Arctic Breeds are NOT the same…
I’m here to try to bust another myth regarding folks who think it’s cruel to keep Arctic breed dogs outside in freezing temps. Although I would agree with this for certain breeds, this is absolutely NOT true for Arctic breeds and most double coated breeds. People who are unfamiliar with these breeds, yet still make conjecture regarding their ability to perform and thrive in subzero temperatures, really are very misinformed. Before accusing an Arctic breed dog owner of “cruelty” for leaving their dogs out in the snow and ice, I would have you come and meet that dog and see for yourself how absolutely miserable they are when forced to stay indoors during their FAVORITE time of year. I would also invite you to do some research, and not immediately categorize all dogs into the same collective group.
Yes, all dogs should have adequate shelter and a place to get out of the wet snow and wind if THEY want to, but these particular dogs do not need to be indoors by the fire in order to survive or even be comfortable. Quite the opposite is true, especially for Alaskan Malamutes. It can be single digit or below zero outside, and if we try to keep any of our dogs indoors, they actually get quite upset with us. They will pace back and forth by the door, get depressed, howl, and even “yell” at us to let them out. You will find that most other Arctic breed dog owners will tell you the same. When you have to literally drag a dog indoors, because YOU think it’s too cold outside, that’s simply not fair. It’s actually cruel to deny an Arctic breed the opportunity to enjoy the one time of year where they are truly happy and most comfortable.
So when is it too cold for an Arctic breed such as an Alaskan Malamute? How about, probably never!? These dogs have been known to perform very well in temperatures as low as -60 degrees F and lower in Alaska, and that is not exactly where I would guess the grand majority of pet owners who have these miconceptions live…so it’s easy to see how most people just don’t understand. Of course you must also know your dog; it must be healthy and possess all the true traits and characteristics of a TRUE pure Arctic breed. If they are literally fighting with you to go outside when it’s freezing, they are just responding to their genetic and physical calling to the cold, it literally “turns them on”.
Double coat Arctic breeds not only do the best in cold climates, their coats also keep them cool in the warm climates – SO NEVER intervene with nature! Never EVER shave your dog! You can actually kill a dog if you try to project your own human perspectives onto an animal that has survived thousands of years without all these modern day misguided beliefs. Shade in Summer, Shelter, clean water, high quality food, plenty of exercise – those are the priorities of an Arctic breed.
We watch our dogs literally become depressed when they start to see the snow melting, and they will seek out the only patches of snow and ice left on the ground and lay on them purposely. This is even AFTER they have blown their coats, and are thinned out. Our dogs get fresh water daily, by most mornings during Winter months, the buckets are frozen – and they love breaking through it and will chomp on a hunk of ice just “for fun”. When snow is falling, they literally get so excited they can hardly contain themselves. Even during Winter storms, as long as they are able to get shelter if they need or want it, they are usually much more content outdoors than indoors. Their paws are often just fine unless you are hiking on long trails or mushing, then you might want to just be sure to keep their paws protected by using Musher’s Secret Paw wax or booties (we prefer the wax).
I hope this post helps provide a more accurate depiction of how Arctic breeds, such as the Alaskan Malamute, should be looked at in terms of climate tolerance. Obviously if your dog is a smaller breed, or has a thin coat, this does not apply to you or your dog. Many dogs cannot take the cold and will die of exposure. This is what sets Alaskan Malamutes and many other Arctic breeds apart. Even our pups are outdoors in single digits as early as 5-6 weeks of age – and they LOVE it.
Still not convinced? Alaskan Malamutes are not wolves, “Wolf-Dogs”, or even related to wolves, yet are EXTREMELY similar in many ways. Here is a fabulous video from our local Colorado Wolf and Wildlife Center explaining how wolves, and other double coated breeds, stay warm and how they behave in warmer temperatures. You will learn that they will only stay inside their shelters during the Summer, NOT WINTER.
Although I commend folks who want to help animals, it is important to not allow certain memes (like the one on the left) and other posts trigger you over disinformation. Yes, many breeds should be kept inside during extreme weather conditions, however, Arctic dog breeds and most double coated breeds are not the same, and deserve to live outside the confines of human ignorance.
This dog pictured on the left is clearly an Arctic breed. Notice how the snow is not melted around him? Or on him? That is because he is insulated well by his double coat. This dog appears extremely comfortable and simply resting on their owner’s back porch.
If this was a Greyhound, Chihuahua, or single thin coat breed, or even miniature dog, I would agree – but it’s not.
Again, memes like this are simply very misleading and do nothing but spread ignorance. The dog pictured is clearly a double coat breed, possibly a Malamute or a Wolf-dog cross with Malamute. The picture is a little distorted, but you can tell it’s for sure an Arctic breed. You will likely get cold before this dog ever will. There are days where I have to put on full snow gear just to go outside and feel comfortable, and our dogs are deliberately burying themselves in the snow, eating ice chunks out of their buckets (purposely), begging for the opportunity to run and play, and literally running from the front door to the house because they don’t want in!
In closing, I don’t want it to sound like I don’t know, care, or understand that domesticated pets die each year due to exposure. I’m quite well aware of this horrific fact, however, not all breeds are the same and should never be put in the same category. Thanks for reading!
The incredible folks over at Colorado Wolf and Wildlife Center do a fabulous job educating the public, here is another video, explaining the same “concept” regarding double coat breeds, such as wolves, and similar dogs.
Good morning! Here is this week’s wolfblog. How do wolves stay warm?
Posted by Colorado Wolf and Wildlife Center on Wednesday, January 23, 2019