Facts on the Chihuahua Dog Breed

How long do Chihuahuas live? The Chihuahua lifespan is pretty long -- as much as 17 years -- but they have a tendency to develop health problems like hypoglycemia, joint ailments, eye infections and bronchitis. Also, the tops of their skulls never fully develop, leaving soft spots ("moleras") that should be protected.

A Chihuahua outside in a field.
Chihuahua. Photography by Dennis Jacobsen / Shutterstock.

Proud parent of a Chihuahua who’s looking to learn more or thinking about getting a Chihuahua dog? Learn the facts about this dog here:

Quick Facts on the Chihuahua Dog Breed

A chihuahua in a bathtub getting shampooed.
A Chihuahua is among the smallest dog breeds. Photography by toons17 / Shutterstock.
  • Weight: 2-6 pounds (0.91-2.72 kg)
  • Height: 6-9 inches (15.24-22.86 cm)

Chihuahuas are the world’s smallest dog breed, normally weighing between 2 and 8 pounds with an average height of 6 to 9 inches. Chihuahuas have a “cobby” body — stout, stocky and slightly longer than tall — that still seems flexible, sturdy and muscular. Their rounded, apple-shaped heads feature dark round eyes, pointed ears and a slightly pointed muzzle.

The necks slope down to level backs and sickle-shaped tails that sometimes curl up or to one side. Smooth-coated Chihuahuas have a soft, glossy coat, while the long-coated variety have curly or straight hair. Chihuahuas can come in practically any color or combination of colors.

Chihuahua traits:

  • Small, stocky size
  • Apple-shaped head
  • Round, dark eyes
  • Short, pointed muzzle
  • Lively and loyal
  • Cocky and energetic
  • Strong-willed and outspoken
  • Nimble and quick
  • Portable

Who gets along with Chihuahuas?

Chihuahuas on leashes.
Chihuahuas make good city dogs. Photography by Netnapha Buaban/ Shutterstock.

What Are Chihuahuas Like to Live With?

Chihuahuas are the ideal lovable, loyal and long-term pal. When you’re alone in the house with a Chihuahua, you’re never alone — they sleep on your lap, sit by your side, or follow you from room to room while you do chores. When you’re not home, they protect it like their personal domain, barking at the sign of any approaching stranger (making them surprisingly effective guard dogs).

This endearing love and devotion, however, can sometimes evolve into a fierce protectiveness, making them a force to reckon with when they try to compete with other pets or family members for your attention. Nevertheless, this big-time attitude packed inside a pint-sized frame has a remarkable way of being endearing rather than annoying.

Whether in an apartment, a house or a palace, a Chihuahua is perfectly accommodated. And they’re fairly easy to care for, needing minimal exercise and food. But don’t skimp on the attention: Chihuahuas crave affection and companionship to the point where they may resort to attention-getting tricks. And watch out: They are so quick-witted and cunning and sweet, you might find yourself doing an overtime shift of petting, scratching and cuddling.

Things You Should Know About Chihuahuas

A Chihuahua looking scared.
Chihuahuas have a long lifespan — but there are health issues to know about. Photography by pixbull / Shutterstock.

How long do Chihuahuas live? The Chihuahuas lifespan is pretty long — as much as 17 years — but they have a tendency to develop health problems like hypoglycemia, joint ailments, eye infections and bronchitis. Also, the tops of their skulls never fully develop, leaving soft spots (“moleras”) that should be protected.

Though Chihuahuas don’t need as much exercise as larger dogs, they need daily walks. And they also like to be warm, so you might consider a little sweater or coat for winter walks. Though picky eaters, they can easily be overfed. An obese Chihuahua is more susceptible to diabetes and a shorter lifespan.

Bear in mind: The world’s smallest dog could also be the world’s cockiest. And Chihuahua owners will note — during their very first walk in the park — that this breed is fearless when it comes to confronting larger dogs. Don’t be so sure that your Chihuahua will know when it has met its match; i.e., always remove them from conflict.

Some people believe that Chihuahuas are one-person dogs and therefore not suitable for families. In truth, they may not be suitable for a small child — since they would not tolerate teasing or random play — but with proper training and gentle, positive reinforcement, they can adapt to any home.

Chihuahua History

The Chihuahua — named for the Mexican state that borders Texas and New Mexico — is the oldest breed on the American continent. Historians believe they evolved from a wild dog called the Techichi that was domesticated by the Toltecs in 9th-century Mexico. Some even claim the modern Chihuahua originated from a cross between the Techichi and a hairless dog that came to North America from China via the Bering Strait.

Chihuahuas were discovered around 1850 in Mexico, where merchants were selling them to tourists. They quickly became popular in the United States and were registered with the AKC in 1904.

