How Fast Can a Chihuahua Run (5 Exercise Suggestions)

Dogs are born with certain characteristics that enable them to be excellent runners. Their feet provide them with excellent grip and traction, and their gait is also equipped with a double suspension, pushing them into the air and helping them to travel at the fastest possible speeds and distances. Due to these advantages, the average dog can run at speeds of 15-20 miles per hour, but in most cases, this intense speed also only lasts for small distances. However, not all dogs can run fast, and one of them is the Chihuahua.

So, how fast can a chihuahua run?

how fast can a chihuahua run
How Fast Can a Chihuahua Run

Chihuahuas are capable of sprinting at speeds of anywhere between 8 and 21 miles per hour, but most fall into the range of 10-15 mph at a maximum. A chihuahua’s anatomy, very small size, and short legs do not allow them to run fast as other dog breeds. However, an individual’s unique speed depends upon some other factors as well besides just basic chihuahua anatomy.

Those factors include the following:

  • Age
  • Size
  • Health condition
  • Diet
  • Body fat percentage
  • Stamina
  • Exercise

Running Limitations of Chihuahuas

Considering that some Chihuahuas can run at rates of up to 15 miles per hour or more while others are limited to just 8 to 10 miles per hour, it’s reasonable to ponder their physical limitations.

It is a fact that Chihuahua bodies include inherent safety measures that prevent them from running too rapidly. Human bones—as well as dog bones—have developed to aid in the movement of one’s body. However, they are also a factor in preventing the body from overexerting its muscles.

The pace and movement of a Chihuahua varies as it accelerates. As a result, different amounts of strain and pressure are applied to its limbs, and their particular anatomy and small size lead to limited movements.

Because Chihuahuas’ legs are so small and only have so much muscle and joint protection, they cannot withstand the same amount of pressure and impact from running as larger breeds. When they run, the strength of those pressures increases, resulting in a decrease in their general mobility due to the body protecting itself from injury.

Keep an eye on your Chihuahua the next time he or she runs, and you should notice that its legs extend considerably further when running around the home as compared to when they’re just strolling around casually. However, you’ll also see how restricted their mobility is compared to dogs of larger stature with more elongated limbs.

Related Reading: Are Chihuahuas Hunting Dogs? (Detailed Explanation)

Additional Reasons Why Your Chihuahua is Running Slowly

  • Age: The age of a Chihuahua is directly related to its running capabilities. Young and senior dogs will very often run more slowly compared to adult Chihuahuas who are in the prime of their health and physical stamina.
  • Size: A Chihuahua’s size matters a lot because small-sized pups will run slowly compared to larger dogs. Even within the Chihuahua breed, there are further variations that affect their overall size. A standard Chihuahua will stand taller than its Teacup counterpart, so it will automatically be a much quicker runner.
  • Health condition: If your Chihuahua is suffering from any serious illness (whether acute or chronic), your dog will very likely never be able to run too fast. Sickly dogs tend to be more stressed and weak compared to healthier ones. When this is the case, be sure to make routine vet trips for general health check-ups to cope with any invisible illnesses and keep your pup feeling its best.
  • Diet: Diet plays an important role in a Chihuahua’s running capabilities too. If the diet is not appropriate for your pup, your dog may run slower than other pups. Always be sure to get the advice of a trusted veterinarian and feed your Chihuahua the healthiest possible diet for its breed, age, and body type to keep its muscles, joints, and insides as healthy and well-functioning as possible.
  • Body fat percentage: If your Chihuahua is a couch potato or a full-time lap dog due to being overweight and out of shape, it will surely have trouble running fast. Always keep your Chihuahua’s body fat percentage balanced, especially since they’re such a small breed and cannot carry heavy amounts of weight very well.
  • Stamina: Dogs, like humans, require a certain amount of stamina and rest to function at their peak in any physically demanding tasks. Chihuahuas naturally have less stamina than larger dogs, so they will also run more slowly. Many big dogs and other breeds are bred for hard physical labor and can endure a lot of activity, but Chihuahuas have primarily always existed for the sake of companionship, so physical stamina has never been a requirement of the breed.
  • Exercise: Proper exercise is also necessary for a Chihuahua’s normal running speed to meet the average amount. However, Chihuahuas only require about 20 to 30 minutes of walking exercise per day, so be sure not to overdo it when your pup begins to wear out. 

