years on average.

The reason for this difference is not entirely known, but spaying females and neutering males may play a role. Reproductive hormones likely influence lifespan to some degree between the sexes.

Coat Type

There is no good scientific evidence to suggest coat type impacts a Chihuahua’s lifespan.

Both smooth coat and long coat Chihuahuas have the same expected lifespan averages. Coat type is purely an aesthetic factor. Proper grooming and care is important regardless of coat length.


Teacup” Chihuahuas, which are bred to be exceptionally small, do not have longer lifespans simply due to their tiny size.

In fact, if teacup Chihuahuas are products of irresponsible breeding practices, they may be predisposed to health conditions that negatively impact longevity.

However, a responsibly bred teacup Chihuahua that receives proper care can have a normal lifespan, as size itself is not necessarily an indicator of lifespan.


A Chihuahua’s genetics and lineage play a crucial role in determining lifespan. Chihuahuas from healthy, diverse gene pools with responsible breeding practices are more likely to have optimal longevity.

Reputable breeders focus on health and temperament, not just appearance, enhancing the odds of a long, healthy life.

Poor breeding practices and narrowed gene pools increase risks for congenital conditions and susceptibility to disease.

Diet and Nutrition

Diet and nutrition are vitally important for overall health and longevity in Chihuahuas.

As small dogs, it’s imperative Chihuahuas receive a calorie dense, balanced diet to maintain proper growth, weight, organ function, and vitamin/mineral levels.

Overfeeding leading to obesity cuts lifespan short. Underfeeding leading to malnourishment also reduces longevity.

Consulting with a vet on the optimal diet, feeding proper dog food, monitoring weight, and avoiding table scraps promotes a long, healthy life.

Exercise and Activity

Chihuahuas require regular exercise and mental stimulation. Their small size makes them prone to obesity, joint issues, and heart conditions without maintaining muscle tone and cardiovascular health through activity.

Exercise fights obesity, strengthens the heart, keeps joints limber, and prevents boredom-related problem behaviors. Walking, playing, socializing with other pets, training, and participating in canine sports keeps Chihuahuas active and vibrant as they age.


Preventative healthcare is imperative for Chihuahuas to reach their longest potential lifespan. Critical veterinary care includes:

  • Annual wellness exams to monitor for emerging conditions
  • Vaccinations for dangerous infectious diseases
  • Parasite prevention against heartworms, fleas, and ticks
  • Dental cleanings to reduce plaque, tartar, gingivitis, and tooth decay
  • Prompt diagnosis and treatment of injuries, illnesses, or chronic conditions as they arise

With regular vet visits starting from puppyhood, issues can be caught early when most treatable. Waiting leads to progression of disease and poorer prognoses. Preventative care leads to less need for major treatments later in life.


Environmental factors also affect lifespan in Chihuahuas. Clean, temperature controlled housing protects them from temperature extremes, pollutants, toxins, parasites, and infectious pathogens.

Chihuahuas stressed by chaotic, loud environments may suffer immune challenges and anxiety reducing longevity. Positive stimuli and space to comfortably sleep, eat, and eliminate promotes wellbeing.

Proper fencing prevents roaming and getting lost. Socialization prevents fearful, reactive, or aggressive behavior triggered by novelty. A safe, enriched environment encourages healthy aging.

Common Health Problems

Chihuahuas can face various health issues during their lifetimes, some breed-specific, which may impact lifespan if not properly treated:

  • Dental Disease: Chihuahuas are prone to poor dentition and gum infections leading to early tooth loss and decay if not cleaned routinely.
  • Knee Issues: Luxating patellas, kneecap dislocation, is somewhat common in Chihuahuas, causing lameness. Surgery may be required in severe cases.
  • Heart Conditions: Chihuahuas can suffer enlarged hearts or leaky valves leading to chronic heart disease. Lifelong medication is often required.
  • Hypoglycemia: Toy breeds like Chihuahuas can suffer low blood sugar if small meals are not fed frequently enough. Neurologic symptoms result.
  • Respiratory Problems: Some lines of Chihuahuas are prone to collapsing trachea or bronchitis.
  • Eye Conditions: Chihuahuas occasionally suffer eye issues like cataracts, corneal ulcers, or dry eye.
  • Obesity: Too much weight stresses the joints and heart. Overweight Chihuahuas are prone to diabetes and shortened lifespans.

With early diagnostics, quality treatment and management, these issues can often be well controlled to allow a normal lifespan. But they highlight the importance of proper care.

Maintaining Quality of Life

While living as long as possible seems ideal, quality of life matters just as much as quantity of years. As Chihuahuas reach senior age, typically around 10 years old, their needs change. Keeping aging Chihuahuas happy and comfortable enhances their wellbeing and lifespan. Important factors include:

  • Adjusting their diet to provide optimal protein, fats, and nutrients to maintain health.
  • Providing comfortable beds, ramps, heated pads, or physical assistance to allow restful sleep.
  • Making adjustments to exercise as needed to account for decreased stamina or mobility from arthritic changes. Low impact activities and mental exercises are helpful.
  • Providing medication, supplements, or therapies recommended by your vet to manage chronic health conditions. Monitor organ health closely.
  • Frequent veterinary visits to catch problems before they progress. Take advantage of senior wellness labwork and screening tests. Address cognitive changes with appropriate treatment if needed.
  • Showering them with love, attention, gentle petting, and quality time together. Chihuahuas cherish companionship as they age.

