One of the smallest dog breeds recognised amongst most kennel clubs, the Chihuahua is a smart and sassy pooch that has a big personality. First noted in the Mexican state of Chihuahua in the mid-19th century, the Chihuahua is thought to have derived from the Techichi — a small mute dog kept by the Toltec people of Mexico.
Popular among celebrities like Paris Hilton in the early 2000s, Chihuahuas quickly became known as the ‘must-have accessory’ and the first ‘purse dog’. They gained even more attention and popularity thanks to the Beverly Hills Chihuahua film trilogy series.
How much does Chihuahua insurance cost?
How much is a Chihuahua?
The typical litter size of a Chihuahua is between 1-3 puppies per litter. However, this small size won’t really affect their price as a Chihuahua puppy can range from around £650-£1,000 in the UK.
How much is a Chihuahua to insure?
With ManyPets, 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 in 2022 of 290.42.
The two further options are:
Smooth-coated Chihuahuas with an average premium of £295.95 and;
Long-coated Chihuahuas at £301.30
The average pet insurance premium for all breeds in 2022 was £412.15. 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.
Although they’re a small dog breed, Chihuahuas are extremely energetic and alert. To help them socialise properly with other dogs, their training should begin early. It helps for Chihuahuas to be introduced to dogs of all sizes so they won’t feel intimidated with bigger dogs when they’re older.
Even though they’re considered more of a lap dog, Chihuahuas make excellent companions and love attention from their owners. They’re extremely active and prefer to be kept occupied and take things at their own pace. Introducing short bursts of play to them from around three months old can help them to build endurance once they’re introduced to regular, daily walks as they get a bit older.
Breed bad habits
Although Chihuahuas are loyal dogs that make great companions, they do have a reputation for snapping at strangers or small children who they may perceive as a threat because of their small size. They’re also prone to barking at larger dogs, but this is a trait that many smaller breeds do.
If Chihuahuas aren’t trained properly from a young age, some bad habits can develop that can be hard for them to shake. They include:
Chewing on objects
Begging for food
A tendency to eat their own faeces or those of another dog
Aggressive behaviour toward people such as biting or throwing themselves at them
Although an older Chihuahua can still be re-educated, it can strongly push back and completely disengage. This is why it’s so important to properly train your dog when they’re a puppy when it’s easier to show them what is desired behaviour.
When you’re training your Chihuahua, it’s imperative that you start early. Although they’re only small dogs, they can suffer from ‘Small Dog Syndrome’ — which is where dogs will act overly dominant or aggressive towards other dogs — particularly those larger than them because they’re stressed and fearful.
There’s no need to panic, though. With consistent and positive reinforcement training starting from around 4 months old, the Chihuahua makes a great, loyal pet who will stay by your side.
Chihuahua gender differences
Female Chihuahuas aren’t quite as warm in comparison to males and they can sometimes be quite standoffish. That being said, they’ll be calmer and less likely to react aggressively toward strangers and other dogs and they also emotionally mature much faster than males.
However, they typically don’t demand as much attention as males and are likely to be happier when left to themselves. They’re often easier to train because they tend to be less distractible than males, so their training sessions are usually shorter and more productive. Just note: since they don’t crave attention, they can’t be bribed with love in order to train better!
Female size information
Height: 15-23 cm
Weight: 2.3-3.3 kg
Length: 24-38 cm
Male Chihuahuas usually hate to be away from their owners and tend to be much more insecure and possibly clingier. They’ll need constant reassurance that they’re loved, but they’ll be incredibly endearing.
Males will mature physically faster than females, but this is compensated by the fact that they take longer to mature emotionally. This ultimately makes them harder to train as they’d rather play or have their owner's undivided attention than learn new tricks — making them more likely to misbehave.
Male size information
Height: 15-23 cm
Length: 24-38 cm
Chihuahua breed health
As a breed, the Chihuahuas are generally of good health and they can outlive many other breeds. However, their small size can contribute to a range of health problems as well as breed-specific health issues.
The common life expectancy for a Chihuahua is between 12-20 years old. One of the reasons for their longevity is due to their small sizes as smaller breeds tend to reach full maturity much later than their larger friends.
Common health problems
As for most dogs, there are certain conditions which will affect certain breeds more, and this isn’t any different for Chihuahuas. Some of the most common health conditions that the breed can develop include:
Spinal injuries — Due to their small frame, Chihuahuas are at a much higher risk of spinal injuries — even one small mishap could spell disaster. One of the most common risks is Intervertebral Disc Disease (IVDD) which occurs when a spinal disc moves or slips out of place. Thankfully, in severe cases surgery can resolve the issue. In other cases physical therapy and doggy wheelchairs can help aid with their pain and mobility if this should happen. Make sure to keep a close eye on your furry friend when they’re playing with larger dogs, and keep them at a healthy weight.
