How long do Chihuahuas live? A long time if you take good care of them! In this article, we’ll be sharing with you the best ways to care for this ancient and unique breed. There’s a lot you can do to prolong their lifespan as well as improve their well-being and quality of life.
Here we’ll explain the basics of their health and dental care. And also provide the latest information on nutrition, health supplements, and training techniques. Before we dive into Chihuahua care here are some Chihuahua facts, characteristics, personality, and history.
Facts About the Chihuahua Breed
Named after the region in Mexico where colonial records reported an abundance of these small dogs, chihuahuas were rarely seen in the rest of the world until the American Kennel Club recognized them at the turn of the 20th century. Today they’re one of the most popular pooches in the U.S.
Chihuahuas are among the smallest dog breeds. Keep in mind that the American and British standards are geared for the show ring, but purebred chis may be much larger. In fact, larger females tend to experience fewer problems during whelping.
Chihuahuas do not breed true for size; pups within a single litter can vary greatly and mature differently.
Two basic types exist. One is the older variety, known as the “deer” type, with a flatter head, larger ears, and longer legs. The newer variety is referred to as “apple-head” because of its dramatically rounded skull. Coats can be short or long and in almost any color or pattern.
These little dogs are known to be very clannish with their own kind, preferring to be around another chihuahua instead of any other dog breed. Some fans claim that they even “talk” to each other in their own language, making little sounds in private doggie conversations that only chis can understand!
These little “purse dogs” are known for their big personalities. Anyone who has been owned by a chihuahua will agree that they’re cute, affectionate, faithful, alert, protective, intelligent, amusing, and boldly assertive. They’ll catch on fast how cute you think they are and then try to think up ways to get their way. Hint: never let them boss you around! – Be prepared to remind them that you are the Top Dog in your household!
The first dogs in North America came across from Siberia over 10,000 years ago, already domesticated. Indigenous peoples used them for hunting, fur, and companionship. A thousand years ago, the Toltecs in Mexico kept Techichi (say that out loud: it sounds like “chihuahua”) dogs, a larger version of what the conquering Aztecs later bred.
In 1520, explorer Hernan Cortes wrote a letter describing how the Aztecs raised little dogs for food. The dogs brought by the European invaders nearly replaced the DNA of the native canines in the Western Hemisphere. Today the chihuahua is one of the two Mexican breeds that still retain a small amount of the original ancestral lineage.
Chihuahua Health Challenges & What To Do
DENTAL ISSUES EFFECTING HOW LONG CHIHUAHUAS LIVE
Chihuahuas are prone to dental problems, partly because they live so long. Be aware that the health of the teeth is directly related to gum health because of the growth of bacteria and the formation of plaque.
What’s more, oral bacteria circulating in the bloodstream are directly linked to an increased risk of heart disease. Many healthcare providers believe that oral health is an indicator of immune system functioning and the body’s general health.
WHAT TO DO: Get your pup used to regular handling of the snout, lips, gums, and teeth. Reward him or her each time with affection immediately afterward. While doing regular monthly oral checks on your chi, here’s what to keep in mind:
It doesn’t take many calories to add pounds to a tiny body. The spine and joints have to support the body weight day in and day out, bouncing and twisting around during all kinds of activities. Imagine how you would feel if you had to carry around a suitcase that weighed 25% as much as you do!
The heart, liver, and kidneys are also adversely affected by excess weight. You know that obesity can cause disease, but did you know, that several health-related conditions can cause obesity? These can be hormone imbalances, arthritis, chronic pain, emotional trauma, and unmonitored use of pharmaceuticals are some of the culprits.
• Handling should not produce pain.
• Gums should be firm and either pink or gray-pigmented. Gingivitis – reversible gum inflammation – is characterized by redness, puffiness, pus, and/or bleeding. Periodontal disease, which involves tooth and bone loss, is much more serious.
• Teeth should be white in younger dogs but it’s normal for them to be more ivory-colored in mature pets. Food film combines with bacteria to form plaque which is removable by recreational chewing and by brushing. If ignored, plaque hardens into tartar, a hard brown or gray buildup at the base of the teeth and inside the gum line that can only be removed by a professional.
• Talk to your holistic vet about feeding your dog natural, raw foods and or nutrient-dense foods. They can act as natural scrubbers to the teeth and gums. Provide the safest toys for recreational chewing. Your holistic vet will also show you how to effectively brush your chi’s teeth.
WHAT TO DO:
• Activity: Regular exercise is vital for all of us to maintain a normal weight, not only to burn fat but to build up muscle tissue which burns fat just by existing. By stimulating increased blood flow throughout the body and improving oxygenation through deeper respirations, exercise creates what some have called a “Virtuous Cycle:” feeling better, your dog becomes more active, burning more calories, becoming healthier, and able to do more exercise.
• Diet: An unfortunate fact of modern pet food is that it’s most economical for manufacturers to use grains, fillers, and cheap protein sources. Even though such foods may seem appealing, they contain artificial dyes, scent concentrates, preservatives, gravies. If your chi’s food isn’t nutrient-dense, she stays constantly hungry due to a lack of the proper quantity and quality of necessary nutritional elements.