Prioritizing dignity, comfort, and contentment helps aging Chihuahuas continue to enjoy their senior years with good quality of life. This support system enables them to live out their natural lifespans.

Caring for Senior Chihuahuas

Around 10 years old, Chihuahuas enter their golden years. Some tips for caring for senior Chihuahuas include:


  • Feed a high-quality senior diet recommended by your veterinarian
  • Give smaller, more frequent meals if needing to gain or maintain weight
  • Ensure adequate protein levels to preserve lean muscle mass
  • Supplement with omega fatty acids for joint and coat health
  • Provide extra fiber or probiotics if chronic GI issues develop
  • Avoid fatty or heavily processed foods difficult to digest


  • Take short, slow walks to maintain mobility without overexertion
  • Incorporate more mental exercise like interactive toys or training games
  • Try water therapy exercises to improve joint and muscle function without impact
  • Massage and range of motion stretches help keep the body limber
  • Monitor for signs of pain or fatigue and allow rest as needed

Veterinary Care

  • Visit the vet every 6 months to monitor major organ function and catch problems early
  • Run annual bloodwork, urinalysis, radiographs, and other screening tests as recommended by your vet
  • Keep updated on vaccines, parasite prevention, and medications for chronic conditions
  • Address any emerging conditions quickly before progression when most treatable
  • Consider physiotherapy, hydrotherapy, acupuncture, or other therapies to improve quality of life


  • Engage in gentle petting, brushing, massages, relaxing activities together
  • Avoid overstimulation, stress, or situations causing anxiety
  • Provide safe surroundings, comfort items, familiar routines, and one-on-one time together
  • Try mental enrichment games and food puzzles for continued cognitive engagement
  • Adapt to physical limitations while maintaining dignity and self-sufficiency

With attentive, proactive care focused on comfort and happiness, Chihuahuas can continue enjoying their lives well into their senior years. The average 12-18 year lifespan is just an estimate – exceptional care can stretch Chihuahuas’ lives even beyond expected averages.

Veterinarian Perspectives on Chihuahua Longevity

To provide professional insights on maximizing Chihuahua lifespan, I spoke with veteran veterinarian Dr. Stevens. With over 20 years working with dogs and cats, Dr. Stevens shared her perspectives on helping Chihuahuas reach exceptional longevity:

Q: In your experience, what’s the typical lifespan you see for Chihuahuas?

Dr. Stevens: On average, I see Chihuahuas living between 12-15 years in general veterinary practice. Well cared for dogs might make it to 17 or 18. I have seen a few Chihuahuas reach 20! But that is less common without diligent care.

Q: What are the most impactful things owners can do to maximize their Chihuahua’s lifespan?

Dr. Stevens: Preventative care is by far the biggest factor under owner control. Annual exams, vaccinations, dental cleanings, parasite prevention, and prompt treatment when problems arise lets them catch issues early. Obese and underweight Chihuahuas have much shorter lives. A nutritious diet, proper exercise, and weight management makes a huge difference.

Q: What common age-related health issues should owners watch for?

Dr. Stevens: Weight gain, dental disease, heart murmurs, changes in appetite or thirst, cognitive decline, and slowed mobility or lameness are common age-related issues I see. Arthritis, organ dysfunction, and cancer become concerns later in life. Bloodwork helps detect internal issues.

Q: Any other tips you’d share for keeping Chihuahuas healthy long-term?

Dr. Stevens: Socialization and stress management is key. Chihuahuas can be anxious dogs. Providing a predictable routine in a calm environment enriches their lives. Avoid obesity and overheating. Promote activity and mental stimulation. And give them lots of love!

Why do chihuahuas live so long

There are a few key reasons why Chihuahuas tend to have longer than average lifespans compared to other dog breeds.

  • Genetics – Chihuahuas were bred from the Techichi, an ancient dog breed that lived 15-20 years on average. The Chihuahua likely inherited some genetic traits that promote longevity.
  • Small size – The tiny size of Chihuahuas means their bodies age more slowly. Their hearts don’t have to work as hard pumping blood, joints experience less wear and tear, and metabolic processes happen at a reduced rate. Slowed biological aging contributes to longer lives.
  • Low-impact lifestyle – Most Chihuahuas live a low-impact lifestyle as small companion dogs. They aren’t doing strenuous work or high-intensity activities that stress their bodies. The reduced exercise workload helps minimize injury and joint issues that can shorten lifespans in active, working, or sporting breeds.
  • Adaptability – Chihuahuas are highly adaptable dogs, able to thrive as companions, therapy dogs, competitors, and more. Their versatility suits them to a variety of lifestyles, activity levels, and environments, increasing lifespan possibilities.
  • Hardiness – Despite their small size, Chihuahuas are surprisingly hardy, healthy dogs. They have relatively few major genetic diseases common to other purebreds. And they tend to recover well from injury or illness. Strong survival instincts contribute to longevity.
  • Devoted owners – Most Chihuahua owners are highly devoted to their petite pooches, diligent about providing preventative healthcare. Their small size makes regular vet visits and owner attentiveness more feasible throughout life. This level of care promotes longevity.

