Can Chihuahuas Sleep Outside? The Pros and Cons

Chihuahuas are one of the most popular dogs in the United States. But being one of the smallest breeds, can Chihuahuas sleep outside?

The answer to this question is not black and white.

It ultimately depends on where you live and the specific needs of your Chihuahua.

Living in California, we’ve seen instances of Chihuahuas sleeping or living outside, but we personally choose not to allow our Chi, Leo, to do so.

In this blog post, we’ll go over the pros and cons of letting your Chihuahua sleep outside and help you make the best decision for your furry friend!

We will also offer some tips on how to keep your little one warm during cold weather.

A tan chihuahua is sleeping outside on a mini blue sofa with a fence in the background

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Can Chihuahuas Sleep Outside?

In general, Chihuahuas should not sleep outside.

Chihuahuas are small dogs and they are not built to withstand cold weather.

Additionally, they are prone to anxiety and can become stressed if left alone for too long.

If you must leave them outside (maybe because you’re allergic to Chihuahuas), they require a suitable form of shelter to protect them from the elements.

It’s not advisable to let them sleep outside in the winter.

Chihuahuas like to be near their humans and can become anxious if they are left alone for too long.

It’s best to bring them inside at night so they can sleep in safety and comfort.

If you live in a warm climate where the temperature does not dip below freezing, it may be okay to let your Chihuahua sleep outside during the day.

However, always use caution when leaving your dog outdoors.

Consider hiring a sitter or asking a neighbor to check on your dog if you’re usually gone all day.

Do Chihuahuas Get Cold?

Yes, Chihuahuas get cold very easily.

Chihuahuas are indoor dogs that were bred to be lapdogs.

They do not have the thick fur coats that other breeds use to protect them from the cold.

This is one reason you can usually find them burrowed into blankets and wearing clothes.

Additionally, Chihuahuas are small dogs.

They have trouble regulating their body temperature because they don’t have much fat to insulate their body.

For these reasons, it’s important to take extra care of your Chihuahua during the winter.

The Cons of Letting Your Chihuahua Sleep Outside

So can Chihuahuas sleep outside?

Let us explore the cons as it’s important to be aware of all the risks.

The truth is you must be very careful and take precautions if you’re going to let your Chihuahua sleep or live outside based on the following reasons.

Susceptible to Cold

The most important reason not to let them sleep outside is that they are susceptible to the cold.

Even if the temperature is only cool, they may be uncomfortable sleeping outdoors.

Chihuahua dogs and cold weather don’t really mix. In cold climates, it is not safe for Chihuahuas to sleep outside or be exposed to the elements for extended periods of time.

How cold is too cold for a Chihuahua? 

Considering the size and coat of a Chihuahua, 45 degrees Fahrenheit or below would start being uncomfortable for them while 32 degrees or below would be threatening.

Anything 20 degrees Fahrenheit would practically be a death sentence for them. 

Since Chihuahuas have low body fat and short hair, they are not well-suited for cold weather.

Chihuahuas don’t have thick coats like huskies or malamutes, so they can’t handle the cold as well.

Chihuahuas can develop hypothermia or frostbite if they are left in the cold for too long.

Symptoms of hypothermia in dogs are: 

  • shivering
  • lethargy
  • weakness
  • poor coordination
  • muscle stiffness
  • pale gums
  • dilated pupils
  • slow breathing rate

Symptoms of frostbite in dogs are: 

  • pale, bluish-white skin
  • cold and brittle areas
  • numbness
  • pain when touched
  • swelling and blistering
  • blackening areas

If your dog has any of these symptoms, you should wrap them up in warm blankets and take them to the vet immediately.

Risk of Attack by Predators

They may be vulnerable to attacks by other animals.

Chihuahuas are very small so predators may see them as an easy target.

If your Chi is outside unsupervised, they may be in danger.

Even if you have a fence, coyotes are known to climb over (or dig under) fences and other animals may be able to break through.

If you let your Chi sleep outside, be sure to keep a close eye on them with pet cameras and make sure they are safe from harm.

Insect Bites

If your Chihuahua stays outside all the time, there is a greater chance that he or she will get bit by insects.

Insect bites can lead to skin irritations and infections. Bee stings can be especially painful.

Mosquitoes, fleas, ticks, and lice can all cause problems for your dog.

Mosquitos can carry heartworm, which is a serious and potentially deadly disease.

Fleas can cause anemia and ticks can transmit Lyme disease.

Lice can cause severe skin infections.


