Why Do Chihuahuas Burrow? Here Are 10 Compelling Reasons

Share the joy!

Ever noticed your Chihuahua disappearing under blankets, burrowing into the couch, or nestling into a pile of clothes? This behavior isn’t just charming or quirky; it’s an instinctual trait deeply embedded in their DNA.

If you’ve been wondering why your tiny companion insists on creating their own snug fort, you’re about to uncover the drive behind this adorable and quirky habit. From seeking warmth to the need for security, we’re going to explore the multifaceted reasons why Chihuahuas burrow and how you can accommodate this natural behavior.

Quick Answer

Chihuahuas burrow primarily for comfort, warmth, and safety. This behavior stems from their ancestors’ need to create a cozy den for protection against the elements and predators. Whether snuggling into blankets, laundry, or your lap, burrowing allows Chihuahuas to create a safe haven where they feel protected and warm.

What Is Burrowing and Why Do Animals Do It?

Burrowing refers to the act of digging or creating a tunnel or hole into the ground, materials, or objects. Many animals, including insects, reptiles, mammals, and certain dog breeds, exhibit this behavior. The reasons behind this are as varied as the creatures themselves but often include seeking shelter, hiding from predators, storing food, or creating a comfortable space for resting or rearing young.

In the wild, the practice of burrowing offers a strategic advantage. For instance, rabbits and prairie dogs construct elaborate burrow systems to protect themselves and ensure a controlled climate away from external harsh conditions. Similarly, foxes and badgers dig dens for safety and to raise their offspring in a secured environment.

Are Chihuahuas More Prone to Burrowing Than Other Dog Breeds?

The Chihuahua, a spunky and spirited small breed, shows a pronounced propensity for burrowing. This inclination can be attributed to a blend of instinctive habits and inherent breed traits.

As descendants of their wild ancestors, the instinct to burrow paths straight to their doggy DNA. However, when it comes to Chihuahuas, there’s more to this story. Specifically, their size and historical lineage amplify this instinctive behavior.

Chihuahuas are tiny dogs often weighing less than 6 pounds. Their petite sizing makes it easier for them to maneuver into cavers or cuddle into burrow-like spaces than larger dogs. It’s not just convenience though; their small size also makes them more vulnerable to extreme weather variations, making burrowing a way to find warmth and comfort.

Historically, Chihuahuas were bred in Mexico and fared in a warmer climate. This historical lineage means Chihuahuas do not fare well in cold temperatures. Thus, burrowing into blankets or cushioning provides an excellent solution to keep warm, harkening back to their instinctual desire to stave off the cold.

Why Do Chihuahuas Burrow?

Chihuahuas, with their spirited personality and diminutive stature, have a distinct set of behaviors that intrigue and sometimes puzzle their owners. Understanding why Chihuahuas engage in this behavior requires delving into a combination of psychological, physiological, and instinctual factors. Here are ten key reasons:

1. Ancestral Instincts

At the heart of a Chihuahua’s urge to burrow lies a deeply embedded ancestral instinct. In the wild, the predecessors of domesticated dogs had to fend for themselves, which included finding or creating safe havens from predators and harsh environmental conditions. While today’s Chihuahuas aren’t fending off wild animals in your living room, the instinctual drive to create a secure nestling space persists, compelling them to burrow into what they perceive as den-like safety areas.

2. Seeking Security

Closely tied to their wild instincts is the Chihuahua’s need for security. In a vast world where they are often the smallest creatures in the room, finding a small, enclosed space where they can observe without being seen provides a sense of safety and control. Burrowing into blankets or the corner of a couch allows them to fulfill this need for a protective shelter where threats, real or imagined, are kept at bay.

3. Comfort and Coziness

Aside from instinct and security, the quest for supreme comfort and coziness is a straightforward explanation for a Chihuahua’s burrowing behavior. Their small bodies lose heat quickly, and snuggling into a warm, soft space helps keep them comfortable. Moreover, being enveloped in a soft blanket or pillow mimics the warmth and gentle pressure they would feel lying close to a littermate or their human, offering a sense of physical and emotional well-being.

4. Stress Relief and Anxiety Reduction

Just like humans, dogs experience stress and anxiety, and Chihuahuas are no exception. The act of burrowing can serve as a self-soothing behavior that helps reduce anxiety by providing a secluded spot away from the hustle and bustle of daily life. This personal retreat can help them calm down, feel protected, and emotionally recharge, much like a person might find solace in curling up with a good book in their favorite armchair.

