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Chihuahua dog breed

They might be the smallest dog breed, but Chihuahuas are confident, energetic and full of personality, making them ideal companions.

Read on for more facts about the small and feisty breed – from temperament, price, lifespan and more.

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Chihuahua dog breed information and advice

If you’re thinking of welcoming a Chihuahua into your home, this guide will help you decide if this breed is right for you. They’re an affectionate breed, known for being lapdogs and thriving on love and attention. As the smallest breed of dog, Chihuahua’s fit perfectly in any family home.

Here you’ll find lots of handy information and advice on caring for a Chihuahua. This guide covers everything you need to know about feeding, exercising and training a Chihuahua. It also lists common health conditions linked to this breed - and that’s where dog insurance comes in.

Chihuahua facts

Lifespan 12 - 18 years
How much £300 - £2,500
Size 12 - 20 cm
Weight < 2.7 kg
Colours black, white, fawn, chocolate, cream, tan and gold
Grooming 1-2 times a week
Temperament sensitive, confident and alert
Exercise 30 minutes a day

Chihuahua insurance

If you’re considering getting a Chihuahua, it’s very important to factor in dog insurance. While this breed isn’t prone to any hereditary diseases, any pet can get ill. And it’s always reassuring to know you have Chihuahua insurance in place should you need it.

Accidents happen and health conditions can start at any age. The most common health issues that can affect Chihuahuas include:

Health care for any dog can be expensive and insurance can help by covering the cost of vet bills. Don’t worry, medication and surgery are included in your dog cover. If you have your dog from a young age, you should take out puppy insurance

Sainsbury’s Bank Pet Insurance for Chihuahuas

You can take out Sainsbury’s Bank Chihuahua dog insurance as long as your Chihuahua is over eight weeks old and less than eight years of age.

The good news is there are three types of cover you can choose from with Sainsbury’s Bank Pet Insurance.

  • Lifetime – cover for vet bills of up to £10,000 per year, to last your dog’s lifetime.
  • Maximum benefit – whether it’s an accident, illness or condition, your dog is covered up to £6,000.
  • Time limited – make a claim of up to £3,000 for different treatments throughout the year, suitable for short-term conditions.

Once you have cover in place with us, you can insure your chihuahua up to any age as long as you keep renewing the policy without a break.

Please note that we won't cover any pre-existing conditions and that terms, conditions, excesses, exclusions and limitations apply.

How to care for a Chihuahua

Like all dogs, Chihuahuas need lots of love, care and attention to make sure they’re happy and healthy. To prevent health issues, your dog needs to be fed the correct food, groomed and exercised. Training is also important for good behaviour and will keep your dog’s mind active.

Feeding and nutrition

Chihuahuas are tiny dogs and come with a small appetite – but they can be fussy eaters. You should feed them at regular times, twice a day, to get them into an eating routine. Chihuahua puppies will need to be fed more regularly, around 3-4 times a day.

If you’re unsure of how much your Chihuahua should eat, you should be able to find guidelines on the food packaging. Your vet will always be able to offer advice. Small dog breeds can easily become overweight, and an overweight dog is more likely to have health issues. That’s why it’s always a good idea to weigh your dog’s food to ensure the correct daily amount is given.

If you want to change your Chihuahua's food, you must do so slowly to prevent an upset tummy. Add the new food to the original, gradually increasing the new and decreasing the original food. This should take up to a week, depending on how fussy your Chihuahua is.

There are many dog food brands available. Pay attention to ingredients to make sure your dog is getting the nutrition it needs. Again, your vet will be able to advise you on the best food for your dog.


There are two types of coats – the smooth coat and the long coat. You’ll find short-haired Chihuahuas are more common.

Long-haired Chihuahuas need more grooming to prevent the fur from matting and should be brushed twice a week. Short coat Chihuahuas only need to be brushed once a week. Professional dog groomers can offer different grooming styles for long-haired dogs.

Chihuahua clothes and coats are available to help keep them warm and clean. A coat should be worn when outside during winter to protect them from the cold. Because they’re low to the ground, they can get dirty especially when the ground is wet. Clothing will help protect them from the mud, which means fewer baths.


Chihuahuas don’t require much exercise and can be difficult to walk - as they prefer to be carried. How far can a Chihuahua can walk depends on what they’re used to. As they’re a small dog, regular short walks are best because they become tired easily.

Chihuahuas should have up to 30 minutes exercise a day, but exercise doesn’t just mean walking. Playing with your dog and getting them to run around the house is another way to keep them active. They enjoy playing with dog toys, so make sure you have lots available – but watch out for choking hazards.


Thanks to their high intelligence, it’s fairly easy to train Chihuahuas. They can quickly learn commands if rewarded positively. Using toys will make the training fun for both you and your dog.

Your Chihuahua puppy may have started house training with the breeder. But if not, puppy toilet training should be taught first. There will be accidents, but they’ll get there in the end. Training classes are a great way of picking up tips on toilet training and getting your puppy to socialise.