A white chihuahua is sitting on the pavement next to a dark chihuahua who is laying down

Dogs that live outdoors are more likely to have parasites than dogs that live indoors.

They might contract Giardia from drinking standing water, like from a puddle.

If your dog is unsupervised outdoors, they may ingest something that makes them sick.

For example, sago palms are a common landscaping plant that are highly poisonous to dogs.

If a dog were to eat even a small piece of sago palm, it could suffer from serious health complications or even death.

Other common hazards include food wrappers, cigarette butts, socks, and poisonous mushrooms.

If your dog is living outdoors and you don’t check on them often enough, you might miss signs that they ate something and got sick.

Sunburn & Heat Exhaustion

Can Chihuahuas sleep outside in the heat?

If your Chihuahua can’t find a cool, shady spot during a hot day, they may overheat and suffer from heat exhaustion.

Sunburn is also a risk for dogs that spend a lot of time outside.

Chihuahuas love sunbathing but if they have light-colored fur, they are especially susceptible to sunburn.

Symptoms of heat exhaustion in dogs:

  • excessive panting
  • drooling
  • vomiting
  • diarrhea
  • weakness
  • loss of coordination
  • seizures

If your dog is exhibiting any of these symptoms, you should take them to the vet immediately.

Anxiety & Loneliness

Dogs are pack animals and love being a part of the family.

Chihuahuas can become anxious and stressed if left alone for too long.

Chihuahuas typically bond with one person so if they are left outside all the time, they may become lonely and anxious especially if they have separation anxiety.

This may cause them to bark a lot or cry excessively.

Chihuahuas are social animals and don’t like being left alone for long periods of time.

Your Chihuahua might start headbutting you to try to get more attention.

A good idea would be to install a pet door so that your Chihuahua can come and go as they please.

That way, they can get some fresh air and sun but still have the security of knowing that you are close by inside.

They Can Escape

Chihuahuas are small and agile, and they may be able to escape from your yard if it’s not properly fenced in.

Dogs also love to dig so they could dig a hole right under the fence.

Make sure your yard is secure and all gates closed before letting your Chi outside.

This will help prevent them from escaping and getting hit by a car or getting lost.

Stressed Out

Chihuahuas can become stressed if left outside for too long. Chihuahuas are intelligent dogs and don’t like to be bored.

If they are left outside all the time, they may become restless and destructive.

They may chew on plants in an attempt to keep busy or dig a hole in the ground to try to escape.

Loud noises like thunderstorms or fireworks can also stress them out.

They may bark or howl excessively which can be disruptive and upsetting for your neighbors.


Can Chihuahuas live outside?

There are many things that can happen to a dog when they are left alone outdoors unsupervised.

Chihuahuas are fragile and have tiny bones, which make them prone to injuries.

They can slip and fall off something, get stuck in a tight spot, jump down from something too high, or crawl under a fence to escape and get hit by a car.

If your Chihuahua is injured when left outside, you may not know right away and they might be suffering in pain for some time.

Take your dog straight to the vet if you suspect they are injured or in pain.


A chihuahua has a cold and is laying in bed with a thermometer in his mouth and an ice bag on his forehead

Dogs can experience colds just like humans.

Chihuahuas are more likely to catch a cold if they sleep outside.  

The symptoms are similar to a human cold and include coughing, watery eyes, sneezing, lethargy, and a runny nose.

If your Chihuahua has a cold, contact your vet if they stop eating or drinking, have difficulty breathing, or if the cold has lasted more than a week.

Develop Bad Habits

Chihuahuas who live outside may lose their housetraining, so when you do bring them inside, they might relieve themselves indoors.

This can be difficult to train them out of and can create a mess inside your home.

They may also lose their knowledge of basic commands if they aren’t reinforced regularly.

Outdoor dogs are free to dig, bark, and chew on things as they please.

This can lead to destructive behavior like chewing on patio furniture or hoses or digging up the grass.

Behavior Issues

A white chihuahua with brown ears is laying down in the grass with a chain

Chihuahuas are companion dogs and love to be around their family.

If they are left outside all the time, they may start developing behavior issues.

Some dogs that live outdoors can become aggressive and feel the need to protect their territory, which can be dangerous.

They may also bark excessively at noises or perceived threats like other animals, loud cars, neighbors, and passersby which can be disruptive.

Low Blood Sugar

Since Chihuahuas are so tiny, they have a low body mass.

It’s harder for them to store sugar so they need meals and treats throughout the day to help regulate their blood sugar levels.

