a chihuahua with a grey face.

All of our dogs are getting older. Our youngest chihuahua just hit double digits, and our eldest chihuahua is 13, going on 14. Their faces are greyer, some of them have missing teeth—and others haven’t changed much at all. When is a chihuahua considered a senior? Is it the same as all dogs?

While one of our dogs, Rocco, is distinctly a Little Old Man. The rest of the dogs still act the way they did when they were 5 or 6. They run and play together, their minds are as sharp as ever, and only Rocco suffers from arthritis. The rest can run, jump and play just like they did before.

What makes a dog a senior?

Your vet may start suggesting senior exams as early as 7 years old, but dogs actually age differently depending on their breed. A Great Dane may well be a senior at 7 years old, but most chihuahuas are hardly geriatric at this time.

According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, the last 25% of a dog’s life is a good estimate. We have below our infograph on Chihuahua Lifespan, which shows the results of a poll taken on the age of chihuahuas when they died.

The most common age of death for chihuahuas in our poll was 15-16. A more reasonable senior age frame might be 11-13, rather than 7 years old. The AVMA gives a very general guideline for dogs 20 pounds and under that suggests 8-11 as senior status.

How Do You Know When To Start Senior Care

Of course, “Senior” is just a label until it actually matters to your pet. Being a senior doesn’t mean your pet is inactive or unhealthy. There’s good reason to believe they will have many years as a senior before they start to decline.

The reason why knowing when your pet has become a senior is so you can start screening for health problems associated with old age. Older dogs are more likely to develop cancer, heart disease, arthritis and even kidney disease.

Some of these things can be detected by you at home, such as a limp from arthritis or a suspicious lump, but others can’t be detected without a blood panel. When a dog hits a certain age, it’s wise to start doing regular health screenings to catch these things early.

When diseases are caught early, they are easier to treat. It’s best to start looking before the dog appears unhealthy. You should ask your vet when to start screening your pet for these diseases.

Start Supplementing Early

Although your vet will need to screen for health issues themselves, there are certain things you can do to prevent problems early. Dogs can start developing arthritis as early as a year old but may not show symptoms until much later.

Putting your dog on a glucosamine supplement early in life can help delay arthritis from developing symptoms until much later.

Chihuahuas are also prone to heart and health problems. If you know your pet has heart problems, either from genetic testing or an early murmur found by your vet, putting them on heart friendly supplements may be of great benefit to them.

Keep Weight Off

One of the most important things you can do for your pet in preparation for old age is to keep excess weight off. Extra weight can cause nearly all the diseases associated with old age to be even worse. Less weight on your dogs’ arthritic bones means less pain later in life. It’s also easier for an older heart to pump blood around a smaller body.

We love our dogs, and sometimes that means looking ahead to their golden years while they’re still young. Starting senior exams early and keeping your pet in good shape can help them stay younger for longer. When is a chihuahua considered a senior? With good care, not until they hit double digits.

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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.

3 thoughts on “When Is A Chihuahua Considered A Senior?”
  1. My first chi lived 15 and a half years, my second was 3 months shy of turning 13 and my 3rd chi lived to be almost 17 years old

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