Is It Possible to Train Chihuahuas to Run Faster?

Although you’ll be working against many limitations, yes, it is possible to do so if the cause of your Chihuahua’s reduced speed is due to laziness or obesity.

Chihuahuas may be trained to run faster with consistent and proper training as well as any veterinarian-approved dietary changes. One of the most important things you should do before trying to encourage your Chihuahua to run faster is to get him examined by a veterinarian. You must ensure that your Chihuahua does not suffer from joint problems such as Patellar Luxation (PT), which is extremely frequent in Chihuahuas, nor other conditions like arthritis, which will impact their joints.

When training your Chihuahua to run faster, your goal should be to help them get in good physical shape, lose any excess and unhealthy weight, and engage in an appropriate amount of exercise. If you have a smaller breed of Chihuahua that is already in good shape, attempting to speed them up past their body’s capabilities is not healthy nor reasonable. We are strictly discussing Chihuahuas that are overall slower due to resolvable problems, not Chihuahuas that are otherwise healthy but just small and limited.

Following your dog’s checkup, there are a few things to keep in mind moving forward:

  • When your dog is in the process of losing weight or beginning a new exercise routine, start simply and easily to ease them into the new habit without hurting its body. If your dog has had a very lazy life, its body will need some time to adjust to the new activity taking place.
  • To begin practicing running, choose a time of day that is cooler, such as early mornings or early evenings, rather than in the heat of the day so your pup doesn’t overheat and feel unwell. Cooler temperatures also assist in allowing one to run longer distances since the body will be more comfortable during exercise.
  • Make sure that when you take your Chihuahua for a walk or run, you try to choose natural surfaces such as lawn or dirt rather than asphalt since natural surfaces are far more kind on their joints than concrete. A Chihuahua’s tiny feet may be damaged if they walk or run on hot concrete or asphalt surfaces.
  • Walks and brief jogging sessions should be alternated during your training sessions to keep things interesting. Once Chihuahuas have been accustomed to these workouts, progressively increase the distance and speed of the running sessions, but be sure to avoid doing either of these in excess. Your dog may be trained to run farther or longer a small bit, but you still must keep in mind the breed’s limitations and not overwork their little bodies.

Exercise Suggestions for Chihuahuas

  • Begin slowly: To begin exercising more with your Chihuahua, start cautiously and gradually increase the length and pace of the exercise with each passing week. For some individual dogs, you may even be capable of working your way up to a full hour every day! However, be sure to pay attention to your specific dogs and their unique limitations as this isn’t the same for every single pup. Additionally, people have a longer stride than teeny-tiny Chihuahuas, so this can make it very easy to overestimate their abilities. Exercising a Chihuahua is very much different than walking any other breed of dog, and you’ll need to keep this in mind.
  • Teach your tiny pup to walk on a leash or harness: It is incredibly essential to teach your Chihuahua to walk on a leash or harness since it’s part of having a healthy daily exercise activity for them. After they are leash-trained or harness-trained, they will then be able to access many public areas outside their home to exercise freely and enjoy the outdoors. It is highly recommended to use a harness for such a small breed like a Chihuahua rather than using a leash while walking because of the breed’s proclivity for tracheal collapse. They will become unable to breathe properly when the cartilage around their neck grows weak and collapses, obstructing their windpipe. While a large dog may gag for a moment or otherwise be unphased by pulling against a collar and leash on a walk, this can be a serious health concern for such a tiny dog as a Chihuahua.
  • Keep an eye on climate conditions: Chihuahuas aren’t suited for cold weather, owing to their roots in sunny Mexico. A Chihuahua will often need to wear a sweater when the temperature drops below 65°F in the morning. When the temperatures on the sidewalks are expected to climb, hot weather can also be hazardous to them, too. Chihuahua owners should put their palms against the sidewalk for about seven seconds to see how it would feel to their sensitive little dogs and adjust the pup’s exercise schedule or attire accordingly.
  • Locate a tiny dog park and take your Chihuahuas there: Chihuahuas should always be able to play with dogs of the same size as themselves. A hunting dog can mistake them for prey if they’re in the wrong place at the wrong time. As a result, dog owners must confine their Chihuahuas to parks specifically designated as tiny dog parks to ensure their safety.
  • Maintain an age-appropriate routine: Chihuahuas, like people, will begin to experience the aches and problems of old age as they become older. Chihuahuas are considered elderly dogs when they reach the age of eight years old. Exercise is still necessary at this stage of their lives, but it should be low-impact and with plenty of time between sessions to allow them to recover.