If your Chihuahua lives outside, you may not be aware if they’re eating all their food. Missing meals can lead to low blood sugar which can make them very sick.

The Pros of Letting Your Chihuahua Sleep Outside

Let’s look at the reasons someone might want their dog to sleep outside.

While there are risks associated with letting your Chihuahua sleep outside, there are a few benefits.

A tan chihuahua is wrapped in a blanket to sleep outside

Fresh Air

Some dogs enjoy spending time in nature and feel more relaxed when they are able to get some fresh air.

If you live in a warm climate, your Chi may be comfortable sleeping outside.


If you have a fenced-in yard, it can be a safe place for your dog to play and run around.

This gives your Chihuahua a chance to get plenty of exercise.

Dogs are naturally active creatures, and letting them run and play in a safe, enclosed space can help prevent obesity and other health problems.

Dogs who spend all day inside can become restless and destructive.

Allowing them to spend some time outdoors can help them burn off some energy.

Of course, you should always keep an eye on your dog when he or she is playing outside and make sure they have plenty of water to drink.

Since some dogs love tipping over their water bowls, we have an entire post with the best no-tip water bowls.

Summer with No Air Conditioning

If you experience warm summers and don’t have air conditioning, it can take a while for a house to cool down at night.

Your Chihuahua may be more comfortable sleeping outside than inside the warm house.

Many dog owners choose to let their pets sleep outside because it can help keep them cool in the summer.

Won’t Have to Take Potty Breaks

A tan chihuahua is looking away from the camera outside with grass and pine trees in the background

If your dog is outside all the time, you won’t have to worry about taking them out for potty breaks.

This can be especially helpful if you work long hours or are unable to get home in time to let your dog out.

They will be able to relieve themselves whenever the need arises.

Less Dog Hair Inside the House

Chihuahuas are moderate shedders and are not hypoallergenic, so you might be tired of tons of dog hair on the furniture.

Letting your Chihuahua sleep outside can help reduce the amount of hair in your home.

What is the Verdict?

As you can see, there are more cons than pros to letting your Chihuahua sleep outside.

They get cold very easily and they can even start shivering indoors.

Chihuahuas are clingy dogs and don’t like to be left alone for long periods of time, so they may become anxious and stressed if you leave them outside all night.

Additionally, there is a greater chance of your Chi getting injured or sick if they live outdoors.

The best option for your Chihuahua is to let them sleep inside where it’s warm and safe.

How Do I Know If My Chihuahua is Cold?

Chihuahuas will show several signs if they are feeling cold such as:

  • Shivering or trembling
  • Curling up in a ball
  • Lifting a paw in the air
  • Whining or barking
  • Trying to burrow or make a nest

Chihuahuas that are cold will also seem lethargic and uninterested in play.

If you see any of these signs, bring your Chihuahua inside and warm them up with blankets or a heating pad set on low.

Tips to Keep Your Chihuahua Warm During Cold Weather

If you do decide to let your Chihuahua sleep outside or you’re planning a camping trip where you’ll be sleeping in a tent, there are ways to make it work.

Keep an eye on the temperature – if it gets too cold (below 40 degrees Fahrenheit) or too hot (above 90 degrees) bring your dog inside to sleep.

With a little planning, you can ensure that your Chi stays safe and warm while enjoying the great outdoors.

A tan long-haired chihuahua is looking away from the camera in the snow

Winter Clothing

If your Chihuahua and cold weather don’t mix well, you may need to invest in some winter gear.

Our Chihuahua has a full wardrobe for the winter including sweaters, fleeces, and a winter jacket. He gets cold easily so we make sure to dress him up warm when it’s chilly out.

Before buying anything, make sure to measure your Chihuahua so you can get the right size.

Check out our Chihuahua Clothing Guide post

Pet Door

Installing a pet door at your home that leads to a fenced-in backyard is a great option for Chihuahuas who want to sleep outside.

This way they can come and go as they please and you don’t have to worry about them getting too cold or being too far away from you.

Heated Water Bowl

You can purchase this heated water bowl to keep your dog’s water from freezing.

This is especially important in the winter because they need to stay hydrated.

Some dogs tip over their water bowls, so you want to make sure they always have access to water.

Insulated Kennel

If you have an outdoor dog, consider investing in an insulated kennel.

This will give them a warm place to sleep when it’s cold outside and protect them from the elements.

It will also stay cool in the summer so your dog can have a place to escape the heat.

Don’t choose too big of a kennel because you want their body heat to stay inside and if the kennel is too big, the heat will dissipate faster.

Fleece Blankets

Chihuahuas love to burrow into blankets.

