Can Great Danes Do Well In Cold? (Vet Tech Answers)

Can Great Danes Do Well In Cold

Great Danes are one of those large breed dogs that are constantly breaking stereotypes. For example, these dogs are huge, yet they tend to be gentle and passive pets. Great Danes can also look aggressive but make wonderful family dogs. And of course, even though you might think Great Danes would be cold-tolerant, they’re actually not that good at staying warm.

So, can Great Danes do well in cold?

Great Danes aren’t actually well suited for cold temperatures. Although these dogs were originally bred to work outside, they’re sensitive to the cold. Great Danes have short, single-layered coats that don’t provide insulation. They’re also low in body fat percentage and are bad at retaining heat. 

In this article, we’ll explore both sides of the question. We’ll talk about what might make Great Danes do well in the cold, and what factors might contribute to their lack of cold tolerance. We’ll also touch on the ideal temperature range, and how to know when your dog is uncomfortably cold

Do Great Danes Get Cold Easily?

According to the American Kennel Club, Great Danes are one of the 16 largest dog breeds in the world. Despite their massive size, Great Danes don’t generally do well in the cold.

Great Danes can get cold easily but this can also vary amongst individuals. For example, you might have two Great Danes that have completely different preferences. One might beg to go outside in the snow while the other could prefer to stay in and lay by the fire.  Either way, these dogs really aren’t equipped to deal with frigid temperatures.

Great Dane Cold Tolerance

So, how cold is too cold for a Great Dane?

Typically, Great Danes won’t last long in temperatures below 40°F. But, it’s important to keep in mind that not even this number is set in stone. 40°F can feel different depending on the conditions outdoors. Wind and rain can create a chill factor that makes it feel colder than it really is.  Cloudy days also tend to feel cooler than sunny days.

So, if it’s a cloudy, wet, and windy day outside, your Great Dane might be even less cold tolerant than they already are!

How Cold Is Too Cold For A Dog?

Dogs in general are pretty good at withstanding cold temperatures. Most of our furry friends have more adaptations to deal with cold weather than they have to deal with hot weather.

Most dogs won’t have issues with temperatures above 45°F. Once temperatures drop below that cut-off, many dogs that aren’t suited for cold weather will start to feel adverse effects. Small dogs, thin dogs, old dogs, young dogs, and dogs with thin coats are some of the groups that will start to feel cold sooner.

Once temperatures drop below freezing, serious issues like hypothermia can occur.

Hypothermia In Dogs

Hypothermia is a dangerous condition in which a dog’s internal temperature is significantly lower than what it should be. Hypothermia is more than just being cold and is a life-threatening issue.

Usually, dogs have a normal temperature that floats around 101.5°F. Hypothermia starts to set in when dogs’ temperatures fall to 99°F or 98°F. Initially, a dog’s body will try to combat hypothermia by constricting blood vessels in peripheral limbs and directing blood to the essential organs.

Initially, signs of hypothermia include things like shivering, stiffness, lethargy, pale mucous membranes, and confusion. But, as hypothermia progresses, signs also become more serious. Dogs experiencing severe hypothermia may stop shivering, collapse, have slow heart and respiratory rates, become comatose, and could eventually die.

What Temperature Is Too Cold For Great Danes?

As we mentioned above Great Danes don’t do well in cold and can become uncomfortable when temperatures fall below 40°F.

Reasons Why Great Danes Don’t Do Well In Cold

Now that we’ve established some general guidelines about dogs in cold weather, let’s get into the specifics surrounding Great Danes. Here are some of the breed traits that make it hard for Great Danes to thrive in cold weather.

Thin, Single-Layered Coats

One of the biggest factors that makes it difficult for Great Danes to do well in cold is their coat.

Great Danes are well known for their short, sleek, and shiny coats. Their fur is surprisingly soft and thin for such a large dog. Great Danes always have coats that are made up of short fur in a single layer of thickness. These dogs don’t receive any insulation benefits from this single-layered coat. Unlike thicker coats, the coat on a Great Dane isn’t able to effectively trap warm air.

Dogs with double-layered coats, like Great Pyrenees and German shepherds, are much more cold-tolerant.

Low Body Fat Percentages

Typically, great Danes are known to sport a skinny to lean body frame.

Add a healthy weight, these dogs don’t carry much extra fat, and their ribs can be observed visually. As you may already know, fat stores are incredibly important for helping animals tolerate cold weather. Fat tissue doesn’t transfer heat effectively and therefore helps retain thermal energy. Animals that are skinnier by nature just won’t do as well in cold weather.

Of course, if you have a Great Dane who is packing a couple extra pounds, this might be beneficial for helping them maintain a good body temperature during the winter months. Regardless, it’s never a good idea to let your dog gain too much extra weight as other health problems can occur.

Low Energy Levels

Even though Great Danes are considered by the AKC to be fairly energetic dogs, many owners will argue this stance.

Most of the time, Great Danes are known for their relatively low energy levels. For such large dogs, they’re pretty gentle and relaxed.  Plus, Great Danes tend to calm down even more after they reach adulthood. But, why do low energy levels mean less cold tolerance?

Active dogs are able to keep body temperatures higher for longer periods of time, this is because as dogs expend energy, they warm up from the inside out. Dog muscles need to warm up in order to move quickly and this has an overall heating effect on their bodies. Since Great Danes aren’t always the most active dogs, they won’t receive the extra heat benefits from their muscles firing up during cold days.

