Dog Care Tips Dog Health

How Cold Is Too Cold For Huskies? Inavoidable Advice

Just by the wolf-like physical features of a Husky, you can say that they are a made-for-the-cold breed. With heavy bodies and a thick double coat of fur, they can withstand cold better than many other breeds.

A husky is typically able to tolerate a cold of about -50 degrees Celsius(-58 Fahrenheit).

But having said that, the absolute cold tolerance will depend on a lot of factors that include your Husky’s overall health and fitness, condition of the coat, previous cold exposure, and the type of cold it is exposed to.

Related: Are Huskies good for first time owners?

How Cold Is Too Cold For Huskies? An In-Depth Guide

Not all Huskies are bred in the same environments and that affects the level of cold tolerance that they develop. Furthermore, how you train them to withstand cold also plays a key role in temperature tolerance.

Some characteristics of a Husky’s body that allow it to tolerate the cold need to be addressed here for a better understanding:

Double Coated Fur

Huskies are double-coated dogs having an outer layer of longer hair and an inner coat of shorter hair called the undercoat. 

This creates a layer of insulation around the dog’s body that doesn’t allow heat to escape thus keeping them warm.

Also, the longer outer hair acts as a sloping surface for snow, not allowing it to settle on the dog’s body. The undercoat acts as a water-repellent layer, keeping the dog dry in rainy and wet conditions.

Subcutaneous Fat

This refers to the layer of fat tissue that lies beneath the skin. Fat is an excellent insulating material that does not allow heat to escape from the body to the outside cooler environment.

Thus, this fat creates additional insulation beneath the double coat and keeps the dog warm by retaining its naturally generated heat.

This layer is present in all dogs but is considerably prominent in breeds that are bred for colder environments. It becomes thicker in obese dogs and thins out in leaner ones, both of which should be discouraged.

Body-heat Generation

There needs to be some heat generated in the body that would be insulated by the subcutaneous fat and fur. This comes from the basal metabolic rate of a dog’s body and the additional heat generated through physical activity.

Huskies have a higher resting metabolic heat production than dogs bred for summer climates, this is the result of extra calories being burned even during rest.

Furthermore, Huskies have higher energy levels and exercise potential which generates heat that is then conserved by the insulating layers. This is evident in their use as sledding dogs in the Siberian regions.

Read also: Do Huskies like to swim?

Cold Adaptation

Huskies like most other dogs will adapt themselves to the environment in which they are brought up. Thus, a Husky living in colder climates will have a thicker fat layer around its body and will have fat reserves to be used as an energy resource in the winter months.

Also, their basal metabolic rate will be higher as compared to a Husky that is adapted to a much warmer environment.

That is the reason Dogtime has rated their cold tolerance as 5/5.

Types Of Cold Exposure A Dog May Face

Some types of cold exposure are more dangerous than others even when the absolute temperature is the same.

Cold wind can pierce through the coat easily and damage the fur over prolonged exposure, decreasing the coat’s capability to withstand it.

Cold immersion in either standing water or through heavy rain can make the coat wet thereby nullifying its insulating properties. Such a type of cold is very dangerous as the damp skin will drain the body’s heat pretty quickly.

On a cloudy day, cold can be much more severe as there is no heat from the sun to be absorbed which would make the dog’s body warm. A Husky would then have to rely solely on the heat generated through its physical activity.

Signs Of Cold Intolerance

Cold exposure can manifest in mild forms with the following features:

  • Shivering
  • Increased heart rate
  • Cold skin, is due to vessels getting constricted in the skin in order to minimize heat loss to the environment
  • Increased appetite
  • Signs of flu- sneezing, runny nose, mild fever.

When severe, it can lead to hypothermia that presents as:

  • Increased heart rate at first that gradually slows down
  • Dilation of pupils
  • Anxiety followed by a depressed mental state and sluggish movements
  • Paleness
  • Shallow breathing
  • Muscle stiffness
  • Loss of consciousness unless adequately treatedf

How To Make Your Dog Tolerate Cold?

