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How Long Do Chihuahuas Live?

Small dog breeds tend to live longer than large dog breeds. As the smallest dog breed in the world, the Chihuahua has a very long lifespan. 

But how long do Chihuahuas live? The average lifespan of a Chihuahua is 12 to 20 years. Exactly how long a Chihuahua will live depends on many factors, including genetics, health problems, care, and diet. To increase your Chihuahua’s lifespan and keep your dog healthy, take it to the vet regularly and stay up to date on all shots.

As you can see, the Chihuahua lifespan depends on many factors.

Read on to learn how to care for a Chihuahua to increase its lifespan as well as what are the most common health problems seen in this breed. 

How Long Does a Chihuahua Live as a Pet?

When properly cared for and kept as pets, Chihuahuas have an average life expectancy of 12 to 20 years.

Some Chihuahuas don’t live this long, while lucky few may be able to live for more than 20 years.

Though most Chihuahuas die before the age of 20, there are reports of a Chihuahua named Megabyte who lived to be 20 years and 265 days old.

Unfortunately, there is no provable documentation or reports backing these claims. 

While it’s hard to prove that Chihuahuas can reach 20 years of age, they most certainly can.

These tiny dogs are also considered the longest living dog breed.  

Common Chihuahua Health Problems

Common Chihuahua Health Problems

Like all other purebred dogs, Chihuahuas are prone to developing certain health conditions. 

Below, you will find the most common health issues seen in the Chihuahua dog breed.

Please keep in mind that these aren’t the only health problems seen in this breed, but just a few of the most common.

Some of these illnesses can directly affect the Chihuahua’s life expectancy, while others aren’t so serious to lead to death.

However, they may reduce your Chihuahua’s quality of life and require veterinary treatment. 

Some of the most common health problems Chihuahuas face are:

Dental Problems

Chihuahuas are very susceptible to dental problems, mainly because they have a much higher tooth to jaw ratio, which leads to overcrowding of teeth.

This makes Chihuahuas more prone to develop plaque and tartar buildup, which leads to gingivitis and periodontal disease. 

Periodontal disease, in itself, isn’t deadly, but it has been linked to heart problems and can change a dog’s eating habits.


Hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar, is often seen in toy dog breeds like Chihuahua.

This condition is easily treatable in the early stages, but it can be fatal if not treated in time.

Dogs suffering from hypoglycemia appear sluggish, sleep more, shake, or tremble.

If you notice any of these symptoms in your Chihuahua, place some honey under your dog’s tongue and get it to the vet right away.


Hydrocephalus is characterized by a swollen head and occurs when spinal fluid builds up in the brain.

There is no cure for this condition, and most Chihuahuas born with it die before they become four months old.   

Mild cases of hydrocephalus can be treated with steroids.

Moderate cases can be somewhat cured by installing a shunt that diverts fluid away from the brain. 

Heart Murmurs

Chihuahuas are prone to several heart conditions that can shorten their lifespan.

Heart murmurs are caused by a disruption of blood flow through heart chambers.  

While murmurs aren’t a huge issue, they are usually a sign of a bigger heart problem that must be monitored and treated.

Depending on the severity of the murmurs, treatment ranges from medication, special diets, and reduction of the amount of exercise the dog gets.

Care Tips for Chihuahua

While it’s impossible to protect your Chihuahua from all potential health problems, some may be prevented with proper and regular care.

Here’s everything you can do to keep your Chihuahua healthy and increase its lifespan:

Stay Up to Date with All Vaccines

Whenever you bring a new puppy home, you want to ensure it gets all the necessary vaccinations recommended by your vet.

Getting your Chihuahua puppy vaccinated keeps it protected from parvo, rabies, distemper, and other infectious diseases. 

Stay up to date with your dog’s vaccines in adulthood since it will need regular boosters to stay protected and healthy.

Regular Veterinary Visits

Taking your Chihuahua to regular checkups is the best way to catch and treat potential health problems early.

Regular checkups can help your vet notice any subtle changes in your dog’s appearance or behavior that you may miss. 

Healthy & Nutritious Diet

Like any other dog, your Chihuahua will benefit from having a healthy diet.

Your veterinarian or canine nutritionist can help you pick the highest-quality food for your dog.

Healthy and nutritious food may help curb some breed-specific health issues that Chihuahuas are prone to. 

What Do Chihuahuas Usually Die From?

Heart failure is the main cause of death of senior Chihuahuas.

In most cases, the valve that regulates blood flow becomes misshapen and can’t close tightly.

As a result, the blood leaks around the valve and stretches the heart muscle. 

Chihuahuas with heart valve disease usually have a heart murmur.

When the murmur is diagnosed in time, a dog may live a long and fulfilled life with proper treatment and care. 


The average Chihuahua lifespan is 12 to 20 years.

Though some Chihuahuas don’t live so long, many reach golden years in optimal health.

For such a small breed, Chihuahuas are prone to a host of health problems that can shorten their life expectancy.

However, regular veterinary checkups, a healthy diet, regular exercise, and vaccination can help keep your Chihuahua healthy and happy. 

Proper and regular dental care and weight control can also go a long way in preventing heart disease.

Ensuring you purchase from a very reputable breeder is the best way to make sure you have a healthy and beautiful chihuahua to add to your family. 

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