Vital stats

  • Breed type: Companion
  • Size: 15 - 25 cm
  • Weight: 0.5 - 4 kg
  • Lifespan: 10 - 18 years


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  • Intelligence
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  • Trainability
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  • Exercise needs
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  • Good with kids
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  • Levels of shedding
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  • Good for new owners
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  • Overall health of breed
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Chihuahuas: a brief history

Chihuahuas are a small dog breed with lots of personality and character.

Originally from Mexico, they’re one of the most popular dog breeds in the world and their name is taken from the Mexican state of Chihuahua.

They have a long history that stretches back to the Toltec and Aztec civilizations of Mexico. It’s believed that Chihuahuas are the descendants of a small dog called the Techichi which were kept by the Toltec people as far back as the 9th Century.

Their ancestor the Techichi was a larger and heavier breed than today’s Chihuahua whose size is the result of targeted and selective breeding.

Chihuahua temperament and characteristics

Despite their small size, Chihuahuas are quite an active and energetic breed that loves to run and play.

They may look sweet and cuddly, but they also have a bold and fiery temperament that can be surprising to people not familiar with the breed.

One noticeable feature is their bark. Chihuahuas bark a lot! They’re often described as having little dog syndrome and aren’t afraid at barking at much bigger dogs. Despite their size, they make surprisingly good guard dogs as their loud bark makes it easy to attract attention.

They like to form very close bonds with their owners or a particular person within a household, but it does mean they can sometimes be less interested in or wary of strangers.

Chihuahuas make good family pets but they need good early socialisation and training, without this, they can behave aggressively towards strangers and other household pets.

When introducing them into the family home, they should be handled by different members of the family so that they quickly become familiar and comfortable with each person. If there are other dogs in the home, they should be allowed to interact but with close supervision so they become used to each other.

Chihuahuas are highly intelligent and this makes them easier to train than some other breeds. Like all dogs, they need to be exercised but they don’t need as much compared to some larger breeds. A minimum of half an hour of exercise every day should be enough for them to remain happy and healthy.

Chihuahua coats and colours

Chihuahuas have two coat types: short (sometimes called smooth) and long-haired. Each comes in a variety of colours that include:

  • Black

  • White

  • Fawn

  • Chocolate

  • Grey

  • Silver

It can take up to two years for Long-haired Chihuahuas to develop their full coat. Their coats need brushing at least once a week and they’re more likely to shed some hair around the home.

Remember that Chihuahuas are one of the smallest dog breeds in the world. Whatever hair they do shed will be relatively small compared to larger breeds.

Short-haired (Smooth) Chihuahuas require less grooming, but their short coats mean that in winter they may feel the cold a bit more and this is something to be aware of.

Pet insurance for Chihuahuas

When you get your pet insurance quote you're asked to choose your dog's breed from a list. There are three different types of Chihuahua you can choose from. The cheapest to insure is simply 'Chihuahua' with an average annual premium of £305.46.

The two further options are:

  • Smooth-coated Chihuahuas with an average premium of £307.70 and;

  • Long-coated Chihuahuas at £316.05

The average pet insurance premium for all breeds in 2021 was £474.77. So although Long-coated Chihuahuas are slightly more expensive to insure than Short-haired ones; as a breed, they are significantly less expensive to insure compared to the average premium.

This is a good sign that they’re quite a healthy breed which is good news for Chihuahua owners.

Chihuahua health conditions

Luxating patella

Chihuahuas are susceptible to a condition called Luxating patella. In 2021, this was the most common pet insurance claim condition for the breed. We paid a total of 158 claims at an average cost of £883.26.

Luxating patella is where the knee cap (the patella) slips in and out of the groove it’s meant to sit in. When the patella dislocates out of this groove, it can stop the knee from extending properly.

Hip dysplasia

Chihuahuas are also prone to hip dysplasia. It’s a common condition that affects a number of different dog breeds. It’s where the ball and socket in the joint don’t fit or develop properly.

They rub and grind instead of sliding smoothly and the joint starts to deteriorate and lose function. The condition can also affect the elbow joint and this is known as elbow dysplasia.

Signs of dysplasia include stiffness in the hips and elbows, as well as lameness and difficulty getting up and lying down. Dysplasia and Luxating patella can lead to pain and lameness which in 2021 was the third most common condition claimed for. The joints affected by these two conditions can eventually develop into arthritis if not treated.

Dental tooth disorder

As a small breed, Chihuahuas can experience problems with overcrowding of the teeth. Dental conditions can lead to more serious health problems if left untreated and regular dental care can help prevent issues from developing.

Most pet insurance policies will only cover dental accidents, which might include things like broken teeth and injuries to the mouth.

Frequently asked questions about Chihuahua

How many puppies does a Chihuahua have?

The average size of a Chihuahua litter is normally between one and three puppies.

Why do Chihuahuas shake?

Chihuahuas do have a reputation for sometimes being nervous and shaky. When they do shake, it’s normally due to a physical or emotional response.

Cold weather is one of the most common reasons for shaking and short-haired Chihuahuas are more likely to experience the cold.

Chihuahuas have naturally high metabolisms, which means they burn energy at a high rate. This high metabolism can make them shiver when they get excited or anxious.

Nerves are another reason for shaking. As with all breeds, Chihuahuas need good early training and socialisation. Without this, they may be fearful and anxious around people and other animals.

Why do Chihuahuas sleep so much?

Chihuahuas are a lively and energetic breed and it’s natural that they will want to sleep after tiring themselves out.

As they grow older they are more likely to need more sleep after exercising and playing.