Dental issues — Like other toy breeds, Chihuahuas are prone to dental issues and particularly gum diseases. Gingivitis is common, and occurs when the gums become inflamed due to food and bacteria forming calculus (tartar) along the gum line. As they have smaller mouths, Chihuahuas can suffer from overcrowding and create conditions that are ideal for tartar build-up which can eventually require surgical extraction of severely diseased teeth.
Obesity — Although spoiling your furry friend is hard to avoid, it’s important to make sure that a Chihuahua is on the right diet. A healthy 100% Chihuahua (i.e. not a Chihuahua mix breed) should not weigh more than roughly 4kg. Over-feeding them can easily cause obesity, especially because even seemingly small changes can be a large percentage of their total body weight. With this comes a wide range of health issues including, stress on the spine, difficulty breathing, a shortened lifespan, joint problems and more. Consult your vet to get your pooch on a diet plan that’s right for them.
Tracheal collapse — The trachea is the tube that carries air from the mouth and nose to the lungs. If this passage becomes blocked or collapses, Chihuahuas will have trouble breathing and develop a honking cough. Collapsed tracheas are common in this breed. Your pooch can be prescribed medications such as cough suppressants or anti-inflammatories in order to help their airway as much as possible. Keeping your pet at a healthy weight is one of the easiest ways to decrease the symptoms of tracheal collapse.
Patellar luxation — A relatively common condition in small dogs, patellar luxation refers to when the kneecap slides in and out of place. This is because the surface of the femur on which the kneecap sits is too shallow, so it pops out of its groove. Dislocation can happen because the alignment of the bones from the hip isn’t straight, which essentially pulls the kneecap to one side. Depending on the severity of the condition, surgery may be required to reduce the risk of arthritis, whereas mild to moderate cases may be managed with pain medication from the vet.
“Chihuahuas are very good at getting dental disease, particularly when it comes to the speed at which they develop tartar and gingivitis,” says Dr. Kirsten Ronngren, DVM MRCVS.
“I often urge Chihuahua owners to have their dog's teeth checked twice a year by their vet to keep a closer eye on things, and to encourage dental cleanings with their vet when recommended. These are the best ways to evaluate oral health and treat any disease present!"
Chihuahua colours and variants
Colours and breed variants
There are currently two different variations of the Chihuahua recognised in both the UK and the US; smooth-coat and long-coat. Like the names suggest the smooth-coat Chihuahua is short-haired and the long-coat is long-haired. The smooth-coat Chihuahua is the most common type that you’ll see.
The breed standard colours for Chihuahuas include:
Black & Tan
Blue & Tan
Chocolate & Tan
Fawn & White
Caring for a Chihuahua
A feisty little companion who loves being by your side, Chihuahuas are a fairly playful breed that can be a great family dog.
Although they’re small, you’d be surprised to know that Chihuahuas can actually go for a lot longer than you’d expect! Although it won’t be as much exercise as what a larger dog needs, your Chihuahua still needs regular exercise every day to stay happy and healthy. Because of their size, it’s recommended that this is split into two smaller and shorter walks instead of just one per day.
When you take them out for a walk, it’s best to keep them on a harness so they don’t run away.
The right amount of food to feed your Chihuahua will depend on a variety of factors such as their dietary requirements, any health issues and more. To keep them healthy, it’s best to consult a vet to make sure that they’re getting the right nutrients they need. They can also inform you on how much your pooch should be eating.
Adult Chihuahuas should eat three times a day; breakfast, lunch and dinner. Some snacks in between are helpful to keep their energy levels up, but keep these treats in mind when you’re laying out their meals.
Puppies under three months benefit from 4-6 separate small meals a day due to their more rapid metabolism.
Toy breeds like the Chihuahua will usually sleep for around 12-15 hours a day when they’re an adult. This time includes any naps taken during the day and the regular hours that they’d sleep during the night. Since they’re an adult, they’ll typically have settled into a day-to-day routine by the age of 1 so will usually quiet down without any prompting.
For Chihuahua puppies, it’s a different story. From around 2-6 months old, they can sleep anywhere up to 18 hours a day since their sleeping pattern will likely be scattered. From 6 months to the 1-year mark, an hour or two will slowly be deducted from this — so you can expect them to sleep for up to 16 hours.
“Obesity is a big risk for Chihuahuas, because even small fluctuations in weight can have a massive impact on their tiny frame,” says Dr. Kirsten Ronngren, DVM MRCVS.
“Chihuahua owners need to be particularly proactive when it comes to maintaining a solid nutrition and exercise plan for their pup to help them keep a healthy body condition. This can also be massively helpful when it comes to improving symptoms of diseases like tracheal collapse and arthritis!”
