Do Chihuahuas Sleep A Lot?
[Complete Guide]

By kropek2021. • Updated July 1, 2021

These little, trembling, and loving balls of fur are surely something. They might not be the most good-looking breed out there, but they certainly make up for it in charm and uniqueness. I mean, just pronouncing their breed can lift you up in a heartbeat. Skeptical? Come on, repeat after me:

CHI-HUA-HUA!

Did you feel that? You can’t finish saying that word without feeling a tug of joy inside. One more time:

CHI-HUA-HUA!

You’re probably smiling by now, and who could blame you? Chihuahuas have created a cult following over the past years, not because of their dullness and lack of charm, but quite the opposite.

Their peculiarity makes people proud of owning a Chihuahua. Just think about it, they’re the smallest dog breed out there, they have the widest variety of colors, they’re extremely good watchdogs, and they know how to love their owners like no other breed.

Also, they are enthusiastic sleepers. Dogs sleep 50 percent of the time on average (up to 12 hours), but Chihuahuas sleep for up to 14 or 18 hours a day. Of course, they compensate for all that downtime by being extra active in their awake time, but that’s just one more reason to love them.

If your Chihuahua sleeps like a champ, you might be wondering why? I did too! When I first got mine, I wondered why it laid around all day instead of being as zippy as I thought it would be. Well, I did my research, and it turns out Chihuahuas might be overly sleepy for several reasons:

  • They get lots of physical activity
  • They’re sick
  • Age
  • Boredom
  • Medication
  • It’s their characteristic behavior

Most times, it will be natural that your Chihuahua sleeps seamlessly through the day, but other times, a change in their sleeping habits might be a sign that something is wrong with them. So it’s essential to stay informed and aware of the most common causes of their prolonged sleep routine and how to deal with any emergent issues. Let’s begin

High Physical Activity

While most dogs sleep 12 hours a day, Chihuahuas take it to another level by sleeping 14 to 18 hours daily. And if you are unfamiliar with the breed, this might sound unusual to you. “Aren’t Chihuahuas supposed to be highly active, yappy, and overly trembling?”

Well, yes, they are. That’s precisely one of the main reasons they sleep so much. Chihuahua puppies have even been reported to sleep up to 20 hours a day. Again, the reason is mainly that Chihuahua puppies are a little more active than the average.
When we have an exhausting day at work, we tend to feel lethargic. So we arrange our time to sleep enough at night to get our energies back for the coming day. Dogs do this more naturally; they instinctively rest whenever they drain their energy a bit and immediately find time to recover for the next play session.

If you own a highly active Chihuahua, it’s common that they sleep a lot; there is no reason to be concerned at all. On the contrary, if you see them sleeping, just let them be, as they are just

The Age Factor

A dog’s age plays a key role when it comes to their sleeping habits. As mentioned before, Chihuahua puppies are more active than most other breeds’ puppies, hence their 18 to 20-hour sleep marathons.

On the other hand, older dogs also tend to slumber for more extended periods of time than younger dogs. Chihuahuas sleep around 14 hours on average but don’t be surprised if your elderly Chihuahua goes well past 16 hours of sleep time a day.

As dogs get older, they tend to become wise as to regulating their awake and sleeping hours. They understand that rest is necessary and nap throughout the day more often than when they were younger.

They also tend to sleep more deeply than before. It’s totally normal to walk up to an elderly dog and call their name to witness as they keep on sleeping, completely oblivious of your presence. This happens because dogs tend to go deaf as they get older, and sometimes they’ll not be able to hear you while they are sleeping.

It’s worth pointing out that dogs have much lighter sleep than humans. While some of us need a loud sound or a strong-enough nudge to jolt us awake, for dogs, just sensing your presence might suffice to leap up from bed and start playing with enthusiasm.

This is because dogs have been hardwired throughout thousands of years to stay alert at all times. Luckily, we can use this to our advantage. What I mean is, with humans, you need to be careful; we are sensitive to having our sleep disrupted. On the other hand, dogs can be awakened at any time and be in their best mood to enjoy life to the fullest. 

