The question of keeping your dog outside or not is one that is very near and dear to many dog owners. Choosing a type of dog breed that is best suited to the climate where you live is essential if you are planning on keeping him or her outdoors at least part of the day. Keeping the dog outdoors all of the time is also an option, although this can pose real challenges if you want a dog that is truly bonded to you and one that is well socialized and trained.
This is not to say that some breeds of dogs don't do very well outdoors and may even enjoy being outside more than they are inside. There are relatively few breeds of dogs that fit into this category, but some of the more primitive types of breeds such as wolf-dog hybrids and some of the more northern breeds such as Huskies, Malamutes, Samoyeds and even the larger breeds such as Newfoundlands and St. Bernards may be more comfortable outside, especially in moderate winter climates. In addition a great number of flock guardian types of dogs including Anatolian Shepherds, Komondors, Puli, Great Pyrenees and Akbash Dogs prefer to be outside rather than indoors, regardless of the weather.
There are some breeds of dogs that should never be considered as outdoor dogs, even in the mild southern climates. Even in these areas temperatures can get close to freezing in the early morning hours, and for some of these breeds even a bit of dampness and chill can result in life threatening health conditions. Particular caution needs to be taken with breeds such as the Whippet and Chihuahua as they can be incredibly sensitive to any type of cold or damp weather, even in the warmer summer months. As a general guideline no toy breed should be considered as a candidate for an outside lifestyle, especially in the cool or colder spring, autumn and winter months. Even in the hotter summer months these breeds may have more problems with heat intolerance.
Short haired smaller dogs such as Dachshunds, Bulldogs, Pit Bull Terriers, Staffordshire Terriers, Pointers, Basenjis, most hound dog breeds and other single coated breeds such as the Weimaraner and the Greyhound should also not be considered as outdoor dogs in cold weather. Not only do these dogs simply not have the coat to keep warm, they also were not developed in colder climates, at least not as dogs living outside of shelter provided by humans. Even the Weimaraner and Greyhound which were developed in more northerly climates were always kenneled or kept in warmed, sheltered kennels during the coldest, damp months.
Of course and very obviously the rather limited number of hairless breeds should never be considered as outside dogs, even in the warmest of winter climates. This includes the Mexican Hairless, Hairless Khala, Chinese Crested, American Hairless Terriers and the Peruvian Inca Orchid among others. These dogs may not even tolerate short time periods outside and should have protective clothing such as dog sweaters and even dog boots on to go outside for routine walks, only in the very warmest times of the day.
However, just having a short coat or a single coat isn't the only criteria for not being cold tolerant. Some breeds with relatively long, thick coats are not great outdoors in true winter conditions for more than short periods of time. These include the American Cocker Spaniel, most of the Setters, the Afghan Hound, Borzoi and even the Schnauzers.
Not all short coated dogs can't tolerate spending at least part the day outside. Many of the double coated, medium to large sized dog do very well staying outside in the daytime, provided they have a warm, dry and wind and snow free area in which to curl up and relax until you arrive back home.
Some of the shorter to medium coated breeds that can be moderately to extremely cold tolerant include the Retriever breeds, Rottweilers and most of the Terrier breeds. In general shorter to medium coated herding dogs such as the two Corgi breeds, Australian Cattle Dogs, German Shepherds, Australian Shepherds and the Pyrenean Shepherd love being outdoors in the snow but also prefer to be indoors at night.
Double coated breeds with moderately long coats are typically fairly cold tolerant but even these dogs may have difficulty if the cold weather is combined with wet conditions. Always having a dry kennel or dog house type facility that the dog has free access to is essential in any type of winter conditions.
Generally most of the larger, heavier breeds, especially if they have a double coat, will be relatively cold tolerant. This doesn't mean they can live in extremely cold or below freezing conditions for long periods of time. Breeds that have been developed to live in the north, including most of the spitz types of dogs would be the only good fit in this category.
The most common types of medium to larger sized dogs that do well outside, beside the sled dog group, include the Norwegian Elkhound, the Akita, Kuvasz, Bernese Mountain Dog, Anatolian Shepherd, Collies, Sheepdogs and the Tibetan Mastiff. The Chow Chow, Shiba Inu, Keeshond, Schipperke and the Standard Poodle are also good outside dogs during winter days. The Standard Poodle should only be considered for outside stays if the coat is left long and natural. If the dog has been clipped it is not suitable as an outside pet.
Mixed breed dogs or family pets of unknown lineage should be evaluated based on their coat type, the dog's tolerance of being outdoors and his or her response to being in the cold. Always gradually adjust the dog to more and more time outside in the cold until you become comfortable with how long your dog is able to tolerate cold weather conditions.
If you are planning on keeping your dog outside in the winter a kennel or dog house should be provided, plus you should check the dog daily for signs of any frostbite or skin irritations. Always carefully check the feet for any ice or snow build up between the pads, as well as ensure the dog is not wet or damp as this can be a sign that they are not accessing the kennel or dog house, potentially resulting in serious health issues over time.
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