Thumbnail: Photography by Dennis Jacobsen / Shutterstock.

Read more about the Chihuahua on Dogster.com:


55 thoughts on “Facts on the Chihuahua Dog Breed”

  1. I understand you are considerably older than I but presuming to judge not knowing circumstances makes you look like the heartless one.
    In times of Pandemic and so on everything is difficult and while I will go hungry before my husband or two dogs do because he had to have 1/4 of his foot amputated is off work and no income, we can eat but not much else how dare you presume to judge anyone

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  5. Backward sneeze remedy iff your chiwawa or any breed has this happen I call backward sneeze or sounds like there wheezing take your finger put it over one nostril stay calm and cover the one nostril either side your dog will stop the backward sneeze. adventully your baby will no your helping and won’t resist it my Chiwawa very seldom gets them anymore never resists when I do help her.
    Also coconut oil pure rubbed on your dog will kill and prevent fleas been using over year. price doesn’t matter pure coconut oil. no more flea poison

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  7. What is wrong with my chihuahua if she all of sudden changes her normal behavior, she used to sit on the couch with me until bedtime but now she goes to my bed right away? She is 7 years old.

  8. Bill’s. Got mine at 1 1/2 yrs old. Suppose to be trained. Took him out every 2 hrs and still messed in house. Started taking him out every hour after a month he finally got the idea. Love him to pieces and he’s doing great. Holds it 4, 5, 6 hours. Maybe longer, but I’m there after 5hrs. Takes patience.

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  12. My 5 yr. old female chihuahua just got off a 6 hour flight with me, and since that time is having yellowish ,mucus, diarrhea. its in very small amounts because we did not eat last night. Im concerned she picked up something in the soil from the state we visited.. although, while we were there she had healthy stools. Wondering now if its from the flight scare,, and what i should do ?? No other syptoms..and acts alert..

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  14. I need help, my Chihuahua is almost 15 and is bleeding like she has her period again with loss of appetite what might be wrong with her

    1. Take her to the ASPCA. they have a well plan and they are a lot less expensive than a vet but I would recommend taking the vet

  15. Can any one give me some advice on potty training a Chihuahua? This is my first time having problems potty training! I just got her she’s a year old. I love her and don’t want to let her go its my 2 dog I’ve owned. I take her out on walks but she comes home and potty in the house help????p

    1. Hi there,
      Sorry to hear you’re having issues! We suggest contacting a vet and behaviorist. These articles might provide some insight as well:

    2. Take him to the vet and ask if you can workout a pmt plan. And complain loadly about where he got sick. Maybe the ASPCA. Can help you or Animal control. Explain what happened, maybe they can help with antibiotics.

    3. Mine is 2 years old. Live in a third floor apartment. I litter box trained him in a matter of days. Has never had an accident. Not even once. They are super smart. Easily trained too. This has been my experience anyways.

      1. That’s amazing! I wondered if that might be possible but didn’t try it. I just have to make sure I take my baby out several times a day and before we go to bed. My little man turned 16 in March and he is what my world revolves around. So far so good on his health. Even now, he still chases his tail… I hope he never catches it, OUCH!

      1. I did too! I never had to let them out and they really didn’t like to be outside. ‘Smeagol’ lived over 17 years, maybe it helped always being inside for him to live so long.

    4. My little doll came home with me at one year old too. She was not house trained. I started taking her out every twenty minutes letting her sniff around the designated spots. Sometimes she would go, sometimes not, but I always used the word potty and if she did, lots of praise! In a few days she would dance around then sit next to my chair to let me know she had to go. I also told her that I might miss her signals, not her fault, and don’t use the carpet. Go on the kitchen floor close to the door. We’re together almost five years and in that time only two accidents, not on the carpet, by the door in the kitchen. Mija, like many Chihuahuas, is really smart and loves to be praised and loved. Training takes time and patience. Expect a mess sometimes. Just keep talking and explaining what you want, they’ll get it!

  16. Sweet puppy! I’m so sorry your fur baby is sick. I wish people didn’t sound so harsh in their judgements about the fact the you say you can’t afford a vet. I have a service dog in trainin*, and she is a chihuahua. Here’s a thought. Before I got her, I had to think about the cost, because I am on disability. If I took her to a regular vet’soffice I couldn’t afford it, and actually didn’t get her until I found a way to be able to afford proper care for her. I eventually found out that Banfield Pet Hospital has a “wellness plan”. I got it for both my cat and pup. I pay a very reasonable monthly fee, which includes two physicals a year, all immunizations, dental cleaning, office visits (including emergencies), and 15% off any medications my fur babies need. We love our specific vet, and the techs and support staff are very supportive, greeting us by name, and show genuine love and care for my fur babies. I highly recommend you look into it. I’m sure other vet offices must offer similar plans. Without the wellness plans, I could never afford my babies! Good luck!

