Do Australian Shepherds Like the Cold

Do Australian Shepherds Like the Cold? Chilly Companions!

Have you ever asked yourself do Australian Shepherds like the cold? It’s a question that’s more than just idle curiosity; it’s important for understanding how to provide the best care for your Aussie, especially during those chilly winter months.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore everything you need to know about how Australian Shepherds fare in cold weather. From the insulating properties of their unique double coat to health considerations and exercise tips, we’ve got all the bases covered.

So, if you’ve ever found yourself wondering how your Aussie feels about the cold, you’re in the right place to discover all the answers.

The Australian Shepherd’s Coat

Understanding your Aussie’s coat is the first step in figuring out how they handle cold weather. Let’s break down the specifics.

Double Coat Explained

You might have heard that Australian Shepherds have a “double coat,” but what does that mean? Well, a double coat means your Aussie has two layers of fur. The outer layer, or “topcoat,” consists of longer, coarser hairs that are water-resistant. This layer helps to protect your dog from rain, snow, and even the sun.

Insulating Properties

Now, let’s talk about the inner layer, often called the “undercoat.” This part is soft, fluffy, and serves as a natural insulator. When winter comes around, this undercoat becomes your Aussie’s best friend. It traps warm air close to the skin, helping to keep your dog warm even when the temperature drops.

So, if you’re worried about your Australian Shepherd in the cold, remember that their undercoat is doing a lot of the heavy lifting to keep them comfortable.

General Tolerance to Cold

So, you know about the coat, but how do Australian Shepherds generally fare in cold weather? Let’s look at some factors that influence their comfort level.

Genetic Factors

First off, where do Australian Shepherds come from? Despite the name, they were actually developed in the United States, primarily for herding livestock. The climates they were bred for can vary, but they’re generally used to moderate conditions.

That said, their double coat does offer some natural protection against the cold. So, while they may not be Arctic dogs, they’re not exactly delicate flowers when the temperature drops either.

Individual Preferences

Just like people, every Australian Shepherd is a bit different. Some might absolutely love romping around in the snow, while others prefer the cozy indoors as soon as the first flake falls. You’ll often find that your Aussie’s tolerance to cold can depend on what they’re used to.

If they’ve been exposed to colder temperatures from a young age, they’re likely to be more comfortable in it. On the flip side, an Aussie who’s lived in warm climates all their life might need some time to adjust to colder weather.

Signs Your Australian Shepherd is Cold

Alright, let’s get into how you can tell if your Australian Shepherd is actually feeling the chill. Knowing what to look for can make all the difference.

Physical Signs

Here are some additional physical signs to look for to know if your Australian Shepherd is feeling cold:

  • Shivering or trembling – Just like humans, shivering is a dog’s way of generating heat when their body temperature drops. Keep an eye out for involuntary muscle tremors.
  • Lifting or curling paws – In very cold conditions, dogs may occasionally pick up their paws or tuck them under their body to minimize contact with frozen or snowy ground. Watch for limping or reluctance to have paws down.
  • Tucked tail – Along with curled ears, a tucked tail pressed against their body helps retain body heat. Watch for tail lowered between hind legs.
  • Raised fur – Called piloerection, the hairs along a dog’s back may stand up when cold due to muscle contractions near hair follicles. Feel for raised hackles.
  • Whimpering or barking – Australian Shepherds may vocalize more when uncomfortable with cold temperatures. Listen for unusual whines, yips or barks.
  • Seeking warmth – Snuggling up to owners or other pets, burrowing under blankets, and moving inside are signs your Aussie is chilled. Watch their actions.

Being alert to these signs of discomfort can help you judge whether your Australian Shepherd needs more protection from the cold or relief from lower temperatures. Keeping them warm prevents health risks like hypothermia.

Behavioral Signs

Now, let’s talk behavior. If your Australian Shepherd starts to act a bit out of character when it’s cold, take note. Here are some additional behavioral signs that may indicate your Australian Shepherd is feeling cold:

  • Less active/lethargic – Shivering takes energy, so dogs are likely to move less when very cold to conserve body heat. Look for decreased interest in play or exercise.
  • Hiding/seeking small spaces – Your Aussie pressing under tables, beds, or into corners may signal an attempt to escape the cold. Watch where they go.
  • Refusing to go outside – Dogs who typically enjoy outdoor walks or activities avoiding going out could mean they don’t want to leave a warm house.
  • Hesitating to do business – Much like humans, dogs don’t want to disrobe when it’s frigid outside. Motioning to go out but not peeing or pooping can be a sign.
  • Destructive behavior – Chewing, barking, aggression, or other destructive tendencies could reflect frustration with being cooped up to avoid the cold.
  • Clinging to owners – Dogs pressed against or following owners closely from room to room may be trying to glom onto a warm human.
  • Pacing – Moving aimlessly from room to room could indicate your Aussie is uncomfortable with cooler indoor temps as well.

