Choosing The Right Dog Breed for Your Climate

Ellis emphasized that the body mass of your dog doesn’t matter in regards to higher temperatures, but the size of their nose.

Posted by Cris Carl | Jun 19, 2012
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An extremely cute poodle takes a break from exercise to relax on a hardwood floor. (Photo: alvimann/ you are selecting your first dog or moving to a new location, it is important to know what climate your dog will thrive in. Conversely, if you live in a climate your dog would not naturally be acclimated to, you may need to make some adjustments for the health of your dog. While it may seem obvious that if a dog has long hair they would fare better in a cold environment and vice versa, there are several other factors to consider. Dr. Steven Ellis DVM of the Sunderland Animal Hospital in Massachusetts offers some good advice on climate and your dog.

If you live in a colder climate

Ellis said that dog breeds that thrive in colder environments, such as Huskies, Newfoundlands and Retrievers, have a double coat of fur to keep them warm. “Those are the dogs that have been bred for a colder environment. They can take the cold and snow better,” said Ellis.

However, they also have a lot more hair to shed, especially in the spring, when the dog’s undercoat is shed. “You have to have a really good vacuum and be willing to live with a lot of hair floating around your house,” said Ellis. Ellis told a story of a dog owner who said she always buys an inexpensive vacuum to keep hair off her flooring, but with an extended warranty due to her dog’s shedding. “She said eventually, the motor seizes up or burns out from all the hair.”

If you live in a warmer climate

Ellis said that while it seems many people live with air conditioning in Baltimore and other climates that get hot in the summer, there are breeds that thrive better in warmer climates, but not necessarily for the reason you might think. Being a short-haired breed such as a Greyhound, Great Dane or Dachshund is helpful in relation to a hot climate. However, the real reason these breeds do better in a warm climate is they do not require a lot of exercise. “Dogs don’t have sweat glands like humans. They pant in order to cool themselves off,” said Ellis. “One breed of dog that does well with hot weather and more in the way of exercise are Poodles. One the other hand, Great Danes are big couch potatoes,” he added. Ellis said that other good breeds of dog for warmer climates are Terriers and Spaniels.

It’s all about the snout

Ellis explained that dogs that have longer noses or snouts fair better in warmer climates as they can take a greater volume of air in and out more quickly. He said that flat-faced breeds of dogs such as Pugs, Boxers and Pekinese have a much harder time in warm weather. Ellis emphasized that the body mass of your dog doesn’t matter when it comes to higher temperatures, but the size of their nose.

Climate and potential skin problems for your dog

If you live in an area that has high humidity, you may not want to have a breed of dog that has wrinkles or folds in its skin. “Wrinkly dogs, like the Shar Pei, can develop skin problems. The skin folds trap moisture and bacteria gets set up (in the folds), and then infection can set in,” said Ellis.

Climate and potential eye disease problems for your dog

If you live in a climate that has a lot of sun, or you have your dog outside a lot, your dog may develop pannus. Pannus is an eye condition that primarily affects German Shepherds, but may affect other breeds as well when there is a high exposure to ultra violet light. Pannus is a thickening of scar tissue over the cornea and tends to occur as the dog nears middle-age, but can happen earlier. Ellis said that other dogs that tend to be more affected by the possibility of pannus are Border Collies, Dachshunds, Greyhounds and Siberian Huskies.

Ellis said that it’s helpful or necessary for dogs that have or are prone to pannus to have sunglasses or goggles. In fact, there is a brand specially made for dogs called “Doggles” which can be purchased from your veterinarian or online. 

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