The Siberian Husky is a native Siberian dog developed by the Chukchi to pull sleds for long hours in harsh climates. More than 3000 years later Huskies are becoming popular family pets. They are energetic dogs and like to spend a lot of time outside all year round. Many owners are concerned about this dog’s ability to cope with hot weather but don’t give as much thought to their requirements when temperatures drop.
Do Siberian Huskies feel the cold? Like all warm-blooded animals, Siberian Huskies do feel cold under certain conditions. Though they can thrive in temperatures as bitter as -75° F (-59° C) whilst on the move, huskies should not rest unprotected in freezing conditions. Kennels should be dry and insulated to ensure they don’t get dangerously cold.
What climate suits the husky best?
Most huskies are pets and not working dogs. They spend a lot of time indoors though some prefer to be outside as much as possible. Siberian huskies survive the cold because of their coats. They have a double coat consisting of an undercoat and a courser topcoat of guard hairs. This combination protects it in extremely cold weather. The soft, dense undercoat traps heat and the guard hairs prevent snow and ice building up and stop snow penetrating to the skin. Guard hairs also protect a husky’s skin from superficial injuries.
The best climate for the Siberian husky, if the dog has access to a sheltered, heated environment is anything from a tundra climate (a climate that is cold and dry most of the year) to a temperate climate (a climate that doesn’t typically have extreme temperatures). You may find this answer strange, seeing as they spent hundreds and hundreds of years doing perfectly well in the arctic conditions of Siberia. However, the question wasn’t what climate the husky could survive in, it was what climate best suits the husky.
When the Siberian Husky lived with the Chukchi tribes in Siberia, it spent most of its time transporting the spoils of hunting expeditions from coastal regions to the inland communities. This was usually a long distance covered at high speeds. There wasn’t much for resting and feeling cold. The amount of exercise the huskies undertook helped keep them warm in the harsh Siberian climate. It would not have been an ideal environment for this breed if they weren’t used in this specific way.
The Siberian Husky can now be found in countries worldwide, even in hot climates. Although the husky can survive in hot climates, it is a challenge to ensure they get the exercise they need without overheating in high temperatures.
What temperature can huskies tolerate?
Although the husky was bred in the incredibly tough climate of Siberia where temperatures can drop as low as -75° F ( -59° C), they would not have survived for long if left outside unprotected in those conditions for any length of time. During the cold nights, the Chukchi people used to allow huskies into their homes where they would snuggle up with each other and the people. So they did not typically spend much rest time outside in the harshest weather.
In the summer months, the husky was allowed to wander free and it would only return to its people when the cold winter set in once more and food became more difficult for it to find. These summer months were significantly warmer than the winter and the husky developed skills to help protect it from the elements, such as building a shelter from the biting wind.
What temperature can huskies tolerate? When it’s between 10° F (-12° C) and 15° F (-9° C), as much as this dog loves snow, a husky will feel the cold. Prolonged exposure to these temperatures (or lower) will put your husky at risk of hypothermia. If temperatures in your location drop to these levels and your husky lives outside, you should provide a decent shelter. But the recommendation is to treat them as a pet and keep them indoors if at all possible.
A husky can sleep outside in winter but it must have a well-insulated shelter raised off the ground. It should be large enough for your dog to move around but small enough to be heated by body heat. Straw is an ideal insulator as it absorbs any snow the dog may trek in.
How to tell if your husky is too cold
There are actually a few different ways to determine if your husky is too cold but bear in mind that there are more variables than just the temperature. How old your dog is, whether they are in peak fitness and not suffering from any health problems as well as the condition of their coat all play a factor in whether they will feel the cold or not.
With dogs, like us, when hypothermia sets in it can sometimes already be too late. Frostbite can also be a problem and this happens when blood is transferred to critical organs to keep them functioning leaving extremities to freeze.
Shivering – perhaps the most obvious way that a husky will show that it is cold is by shivering. This is an uncontrollable reaction in dogs (as well as us) that is designed to help warm up the body when too cold.
Curled Up – when a husky is feeling the cold, it will curl up with its tail wrapped around its face for warmth. The tail traps its breath and heats its face and nose.
They feel cold to the touch – If the extremities such as ears are cold then blood is being directed elsewhere. Although the husky has two rather thick layers of fur, to the touch, they will be noticeably cold.
Obvious signs of distress – it’s not hard to ascertain that there is something wrong with the husky. If they are not curled up and are moving around, they might be moving a lot slower than usual or in obvious signs of distress.
Trying to get your attention – another sign that something isn’t quite right is your husky, who may be quite quiet for a lot of the time, may whine or howl, trying to get your attention. This is all they can do, they won’t be able to tell you what is wrong, just that something is wrong.
Ice on its coat – If your husky has a layer of snow on its coat that’s not showing signs of melting then it isn’t losing body heat. However, if it has ice on its coat this is a sign it is losing enough body heat to melt snow. Ice build-up is dangerous as a wet, heavy coat is not insulating. Get your dog inside and warm it up.
Your dog won’t come out of its kennel – If your husky is feeling far too cold it won’t want to come out of its kennel at all. If it is curled up and shivering, make it come out and take it indoors. You don’t want to risk your dog freezing to death!
Or, you could not worry about having to look-out for any of the above and just get them in when it gets too cold?
How can we safely warm a Siberian Husky up?
If for whatever reason, your husky has become too cold then there are some things you can do to keep their temperature from dropping below critical levels. The first, and perhaps most obvious one, is to bring them inside. No pet should be kept in conditions that could endanger his or her life.
However, if the temperature outside isn’t cold enough to be life-threatening but could be cold enough to cause discomfort, how can you ensure they are kept comfortable? One of the best ways is to get them an outdoor heated bed. These things are great and, combined with a dog-house may be all that you need. There’s actually only one I really recommend at the moment and as it’s currently on Amazon, I’d recommend you get it from there, hassle-free. If you’re interested, do take a look at it here (click to read reviews on Amazon) – it’s not expensive and will last you a long time so is actually quite a good investment!
If you need to look at outdoor dog houses, then do check out this one. It’s been around for a while, is fully waterproof and has some great reviews. Before you decide on another one, just take a look at this.
The best bet though I think, if you believe your dog has been subjected to cold temperatures – just get them inside.
Can a Siberian Husky overheat?
Yes, a Siberian Husky can overheat. In fact, a husky can start to overheat at temperatures as low as 0°F – which is ridiculous when you think about it but then it was designed for the very cold Siberian climate. The two, thick layers of fur it has on its body
These days, the Siberian Husky is found in all kinds of climates, including those that have vastly higher temperatures than that found in its natural environment. The husky can happily survive in the cold but the owner needs to be careful. A husky will still want to run for hours, despite the heat but running at high spends in direct sunlight is a very bad idea. Try and find areas that are covered or get out very early or very late in the day when temperatures are cooler. A lot of fluids should be taken (not just for the husky but for you as well) and regular stops should be factored into any exercise so the husky can recoup and cool down in some shade.
Hopefully, this post has made it obvious that yes, the Siberian Husky certainly can become too cold. The common rule of thumb is that if you find it cold, then your dog will find it cold also. However, the husky is no ordinary dog and can tolerate much lower temperatures than us, especially if it’s doing a fair amount of exercise. So, although they can handle colder temperatures than us, anything lower than about 10°F (-12°C) should be considered extremely dangerous to the husky and they should be brought into a warmer area
If you’d like to find out more about this fantastic breed of dog, please take a look at my Complete Guide to the Siberian Husky where you will find everything you ever wanted to know!