Why Do Chihuahuas Sleep With Their Ears Up

Have you ever wondered why Chihuahuas sleep with their ears up? They don’t just close their eyes when they are asleep but with their ears “standing” up as if they were listening to something.

So, why do they do that? Does it have anything to do with their sleep? Or there is more to that? Let’s find out in this post.

To Detect Threats of Any Kind

It is common to think of dogs as having an excellent sense of smell, but their ears are also among their most important senses.

The ability to hear (even on the faintest sound) can help a dog to sense changes in their environment and respond accordingly.

This is particularly so when they are asleep. They are always listening for any unusual sound coming their way.

By raising their ears, they will go into alert mode if they hear something unfamiliar. This helps them to detect danger before it is too late.

A Trick to Keep Their Predators at Bay

This little dog is a formidable protector, and he knows how to keep himself safe. He does it by always having his ears up in his sleep.

This is his way of telling his predators that he is still awake and ready to defend himself.

So when you see your Chihuahua sleeping with his ears up, you know that he is feeling insecure in his surroundings. 

To ease his fear and anxiety, you can get him a crate to give him some privacy.

Have him crate trained so that he will see his crate as his den where he will feel safe and protected to sleep in.

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A Sign That He Is Feeling Insecure

In most cases, it’s because your Chihuahua is feeling insecure, anxious and scared. He is not comfortable sleeping with his guard down. It can be a reaction to being in a new environment.

This is often the case if you have just adopted him, and he is still wary of his new home. 

He is afraid that he will get hurt, so he keeps a “watchful” ear on his surroundings. 

This is normal and something that will pass when he gets to know his environment better. As you play with him, he will relax and feel more at ease.

Give him lots of attention and cuddles. He will then feel safe and secure, and will begin to trust you and his new home.

You can also help him to feel more secure by putting earplugs in his ears during his sleep.

A good pair of earplugs will help reduce your dog’s anxiety due to the fact that they will dampen the sound, making it seem less overwhelming to your pet.

These plugs will help him sleep better at night and prevent him from waking up when he hears noises outside such as the sound of your neighbor’s dog barking nearby.

Chihuahuas and other small breeds are especially prone to this feeling of insecurity due to their smaller size compared with other breeds.

They are small, fearful breeds and are constantly afraid of predators and loud noises.

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He Is Having a Bad Dream

Your Chihuahua will sleep with his ears up when he is having a bad dream. He may be dreaming that he is being chased by a predator and is taking cover to escape.

His ears will stay this way until he wakes up from the dream.

You may be thinking of petting him gently to let him know you’re there to protect him.This is certainly NOT a good idea.

Your dog might react differently when he wakes up, so stay away from him.

A bad dream could make him aggravated, so touching him could exacerbate the situation. 

Using only your voice instead of petting him will be a better alternative.

A Bad Habit That He Had Picked Up

If your dog only starts to do this (sleeping with his ears up) after you have brought him back from a pet boarding center, he may have picked it up while at the center.

He is feeling insecure while he is alone in an unfamiliar boarding center and to protect himself, he will always be alert even during his sleep with his ears up.

This naturally becomes a habit for him, and he will also practice that even when he is back to an environment where he is more familiar with.

So if you want to get rid of this habit, you can make him feel more secure by giving him extra attention and love while you are both together. 

Over time, he will realize that he does not need to be on guard in his sleep and will gradually stop doing it.

Health Considerations

Ear discomfort or pain

In some cases, Chihuahuas may have discomfort or pain in their ears that could affect their sleeping position. If your Chihuahua frequently changes the position of their ears while sleeping or shows signs of ear discomfort, such as scratching, head shaking, or discharge, it is important to consult a veterinarian. 

Ear infections

Chihuahuas are prone to ear infections due to their floppy ears and limited airflow within the ear canal. Bacteria, yeast, or other microorganisms can thrive in warm and moist environments, leading to infections.

If your Chihuahua consistently sleeps with their ears up and shows signs of discomfort, it may be a good idea to check for any signs of infection, such as redness, swelling, odor, or discharge.

Regular ear cleaning and routine check-ups with a veterinarian can help prevent and address ear infections.

Ear mites

Ear mites are a common issue among dogs, including Chihuahuas. These tiny parasites can cause itchiness, inflammation, and discomfort in the ears.

If your Chihuahua is frequently shaking their head or scratching their ears excessively, ear mites may be the culprit.

A veterinarian can diagnose and provide appropriate treatment for ear mites to alleviate any discomfort.


Chihuahuas can be prone to allergies, including food allergies or environmental allergies. Allergies can manifest in various ways, including ear inflammation or irritation.

If your Chihuahua’s ears are frequently red, itchy, or swollen, it could be an allergic reaction.

Consulting with a veterinarian can help identify the underlying cause of allergies and provide appropriate treatment options.

Other health conditions

While the preference for sleeping with ears up is generally a natural behavior for Chihuahuas, it’s essential to consider any underlying health conditions that may affect their sleep or overall well-being.

Chihuahuas can be susceptible to certain health issues such as dental problems, luxating patella (knee joint dislocation), tracheal collapse, or heart conditions.

These conditions may indirectly impact their sleeping habits. Regular check-ups with a veterinarian can help monitor and address any potential health concerns.

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