The smallest of all dog breeds, the tiny Chihuahua is sensitive and playful. While they are usually not the best choice for homes with small children, Chihuahuas are the perfect size for apartment lifestyles and make excellent companions for seniors, especially when trained and socialized early.

Breed-related concerns

Every dog breed carries a distinct set of genetic advantages and health risk factors. The following are the most common diseases found in the Chihuahua breed. Hopefully, your Chihuahua will not face these problems. However, early detection and preventive healthcare can make all the difference in helping your dog live a longer, happier life (see breed-related disease descriptions below).

Puppy (birth to 1 year)*

  • Retained deciduous teeth
  • Juvenile hypoglycemia
  • Hydrocephalus
  • Cryptorchidism

Adult (1 to 6 years)*

  • Tracheal collapse
  • Patella luxation
  • Bladder stones
  • Pancreatitis

Senior (7 years and older)*

  • Tracheal collapse
  • Patella luxation

Breed-related disease descriptions

Listed in alphabetical order *Please note that these common diseases can occur earlier or later in the dog’s life.Bladder stones. May be due to bladder infection or abnormal excretion of minerals by the kidneys. Signs may include increased frequency of urination, straining or inability to urinate, and blood in the urine.

Cryptorchidism. One or both testicles fail to descend and are not present in the scrotum. Signs are often first detected during a routine physical exam. If not removed, undescended testicles are more likely to become cancerous or twist up causing blood to stop flowing to it.

Hydrocephalus. A build-up of fluid in the brain due to abnormal brain development or disease. Signs include changes in behavior, blindness, deafness, convulsions (seizures) and sometimes an enlarged or domed skull.

Juvenile hypoglycemia. Low blood sugar seen in young, small breeds of dogs. Symptoms include weakness, seizures, blindness and occasionally death.

Pancreatitis. Inflammation of the pancreas. Often occurs secondary to dietary indiscretion (eating garbage) or ingestion of a fatty meal. Signs include lethargy, loss of appetite, vomiting, diarrhea and a painful tummy.

Patella luxation. The kneecap slips out of place occasionally leading to pain and lameness. Symptoms include holding the affected limb up off the ground, not wanting to exercise and lameness of hind legs.

Retained deciduous teeth. Delayed shedding of deciduous or “baby” teeth can cause adult teeth to grow in crooked or out of place. This can cause food to become entrapped and, left untreated, can lead to severe gum disease.

Tracheal collapse. Progressive weakening of the walls of the trachea (wind pipe) which allows it to collapse in on itself. Signs may include coughing (especially when excited or during exercise), difficulty breathing and wheezing. Cough often sounds harsh or like honking.

Help your dog live a longer, healthier life. Ask your veterinarian about a breed-related preventive health plan.

Note: Pet owner information provided in this article and more available through the Pet Health Library at Copyright © American Animal Hospital Association

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