5. Mimicking a Denning Instinct

The denning instinct is a call back to the wild, where canines would dig out dens to give birth and care for their young in a concealed, protected environment. While domestic Chihuahuas aren’t typically digging dens outdoors, the act of burrowing into blankets or similar materials is a modern adaptation of this instinct. It provides a secluded, den-like space where they can retreat to feel safe, rest, or simply watch the world from a protected viewpoint.

6. Nesting Behavior

Chihuahuas, especially females, might exhibit nesting behavior, which involves burrowing into piles of blankets, clothing, or furniture. This behavior is typically prominent during the pregnancy period or when they’re in heat. Even if the dog isn’t pregnant, they might still display nesting behavior due to hormones or instinctual drives.

7. Establishing Territory

Dogs are territorial animals, and Chihuahuas, despite their small size, have a strong sense of ownership over their space. By burrowing into blankets, beds, or couches, they leave their scent and mark these areas as their own. This action communicates to other pets or even humans that they have claimed a particular spot, reinforcing their presence within the household hierarchy.

8. Playing and Exploration

Burrowing can also be an expression of playfulness and curiosity for Chihuahuas. They may dig into blankets as part of a game or while exploring their environment. The tactile sensation of different materials and the novelty of creating new spaces can be entertaining and mentally stimulating for them. Through burrowing, Chihuahuas engage in an exploratory behavior that satisfies their playful nature.

9. Seeking Attention

Sometimes, a Chihuahua’s burrowing behavior might be a learned action that results in gaining attention from their human companions. If they have noticed that burrowing leads to interaction, such as pets, cuddles, or playtime, they may continue this behavior to solicit those desired responses. Attention-seeking burrowing can become a way for Chihuahuas to communicate their desire for social interaction and companionship.

10. Health Issues

While burrowing is typically a benign and natural behavior for Chihuahuas, in some cases, it might be indicative of underlying health issues. For example, a dog that suddenly starts burrowing excessively might be trying to cope with physical discomfort or pain, such as arthritis or an injury. It’s important for owners to monitor their Chihuahua’s behavior and, if there are concerns or sudden changes, consult with a veterinarian to rule out any health problems.

How Should Owners Respond to Their Chihuahua’s Burrowing Behavior?

Chihuahuas’ instinctual drive to burrow can be both endearing and frustrating for pet owners. While it’s important to acknowledge and respect this innate behavior, ensuring the safety and well-being of your furry friend is paramount. Here are strategies and insights on how to positively respond to your Chihuahua’s burrowing habits.

Understanding and Monitoring

Firstly, owners should observe their Chihuahua’s burrowing habits to determine if they’re normal behavior or if they signify something more concerning, such as anxiety or health issues. If your pet is burrowing more frequently or aggressively, it might be time for a vet visit to rule out any underlying problems.

Safe Spaces

Creating a dedicated and safe burrowing space can satisfy your Chihuahua’s instincts while keeping them out of trouble. Consider providing:

  • Specialized Dog Beds: There are beds designed with burrowing in mind, featuring soft, cave-like structures that allow your Chihuahua to crawl inside and snuggle.
  • Blanket Piles: A simple, safe spot can be made by placing several blankets in a corner or in their kennel for them to dig and burrow into.
  • Burrow Boxes: For the more adventurous owner, creating a ‘burrow box’ filled with safe, soft materials like blankets or washable fabrics can offer an enticing space for your Chihuahua to explore.

Training and Limits

Training your Chihuahua to understand where and when burrowing is acceptable is crucial. Use positive reinforcement to encourage burrowing in designated areas while gently discouraging it in unsafe or unwanted spots, like laundry heaps or couches that might pose suffocation risks.

Balance Between Instinct and Home Management

While accommodating your Chihuahua’s burrowing instinct, it’s also vital to maintain a balance that doesn’t allow the behavior to become disruptive. Teaching commands such as “Leave it” or setting up physical barriers to off-limits areas can help manage their instincts within the confines of your home environment.

Encouraging Alternative Activities

To satisfy your Chihuahua’s need for security and exploration, engage them in activities that mimic the burrowing experience:

  • Interactive Toys: Puzzle toys can simulate the mental aspect of burrowing by encouraging them to figure out how to reach a treat.
  • Digging Boxes: A sandbox or a contained area outside where they’re allowed to dig can redirect their burrowing desires from inside to a more suitable location.
  • Scheduled Playtime: Regular, active play sessions can help expend energy that might otherwise be directed towards excessive burrowing.


In essence, Chihuahuas burrow to satisfy deep-seated instincts that provide them with warmth, security, and comfort. From snuggling into blankets to creating makeshift dens, this behavior sheds light on their need for a safe retreat. So, next time you find your little companion burrowed beneath a pile of pillows, remember, it’s simply them being their natural, cozy selves.

Leave a Comment