Being aware of these physical and behavioral signs will help you know when it’s time to take action. Whether it’s heading back home during a walk or grabbing that doggy sweater, you’ll be better prepared to keep your Aussie comfortable when the temperature drops.

How Long Can They Stay Outside?

A good starting point is the 20-minute rule. If the weather is particularly cold, keeping outdoor activities to about 20 minutes can help prevent any cold-related discomfort or health issues for your Australian Shepherd. This is especially true if it’s their first winter or if they’re not used to cold climates.

Special Conditions

However, there are always exceptions to the rule. If your Aussie is super active and running around a lot, they’ll generate more body heat and might be comfortable outside for longer periods. On the other hand, if it’s not just cold but also wet or windy, you might want to cut that outdoor time even shorter.

Wet and windy conditions can make it feel colder than it actually is, and that’s not fun for anyone, two-legged or four.

Knowing how long your Aussie can comfortably stay outside in the cold can save you both from a less-than-pleasant experience. It’s all about balancing their need for exercise and play with their comfort and health in colder weather.

Living Conditions

Now that we’ve talked about walks and playtime, what about the everyday living conditions for your Aussie? Let’s explore whether they can live outside and what kind of housing they might need.

Can They Live Outside?

The short answer is, it’s not recommended for Australian Shepherds to live outside full-time, especially in colder climates. While their double coat offers some protection against the elements, it’s not enough to keep them comfortable and healthy in extreme cold for extended periods.

Plus, Aussies are social animals that thrive on interaction with their human family, so keeping them outside can lead to behavioral issues.

Necessary Housing Conditions

If you do need to keep your Aussie outside for shorter periods, make sure they have a well-insulated dog house. It should be dry, draft-free, and elevated off the ground to keep it from getting too cold.

Adding some blankets or straw can also provide extra insulation. And don’t forget fresh water; it can freeze in cold weather, so you’ll need to check it regularly.

Other Environmental Factors

Beyond temperature, there are other environmental factors that can affect how your Aussie feels in the cold. Let’s discuss a couple of these, namely windchill and moisture content.


Windchill is basically how cold it actually feels when you factor in the wind. Even if the thermometer says it’s not that cold, a strong wind can make it feel much colder. This is true for us and for our Australian Shepherds.

If the wind is howling, it can cut through their coat and make them feel colder faster. So, on windy days, you might want to limit outdoor time or find a more sheltered area for play.

Moisture Content

Moisture in the air or on the ground can also have a big impact. Wet fur loses its insulating properties, making it harder for your Aussie to stay warm. This is why rain or wet snow can be more uncomfortable for your dog than a dry, crisp day.

If your Aussie gets wet, it’s a good idea to dry them off as soon as possible to help them retain body heat.

Health Considerations

When it comes to cold weather, there are some health considerations to keep in mind for your Australian Shepherd. Let’s talk about how age and overall health status can affect their cold tolerance, as well as some cold-weather health risks like hypothermia and frostbite.

Age and Health Status

Young puppies and older dogs are generally more sensitive to cold weather. Puppies haven’t yet developed a full double coat, and older dogs may have health issues that make them less tolerant to cold.

Similarly, if your Aussie has any existing health conditions like arthritis, the cold can exacerbate symptoms. Always consult your vet if you’re unsure about your dog’s ability to handle cold weather.

Hypothermia and Frostbite

While Australian Shepherds have some natural defenses against the cold, they’re not immune to conditions like hypothermia and frostbite. Hypothermia occurs when the body loses heat faster than it can produce it, leading to dangerously low body temperatures.

Signs include shivering, lethargy, and weak pulse. Frostbite, on the other hand, happens when skin and other tissues freeze. The paws, ears, and tail are most at risk. If you suspect either of these conditions, seek veterinary care immediately.

Clothing and Gear

So, you’ve got the basics down, but what about clothing and gear for your Aussie in the cold? Let’s explore when a winter jacket might be useful and what other gear could come in handy.

When to Use a Winter Jacket

While Australian Shepherds have a double coat that offers some insulation, there are times when a little extra warmth wouldn’t hurt. If you’re going out for an extended period, or if the weather is particularly harsh with wind or wet snow, a winter jacket can provide that extra layer of protection.

