Why Do Chihuahuas Burrow?

Chihuahuas have a tendency to burrow, meaning they like to dig or nestle themselves under blankets, linens, or other cozy spaces. But why do Chihuahuas exhibit this burrowing behavior? There are several reasons rooted in their instincts, comfort, and preferences.

Ancestral Instincts

One of the main reasons Chihuahuas burrow is due to ancestral or instinctual behaviors passed down genetically over many generations. Digging and burrowing are behaviors that most dogs inherit from their wild wolf ancestors.

Wolves would dig dens in the ground to birth and raise puppies, as well as to find shelter from harsh weather conditions. They would also dig to find food and to create cool spots to rest during hot weather.

Even though Chihuahuas are tiny dogs, they still carry these innate wolf-like instincts and burrowing is one of them. When given the chance, Chihuahuas will dig and burrow, even if they don't have an urgent need for shelter or food. The instinct persists because burrowing stems from their ancestral wild roots.

Finding Comfort and Security

Another big reason Chihuahuas burrow is because it provides comfort, security, and a sense of safety. By burrowing under blankets or in enclosed spaces, Chihuahuas feel protected and calm.

Burrowing Under Blankets

Chihuahuas love to crawl under blankets because the enclosed, den-like space provides a warm, cozy environment. They can feel the comforting pressure of the blanket around them, which many dogs find very soothing.

This blanket burrowing behavior often starts in puppyhood, when the mother dog would surround her puppies while nursing them. The blanket burrowing mimics the enclosed feeling the puppies experienced while nursing. It continues into adulthood as a self-soothing habit.

Burrowing in Enclosed Spaces

Many Chihuahuas also like to burrow in small enclosed spaces around the home, like under furniture, cushions, or pillows. They'll even burrow inside open boxes or laundry baskets if given the chance.

This type of burrowing allows them to feel hidden and safe. In an open space, Chihuahuas may feel exposed or anxious. But when safely ensconced in a small, enclosed area, they can relax fully, secure in their surroundings.

Regulating Body Temperature

Chihuahuas also burrow to regulate their body temperature. Their tiny size makes them prone to feeling cold as well as overheating. Burrowing helps them cope with temperature extremes.

Keeping Warm

With minimal body fat and fur, Chihuahuas can get cold easily. Burrowing under blankets traps their body heat and keeps them cozy and warm. The smaller the burrowing space, the better it retains heat.

Staying Cool

On hot days, Chihuahuas are also prone to overheating because of their tiny bodies. To stay cool, they'll burrow into shaded dirt or sand if outdoors. Indoors, they'll burrow under blankets or sheets to find the coolest spot. The blanket shields them from direct sun or ambient heat.

Research has shown the burrowing behavior of dogs is temperature dependent. A study in the journal Applied Animal Behaviour Science found dogs burrow more often when ambient temperatures exceed 77°F. Chihuahuas in particular burrow to stay cool.

Burrowing Out of Preference

For some Chihuahuas, burrowing under blankets or cushions is simply their preferred way to and rest. Burrowing allows them to get cozy with minimal effort.

Conserving Energy

Chihuahuas are energetic dogs but they also appreciate lazing around. Burrowing under blankets lets them snooze and lounge without using too much energy to circle and turn before lying down. The confined burrow space doesn't require much movement to get settled in.

Feeling Hidden

Many Chihuahuas prefer sleeping while covered or hidden because it makes them feel more secure and undisturbed. They don't have to keep alert watching for potential threats. In a covered burrow, they can relax fully and fall into a deep sleep.

Staying Close to Owners

Chihuahuas love spending time snuggled up with their favorite humans. When their owners recline on the couch or bed, Chihuahuas will burrow under the nearby blankets to be as close as possible. Some dogs will even curl up against the owner's legs or stomach under the covers.

Providing Proper Burrowing Bedding

Since burrowing is an innate behavior for Chihuahuas, it's important for owners to provide proper bedding that allows burrowing. However, care should be taken to avoid potential hazards.

Choosing Burrow Bedding

The best burrowing bedding for Chihuahuas mimics enclosed den-like spaces. Some examples include:

  • Cozy caves made from wool, sherpa, or faux fur
  • Enclosed/covered dog beds, like hooded beds or tents
  • Draped blankets over furniture edges
  • Lightweight fleece or wool blankets (avoid heavy fabrics that could overheat)

The bedding should allow breathing circulation while still giving a sheltered, nest-like environment.

Preventing Hazards

While burrowing is natural for Chihuahuas, owners should take some precautions for safety:

  • Don't let dogs burrow under very heavy blankets that could smother them.
  • Ensure burrowing spaces have air circulation and an exit.
  • Don't allow burrowing in very tight spaces where dogs could get stuck.
  • Watch for chewing/ingestion of burrow bedding that could cause obstructions or choking.
  • Monitor dogs under blankets to prevent overheating.

With some safety considerations, providing the right bedding can allow Chihuahuas to indulge their burrowing instincts in a healthy way.

Why Chihuahuas Love Burrows: In Summary

In summary, Chihuahuas burrow for several key reasons:

  • Instinctual Behavior: Burrowing is an inherited trait passed down from wild ancestors.
  • Comfort and Security: Burrowing provides a safe, cozy environment.
  • Regulating Body Temperature: To stay warm or cool themselves off.
  • Preference and Laziness: Burrowing allows resting with minimal effort.
  • Closeness to Owners: To snuggle up with their favorite people.

Burrowing is a completely natural Chihuahua behavior when done safely. Providing the right bedding gives them the comfort of an ideal den environment. With their ancestry as fierce desert-dwelling dogs, burrows allow today's tiny Chihuahuas to rest as their ancestors once did.


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