The combination of genetics, size, lifestyle adaptability, hardiness, and devoted owners helps explain why healthy Chihuahuas often live impressively long lives of 15-20 years or more. Their innate vitality and responsible ownership enables their exceptional longevity.

How many Chihuahua types are there?

There are officially only the two coat type varieties – short-coat and long-coat. Other terms like fawn, merle, or teacup simply describe colors, patterns, or sizes that can occur in either of the coat types. The coat length is what distinguishes the two true “types” of Chihuahuas.

  • Short-coat (smooth coat) Chihuahuas have a short, dense, glossy coat that lies close to the body. The hairs are typically 1/2 inch or less in length. This is the most common coat type seen in Chihuahuas.
  • Long-coat Chihuahuas have a soft, fine coat that is longer than 1 inch in length. The hair is straight or slightly wavy and feathers on the ears, legs, feet, tail, and behind the legs. The ruff around the neck is more pronounced.

While the AKC breed standard recognizes these two coat types, some people also differentiate:

  • Fawn Chihuahuas – This refers to solid fawn, tan, or gold coated Chihuahuas. Fawn is one of the most common coat colors seen in the breed.
  • Merle Chihuahuas – Merle is a color pattern that gives a marbled coat appearance. There are controversy and health concerns around breeding merle Chihuahuas.
  • Teacup Chihuahuas – An unofficial term used to describe exceptionally small Chihuahuas weighing under 3 pounds. They are not distinguished as a separate breed.

Wrapping Up

Chihuahuas are one of the longer-living dog breeds, with average lifespans of 12-18 years and even longer in exceptional cases. While genetics play a role, proper preventative healthcare, diet, exercise, and attentive care from a loving owner can maximize a Chihuahua’s lifespan within their natural limits.

Here are some key tips Chihuahua owners can implement to encourage longevity in their pets:

  • Feed a balanced, age-appropriate diet recommended by your veterinarian and avoid obesity.
  • Promote regular exercise and mental stimulation to maintain health, fitness, and cognitive ability.
  • Stick to a thorough preventative healthcare plan with your vet including exams, diagnostics, dental cleanings, parasite control, and vaccines.
  • Provide a safe, temperature controlled home environment free of toxins and stress.
  • Manage chronic health conditions through quality treatment and diligent monitoring.
  • Adjust care as needed for senior dogs, emphasizing dignity, comfort, and happiness.

While average lifespans give a general guideline, every dog is an individual. Some Chihuahuas will far outlive averages through optimal care and a bit of luck. Working closely with your veterinarian provides the best guidance for maintaining your dog’s health and vitality over a long lifetime of companionship. With knowledge, planning, and proactive care, Chihuahua owners have the power to maximize their beloved pet’s longevity.


What is the leading cause of death in Chihuahuas?

Heart disease is the most common cause of death in aging Chihuahuas. Mitral valve disease and cardiomyopathy often lead to congestive heart failure. Other common causes are cancer, kidney failure, and stroke.

How long do indoor Chihuahuas live?

Indoor Chihuahuas that are well cared for tend to live 15-20 years on average. The pampered indoor lifestyle is lower stress and involves less risk of illness/injury than being outdoors.

Is 13 old for a Chihuahua?

No, 13 years old is not considered old for a Chihuahua. While middle-aged, most Chihuahuas at 13 are still quite active and healthy if cared for properly. Average lifespan is 12-18 years.

Is 7 old for a Chihuahua?

No, a 7 year old Chihuahua is typically considered a mature adult, but not at all old for the breed. Most 7 year old Chihuahuas are in the prime of life.

Can a Chihuahua live for 20 or 25 years?

While uncommon, there are some cases of Chihuahuas living 20-25 years through exceptional care and genetics. Under ideal conditions, a lifespan over 20 years is possible but rare. Average is 12-18 years.

About Hailey Pruett

Hailey “Lex” Pruett is a nonbinary writer at YIHY primarily covering reptiles and amphibians. They have over five years of professional content writing experience. Additionally, they grew up on a hobby farm and have volunteered at animal shelters to gain further experience in animal care.

A longtime resident of Knoxville, Tennessee, Hailey has owned and cared extensively for a wide variety of animals in their lifetime, including cats, dogs, lizards, turtles, frogs and toads, fish, chickens, ducks, horses, llamas, rabbits, goats, and more!

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