It’s especially useful for younger or older dogs who might not handle the cold as well.

Other Recommended Gear

Beyond jackets, there are other items that can make your Aussie’s cold-weather experience more comfortable. Booties can protect their paws from cold surfaces and harmful substances like road salt.

A reflective leash and collar are also good ideas for those shorter winter days when visibility can be low. And if you’re going on a longer adventure, consider a portable water bowl to keep your dog hydrated.

Exercise and Play in Cold Weather

Even when it’s cold outside, your Australian Shepherd still needs their exercise and playtime. So how do you keep them active while also ensuring they’re safe? Let’s find out.

Keeping Active

Aussies are energetic dogs that love to run, jump, and play. Cold weather shouldn’t put a complete stop to their activities. You can still go for walks, play fetch, or even set up an obstacle course in the yard. If it’s too cold for extended outdoor time, consider indoor activities like tug-of-war or hide-and-seek to keep them engaged.

Safety Precautions

While it’s important to keep your Aussie active, safety should always come first. Always check the weather conditions before heading out and adjust your plans accordingly.

Avoid icy areas where your dog could slip and hurt themselves, and steer clear of frozen bodies of water. Also, after coming back inside, check their paws for any ice or salt buildup and wipe them down to prevent irritation.

Special Cases

While most of what we’ve discussed applies to the average adult Australian Shepherd, there are some special cases to consider. Let’s talk about puppies and seniors, as well as Aussies living in extremely cold regions.

Puppies and Seniors

Puppies are still growing and their coats haven’t fully developed, making them more susceptible to the cold. Senior dogs may also struggle due to age-related health issues. For both, shorter and more frequent outings might be better than long walks.

Make sure to monitor them closely for signs of discomfort and consider extra layers like a light jacket for added warmth.

Australian Shepherds in Extremely Cold Regions

If you live in a place where the winters are harsh and the temperatures plummet, extra precautions are needed. Your Aussie’s double coat will offer some protection, but in extreme cold, even that might not be enough. Consider investing in high-quality winter gear like insulated jackets and booties.

Also, limit outdoor time and opt for indoor activities whenever possible.

Tips for Keeping Your Australian Shepherd Warm

Keeping your Aussie warm in the winter involves more than just their coat and outdoor gear. Let’s look at some tips for both inside and outside the house to ensure they stay cozy.

Indoor Tips

When indoors, a warm and comfortable sleeping area can make a world of difference for your Australian Shepherd. A plush dog bed away from drafts is a good start. You can also add a blanket for them to snuggle into.

If your home is particularly chilly, consider a heated dog bed or pad. Just make sure to follow all safety guidelines if you go the heated route.

Outdoor Tips

When you’re outside, quick warm-up breaks can be a game-changer. If you’re out for a longer period, take short breaks to let your Aussie shake off the cold. You can carry a portable, insulated water bottle to offer them warm water, which can help raise their body temperature.

And if you’re out in the snow, creating a small barrier from the wind using your body or other objects can give your Aussie a much-needed respite.

Frequently Asked Questions

We’ve covered a lot, but there are always those burning questions that Aussie owners have about their dogs and cold weather. Let’s tackle some of the most common ones.

How Cold is Too Cold?

The answer to this question can vary from dog to dog, but generally speaking, temperatures below 20°F (-7°C) are pushing it for Australian Shepherds.

If the weather forecast predicts temperatures in this range or lower, it’s best to limit outdoor time and opt for indoor activities. Always monitor your dog for signs of discomfort, as that’s your best indicator.

Do They Like Snow?

Many Australian Shepherds absolutely love playing in the snow! Snow provides a new texture and environment for them to explore, and it can be a lot of fun for games like fetch. However, not all Aussies are the same.

Some might find the cold, wet snow less appealing, so it’s important to gauge your dog’s reaction and adjust your playtime accordingly.

What About Rain and Wind?

Rain and wind can make the effective temperature feel much colder than it actually is. If it’s both cold and rainy, it’s probably best to skip the outdoor adventure for the day. Wind can also be problematic, as it can quickly strip away the warmth trapped by your Aussie’s coat, making them feel colder faster.


So there you have it—a complete guide to understanding how your Australian Shepherd feels about the cold and how to keep them comfortable and safe. From the unique features of their double coat to tips for indoor and outdoor warmth, we’ve covered all the bases.

Winter doesn’t have to be a challenging season for you and your Aussie; with a little preparation and attention to detail, it can be a time of fun and bonding. Stay warm and enjoy the chilly months ahead with your furry friend!

Scroll to Top