Originating in the mountainous region between France and Spain, Great Pyrenees are large, sturdy, and tolerant to a wide range of environmental changes.
Great Pyrs can easily tolerate cold temperatures of up to 20 degrees Fahrenheit(-6 degrees Celsius).
However, the absolute cold tolerance will depend on a lot of factors that include the Pyr’s health and overall fitness, the condition of the coat, previous cold exposure, and the type of cold it is exposed to.
Why Can A Great Pyr Tolerate Cold Temperatures?
The general ability of a Pyr to withstand cold will vary depending on how and where you are raising it, plus whether or not you are giving your dog cold tolerance training or not.
Then there are certain characteristics of this breed that allow it to adapt to cold and these you can use or even modify. Here’s a brief discussion of these characteristics:
1. Double-Coated Fur
The Great Pyrenees belong to the group of dogs that are called double coated because their fur is made up of two layers, an inner layer of shorter hair with an outer layer of long hair.
These layers create an insulating layer of air trapped between them that prevents the body’s heat from escaping to the outside, thus keeping them warm. Take the example of huskies. They are able to tolerate a cold of about -50 degrees Celsius.
Plus the outer hair is sloping which allows for any raindrops or snow to tickle down without staying on the fur. This keeps them from getting wet during rain or snow.
This fur follows a natural shedding cycle where it gets thinned out during the summer months while growing back before winter. This way, the pooch is prepared to deal with both the cold and warmer months of the year.
2. Layer Of Subcutaneous Adipose Tissue
Adipose is fat, all mammals including dogs and humans have this layer of fat beneath their skin that acts as an insulator, keeping the heat generated in the body from escaping.
Dogs that have been bred to live in the cold like the Great Pyrenees have adapted themselves by making this layer thicker than those bred in hotter climates. Hence, they can live in much colder environments.
3. Cold Adaptation
There are a lot of other features in Great Pyrs that they have adapted in order to survive in the cold.
Their basal metabolic rate is higher than many other breeds living in warmer areas, this allows them to generate extra heat even when they are resting.
Their hair growth is faster as well, so they regain the hair lost during summer quickly before the winters arrive.
These features give them a natural advantage to fight off the cold environment and are also the reason why Dogtime rates them 5/5 for their cold tolerance.
4. Heat Generation
Even after all those measures, a Pyr is unable to maintain its body heat, it can exercise its muscles which would allow additional heat to be generated.
This is because the Great Pyrenees have vast energy reserves and stamina that allow them to be constantly on the move and exercise whenever it needs to without the worry of getting easily exhausted.
Types Of Cold Exposure For Dogs
Not all cold exposures are the same and even at the same temperatures, one type of cold can be more dangerous than the other when it damps down the dog, not allowing it to warm itself.
On a typical cold day without rain, clouds, or snow a Pyr can roam around much more easily without the need for any extra protection. This is because the mechanics of heat generation are not hampered by a dry spell of winter.
I allow Pyrs to play outside even when it’s -25 degrees Fahrenheit on a dry day because it is still safe for them.
This is where things start to get a little tricky, cold winds can pierce through the fur and damage it, which decreases the fur’s ability to act as an insulator.
Plus, when the longer hair gets damaged, it can no longer prevent snow from slipping down but rather stays on the dog’s body making it colder.
Dogs can warm themselves up just by staying in the sun and absorbing the heat. This is also good for making vitamin D which is essential for bone calcium deposition and immunity.
But on cloudy days when the sun’s rays are no longer there to be absorbed, it lessens a Pyr’s ability to keep itself warm and it has to rely on other mechanisms as discussed above to keep itself warm.
When a Pyr’s coat gets wet, it cannot act as a heat insulator rather the body’s heat is lost to this water on the body’s surface.
This can be either directly via being submerged in a water body like a pool or puddle and can also be that the pooch got wet in the rain.
That is why I always keep my dogs covered with water-repellant coats when it rains and keep them away from puddles so that they do not fall into one accidentally.
Signs Of Cold Intolerance In Dogs
Mild cold intolerance can cause the following in your dog:
- Increased heart rate
- Cold skin, is due to vessels getting constricted in the skin to minimize heat loss to the environment
- Increased appetite
- Signs of flu- sneezing, runny nose, mild fever.
When left ignored over a longer period, it can lead to hypothermia that will present as:
- Increased heart rate at first, will slow down gradually
- Dilation of pupils
- Anxiety followed by a depressed mental state and sluggish movements
- Shallow breathing
- Muscle stiffness
- Loss of consciousness unless adequately treated
How To Make Your Pyr Tolerate Colder Temperatures?
You can easily make your Great Pyr adjusted to colder temperatures in the following way:
Exercising regularly can help the Pyr in several ways. First of all, it will increase the pooch’s body temperature which helps to get red from the cold.
Secondly, this enhances the body’s circulatory system by increasing the body’s oxygen-carrying capacity over time. This keeps the body tissues healthy and more resilient to cold.
Finally, muscles generate more heat than fats on a cellular level. There may not be a bigger difference but it adds up to the overall efficiency of a muscular body for withstanding cold.
As mentioned before, sunlight is an excellent source of getting heat and allows the formation of vitamin D as well.
The best way to increase your Pyr’s sun exposure is by allowing it to play outside in the morning when the sun is out but isn’t at its peak. This will keep the dog getting the sunlight without it being too annoying.
Adequate Fat Reserves
Dogs that are bred in cold will naturally acquire more fat under their skin and this allows them to have thicker thermal insulation.
This adipose layer relies on the pooch’s nutrition to be maintained as is widely affected by it.
Dogs that are undernourished will have a naturally thinner layer of subcutaneous fat while those who overeat will have more than the reserves they need and it will be just extra weight tied to their body.
Thus, dogs need to have their weight regulated around an optimum level so that only that amount of fat is present which is sufficient for temperature maintenance.
Although optional it never hurts to have a warm bed for your pooch to sleep in at night. You can make one from warm blankets yourself or buy a self-warming electronic pet bed.
Use Warm Clothing
Adult dogs do not require additional clothing to stay warm in the colder months, however, puppies can benefit from warm clothing when the temperature gets extremely low.
Give Warm Water
Dehydration is not uncommon in winter months as owners often neglect their dog’s drinking needs due to the perceived association of dehydration with cold only.
Hence, it becomes essential to provide your pooch with adequate water. Warming can be an additional source of heat and will help the dogs keep themselves safe from the cold.
Avoid unnecessary Cold Exposure
It is better not to let your dog stay outside when the temperature goes below 15 degrees Fahrenheit.
Extra care needs to be taken for Older Pyrs who are weak and younger pups that have not yet adapted themselves properly to a cold environment.
Do the Great Pyrenees like snow?
Yes, Great Pyrenees are fond of cold weather and things that are associated with it like the snow. They like to play outside for long hours when it has snowed.
Do the Great Pyrenees like cold weather?
The great Pyrenees originated in mountainous regions and are adapted to living in the cold. This makes them enjoy the cold weather as they can tolerate it quite well.
What is the lowest temperature for Great Pyrenees?
Generally, Pyrs can easily tolerate temperatures of up to 20 degrees Fahrenheit. But for shorter durations when push comes to shove, they can survive at 15 to 0 degrees Fahrenheit.
The great Pyrenees have adapted themselves to cold environments by having a doubly coated fur, thicker fat layer, and a high basal body temperature
However, the exact temperature tolerance of a dog depends on its overall health, temperature adaptation, and additional measures like regular exercise, sun exposure, diet, clothing, etc.
You must look out for any signs of cold and hypothermia in your dog as these require prompt intervention and can be fatal when ignored.