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  18. OMG! My heart is breaking for these sweet little guys and gals whose owners do not take care of them. Shame on you. Sounds like they are never taken to a vet for vital shots, I’ll bet they never get meds to guard against heartworm, worms, etc. That’s Pet Abuse. Okay. I understand vets charge for a dog the same as for a child. As for shots and some meds, there are mobile vets who travel the area at much reduced prices. My little 13 yr old guy, six lbs, it seems suddenly would not do #2, hated to walk. After several days … I surely did not want him to have fecal impaction .. we went to the vet. Two, in fact. The first vet ordered more fiber, and something for a “bacteria.” After a few days, no improvement, we went to a second vet voted #1 in the area, a little farther away, and thank God I did. Poor little guy has arthritis, must take a med for the rest of his life. At 13, the vet says he’s 90 in people years! I’m almost his age, take no meds, so this was a big deal. The med costs $35. I’m on social security. He’ll get his med before I buy a loaf of bread! I worried that he was on his way to the Rainbow Bridge. You people, take a good look at what you spend your money on! Smokes? Junk food? Alcohol? If you can’t/won’t take care of your pet, rehome him/her to someone who will. BTW, a week later now, he’s almost back to his old self. He still won’t walk far, but he’s doing his “job.” Guess he’ll stay with me a while longer.

    1. I have been reading people’s comments, and I have a Chihuahua,and she is my baby,I can clearly see, there’s got to be medical insurance for are pets,this is something we have got to have. Please let me know what you think. ? Stephanie Orton livemyside@gmail.com

  19. My Chihuahua is a full blooded chihuahua mixed. She has the head of an apple-head and the snout (longer) and legs of a deer- Chihuahua. She is 6 months old soon and already weights about 7-8lbs. Her dad and her mother are both Chihuahua I saw them. The father looks more like a deer chihuahua then anything and her mom is more like an apple then anything. Is it possible that my chihuahua is a mix or just full blooded??

  20. Claudette LeMerdy

    Pedigree Chihuahuas also have deer-shaped heads. Not all pedigree Chihuahuas have an apple-shaped head. I have had pedigree Chihuahuas most of my life and I know this to be a fact. And of course, both apple-shaped and deer-head shaped Chi’s are adorable!

    1. Amen!!! Thankyou. I just posted about this ridiculous article too. They need to get their facts straight & get all the facts before posting facts on a certain breed. I have 2 Appleheads & 2 Deerheads. Love my babies.

  21. Can not afford to take him to a vet is not acceptable excuse. I had a chihauhau that on age of 15 and one day all the sudden started having repeated seizures with foamy water from mouth, lost balance and lost vision in 3 days, and started coming water from her mouth most of the time. She was going into tight places and could not walk back and getting stuck repeatedly. blood test was clean and she started twisting around herself until the point falling down for another seizure. I rejected to go for costly MRI and finally could not tolerate to see she was so much in pain and put her into sleep, then now that I look into her pictures, I can see some bruise in her ears which means she probably had an ear infection and she was scratching her ears for that. I did not notice this because I could not afford to take her to a vet for regular visit and not putting time for her to take her for a daily walk and not paying even attention to her ear scratching. Now, it is time for me to pay back in tears for all my negligence with full of regret and feeling guilty. I had also noticed on the last couple of months she was afraid from stairs to go down, and she also had started once in a while sneezing (not so often) but so powerful that she banged her head several times to the hard floor very hard while she was sneezing. I don’t know the reason for any of these, but the thought that she might had a sever painful ear infection that left untreated and finally caused a brain damage is killing me. All might be just from old age, but I wish I had a much better care for her. I hate the feeling getting ripped off by a vet who tries to make me to pay few hundred dollars for a simple visit, but I had missed to see the other side of it that if an infection left untreated, what it could end to! My dog is died now but for me it is just the start of paying back.

    1. So sorry about your little sweetie. Hating to use stairs, she probably had arthritis, now I’m learning is common in chis. If you get another pet, call around to see what different vets charge. The best vet in my area charges less! than others. Check also to see if there are mobile vets in your area who are wonderful. I go to them for shots and monthly meds, to regular vet for problems. Bless you for doing the right thing.

    2. Do your research and find a good vet that won’t RIP you off. I take my dog for checkups all the time and if everything is good it don’t cost more than 25 dollars. Recently my dog got Lymes and had to get blood test and meds but still wasn’t more than 150. What if it was your child like many of us dogs owners treat our dogs? Wouldn’t you not care about cost.

