Chihuahuas can be an affectionate breed, but like most dogs, they do not appreciate cuddling in the same way that humans do. Chihuahuas do, however, often appreciate a certain level of closeness with their owner.
Cuddling Vs. Closeness
Before we talk about chihuahuas and cuddling, we need to make the distinction between cuddling and closeness. For this article, “cuddling” refers to hugging, and closeness refers to being within proximity.
Do Chihuahuas Like To Cuddle?
No, chihuahuas do not like to cuddle. In fact, most dogs do not like to cuddle! There are always exceptions to the rule, but studies have shown that four out of five dogs find cuddling anxiety-inducing.
Why Don’t Dogs Like Being Hugged?
Dogs and humans both rely on body language as a means of communication, but unfortunately, dog and human interpretations of body language differ. As humans, hugging someone means that we care about them. Dogs, however, interpret this action in a completely different light.
A Display of Dominance
One way that dogs display dominance is to put a limb on the second dog. The dog with the limb on top is the dominant of the two. It is almost as though they were saying: “Stay down. I’m the boss.”
When you hug your dog, you are draping your limbs over them and unbeknownst to you, asserting your dominance. This interpretation of being “put in their place” induces feelings of stress and anxiety in your dog.
In his article “The Data Says “Don’t Hug the Dog!,” Stanley Coren PhD., DSc, FRSC, analyzed the body language of dogs in photographic evidence. He found that hugging dogs induces negative feelings.
In the images used in his study, Coren found that dogs being hugged showed signs of stress and anxiety.
In his research, Stanley Coren scored a range of two hundred and fifty images based on whether the dog showed one or more signs of anxiety and stress, whether the dog seemed at ease or relaxed, and whether the dog has an ambiguous expression.
- Dogs showed signs of being relaxed in just 7.6% of the photographs.
- Dogs showed signs of discomfort in 81.6% of the photographs.
- Dogs showed signs of neutrality in 10.8% of the photographs.
Signs of Stress and Anxiety In Dogs
In his research, Stanley Coren scored images based on the dog’s expression and body language. Anxious dogs were dogs that displayed:
- Teeth baring
- Turning the head away from the hugger
- Refusing eye contact
- Closing the eyes
- Opening the eyes so widely that the whites of the eye are visible at the rim of the eye
- Having the ears slicked back against the head
- Licking their lips
- Smacking lips
- Licking at the air
- Licking at the face or mouth of the person doing the hugging
- Raising a paw
How Dependable Is Stanley Coren’s Research?
Some people question Stanley Coren’s research because he based his findings on randomly acquired images from the internet. When choosing pictures for his research, however, Coren selected a large sample of images where the dog’s face was fully visible, and a random sample of two hundred and fifty of those images was selected.
Despite being slightly unconventional, Coren’s method of research is sound.
- Coren selected a large sample of images, but all of them showed the dog’s entire head.
- Coren based his research on a random selection of these photographs.
- Coren used a uniform scale of scoring images.
Do Dogs Like To Be Close?
We have discussed dogs’ dislike of hugging, but what about being close? Do dogs like to be close to their owners? Yes!
Dogs of all breeds like to be close to their owners (if they have a positive relationship,) although some dogs like more personal space than others. Just how much personal space a dog needs varies by individual dog, but do not make any assumptions about how comfortable a dog is with close contact based on their breed.
The only way to know how comfortable any dog is with close contact is to be familiar with the dog in question.
Do Chihuahuas Like To Be Close?
What about Chihuahuas? Like other dogs, the Chihuahua’s fondness for closeness depends on their relationship with their owner and their preference for personal space. When small dogs like chihuahuas do like to be close; however, they get a few significant benefits which include
Smaller dogs are much more prone to getting cold. By snuggling up close to their owners, these little dogs can stay warm and maintain better control of their body heat!
Many smaller dogs become attached to a single member of their household. This attachment can cause separation anxiety when the person in question is out of the dog’s sight. By snuggling up close, a dog ensures that if their human does go anywhere, they will not get left behind!
Being close also offers smaller dogs a feeling of security and allows them to rest more comfortably. Snuggling means that if anything threatening approaches while the dog is asleep, their human can protect them.
For some more fearful dogs, for example, a cat in the house might pose that threat. Other dogs that get rescued later in life may fear attack from a larger animal even though that threat no longer exists.
Conclusion / Summary
Chihuahuas frequently attach themselves to one person, but although they are often content to stay close, they do not appreciate hugging!