Headshot of a chihuahua

Recently our 13-year-old chihuahua has had some health problems. Our dogs are all seniors, ranging from the youngest at 10 years to our eldest, the 13-year-old. I know that many other chihuahua owners are kissing those gray faces and wondering how long they can expect from their pets. If you’re curious about what your Chihuahua’s Lifespan could be, this article is aimed at giving you a clear picture of how chihuahuas age.

The Bad News: Median Age Is Single Digits

The Royal Veterinary College did a thorough study on over 11,000 chihuahuas, including their average age at death. This was a disappointing 8.2 years. Female chihuahuas lived longer than male chihuahuas, with the average age at death for females being 10.2 and for males, 6.9 years.

The most common cause of death for dogs during this study was heart disease. Lower respiratory tract disorder and traumatic injury came in close behind. Although this is alarming, keep in mind it only covered dogs who died of known causes during the study. It’s likely this median age doesn’t reflect the full truth of chihuahua age.

The Good News: Chihuahua Lifespan Can be Longer

Chihuahuas have set records for being the oldest living dog, with one achieving the Guinness World Record of oldest living dog at 23 years of age. Since the study looked at all causes of death and their age at death. That means if a puppy was unlucky enough to get hit by a car and needed to be euthanized from its injuries, that’s pulling down the age curve.

Assuming accident doesn’t befall your pet, it’s possible that your pet could live a long time. A more average lifespan for a chihuahua might lie somewhere between 10 years and 16 years.

We asked chihuahua owners on Reddit, Twitter and Facebook how old their chihuahuas of the past were at time of death, and received 40 responses. Here is a look at what they said.

What is a Chihuahua's lifespan? 
1 lived to 6 years
1 lived to 8 years
1 lived to 11 years
4 lived to 12 years
4 lived to 13 years
9 lived to 15 years
7 lived to 16 years
3 lived to 17 years
2 lived to 18 years
1 lived to 19 years

What You Can Do For Your Pet

Naturally, we want our dogs to live on the longer side of what’s possible. The good news is, there are things you can do to help your pet live a long and happy life. Many of these things are the same thing you can do for your own health—diet, exercise, and even stress reduction.

Taking care of your dog’s teeth can also help extend your dog’s health. Poor dental health can contribute to heart disease in dogs, which we saw earlier is a leading cause of death in chihuahuas. Brushing your dog’s teeth every day can help slow down periodontal disease in your pet, although they may still need regular dentals as well.

Weight also matters. The heavier your dog is, the more at risk they are for chronic ailments. Keeping them slim and trim can add years to their life.

Food also matters. There are many brands of dog food on the market, and many of them aren’t so great for your pet. Some brands of dog food have even had the euthanasia drug detected in their products. A good food should emphasize quality ingredients.

What those ingredients should be composed of depends on your dog’s own personal health, but moldy grains, euthanized animals, or inedible parts of the animal probably shouldn’t be part of your pet’s diet. We talked about this more in depth in our guide to dry dog food here.

Safety Matters

A final thing you can do for your pet is to realize just how much traumatic injury is bringing down the median age for pets. Chihuahuas are small and vulnerable animals. They can be killed by predators, run into the road, or get hurt during a car accident.

Basic safety like riding in a kennel or car seat in the car, going out with your pet at night, and keeping your pet on leash near busy roads can all help increase your dog’s life expectancy.

Regular vet visits are also critically important to helping increase a chihuahua lifespan overall. Untreated, small problems can become big problems quickly.

Future Pets: Improving Chihuahua Lifespan for All

If you love chihuahuas and are planning to get another one in the future, your choice of puppy matters in deciding their health outcome. Breeders that care about their dogs genetics help make health problems less prevalent over all, by cutting poor quality dogs from the breeding program. If you do not plan to look for a health tested chihuahua, adopt instead.

Purchasing from backyard breeders who give no thought to the health outcome of these pets will only lead to a premature death. If you’re not willing to search for a breeder who breeds for health, adopting helps the many BYB dogs find homes, without putting money in the pockets of questionable breeders. We have an awesome guide on how to adopt a chihuahua here, and regularly feature adoptable chihuahuas on our Facebook page and Twitter accounts.

You can also comment here if you’re looking for a chihuahua and we can link you with a rescue local to your area. We know many rescues now that we have been covering chihuahuas for a while.

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By Andrea

Andrea is a dedicated dog mom of three chihuahuas. She has over a decade of experience as a dog groomer, chihuahua owner, and more recently as a dog trainer. She loves all things canine, particularly chihuahuas.

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