In other words, if you see your Chihuahua sleep more than usual, it’s totally fine. It’s written in their genes; they are supposed to.

You Chihuahua is Just Bored Out of Their Mind

Dogs sniff, walk, look around constantly in search of stimuli. Just like humans, they enjoy entertainment in the form of play, exciting discoveries, or just comforting company. Their brains need something that piques their interest to feel motivated to engage in an activity, so it’s hardly surprising that your Chihuahua sleeps more than usual if there is literally nothing to do.

While Chihuahuas are highly physical creatures, they need interaction to get in the mood for playing. At times, when there is no one around, and there’s little to do, they turn to resting to kill time and wait for something fun to happen.
Next time you ask yourself, “Why do Chihuahuas sleep so much?” your canine companion might just need some interaction and attention. Ensure you are spending enough time with them and giving them all the love and play they deserve.

You might also consider that boredom is a powerful trigger to undesirable habits like chewing and barking, especially if you have a Chihuahua puppy. Just like humans, dogs need mental and physical stimuli to stay healthy both physically and mentally.

It’s Their Characteristic Behavior

If you are a proud Chihuahua owner, you won’t be surprised when I say they are a particularly quirky breed. It’s only that they are the smallest dog breed–small enough to carry around in your purse–making them quite ‘portable.’ Or that they are the breed with the widest variety of colors and combinations—ranging from beige, brown, and chocolate to mixed, white, red and black—Chihuahuas also sleep quite a lot.

If you are a new Chihuahua owner and are puzzled or even worried at the Chihuahua sleeping way, take a sigh of relief cause it’s all fine; it’s part of who they are.

Your Chihuahua Might Be Ill

By this point, you might think, “Hey, I have nothing to worry about.” Well, I wouldn’t say you do, but you should keep an eye open for any irregularities in your Chihuahua’s sleeping habits as it can be a sign of illness.

Although Chihuahuas sleep a lot–and are very good at it–a sudden change in their sleeping pattern could be the manifestation of something as mild as joint injury or as severe as cancer or diabetes.

Weakness and lethargy are symptoms we as dog owners must stay on the lookout for. Like humans, dogs can suffer from a wide variety of diseases. Still, the ones that usually cause your dog to be unusually lethargic and weak are infections—including parvovirus, leptospirosis, distemper, kennel cough,  and heartworm disease; metabolic and organic diseases—like heart problems, liver problems, diabetes, and hypoglycemia.

However, excessive sleeping is not only limited to these diseases as your Chihuahua could also be suffering from other health issues. Some examples are:

  • Trauma
  • Tumors
  • Pain
  • Poisoning
  • Chronic diarrhea
  • Hypothyroidism 
  • Anemia

I would certainly advise you to consult a vet at the slightest sign of excessive lethargy or weakness in your dog. Some of these illnesses are very serious and are best caught early to avoid any major consequences.

It’s The Medication

When your Chihuahua sleeps more than usual, you can often blame it on their medication. There is a plethora of medicine that could be causing your dog to become overly sleepy. And if you’ve been to the vet recently and your dog was put on medication, consult your doctor if that is making your dog drowsy.

Most of the time, veterinarians will alert owners on any medication’s side effects, so this is an uncommon scenario.

You must keep in mind that self-medicating your dog is strongly advised against and potentially harmful to your dog. Additionally, avoid giving your dog any human medications such as Ibuprofen, as many are toxic to pets and can lead to lethargy, weakness, and even death.

It’s best to stay on the safe side and consult a professional if our Chihuahuas display any signs of disease.

How Much Sleep Does a Chihuahua Need?

Chihuahuas are known for sleeping most of the time, and while the majority of breeds are fine with 12 to 14 hours of sleep every day, Chihuahuas usually sleep from 14 up to 18 hours a day. When they are puppies, they are more active than any other period of their lives; they make up for all that exhausting playtime by sleeping even more! Some puppy Chihuahuas have been reported to sleep up to 20 hours.

