Given their tiny bodies, you must be curious about how long do Chihuahuas live or what determines their lifespan. All these questions may pop into any Chihuahua owner’s mind once in a while.
Luckily, the answers can be found right here in this guide! Let us discuss everything to know about the Chihuahua lifespan and how to help a Chihuahua live longer.
Chihuahua Life Expectancy: How Long Do Chihuahuas Live on Average?
Recent data suggest that Chihuahuas can live for 15 to 20 years despite being the smallest existing breed. In fact, a Chihuahua named Megabyte was hailed by the Guinness World Records as one of the world’s longest-living dogs.
Like other small dog breeds, Chihuahuas can avoid having major health problems as long as problems are handled at an early age. This means that they can be free of pain or struggles throughout the end of their lifespan.
On another note, a study in 2001 found out that when compared to other small breeds, Chihuahuas had the lowest incidence of gum diseases, which significantly improved their survivability and life expectancy.
They live a long life along with other small breeds such as Yorkshires, Dachshunds, Shih Tzus, Toy Poodles, Pomeranians, and Spaniels.
The Oldest Living Chihuahua: How Old Is the Oldest Chihuahua in the World?
The oldest Chihuahua in the world is a pooch named Megabyte. He is the only known and recorded Chihuahua that lived for 20 years and 265 days.
According to a verified list of longest living dogs, Megabyte ranks as number 17 out of 21 oldest living dogs in Guinness World of Records.
Unfortunately, Megabyte passed away on January 1, 2014. Despite this, Megabyte still retains his title as one of the oldest Chihuahuas in the world.
As a small breed, Chihuahuas are prone to heart failure caused by valve disease. They are also known to be susceptible to neurological diseases such as congenital deafness, neuroaxonal dystrophy, and many more.
Overall, it is impressive that Megabyte did not fall victim to these life-threatening concerns and stayed healthy throughout the end!
Factors That Determine the Lifespan of Your Chihuahua
Multiple factors determine the Chihuahua lifespan. It is essential to familiarize yourself with these factors so you can keep your Chihuahua healthy for the years to come.
A Chihuahua’s diet plays a vital role in its overall lifespan. Chihuahuas must be fed with good quality dog food without preservatives and artificial flavors.
Responsible pet parents must also give them a consistent routine to avoid overfeeding.
An unbalanced diet may lead to stomach problems as well as obesity. Thus, avoid giving your Chihuahua human food such as leftovers or human snacks.
Their cute puppy eyes may tempt you to indulge them, but for their health, do not give in.
As mentioned above, obesity can be a problem for small dogs like Chihuahuas. The healthy weight for Chihuahuas is between 3.3 pounds and 6.6 pounds (1.5 to 3 kg).
If you have a fat Chihuahua, its small body may not be able to support itself. This can lead to joint problems, muscle pain, diabetes, and even difficulty breathing.
On another note, if the Chihuahua weighs less than the expected average, things can turn critical at any moment.
Malnutrition can weaken their immune system, and they’ll be more prone to infections. Thus, an owner must always pay close attention to their Chihuahua’s body weight.
Like any average dog, Chihuahuas also need adequate exercise in order to stay healthy and in shape.
Ideally, Chihuahuas should walk for at least 30 minutes per day especially if they are deer-legged. If possible, owners can divide this into two 15-minute walks.
If you cannot go outdoors with your Chi due to certain conditions, you can play fetch with them along with other indoor games that require a lot of movement.
Consider dedicating at least 30 minutes of playtime with your furry friend. You can also divide this into two sets, just like walking. This will significantly improve their lifespan because they aren’t sedentary.
Though many Chihuahuas live long, it does not mean that they are free from any potential diseases. Like other dogs, Chihuahuas are also prone to multiple health problems.
For example, a study in 2017 suggests that Chihuahuas are common victims of a neurological condition called Syringomyelia. Other health issues such as hip dysplasia, luxating patella, and spinal injuries are also common.
Genetics can either improve or worsen the Chihuahua lifespan. This is why it is important to look into the parents’ background before buying or adopting a pup.
If the parents are healthy, there will be a lower risk of inheriting genetic disorders. On the other hand, if the parents are runts, and you have a teacup Chihuahua, it would be a big problem.
