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Happy winter Newfies!
It’s that time of the year when Newfie owners are standing by the door trying to lure their Newfoundland in from the cold.
“Please come in. You’ve been out here for hours and your bones are going to freeze.” says every Newfie owner on the East coast every 15 minutes. All day, every day from now until April.
Yep. The cold temps have hit and Newfies are loving it and Newfie owners are freezing.
The “If you’re cold, they’re cold” memes are circulating and owners of Northern breeds are looking at each other shaking their heads.
I don’t know about you but I get cold in the freezer section of the grocery store and Sherman and Leroy would be panting at that temp, so I’m not a big believer in that opinion.
How cold is too cold for a Newfoundland?
To be honest, the answer to that question isn’t is as straightforward as you would think and it ultimately comes down to the individual dog and some basic common sense.
Health is important.
Healthy, adult dogs can tolerate cold better than senior dogs and puppies. Dogs that are in full coat can withstand windchills better than dogs that have thinner coats.
Body weight matters. Body fat is a good insulator for a dog’s body. A thinner dog will normally get colder than a thicker dog but don’t try to pack on the pounds just to keep your dog warm! Added weight to a Newfie can be dangerous to their joints!
If you’re ever questioning a dog’s condition you can always check the Tufts Animal Condition and Care System
Environmental factors matter.
Windchill, dampness, and sunlight can impact the conditions outside despite what the thermometer reads. Windchill chart for humans
If a west coast dog that is not used to cold weather travels up to the east coast during the winter, they might be a little chilly at first because they are used to much warmer conditions. Their body needs time to adjust and once that happens they should do fine but it’s always recommended to monitor them.
Shelters and fresh water should be provided. Dogs that have the proper shelter outside can stay out in colder weather longer than dogs that do not. Fresh water that is not frozen should be available to all dogs spending any time outside. You can purchase heated water bowls and/or heated water buckets.
If you’re cold, they’re cold.
That is probably not the case with most of the Newfie population. While Newfoundlands can get cold, most of them can withstand the cold better than humans can.
Check their coat. Newfies have a water-resistant, double coat, the guard hair will get wet but most often the undercoat will stay dry. You can easily part the hair and check if the undercoat is wet. Touch the skin while you’re there and if it’s cold and wet then they should come inside to dry off.
How to tell if your Newfoundland is too cold
Normally when a dog is cold they will start to shiver, act anxious or unsettled, whine or bark, slow down or seek shelter next to a house or other permanent structure. Some will also start to lift up one or more of their paws due to snowballs or ice forming. These should be removed carefully as to not irritate the dog’s paw.
Newfies that spend a lot of time outside can be at risk for getting frostbite. Frostbite normally occurs on a dog’s nose, paws, ears, and genitals. Signs of frostbite are discoloration of the skin (pale skin color or grey, blue color), skin that is cold to the touch, ulcers or blisters, pain and blackened skin.
Signs of frostbite may not show immediately and can take a few days to appear. Dogs that have heart disease or diabetes have a greater risk of getting frostbite.
Newfoundland dogs that should be monitored in cold temperatures.
Some senior Newfies that have lost muscle mass and weight may not be able to regulate their body temperature as well as they use to so they should be monitored while outside in cold temperature.
Dogs that are having joint or mobility issues should be monitored so that they don’t slip on ice, so they don’t get stuck walking in high, heavy snow and to make sure they are able to get up and move.
Puppies that don’t have their full coat should be monitored.
Any dog that is suffering from respiratory distress or dogs that are not in good health should be monitored in cold weather.
How to keep your Newf cool inside during the winter.
Some Newfs owners have expressed concern that when their Newf is inside in the winter that they seem hot. A few ways you can help keep them cool is to have a ceiling or box fan available to him, leave a window open or keep their cooling pad out all year round.
Don’t sweat it!
As Newfie owners, this is a challenging time of year for us. Most of our dogs have been cooped up in the house all summer seeking cold tile floors and cooling pads. Their season has arrived for them to enjoy the outdoors again but people shouting that dogs shouldn’t be outside in the winter play with our conscious.
The thing about these winter concerns is that they come from people who are speaking about dogs in general. It is a problem and it is sad to see a short-haired dog curled up outside without any shelter shivering and it shouldn’t happen.
We have to remember that we have a unique breed that the average person does not understand. Those concerns aren’t addressing us and we should try our best to not let those silly memes get under our skin.
But we also have to remember that there are dogs, Newfs included, that are owned by irresponsible people who have dogs that are chained up outside without proper shelter, food and water, and love. They don’t have someone watching over them, begging them to come inside before the neighbor calls the cops.
These are the people that need to receive the message.
In conclusion, there’s no number that anyone can give you as what is too cold for a Newfoundland. Individual results vary and common sense needs to be used.
We don’t support any dog being left outside in cold temperatures that aren’t given the choice to come inside when needed.
Edited to add that here in Ohio we are experiencing windchills at -30 degrees Fahrenheit for the next 2 days. That is too cold for Sherman and Leroy, who are 10 1/2 and 12 years old, to be out longer than a few minutes.