Zack Keithy, our author, is a certified veterinarian technician (UC Blue Ash) for over 6 years (contact him here). The articles written here are based on his expertise and experience, combined with a review by our expert vet reviewers including Dr M. Tarantino. Learn more about us here.
Chihuahuas are one of the most popular dog breeds no thanks to their unique character and cuteness.
Some say they are larger than life! They do very well indoors, but what about outside?
Can chihuahuas live or sleep outside?
Chihuahuas are not adaptable to living outside, especially in the cold. As they are small in stature, they do not do well outside for long periods. Limit their outdoor activities to 30 minutes or less. Chihuahuas are very sensitive to dropping temperatures, so keep them warm when it happens.
Read on to find out more about how to care for your Chihuahua and the things you should avoid when it comes to time outside your home.
I’ve got all your questions answered!
- What are the dangers of letting your Chihuahua live outside? Why they should not be left outside
- How Long Should Chihuahuas Be Outside?
- How to keep your Chihuahua warm in cold weather?
- Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
What are the dangers of letting your Chihuahua live outside? Why they should not be left outside
You might have thought that taking your Chi out for long walks is a good idea since that’s just what dog owners commonly do with their pets.
Some dog owners also allow their dogs to live and sleep outside, seeing that they seem very comfortable and the fact that some of them perform guard duties.
However, not all dogs are born the same way, and while there are several dog breeds that are good outdoors, the Chihuahua is not one of them.
Letting them out for a short exercise is fine, but extended minutes can be detrimental to them.
Here are some of the dangers of letting your Chihuahua live outside.
Doggy says, consider checking this out too: Best Heat Lamp for a Dog Hoouse
Their physical abilities
Chihuahuas are small dogs, and in fact, some of them can come in teacup size which really makes it tougher to survive outside.
Being so fragile makes them suitable for an indoor environment and extended exposure to the elements can make them sick pretty quickly.
Don’t be fooled by their coat of hair. In cold weather, they can lose body heat very quickly and it is very easy to tell when that happens as they tend to start shivering.
On the other hand, they can also get overheated in a jiffy, which means that you as an owner need to be extra careful in monitoring their behavior.
Prolonged exposure to both the cold and heat means that they can suffer from hypothermia or hyperthermia and potentially cause death.
Keep an out for some of these symptoms that can indicate hypothermia:
- stiff muscles
- pale or gray gums
- stumbling or lack of coordination
- fixed and dilated pupils
- low heart and breathing rates
- or even coma
These are some signs that your dog might be suffering from hyperthermia:
- Excessive or heavy panting
- Dark red gums
- Excessive drooling
- Warm to the touch
- Red flushed skin
- A racing heart rate
- Bloody diarrhea
- Black tarry stool
Hey there, sorry to interrupt but I wanted to tell you about an online vet service I’ve been using for years.
An in-person visit with one is great, but it’s not always an option.
Now, thanks to technology, you can speak to one without leaving your home.
Alternatively, a vet can come out to you instead (exclusive to our readers: use THEVETS15 for 15% off).SCHEDULE AN APPOINTMENT HERE
Thank you. The rest of the article continues below.
Doggy says, read this too: Feeding a dog with parvo – Complete care tips
Risk of them getting injured
Chihuahuas are a funny bunch.
They love getting into tight spaces.
Maybe this has something to do with their tiny bodies and bones that allow them to get away with most of these adventures.
The problem is, accidents will still happen, and they will happen at a higher rate if you leave them unsupervised.
I have lost count of the number of times I talked to dog owners who found their Chi behind shelves or hiding between sofa cushions.
I’m surprised that none of them have accidentally crushed or hurt their pet though, but that’s a good thing.
If you leave them outside on their own, there is a good chance that you will find them later with some kind of minor injury.
Their tiny bones do not take well to impact and without the proper supervision, they tend to go berserk and can wind up hurting themselves.
Worse is if there is a hole in your backyard.
You can be sure your Chihuahua will find its way out, which leads to other risks such as getting run over by a car.
Frightened by loud sounds
We all know that dogs have excellent hearing, but this can also be a double-edged sword.
Being good at hearing means they can detect intruders before they have a chance to wreak havoc, but that also leaves them vulnerable to loud sounds.
If you leave your Chihuahua out for too long, they get increased exposure to the sounds outside as well.
Nasty sounds such as motorcycles screeching away, horns blaring, or even thunder, and they can get a real big shock.
What will likely happen is that they will go into hiding.
If they are outside, there’s no way to know where they will go and you need to spend time searching for them.
During this time, they might get hurt.
Doggy says, read this too: Is Powerbait Poisonous To Dogs?
Leaving your Chihuahua alone for too long may also mean that it cannot get the food it needs.
This is especially important as they will struggle to regulate their blood sugar.
Over time, this can cause damage to its internal organs and leave long-lasting problems.
Not to mention that if you left your dog out for too long and forget to bring it back in, it can easily starve to death or suffer from hypo or hyperthermia.
Doggy says, you might like this too: Splayed Feet In Dogs [Guide]
Sensitivity to weather changes
Chihuahuas are such tiny dogs and they are super sensitive to weather changes.
Temperature can fluctuate quite widely in certain places, which leaves the Chihuahua struggling to handle the changes.
