chihuahua facts

Chihuahuas as pets:

general health
energy level
chewing tendency
family and kid friendly

separation anxiety
preferred temperature
warm climate
exercise needs
be friendly with other dogs
Thoroughbred Cost of Ownership
At least $500 from a professional breeder
pack of dogs
male weight
1-6 lbs
female weight
1-6 lbs

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The Chihuahua is a popular breed that has captured the hearts of millions of owners around the world with its tall, charismatic personality and playful behavior.


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There is evidence that the breed originated in ancient Techichi, dating back to 9th century Mexico. It was so popular at the time that it permeated many aspects of Mesoamerican culture in paintings and artifacts. After conquering the Aztecs, the Techichi retreated back to the Mexican countryside. By the time it was rediscovered by the wider world in the 19th century, the breed had undergone significant changes. In fact, modern Chihuahuas originated primarily in Eurasia. It is now the national symbol of Mexico.

Chihuahuas have a distinctive and unmistakable appearance: a round apple head, large bulging eyes, erect ears, and a small body and frame. Chihuahuas generally come in two varieties: long-haired and smooth-coated. Both types have smooth hair around the body. The main difference is that the long-haired Chihuahua has fringed ears, a scalloped tail, and feathers around the legs. The smooth coat has shorter hairs around most of its body, but despite the name, parts of the hair around the neck are actually rough to the touch. White, tan, brown, or black coats come in just about any pattern or variation you can think of.

Deer head chihuahua outdoors, during sunset
Deer-headed Chihuahuas are not considered a breed standard — so you won't see them at dog shows.

©TanyaC Photography/

Another type within the breed is the deer head Chihuahua. These puppies have narrower heads, longer noses and jaws, smaller eyes, longer legs and larger bodies. Their face actually does resemble that of a deer — and many of them are fawn-colored. Deer-headed Chihuahuas aren't considered a breed standard — so you won't see them compete in dog shows — but many consider this dog to be the perfect pet. They are loyal, great watchdogs who love their owners with all their hearts.

3 Pros and Cons of Owning a Chihuahua

advantage! shortcoming!
charming and friendly
Chihuahuas have big personalities and can express themselves in many different ways.
Sensitive and fragile
Chihuahuas need a firm but gentle touch.
Alert <br>This dog's rather goofy disposition belies an alert and attentive demeanor. dental problems
This breed requires special attention to teeth.
A great low maintenance companion
This breed is happy to relax with its owner.
suspicious of strangers
This breed probably doesn't get along well with everyone it meets.

size and weight

Chihuahuas are one of the smallest dog breeds in the world. They are so small that they fit in a purse or bag. Some dogs smaller than 6 inches are sometimes called teacup Chihuahuas. So named because they fit in teacups. The Teacup Chihuahua is not a unique breed or variety, but just a very small individual. There is also very little size difference between male and female dogs.

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Chihuahua Health and Recreation

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height (male) up to 8 inches
height (female) up to 8 inches
weight (male) up to 6 lbs
weight (female) up to 6 lbs
CHIHUAHUA TEETH - Veterinarians show off their teeth
Chihuahuas are actually a healthy breed with a lifespan of about 14 to 16 years. They are prone to dental problems.

© Chang-Pooh24/

common health problems

Despite their small size and apple heads, the Chihuahua is actually a healthy breed with a lifespan of about 14 to 16 years, but there are some serious health issues you should be aware of. These include heart disease, eye disease, epilepsy, hypoglycemia, hydrocephalus (caused by fluid buildup in the brain), and patellar luxation (where the kneecap actually moves out of its normal position). Another potential problem is an open fontanel, the soft spot on the top of a puppy's head that doesn't close properly, making it prone to accidents. Many of these health conditions are hereditary and can be minimized with screening by a reputable breeder. Cancer is also something you should be aware of, especially in your dog's later years. To summarize the most common health problems:

  • heart disease
  • eye condition
  • cancer
  • Hypoglycemia
  • Patella luxation


Chihuahuas have a friendly and loyal personality and want to please their owners, with whom they form a very strong bond. Despite its lively size, this breed exhibits quite silly and playful behavior. One of its more attractive features is its adaptability. It makes it easy to relax and unwind with its owner, or enjoy some play and exercise time. For owners who want to train dogs, Chihuahuas are actually quite diligent and obedient. Despite all of its outgoing behavior around friends and family, this breed can be quite wary of strangers. It takes some time to really earn the trust of this breed. This is why the Chihuahua is actually a decent guard dog despite its small size.

