How Long Do Chihuahuas Live?

The chihuahua is a lively, charismatic dog breed and is often noted for its diminutive size.

While each chihuahua is unique, it’s important to understand how long they live and what the main deciding factors are in determining their lifespan. According to professionals, there are several variables associated with a dog’s lifespan and it’s important to consider each one. Some are controllable while others are not.

In general, chihuahuas tend to be on the brighter side of things when it comes to the aging process. They live longer than most breeds and age gracefully.

Studies have shown the average chihuahua can end up living approximately 12-20 years in the right conditions [1]. Assuming the chihuahua is living in a loving home with adequate food, it’s going to fit somewhere in that range. Most smaller breeds tend to live longer than their larger counterparts.

What about chihuahuas that aren’t living in a loving home or don’t get enough food to eat? In those cases, their lifespan is reduced significantly and sometimes pushes them to an early death.

Factors that Can Impact a Chihuahua’s Life Expectancy

1. Diet

It starts with the food they’re consuming just like any dog breed. They will have to eat the right foods to ensure the body is getting enough nutrients throughout the day. If they aren’t eating nutritious meals, this can have a major impact on their health and well-being.

It’s important to organize what they’re consuming and ensure they’re getting the right number of calories. By doing this, most dog owners notice an uptick in their chihuahua’s health.

A mistake some dog owners make is to start giving them chocolates and other treats. These can harm the dog and isn’t good for their digestive system.

2. Healthcare

There is nothing more important than maintaining a routine when it comes to visiting the vet. The chihuahua should be visiting the vet multiple times each year for checkups.

This ensures any issues that pop up are taken care of immediately rather than letting them linger. One of the major issues chihuahuas deal with can be diagnosed by a qualified vet well in advance.

This is why it’s important to take action. As the dog starts to get older (10+ years old), it’s best to increase the number of visits.

In some cases, having pet insurance in place for your chihuahua can help offset some of your health expenses. If you want to  learn more, see our list of recommended pet insurers.

3. Weight Management

A chihuahua’s weight is an essential component in its health. If the chihuahua is being overfed, this is going to put stress on its organs and general health.

The same applies to a chihuahua that’s being underfed. It’s important to keep tabs on what the dog is eating and how much it’s eating throughout the day.

3. Genetic Predisposition

Chihuahuas are noted for having great genes when it comes to the aging process.

They are smaller in size and tend to maintain their energy for longer than other breeds. To get a better understanding of specific dogs and their medical history, it’s best to look at their parents.

If the parents led a good, healthy life, it’s possible for the puppy as well.

4. Oral Care

Dental issues are a common concern when it comes to smaller dog breeds and chihuahuas are no different. They can start to develop dental-related issues and this can lead to gum disease or tooth decay.

According to studies, approximately 90% of all chihuahuas face these issues at one point or another in their lives [2].

This is why it’s important to take action and make sure their dental needs are taken care of immediately. If left untouched, bacteria can start to seep into the system and do a tremendous amount of damage.

5. Neutering/Spaying

Getting the chihuahua spayed/neutered is a good decision and is noted for prolonging its lifespan. The reason for this has to do with potential issues involving prostate/testicular cancer in male chihuahuas and uterine/ovarian cancer in female chihuahuas.

There are several advantages of doing this including minimizing the chances of running away and/or aggression.

6. Gender

There are gender-based variables involved with how a chihuahua ages. In general, the average female chihuahua outlives her male counterpart by approximately 1-2 years. There are no specific health reasons why this occurs.

7. Vaccinations

It’s best to speak to a qualified vet as soon as possible regarding vaccinations and booster shots. These vaccinations can go a long way in helping prolong the chihuahua’s life while battling against conditions such as Leptospirosis, parvovirus, distemper, rabies, and canine influenza.

8. Physical Activity

Just like most dog breeds, it’s important to keep the chihuahua active throughout the day. This can be done with something as simple as going for a walk or playing fetch. The idea is to keep them active to ensure they’re burning fat and staying fit.


These are the most important variables when it comes to a chihuahua’s lifespan. While the world record is set at 20 years old, most chihuahuas aren’t going to reach this age.

However, with the right approach to the variables mentioned above, it’s possible to make sure they end up on the higher end of their life expectancy.


  1. Meg Marrs, How Long Do Chihuahuas Live For? K9 of Mine. Retrieved at
  2. Periodontal Disease Is the No. 1 Health Problem in Chihuahuas, Purina Pro Club. Retrieved at Periodontal Disease Is the No. 1 Health Problem in Chihuahuas