Why Do Chihuahuas Shake? Is It Normal or Concern?

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Have you ever noticed your Chihuahua shaking and wondered why? This behavior, while common, can be puzzling and sometimes concerning for pet owners. Shaking in Chihuahuas can be attributed to a variety of factors, from emotional states like excitement or anxiety to more physical reasons such as cold or medical issues. In this blog post, we’ll delve into the common reasons these pint-sized pets shake, ensuring you understand your furry friend’s behavior.

Key Takeaway

Chihuahuas shake for several reasons including emotional responses like fear, anxiety, or excitement, physical reactions to being cold, an excess of energy, or due to health issues such as pain or genetics. Identifying the cause of your Chihuahua’s shaking is the first step in providing the appropriate care and comfort.

What Does It Mean When Chihuahuas Shake?

When Chihuahuas shake, it can mean several things. It’s a way for them to communicate their emotional state, such as excitement or anxiety. The shake might also be their bodily response to temperature changes. Chihuahuas have a high metabolism, which means they burn energy quickly and thus may shake after expending their energy. Moreover, if they seem uncomfortable or shake excessively, they could be signaling potential health concerns, such as neurological disorders or hypoglycemia.

Is It Normal for Chihuahuas to Shake?

Yes, it is normal for Chihuahuas to shake, and this behavior is often considered a characteristic trait of the breed. This initial clarification should help alleviate concerns for new or prospective Chihuahua owners who might be puzzled or worried by their dog’s shaking. However, it is crucial to distinguish between shaking that is harmless and typical of Chihuahuas from shaking that could indicate a health issue or discomfort.

Are Chihuahuas the Only Dogs That Shake?

No, Chihuahuas are not the only dogs that shake. Shaking or shivering is a behavior seen in many dog breeds, but it tends to be more notable in Chihuahuas due to specific breed traits and characteristics. Here’s a closer look at how this compares across various breeds:

  • Small Breed Consideration: Smaller breeds, in general, are more prone to shaking. This behavior is often associated with low body temperature or as a response to stress or excitement. Along with Chihuahuas, breeds like Italian Greyhounds, Miniature Pinschers, or Toy Poodles might exhibit similar shaking behaviors.
  • Short-haired or Hairless Breeds: Breeds with short hair or without hair like the Chinese Crested, Whippet, or Xoloitzcuintli also tend to shake more noticeably as they may get cold easily.
  • Breed and Temperament Traits: Some breeds might shake more because of their temperament. For instance, breeds known for their energy and excitement like the Jack Russell Terrier or the Rat Terrier may shake when excited or anxious.

7 Reasons Why Chihuahuas Shake

When your Chihuahua is shaking, it’s not just disconcerting – you’re deeply concerned about what they might be experiencing. Knowing why these tiny dogs tremble can help you address their needs more effectively. The reasons behind a Chihuahua’s shaking can include Fear or Anxiety, Excitement, Cold, Energy Release, Illness or Health Issues, Pain, and Genetics. Explanations for each of these triggers are listed below.

#1. Fear or Anxiety

Fear and anxiety are common triggers for shaking in Chihuahuas. This breed is highly sensitive to environmental changes, loud noises (such as thunderstorms or fireworks), and unfamiliar scenarios. In situations perceived as threatening, the natural response can be to shake or tremble. This reaction is rooted in the fight-or-flight response, preparing the body for potential action. To support your Chihuahua, provide a safe, quiet space during stressful times and consider desensitization training to help them cope with their fears.

#2. Excitement

Excitement can cause a Chihuahua to shake just as much as fear can. When looking forward to something enjoyable, like greeting their owner at the door or playing with a much-loved toy, these tiny dogs may express their delight through trembling. This type of shaking is usually paired with positive behaviors like wagging tails, eager barking, or jumping. Creating calm, controlled greetings and ensuring your Chihuahua has plenty of playtime can help manage their excitement levels.

#3. Cold

Chihuahuas don’t have much body fat and possess short coats, especially the Smooth Coat variant, leaving them prone to feeling cold more acutely than larger breeds or those with denser fur. Shivering is the body’s natural response to trying to generate heat. To keep your Chihuahua warm, consider doggy clothing like sweaters and jackets specifically designed for small breeds, and provide warm bedding or even heated beds in colder climates or seasons.

#4. Energy Release

Chihuahuas are bundles of energy. When they do not receive adequate exercise to burn off their energy, it can manifest as shaking or trembling. This involuntary response is their way of dealing with excess energy. Ensuring your Chihuahua has regular opportunities for physical activity, through walks, play sessions, and interactive toys, can help them spend their energy productively and reduce the likelihood of shaking due to pent-up excitement or stress.

