Chihuahuas are extremely popular. They are all the fun of a bigger dog rolled up into a portable package! That’s why there are some things all Chihuahua owners should know and be careful of. 

When our ancestors were breeding to get these tiny canines, some problems came along for the ride. These are the most common ones, whether for short or long-haired Chihuahua breeds.

From the vet: 3 common pup issues for Chihuahua owners
From the vet: 3 common pup issues for Chihuahua owners

Issues for New Chihuahua Owners

Every breed has its issues. These are known as breed-associated disorders. However, Chihuahuas are no different. All owners know that many of their problems came along with their specific Chihuahua dos and don ts.

Moreover, very few of these types of issues are exclusive to a single breed. So, three things all Chihuahua owners must know – present both in adults and Chihuahua puppies — are as follows:


Chihuahuas have a very noticeable face and head, as you have probably noticed on every Beverly Hills Chihuahua ad. Some Chihuahua owners refer to them as “apple head Chihuahuas”, but what seems really cute and infantile can be a problem.

Hydrocephalus, literally water on the brain, is a problem seen often in long-haired Chihuahua breeds. The hydrocephalus condition occurs when there is cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) in the skull, putting pressure on the brain and associated structures.

The large head can be a sign that there are abnormalities associated with the normal circulation of CSF. This allows it to build up in abnormal ways, increasing intracranial pressure.

3 things all Chihuahua owners must know illustrated with a close-up eye of a Chihuahua
3 things all Chihuahua owners must know illustrated with a close-up eye of a Chihuahua

Periodontal Disease

Periodontal disease is a disease characterized by infected and loose teeth and foul breath. Eventually, the teeth become loose and fall out. You might not think that your dog cares about her smile, but most certainly she cares about how bad those teeth hurt while they loosen, erodes the jaw bone, and finally fall out.

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Chihuahuas in my practice seem to usually have bad teeth and adults are often already missing some by the time I see them. If you have a puppy, ask your veterinary professional to show you how to keep the teeth healthy for life. It doesn’t matter if you have a short or long-haired Chihuahua.

You should make sure that you always have the preventive dentistry recommended by your veterinarian. For Chihuahua puppies, this will include regular dental cleanings under anesthesia and a comprehensive at-home program.

Patellar Luxation

The patella is actually the “knee cap”, but a dog’s knees aren’t quite like ours. Because of the build of their legs, their knees seem to be higher on their legs than a human’s.

A patella should reside in the center of the leg and normally stays in place inside a groove on the femur. In some Chihuahua puppies, the groove seems to be more shallow and allows the patella to slip out of place, a condition we call patellar luxation.

There are probably other factors that contribute to this issue, but patellar luxation is a breed-associated disorder for toy breeds. Your veterinarian can examine your dog and characterize the type of luxation, as well as provide you with advice on how to manage the problem. Left untreated, patellar luxation can lead to crippling osteoarthritis.

Joint issues in Chihuahuas, illustrated with an image of a Chi lying down
Joint issues in Chihuahuas, illustrated with an image of a Chi lying down

Beverly Hills Chihuahua is not the only breed associated with these disorders. So, the best course of action is always to have a good relationship with your veterinarian.

If you’re like us Chihuahua owners, you know that they’re fun and can be very long-lived, especially if you have a good partnership with your veterinary team because, after you, they are the experts on your specific funny Chihuahuas.

Frequently Asked Questions

Chihuahua lovers and owners club often have many questions related to Chihuahuas, with the most common ones being:

Do Chihuahuas recognize their owners?

Yes, Chihuahuas are known to be loyal and form strong bonds with their owners. They can recognize and differentiate their owners from others through scent, voice, and familiarity. Their affectionate nature and close bond contribute to their recognition and attachment to their human companions.

Are Chihuahuas very protective of their owners?

Yes, Chihuahuas can exhibit protective behavior towards their owners, despite their small size. They have a strong bond with their owners and may become vocal, alert, or even aggressive in an attempt to protect them from perceived threats. However, the level of protectiveness can vary between individual Chihuahuas, with some being more protective than others.

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