A complete breed guide for Chihuahua dogs

LAST UPDATED September 2023

This article is written by Pet Circle veterinarian, Dr Kes Holliday DVM

Chihuahuas are the smallest dog breed in the world - but don't let their tiny size fool you! Smart, fierce and sassy, Chihuahuas are renowned for having a larger than life personality. Arising from an ancient Aztec lineage, the Chihuahua is a loving and loyal companion dog. Their small size makes the Chihuahua suited to apartment and indoor living.


Facts About the Chihuahua




Health Concerns


Related Breeds

Further reading

1. Facts About the Chihuahua


Breed size: Place of origin: Other names:
Toy Chihuahua, Mexico Chis
Breed group: Energy level: Weight range:
Toy High 1.8 - 2.7 kg
Life expectancy: Tendency to bark: Height range:
10 - 18 years High 15 - 23 cm at shoulder
Drool factor: Coat length: Colours:
Low Short or long haired Any colour or combination except Merle
Shedding factor: Social needs: Overall grooming needs:
Low Moderate Low maintenance

How big do Chihuahuas get?

A Chihuahua's adult weight can range between 1.8 - 2.7 kg. Their height ranges from 15 - 27 cm at the shoulder with the males being slightly larger than the females.

How much does a Chihuahua cost?

A Chihuahua puppy in Australia usually costs $1300 - 2500. The pandemic has increased demand for puppies, leading to higher cost of purchase.

Do Chihuahuas shed?

Chihuahuas are considered low shedders. They may have either a single or double-coat. Chihuahuas may also have one of two coat types - long coat or smooth coat. So the total amount of shedding will depend on the type of coat your Chihuahua has. Double-coated Chihuahuas undergo a heavier shed in spring and winter, though they will shed gradually all year round. Single-coated Chihuahuas may undergo a single shed in spring or gradually throughout the year.

Regular grooming with a pin brush, grooming glove or deshedding brush for dogs will help keep shedding under control by removing loose hairs from your Chihuahuas's coat.

Are Chihuahuas good pets?

Chihuahuas are known for having 'larger than life' personalities (despite their tiny size!) They make excellent companions for adults, with an adaptable nature and tendency to bond closely to one person. Trainers and breeders don't recommend Chihuahuas for households with young children (under eight years old) due to the chance of injury by a young child. Chihuahuas can get along with cats with the proper introductions and supervision. However, Chihuahuas can be bold and may not back down when confronted by larger dogs. Like all dog breeds, proper early socialisation with children, adults and other pets is required to raise a friendly, confident Chihuahua.

How long do Chihuahuas live?

Chihuahuas are long lived with an expected lifespan of 10 - 18 years. As with any breed, they will live longer if you take good care of them, maintain their weight in a healthy range, and keep their teeth in top condition!

Do Chihuahuas bark much?

Yes, typically Chihuahuas bark a lot. Chihuahuas are considered excellent watch dogs as they are wary of strangers, and will bark to alert their humans to any perceived danger. Chihuahuas may also bark out of boredom or if suffering from separation anxiety. To reduce your Chihuahuas's barking, ensure you train with positive reinforcement from a young age and reduce problem behaviours before they begin!

How do I choose a Chihuahua breeder?

When looking for a Chihuahua, your options are to: a) adopt from a rescue (this is our top recommendation!) b) buy from an or online marketplace or pet store (NOT recommended!), or c) Research a reputable breeder. Never purchase a puppy without inspecting the breeder's premises and asking the 10 Breeder Checklist Questions first. Good breeders socialise their animals, house them humanely, allow you to inspect their premises, and selectively breed healthy traits and good temperaments. Read our Guide to Finding a Good Breeder for more tips.

Are Chihuahuas good with kids?

Chihuahuas can do well with kids as long as they are socialised and trained from a young age to accept children. However, Chihuahuas are not recommended for households with children under eight. Their miniscule size makes them susceptible to injury during rough play. They can easily break bones if trodden on or when jumping from a child's hold. It's important to teach children to play gently with your Chihuahua and supervise their interactions.

2. Chihuahua History

Photo from The American Kennel Club

Chihuahuas are believed to have originated in Mexico, from a cross between the Techichi and the Xoloitzcuintli (Mexican hairless dog). The Chihuahua was worshipped by the Aztecs and had spiritual significance for the noble classes. It was believed that the spirit of a Chihuahua would guide the soul of an Aztec to the afterlife.

Chihuahuas were first recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1904. The first registered Chihuahua was named Midget! Nowadays, Chihuahuas are a popular and well-loved breed throughout Australia and much of the world.

3. Chihuahua Personality


Chihuahuas are known for being lap (and purse!) dogs, loving nothing more than cuddling up with their people. Some owners report that Chihuahuas tend to bond strongly to one person and can be a little suspicious of strangers until they get to know them. Like all dogs, Chihuahuas should be socialised from a young age to be comfortable around different people and pets.

Chihuahuas are known for their bravery and will stand up to another dog no matter what size. For this reason, supervision and recall training is important to prevent your Chihuahua from getting injured while out and about.

Chihuahuas are very intelligent and respond well to positive reinforcement training. Because of their bold personality, it's important to set expectations with your Chihuahua from the get-go to prevent them from ruling the roost! This means being consistent with training and house rules from puppyhood. Despite being pint-sized, Chihuahuas are energetic dogs and need plenty of mental stimulation daily. A bored Chihuahua may develop problem behaviours like excessive barking or chewing.