Fleece blankets are a great option for Chihuahuas because they are super warm and soft.

During the winter, we use this waterproof Sherpa fleece blanket in our Chihuahua’s crate and it keeps him warm and cozy.

Read more: Surprising Reasons Chihuahuas Burrow Under Covers


A white chihuahua is standing in the snow wearing a jacket and booties

Booties protect your dog’s feet from the cold, ice, and salt on the ground.

They also protect your carpets and furniture from being stained with mud and snow.

If you live in a colder climate, you may want to consider investing in some of these items to keep your Chihuahua warm during the winter.

We don’t live where it snows, but if we did, we’d definitely use a pair of booties to keep our Chihuahua’s feet warm and dry while looking super cute.

Raised Bed

A raised dog bed is a great option for Chihuahuas who sleep outside.

This type of bed keeps them off the cold ground.

Add a waterproof Sherpa fleece blanket on top and it’s the perfect spot for your Chi to curl up and sleep.

It also works well in the summer to keep your dog cool instead of lying directly on a hot patio or deck.

Self-Warming Dog Bed

A self-warming dog bed uses your dog’s body heat to keep them warm.

It has a layer of insulation that reflects their body heat back to them.

This is a great option for dogs who don’t like to wear clothes or have trouble staying warm.

Bluetooth Thermometer

A Bluetooth thermometer will allow you to monitor the temperature inside the kennel remotely.

This is great if you’re at work or running errands and want to make sure your Chihuahua isn’t getting too cold.

You can also set up alerts so you’ll be notified if the temperature drops below a certain level.

Kennel Heater

Putting a kennel heater inside the kennel will help your Chihuahua stay warm.

This one is safe to use outdoors with a chew-proof cord and cover.

Pair it with a Bluetooth thermostat, and you’ll be able to monitor and control the temperature from your phone.

Use Pee Pads Indoors

If it’s too cold for your Chihuahua to go outside, you can use pee pads indoors to help your Chihuahua stay warm and dry.

Pee pads are absorbent mats that are placed on the floor and used as makeshift potty areas.

Choose one area to place them so your Chihuahua knows exactly where to go every time.

This will prevent your dog from having to go outside in the cold and will keep your house clean and dry.

Play Indoors

If the temperature is below 20 degrees Fahrenheit, it’s too cold to take your Chihuahua outside to play.

Instead, opt for indoor activities such as playing with toys, fetch, or tug-of-war.

You can also teach them some new tricks or work on obedience training.

We have a whole blog post on the best games to play with your Chihuahua!

Don’t Bathe Outside

Don’t give your Chihuahua a bath outside when it’s cold.

It may be easier and less messy to use the hose outside but it can cause your dog to get hypothermia.

Our blog post on how to bathe your Chihuahua will give you some tips to make bath time easier indoors.

What Temperature Can a Chihuahua Tolerate?

Chihuahuas can tolerate temperatures between 50 and 60 degrees Fahrenheit.

Since Chihuahuas are susceptible to the cold, 45 degrees and below starts being uncomfortable for them.

Temperatures below 20 degrees are dangerous and can lead to hyperthermia and frostbite.

Can I Take My Chihuahua to the Snow?

Black chihuahua walking in the snow

Yes, your Chihuahua can go in the snow as long as you prepare them for the weather. Make sure they have a thick coat and booties to stay warm.

Some Chihuahuas love playing in the snow.

It’s important to only take them out for short periods of time so that they don’t get too cold. Keep an eye on your dog and bring them inside if they start to shiver or look uncomfortable.

How Long Should a Chihuahua Be Outside?

If the weather is nice, Chihuahuas should spend some time outside every day.

Exercise is very important for dogs, and playing in the yard or taking a walk is a great way for your Chi to get some exercise.

Chihuahuas need around 30 minutes of exercise daily. We take our Chihuahuas for two 15-to-20-minute walks a day.

Always keep an eye on them to make sure they’re not too hot or too cold.

Read next: Chihuahua Exercise Guide


So, can Chihuahuas sleep outside?

Chihuahuas shouldn’t sleep outside since they are indoor lapdogs who are susceptible to the cold.

They are at risk for injuries and attacks by predators if they live outside because they are so small and fragile.

It’s best to keep your Chihuahua warm by letting them sleep inside where they are safe.

If for some reason you do need to have your Chihuahua sleep outside, use an insulated kennel with heaters and a self-warming dog bed.

When taking them outside during winter, make sure it’s not too cold and dress them in warm winter clothing.

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