Reputable Chihuahua breeders do genetic testing on their dams and sires before breeding them. They only proceed with breeding if the dogs are free from inheritable diseases.
Speaking of which, you can check out our list of top Chihuahua breeders who have their breeding stock genetically tested prior to mating.
Like humans, Chihuahuas can also be sensitive about their environment. A healthy environment will improve their quality of life.
Ideally, they should be kept in a clean and quiet place. If they are kept as outdoor pets, make sure the outdoor fields are disinfected so that they are free from any potential bacteria or viruses.
There must be no pollution, and their enclosure should be secure enough. In some states, wild animals may break into properties and place your Chihuahua in danger.
To prevent this, pet owners must keep their fences strong and high enough to keep invaders out.
Spaying and Neutering
Like many dogs, Chihuahuas can also develop ovarian, testicular, and prostate cancers. Chihuahuas that are not neutered tend to have a shorter lifespan; thus, spaying or neutering is vital.
These procedures also help keep their hormones in check, actively lowering their stress levels and keeping their temperament in a normal state.
Interestingly, statistics suggest that female Chihuahuas tend to live longer than males. Currently, there is no known cause for this difference. However, females will live for about one and two years longer than a male Chihuahua.
It is possible that living conditions can also contribute to this factor, as some female Chihuahuas may have better lifestyles compared to male Chihuahuas.
However, Megabyte, the oldest living Chihuahua, is a male dog. Megabyte proves that gender is not always a determining factor for a Chihuahua’s lifespan.
Though Chihuahuas are studied to have a lower risk of developing dental issues, they can still develop tooth decay and gum diseases.
This can be prevented by a routine dental check, chew toys, and high-quality food. Brushing their teeth daily is also an option, but this will require dedication.
Make sure you give enough time to your Chihuahua to keep their gum and teeth healthy. When oral problems occur, they become at risk of dental infections. If left untreated, it may lead to heart disease and kidney diseases.
How to Identify the Age of Your Chihuahua in Human Years
It’s a common belief among dog parents that a dog’s age in human years is seven times in dog years. However, a more accurate way of calculating your dog’s human age has been revealed by a 2019 study from Science Magazine.
By using a calculator, compute your dog’s age by using the following formula:
16 ln (Your Chihuahua’s Age) + 31 = Human Age
First, take your Chihuahua’s natural logarithm (the “In” function) and then multiply it by 16. Afterward, add 31, and the result is their age in human years.
According to the study mentioned above, this formula is derived from the chemical changes that occur in a dog’s DNA.
Scientists used these changes to compare them with human DNA. As a result, they came up with this formula that is more accurate to use.
Though this formula is better, it is still new and not widely known or used within the dog lovers community.
Here is an age chart for the Chihuahua breed and its human years equivalent:
This table applies to most small dog breeds that are 20 pounds (9 kg) or less. It is easy to tell from this table that Chihuahuas age rapidly compared to humans.
However, keep in mind that not all dogs are the same as some can age slower and some age faster. Like many small breeds, Chihuahuas age faster during their puppy stage.
To summarize, a Chihuahua’s average life expectancy is equivalent to 76 to 96 years in human years. If you want to try a different method, you can use an online dog age calculator. However, it only works on purebred dogs.
What Do Chihuahuas Usually Die From?
While they are considered among the longest living dogs, Chihuahuas can still pass away sooner than expected. It can be due to accidents or health problems that manifest as they age.
Below is a detailed summary of common causes of fatality among puppies and adults.
Common Causes of Death in Chihuahua Puppies
All life is most vulnerable at a young age, and Chihuahua puppies are no different. However, given their small bodies, they are more sensitive to diseases if not properly cared for.
Here are some common causes of death in Chihuahua puppies:
- Parvovirus: Parvovirus is spread through contact with an infected dog or the feces of an infected dog. This disease attacks the immune system and the gastrointestinal tract. Vaccines can help prevent this problem.
- Distemper: This is a serious gastrointestinal or respiratory infection. It can be prevented through vaccines, but once it develops, it is highly contagious and extremely painful. This disease attacks the brain and spinal cord of any dog.