Coat Color

Great Danes come in a wide variety of colors. Great Danes can be blue, black, harlequin, fawn, brindle, mantle, and merle. If these color names sound foreign to you, make sure to look at our guide to Great Dane colors which includes pictures.

Fur plays such an important part in thermal regulation for animals. It’s not just the quantity or quality of fur on the animal that makes a difference. Color can also play a huge role in how much heat is absorbed throughout the day. There’s no arguing that animals with darker fur absorb more heat from the sun than animals with lighter-colored fur.

Many of the color morphs you’ll observe in Great Danes are silvery and light. These colors may have originally helped Great Danes camouflage in snowy landscapes but definitely won’t help them stay warm.

2 Reasons Why Great Danes Might Sometimes Do Well In Cold

There are so many reasons why Great Danes aren’t well suited for cold weather. But, we have to remember that these dogs were once bred to hunt down wild boar. And so, they do have a few adaptations that make them able to tolerate cooler weather.

Here are two reasons why some Great Danes might do well in the cold.

Reason 1: Muscle Mass And Overall Size

We’ve mentioned a couple of times now that Great Danes are among the largest dog breeds in the world.

Their sheer size and muscle mass can actually serve as an advantage in cooler weather. Larger dogs have more body mass and lower surface areas to lose heat from. Great Danes are also muscular which means they have a high metabolic rate that allows them to maintain their core temperature more efficiently.

This physiological advantage helps Great Danes stay warm in cooler conditions when compared to smaller breeds.

Reason 2: Working Dog History

Though we are very careful with our pets and their limits today, it’s never a bad thing to consider what are dogs were originally bred for.

Great, Danes were originally bred for one main purpose, hunting. That’s one of the reasons why these dogs are so big. They were specialists in hunting and taking down full-grown boars.

While other dog breeds were usually used to track and find the prey, Great Danes would make the final move. After guns were introduced into hunting, the need for GReat Danes as working dogs waned.  eventually, these giants were used as guardian dogs and companion dogs.

Because these dogs were originally bred as working dogs, they’re resilient. Working dogs can display a focus and maintain higher energy levels than other dogs. This level of focus and concentration can help Great Danes do better in the cold weather they typically wouldn’t thrive in.

Even though Great Danes are large working dogs, they still don’t do very well in the cold overall.

Do Puppies Get Cold Easier Than Adults?

There are some differences in cold weather tolerance between adults and puppies. If you have a puppy, you’ll want to read the section below to find out how they differ from adult Great Danes.

Puppies vs. Adults

One of the biggest differences between puppies in adults is their size. Puppies are a lot smaller and have less body mass than adults. This means they generate less heat and have a more challenging time maintaining their body temperature.

Puppies also have less developed codes when compared to adult Great Danes. Their coats aren’t fully mature and are softer and even thinner than adults. Puppies aren’t as behavioral Lee aware as adults, and may not realize the danger of the cold poses to them. They might play recklessly without even realizing the consequences of the cold weather.

The one benefit puppies might have over adults in cold weather is that they’re much more active and may generate more heat metabolically. Despite this, puppies have always had a greater risk of hypothermia than adults and shouldn’t be allowed out in cold weather.

Ways To Keep Your Great Dane Warm On Cold Days

If you own a Great Dane and have harsh winters, don’t worry!  There are plenty of ways to keep them warm during the winter.

Limit Outdoors Time

One of the best things you can do to keep your Great Dane warm is to limit outdoor time.

For the most part, this will mean keeping your Great Dane indoors for most of the day when it’s cold outside. Only let them out when they have a burst of energy and want to play a go on a walk.

Try to avoid it letting your Great Dane stay outside while you’re at work unless absolutely necessary. If you do need to leave them outdoors, you’ll need to provide them with a well-insulated or heated structure.

Dress Them Appropriately

Whether you love or hate dressing up your dog, it’s something you’ll need to do in cold weather with a Great Dane.

Believe it or not, there are plenty of jackets big enough for a Great Dane. Some of these dogs love to spend time outside, regardless of the temperature. If your Great Dane needs to go out and run in the snow, you’ll want to get them a warm jacket to help keep their body insulated and protected from the cold.

These giant dogs are usually pretty tolerant of clothing. Check out the video below to see a huge group of Great Danes enjoying the snow in their winter jackets.

Keep It Warm Indoors

The last thing you want to consider is the temperature indoors during cold weather.

If you leave your dog in doors, while you go to work, that’s great! But, make sure the house doesn’t get too chilly for them while you’re gone. You can set the heat to stay at a moderate temperature throughout the day. Or, you can make sure your Great Dane has a cozy spot to cuddle up in until you get home.

And of course, once you’re back, your Great Dane will likely stay close to you and take advantage of your body heat!

Final Thoughts

Even though it seems like Great Danes should be at ease in the cold, they’re just not. Great Danes have fur coats that are short, thin, and single-layered and don’t do much as far as insulation goes.

Many of them have lighter colored furs which won’t absorb extra heat from the sun. This dog breed tends to be low energy and has a low body fat percentage which just adds to their struggles in the cold weather.

So, even though these gentle giants seem like they might enjoy the cold, always take caution when letting your Great Dane outdoors during cooler weather!

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