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Why Do Chihuahuas Live So Long?

Why Do Chihuahuas Live So Long?

Every dog parent knows just how attached they get to their furry baby.

One day you bring an adorable pup home and in no time, you have formed strong bonds that cannot be broken.

Unfortunately, dogs age quicker than us and they inevitably die of old age.

For the most part, you can expect your furry friend to live for 10-13 years.

Depending on how old your dog was when you got her, the time you spend with them can be just a few years and then you will have no choice but to say the painful goodbye.

But this may not be the case for Chihuahua parents because these dogs live longer than any other dog breed.

So, Why Do Chihuahuas Live So Long?

If you are looking for a dog that will live longer than most dogs, then you probably want to get a Chihuahua.

Chihuahuas are one of the longest-living dog breeds, with an average lifespan of 15-20 years.

While there is no guarantee that every Chihuahua will reach a ripe old age, their long life expectancy is certainly one of the breed’s most appealing features.

Let’s have a closer look at the reasons why chis live for so long:

1. Size Matters

One of the top factors that contribute to Chihuahuas’ longevity is their small size.

Generally, smaller dog breeds tend to enjoy longer lifespans than their bigger counterparts.

Smaller dogs tend to age at a slower rate, which implies that they reach full maturity much later than larger dogs.

In contrast, large dogs tend to age more quickly, reaching full maturity sooner and then experiencing a more rapid decline.

This would explain why a Chihuahua can live for up to 20 years whereas an English Mastiff only lives for 6-12 years.

This could be a bit confusing because, for the most part, larger mammals tend to live longer than smaller mammals.

Yes, elephants live longer than mice…cats live longer than goldfish…Even in birds—larger birds tend to live longer than smaller ones.

So, why do dogs buck the trend?

Well, while larger species typically tend to live longer than smaller species, WITHIN SPECIES, smaller individuals could live longer than their larger counterparts.

And this is what studies have proven to happen when it comes to dogs.

This fact was realized after a rigorous scientific study of 56,000 dogs of 74 different breeds that was conducted by Kraus Cornelius from the University of Göttingen in Germany.

The study found out that the larger a dog breed is, the more accelerated its growth rate is, which ultimately means that its life span unwinds quicker.

2. Chis Are Less Predisposed To Life-Threatening Conditions

According to the aforementioned Study by Kraus, it was also discovered that larger breeds were more susceptible to life-threatening conditions like cancer.

 The explanation given is that smaller dogs like Chihuahuas don’t grow as rapidly as their bigger counterparts.

As such, their cells are less likely to have abnormal growth which means they are less likely to suffer from cancer and related conditions.

Additionally, larger dog breeds will age faster and will therefore be exposed to age-related illnesses (e.g. joint problems, heart diseases, etc.) quicker than smaller dogs.

3. Lifestyle

Still in the above study, Kraus also postulated that larger dog breeds experience earlier mortality simply because of the more dangerous or riskier lifestyles they are exposed to.

Just like youths between 18 and 25 years are more likely to die by misadventure, working dogs like sheepdog or kelpie are more likely to die in accidents than some Chihuahuas whose lives revolve around being carried in handbags.

By the way, there are people who treat Chihuahuas like stuffed toys or substitutes for human infants. They carry them in their arms everywhere they do.

At Healthy Homemade Dog Treats, we discourage this spoiling behavior because all it does is make the dog parent feel good while creating an insecure Chi who will be barking manically whenever he catches a glimpse or hear something unfamiliar.

We advocate for a confident Chi that knows how to walk on his own four feet, responds perfectly to commands, and understands how to get along peacefully with the world.

Does Slow Ageing Affect Chihuahua’s Cognitive Development?

One canine enthusiast once asked a fascinating question about Chihuahua’s longevity:

Since Chihuahuas have slower growth rates than other medium and bigger dogs, do they also lag when it comes to cognitive development?

In other words, are Chihuahuas dumb?  

The short answer is no. Chihuahuas are fairly intelligent dogs. Psychologist, Stanley Cohen classifies them as fair or below average for obedience or working dog intelligence.

Precisely, they are ranked 125th out of 138 dog breeds tested. Based on this ranking alone, it is safe to say that Chis are fairly smart.

Besides, a past study carried out on more than 4000 dogs from 66 dog breeds also found that all dog breeds, regardless of their lifespan or size, tend to follow a similar speed of cognitive aging.

Longest living Chihuahua

Toby Keith, a Chihuahua from Greenacres, Florida, is the Guinness World Record holder for the oldest living dog of his breed.

As of May 2020, Toby Keith was 21 years old, which is the equivalent of around 105 human years.

Toby Keith’s owner, Gisela Shore, said she found the Chi in a shelter where the former owners had left her.

While Toby Keith is certainly an impressive example of the Chihuahua’s longevity, it’s important to note that he is not representative of the breed as a whole.

The average lifespan of a Chihuahua is around 12-20 years, which is still longer than many other breeds of dog.

 So, while Toby Keith may be exceptional, all Chihuahuas have the potential to live a long and healthy life.

Can Chihuahuas Live Past 20 Years?

While most Chihuahuas only live to be around 12-20 years old, there have been some cases of Chihuahuas living to be 20 years.

As we have already seen, the oldest Chihuahua was recorded to be 21 years. This means these dogs can live longer than 20 years.

That said, it will depend on the kind of care that they are accorded by their family.

The key to a long life for any dog is good nutrition and regular exercise, and Chihuahuas are no exception.

They may be small, but they still need plenty of exercise to stay fit and healthy.

With proper care, it is not uncommon for a Chihuahua to enjoy a longer than average lifespan.

How to Make My Chihuahua Live Longer

While there is no guarantee that you can make your Chihuahua live longer, there are some things that you can do to help them enjoy a long and healthy life.

First, it is important to feed them a high-quality diet. This means avoiding processed foods and choosing products that are made with fresh, whole ingredients.

You should also make sure that they are getting plenty of exercise. Chihuahuas are small dogs, but they still need to burn off excess energy.

Ensuring that your Chi maintains an appropriate body weight can go a long way in putting less stress on his joints and organs.

A daily walk or play session will help them stay healthy and fit.

Consider spaying or neutering your Chihuahua. Spaying or neutering reduces the risk of certain types of reproductive cancers, uterine or prostate infections, and potential accidents and traumas.  

Finally, it is important to take them to the vet regularly as well as to stay on top of their vaccination schedules.

This will help catch any health problems early and ensure that they are getting the care they need.

By following these simple tips, you can give your Chihuahua the best chance at a long and happy life.


So there you have it – if you have been wondering why Chihuahuas outlive most of the other dog breeds, now you know.

Evolutionary scientists believe it has to do with their small size. The smaller a dog is, the slower it develop and this means they have a longer time to age.

 Because their cells develop less rapidly, they are less likely to suffer from cancer and other related ailments.

These are the main reasons why Chihuahuas can easily get to 20 years – which would be almost 100 years in human years.

If you own a Chihuahua, you can help them live to their full age by keeping them on a healthy diet and providing them with enough exercise.

You should also vaccinate them and take them for regular checkups to ensure any ailments are nipped in the bud before they become a problem.

By so doing, your furry friend may easily clock 15- 20 years or even go past that to break the current 21-year world record.

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