With a big personality and quick wit, Chihuahuas are a great pet for people who live in flats or for small families. Fiercely loyal to the people they love, Chihuahuas will happily accompany their owners anywhere they need to go, though they can be prone to having separation anxiety.
How good are Chihuahuas with kids?
Depending on when a Chihuahua is introduced to a family, they can make for a great pet. Chihuahuas work best in households with older kids, as they typically don’t tend to bond very well with younger kids often due to not enough positive socialisation early on.
While a Chihuahua may not seriously hurt a young child, a child's rowdy and energetic sense of play can potentially hurt small dogs like the Chihuahua. However, with training from both sides, it’s possible to introduce a loving and nurturing environment for both your Chi and your child.
How affectionate are Chihuahuas?
Chihuahuas can be an extremely affectionate breed and love to be stroked, carried, cuddled and hugged. They’ll typically show their affection to their owners by getting as close to them as possible — hence why they’re known as lap dogs — nuzzling into their leg and licking their hand.
They tend to be the most affectionate with whoever they spend most of their time with and won’t be happy if the love isn’t reciprocated.
How territorial are Chihuahuas?
Chihuahuas aren’t aggressive dogs but they can become confrontational with other dogs, strangers and small children if they perceive their actions as threatening and they need to protect their territory.
They’re very territorial dogs and have a strong instinct to protect their patch at all costs.
How friendly are Chihuahuas with other dogs?
Known for their stubborn personality, Chihuahuas often don’t get along with other dogs regardless of their size. Despite their tiny stature, they have a superiority complex and particularly won’t get on well with big dogs as this can be an uncomfortable experience for them.
How much will Chihuahuas tolerate other pets?
Chihuahuas inherently prefer to have a more dominant role in the house and won’t get along with other pets as a rule of thumb. However, if these pets were around before the Chihuahua and you get your pooch from an early age, these behaviours can be worked on.
How much attention do Chihuahuas need?
Most dogs need a lot of attention, but Chihuahuas are a cut above the rest. As far as they’re concerned, there’s no such thing as ‘too much’ attention, so any amount you can give them will never be enough.
To avoid sulks and bad behaviour, the best thing to do is to establish the time that you can spend with them and make it a part of their daily routine. This way, you’re also helping them to achieve some form of independence.
Chihuahua coat and grooming
Chihuahuas are clean dogs that only require bathing once a month. Because of this, they’re quite easy pets to take care of.
There are two types of coats that a Chihuahua can have; a smooth or a long coat. The smooth coat Chihuahua will only need occasional brushing, while the long coat variety should have their coat brushed at least once a week.
Chihuahuas shed every day, but thankfully, they’re considered light to moderate shedders throughout the year. Although they shed more during the shedding season in the spring and autumn, they tend not to drop their entire coat compared to other breeds. And because they’re so small, there isn’t much hair to shed anyway!
How often do I need to groom a Chihuahua?
Although they’re only small dogs, Chihuahuas actually require a moderate amount of grooming.
For smooth-haired Chihuahuas, it’s recommended that they have a full body brushing at least once every one to two weeks. For the long hair variety, it’s recommended that they’re brushed out twice a week, depending on their activity levels. Make sure to check long coat Chihuahuas regularly as they can develop tangles that can grow larger and larger if left untreated.
To prevent matting, the coat should be combed, brushed and then a final comb ran over to make sure all hairs are free.
Are Chihuahuas hypoallergenic?
No, Chihuahuas are not hypoallergenic dogs but they’re considered mild shedders in comparison to bigger dogs like Golden Retrievers.
Chihuahua bark sound
Chihuahuas are known to be fiercely territorial and protective and need very little excuse to use their bark.
One of the more vocal breeds out there, a Chihuahuas bark will naturally be higher, which sometimes makes it difficult to differentiate between a yap and a cry. However, it’s important to remember that barking — and general high-pitched noises — are natural to small dog breeds like the Chihuahua.
In some cases, many Chihuahuas will even bark because they’re bored! Known as ‘boredom barking’, it usually consists of a long, high-pitched monotone bark that occurs in intervals.
Frequently asked questions about Chihuahuass
Why do Chihuahuas shake?
Chihuahuas have a naturally high metabolism, which can make them shake when they’re excited or anxious as it affects their ability to regulate their body temperature.
Are Chihuahuas good house dogs?
Yes, Chihuahuas can make excellent house dogs as they’ll always let you know when a stranger is near your property.
Are Chihuahuas destructive?
Despite their small size, Chihuahuas can have quite a destructive streak in them. The breed is prone to nibbling their way through shoes and household furniture — but this is usually if they aren’t mentally stimulated enough.