If you notice that your Chihuahua always burrows under the covers, you might find you’re curious about the reason.
Here are the top details you need to know about why do Chihuahuas sleep under covers and if this is a typical Chihuahua behavior!
Like most other dog breeds, Chihuahuas are denning animals, which means that their biological/lizard brain tells them to burrow and hide in “dens” when they go to sleep.
This instinct keeps them safe from predators in the wild while they get some much-needed shut-eye. Other common reasons for Chihuahuas to sleep under covers include temperature regulation, bonding with their “pack leader,” separation anxiety or crankiness, and illness or injury.
Reasons for Chihuahuas to burrow
The reason for Chihuahuas to burrow may change from one time of the year or their life to another. It may be different from one day to the next! Regardless, the main reasons for burrowing include:
- Biological instinct
- Temperature regulation
- Bonding and snuggling
- Comfort for emotional reasons
- Illness or injury
1. Biological instinct
As mentioned above, Chihuahuas have the same biological denning instinct that all other dog breeds do. Many people find this funny since Chihuahuas aren’t exactly something you’d find wandering the forests in the wild.
However, their lizard brain comes from the same place as other dogs’ lizard brains, so the same instincts apply!
This is enhanced by the fact that their small size makes them easy targets for predators. They must be extra cautious to hide themselves away and make their small size a strength instead of a weakness. Burrowing makes it harder for predators to find them (more on that later).
2. Temperature regulation
The other main reason for Chihuahuas to burrow under the covers instead of simply curling up on top of them is that they get cold easily! This is to do with their size and body fat, of course.
There’s a reason that tiny dogs always have adorable clothing to wear in the winter, after all! When the cold weather sets in, they’ll need to snuggle in under covers to stay warm and protect their body heat. We talk about this more in detail below.
Chihuahuas rely on this burrowing, especially since they have very short fur. Since they lack the thick undercoat a most larger dog breed has, they got cold easier and faster.
3. Bonding and snuggling
Most people work 9-5 jobs, leaving their Chihuahuas alone for long periods. If your Chihuahua is feeling lonely or like you aren’t around nearly enough, they’ll want to burrow in under the blankets to be pressed up close to you and simply enjoy some time with you! Tugs on the heartstrings, right?
As well, all dogs are pack animals. They will want to be snuggle with their “pack” while they sleep. Firstly, there is safety in numbers, and it also aligns much more with their being social animals!
4. Comfort for emotional reasons
If your dog is stressed or overwhelmed or simply annoyed, they’ll burrow under the blankets simply to get away from it all. If you have company over, they may only want to be the center of attention for so long. When they need a break from the noise, stress, or frustration, they’ll burrow away.
When this happens, it’s essential to respect their need. Dogs have the right to come and go as much as humans do. If you force your dog to interact when they don’t want to, it could result in them lashing out and possibly hurting someone. It also can make them fear you.
5. Illness or injury
If your dog is feeling under the weather, they’ll find a place to rest and recover their health problems. This is partially the biological instinct again (an injured dog has a harder time defending themselves from predators), but it’s also comforting.
After all, how many of us snuggle in our PJs with a book when we are sick? A dog burrowing away is pretty much the same thing! Of course, if you are concerned, you can take your dog in to get a check-up.
Is it bad for dogs to sleep under covers?
You might feel concerned about your dog’s seemingly constant need to crawl into the bed with you under the covers each night.
However, you’ll be relieved to know that this is perfectly normal and healthy behavior. This is especially common in Chihuahuas, who grew up with littermates or other burrowing animals when they sleep.
However, you should note that a sudden change to doing this could be a red flag. If they usually sleep in their bed or elsewhere and are suddenly burrowing into your bed with you. In that case, you should ask your vet about it.
This sudden behavior change could be harmless. Perhaps they’re feeling the change in temperature or want to be closer to you while you sleep. Or they’re missing you and want to snuggle up and spend some time as close as possible.
Keep an eye out for other symptoms and behavior/pattern changes, and take your Chihuahua in for a check-up if you need to.
Why do small dogs like to sleep under covers?
It’s normal for many small dogs to sleep under the covers with or without their humans. While we’ve discussed the main reasons above, let’s focus on why it’s specific to small dogs!
As mentioned, they can’t regulate their temperature as much as larger dogs. They adapt to sleeping under the covers because it acts as an incubator and regulates their temperature.
Whether they do it seasonally or year-round, this helps them stay nice and toasty warm while they sleep. This is most likely a sign if you notice that they start their night under the covers but then end up on top of them, or perhaps on the floor when they get overheated.
Why do Chihuahuas like to burrow under blankets?
So, what’s with the need to burrow and burrow and burrow under the blankets, then? Why do they need to wiggle and worm their way right into a burrito of blankets?
When it comes to Chihuahuas, most of it is about security. Since they need to protect themselves, as introduced already, they see the best solution as burrowing.
Think about it this way: a predator won’t be as likely to find your slumbering Chihuahua if they are snuggled underneath a pile of blankets, invisible to the eyes scanning the space.
Their scent is also masked by the scent of the blankets, making it even more difficult to literally sniff them out!
Should my Chihuahua sleep in bed with me?
If you’re worried about allowing your Chihuahua into bed with you, don’t be! Many (if not most) Chihuahua owners allow it, and there’s nothing to worry about.
As long as you make sure they don’t get stuck (more on that later), your dog will come and go as needed throughout the night. If you struggle to snuggle with your dog during the day and evening, this is great, built-in snuggle time to bond!
Do I have to let my Chihuahua sleep under covers with me?
Don’t worry if this thought is passing through your mind! It’s much more common than you think. Perhaps you have an allergy. Perhaps you’re an exceptionally light sleeper. Perhaps your partner has an allergy or is a light sleeper.
Then there’s the reality that you just don’t want your dog to sleep under covers with you. This is perfectly fine, and there is no rule that you have to let them into your bed!
However, make sure that you designate a sleeping space where they can burrow. Many will crate train for this reason. Fill it with a nice plush dog bed or blankets and pillows, etc.
You can put this in the corner of your bedroom (or another room), and your dog will burrow there, content! Just make sure you bond with them through playtime, etc.
Can Chihuahuas get overheated under covers?
This is a common question and a great one to ask when you want to protect your dog’s safety and comfort long term!
Firstly, it is technically possible for your Chihuahua to overheat under the covers — but it is very rare.
To ensure this doesn’t happen, make sure that they can get out easily and safely if needed. What does this mean for your bedding choices? Here are some essential details to remember:
- Avoid weighted blankets
- Try to keep burrowing blankets small rather than large
- Use “breathable” fabrics such as cotton and fleece
- Wash blankets frequently to remove bacteria and fur build-up
When it comes to the size of the blankets, this refers mainly to their preferred burrowing spot. Instead of having, say, a flat sheet, a duvet, and perhaps a comforter or additional blanket, go for a flat sheet with one warm but lightweight duvet or comforter.
The lighter and smaller the blankets are for them to get out of, the safer it is.
If this isn’t possible for your own temperature needs, you can train your dog to burrow at the end of the bed, with their own smaller, safer blankets, or crate training them, as explained above.
Dogs like to den (aka burrow) when they sleep to protect themselves from predators. This is a biological instinct that Chihuahuas share.
They will also burrow under the covers to stay warm, bond and snuggle with you, help get a break from high anxiety levels or frustration, and recover from an illness or injury.
Knowing when burrowing is healthy and safe is essential to helping protect your Chihuahua’s health!
Chihuahuas have all sorts of great, valid reasons for them to burrow under the blankets when they sleep. Know someone who will find this information interesting?
Consider sharing the knowledge with them by sending them this article!