Cold Weather Tolerant Dogs

Some dogs are natural swimmers. Others have been bred to run fast or for long distances. Still, other dogs are adapted to cold climates.

With winter quickly on the way, you might be thinking about which pups can best handle that cold climate. Maybe you’re considering which ones will be able to pull the kids on a sled! Whatever you’re wondering, today we’re taking a closer look at cold weather tolerant dogs.

What Affects Cold Tolerance?

There are some dogs who are just made for winter. That said, not every dog of a certain breed is going to like being outdoors. Dogs are just as individual as people. Because of this, your winter pup might prefer a sunny spot while napping on the couch.

There are several traits that will make a dog more capable of handling the cold. These traits are:

  • Coat Type – Some dogs have a double-layered coat that is meant to handle the cold better. These coats are nice and thick and will often repel water too. Compare this to dogs who have thin or wiry coats. A breed like the Greyhound is not going to last very long in cold weather.
  • Coat Color – We all know that dark colors will absorb more heat from the sun. Wearing a black shirt on a hot, sunny day gets you much hotter than wearing a white shirt. The same goes with dogs. A dog that has white fur will not be aided much by the sun’s rays, but one with black fur will be able to handle colder climates.
  • Size – A general rule of thumb is that smaller dogs, like smaller people, lose heat more quickly than larger dogs.
  • Weight – Just like with the size of a dog determining how much cold they can take; the more weight a dog has the colder weather they can handle. This is because a dog with more muscle or fat will have more mass that has to cool before they begin to get cold.
  • Age – Dogs that are young or old have a harder time regulating their body’s heat.
  • Overall Health – Just like with age, a dog that is somewhat sickly will have a harder time regulating their body temperature.
  • Previous Conditioning – Ever notice that a sixty-degree day in August has people running for their sweaters, but the same temperature day in March has people look like their headed to the beach? If you are used to cold, you can usually take it better.

Cold Weather Tolerant Dogs

If you live in a cold climate and you want to make sure you get a dog that can take it, check into the following breeds.

  • Alaskan Malamute
  • Keeshond
  • Newfoundland
  • Siberian Husky
  • Saint Bernard
  • Tibetan Mastiff
  • American Eskimo Dog
  • Bernese Mountain Dog

Most of the very cold hardy dogs are larger breeds, but a breed like the American Eskimo can be comfortable in a relatively small home. While you are considering a breed’s cold hardiness, be sure to line their temperament to the needs of your household as well.

How Cold is Too Cold for Dogs?

Honestly, most dogs can handle temperatures down to forty-five degrees. Below that, dogs that aren’t built for the cold are going to get uncomfortable. Below freezing, young, old or thin coated dogs are going to be in real trouble. Most dogs should not be outside if it is below twenty degrees Fahrenheit.

If your dog is out in the cold, be sure to keep a close eye on them. If they are shivering, whining, holding a paw up off the ground or slowing down then it’s time to get back inside. With or without fur, dogs are just as susceptible to hypothermia and frostbite as humans.

How to Exercise Your Dog If They Can’t Handle the Cold

If your dog doesn’t make the cut but you still live in a cold climate, you’ll have to get a little creative to get them the exercise they need in the winter. But it doesn’t mean it can’t be done!

The first thing to try is to get your dog some booties and a doggie jacket. It might look a little silly and be a little uncomfortable at first, but it’s so much better than freezing.

Even if you’re stuck indoors, you can try teaching your dog how to walk on lease. Walk them around your home and make sure they can leash walk properly. You can even walk them around the house on a scavenger hunt. Hide treats around a room and try to get your dog to hunt for them all. This will exercise their body and their reasoning.

Schedule time away from the house for your dog as well. It’s not a whole lot of fun to be left inside all winter. Your pup will probably appreciate some time at a doggie daycare. They can get some time in a large open space, so they’ll be able to burn some energy. They can also socialize with other dogs too.

Winter can be a time for fireplaces and hot cocoa, but it doesn’t have to be. With a cold-tolerant dog, you can enjoy the great outdoors all year round!

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