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A Guide to Chihuahuas

Charming and lively, Chihuahuas offer big personalities in tiny packages. Prepare for daily walks, playtime, and mental stimulation to keep their energy in check. Though generally healthy, potential health concerns exist. Regular vet care, quality food, and proper training are essential. Expect costs ranging from £980 to £3,840 annually. Remember, their devotion and playful spirit come with a commitment to a happy and healthy life.

In this Guide:

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How long do Chihuahuas live?

Average Lifespan: Chihuahuas have one of the longest lifespans among dog breeds, ranging from 12-20 years on average. Some exceptional individuals have even lived over 20 years.

Key Stages and Behaviour:

  1. Puppyhood (0-12 months): This is a time of rapid growth and learning. Puppies are playful, curious, and require frequent socialisation and training. They may be prone to chewing, accidents, and separation anxiety.
  2. Adolescence (1-3 years): This period involves physical and mental maturation. Chihuahuas may become more independent and test boundaries. Consistent training and positive reinforcement are crucial.
  3. Adulthood (3-8 years): This is a stable phase where Chihuahuas are typically calm, affectionate, and playful. They enjoy routine and familiar interactions.
  4. Seniority (8+ years): As they age, Chihuahuas may become less active, sleep more, and require adjustments to their diet and exercise. Cognitive decline and certain health concerns are more common.

Variations and Lifespan:

  • Coat type: While no scientific evidence suggests differences in lifespan based on coat type (smooth, long, or applehead), long-haired Chihuahuas may require more grooming to avoid matting, which can impact their overall health.
  • Colour: Colour itself does not affect lifespan. However, certain coat colours might be linked to specific inherited health conditions, potentially impacting longevity. Consult your veterinarian for breed-specific details.

Important Note:

The information above provides a general overview. Individual Chihuahuas can vary in development, behaviour, and lifespan due to factors like genetics, health, diet, and lifestyle. Regular veterinary checkups and proper care are essential for maximising your Chihuahua's lifespan and quality of life.

How much exercise do Chihuahuas need?

General Needs:

  • 30 minutes to 1 hour of exercise per day: This can be split into walks, playtime, and interactive toys. Adjust based on age, health, and energy level.
  • Short walks: Chihuahuas have small legs and delicate bones, so avoid long distances or strenuous hikes. Opt for shorter, frequent walks instead.
  • Mental stimulation: Interactive toys, puzzle feeders, and training sessions are crucial for keeping their minds active and preventing boredom.

Activities they enjoy:

  • Sniffing walks: Exploring new environments and smells provides mental stimulation and enrichment.
  • Indoor games: Fetch, tug-of-war (gentle!), chase (in a controlled space), and hide-and-seek are fun ways to burn energy indoors.
  • Obstacle courses: Set up tunnels, boxes, and low jumps for a fun and challenging activity.
  • Socialisation: Playdates with other well-tempered dogs can provide exercise and mental stimulation.

Signs of insufficient exercise:

  • Destructive behaviour: Chewing, excessive digging, or barking can indicate pent-up energy.
  • Hyperactivity: Restlessness, pacing, and difficulty settling down are signs your Chihuahua needs more exercise.
  • Weight gain: Regular exercise helps maintain a healthy weight, prevent obesity, and joint problems.
  • Separation anxiety: Excessive whining, barking, or destructive behaviour when left alone can be linked to boredom and lack of exercise.


  1. Adapt exercise to your Chihuahua's age and health: Puppies need shorter, more frequent walks, while older dogs may have limitations. Consult your vet for tailored advice.
  2. Monitor weather conditions: Avoid walks on extremely hot or cold days.
  3. Supervise play: Ensure toys are safe and appropriate for your Chihuahua's size and chewing habits.
  4. Listen to your dog: Be mindful of their energy level and adjust activities accordingly.
By providing the right amount of exercise and engaging activities, you can keep your Chihuahua happy, healthy, and mentally stimulated throughout their life!

Are Chihuahuas good family dogs?

