Breeds well adapted to cold weather include those with a higher % body fat (for insulation) and those with thick down fur (for protection). The largest the animal the best it retains its heat (think dinosaurs), so large breed dogs also tend to stay warm and conserve heat energy.
Conversely, to look at some breeds that don’t fair well in the cold, we just need to look at those that may not have the above characteristics.
- Greyhounds are a racing breed and are considered the perfect anatomical dog; they are the models for diagrams used in veterinary anatomy classes. This is due to their tiny % body fat. No body fat means the muscles and other body parts can be easily seen and studied, it also makes them exceedingly fast. Unfortunately it means no insulation and this breed gets cold very fast.
- Whippets are about 2/3’s the size of greyhounds, but otherwise share many of the same physical attributes. While the breed personalities may be different, their tolerance for cold is very similar for the same reasons.
- Italian Greyhounds are the smallest of the ‘greyhound’ breeds and are about half the size of a whippet. Since this breed is a small breed, its surface area to volume ratio is unfavorable for heat retention. – it loses heat readily. On top of that they are built very similar to their greyhound cousins.
- Pharaoh Hounds are the famous Egyptian dogs of the Pharaohs as depicted in hieroglyphic drawings. They are large and lean and have short hair not suitable for cold weather. They originated from hot dessert weather after all.
- Basenjis are a gorgeous related breed of medium sized, shorthaired dogs that originated from central Africa. They are adapted best to warm weather. Their short fur and non-existent down fur require a sweater for winter outdoor play.
- The Ibizan Hound is larger and leaner than the Basenji, but also shares short, thin fur. These dogs do well with some protection in the cold weather.
- The Saluki is a large sight hound that has gorgeous long fur on the ears and the tail, but not much in between – for this reason, they may need a winter warmer for long hours outdoors during cold weather.
- The Chinese Crested also has some hair around the head and tail, but is virtually hairless in between. Furthermore, these are a small breed and therefore lose heat readily. They need a thick sweater to be in the snow or cold.
- The Peruvian Inca Orchid is a completely hairless dog adapted to coastal desert climates of Peru. These dogs may become cold very quickly in winter weather.
- The Hairless Khala is another Peruvian breed that closely resembles the Inca Orchid. It has a tiny bit more body fat % than the Orchid. It has a natural cool Mohawk but is otherwise hairless. The fat in this breed may protect it from mild cold, but a sweater would be recommended in the snow.
- The Xoloitzcuintli is a related cousin. It also has no hair, and is a little smaller and leaner than the Peruvian breed, making it lose heat even faster.
Blog post written by:
Dr. Oscar E Chavez BVetMed MRCVS MBA
Chief Medical Officer
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