- Leptospirosis: Canine leptospirosis can be developed at any age, but Chihuahua puppies are more at risk due to their vulnerable system. It is often caused by urine from infected wildlife such as rats. This is why you must move newborn puppies to a clean and secured area.
- Sepsis: Sepsis is an infection in the blood often caused by bacteria. This is a very critical condition that has a 40% survival rate despite having adequate treatment.
- Physical Trauma: Tragically, about 16.8% of Chihuahua puppies die from physical trauma such as falling from high places, accidentally being stepped on, improper handling, and getting hit by a car. It is recorded as the second most leading death for Chihuahuas, both puppies and adults.
The majority of these common Chihuahua health problems can be easily avoided with proper care and medical attention. Noticing the symptoms early on is also a great life-saver.
Keep a close eye on them to ensure that the tiny pup lives. Make sure they are well protected from any risk mentioned above.
Common Causes of Death in Chihuahua Adults
As Chihuahuas grow old, they also develop problems caused by their deteriorating health. Some are unpreventable as it happens with age, while some can be fixed through medical care.
Here are some common causes of death of an adult Chihuahua:
- Heart Failure: Heart failure is mainly caused by old age, but some Chihuahuas can be born with a heart defect. A Chihuahua’s diet and exercise can also play a role in manifesting this disease. In some cases, injuries can also cause this problem.
- Heart Valve Disease: This is a cardiovascular disease where the heart wears out and leaks as a result. It is mainly caused by old age. However, conditions such as endocarditis can also trigger it.
- Arrhythmia: Arrhythmia is another heart disease in Chihuahuas. It is when the heart beats either too fast or too slow. In some cases, it may completely skip a few beats, causing difficulty breathing.
- Infections: Infections such as parvovirus, distemper, leptospirosis, and sepsis can also happen to adult Chihuahuas. If not vaccinated, they are more prone to contagious viruses. If their immune system is weakened by their age, they are also more likely to develop an infection.
- Physical Trauma: Puppies are not the only ones that can be victims of physical trauma. Adult Chihuahuas can still suffer from fatal injuries when hit by a car, stepped on by accident, or falling from high places. Their bodies are not as strong as other breeds, and with old age, joints become more fragile.
As stated earlier, these problems are mostly inevitable as old age comes for them. Like humans, most living creatures on earth grow weaker as they grow older.
READ NEXT: Male vs. Female Chihuahua: Which Is Better?
10 Easy Tips to Help Your Chihuahua Live Longer
Reading about the health risks a Chihuahua can encounter can raise the alarm flags in many dog lovers. The good news is there are many ways to improve the Chihuahua lifespan.
Here are a few tips to help your Chihuahua live a long and healthy life:
1. Routine Checkups
As they are one of the smallest dog breeds, Chihuahuas need to visit the vet regularly or at least once every three months. If your Chihuahua is comfortable with vet trips and you can afford it, monthly visits are ideal.
If you want to learn how much you’ll spend on these vet visits, check out our Chihuahua pricing guide.
2. Balanced Diet
To avoid obesity or malnutrition and maintain a healthy weight, giving your Chihuahua a nutritious diet is a must. An average Chihuahua needs to eat at least ½ or ⅓ cups of premium dog food per day.
As a small breed, they don’t need a lot, but they need high-quality meals. Set a fixed schedule for feeding time to encourage your Chihuahua to eat sufficiently.
A healthy Chihuahua requires regular exercise to maintain a healthy weight. As previously stated, Chihuahuas need at least 30 minutes of walk per day.
Ideally, dividing it into two 15-minute walks is the best for your pooch.
4. Spaying or Neutering
If you have no plans of breeding your Chihuahua, spaying or neutering is recommended. It helps prevent the risk of reproductive cancers and other health problems, effectively improving their lifespan.
It also helps control their hormones, reducing their stress and aggression.
While this is already common knowledge, not all dogs are vaccinated when adopted or saved.
Vaccines help avoid diseases such as parvovirus and distemper. Make sure your Chihuahua is properly vaccinated by visiting the vet.
6. Proper Living Conditions
Chihuahuas are a relatively healthy breed, but they can be sensitive about their space compared to larger dogs. It is important to provide them with a stress-free environment to relax and feel safe.
