When most people think of a Husky, they think of the cold. It shouldn’t be a surprise – a quick Google Image search for the word ‘Huskies’ shows hundred of pictures of the breed running through the snow.
Over time, we’ve come to associate the breed with one of the harshest climates on the planet. But do Huskies like the cold in reality?
The short answer is yes – Huskies like cold weather! Having been bred in an arctic climate makes them ideal for weather that most of us would find unpleasant. Not all Huskies are the same, however, and individuals will have different tolerances to cold temperatures.
Keep reading for advice on how to determine if your Husky is too cold and how to protect them against the elements!
Do Huskies like the cold?
Whether a Husky likes the cold depends on two things:
- How cold it actually is – How you define cold could be very different from how I do. For those of you living in the northern hemisphere, a cold day might be almost unbearable for a typical Husky. Those of you in the south are likely to define cold at a higher temperature. Whilst Huskies do typically enjoy ‘colder’ temperatures, it’s important to consider what cold means to you.
- The Husky itself – Not all Huskies are the same, and their preference for the cold is not a universal experience. Some Huskies are raised primarily outdoors in harsh weather meaning it becomes normal for them. They are much more likely to enjoy a cold day than Huskies who live a more domesticated, indoor life.
In general, however, Huskies do prefer to be in the cold rather than the warmth. This is simply because they don’t feel the cold in the same way that we do (unless the temperature is below their threshold).
Huskies were bred to work in arctic conditions and have therefore adapted to resist harsh weather. For example, their double coats provide very effective insulation compared to dogs who only have a single coat.
Don’t be mistaken though – modern Huskies also love to curl up in a cosy blanket indoors!
How cold is too cold for a Husky?
Putting a number on how cold is too cold for a Husky is not a simple task – it depends on the individual Husky! Much like how we humans can withstand different temperatures, Huskies are the same.
Some Huskies are born and raised in much colder climates than others, and will therefore have a better tolerance to cold weather. Huskies born in warmer climates will struggle if suddenly taken to a colder climate, regardless of whether they are designed to thrive there.
If a Husky has been brought up in the right conditions, they might be able to withstand temperatures as cold as -75oF (-59oC). Very few Huskies can tolerate these temperatures and it will depend on many factors such as the condition of their coat, their health, and their age.
The majority of domestic Huskies will withstand temperatures closer to 10oF (-12oC) and tolerate lower temperatures for short amounts of time.
The keyword to note here is tolerate. Just because a Husky can survive in very cold temperatures, doesn’t mean that they will enjoy it. You should always monitor your Husky in cold weather to see how they react to it. Huskies are not immune to the cold and can still become seriously ill if they feel cold for too long.
How to tell if your Husky is too cold
As your Husky’s owner, it is your responsibility to pay attention to both them and the weather to determine if they are feeling too cold. Listed below are the most common signs that your Husky is too cold:
The most obvious sign that your Husky is too cold is if they start to shiver.
Shivering is an involuntary bodily response to cold weather. Simply put, our bodies shiver automatically to create heat when we feel cold, and Huskies are no different.
If your Husky starts to shiver, they are not doing this by choice – their body is responding to feeling too cold. You should act immediately to warm your Husky back up.
Ice build-up on the coat
It’s important here to distinguish between snow and ice – a layer of snow of your Husky’s coat is not a cause for concern.
A Husky’s double coat is one of the greatest examples of natural insulation. Their insulation is so good, in fact, that their coat prevents body heat from escaping to melt snow that lands on them. If your Husky is covered in snow, it’s unlikely to mean that they are too cold (unless you see other signs to indicate they are).
Ice, on the other hand, could be a sign that your Husky is too cold. Ice forms when water freezes which means a Husky’s coat will have had to have been wet for it to become icy. If ice-cold water gets through a Husky’s coat to their skin, it will make them feel very cold.
If ice starts to form on your Husky’s coat, monitor their behaviour and if possible, take them inside to dry off before allowing them in the cold again.
Signs of distress
If a Husky starts to feel cold, they will likely behave differently. This is either to try and cope with the strange sensation or to alert you that something is wrong.