#5. Illness or Health Issues

Shaking or trembling in Chihuahuas can often be an indicator of various illnesses or health problems. Hypoglycemia, a condition characterized by low blood sugar levels, is relatively common in small dog breeds like Chihuahuas and can lead to weakness, shaking, and even seizures if not promptly addressed. Additionally, diseases affecting the nervous system, canine distemper, or general malaise from infection can manifest through shaking. It’s imperative to observe if the shaking is accompanied by other symptoms such as lethargy, fever, vomiting, or behavioral changes, which necessitate an urgent vet visit for a proper diagnosis and treatment.

#6. Pain

Pain is a significant cause of shaking in Chihuahuas. They might tremble when experiencing discomfort from dental issues, arthritis, injuries, or other painful conditions. It’s particularly important to pay attention to your Chihuahua’s body language and any avoidance behaviors, such as reluctance to be picked up or petted, as these can also indicate pain. Since dogs naturally tend to hide their pain, any noticeable sign like shaking should be taken seriously and assessed by a veterinarian to identify and treat the underlying cause of discomfort.

#7. Genetics

In some cases, a Chihuahua’s tendency to shake does not have a direct environmental or health-related cause but stems from their genetics. Certain Chihuahua lines may be more prone to trembling than others, indicating a hereditary predisposition to this characteristic. While genetic shaking is generally not linked directly to health issues, it’s still essential to differentiate between shaking due to genetics and symptoms of possible medical conditions. A thorough examination by a veterinarian can help rule out any underlying health problems, ensuring the shaking is indeed a benign trait rather than a sign of something more serious.

How Can Owners Help a Shaking Chihuahua?

It’s heart-wrenching to see your furry friend shaking, but there are effective ways you can help reduce or manage their trembling. Key actions include keeping them warm, providing a stress-free environment, engaging in regular, and gentle exercise. These strategies are listed below.

  1. Providing Comfort and Reassurance: Gentle petting and calming words can help soothe a nervous or anxious Chihuahua. Physical comfort such as holding them or providing a warm blanket can reassure a shaking dog, especially if they’re cold or scared.
  2. Adjusting the Environment: If cold is the cause, ensuring your Chihuahua is warm through clothing, heated beds, or keeping your house at a comfortable temperature can mitigate shaking. Eliminate or reduce exposure to stressors that might cause anxiety or fear.
  3. Check the Diet: Since hypoglycemia can cause shaking, ensuring your Chihuahua has a diet suitable for its size and energy levels is essential. Consider meals divided into smaller portions throughout the day, and discuss with a veterinarian the best diet plan for your pet.
  4. Comfort Items: Just like humans find comfort in certain items, so do dogs. Offering your Chihuahua a favorite toy or a special blanket that they associate with comfort can help calm them.
  5. Training and Socialization: For Chihuahuas that shake due to fear or excitement, positive reinforcement training and socialization can help. Gradually exposing them to new people, animals, and situations in a controlled manner can reduce shaking behaviors over time.

When Should a Shaking Chihuahua See a Vet?

It can be distressing seeing your beloved pet in discomfort. Understanding when their shaking warrants a visit to the vet is crucial in ensuring their well-being. The scenarios that should prompt a vet visit include Prolonged or Severe Shaking, Unexplained Pain, Shaking After Exposure to Toxic Substances or Trauma, and Frequent Shaking Episodes Despite Comforting Measures. Detailed explanations of these situations are listed below.

  1. Prolonged or Severe Shaking: If your Chihuahua shakes for an extended period, if the shaking is severe, or if it is accompanied by symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea, or limping, a visit to the vet is necessary.
  2. Change in Behavior or Appetite: Any significant changes in their behavior or appetite should not go unnoticed. If you notice your Chihuahua suddenly becoming more lethargic, less playful, eating less (or more), or displaying any other notable changes along with shaking, then a vet should be consulted.
  3. Unexplained Pain: If your Chihuahua appears to be in pain, wincing when touched or moaning – especially if paired with shaking – immediately seek veterinary help.
  4. Shaking After Exposure to Toxic Substances or Trauma: If you suspect that your Chihuahua has been exposed to a toxic substance – be it a poisonous plant, dangerous foods for dogs, or chemicals – and is shaking, contact your vet immediately. Similarly, if a traumatic event like a fall or injury happens, make an emergency appointment even if they appear fine initially.
  5. Frequent Shaking Episodes Despite Comforting Measures: If your Chihuahua continues to shake frequently even after you’ve tried comforting measures or made environmental adjustments, and you’re unable to identify a clear emotional trigger for the shaking, it’s recommended to schedule a check-up.


Understanding why Chihuahuas shake allows us to empathize with our petite pals and provide them with the care they deserve. Whether it’s bundling them up against the cold or offering comfort during stressful times, recognizing the prompts of their shakes can enhance their well-being. So next time your Chihuahua quivers, remember it’s their way of communicating needs, ensuring you’re both on the same page.

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