Socialising your Chihuahua can be beneficial, as it can teach your dog from a young age to be accepting of other dogs. They may have a reputation for having ‘small dog syndrome’ and being yappy, so being around other dogs when they’re a pup can help manage this behaviour.

Temperament and behaviour

Chihuahuas form a strong bond to one person and will become protective of them. This can lead to signs of aggression towards people and other dogs. Again, that’s why socialising your Chihuahua dog from a young age is important to prevent this aggressive behaviour.

Because of that strong bond, you’ll find they prefer to be on your lap than in a dog bed or on the floor. They love the company of people and don’t like being left on their own. If you have to leave them alone, make sure you give them plenty of toys to play with.

Despite the Chihuahua's size, there’s a big personality in that small body. They love to investigate and can fit in small spaces. Make sure your garden’s secure so that your dog doesn’t escape or get stuck somewhere.

Common health problems

They don’t suffer from many hereditary problems, but like other dog breeds, Chihuahuas are prone to health issues. The three main conditions are listed below:

Luxating patella

Luxating patella is where the kneecap is unstable and doesn’t slide into the correct place. Dogs suffering from this will hop rather than use the affected leg.

Animals with luxating patella are prone to other knee-related injuries. Some animals don’t need any treatment as it can be temporary. But in most cases, surgery is needed to correct the position of the kneecap. Your vet will be able to advise you on the best treatment for your dog.


Hydrocephalus is a build-up of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) on the brain, meaning increased pressure and swelling. This causes weakness of the muscles, blindness and seizures. If not treated the condition can be life-threatening.

Treatment involves surgery to remove the fluid to another part of the body. Medication is given to stop seizures and steroids are given to reduce the build-up of CSF around the brain.


Cryptorchidism refers to retained testicles. This means that they haven’t dropped down from inside their tummy into the pouch of skin that the testicles sit in. Both testicles should have dropped down by the age of six months.

Cancer is more likely to develop if the testicles remain in the abdomen. An operation will be needed to remove the testicles, otherwise known as castration.

So, is a Chihuahua right for you?

Chihuahuas are loyal to their owners and make great companions, but make sure you know about the breed before you welcome one into your home.

They’re attention seekers and will often want to be on your lap or playing with you. So, you’re going to have to have the time to give them. And don’t leave them on their own for long.

Providing the correct care will mean that you and your Chihuahua will live a happy and healthy life together.

Frequently asked questions

How long do Chihuahuas live?

The average lifespan of a Chihuahua is between 12 and 18 years. Chihuahuas typically outlive most dog breeds, but some health conditions can shorten your dog’s life expectancy if not treated. Pet insurance can cover the cost of treatment, giving you less to worry about.

Where do Chihuahuas come from?

The history of Chihuahuas is unclear, but we do know that Chihuahua dog breeds began in Mexico. They were sold to tourists and brought back to the US in the late 1800s. It is believed that they descended from the Techichi dog.

Do Chihuahuas shed?

Yes - all dog breeds do to some extent. The best way to manage this is through regular grooming. Once a week for a short-haired Chihuahua and twice a week for a long-haired dog. Chihuahuas aren’t hypoallergenic. But because they love to lick, it does mean they’re not the best dog breed for people with dog allergies.

How much is a Chihuahua?

Chihuahuas cost between £300 and £2,500 depending on size, colour and age. There is not much difference in price between long and short coat Chihuahuas. Puppies that have been bred from a show dog will cost more. And dogs that have received some training will too.

Do Chihuahuas bark a lot?

Despite the Chihuahuas size, they can be fiery and overprotective. They also tend to bark often. This is ingrained in their instinctual behaviours, but it isn’t always down to their attitude. Chihuahuas are high-energy dogs, so if they’re bored or excited, they express this through barking. However, Chihuahuas are easily trained, so it is correctable.

What were Chihuahuas bred for?

Chihuahuas were bred for companionship. Because they’re a small dog, they make the

perfect lap dog. They were favoured for their loyalty to their owner. It was believed that a Chihuahua would guide their owner into the afterlife.

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Vetstream Ltd (online) Chihuahua – Long Coat. In: Vetlexicon Canis. Vetstream Ltd, UK. Website: opens in new window

Vetstream Ltd (online) Chihuahua – Smooth Coat. In: Vetlexicon Canis. Vetstream Ltd, UK. Website: opens in new window

Joseph Harari, Gareth Arthurs (online) Patella: medial luxation. In: Vetlexicon Canis. Vetstream Ltd, UK. Website: opens in new window

Daniel Smeak (online) Testicle: cryptorchidism. In: Vetlexicon Canis. Vetstream Ltd, UK. Website: opens in new window

Rodney Bagley (online) Hydrocephalus. In: Vetlexicon Canis. Vetstream Ltd, UK. Website: opens in new window

Vetstream Ltd (online) Luxating patella Owner Factsheet. In: Vetlexicon Canis. Vetstream Ltd, UK. Website: opens in new window

Vetstream Ltd (online) Cryptorchidism (retained testicles) Owner Factsheet. In: Vetlexicon Canis. Vetstream Ltd, UK. Website: opens in new window

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