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As the winter months approach, it’s a good idea to know just how well your border collie tolerates cold weather. Despite most collies having double coats, there are important things owners should know in advance to keep their collie safe.
Border collies can tolerate cold weather but shouldn’t live outside in it. Keep in mind that the weather conditions can have a big impact on the temperature. Rainy and windy conditions can make an otherwise tolerable temperature much harder to handle.
I’ll explain everything in great detail below.
How Cold Can Border Collies Handle?
It’s important to realize it’s not all about what the mercury level reads. If the temperature outside is -25°C but there is no wind and it’s dry and sunny, that’s a completely different situation compared to when there is wind.
It’s more about the weather conditions rather than the actual temperature. If it’s windy and rainy then even 5C (40F) would likely be too cold to go outside. But when it’s dry, sunny and without wind, this temperature would be fine.
I personally have friends who live in certain parts of Canada that see very low temperatures like -25°C and their collies are just fine while in the cold for a short while. With that being said, their two collies are fit and healthy with no existing health conditions, and they are both 3 years old (not too old or too young).
⭐ If your collie is considered to be vulnerable the advice changes. In this case, vulnerable means a collie that’s reaching old age, still a puppy, or your collie has existing health issues. In these circumstances, avoiding cold weather altogether is the recommended advice.
⭐ Is there an exact temperature to go by? Unfortunately, it’s hard to give a specific number, because there are many different factors at play, like wind and rain. In England, a very cold day would be considered 0°C, combine this with wind and dampness, it suddenly feels A LOT colder and a collie likely shouldn’t go out.
Everyone’s situations will change, so there’s no one-answer-fits-all. It’s best to use some common sense and go with your gut.
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5 Signs Your Collie Is Getting Too Cold
If you are experiencing cold weather but are still taking your collie out for walks, it helps to know when your collie is getting too cold. Here are 5 signs you can look out for when outside.
❄️ Picking up the paws
A very reliable sign to look out for is if your collie starts holding up a paw. Dog paws are very sensitive to temperature as it’s a point of contact to the surface they’re walking on. The moment you see your collie trying to hold her paws up, you know she’s too cold and it’s time to go back inside.
❄️ Shaking or shivering
The next best and most obvious sign is shaking and shivering. Just like with us, shivering is an automatic response from the body which relaxes and tightens the muscles rapidly in an attempt to warm us up. All collies (and dogs in general) do this too and it’s a sign you need to go back inside. It’s possible to warm back up by increasing physical activity, but it’s not worth the risk.
❄️ Reluctant to keep walking and limiting movement
This is quite a serious sign that your collie is very cold. When it gets to the point where she no longer wants to move, it’s past the point of reviving your activity. You should head back inside and seek a warmer place if your notice your collie slowing down or stopping.
❄️ Tail tuck with a hunched posture
Another reliable sign that indicates your collie is too cold is tail-tucking. Tail-tucking is a general sign of being uncomfortable and the hunched body position is seen across most breeds when exposed to cold temperatures.
❄️ Any other unusual changes in behavior
Any weird changes in behavior should also be noted and if you are out in sub-zero temperatures, it’s likely going to be the reason. Behavior changes could be to do with body language, barking, or whining, and anything out of the norm.
Please understand that these are not signs of hypothermia. Signs of hypothermia include:
- Lack of consciousness
- Slow shallow breathing
- Fixed & dilated pupils
- Muscle stiffness
- Lack of alertness
If you notice any of these signs, this indicates that your collie is already extremely cold. Not only should you seek a warmer place immediately, but it’s advised to contact your veterinarian asap for further guidance.
Recommended Read: Can Border Collies Live Outside?
Does a Border Collie Need a Winter Jacket?
There are many accessories out there to help our furry friends in cold climates such as winter jackets. Whether or not your collie will need a winter jacket will depend on a few things.
As your collie reaches old age, it’s normal for her coat to start thinning out and her immune system won’t be as strong as it used to be. A winter coat may just be what your senior collie needs.
