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Chihuahua Dog Breed

Aliases: Chi(s)

Life Span: 14-18 years
Litter Size: 1-4 puppies, with 2 being the average.
Group: Toy Group
Color: Any solid, marked, or splashed color.
Hair Length: Long, Short
Size: Toy/Small
Shedding: Moderate Shed
Male Height: stand 6-9 inches at the withers.
Male Weight: No more than 6 pounds
Female Height: stand 6-9 inches at the withers.
Female Weight: No more than 6 pounds
 General info courtesy of Additional information about this breed can be found on their website.

Thyroid Disease - Low Risk

The Chihauhua ranks #115 among all breeds for autoimmune thyroiditis prevalence. This is considered a low risk breed so your chances of obtaining a dog with the disease is small. It is still suggested that dogs meant for breeding still be tested to help bring the incidence of disease even lower (or even eliminate it). 

 Rank Among Breeds  Number of Dogs Tested  Percent of Dogs With Disease
 #115  2,052 2.6%

You can download the full report (on all breeds) by the Michigan State University Diagnostic Center for Population and Animal Health. Here

Other Health Problems

Common health problems seen in Chihuahuas are:

  • Patellar luxation (kneecap slips out of place)
  • Demodicosis
  • Cystinuria
  • Mitral valve heart disease
  • Hemophilia (genetic bleeding disorder where the blood does not clot)pulmonic stenosis
  • KCS
  • hydrocephalus
  • hypoglycemia
  • eye problems
  • undescended testes
  • epilepsy
  • collapsing tracheas
  • jawbone disorders
  • rheumatism fractures
  • dental problems
  • heart murmurs and seizure disorders.

Another problem that is seen is Cystinuria, which is when crystals (created from the amino acid, cystine) form in the urine and create kidney and bladder stones. Blood in the urine or urinating in small amounts, are indications of whether or not stones are present. This can be treated, though it is a lifelong commitment.

Mitral valve heart disease, is caused by irregular functions of the valve separating the upper and lower chambers of the left side of the heart. Males have a 50% more likelihood of being affected than female dogs. Usually occurring in older dogs, there is no cure for Mitral valve disease, though there are some medications that may help in prolonging their life. Symptoms include: passing out, lethargy, and weakness.

Chihuahuas are the only breed of dog not born with fully developed skulls. Usually not until 3 or 4 months of age does it finally form. Because of this, they are susceptible to hydrocephalus, or water on the brain. Hydrocephalus is when the fluid, instead of being removed, builds up in the brain and enlarges the skull; usually resulting in death by 6 months of age.

Symptoms of this disease can be:

  • lethargy, not growing at the same rate as the rest of the litter
  • unusually large molera
  • eye abnormalities
  • loss of balance
  • even seizures.

It is not known whether or not it is congenital. A veterinarian can help determine whether it is a normal molera, or hydrocephalus. In some, a molera may never fully close and they are able lead happy, healthy lives.

They are also at risk for hypoglycemia (low glucose or sugar level). This can be fixed by leaving food out at all times, or feeding multiple small meals throughout the day. If left unnoticed, hypoglycemia can lead to comas or even death. They may also seem to have a tendency to tremble, but this is not a health issue; it is usually caused by stress or excitement.

Eye problems are another problem often seen in Chihuahuas, due to their large, protruding eyes. Progressive Retinal Atrophy or PRA (hereditary degenerative lesions of the retina), Generalized PRA (results in night blindness in both eyes), and Central PRA (results in day blindness are ones most often seen. Both generalized and central PRA will lead to total blindness.

Chihuahuas will also need help during whelping due to that puppies have very large heads. A C-section is usually scheduled before whelping occurs, instead of doing a natural birth. They are also known for gaining weight rather quickly, which can also increase their chance for joint injuries and tracheal collapse.