When it comes to cold, your Chihuahua should never be exposed to temperature that is 40 degrees Fahrenheit (4 degrees Celsius) and below.
In fact, you should avoid anything close to this number totally.
There are telltale signs that your dog is feeling too cold, such as trembling and lifting their feet off the ground.
Immediately head for an indoor area and keep them warm.
On the other hand during hot weather, you shouldn’t bring or let your Chi out if the weatherman says 90 degrees Fahrenheit.
Stay on the safe side and keep them indoors even if the temperature is a couple of degrees lower than that.
Ideally, Chihuahuas will love to hang out in a space that is roughly 60-65℉.
Doggy says, consider reading this too: Puppy Shivering After Bath? [How To Stop It]
Lack of attention
Chihuahuas are territorial, but they are also sociable dogs, all the more so with loved ones.
They crave attention and obviously like to be pampered by their owners. I kind of feel that lots of Chi are named Princess for a reason.
If you take this out of the equation, especially for puppies, Chihuahuas will get lonely very quickly, which is why it is not a good idea to leave them outside for too long.
Having a pet door is a good way to let them decide when they want to venture out and the opportunity to return to a safe space.
Crate training would be very useful in creating a warm, safe haven for them to return to.
Don’t forget to mark your scent with a used cloth on the areas around the pet door as well as the crate!
And lastly, you really wouldn’t want to leave your Chihuahua outside for too long as it can start to bark incessantly.
Although they are tiny, they are by nature territorial, so you can expect that it will lash out at any perceived threats, including cars driving past, neighbors strolling through, or other dogs (or cats or pests for that matter).
In such scenarios, it becomes noise pollution for the neighborhood and causes displeasure, not to mention shocking innocent people walking by.
If you do want to let your Chi out, be sure to accompany it so that you can correct its behavior right away, or you can give it a dog puzzle to keep it occupied.
Doggy says, consider reading this next: Dog Crates Next to Each Other? Yay or Nay?
How Long Should Chihuahuas Be Outside?
Now that you know the pitfalls of leaving your Chi outdoors, how long is an acceptable time then for you to bring it out?
I mean, it still got to have some exercise, isn’t it?
And yes, exercise is very important to the growth of your Chi, particularly when it is still young.
Taking them on daily walks gives them the opportunity to grow and fully mature to become an adult.
It keeps them active and happy and is also very important for their mental health as that is excellent bonding time.
For younger dogs up to 1 year old, limit the walks to 20 minutes each time. You can introduce 2 walks a day, but be sure to space them out.
For adults up to 6 years old, you can increase the activity time to 30-40 minutes but always bear in mind the weather conditions.
I recommend that you keep them on a leash and bring along a collapsible bowl for it to hydrate.
Doggy says, read this too: How to Correct East West Feet in Dogs? When should you be concerned?
How to keep your Chihuahua warm in cold weather?
Chihuahuas are warm dog breeds and they need to have a similar dress-up just like us when it gets cold.
They do not do well when the mercury plunges and you need to take some preventive measures before they start shivering
Here are some tips to keep your Chihuahua warm in cold weather
Let them wear a sweater
I’ve seen pet owners knit their dogs sweaters and they look absolutely great. Sweaters work well for Chis just like they do for us humans.
Whether they are at home or out for a short walk, a sweater is handy to keep them warm and happy.
If you are not into knitting your own, there are tons of cute options available. Here’s a really beautiful one.
- Made of woolen material
- Keeps your pet dog warmer and turns up the cute factor
- Easy to wash and dry
Put on boots
I personally think that boots or shoes make a dog uncomfortable, but if worn over a short period of time when outside, it works well to protect your dogs’ paws and place a barrier between them and the cold hard floor.
If you are caught in a sudden change of weather or surface when outside, a set of shoes will come in handy.
For less extreme situations, applying paw wax would do the job nicely.
Ensure the kennel is warm
While daytimes should not pose any issues, temperatures at night might change rapidly and if you are not using an AC where your Chihuahua is sleeping, you might want to prep it to be warm enough for it to have a good night’s rest.
Fleece blankets and bedding will do the trick nicely and provide lots of comfort for your dog during snooze time.
Be sure to check that there is good ventilation and place the kennel in a warmer spot in the house.
If you think that the above is insufficient, you might want to get a heated pet bed for that extra warmth and comfort.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
How far should a Chihuahua walk daily?
Chihuahuas are active dogs that will bounce around the house to expend their energy. Daily walks are also good for their health and overall growth. For younger pups below 1-year-old, you should limit walks to 20 minutes or 1 mile. For Chihuahuas up to 6 years old, you can increase that to 40 minutes a day, or up to 2 miles.
Do Chihuahuas get cold easily?
Chihuahuas are one of those dog breeds that are not good at regulating body temperature compared to others. They are so small and tiny and their body barely carries around any fat to protect them from the harsh cold. As such, Chihuahuas get cold very easily, and in fact, you might have noticed that as they seem to shiver commonly.
Should I let my Chihuahua out when it snows?
Chihuahuas are believed to have originated from Mexico, and are named after the state with the same name. They do best in warm climates, which means snow is probably something very unfamiliar to them. It is not advisable to bring them out when it is snowing, but if you do, be sure to clothe them with sweaters and restrict the amount of time outside.
Doggy says, read this too: Puppy Very Light Sleeper: What Can You Do?