Chihuahua lying on its back in the sun
This Chihuahua sure enjoys being rubbed on her belly.

© Annette Schaff/

How to Care for a Chihuahua

Due to their unusual physiology and behavior, Chihuahuas require some special care. Teeth, in particular, are an area of high concern that may require special attention from your veterinarian. You'll also want to socialize your puppy early on to make him less wary of people. As always, you should plan for an annual checkup with your veterinarian so that health problems can be spotted as soon as they arise.

best dog food for chihuahuas

Depending on the size, age and activity level of the Chihuahua, the recommended diet for the Chihuahua is no more than half a cup of high-quality dry food per day. Dogs prone to hypoglycemia should eat a full meal 90 minutes before exercise to keep things balanced.


You can also feed him intermittently as part of an active training regime. If your dog is starting to gain weight, then you may need to reduce your calorie intake. A veterinarian can help you find the right diet for your dog. Soy in dog food can cause heart failure, so discuss a soy-free dog food with your veterinarian, which may reduce your concerns about heart disease in your Chihuahua.

AZ Animals says the best dog food for Chihuahuas is Royal Canin Breed Health Nutrition Chihuahua Adult Dry Dog Food. Check out our list of the best Chihuahua foods here.

Both you and your Chihuahua know that your partner is basically royalty, so Royal Canin's dog food made specifically for Chihuahuas and their special health needs is perfect. No legumes to worry about, just chicken, oats, and rice rich in taurine, vitamins, and antioxidants. Glucosamine and Chondroitin Sulfate help with joint mobility, even at Chihuahua age.

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overall best

blue buffalo small breed
Chihuahuas are fairly lightweight animals, and their coat care depends on the length of the coat.


Maintenance and Grooming

Chihuahuas are fairly light animals (but not enough to be hypoallergenic). The frequency of grooming depends on the length of its coat. Chihuahuas with smooth coats need very little brushing, maybe not once a week, but enough to brush away any tangles or mats. Long hair will require more frequent grooming, about once a week or so. Regular bathing, nail trimming, and ear cleaning are also necessary to maintain the health of both types of dogs. But like many smaller breeds, dental care is by far the most important grooming need. You should brush your dog's teeth at least 2 to 3 times a week and, for best results, daily. The veterinarian may also recommend specialized treatments to keep the teeth clean.


Despite its charming and goofy reputation, the Chihuahua is an intelligent and alert dog who only wants to please its owner. Due to its sensitive nature, you should take a firm yet gentle approach to this breed. A dog may try to be lazy, but don't let it get away with unacceptable behavior. Positive training is very effective in setting boundaries. It's even possible to teach the breed a range of different tricks and movements, as long as it's done within reason.

Chihuahua (Canis familiaris) - Chihuahua running in the forest
Toys or playtime in a small indoor or outdoor space should be sufficient for a Chihuahua's exercise needs.

©Martyna Nysk/


Chihuahuas are usually content with a small to moderate amount of daily exercise. Toys or playtime in a small indoor or outdoor space should suffice for its needs. About 30 minutes of daily walking is always recommended to burn off excess energy and maintain a good weight without pushing the dog too hard. Its small frame is not suitable for strenuous exercise. If the dog starts panting, it may be a sign to stop. It's also a good idea to prepare your dog for extreme weather conditions. Due to their short coat, Chihuahuas are particularly resistant to cold.


Since Chihuahuas are shy around strangers, it's a good idea to get a puppy so you can build a strong bond as quickly as possible. For best results, make sure your puppy is exposed to different people and situations early in its life. Early visits to the veterinarian are also necessary to screen for signs of any health problems and to get vaccinations in a timely manner.

Three small apple-headed chihuahua puppies walk on the grass in summer.
Children should be taught to be very gentle and kind with these puppies.