Socialisation is crucial for Chihuahuas, just like any other dog, to ensure they grow into friendly and happy companions. Here's a breakdown of their needs and how you can achieve them:

Socialisation Needs:

  • Early exposure: Ideally, start socialising your Chihuahua puppy between 3-16 weeks old, a sensitive period for development. But even adult dogs can benefit from socialization.
  • Positive experiences: Focus on creating positive interactions with various people, dogs, and environments. Negative experiences can instill fear and aggression.
  • Gradual approach: Introduce new stimuli gradually, allowing your Chihuahua to adjust at their own pace. Don't overwhelm them.
  • Controlled interactions: When meeting other dogs, ensure they are well-socialised and compatible in size and temperament. Supervise all interactions for safety.
  • Positive reinforcement: Reward calm and friendly behaviour with treats, praise, and petting. Never punish your Chihuahua for being anxious or fearful.

Activities for Socialization:

  • Puppy socialisation classes: These provide a safe and controlled environment for puppies to interact with each other and people.
  • Dog parks (with caution): Choose small, fenced-in areas with well-behaved dogs. Keep your Chihuahua on a leash and observe their interactions closely.
  • Visits to friends and family: Expose your Chihuahua to different people and homes, ensuring positive interactions.
  • Doggy daycare (carefully selected): This can be a good option for socialisation, but choose a facility with experienced staff and compatible dogs.
  • Outdoor walks and activities: Expose your Chihuahua to various sights, sounds, and smells while remaining calm and reassuring.

Ensuring a Friendly and Happy Chihuahua:

  • Consistent training: Use positive reinforcement methods to teach basic commands and good manners. This fosters trust and strengthens your bond.
  • Plenty of mental stimulation: Keep your Chihuahua's mind engaged with puzzle toys, training sessions, and new tricks.
  • Quality time and affection: Make sure your Chihuahua feels loved and included in family activities.
  • Regular exercise: Physical activity helps release energy, prevents boredom, and promotes overall well-being.
  • Manage their environment: Minimise triggers that might cause anxiety or fear, like loud noises or unfamiliar faces.
  • Veterinary care: Address any health concerns promptly, as discomfort can lead to behavioural problems.
By following these steps and being patient, you can help your Chihuahua develop into a confident, friendly, and happy dog! Remember, socialization is a lifelong process, so continue these practices throughout their life for a fulfilling relationship.

How often do Chihuahuas need to be groomed?

Chihuahuas have varying grooming needs based on their coat type: smooth-haired and long-haired. However, the overall requirements are relatively simple and manageable. Here's a breakdown:


  • Short-haired Chihuahuas: Brush once a week to remove loose hair, dirt, and distribute natural oils. Use a slicker brush or rubber curry comb.
  • Long-haired Chihuahuas: Brush 2-3 times a week to prevent matting. Use a pin brush for gentle detangling and a slicker brush for finishing touches.


  • Both types: Bathe every 3-4 weeks or less if necessary (e.g., after rolling in mud). Use a gentle, dog-specific shampoo and avoid over-bathing, which can dry out their skin.
  • Tip: Dilute the shampoo with water for even gentler cleansing.

Other Grooming Needs:

  • Nail trimming: Clip their nails every 2-3 weeks to prevent overgrowth and potential pain. Use proper dog nail clippers and be cautious not to cut into the quick (sensitive area).
  • Ear cleaning: Check their ears weekly for wax buildup or signs of infection (redness, odour). Clean gently with a damp cloth and dog ear cleaner following your vet's instructions.
  • Teeth brushing: Brushing their teeth daily with a dog-specific toothbrush and toothpaste helps maintain dental health and prevent tartar buildup.

Additional Tips:

  • Start grooming early: Accustom your Chihuahua to grooming routines while they're young for a smoother experience.
  • Make it positive: Reward calm behaviour during grooming with treats and praise.
  • Use high-quality tools: Invest in proper brushes, clippers, and shampoo for gentle yet effective grooming.
  • Pay attention to changes: If you notice excessive shedding, skin irritation, or ear odour, consult your veterinarian to rule out any underlying health issues.
By following these guidelines and adjusting them to your Chihuahua's individual needs, you can ensure they are well-groomed, healthy, and comfortable. Remember, regular grooming isn't just about aesthetics; it's an important part of preventive healthcare and can contribute to a longer, happier life for your furry friend!

Do Chihuahuas have health problems?

