29 August 2023

Let’s talk about… Chihuahuas: what are they?

  • Chihuahuas are a small and lively breed of dog believed to originate from Mexico.
  • They are named after the Mexican state of Chihuahua, where they were first bred.
  • Despite their small size, Chihuahuas have big personalities.
  • Chihuahuas are known for their distinctive large, round eyes and their prominent apple-shaped heads.
  • They typically weigh between 1.5 and 3 kg and stand about 15-23 cm tall.
  • Their life expectancy is between 12 and 14 years, although it is not abnormal to see one older.
Chihuahua  Exercise Needs 2/5 Grooming Ease 2/5 Trainability 3/5

What is the temperament of Chihuahuas like?

  • Chihuahuas are known for their bold and confident personalities.
  • They can be quite independent and may exhibit a "big dog" attitude despite their small size.
  • They are often loyal and affectionate with their owners, forming strong bonds with them.
  • However, they can be wary of strangers and may be reserved or even aggressive towards unfamiliar people or animals if not properly socialised.
  • Chihuahuas are generally not recommended for families with small children due to their delicate size and potential for injury.
  • However, they can thrive in homes with older, considerate children who understand how to handle them gently.
Bugsy, the Chihuahua
Bugsy, the Chihuahua

How much exercise do Chihuahuas need?

  • Chihuahuas have relatively low exercise needs compared to some other breeds. They typically require around 30 minutes to 1 hour of exercise per day.
  • This can be achieved through short walks, play sessions, and interactive toys.
  • Keep in mind that Chihuahuas are small dogs with delicate bones, so it's important to avoid excessive strain or high-impact activities that could lead to injuries.
  • When it comes to Chihuahua puppies, their exercise needs differ. Puppies have growing bodies and should not be overexerted.
  • Short play sessions in a safe and controlled environment, along with socialisation experiences, are essential for their development.
  • As they grow older and their bodies become more resilient, their exercise levels can gradually increase.
  • By around 12 months of age, Chihuahuas can handle exercise at an adult level.
  • Your vet can advise on an exercise routine for your dog.
Celery, the Chihuahua
Celery, the Chihuahua

Do Chihuahuas need a lot of grooming?

  • Short-haired Chihuahuas have a short, smooth coat that requires minimal grooming. Long-haired Chihuahuas will require more regular brushing and visits to a professional groomer as required.
  • Regular brushing with a soft-bristle brush or grooming mitt can help keep their coat clean and remove any loose hair.
  • Additionally, occasional bathing with a gentle dog shampoo can help keep their skin and coat healthy.
  • Chihuahuas are moderate shedders, so expect some shedding throughout the year. However, their small size means that shedding is generally manageable.
  • Like any dog, regular tooth brushing with a dog-specific toothpaste twice daily is ideal. If you can’t manage that often, just do it as often as you can.
Nala, the Chihuahua
Nala, the Chihuahua

Are Chihuahuas easy to train?

  • Training a Chihuahua can be an enjoyable and rewarding experience.
  • Chihuahuas are intelligent and eager to learn.
  • Consistency and positive reinforcement are key when training them.
  • Keep training sessions short and engaging to prevent boredom.
  • Socialisation is crucial for Chihuahuas to help them become more comfortable around other people and animals.
  • Remember to be patient, as Chihuahuas may have a stubborn streak.
  • With love, patience, and consistent training, your Chihuahua can become a well-behaved and obedient companion.
Rio, the Chihuahua
Rio, the Chihuahua

What do Chihuahuas eat?

  • Chihuahuas should be fed a balanced and nutritious diet suitable for their size, age, and activity level.
  • High-quality commercial dog food formulated for small breeds is generally a good choice.
  • The recommended amount of food will depend on factors such as their weight, metabolism, and exercise routine.
  • Most do well being fed twice daily as adults.
  • Chihuahua puppies have specific dietary needs for growth and development.
  • They should be fed a specially formulated puppy food until they reach approximately 12 months old.
  • Most puppies should be fed 3-4 times a day until they are 6 months old when it can be reduced to twice daily.
  • These puppy foods provide the necessary nutrients and calories to support their rapid growth.
  • As they transition into adulthood, gradually switch them to an appropriate adult dog food.
  • Your vet can provide specific dietary recommendations for your Chihuahua puppy.
  • It's important to monitor their weight and adjust portion sizes accordingly to prevent overfeeding and obesity.

Are Chihuahuas healthy?

Chihuahuas are generally healthy dogs, but like any breed, they may be prone to certain health conditions.

Due to their small size, they may be more susceptible to injuries, such as fractures or dental problems, if not handled or cared for properly. Some of the other health concerns that may affect Chihuahuas include:

Bones and Joints

  • Hip Dysplasia - a condition where the thigh bone and pelvis do not sit together properly at the hip joint, which can lead to discomfort and arthritis
  • Legg-Calve-Perthes Disease: a hip condition that affects the blood supply to the head of the femur bone, leading to breakdown of the bone, pain and lameness.
  • Luxating patella - this is when a dog’s kneecap moves out of where it should normally be


  • Periodontal Disease - a buildup of plaque and tartar on a dog’s teeth leading to  inflammation, infection and tooth loss


  • Cataracts - a common cause of blindness due to a clouding of the lens of the eye
  • Corneal Ulcers - open sores on the cornea of the eye
  • Dry eye - an ongoing condition where the tear glands in the eyes don’t produce enough protective tear film, which can lead to discomfort, infections and damage of the eye


  • Hydrocephalus - where fluid builds up around the brain
  • Syringomyelia - where fluid-filled cavities develop in the spinal cord, which can cause pain and neurological signs

This list is by no means comprehensive. If you have any concerns about the health of your dog or if you want to discuss further if a Chihuahua is right for you, consult with your vet.

BorrowMyDoggy loves Chihuahuas

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Information on this page should never replace advice given by your veterinarian. Potential health issues presented are given as a guide only and are not meant to be comprehensive. If you ever have any concerns about your dog’s health, contact your local vet.

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