Here’s how:

Maintaining Fat Layer And Reserves

In order for your Husky to withstand cold, it needs to have an adequate fat layer around its body. This fat deposition requires a healthy diet rich in essential fats which could be easily taken care of through meat from lamb, beef, and chicken.

A healthy Husky will naturally accumulate fat reserves in its body that could be used in times of scarcity of food. Also, exposure to cold over a long time will automatically lead the dog’s body to accumulate the fats that it would require to withstand winters.

Dogs require more calories per day in winter than in summer to stay warm. The caloric goal can be accomplished by healthy snacking in between meals and after exercise.

This does not mean you should overfeed your dog in winter as such behavior can lead to an obese Husky that is predisposed to cardiovascular and joint illnesses.

Regular Exercise

Exercising regularly will boost your dog’s strength to withstand cold in a number of ways.

Firstly, the act of physical activity itself generates heat that would keep your dog warm.

Secondly, exercise makes the body tissues resilient and increases the oxygen-carrying capacity of the blood. Such dogs are better able to tolerate extreme cold.

Finally, muscles generate more heat than fats on a cellular level. This may not be a great difference but it adds up to the overall efficiency of a muscular body for withstanding cold.

Related: Husky separation anxiety

Sun Exposure

Exposure to the sun is one of the best and easiest ways to gather heat to keep your body warm. That is why cloudy days in winter are tough to handle.

Also, sunlight helps a dog’s body generate vitamin D which is required for healthy bones and immunity.

Warm Bedding

Fighting cold is especially important at night when there is no sunlight and the body’s metabolic rate drops. 

Ensure warm bedding for your dog by keeping a blanket over the bed and also laying one over your dog’s body. This is more important when the dog sleeps outside where the temperature is bound to drop further as compared to the day.

Using Clothing Aids

Most dogs do not require clothing to stay warm in the cold, however, puppies can get help from warm clothing when the temperature becomes extremely cold.

Avoid Constant Cold Exposure

It is better not to let your dog stay outside for longer durations. Bring your Husky inside to get warm now and then before letting it out again.

Extra care needs to be given to older Huskies who are weak and to younger pups that have not yet accustomed themselves to a cold environment.

Provide Warm Water For Drinking And Bathing

Have your dog drink warm water regularly. Dehydration is easy to happen in winter as owners pay less attention to their dog’s water requirements.

Make sure you bathe your dog with warm water and dry it adequately before letting it out. Frequent unnecessary bathing should be avoided.

Must Read: How often should you feed a Husky puppy?

Do Not Shave Your Dog In Summers

Many dog owners shave their double-coated dogs in summer thinking this would help them bear the summer heat. The reality couldn’t be far from the truth.

Double-coated fur also regulates a dog’s temperature in summer by trapping cooler air around the dog’s body and making cold insulation.

Moreover, once you shave a dog, the fur grows back slowly as compared to natural shedding. Hence, the coat would not have fully grown by winter and your dog would be exposed to cold without proper insulating fur.

Frequently Asked Questions

Following are some faqs that may help you understand how cold is too cold for huskies.

Can I leave my Husky outside?

Yes, Huskies are double-coated dogs that withstand cold effectively. However, if you let them sleep outside, you must ensure a proper sleeping house for them.

Do dogs need a blanket to sleep on?

Yes, it is advisable to have your dog sleep in a blanket in winter, especially when it is sleeping outside.

How Cold Is Too Cold For Huskies? Wrapping Up

Huskies were bred by nomad tribes in the Siberian region, they have a natural tendency to withstand cold temperatures and function normally.

They have a double-coated fur with relatively thick subcutaneous fat tissue that acts as insulation around the body, keeping the heat from being dissipated. Huskies also generate considerable heat via their high metabolic rates and additionally through exercise.

These features make them withstand cold temperatures of up to -50 degrees celsius(-50 Fahrenheit). 

However, the exact temperature tolerance will also depend on your dog’s overall health, temperature adaptation, and the aid you apply like regular exercise, sun exposure, diet, and clothing.

Finally, 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.

About the author

Linda Michaels

Linda Michaels is a proud owner of a Labradoodle named Mylo. She is a trainer who posts about dog training and behavior.
🎓: University of California, Davis
📍: Washington Boulevard Animal Hospital