Chihuahua Common Health Issues and Tips for a Long Life:

Health concerns:

  • Dental problems: Regular brushing and vet cleanings are crucial.
  • Patellar luxation: Slipped kneecap, causing lameness. Requires surgery sometimes.
  • Tracheal collapse: Weak windpipe leading to breathing difficulties.
  • Heart disease: Regular vet checkups for early detection.
  • Hypoglycemia: Low blood sugar, especially in small pups. Monitor eating and seek vet help if needed.
  • Eye issues: Cataracts, glaucoma, and dry eyes are possible. Regular eye exams recommended.

Ensuring a long and healthy life:

  • Preventive care: Regular vet checkups, vaccinations, and parasite control.
  • Healthy diet: High-quality food appropriate for age and activity level. Avoid overfeeding.
  • Dental care: Brush teeth daily and get professional cleanings regularly.
  • Exercise: Daily walks and playtime keep them physically and mentally stimulated.
  • Weight management: Obesity worsens joint problems and other health issues.
  • Socialisation: Expose them to different people, animals, and environments for confidence.
  • Spaying/neutering: Can offer health benefits and reduce unwanted behaviours.
  • Senior care: Adjust diet, exercise, and vet care as they age.
Remember: Early intervention and proactive care are key to managing potential health issues.

Bonus tip: Consider pet insurance for unexpected vet bills.

By providing love, attention, and proper care, you can help your furry Chihuahua friend live a long and happy life!

How easy are Chihuahuas to train?

Unfortunately, there's no one-size-fits-all answer to how much time your Chihuahua needs for training, as it depends on several factors:
  1. Your Chihuahua's age: Puppies generally learn faster than adult dogs, but adults can still be trained! Start training early for quicker results.
  2. Your Chihuahua's individual personality: Some Chihuahuas are naturally more eager to please and learn faster than others.
  3. The complexity of the commands you're teaching: Basic commands like "sit" and "stay" will be learned quicker than complex tricks.
  4. Your consistency and effort: The more consistent and committed you are to training, the faster your Chihuahua will learn.
  5. The training methods you use: Positive reinforcement with rewards is generally the most effective and builds a strong bond with your Chihuahua.
  6. Realistic expectations: Aim for progress, not perfection. Training takes time and patience, so celebrate small wins and avoid getting discouraged.

With all that said, here's a general guideline:

  • Basic commands: 1-2 months with daily practice sessions of 5-10 minutes each.
  • More complex commands or tricks: 2-4 months with dedicated practice sessions and positive reinforcement.

Here are some of the best ways to train your Chihuahua:

  • Positive reinforcement: Reward desired behaviour with treats, praise, or affection. Never punish unwanted behaviour.
  • Short and frequent training sessions: 5-10 minutes several times a day is more effective than long, infrequent sessions.
  • Keep it fun and engaging: Use toys, games, and positive vibes to make training enjoyable for both of you.
  • Be consistent and patient: Use the same commands and cues every time, and don't expect instant results.
  • End on a positive note: Always finish training sessions with a successful command and reward to keep your Chihuahua motivated.
  • Consider professional help: If you're struggling, consult a certified dog trainer for personalised guidance and techniques.
Remember, training is a continuous process. Even after mastering basic commands, continue practising occasionally to reinforce good behaviour and build a strong, trusting relationship with your Chihuahua.

Do Chihuahuas shed?

Whether your Chihuahua sheds much depends on its coat type:

Smooth-haired Chihuahuas: They are considered moderate shedders, so you can expect some hair loss throughout the year. This may increase seasonally during their shedding periods (typically spring and fall).

Long-haired Chihuahuas: They shed more than their smooth-haired counterparts due to their double coat. Regular brushing (2-3 times a week) is crucial to manage their shedding and prevent matting.

However, regardless of coat type, here are some factors that can influence your Chihuahua's shedding:

  • Age: Puppies and senior dogs tend to shed slightly more than adult Chihuahuas.
  • Diet: A high-quality diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids can promote healthy skin and fur, potentially reducing shedding.
  • Health: Allergies, skin conditions, and other health issues can increase shedding.
  • Stress: Stressful situations can lead to temporary increased shedding.