    3. I’m sorry to hear about your pup I was wondering iff you gave your dog the pill for fleas can’t remember the name but I know it causes seizers in dogs any one reading this beware of flea meds prescribed by vets. a natural way is coconut oil my Chiwawa Sunshine loves it no fleas for over year even the dollor tree sells it in food section. buy pure $1.00 and works no more poison.
      Also don’t beet yourself about vets my akita died because vet gave shots rabies ecsetra all together he should have gave on separate days. her immune system broke down went blind I had to eventually put her down the worst thing I’ve ever experienced. with Google and Internet available it’s worth tring home remedy and natural ones. sometimes changing food can help. with meat being first ingredient.
      the point I really want to stress is the poison in flea products can and do cause seizers. try coconut oil your pup will thank you

    4. I lost my 17 year old boy Chihuahua ‘Smeagol’ in 2016. I feel for your regrets and feelings. I feel I should/could have done more for him. I moved to a new place and he fell down stairs 3 times! That should never have happened, I was negligent. Soon he lost all appetite and will to live. I laid on the floor all night with him on my chest so he could feel my heartbeat and I could thank him for all his love. Then I had to let him go and not suffer the next day. My email is: moonrock1960@gmail.com if you want to talk.

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  23. Hello, My Name Is Robin and I have a 13 yr old Chihuahua named Tovan and he got arrested last week and was in the pound for two days and when he came home he now has kennel cough really bad. I have been giving him one table spoon of honey,1tbsp conconut oil, and 1tsp cinnamon mixed together twice a day with 1 – 25 mg Benadryl once a day for the last two days. He still isn’t getting any better except when he stops coughing he has longer non-coughing periods. Should I give mixture three times a day. He eats great but won’t drink as much as he should. I feel so sorry for him. I can’t afford to take him to the vet I think I just need to wait a couple more days and give it to him three times a day not just twice. What do you think. He weighs 14 pounds. He takes 25 mg Benadryl daily for skin allergies this time if yr already. Do you think he needs antibiotics or give home remedies a couple more days? Thanks for anyone s input in advance….

    1. Hi Robin,
      Sorry to hear your dog isn’t feeling well. We really suggest contacting a vet for the best advice. These articles provide some insight into finding affordable vet care:

      And these articles may provide some insight into your health questions, but we really suggest consulting a vet:

    2. Home remedies:
      #1 Use a humidifier. This can provide some relief for those irritated lungs. …
      #2 Keep your dog away from smoke. If your dog is suffering from Canine Kennel Cough, keep him away from campfires and bonfires. …
      #3 Use a harness. When taking your dog out for walks, use a harness instead of a collar. …
      Create a stress-free environment.
      I looked up on Google ‘how to clear kennel cough’. This is the first thing that pops up. Thought it might help.

    3. Some people don’t have money for a vet!. I didn’t and I love my dog and he lives a really happy life as I’m sure that girl does I feel your remark about if she couldn’t afford a vet she shouldn’t got a dog. I think that was uncalled for you must be stupit or have mental health issues! There’s to many homeless dogs that need people who love them and love is priceless!

      1. Adrianna Noelle Matthews

        I agree and what me and my mom do her girl Chihuahua dog Red Rebecca she is 13 years old and my boy dog Max Thomas he is 6years old and almost 7 years old in October 21st 2013 . me and my mom we pay for the small vet bills like office visits , grooming,medications and etc comes from our pocket money the big bills like if they get sick , get there teeth done, treatment or surgery we use carecredit credit card if we didn’t have that i dont know what we will do but is for medical bills and medical emergency for us and animals .

        I encourage people to get it if they dont have the money right away apply and get it and use it and when me and my mom get paid we make payments like $100 to $200 a month we always pay more than the minimum so dont use that much interest.

        Eventually we pay it off we dont carry a balance with them.

        1. What if you had the care credit card but your child messed it up for you and now you can never get it again? This happened to me and we love our animal’s all 3 cat’s and our Toy Chihuahua who just had puppies… We- my husband and I treat them all like our children not animal’s … They are all so spoiled it is not even funny … We are both disabled and live on a very small budget .. But we will never give our ( family ) cat’s and dog away ever! They always have what they need even if we have to go without… So how do we get help when it was destroyed behind our backs?

    4. Take him to the vet and ask if you can workout a pmt plan. And complain loadly about where he got sick. Maybe the ASPCA. Can help you or Animal control. Explain what happened, maybe they can help with antibiotics.

    5. Sorry to hear your baby Tovan is not well – any change in his usual routine can upset him – Perhaps the cough may be from a heart problem but this will need to be checked by a vet – do not delay going to a vet as this can be quite serious and dogs can die quite unexpectedly from any heart condition

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