Chihuahuas also tend to sleep more when they are in their old age, and their sleep periods usually range from 16 to 18 hours a day.

Why Do Chihuahuas Sleep Under The Covers?

Like any other breed, Chihuahuas’ ancestors lived in packs of their kind. And their old ways of living are embedded in their genetics. Dogs like following us around most of the time, and this is particularly true for Chihuahuas; they get very attached to their owners and like following us around 24/7. No wonder why they are such loving companions.

In the past, Chihuahuas slept with their packs closely snug next to each other, many times in dens or tight and warm places. Your Chihuahua’s instinct to burrow in the covers is simply their way of feeling safe, warm, and protected. Also, the pressure provided by the weight of the covers soothes their nervous system, much like a hug.

Why Do Chihuahuas Sleep Between Your Legs?

When your Chihuahua sleeps between or on your legs, it could be for a variety of reasons. Chihuahuas are a very affectionate and loving breed, and this obviously includes their sleeping habits.

It’s no surprise that when you are sitting on the couch or lying in bed, your Chihuahua leaps up and snuggles between your legs. To clear all your doubts about your dog’s lovely sleeping habit, here are the top 5 reasons why Chihuahuas sleep between your legs:

They Are Afraid

Whenever there is a strange sound—perhaps your upstairs neighbors are receiving guests, or the sound of thunder during a storm, or maybe a barking dog outside—your Chihuahua might become extra shaky and panicky, resorting to seeking security in the comfort of your legs.

Chihuahuas are known for being super brave dogs; however, they might turn to you for protection when an unknown sound or situation is going on.

Your legs and thighs represent a soft and comfy place where they can feel your warmth and smell your scent; instinctively, dogs know that the closer they are to their pack leader (you), the safer they will be.

They Want to Protect You

Chihuahuas are extremely good watchdogs; they are constantly alert for threats and intruders and would do anything to keep their own safe—even though it isn’t much considering their size (let’s face it, they’re harmlessly small). Whenever you are in the presence of a stranger (people or dogs,) they might turn their territoriality on and display protective behavior like barking, growling, and bare teeth.

In some cases, they prefer to do it from a place where they know they will be supported, and that place is often between or on your legs.

It’s An Ancestral Instinct

Chihuahua’s ancestors used to live in packs and usually slept snuggled up close to each other in safe and secluded places like dens or burrows. Felling the company of their pack mates gave them a sense of security, which was particularly comforting while sleeping—a moment of high vulnerability.

When your Chihuahua sleeps between your legs, they are simply answering the call of this ancestral instinct that says, ” Stay close to your pack while you sleep; it’s safer.”

To Show Affection

Few of you will disagree when I say no other breed loves their owners like Chihuahuas. Some might say they are clingy; others say they are overly attached at times, but I think they simply know how to love.

If your Chihuahua has the habit of sleeping on or between your legs at any time of the day, it might just be their way of saying, “I love you.” When you have a Chihuahua, expect to get tons of love and quality company throughout the day, that’s just the Chihuahua way.

For Comfort

“They are big, cushy, soft, warm, and smell nice; what’s not to love about them.” That’s what your dog might say about your legs. When your Chihuahua gets nice and comfy between your legs for an evening or afternoon snooze, comfort will most likely be one of their primary motivations.

Dogs love comfy sleeping spots like beds, couches, carpets, clothes, etc. But the company of those they love takes comfort and pleasure to a whole other level.

To Sum Up

As mentioned earlier, in most cases, you won’t need to worry one little bit if your Chihuahua sleeps most of the time; it’s what they do; it’s characteristic of their breed. Age and lack or excess physical activity are also contributing factors.

However, you must keep an eye open for sudden changes in their sleeping habits. It could be a sign that your dog is ill, injured, or simply under the effect of medication. If this is the case with your fur baby, consult a veterinarian immediately.