Canine digestive systems have evolved to survive most effectively with natural protein and fat as the primary sources of calories; even grain-free chows are made with a high carb content from legumes and potatoes. Most “weight control” diets on the market restrict fat without restricting carbohydrates, therefore unbalanced for most dogs’ needs. How do you satisfy a fat, hungry little dog?
Look into a natural diet that offers your chi the best in bioavailable nutrients, meaning that they are easily digested. The right diet will also contain a balance of probiotics — good intestinal bacteria that aid in digestion and maintaining a well-functioning immune system.
To prevent bone surfaces from grinding on each other, joints are lined with a thick layer of elastic cartilage that absorbs shock and lubricates moving parts. With repeated use over time, this protective cartilage wears away, resulting in osteoarthritis, often abbreviated as OA. Obesity speeds the erosion of healthy joints.
Although some OA is a result of normal wear and tear, younger dogs can get it, too, from birth defects such as hip dysplasia or from injuries. It’s no surprise that a vicious cycle begins when limited mobility and pain decrease normal activity which leads to more weight gain which then worsens joint function further.
WHAT TO DO:
Several alternatives exist to help your pooch. Osteoarthritis is one of the issues that make you ask not about how long do chihuahuas live but how long can they live feeling good.
• We’ve already mentioned how to ease the burden on stressed joints by reaching and maintaining a normal weight with a nutrition-dense diet low in carbohydrates.
• In addition, since inactivity worsens stiffness, it’s important to make sure your chihuahua gets regular, frequent, gentle, low-impact, pleasurable exercise that you both can enjoy together. Modern therapeutic exercise treatments include treadmill therapy and swimming.
• Your holistic vet can recommend supplements that help alleviate the signs and symptoms of OA. Glucosamine, chondroitin, and omega fatty acids are popular because evidence of their usefulness is mounting. Many vets suggest fish oil supplements from cold-water fish such as salmon because it contains compounds that not only seem to lessen crippling arthritis pain but also support the immune system and cognitive function. Sustainable sources are preferred.
The patella is your kneecap. Dog’s knees are the knobs high on the front of their hind legs close to their bellies. The patella not only protects the bones, ligaments, and tendons of the knee structure but also acts as a pulley mechanism for better knee flexion. Many small dogs develop a misalignment that goes on to cause pain, limping, and arthritis. Patellar luxation, often called “floating kneecap,” is graded according to the degree of severity:
• Grade I: The kneecap is movable but the condition is mild.
• Grade II: The kneecap can pop out of place with normal muscle tightening and may be painful; lameness is present.
• Grade III: Although the kneecap remains luxated most of the time, it can be manually returned to its normal position; discomfort and arthritic changes are present.
• Grade IV: This permanent, chronically painful condition is often caused by genetic or congenital skeletal abnormalities.
WHAT TO DO:
Treatment depends on the grade. In the early stages, nutritional supplements, massage, chiropractic techniques, and physical therapy with muscle strengthening can help. In some cases, acupuncture and laser therapy improve results. Surgery is reserved for the most severe cases but may be unnecessary if you can address patellar luxation by early diagnosis and aggressive treatment. Maintaining a normal weight is a must — perhaps you’ve heard this mentioned before! Discuss options such as a low-carb, anti-inflammatory diet with your vet.
When you ask how long do chihuahuas live, heart conditions are one of the major factors to pursue. The breed is susceptible to several different kinds of cardiac problems, some more serious than others. One of the most common is heart murmurs, so named because structural abnormalities cause a soft sound that can be heard with a stethoscope.
Although heart murmurs by themselves are usually treatable, they can accompany other problems that require veterinary care.
WHAT TO DO:
You can’t change what your chihuahua was born with, but you can do a lot to support your dog’s general health.
• One interesting proven fact not well-known by the public and even by many healthcare professionals is the indisputable link between oral health and heart health. Providing ongoing gum and tooth care with frequent regular brushing and checkups with help manage cardiac problems by controlling the number of oral bacteria.
• As always, providing a nutrient-dense naturally sourced diet low in carbs is beneficial.
• Natural supplements such as oil from cold-water fish like salmon oil are rich in omega fatty acids supporting the heart. Does this sound familiar? More recent studies from veterinary cardiologists are indicating that CoQ10 is helpful in dogs with congestive heart failure. Consult your vet to find out if it’s appropriate for your dog since preventive studies have not yet been completed.
COLLAPSED TRACHEA: You may know your trachea as your windpipe. It’s the tube leading from your nose down to your lungs. Normally kept open by supportive rings of cartilage, sometimes genetics or obesity causes the rings to collapse, leading to a honking cough, difficulty breathing, and even fainting from lack of oxygen.
WHAT TO DO:
• Avoid triggers: Exertion, overexcitement, extreme temperatures, humid weather, and even drinking water can trigger attacks.
