The Chaco Tortoise is considered a threatened animal. They are becoming less populous primarily because of habitat destruction and the pet trade. Around 75,000 Chaco Tortoises are captured yearly to sell as pets in Argentina and Paraguay, however, Chaco Tortoises are rarely sold outside those areas. It is believed that around 32% of Chaco Tortoises die within one year of being caught. Chaco Tortoises are also threatened because of destruction of their habitats. Because Chacos are primarily grazing tortoises, when the ground vegetation is burnt off, they are forced to compete with larger, faster animals like goats for food. The destruction of the habitat makes it difficult for the tortoises to hide and they are easily collected. Chaco tortoises are members of the subgenus Chelonoidis, and some authors believe Chelonoidis should be considered its own genus, thus the Chaco Tortoise is sometimes listed as Chelonoidis chilensis.
The Chaco Tortoise is moderately sized. They are closely related to the Red-Footed and Yellow-Footed Tortoises and are the smallest Geochelone tortoise known.