The secret messages in your chihuahuas’ ears

Learn to read your chihuahuas’ ears

Learning to read your chihuahuas’ ears is easier than tea leaves. So you won’t need a crystal ball to work out what your chihuahua is thinking. Your chihuahua’s body language can tell you so much about their mood. You can read more about body language in this post.

Chihuahuas’ ears are amazing, generally upright and alert they can capture sounds from many different directions and can have amazing high-frequency range, they can even hear pulses such as the crystal resonator in your digital alarm clock!

There are an incredible 18 muscles in each chihuahua ear which work to tilt, raise and rotate their soft and furry extremities. The muscles in the ears don’t just help to hear; they can also show you how your dog is feeling, which can help you to gauge their mood.

In fact, there is so much to marvel at with your chi’s little ears, for a start chihuahua ears can move independently of each other! By tuning into your chi’s ear movements, you can tell what they’re thinking and how they feel, so you get to know your chi a little bit better.

Here are some common positions for your chihuahuas’ ears


When your chi is mellow and relaxed, and there are no loud or strange noises to tune into, your chi will have ears in a resting position. Depending on your dog, this may mean the ears are upright or flopped, but this will be their usual ear position.

Relaxed for a chihuahua is upright.


When your chihuahuas’ ears are slightly back, and their mouth is open this is a friendly and happy chi. If you see your chi like this and perhaps bowing in front on you, it means that they just want to play and are happy to see you.


Defensive and Anxious

If you notice your chihuahua with ears slightly back, mouth tight and face rigged with a tucked tail it is likely that they are feeling anxious and defensive. Be cautious and try to determine the cause of their anxiety so that you can help to diffuse the situation.



If you spot your chi with their ears pinned right back, check the exit routes as they are likely to run away as fast as possible. Having ears flat back against their body is a sign of being terrified and insecure so make sure you can keep your chi safe when you notice this valuable ear sign.



When a chi’s ears are back and pointing low, this is usually a sign of submission, and you are likely to see this when your chi recognises a ‘pack leader’. A pack leader could be you or perhaps a bigger dog when out on a walk. It is not necessarily a sign of fear but actually understanding authority.

Submissive, Minnie does this when she is not well.


When your notice your chihuahuas’ ears are pricked and in a slightly forward position, something has their attention. There has definitely been a sound or vision that has captured their interest, is that the treat cupboard door opening? Is it dinner time? Are they putting on their boots for walkies?



Often aggression is thought to be symbolised by ears pinned back but you will find chihuahuas show their aggression through having their ears splayed wide apart and a forward stance, ready to attack.

Feeling a bit chippy

Worried or guilty 

Dropped ears that are folded back against the head give a naturally guilty pose but can also be anxiety or worry, or is it just worry that they’re about to get caught?


Sorry the last one is not a chihuahua, it’s very hard to find a photo of a chihuahua looking guilty or sorry because:

A: They can do no wrong.

 B: They don’t care anyway!

We love your feedback please leave your comments below.

Other articles you may like. Telling Tails: A Guide to wagging etiquette.


6 thoughts on “The secret messages in your chihuahuas’ ears

  1. Hank Reply

    This was a great article. Our chi’s are funny a d we love them dearly. We laughed at the ear movements and think they are right on. Keep writing these articles.

  2. John hilbers Reply

    My baby will be 16 August first, and when he was real young, he was forever running away, so I’d spank his butt. I don’t know if that was a bad thing to do, but something tells me he’s never forgotten that.. we’ve had a great relationship since and go everywhere together everyday, but he doesn’t give me much love. We’re together everyday 24/7, he likes to sleep with me, and loves to go in the car with me and on the Harley, but I think he resents me for my spankings 14 years ago.. am I right or wrong, or am I just upset with myself.. I love him to death, and he’s always first with me, but I’ve felt bad ever since.. can you tell me if I’m right or wrong with thoughts..

    • Louise Kirby Post authorReply

      it is never OK to physical punish a dog. Ever. always train using positive training methods, foods and toys. However, in the past people were given bad training advice by the ‘experts’ of the day. You can’t change the past all you can do is build your relationship with positive training and love.

  3. Karen Jasiunas Reply

    We got our Chi from the Humane Society. We were told he was 3 years old and his owners had brought him and a 6 yr old female in. They spayed, neutered, gave shots, and chipped the dogs so when we saw him he was scared to death. They told us he would probably hide in the house when we got home and it would take awhile for him to bond with us. His ears were flat against his head at that time. We had to stop at a pet store as we had no supplies at home. He rode in the cart and just looked at everyone. When we got home he walked in the house like he owned the place and bonded with us right away. He is a great little dog. He likes to look out the window but if we are in the room he never barks just sorta “talks”. If we aren’t in the room he will bark until we get in there. I don’t think he was housebroken as he would go anywhere but he didn’t go on the carpet in the living room. I did get him to pee on the pads but he wouldn’t poop there. He was pooping in the dining room but he learned that was really a big no! He is at the point now where he will tell us when he has to pee outside or uses the pad but he poops in front of the door. We are working on that but I seem to be the leader as far as he is concerned and due to some health issues I haven’t been able to keep after him all the time. My husband takes him out but I think Sami feels he doesn’t have to listen to him. I have had dogs all my life and have trained them so that may make the difference. He shows affection to both of us so that is good. He doesn’t know out to play with toys and doesn’t show any interest in them. Also he seems to sleep a lot and I just wondered if that is normal. Like I said I have had dogs my whole life but the smallest I had was a shiz tzu .and the largest was a great dane. I have never had any experience with a chi before. Sami is a black deer head. I thought he was a mix until I did a lot of research and found out about chihuahuas. He is a great little dog and I am learning with him on the best training methods. Any suggestions would be great and if you could tell me if the amount of sleeping he does is normal. Also any ideas on getting him interested in playing with toys would be great. He just wants us to love him and pet him. My husband plays with him with his hand but I am not sure that is a good idea. I have been working with him on training him with small treats to sit, lay down, etc. I also use the term to “go potty” when we are outside. Plus I have a talk with him before I open the door about how he will behave when we go outside. He has found out he can run faster than us and slip under the fence to get in the front yard and bark at the neighbors. He does that with my husband but now he puts him on a leash until he gets in the side yard where he does his business and he won’t try to get under the fence as my husband is right there. Also he wasn’t socialized and now with the covid19 around it is almost impossible to do that. Any ideas ?

    • Judy Whitman Reply

      Hi Karen, We adopted a little Chi from the shelter and he had a few issues with accidents. So I would take him in where the accident was and told him “NO, that goes “OUT”.
      When he went out I rewarded him witih a “Good Boy” and his favorite treat, a small piece of hotdog. He has done well with letting me know when he has to go out and his accidents have almost disappeared. He now comes up and wants me to cuddle him by holding him against my chest. He loves kisses. I wouldn’t have bought a Chi new, I always adopt because they are so appreciative of a good home. Thanks for reading and good luck to you. Judy

  4. Cheryl Moore Reply

    My 2 1/2 year old Chihuahua mix had the most perfect upright ears until yesterday he won’t put them up they are floppy even when he’s happy on a walk, he’s eating and drinking but definitely not like he usually does, doesn’t seem to be in pain anywhere…any suggestions please 🐾🐾😰

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.