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Are Chihuahuas Always Cold? (And How To Keep Them Warm)

Last Updated: April 24, 2024

Chihuahuas are adorable tiny creatures that many beginner pet parents might aspire to own. However, your dog’s lifespan and health depend on how well you understand the breed. The fascinating part of Chihuahuas lies in the nature of its skin.

Whenever I foster my friend’s Chihuahuas when she’s away, I’ve always noticed how unique their metabolism is. Not to forget, their skin is sensitive and needs regular attention. Yes, honestly!

While Chihuahuas are not always cold, they are more sensitive to temperature changes than other dogs due to their high metabolism, short snout, low body fat, and small sizes. As they’re susceptible to catching colds and other respiratory infections, investing in suitable clothing accessories and ensuring a warm environment can help them.

If you’re a beginner, taking care of them without expert tips isn’t easy. That’s the primary reason I’ve written this article to help you provide the proper care, equip your Chihuahua with the ideal accessories, and create the perfect environment.

So, let’s begin!

Are Chihuahuas Always Cold?
Are Chihuahuas Always Cold?

Reasons Chihuahuas are Always Cold

If you’re a Chihuahua owner, you may have noticed that your furry friend is always cold. Have you ever wondered about the reason? Well, this is because Chihuahuas have certain physical characteristics that make them more susceptible to the cold than other dogs.

In this section, we’ll explore why Chihuahuas are always cold and what you can do to keep them warm.

Lack of Body Fat

One of the main reasons why Chihuahuas are always cold is because they lack body fat. Body fat plays a vital role in regulating body temperature, as it acts as an insulator to keep heat in. However, Chihuahuas have a very low body fat percentage, so they don’t have much insulation to keep them warm. This is especially true for Chihuahuas that are underweight or have a fast metabolism.

To help your Chihuahua stay warm, feed them high-quality dog food rich in protein and healthy fats. Otherwise, they can turn into picky eaters.

A research study assessing whether small to medium-sized dogs are overweight observed that Chihuahuas are one of those breeds having low body fat percentages.

Short Coats

Another reason why Chihuahuas are always cold is because the more popular short-haired variety has very short coats. Unlike other breeds with thick, long coats, most Chihuahuas have a short, fine, smooth coat that doesn’t provide much warmth.

This is because Chihuahuas originated in Mexico, with a tropical climate where a thick coat would have been a disadvantage.

If you live in a cold climate, you should provide your Chihuahua with warm clothing, such as a sweater or jacket, to help them stay warm.

When I look after my friend’s 3 Chihuahuas (as seen in the photo below), I notice that they always like to cuddle up to keep warm and cozy.

Three Chihuahuas In a Basket
Poppy, Lily & Molly in a basket (my friend’s three girlies)

Small Size

Chihuahuas are always cold because of their small size. Small dogs have a higher surface area-to-volume ratio than larger dogs, which means they lose heat more quickly. This is because they have more skin relative to their body size, which means that more of their body is exposed to the cold.

Additionally, Chihuahuas have a brachycephalic shape, which means their heads are wider and flatter than other dogs. This can make them more susceptible to colder temperatures, as their body heat is more easily lost through their head.

Here’s a way to calculate the cephalic index of Chihuahuas:

Cephalic index (CI) = (Ratio of utmost width of the head * 100)/Maximum length of the head

Below is a radiographic of Chihuahua puppies from a study that found significant differences in skull shape between brachycephalic (short and wide skull) and non-brachycephalic puppies.

Radiography of Brachycephalic Chihuahua Puppies
Radiography of Brachycephalic Chihuahua Puppies

Chihuahuas also have short snouts, which can make breathing difficult in colder temperatures. The cold air can irritate their respiratory system, causing them to cough or wheeze. Additionally, Chihuahuas tend to develop dental problems, which can exacerbate respiratory issues. 

High Metabolism

Another factor that makes Chihuahuas more prone to cold weather is their high metabolism. Chihuahuas naturally have high metabolisms, so they burn off body heat quickly. This can make them shiver when they get excited or anxious and affect their ability to regulate body temperature.

“So, even if you don’t feel cold, your Chihuahua might!”

Can My Chihuahua Go Outside During Winter?

If you’re a first-time owner of a Chihuahua, chances are that the winter season is approaching, and you’re unsure if your dog will manage the climate. Perhaps, you can’t miss out on the regular walk as well.

Chihuahuas can go outside during winter, but you should limit their outside activities to 15 minutes or less as they are very susceptible to hypothermia and dehydration in extremely low temperatures.

Your Chihuahua’s outdoor movement is entirely based on three factors – exact temperature, weather conditions, and length of time. You must provide your Chihuahua with warm clothing before you step out if you find the temperature manageable.

Let’s look at these factors one by one.


The temperature is the first thing to consider when taking your Chihuahua outside during winter. Chihuahuas are sensitive to cold weather and can quickly become chilled if the temperature drops too low. Generally, if the temperature is below 45 degrees Fahrenheit (7 degrees Celsius), keeping your Chihuahua indoors is best.

“Perhaps your Chi enjoys sleeping on the couch at all times, irrespective of the external weather!”

Length of Time

Even if the temperature is above 45 degrees Fahrenheit, limiting your Chihuahua’s time outside during winter is essential. Chihuahuas should not be left out for extended periods, as they can quickly become chilled and develop hypothermia.

Weather Conditions

In addition to temperature, you should also consider the weather conditions when taking your Chihuahua outside during winter. If it’s snowing or raining, your Chihuahua can become wet and cold, increasing their risk of hypothermia.