But if your collie is middle-aged, in full health and your winters aren’t particularly cold, then a winter jacket may be unnecessary. It’s very easy to say for short-haired dogs but it’s not so clear when we’re talking about a thick double-coated breed.
One of the benefits of winter jackets is that the quality ones are waterproof. This would certainly be ideal for any collie that lives in a cold and wet country.
⭐ Times you may want to consider a winter jacket for your collie
● Your collie is reaching old age and becoming more vulnerable
● Your collie is still young, under 1 year old
● If you live in a country that has wet winters
● If your winters are extremely cold: -20°C and lower
Other than this, a winter jacket may not be entirely necessary, but that’s for you to decide. Thankfully you can get high-quality ones like these, that are reasonably priced.
This is original content produced and published by The Puppy Mag | www.thepuppymag.com
Can Border Collies Live or Sleep Outside?
This is always a popular question for working dogs, but for border collies, the answer is mostly going to be no, although it’s possible under certain situations.
⭐ Why it’s not a good idea.
● Border collies are very social and love having company. Life outside can be VERY lonely if you don’t have a pack of dogs
● Collies do not tolerate cold weather for long periods of time
● Collies are so intelligent that they don’t need to live outside in order to excel in their working abilities
● As a loving family pet, life outside isn’t what they’re used to
Living outside would only work well if you have more than one collie (to keep each other company), you provide a weatherproof housing set up with access to a separate protected outside area, and you don’t experience cold weather! I would say that’s quite a lot of requirements for it work well, and even then, some would say it’s still not ideal.
Everyone’s situation is different and I’m sure you are able to make your own decisions based on the above.
Additional Tips To Stay Safe In Winter
Let’s run through some additional tips to remain safe in winter.
1. Don’t venture too far away from home
Remaining close to your home or car is very important throughout the winter months. The worst situation to be in is to see your collie exhibit behaviors that indicate she is cold when you are the furthest away from your home. Not only that, but the weather conditions could take a turn for the worst and make your situation dangerous.
2. Keep her on the leash
Most border collies have exceptional recall and obedience, but regardless, it’s a good idea to keep your collie on a long leash throughout the winter months. In windy conditions and depending on the landscape where you are walking, your collie could lose her way if she ventures too far away from you. This might be unlikely to happen, but a terrible situation to be in if it does.
3. Lukewarm drinking water
Instead of filling up your collie’s water straight from the cold tap in winter, you can help keep her warm by using lukewarm water (neither hot or cold). It doesn’t need to actually be warm, but just not being cold will have a dramatic difference, and it will encourage her to drink more and stay hydrated.
4. Wear an extra hoody/jumper when out on walks
If you were to get into a sticky situation where your collie suddenly becomes too cold and/or can’t walk back herself, if you wear an extra layer, this can be taken off, used to wrap up your collie to keep her warm while you carry her back or seek other help. Again, this might only be for a dramatic situation, but it could make all the difference.
5. Stay away from frozen lakes and bodies of water
Walking on those frozen lakes might seem like a fun idea, but it goes without saying, its a huge risk. Even lakes that are frozen thick, might have weak or thin patches. If your collie was to fall in, not only would this be an emergency situation, but it could force you into a dangerous situation too. Always avoid frozen lakes and bodies of water in general.
6. Stay indoors if its raining
Don’t try walking your collie if it’s raining outside. Once your collie is damp or wet, her ability to remain warm is practically non-existent. Her double coat will do nothing if she’s wet. Stay inside when it’s damp, use interactive puzzle toys, command training and try using a flirt pole if you have a large room.
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Be Cautious But Have Fun!
Cold weather, especially snow, can be an awesome experience for our furry friends, so enjoy it! Always be attentive to the temperature, the wind, and signs your collie is getting cold, but until then, have fun! Check out this awesome video of a collie’s first time in the snow!
So there you have it! You now know that your border collie can tolerate cold weather, but only for a short amount of time. Collies should not live outside in cold weather, and it’s important to know the signs that your collie is getting too cold.
Thank you for reading!
Was your original question answered? Please let me know if there’s any more information you think would be useful for future readers. I love hearing feedback and I’m always happy to update my articles. All the best, Harry.
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