©Natalia Fedosova/

chihuahua and kids

Chihuahuas are kid-friendly, but due to its small size and fragile nature, you need to pay special attention to how your child approaches and handles this breed. You should always teach your children to be very gentle and kind with Chihuahuas. It's a good idea to never leave this breed alone with your children for extended periods of time. Some experts may advise that Chihuahuas should not be brought into households with children under the age of 8.

dog similar to chihuahua

If you enjoy the company of a small toy dog, then you should also take a look at the following breeds:

  • Chinese Crested – The Chinese Crested is a small friendly breed that was bred primarily as a royal companion. It comes in two varieties: Hairless and Powderpuff. Despite the name, the hairless dog still has hair on its face, neck and feet.
  • Shih Tzu – This Chinese breed has long, elegant fur. Like the Chihuahua, it can spend most of the day indoors, curled up in its owner's lap.
  • Boston Terrier – This breed doesn't actually belong in the toy group, but is sometimes compared to a Chihuahua for its alert and friendly disposition. It also has a similar round apple head and large eyes.
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famous chihuahua

The Chihuahua is a common icon of popular culture. Here are some of the best known examples of the breed:

  • The famous Chihuahua that appeared in a Taco Bell ad was a female named Gidget (lived 1994-2009).
  • A Chihuahua named Moonie (1998-2016) starred in two Legally Blonde films alongside Reese Witherspoon. He actually lived with Gidget for a while.
  • Paris Hilton owns a chihuahua named Tinkerbelle, who appeared with her on the reality show "The Simple Life."

According to the website, here are the 10 most popular names for Chihuahuas:

  • Bella
  • cocoa
  • laura
  • daisy
  • peanut
  • luna
  • Chloe
  • lucy
  • maximum
  • Charlie

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about the author

Lisa Pace

After a career providing opportunities for local communities to experience and create art, I enjoy having time to write about two of my favorite things – nature and animals. I spend half my life outside, usually with my husband and adorable 14 year old puppy. We enjoyed walking around the lake and taking photos of the animals we encountered including: otters, osprey, Canada geese, ducks and nesting bald eagles. I also enjoy reading, discovering books to add to my library, collecting and playing vinyl records, and listening to my son's music.

Chihuahua FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

How long does a Chihuahua live?

Chihuahuas live about 14 to 16 years. With luck and good health, the breed can live up to 20 years, which is excellent for a dog.

Are Chihuahuas Good Pets?

It depends on the type of dog you are looking for. If you want a little companion who follows you almost everywhere, a Chihuahua might be for you. Among its many qualities, this breed is alert, sensitive, charming and playful.

What's wrong with chihuahuas?

Chihuahuas are fairly fragile dogs (due to their small size). They have serious dental problems and need constant attention. They can be quite aloof and reserved around strangers. But all of these problems can be mitigated or overcome by a hardworking owner who knows how to handle the breed.

Is Chihuahua a boy or a girl?

The choice of gender is a matter of personal preference. If you are concerned about dominant behavior, aggression, and other undesirable traits, then you should choose to have your dog neutered or neutered. However, when adding a second dog to your home, the options get a little more complicated. Males are more likely to be aggressive towards other male dogs or to chase females around the house. Again, neutering your dog may help reduce some of this behavior.

How big is a Chihuahua?

Chihuahuas rarely grow to be 6 pounds 8 inches tall. This makes it one of the smallest purebred dogs in the world.

Are Chihuahuas Herbivores, Carnivores, or Omnivores?

Chihuahuas are omnivores, which means they eat both plants and other animals.

To which kingdom do chihuahuas belong?

Chihuahuas belong to the animal kingdom.

Which category does the Chihuahua belong to?

Chihuahuas are mammals.

What door do Chihuahuas belong to?

Chihuahuas belong to the phylum Chordate.

What family does the Chihuahua belong to?

Chihuahuas belong to the canine family.

What order do Chihuahuas belong to?

Chihuahuas belong to the order Carnivora.

What genus do Chihuahuas belong to?

Chihuahuas belong to the genus Canis.

What type of mulch do Chihuahuas have?

Chihuahuas are covered in fur.

What are some interesting facts about Chihuahuas?

Chihuahuas have curious and loyal personalities!

What is the Chihuahua's scientific name?

The Chihuahua's scientific name is Canis Lupus.

What's the Difference Between a Toy Fox Terrier and a Chihuahua?

The biggest difference between Toy Foxhounds and Chihuahuas is their size and shape. The Toy Fox Terrier is larger than the average Chihuahua, weighing between 4 and 9 pounds and standing up to 11.5 inches tall. Chihuahuas typically weigh up to 6.6 pounds and stand between 5 and 8 inches tall.

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  1. American Kennel Club, available here:
  2. Encyclopedia Britannica, available here:
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