If you do need to take your Chihuahua outside during winter, it’s important to dress them appropriately. Consider investing in warm clothing, such as a sweater or jacket, to help insulate them from the cold. Additionally, consider using booties or paw protectors to protect their delicate paws from cold weather and ice.

Chihuahua in the snow

How Can I Keep My Chihuahua Warm In Cold Weather?

As Chihuahuas are more susceptible to the cold than other breeds, keeping your Chi warm and comfortable is essential if you live in a cold climate.

Here are some tips to help you do just that:

  1. Buy warm clothing: One of the easiest ways to keep your Chihuahua warm in cold weather is to buy them warm clothing, such as a sweater or jacket. Look for fleece or wool clothing that will provide the most insulation.
  2. Provide a warm bed: Make sure your Chihuahua has a warm, comfortable bed to sleep in. Place the bed in a warm, draft-free area of your home, and consider adding extra blankets or bedding to help insulate them from the cold.
  3. Use a space heater: Consider using a space heater or heated pet bed to help keep your Chihuahua warm. Just make sure to monitor the temperature and avoid overheating your pet. However, don’t use models with open flames, as these are a fire hazard.
  4. Avoid leaving them outside: Chihuahuas should not be left outside for long periods in cold weather. If you need to take them out, ensure they are wearing warm clothing and limit their exposure to the cold.
  5. Apply nose balm: Chihuahuas can get cracked and dry noses in cold weather, so consider applying a dog nose balm or butter to keep their noses moisturized.
  6. Use a doughnut-shaped bed: Chihuahuas like to curl up in tight spaces to keep warm, so consider using a doughnut-shaped bed to help them feel cozy and secure.
  7. Avoid placing the bed too close to a radiator or heat source: While keeping your Chihuahua warm is essential, it’s also important to avoid placing their bed too close to a radiator or heat source. This can cause overheating and discomfort.
  8. Protect their paws: Chihuahuas have delicate paws that can be easily injured by cold weather and ice. Consider investing in booties or paw protectors to keep their paws safe and warm.
  9. Keep them hydrated: It’s vital to keep your Chihuahua hydrated during winter, as dry air can cause dehydration. Ensure they have access to plenty of fresh water, and consider adding a humidifier to your home to help keep the air moist.

From warm clothing and bedding to heated pet mats and nose balm, various products are available to help keep your furry friend comfortable. By providing your Chihuahua with the warmth and comfort they need, you can help them stay healthy and happy all winter.

Need some more information? You should watch this video where an owner takes care of a short-haired Chihuahua during winter.

Can Chihuahuas Catch a Cold?

Like humans, dogs can catch colds, but the viruses that cause colds in humans are not the same as the ones that affect dogs. While dogs can get respiratory infections, they are not the same as the common cold.

However, Chihuahuas can still be susceptible to respiratory infections, which can cause symptoms similar to a cold.

If your Chihuahua has a respiratory infection, it may exhibit symptoms such as coughing, sneezing, runny nose, and watery eyes. They may also have a decreased appetite and appear lethargic.

Best Room Temperature for Chihuahuas

Chihuahuas are sensitive to temperature changes, and you must keep them in a comfortable environment to prevent health issues.

The ideal room temperature for Chihuahuas is between 65 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit (18-24 degrees Celsius). However, this temperature range may vary depending on your Chihuahua’s age, health, and activity level.


Young Chihuahuas, especially puppies, may need a slightly warmer environment than adult dogs. This is because they have less body fat and are not yet able to regulate their body temperature as well as adult dogs.

If you have a young Chihuahua, consider keeping the room temperature between 75 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit (24-27 degrees Celsius).


If your Chihuahua has health conditions, they may require a warmer or cooler environment, depending on their condition.

For example, if your Chi has respiratory issues, they may benefit from a warmer environment to help them breathe easier. On the other hand, if your Chihuahua has a fever, a cooler environment may be more comfortable for them.

When I initially fostered my friend’s Chihuahuas, I wondered why they remained highly susceptible to respiratory illnesses. That’s when I observed their tiny respiratory system that is congested and can’t process harsh conditions.

Respiratory system of Chihuahuas
The respiratory system of Chihuahuas (Source: Planet Chihuahuas)

Activity Level

If your Chihuahua is active and playful, he may generate more body heat and require a cooler environment to prevent overheating. Conversely, if your Chihuahua is less active or spends a lot of time sleeping, he may need a warmer environment to stay comfortable.

In addition to keeping your Chihuahua in a comfortable temperature range, monitor their behavior and health, and if you notice any signs of discomfort, such as shivering or panting, adjust the room temperature accordingly.

Final Thoughts

While Chihuahuas are not always cold, they do require special care and attention during cold weather. Their small size and short coat make them more susceptible to the cold than other breeds, and they may develop health issues if exposed to cold temperatures for too long.

As a Chihuahua owner, stay cautious of your pet’s sensitivity to cold and take steps to keep them warm and comfortable.

Sharon Waddington
Sharon Waddington is the founder of World of Dogz. With over 30 years of experience working with dogs, this former Police Officer has seen it all. But it’s her trusty German Shepherd, Willow, who steals the show as the inspiration behind this website. As Sharon’s constant companion Willow has played a pivotal role in shaping her passion for dogs. Recently, Sharon has become deeply passionate about the plight of rescue dogs and is an active advocate for dog rescue, striving to make a difference in the lives of dogs in need.

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