The Long Haired Chihuahua Lifespan: A Comprehensive Guide
PETSIDI – Chihuahuas are one of the most popular dog breeds in the United States. Known for their small size and big personalities, Chihuahuas make excellent companions. While there are two main types of Chihuahuas – the smooth-coated and the long-coated – this article will focus specifically on the lifespan and care of the long haired Chihuahua.
An Overview of the Long Haired Chihuahua
The long haired Chihuahua is distinguishable by its luxurious long coat. Unlike the smooth coat of the short haired Chihuahua, the long coat has an undercoat and longer fringes of hair on the ears, legs, feet, tail and ruff of the neck. Long haired Chihuahuas come in virtually any coat color or pattern. Without regular grooming, the long hair can easily become tangled or even matted.
While the smooth coat and long coat Chihuahuas are both in the Chihuahua breed, long coats were not accepted by major kennel clubs like the American Kennel Club (AKC) until the 1970s. Today, both varieties can be registered and shown. The long coated variety remains slightly less common than the short coat.
Lifespan of the Long Haired Chihuahua
On average, a healthy Chihuahua lifespan ranges from 12-20 years. The long haired Chihuahua lifespan is thought to be the same as that of smooth coats. Since they are so small, Chihuahuas as a breed tend to live longer than larger dog breeds.
To put it into perspective, 12 dog years is equivalent to around 60 human years. So a Chihuahua living to 15 would be around 75 years old adjusted for a human lifespan!
However, there are many factors that can affect the lifespan of a long haired Chihuahua. These include:
- Size – Very small Chihuahuas (under 3 pounds) tend to have shorter lifespans.
- Health issues – Chihuahuas can be prone to certain genetic conditions. Responsible breeders screen for issues.
- Accidents – Their small size makes them fragile. Falls or injuries can be serious.
- Obesity – Excess weight strains the body and can lead to issues like heart disease.
- Care – Lack of vet care, poor nutrition, and insufficient exercise decreases lifespan.
With diligent care and barring accidents or illness, well-bred long haired Chihuahuas can potentially live into their late teens or even early 20s. Proper preventative vet checks, diet, exercise and grooming are key.
Characteristics of Long Haired Chihuahuas
While the coat length differs, long haired Chihuahuas share most of the same characteristics of the short haired variety. Here are some quick facts about these tiny but bold dogs:
- Size: Generally between 3-6 pounds fully grown. They are one of the smallest dog breeds.
- Appearance: Apple shaped head, large upright ears, round “apple” eyes and a tail that curls. Luxurious long coat.
- Coat Colors: Any color or pattern like fawn, cream, chocolate, black, tan, or piebald.
- Temperament: Clever, curious and energetic. Can be wary around strangers. Intensely loyal to their people.
- Lifespan: 12-20 years on average. Small size means longer lifespan than big dogs.
- Exercise: 30 minutes of brisk walking or play time daily. Due to small size, easy to meet exercise needs indoors.
- Grooming: Long haired Chihuahuas require regular brushing to prevent mats. Nails, teeth, ears also need care.
Overall, the long coat is the only major difference between the two types of Chihuahuas. Their small stature but larger than life personalities make them a popular companion dog breed for people who like small pets.
Caring for a Long Haired Chihuahua
To help ensure a long, healthy and happy life, long haired Chihuahuas require dedicated care and attention:
- Diet – Feed a high quality dry kibble formulated for small or toy breeds. Avoid overfeeding.
- Exercise – Short, regular walks and play sessions to meet their energy needs. Games and tricks also stimulate their active minds.
- Grooming – Brush coats thoroughly 2-3 times a week to prevent mats and tangles. Trim hair around eyes, ears and feet if needed. Also attend to dental care, nail trimming, and ear cleaning regularly. Professional groomers can be utilized every 6-8 weeks if desired.
- Vet Care – Annual exams, vaccines, preventatives for parasites and routine dental cleanings help prevent issues. Spay/neuter helps avoid certain cancers.
- Training – Chihuahuas are intelligent and can excel at obedience, agility or other dog sports. Use positive reinforcement techniques.
- Socialization – Careful, positive exposures to people, places and other animals helps build confidence and friendliness.
- Safety – Take care around young children or larger animals that may injure them accidentally. Use harnesses instead of collars and provide close supervision outdoors.
With dedicated, proper care and early health screening by reputable breeders, the long haired Chihuahua can potentially lead a long, vigorous life for such a tiny package! Their affectionate and plucky personalities will surely reward the efforts of diligent owners.
Common Health Issues
While a generally healthy breed, Chihuahuas do have some health issues owners should be aware of:
- Luxating Patella – Kneecap slipping out of place. Can sometimes require surgery.
- Hypoglycemia – Low blood sugar in small Chihuahuas if not fed frequently enough.
- Collapsing Trachea – Weakened windpipe that makes breathing difficult.
- Dental Problems – Missing teeth, overcrowding, plaque and gum disease. Requires veterinary dental care.
- Heart Defects – Certain genetic issues like patent ductus arteriosus in particular. Reputable breeders will screen for heart health.
- Eye Conditions – Lens luxation, glaucoma, corneal dryness.
Most Chihuahuas lead healthy lives, but owners should be familiar with breed-specific conditions to monitor for. Vet checkups and early intervention can help affected Chihuahuas manage issues.
Finding a Reputable Chihuahua Breeder
For the best chance at a healthy long haired Chihuahua with a long lifespan, find responsible breeders who:
- Health test breeding dogs and puppies for genetic diseases common in Chihuahuas.
- AKC registered and can provide pedigrees.
- Ensure parents have sweet, stable temperaments.
- Socialize Chihuahua puppies extensively before placement.
- Stand behind their dogs with health guarantees.
- Avoid selling to pet stores or puppy brokers.
Backyard breeders or pet stores often lack health testing or breeding knowledge. These should be avoided. Instead, an ethical hobby breeder who cares about puppy and parent welfare is ideal.
The Chihuahua Club of America is a trusted breed resource to find reputable local breeders. Adoption from rescue organizations is another option, though background health is less certain.
The Takeaway on Long Haired Chihuahuas
With their lively, affectionate nature, the long coated Chihuahua makes a delightful pet. Small but mighty, they flourish when provided with devoted nurturing, training and healthcare. By partnering with responsible breeders, socializing puppies, and attending to preventative health, owners are rewarded with a bright, spunky companion for potentially fifteen or more years. For a tiny package with a huge personality that sticks close by their human’s side, the long haired Chihuahua can’t be beat!