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All about your Chihuahua

Spirited, fun-loving and ready to take on the world.

Chihuahuas are small, sassy and smart, with a stubborn streak, so you will need to make sure you let this big character know who is boss from the start. Learn more about your feisty companion, from his grooming and exercise needs, to the things you can do to keep him happy and healthy.

Chihuahua Commencing A Run Through Long Grass

Breed information & advice

The Chihuahua is the smallest breed in the world, and belongs to the toy dog group. He is active and easy to train, a natural lapdog and good at announcing the arrival of strangers, making him popular with older people.

  • A Chihuahua puppy can be shy and retiring at first, but will form a strong attachment to you with time.
  • A good brush once a week will keep his coat in shape.
  • Typically he will weigh between 1.5kg and 3kg, when fully grown.
  • A healthy Chihuahua can live from 12 to 15 years.

Typical size of a Chihuahua

Small: 15cm-23cm

Due to his small stature, your Chihuahua needs to be gently exercised throughout the day, and should only be walked with a soft, wide collar or harness, to avoid putting too much pressure around his throat. . Playing games and using treats and toys is a great way to allow your dog to burn off some energy and build a bond between you both.

Your Chihuahua will not need a huge amount of food – however it is important to consider his age, size and the time of day when preparing his meals. Always follow the guidance on the food packet.

Half an hour of exercise a day

If walking your Chihuahua, take him to a safe area without any obstacles that he might find difficult to cross, due to his short legs.

Chihuahua With Raised Paw Stands On A Lawn
Fawn Coloured Chihuahua Looking Directly At You

Common health problems & illnesses

Your Chihuahua will need all of the usual vaccinations and check-ups to help protect him against common ailments. There are some conditions which this breed is more prone to though, and you may want to familiarise yourself with the symptoms, so you know what to look out for.

1. Lameness and joint issues

This breed can suffer from lameness, caused by anything such as a strain or sprain, to more complicated conditions, such as a luxating or ‘floating’ kneecap. Some bony disorders are not obvious in puppies but can become noticeable as the dog grows. This is why it is very important to observe your Chihuahua’s movements, and if you notice him limping or at times he has a hopping movement, get him checked by your vet.

Almost 7% of Tesco Pet Insurance claims made by owners of this breed in 2015 related to a luxating patella.

2. Corneal ulcer

Corneal ulcers are fairly common in this breed, and can be caused by trauma to the surface of the eye. There can be some long-term damage to the vision, but most cases can be fully treated. Look to see if your dog’s eyes have become uncomfortable, watery, red or leaky, or if he has become highly sensitive to light. If you're in any doubt, visit your vet for advice.

3. Upset stomach

Suffering from an upset stomach is an unpleasant experience for any dog, but it is treatable, so it’s important to seek advice if you suspect your Chihuahua is ill. Signs to look out for include dry-heaving, vomiting and diarrhoea. Diarrhoea can be caused by worms, too many treats and stress, among other reasons. Changing a dog's diet suddenly can cause tummy upsets and gastroenteritis can also occur from a dog eating things he shouldn’t. With most cases of gastroenteritis however, the exact cause is unknown, but your vet can advise on the best course of action.

4. Heart problems

Chihuahuas can be born with a heart problem called a congenital heart murmur. Murmurs are caused by abnormal blood flow in the heart. This defect can be detected by a vet listening to a dog’s heart using a stethoscope, and it will often sound like a whooshing noise. Heart murmurs are very common and can simply disappear over time.

5. Epilepsy

Epilepsy occurs when the brain becomes over-active, causing symptoms such as twitching, fits and seizures. Fits can vary from mild signs such as a dog simply staring and appearing vacant, to more severe signs such as the body becoming rigid, with twitching and salivating and losing control of bladder and bowels. Fits can be distressing for owners, but the dog will not be aware of it when it happens. He will be tired and confused when he comes out of a fit. It’s really important to contact your vet if your dog has a fit, whether mild or severe.

Dog name popularity

If you’re struggling to think of a name for your new Chihuahua, take a look at the most popular ones at Tesco Pet Insurance for inspiration.

Dog name popularity
Alfie
Lola
Poppy
Bella
Chico

Average treatment costs

Wondering whether pet insurance for your Chihuahua is worth it? We’ve put together the top five conditions claimed for by Tesco Pet Insurance customers in 2015, and the average cost of treatment.

ConditionAverage treatment cost
Lameness£879.36
Epilepsy, fitting or seizures£177.48
Cruciate rupture£272.52
Diabetes£153.09
Lipoma£317.30

Tesco Pet Insurance claims data from paid treatments including excesses from 01/01/15 to 31/12/15.

Considering Chihuahua insurance?

We know your dog is an important member of the family, so give them the protection they deserve with Tesco Pet Insurance.

Tesco Bank Pet Insurance is arranged, administered and underwritten by Royal & Sun Alliance Insurance plc.

Grooming advice

His short coat means your Chihuahua is relatively low maintenance. Regular brushing will keep his coat soft and tangle-free, and you will only need to bathe your dog once every month or two.

Your companion will either have a smooth or long coat. If smooth, his coat will be more fitted to his body and have a much shinier appearance, whereas if long, his coat could be flat or slightly curly and he will have a long full tail. If you practice brushing your Chihuahua as a puppy, this will help in the long run and provide valuable bonding time for you.

Regular ear checks are needed to ensure there are no waxy build-ups and to prevent infection. Your pet will need his nails clipped regularly as they will grow quickly – if you can hear his nails tapping on the floor when he walks, they need cutting.

Just as with all other small breeds, your Chihuahua will be prone to poor dental hygiene, but brushing his teeth daily will keep any bacteria and plaque away.

Fun & interesting facts

  • This breed is named after the Mexican state of Chihuahua.
  • Chihuahuas were regarded as sacred by the ancient Mesoamerican civilisation of Northern America.
  • The smallest dog in the world – as of 2014 – is a Chihuahua called Milly, who measures just 9.65cm tall.
  • Your dog will enjoy burrowing, so you’ll often find him hiding under piles of clothes.
  • He will also have a surprisingly strong will that will keep you both entertained, as long as you keep charge.

Important information

KEY INFORMATION

The content on this page aims to offer an informative introduction to pet breeds, but does not constitute expert veterinary advice. If your dog or cat falls ill or has an injury, contact your vet immediately. Tesco Bank Pet Insurance has a partnership with vetfone™ which means that as a customer, you can benefit from their advice as part of your policy.

Tesco Bank Pet Insurance is arranged, administered and underwritten by Royal & Sun Alliance Insurance plc. The vetfone™ service is provided by Vetsdirect Ltd.

All facts and figures were correct at date of publication and were compiled using a range of sources.

WHAT IS VETFONE?

Vetfone™ is a 24/7 helpline that provides expert advice from nurses qualified with the RCVS (Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons). If your pet has a medical emergency, or you need reassurance on grooming, feeding or general advice, vetfone™ is there to help.

As a Tesco Pet Insurance customer, you can access expert veterinary advice provided by RCVS registered vet nurses as a standard benefit with your policy, and the service is provided at no additional cost. A quick call could answer any questions you have about your pet, give you peace of mind and could even save you an expensive trip to the vet.

Tesco Bank Pet Insurance is arranged, administered and underwritten by Royal & Sun Alliance Insurance plc. The vetfone™ service is provided by Vetsdirect Ltd.

Discover more breeds

Browse our other cat and dog guides to learn about some of the UK’s most popular breeds.