Physical Limitations of Chihuahuas (Besides Running Speed)

Although they are incredibly nimble, Chihuahuas are only capable of a certain amount of physical activity at a time. Because of their small height and distinct physical characteristics, Chihuahuas should be restricted or discouraged from participating in particular sports unless the parent is confident in their pet’s athletic ability. Additionally, if your Chihuahua is pregnant, you should be extremely cautious regarding exercise.

When contemplating any of the activities listed below for your Chihuahua, use caution and good judgment.

Jumping from heights

In particular, this breed is predisposed to the luxating patella (as discussed above), a disorder in which the kneecap becomes dislodged from its socket. Luxating patellae can be present at birth in Chihuahuas, or they may just develop gradually over time. Excessive jumping from great heights, even heights such as just the level of a normal chair, has the potential to aggravate this disease even more.

Intense cardio

Snouts on Apple Head Chihuahuas are often shorter than those on other breeds, which can make breathing more difficult for them. As a result, short-snouted Chihuahuas may have difficulty participating in physically demanding sports such as jogging or trekking whatsoever. Parents who intend to train their Chihuahuas for longer lengths of time than the average Chihuahua should plan for more breaks and fluids and be sure to move at a manageable speed for their pets.

chihuahua running
Chihuahua running


Do Chihuahuas love going for a run?

The fact that they are little and have short legs does not stop them from running around and releasing their energy, which is why you may notice them having spurts of activity when you are at home. This may also, on the other hand, be an indication that you aren’t walking them nearly enough.

Chihuahuas adore jogging, but just because they enjoy it doesn’t mean you should go long distances with them or expect them to keep pace with your running speed. After all, they’re only a few inches tall. Taking them for a run with you is not recommended because most of their running is done by roaming at their speed and burning their energy positively and in a way that best suits their body type.

How much exercise is too much for a Chihuahua to handle?

In the case of a Chihuahua, who is not used to more than a 15-minute stroll or spurt of playtime, anticipating more than an hour of exercise might put them at risk for injury and medical complications. If they are overextended, they may become resistant to exercise or have mobility problems as well as anxiety exhaustion, or lethargy. It’s recommended to not exceed 30 minutes of physical activity and exercise and to always provide adequate time for rest, hydration, and recovery for these little dogs.

Chihuahuas are terrific home dogs, are they not?

Yes. They are! Chihuahuas are loyal, and friendly, and make excellent family pets when they are treated with respect. Normally, they can receive all of the exercises they need in the comfort of their own home or apartment due to not needing much space to accommodate their energy-burning needs.

Do Chihuahuas prefer one person over another?

Although they are endearingly naughty, the vast majority of Chihuahuas are devoted lap dogs. Even though they are well recognized to gravitate toward one individual and reject new people, it is also possible that these dogs are simply more predisposed to appreciate those who are more in tune with their personalities.

Do Chihuahuas bark frequently?

Chihuahuas are high-energy dogs, and if they don’t receive enough exercise throughout the day, they’ll need to find other ways to get rid of their surplus energy. Dogs of this breed will regularly channel their excess energy into a high-pitched, monophonic bark. This is rather frequent, and even though it is quite irritating, they still must get rid of the excess energy in some way. Regular exercise and enrichment may help in reducing the excess barking that is very common amongst Chihuahuas.

What types of ailments are Chihuahuas prone to having?

Chihuahuas are prone to contracting numerous bacterial and viral illnesses, usually the same ones that affect other dogs, such as parvovirus, rabies, distemper, etc. They are also more likely to experience trouble with arthritis and patellar luxation as well.

Related Reading: Are Chihuahuas Good for Hiking?

stuart and his dog

Family Dog Expert Author

Hi there! I’m Stuart, a devoted dog lover and family dog expert with over a decade of experience working with our furry companions. My passion for dogs drives me to share my knowledge and expertise, helping families build strong, loving bonds with their four-legged friends. When I’m not writing for SirDoggie, you’ll find me hiking, playing with my beautiful dog, or studying music.