Their enclosure must be kept clean, and the air must be fresh. Since they are small, it can also be easy for them to run away or escape.
To keep them safe at home, Chihuahua owners should make sure that there are no blind spots where they can slip into and escape from.
7. Careful Handling
With their small figure, they are more fragile than bigger and stronger dogs. Even as an adult, you should still mind the way you hold or carry a Chihuahua to avoid causing a serious injury.
Always be gentle with their delicate bodies, especially with teacup Chihuahuas.
If you are walking in the dark, try to check the ground by feeling it with your hands first. This is to make sure that you don’t step on them unintentionally.
8. Dental Care
Proper dental care is important for many dogs. Brush your Chihuahua’s teeth regularly, at least once a day, to help prevent dental problems. You must also be careful with their chew toys and ensure they are proper toys for small dogs.
Avoid giving them other food that is not their dog food or treats. Another reason why high-quality dog food is crucial for Chihuahuas is to make sure their teeth or gums won’t be damaged by low-quality food. Always stick to the best choice of dog food.
Dogs of any age and breed can benefit from vitamins A, C, D, E, K, and B. You can inquire for a prescription from your vet to give you a supplement plan for your Chihuahua.
While this is not always necessary, it improves their quality of life. It helps your Chihuahua live a long and happy life if you can afford to maintain their supplements.
10. Mental Stimulation
Aside from keeping your Chihuahua physically active, you should also keep their mind or senses alert.
Hide treats to stimulate their nose and enjoy sniffing around the house. You should also give them enough playtime or attention to prevent loneliness.
Once you are familiar with all these tips, your dog owner instincts will remember them automatically. Great mental health for dogs will improve their life span.
Senior Chihuahua Dog Care
Because of their long life, Chihuahuas are only considered senior dogs at around ten years of age (in dog years). So if you own one or plan to adopt one, being ready for the future will come in handy.
Therefore, here are some tips on how to care for a senior Chihuahua:
- Keep a closer eye on your senior Chihuahua more than ever.
- Make sure they stay active, both mentally and physically.
- Consider consulting your vet for pain relief medication.
- Don’t let them overeat to avoid too much weight gain.
- Brush their smooth coat regularly if your dog is a longhaired Chihuahua.
- Soothe body pain by gently massaging your Chihuahua.
- Use supplements such as chondroitin sulfate and glucosamine.
- To avoid dental problems, you must maintain their oral care.
- Schedule vet visits more often.
- Keep an eye on your Chihuahua’s weight.
- Try to spend as much time as possible with your Chihuahua.
Prepare to extend your patience for any senior dogs. Their senior years are the time to give them extra care and attention more than ever.
You can watch this video to get a visual idea of how to care for senior dogs in general:
Frequently Asked Questions
Can Chihuahuas Live Up to 20 Years?
Yes, Chihuahuas can live up to 20 years. They are considered to be among the longest-living breed of dogs. With proper care, this breed, including teacup Chihuahuas can live for 15 to 20 years.
Compared to other dogs, small dogs like Chihuahuas are known to live longer.
What Age Is Considered Old for a Chihuahua?
A Chihuahua is considered old at ten years of age in dog years. In human years, ten dog years is 56 human years. It is half of their maximum lifespan, just like how 50 is considered half of a human’s lifespan.
Why Do Chihuahuas Live So Long?
Chihuahuas live so long because small breeds are studied to age slower compared to large dog breeds.
An evolutionary biologist named Cornelia Kraus reported that bigger dogs age faster than small ones. Additionally, small dogs like Chihuahuas are less at risk of cancer because of this phenomenon.
How Do I Know If My Chihuahua Is Dying?
You will notice if your Chihuahua is dying when there is a lack of movement and their body has gone limp.
The muscles are no longer solid as the air leaves their lungs. You may also observe some extreme behavioral changes such as sudden aggression or abnormal restlessness.
Chihuahuas are clearly known for their loyalty and long life, so any owner can expect a long-term companion and prepare for it.
Before buying or adopting a Chihuahua, one must know that despite their small body, their life is a big responsibility since they live up to 20 years.
Be prepared for any possible health concerns. But as long as Chihuahuas are well-taken care of, they will have little to no health issues up until their senior years.