Chihuahua VS Golden Retriever: 19 Differences

Updated June 5, 2023

There are many points to consider when choosing between a Chihuahua vs. a golden retriever.

These breeds are entirely different, one may even say they are opposites, but both are charming and deserve their popularity.

You may start by asking yourself whether you want a large dog or a pet that fits in a bag, but temperament matters more than anything else.

Golden retrievers are a perfect fit for extraverted and active people looking for an equally outgoing and exuberant dog. Chihuahuas are more sensitive, needy, and alert but are very affectionate and protective of their owners.

These breeds also have different grooming and exercise needs, lifespans, behavior problems, trainability levels, and attitudes towards other dogs and children.

Size & Weight

Size is the most apparent difference between golden retrievers and Chihuahuas. Golden retrievers are medium-sized dogs ranging from 21 to 24 inches in height and weighing 55-75 pounds. Males are taller and more athletic than females.

Chihuahuas are pocket-sized dogs around six to nine inches tall and weighing two to six pounds. Such a dog may not be suitable for guarding property or pushing a wheelchair, but it can be easily transported in an airplane cabin.


When it comes to Chihuahua vs. golden retriever shedding, the former is a clear winner. Golden retrievers are notorious for their heavy shedding.

Their gorgeous golden coat changes year-round, just like human hair, but goldens also blow out their undercoat twice a year, which results in fur laying all around the house.

Chihuahuas, too, shed as their fur goes through its life cycle, but they don’t have seasonal shedding phases. Chihuahua hair is short and not noticeable on carpets, furniture, and clothes.


Golden retrievers are extraverted, exuberant, affectionate dogs. They love cuddles, playing fetch, meeting new people, and exploring new terrains. These gentle giants won’t hurt a fly but are very protective of their owners.

Chihuahuas are tiny dogs with big personalities. They may appear weak and harmless, but they are among the most fearless, dignified dogs. Chihuahuas are very alert and would make perfect watchdogs if not for their size.

Although they may be aloof with strangers, Chihuahuas are cuddly and loving with their owners. They are loyal and protective.


A golden retriever might be the best dog for a family with kids, particularly school-aged kids. Goldens are patient, gentle, and affectionate, so they can provide emotional support to children, but they are also energetic and goofy.

While golden retrievers love babies, they may be too active and unintentionally knock over a child, so supervision is essential.

Chihuahuas aren’t suitable for young children despite their seeming harmlessness. They are easily triggered by loud noises, and young children may accidentally hurt the dog.

However, like goldens, Chihuahuas make lovely companions for older kids who are responsible for their actions. They quickly bond with their little owners and are very protective of them.


Golden retrievers are perfect for households with multiple pets. They are rarely aggressive and are always up to play. Because goldens have a low prey drive, they won’t harm a cat or smaller pet.

However, they may be over the top for old or calm pets. Aggression may arise between two intact male or female dogs.

Chihuahuas aren’t the most sociable. They prefer to be the only pet in the house and get jealous of the owner’s attention. However, they can get along with other pets of they’ve been accustomed to being around other animals since puppyhood.

Barking Level

Golden retrievers are quiet dogs. They only bark when necessary – for instance, to alert the owner about danger or when overly excited.

Perhaps, you already know how much Chihuahuas bark. They are notorious barkers because they are very alert. However, excessive barking seen in many Chihuahuas isn’t natural but results from a lack of activity and discipline.

With proper training and enough exercise, a Chihuahua will still bark every so often, but it won’t be non-stop.

Intelligence & Trainability

Golden retriever intelligence is astonishing. According to canine researcher Stanley Coren who studied the intelligence of 138 dog breeds, goldens are the fourth smartest breed.

They memorize commands from five repetitions and have a 95% obedience rate. For comparison, an average dog needs over 20 repetitions to learn a command and obeys it about half of the time.

Chihuahuas rank 125th in the same study, so they are well below average in terms of working dog intelligence. However, that doesn’t mean that Chihuahuas are dumb.

They are pretty bright, but the difference in golden retriever vs. Chihuahua intelligence lies in obedience. Chihuahuas are stubborn, so training them requires some experience.

