Why Do Chihuahuas Live So Long – What’s Their Secret?

Last Updated on August 21, 2021 by Marco

One of the many curious things about Chis is their longevity. If you want to know why do Chihuahuas live so long, our article can help.

As a Chihuahua owner, you’re likely interested in everything about your pet. Not only are Chis one of the most popular dog breeds, but they’re also pretty high on the list of longevity.

The average life expectancy of Chihuahua clocks is around 15 years. That’s at least two years more than the average dog breed. While that’s excellent news for all Chihuahua owners, you can’t help but be curious about why. If you’re looking to understand the secret behind your pet’s long years and how you can extend them – you’ve come to the right place.

Chihuahua Lifespan And Why They Live So Long

According to pet experts, Chihuahuas may live to the ripe old age of 18 years. On average female Chis tend to live about two years longer than their male counterparts. As surprising as that may sound initially, Chihuahuas aren’t the only canines in the animal kingdom to have the gift of an extended lifetime.

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Breeds that have a matching average life expectancy to Chis include Maltese, Beagles, Shih Tzus, Toy Poodles, and a few others. However, all of the longest-living dog breeds have one thing in common: they all belong to small-sized canines. And, therein lies the solution to the mystery behind Chihuahua life expectancy.

Scientists have been trying to ascertain why small dog breeds live longer than larger ones for many years. And, while there’s no one clear-cut answer, experts have come with various theories and aspects to explain the slower aging process of Chihuahuas. Here’s what a few of them are –

1. The Size Factor

15 years may not sound like much to humans, but you need to understand that canines and humans age differently. As a matter of fact, did you know that one doggy year is equivalent to 15 human years in terms of aging? So, technically, when canines reach the 1-year mark, they’ve matured as much as humans will from birth to fifteen years.

You can equate the second year of your furbaby’s life to 9 human years in terms of aging and maturity. That’s where the term ‘aging in dog years’ comes from. After the 2-year mark, the way canines age will depend mainly on their size and age.

As a rule, large mammals have the longest lifespans. For example, the Bowhead Whale (native to the Arctic waters) lives up to 200 years. The fact that it lives in such freezing waters helps slow down its aging process and leads to its astounding lifespan.

However, things work a little differently in the world of domestic dogs. For instance, multiple studies have revealed that smaller dogs live longer than larger ones because they have a slower aging process. For whatever reason, large dogs have an accelerated aging process. And that’s what significantly affects their lifespans because it makes them more vulnerable to age-related illnesses.

2. Breeding And Genetics

There’s a reason why breeding and lineage get so much spotlight when it comes to canines. A good pedigree won’t just guarantee a pure-bred, but it’ll also mean a genetic pool that’s less susceptible to several diseases. However, there are times when just being pure-bred isn’t enough in terms of longevity.

For instance, a recent study discovered that when it comes to doggy breeds, factors like lower inbreeding coefficients and larger effective population sizes can contribute to extending a canine’s lifespan. That means genetic diversity can extend a dog’s life instead of relying on the same gene pool repeatedly.

Genetic variation helps species adapt better to their environments. That’s what evolution teaches us. The less diverse a gene pool is, the likelier it is to fall prey to problems in terms of survival and adaptability.

3. External Factors like Weight And Dental Health

Another aspect that needs to be considered when trying to answer why do Chihuahuas live so long is any external intervenor. This includes the importance of components like weight or dental health.

Canines that are overweight have to expend twice the energy because their frame isn’t meant to handle such strain. What’s more, overweight dogs are vulnerable to developing a whole host of related health concerns, like orthopedic and breathing problems, etc. All of these can lead to a more inferior quality of life and impact the lifespan of pets over time.
 According to a study by Dr. Urfer, dogs with better dental hygiene stand at 20% less risk of dying because of overall good health. Oral health can directly impact a canine’s digestive system. Good oral hygiene will lead to more robust digestion – with all its related advantages.
 chihuahua lifespan

How It All Adds Up To Why Chihuahuas Live Longer

Now that we’ve gone over the factors contributing to a Chi’s long life – let’s use all that info to put things in perspective. First off, we know that Chihuahuas belong to the toy dog breed group. The breed standard states that an adult Chihuahua should weigh no more than 6 pounds – which makes them pretty tiny. So, one of the reasons why Chis have an extended lifespan is because their small bodies mature at a slower pace than bigger breeds.

Then there’s the fact that Chihuahuas are pretty diverse in terms of variations and types. That means the Chi gene pool is pretty robust, thanks to all the cross-breeding. It also means that Chihuahua genes are better equipped to handle different environmental factors based on adaptability. Let’s put it like this; Chis are better survivors because their genes are wired to handle more than other breeds.

Finally, there’s the weight and oral hygiene aspect. This is where things will vary based on each doggo’s care routine. A Chihuahua with a top-notch oral care routine that’s well within the healthy weight range will have a longer, more prosperous life than others who don’t.


Understanding why do Chihuahuas live so long isn’t too challenging if you know what factors matter most. And, we’re hoping you now have a better understanding of Chi longevity and its related reasons. Also, Chihuahua owners must remember how vital optimal weight management and good oral hygiene are to their pet’s well-being. You can utilize this knowledge to help improve your Chi’s quality of life and add to its overall lifespan – which is always a plus!

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