Dogs can have one of two main coat types. A double coat consists of a top layer, called the top coat, that has stiff and naturally water repellent hairs that protect the dog’s skin.
A bit shorter than the top layer is an almost fleece-like layer, called the undercoat, used to insulate the dog during the cooler and warmer months (yes, the undercoat acts as an air conditioner during the summer; it holds in cool air).
Most herding, working and sporting breeds have a thick double coat. The single-coated dogs have only the top coat and typically don’t do too well in the cold. The maltese and field spaniel, for example, have long, single coats; and the doberman, greyhound and most hounds have a short single coat.
Dog owners should use common sense in severe weather. If the outdoor temperature is too hot or cold for a human to be comfortable, it’s too severe for their dog.
In general, cold temperatures should not become a problem for most dogs until they fall below 45°F, at which point some cold-averse dogs might begin to feel uncomfortable. Temperatures lower than 32°F can cause hypothermia or frostbite.
Dogs do have fur coats, but it is of no help during a bitter cold. They are just as sensitive as people to a drop in the temperature. If the outside temperature falls below 50 ºF, small to medium-sized dogs begin to feel a cold nip. Larger dogs can, however, tolerate temperatures up to 40 ºF.
Certain longer-haired breeds may love to stay outside longer even in the winter cold, but if you have a short hair breed, they will get cold quick. Putting a nice warm sweater or coat that doesn’t restrict their movement is a good idea, they will sure appreciate. If it’s freezing outside, a 15-20 minutes walk is probably more then enough.
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