Take a look at our recommended training treats and interactive toys to keep your Chihuahua busy and mentally worn out. Food dispensing toys such as Lickimats, Snuffle Mats or KONGs are great options to occupy your Chihuahua when you're away.

Too many toys to choose from? Why not let us pick for you with the Curious Box? Each Curious Box contains a selection of two to three engaging toys ( and treats!) Even better, the theme changes every 6 weeks, making it the perfect way to keep your pet's supply of toys and treats fresh, fun, and varied!


Because Chihuahuas thrive on companionship, they can become very attached to their humans and prone to separation anxiety. Dogs with separation anxiety may panic and suffer from stress when left alone.

The best way to treat separation anxiety depends on the dog. Severe cases may not be able to be left alone without injuring themselves and may require medication from your veterinarian. But for most cases, dealing with separation anxiety is all about desensitising your dog to you leaving and returning to the home.

Shop all stress and anxiety

4. Chihuahua Health Issues


Most Chihuahuas are healthy dogs, living to be at least 10 years of age. However there are some inherited conditions to be aware of. We recommend choosing a breeder that routinely tests their breeding stock for any genetic diseases, such as luxating patellas.

Heart Disease

Heart disease in dogs has multiple possible causes, but in Chihuahua, the most common forms are pulmonic stenosis and mitral valve disease.

Pulmonic Stenosis

Pulmonic Stenosis is a condition in which the major artery that carries blood from the heart to the lungs becomes narrowed. Pulmonic Stenosis is first noted with a heart murmur that can progress to congestive heart failure. Early detection of heart disease allows treatment that may prolong your Chihuahuas's life.

Mitral Valve Disease

In Chihuahuas, heart murmurs may occur from a poorly formed valve in the heart, known as the mitral valve. The 'murmur' your vet hears on examination is literally a 'leaky valve' noise - due to this malformed mitral valve, blood in the left ventricle leaks back into the left atrium instead of getting pumped into the body's systemic circulation. As diseases progresses, diminished cardiac function can occur and result in pressure overload to the left side of the heart. Fluid then leaks into the tissue of the lungs, causing a cough, difficulty breathing, and exercise intolerance.

Eye Disease


Cataracts occur when eyes have a cloudy appearance due to changes to the lens. Cataracts can lead to vision loss however they can be removed surgically.


Glaucoma is a painful eye condition that can lead to blindness if not treated quickly. Initial symptoms include watery eyes, squinting and a blue appearance to the cornea, and the eye may appear swollen in advanced cases.

Patellar Luxation

The patella is the kneecap, and patellar luxation is where the kneecap dislocates out of place to one side, usually momentarily. This can be very uncomfortable, and the severity is assessed in stages based on degree of luxation and how easily the kneecap slips back into place. Advanced stage luxation often requires surgery.


Chihuahuas can be prone to idiopathic epilepsy, which leads to seizures with no known cause. There is treatment available for seizure control.

5. Chihuahua Diet and Nutrition


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Chihuahua puppies

Before bringing your Chihuahua puppy home, it's important to have a few things in order:

Nutrition for Chihuahua puppies

Chihuahua puppies need to eat a premium diet that is nutritionally formulated to meet AAFCO Guidelines until they are 10 - 12 months of age. Follow our guides on What is the best puppy food? and Feeding your Puppy to help you determine what is the right food and amount to feed per day, how to pick a food bowl and more.

Raw diets for Chihuahuas? Raw diets are not suitable or safe for Chihuahua puppies due to the risk of bacterial contamination upsetting their sensitive tummies, and an unbalanced diet can lead to nutritional deficiencies. Read more about Raw Diets: The Risks and Benefits.

Nutrition for adult Chihuahuas

It's very important that you feed your Chihuahua a suitable diet that is age appropriate and meets all of their nutritional needs. Premium diets contain balanced levels of protein, fat and carbohydrate plus vitamins, minerals and antioxidants for health and wellbeing.

Because Chihuahuas are more prone to development of dental disease, it may be advisable to feed an oral care diet. Royal Canin Mini Adult Dental Care Dry Dog Food has a scientifically designed kibble shape, size and texture which helps to reduce the formation of dental tartar by polishing the surface of the teeth. Also Hills Science Diet Adult Oral Care Dry Dog Food is a premium quality diet that utilises interlocking fibre technology in the kibble to reduce plaque and tartar.

Related Breeds

Chinese Crested

The Chinese Crested is a toy breed and comes in hairless and coated (powderpuff) varieties. Cresteds are lively, affectionate dogs who make loving companions. The hairless variety makes a convenient indoor pet due to their lack of shedding and doggy odour.


Pronounced 'show-low-eats-QUEENT-lee', the Xoloitzcuintli arises from ancient Aztec ancestors. Xolos come in three sizes (toy, miniature and standard) and may be hairless or coated. While playful, Xolos are known for their serious expression and forehead wrinkles, appearing as though they are deep in thought.

Further reading

Premium pet food: Is it worth it?

Does your dog have a food allergy?

New puppy guide

What's in your pet's food?

How to read the label on a bag of pet food

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