You may notice that your Husky starts to whine or bark excessively, become restless, or sleep in unusual locations. They may exhibit similar behaviour to when they throw a tantrum.
Keep an eye on your Husky in cold temperatures to make sure they aren’t trying to get your attention (more than usual!) to help them stay warm.
Won’t leave its kennel
Huskies are intelligent dogs and having been bred for winter climates, they have some idea of how to deal with excessively cold temperatures.
For this reason, you might find it difficult to convince your Husky to leave their kennel if they are feeling cold. Their natural instincts will tell them to curl up where they know they have protection from the elements.
If you think that your Husky is too cold despite being in their kennel, you must still try to bring them to a warmer location before they become ill as a result.
How to keep your Husky safe in cold temperatures
Although Huskies are built for the cold weather, they still need some extra help to stay safe when the temperature drops more than usual. Read our key tips to keeping Huskies safe in cold temperatures below:
Provide shelter such as a kennel (doghouse)
Huskies love to be outside in the cold – sometimes it’s impossible to get them back inside! For that reason, we recommend that all owners invest in a suitable kennel.
A good kennel will give your Husky the option of protection against particularly harsh weather conditions whilst still being able to remain outdoors.
A suitable kennel, or doghouse, should be big enough for them to move around in but small enough that your Husky’s residual heat can keep it warm. For Huskies, a kennel with around 40-48 inches of indoor length should be suitable.
An ideal kennel will have a raised floor to prevent it from becoming too moist and will be made from treated wood with some kind of added insulation, such as Styrofoam.
Give them protection from cold winds
If you live in an area prone to especially cold weather, you should consider adding some kind of door to your Husky’s shelter.
A door acts both to keep warm air in and cold air out, helping your Husky to withstand the cold for longer. Doors are also ideal for places that have frequent rain as they will keep the inside dry, and therefore warmer to sleep in.
There are plenty of door options that Husky’s are capable of using. PVC curtains are a popular choice as they are unlikely to become stuck, and are clear meaning you can easily check on your Husky without allowing the cold into their shelter.
Provide plenty of insulating material
Just as we need blankets to keep ourselves warm in cold weather, Huskies need insulating material to do the same.
In the case of Huskies, however, blankets are not an ideal choice. If a Husky enters their shelter from the snow, the snow will melt onto the blankets and make them damp. These damp blankets will then be very cold to lay on, defeating the purpose of being in the shelter.
A better insulating material is hay. Hay stays dryer for longer and will therefore keep your Husky warmer for longer too. Keep an eye on it though – the insulating hay will still need changing once it becomes too wet for it to remain effective.
Once your Husky is inside and dry again, blankets and towels are a perfectly fine choice for wrapping them up in!
Avoid walking on gritted roads
In many countries, road gritters will be deployed as soon as the temperature drops below a certain level. Whilst this is good for us humans as it makes the roads less slippery to walk and drive on, it can cause problems for our dogs.
Road grit will make walking a much more painful experience for Huskies – it’s like asking them to walk barefoot across sharp pebbles! Not only that, but if ingested, it can cause serious health issues.
If you do choose to walk your Huskies on gritted roads, consider buying them boots to protect their feet. Also, make sure to wash their feet once you’re home to remove any dangerous chemicals that could be ingested if/when your Husky licks their paws.
Can Husky puppies go out in the cold?
One thing we wanted to add here is that Husky puppies should not be treated as having the same temperature tolerance as adult Huskies. It takes many months for a Husky puppy’s coat to fully develop and as a result, they do not have the same protection against the weather as their parents do.
You must provide extra care and attention to protect a Husky puppy from very cold temperatures. They are less likely to be able to alert you if they are feeling too cold, so it is your responsibility to make sure they don’t end up in that situation in the first place.
Keep your Husky puppy indoors during the winter months until they are ready to face the cold.
Huskies are a breed that tends to prefer colder temperatures to warmer temperatures, most likely because they were bred to work in arctic climates. Despite this, not all Huskies have the same temperature tolerances. Always keep an eye on your Husky when they are outside in cooler weather to make sure they do not become too cold.