• Eliminate obesity: Losing weight will ease this progressive condition. Feed a good quality natural diet without fillers and unneeded carbs. You know when you overeat, the fullness of your stomach makes breathing difficult. You don’t want to make your little chi suffer letting him stuff himself with useless bulk.
• Provide modified exercise: Follow the guidelines offered for dogs with arthritis by offering opportunities for regular but gentle activities with rest periods. You want to prevent anything that results in panting or coughing.
• Stear clea of respiratory irritants: Smoke, dust, and fumes might bring on a coughing episode.
• Use a harness: While walking and other outings are good, using a harness instead of a neck collar or slip lead will prevent pressure on the tracheal area of the throat and upper chest.
Activity & Excercise
Because of their delightfully small size, a little bit goes a long way when it comes to exercise. Count how many steps your chihuahua takes for each one you take! Going on walks is great, but so is running, jumping, and playing to exercise all the muscles. Overweight dogs are especially prone to heat exhaustion and heat stroke as well as injuries to soft tissues and joints. Here are some guidelines for all dogs:
• Always have water available during the walk.
• Don’t push – this isn’t Marine boot camp!
• Pace yourselves with rest breaks in a comfortable spot.
• Don’t go outside in extreme weather
• Start gradually, perhaps with a couple of 10-minute walks daily, and work up slowly.
• Maintain paw and nail care, ensuring surfaces are flat, even, and non-slippery. Don’t walk your chihuahua anywhere you wouldn’t walk barefoot.
• Assist as needed in and out of the car, up and down steps, etc.
• When going outdoors is not an option, find indoor opportunities. Be creative!
• A note about their Lilliputian bodies: they’re unable to maintain a stable temperature without assistance. They can get dangerously overheated in hot weather. Because they also get cold very quickly, you’ll need to invest in some doggie sweaters and boots. They’ll always find a warm place like your lap to curl up.
Value Of A Nutrient Dense Diet and Chihuahua Lifespan
Dogs are omnivores, meaning that their natural diet consists of both meat and plant substances. Omnivores are not just predators but also foragers. Part of the domestication process was breeding dogs in specialized ways over thousands of years for different tasks.
The common practice of feeding cheap generic kibble is harmful. The bags cost less but dogs require more feedings to get the necessary nutrition they need because the chow contains grains, fillers, dyes, preservatives, and meat by-products of mysterious identity.
Dogs may even develop behavioral issues because they’re always craving more food when you think you’re overfeeding them. Canine nutrition researchers believe that one reason some dogs eat feces is that they’re malnourished while being overfed at the same time.
Bioavailability and Digestion of Nutrients
Another consideration in nutrition is its bioavailability. Let’s look at green plants. Alfalfa hay is rich in protein, vitamins, and minerals relished by cattle and rabbits. Humans, having different digestive enzymes and gut bacteria, would starve on alfalfa hay.
Dogs experience the same problem with low-quality feed because even though the label may claim high percentages of valuable nutrients, they’re often in a form that is cheaper for the manufacturer but indigestible to the canine system.
But wait! There’s more! Cooking destroys many nutrients. Protein is vital for survival, but heat destroys the chemical bonds holding the molecules in shape. Every time you cook an egg, you’re breaking down proteins. Heat does the same thing to many vitamins, rendering them useless.
This information is to educate you on the value of giving your chi a variety of the right kinds of clean, fresh foods that have been minimally cooked and processed. The naturally occurring substances that maintained dogs’ ancestors are intact.
The ideal diet for your dog will be balanced, natural nutrition responsibly sourced from trusted manufacturers and formulated on evidence-based practices. Here is one such company to feed your chi a nutrient-dense food. You will see the difference it makes.
Mental/Emotional Health Affecting How Long Do Chihuahuas Live
Your chihuahua’s mental and emotional health factor into answering the question “How long do chihuahuas live?” Chis need to feel part of a pack to thrive. Developing strong bonds with their chosen human as well as with other chihuahuas, they’re alert to visual cues from their pack and make great emotional support dogs.
As the song goes, they “need your loving, got to have all your loving.”
Did you know that for all dogs, walking is necessary for mental and emotional health? It’s a social event enabling them to find out what’s been going on in the neighborhood. It’s their form of social media contact to sniff around and leave urine trickles to remind everyone of their presence.
Although the American Kennel Club specifies that chihuahuas must not exceed 5.9 pounds, that weight limit applies to the ideal breed conformation standard rather than addressing the genetics of your particular pet.
Keep an eye on your chis weight and make the appropriate adjustments. You can use a dog scale or visually assess your dog. One way to tell the appropriate weight for dogs is; you should be able to feel their ribs easily when you rub your hands over their barrel. But you should not be able to ‘see’ ribs.
A chihuahua by nature tends to be a one-person dog, loyal and loving to the human they love most. If you choose one of these excellent companions to join you on your life journey, realize that in a chi’s mind, it’s a lifetime commitment.
To quote a line almost 3,000 years old, “I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine.” You are your chihuahua’s and your chihuahua is yours. So how long do chihuahuas live? With mindful care, you both will live together for decades.