In this guide to the Chihuahua breed, we’ll give you a look into the temperament, life span, and health of this toy breed. If you’re considering adding a Chihuahua to your life, there are a number of things to know and plan for ahead of time so you can keep your pet healthy and happy.
- Chihuahua Height: average 6 to 9 inches, smallest dog on record is 4 inches tall, can get up to 15 inches tall at the shoulder.
- Chihuahua Weight: average 4-6 lbs.
- Chihuahua Life Span: 10 to 18 years
- Other Names for Chihuahua include: Chi, Taco Bell Dog, Ankle Biters
- Chihuahua Price: $400-$1,200 depending on age and other factors
Chihuahua Dog Basics
One of the oldest breeds of dogs in the Americas, Chihuahuas are one of the smallest breeds of dog in the world. Chihuahua coats come in a variety of colors including cream, red, tan, chocolate, white, black, or splashed. Can have short-haired or long-haired coats.
Chihuahuas can also have apple-shaped or deer-shaped heads and their brain is one of the largest dog brains relative to their size. They are a very smart dog so an owner must commit to training. Their excellent hearing can help alert their owners to even the smallest of noises which means they can be great guard dogs.
Chihuahua Dog Temperament
The temperament of a chihuahua can vary greatly from one dog to the next. A good indication of temperament can be gained from looking at the temperament of a Chihuahua’s parents or grandparents. Chihuahuas are typically great companion animals because of their loyalty and tendency to bond deeply with their owner. Chihuahuas frequently suffer from little dog syndrome (the heart of a Bernese Mountain Dog, the size of a rabbit), because every dog and most other things are bigger than they are.
You’ll find the Chihuahua breed to be very much a pack breed. An ideal Chihuahua owner is one you can firmly asset themselves as pack leader. Failure to show the Chihuahua breed who is boss can lead to an unhappy dog and owner. Chihuahuas are very susceptible to temperature changes. They don’t like damp, cold, or wet weather. They often shiver all over and they love to burrow under or into something when sleeping so you’ll often find them buried under pillows or bed covers.
If you’re considering adding a pure-bred Chihuahua to your family, you can expect to pay between $400-1,200 for a pure bred. If you get one as a puppy, the average is slightly lower, between $500-$800 each. The other option is to adopt a Chihuahua from your local shelter. In most cases, adopting a Chihuahua will be the least expensive route. Make sure you get as much information about the history of your dog as you can and make several visits if possible to get to know your potential dog before bringing them home.
Chihuahua Dog Pros and Cons
- Love being held and cuddled
- Hyper aware to avoid predators and other issues
- Bond strongly with owners
- High energy
- Easy to bathe
- Very loyal
- Easily injured
- Difficult to housebreak (can take months to years)
- Can be high maintenance
- False sense of bravado (see Quiet Dog Breeds if this is a no-no)
- Can be easily provoked to point of attack
- Not great dogs for families with small kids (see Best Dogs for Kids to learn more)
Chihuahua Dog Life Span
The stand life span of a Chihuahua is 12-20 years. With proper care, good training, and lots of love, your Chihuahua can live a full happy life. Chihuahua’s are prone to injury if dropped even from short heights. Some Chihuahuas have broken a leg by simply jumping down from a bed or couch.
You can extend the life of a Chihuahua by making sure they eat a healthy diet and get regular exercise every day. Chihuahuas are one of the most intelligent dogs in the world, so make sure to keep your pet mentally stimulated as well to avoid bad habits that can result when a Chihuahua gets bored. Brush their teeth daily and schedule regular appointments with the vet for routine shots and at least annually for an evaluation.
Chihuahua Dog Health Issues and Genetic Problems
Very healthy breed but due to the fact that they love to be pampered, owners tend to overindulge these tiny dogs. This can lead to obesity and even dislocation of the kneecaps. Chihuahuas are susceptible to a genetic condition called luxating patella, which enables heir knee to “slip” out of place more easily.
The breed as a whole can require more vet care for dental care and for birthing of puppies. Because Chihuahuas have protruding eyes, eye infections are more of an issue than with other dogs. Chihuahuas are also susceptible to genetic heart disorders such as pulmonic stenosis and heart murmurs.
Chihuahua Dog Puppies
When choosing your chihuahua puppy, make sure you visit reputable breeders who can give you insight into the parentage of the puppy. Keep in mind that as one of the toy breeds, Chihuahua puppies can be susceptible to hydrocephalus. Be cautious of puppies with abnormally large heads, who seem overly fatigued or sleep a lot, and remain smaller than their litter mates.
Chihuahua puppies with apple shaped heads are, like human babies, born with a partially formed skull, they will have soft spot called the “molera”, this is normal and not a defect in puppies. Chihuahua puppy owners need to understand the symptoms and risks of low blood sugar, or hypoglycemia, something that puppies are prone to experience. Treatment can be as simple as a sugar substitute or Karo Syrup rubbed on the gums of the puppy to increase the level of blood sugar.
See our page on a proper dog’s diet to learn more about good health.
Chihuahua Dog Rescue
There are rescue centers devoted to the Chihuahua breed of dog all over the country. Adopting a Chihuahua can be less expensive than buying a pure breed dog. Adopting from a rescue center also helps to reduce the demand for puppy mills which pump out pure bred puppies, that often live in horrid conditions, for pet stores. If you do choose a Chihuahua from a rescue center, ask about the dog’s history. Make sure you visit the dog several times and are aware of any chronic medical issues it may have.