Common Behavior Problems

Golden retrievers are sensitive dogs attached to their owners, so they often have separation anxiety. Pulling on the leash and jumping on people is natural for goldens because of their energetic, friendly nature, but such habits should be discouraged.

Without enough exercise, a golden retriever may turn to destructive behavior such as chewing and digging. Chihuahuas are prone to aggression towards people and other animals due to territorial behavior or anxiety.

They are also prone to excessive vocalization and may disobey commands even with training. Some Chihuahuas develop separation anxiety if not properly socialized.

Exercise Needs

Golden retrievers are hunting dogs with massive energy levels and stamina. They need at least an hour of moderate activity or 40 minutes of vigorous exercise daily, and field golden retrievers need more activity than show goldens.

Golden retrievers appreciate mentally stimulating activities, such as hiking, swimming, playing fetch, and hunting. They quickly get bored walking the same route because of their brilliant intellect.

Chihuahuas are often perceived as couch-type pets, but this is wrong. They don’t need as much physical activity as large dogs, but half an hour of walking a day is a must.

Both dogs can become obese, develop health conditions, and engage in destructive behavior without sufficient exercise.

Grooming Needs

In terms of golden retriever vs. Chihuahua grooming, the winner is obvious. The lustrous, long fur of goldens requires a lot of upkeep. Owners must brush their dogs daily to prevent tangling, matting, and spot parasites that may be hiding in the coat.

How often to bathe a golden retriever depends on its lifestyle, but most dogs need a bath every four to six weeks. Shaving can damage a golden retriever’s coat and affect its thermoregulation, but feather trimming is acceptable.

Chihuahua grooming is foolproof. Short-haired Chihuahuas only need to be brushed every so often with a rubber glove to evenly distribute skin oils.

Long-haired Chihuahuas need more frequent brushing, but they don’t need haircuts. Bathing every six weeks will help to keep the dog’s fur healthy.


Small dogs tend to live longer than large dogs; that’s the sad truth.

Golden retriever life expectancy is 10-12 years, and Chihuahua can live nearly twice longer as goldens, up to 20 years.

Health Issues

Golden retrievers are prone to epilepsy, obesity, cancer, hip and elbow dysplasia, thyroid disorders, skin conditions, particularly without sufficient grooming, and progressive retinal atrophy.

Goldens that swim frequently may suffer from chronic ear infections, so owners must establish an ear cleaning routine.

Chihuahuas are susceptible to luxating patella, hypoglycemia, spinal injuries, obesity, bladder and kidney stones, heart murmur, hip dysplasia, pulmonic stenosis, and dental problems.


Golden retriever puppy prices range from $1,000 to $3,000, although show-quality puppies may cost double the amount. Rescue organizations offer golden retrievers for $500 or less.

Chihuahuas aren’t as expensive – puppies with a complete document package may cost $500-$1,500, depending on the dog’s type, compliance with the breed standard, and the breeder’s reputation.

Teacup Chihuahuas are the priciest, whereas short-haired Chihuahuas are the most affordable because they are more widespread.

Suitability for Inexperienced Dog Owners

Golden retrievers are demanding to exercise and grooming but make excellent pets for first-time owners. Even a child can train such an obedient dog, so a golden retriever is unlikely to cause the owner any problems.

Getting a Chihuahua for a first-time dog owner may not be the best idea. Although these dogs are small, they aren’t easy to train and are very needy.

However, if the owner is willing to take responsibility, a Chihuahua can grow into an intelligent, well-behaved, loving dog.

Suitability for Apartments

Chihuahuas are the best apartment dogs – they are small and need moderate exercise. However, they need to be trained not to vocalize unless necessary.

Despite their size and energy levels, golden retrievers can also thrive in an apartment setting. As long as the owner provides the dog with enough exercise outdoors, a golden retriever doesn’t care about the space.

Suitability as Service Dogs

Golden retrievers make the best service dogs. They are physically capable of helping people with mobility issues, are very social, and are highly obedient.

Chihuahuas make good emotional support and therapy pets because they are cuddly, but they aren’t reliable when it comes to performing essential tasks and are physically limited.


Golden retrievers are the third most popular dog breed in the U.S., according to American Kennel Club. Chihuahuas rank 11th among over 150 breeds.

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