Here are some tips to manage your Chihuahua's shedding:

  • Regular brushing: This removes loose hair and stimulates healthy skin and coat growth.
  • A healthy diet: Consult your veterinarian for advice on the best food for your Chihuahua's individual needs.
  • Manage stress: Provide a calm and predictable environment and address any potential stressors.
  • Regular baths: Bathe your Chihuahua every 3-4 weeks using a gentle dog-specific shampoo.
  • Consider professional grooming: This can be helpful for managing long-haired Chihuahuas' coats and identifying any underlying skin issues.
Remember, even with careful management, some shedding is inevitable. If you are highly sensitive to dog hair, a Chihuahua might not be the ideal breed for you. However, their charming personalities and loyalty make them beloved companions for many dog owners.

How energetic are Chihuahuas?

Chihuahuas generally fall on the spectrum of moderate to high energy dogs, and this can differ between individuals within the breed. This means they generally require more activity and mental stimulation than some other small breeds.

Here's what high energy in a Chihuahua might mean for their owner:
  • Needs daily walks and playtime: Aim for at least 30 minutes to 1 hour of exercise per day. This can be split into walks, playtime, and interactive toys.
  • May require mental stimulation: Puzzle feeders, training sessions, and new tricks can help keep their minds active and prevent boredom.
  • Can be prone to destructive behaviour: If not given enough outlet for their energy, they might chew, dig, or bark excessively.
  • Needs consistent training: Positive reinforcement training is crucial to manage their energy and establish good behaviour.
  • Can be very playful and fun-loving: Their lively personalities can bring joy and entertainment to your life.
However, it's important to remember that individual Chihuahuas can vary in their energy levels. Some might be more laid-back, while others are true bundles of energy. Here are some things that can influence their energy level:
  • Age: Puppies tend to be more energetic than adults, while senior Chihuahuas may be less active.
  • Health: Underlying health issues can affect their energy levels.
  • Personality: Some Chihuahuas are naturally more active than others.
  • Diet and exercise: A balanced diet and regular exercise can help maintain healthy energy levels.

Here are some tips for managing your Chihuahua's energy:

  1. Provide them with the right amount of exercise and mental stimulation.
  2. Establish a consistent routine.
  3. Use positive reinforcement training.
  4. Offer them plenty of toys and activities to keep them occupied.
  5. Monitor their behaviour and adjust their routine as needed.
If you're concerned about your Chihuahua's energy level or they seem overly active, it's always best to consult your veterinarian to rule out any underlying health issues.

By understanding your Chihuahua's energy needs and creating a lifestyle that caters to them, you can have a happy and well-adjusted companion for many years to come!

How friendly are Chihuahuas?

General Chihuahua Temperament:

  • Lively and Devoted: These dogs are known for their strong bonds with their owners and playful personalities.
  • Alert and Watchful: Their small size often makes them vigilant, making them good watchdogs despite their stature.
  • Independent and Stubborn: Chihuahuas can be independent thinkers and require consistent and patient training.
  • Confident and Bold: They often possess a big-dog attitude despite their small size.
  • Sensitive and Affectionate: When properly socialized, they can be loving and cuddly companions.

Factors Influencing Individual Temperament:

  • Genetics and Breeding: The temperament of your Chihuahua's parents and ancestors can play a role.
  • Early Life and Socialization: Proper socialization during puppyhood significantly impacts their personality and adaptability.
  • Training and Consistency: Effective training reinforces desired behaviours and promotes a well-adjusted dog.
  • Lifestyle and Environment: A stable and enriching environment helps shape their temperament.
  • Individual Personality: Just like humans, each Chihuahua has its unique personality quirks.

Understanding Your Chihuahua:

It's crucial to observe your Chihuahua's individual behaviour and preferences to truly understand their temperament. By monitoring their reactions to different situations and people, you can tailor your interactions accordingly. Remember, building a strong relationship with your Chihuahua requires patience, understanding, and positive reinforcement.

Consulting Professionals:

If you have concerns about your Chihuahua's temperament or specific behaviours, consulting a professional dog trainer or animal behaviourist can be highly beneficial. They can provide personalized guidance and strategies to address any challenges you might be facing.

By staying informed, patient, and providing your Chihuahua with a loving and supportive environment, you can foster a happy and well-adjusted companion for life!

