It’s an open secret among dog lovers and dog breeders that smaller breeds generally outlive larger ones. Why this is so, is not generally known. In accordance with this trend, the diminutive Chihuahua is the longest living breed of dog!
The breed standard specifies that they can live from 11-18 years of age. However, there are people whose Chihuahuas have lived for over 25 years! This is quite astonishing in the scheme of things. It’s equivalent to a human living till they’re 125 years. Chihuahuas are therefore long term companions and will grow along with your children till they are well into their teens.
However, this breed of dog suffers from certain breed specific health problems. Also, they are the only dog breed born with the dog equivalent of a “fontanelle”. These holes in the skull when they are born, close up with time, but for the first 6 months of their existence, great care needs to be taken over them.
Chihuahuas also enjoy each other’s company over that of other dogs. Not surprising really. If I was 6 inches tall, I would seek out my own kind too!
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Inbreeding of dogs is quite a significant problem. In the quest for getting the “Perfect Dog”, breeders try and wipe out variations within breeds, and this leads to a progressively smaller gene pool to choose from.
What this means, is that the pups that are born are more likely to have “defective” genes that manifest themselves as congenital conditions. That is why several thoroughbreds are not very healthy. I myself have lost a beloved dog – A German Shepherd named Candy – to a congenital defect when she was in the prime of her life at the age of three.
Almost one third of all Dalmatians suffer from hearing disability due to congenital birth defects. This is a significant problem, as one third is a huge percentage. It probably can’t be helped, but this fact should make people more sensitive to the issues that arise from Inbreeding and the detrimental effects it has on the health of the dog.
Naturally, this also leads to a higher incidence of deaths and lowers the average life expectancy of pure breed dogs. It’s very sad, and maybe what I’m trying to say is – don’t complain if your dog has a few inconsistencies (unless you plan to show him/her in a professional competition). Inconsistencies mean that your dog is probably more healthy than one that is “really pure”, and surely that is a small price to pay?