Do Chihuahuas have health issues?

Chihuahuas are generally healthy dogs, but like any breed, they are prone to certain health issues. Here are some common ones to be aware of:

Musculoskeletal issues:

  • Patellar luxation: Dislocation of the kneecap, causing lameness.
  • Legg-Calvé-Perthes disease: Degeneration of the hip joint, affecting mobility.
  • Intervertebral disc disease (IVDD): Herniated disc in the spine, causing pain and neurological problems.

Respiratory issues:

  • Reverse sneezing: Rapid, forceful inhalation, often mistaken for coughing.
  • Tracheal collapse: Weakening of the trachea, causing difficulty breathing.

Other issues:

  • Hypoglycemia: Low blood sugar, can be dangerous if not treated promptly.
  • Dental disease: Regular dental care is crucial.
  • Heart disease: Early detection and management are important.
  • Allergies: Can cause skin irritation and itching.
  • Eye problems: Dry eye, cataracts, and glaucoma are common.

Ensuring a Long and Healthy Life:

Several steps can help your Chihuahua live a long and healthy life:
  • Regular veterinary checkups: Early detection and treatment of health issues are crucial.
  • Healthy diet and exercise: Maintain a balanced diet and provide appropriate exercise based on their age and health.
  • Weight management: Obesity can worsen other health problems.
  • Dental care: Brush their teeth regularly and have professional cleanings when needed.
  • Parasite prevention: Use appropriate flea, tick, and heartworm prevention.
  • Socialization and training: Socialization from a young age promotes good behaviour and prevents anxiety.
  • Safe environment: Keep them safe from accidents and potential hazards.
Additional Tips:
  • Know your Chihuahua's breed-specific needs: Learn about potential health issues and their specific care requirements.
  • Be observant: Monitor their behaviour and any changes in appetite, activity level, or appearance.
  • Communicate with your vet: Ask questions and discuss any concerns you have.
  • Provide love and enrichment: A happy and fulfilled Chihuahua is more likely to be healthy.
By following these tips and being proactive about your Chihuahua's health, you can help them live a long and joyful life! Remember, every dog is an individual, so consult your veterinarian for personalized advice tailored to your furry friend's unique needs.

How expensive are Chihuahuas to own?

Here's a breakdown of the estimated costs of owning a Chihuahua in GBP, taking into account your request:

Initial Costs:

  • Purchase price: While the range varies greatly depending on pedigree and breeder, expect purebred Chihuahuas to cost between £400 and £2,000. Adoption fees from shelters or rescues typically range from £40 to £250.
  • Supplies: Essential items like leashes, collars, beds, bowls, and crates can cost around £80-£160.
  • Microchipping and spaying/neutering: The combined cost for these crucial procedures sits between £80 and £160.

Ongoing Costs:

  • Food: Choosing high-quality dog food suitable for your Chihuahua's size and age can range from £15-£40 per month.
  • Vet bills: Routine checkups, vaccinations, and parasite prevention can cost £240-£640 annually. Unexpected illnesses or emergencies can significantly increase these costs.
  • Pet insurance: While optional, it offers peace of mind and financial protection for unexpected vet bills. Premiums may vary depending on breed, age, and coverage chosen.
  • Grooming: Depending on coat type (smooth or long-haired), professional grooming can cost £40-£80 every 4-6 weeks. Alternatively, you can invest in grooming tools and learn to do it yourself.
  • Toys and treats: Budgeting around £15-£40 per month for enrichment and rewards is reasonable.

Additional factors to consider:

  • Location: Costs for vet care, food, and grooming can vary depending on your area in the UK.
  • Lifestyle: Activities like doggy daycare or training classes add to the expense.
  • Health: Individual variations in health can significantly impact vet bills.


The estimated annual cost of owning a Chihuahua in GBP can range from £980 to £3,840, with variations depending on individual needs and choices. Remember, this is just an estimate, and unforeseen circumstances can always arise. Carefully consider your financial situation and willingness to invest in your Chihuahua's well-being before making a decision.

Responsible pet ownership goes beyond just finances. Chihuahuas require love, attention, training, and regular exercise. Ensure you can commit to their physical and emotional needs before welcoming one into your life.
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