It’s winter, the days are short, sharp, and in most of the Northern Hemisphere, pretty darn chilly. Chances are your emotional support animal will require a little extra attention this time of year. For the same reason that you would not fancy spending an extended (or any) period of time walking around your snow-covered back garden in the nude, most support pets also desire a place in front of a warm fireplace on these frigid days. But some emotional support animals, particularly certain breeds of dogs, have a much easier time of it in cold conditions. These hardy creatures are descended from animals that worked and hunted in freezing temperatures for thousands of years, and they usually have an impressively dense furry coat to prove it.
So here is a list of some ESA dogs that really enjoy the cold weather (and that would most likely thank you for a nice military haircut when summer finally arrives!).
Perhaps the most famous ‘cold weather’ dog is the Husky, which hails from the Siberian Arctic and is well able to handle the nippy weather. It’s coat is super-thick and keeps it nice toasty in freezing temperatures. Huskies are truly beautiful dogs. They were bred to work and pull heavy loads so they tend to be strong and resilient. Huskies can handle the cold.
Another favorite cold weather dog is the St. Bernard, made (even more) famous by the movie Beethoven. The St. Bernard is best known as a rescue dog, heroically braving the scenes of giant avalanches and saving people from snowy mountain passes in the Alps, usually with a small barrel of brandy around it’s neck. They are very intelligent dogs and make excellent emotional support animals. Traditionally they would head out on rescue missions in packs, and when they found someone injured in the snow, one dog would lie down with the victim and lick them to keep them warm, while another dog would head back to alert rescue teams. Pretty cool, huh?
The gentlest and friendliest cold weather dog is surely the Keeshond. This breed has always been a solid companion, as well as a watchdog on riverboats and farms in cold locations. It has never been used as a hunting dog and so has a very friendly temperament, so yep, they make for outstanding emotional support animals. The Keeshond has a double coat consisting of a long, straight, harsh outer layer, and a thick, downy underlayer. These guys weigh between 33 and 44 pounds, and range in height from 16 to 19 inches.
The Shiba Inu is small and agile, and was bred to hunt in mountainous terrain in Japan. They are a compact breed, typically 14 to 17 inches at the shoulders, and weighing 18 to 22 pounds. The Shiba is double-coated, with a stiff outer coat and a soft, thick undercoat, so winter weather does not bother these little guys.
A true gentle giant is the Bernese Mountain Dog. This breed is a working dog that was used to herd cattle, pull carts, and be a watchdog in the foothills of the Swiss Alps. These dogs are very large, with males standing at 24 to 28 inches tall and weighing 85 to 110 pounds, and females only a little bit smaller, but their temperament is friendly and calm and they love to cuddle (beware tho, it can be like cuddling a super-friendly heavyweight boxer!)
The Tibetan Terrier is a very old breed and was kept in ancient Tibetan monasteries as a lucky charm, watchdog and companion. These guys are closely related to the Shih Tzu and Tibetan Spaniel and are known for their intelligence and obedience. They are a medium-sized breed with cute, floppy ears, and a double coat that consists of a soft, wooly undercoat and a long, full outer coat. Cuddle-ability level for these emotional support animals is high.
So those six breeds can handle the cold very well, but what if your ESA is not as hardy as these guys? What if his coat is merely…a single coat? What if his ancient ancestors spent their days patrolling the African Savannah, or chilling by the pool in Cancun?
It’s important to realize that many emotional support dog breeds do not do so well in the cold. Dachshunds, Chihuahuas, and Basset Hounds all have short hair which doesn’t keep them very warm, and short legs, so their body gets dragged through the snow – no fun! Greyhounds have very short coats and very little body fat, so when it gets cold they will definitely prefer cuddling indoors to playing in the snow. All of these breeds would benefit from a little jacket come walk time. The almighty Doberman Pinscher is not a fan of the cold. Whippets have thin coats and feel chilly very easily. Yorkies are no match for winter. Pitbulls and cold weather don’t mix, and they will tend to go AWOL when it’s time for walkies (check behind the couch).
Most other types of emotional support animals are not big cold weather fans either. Neither cats nor pigs have much warmth in their coats and so they need to be kept cozy and dry during the winter months. Small ESAs, such as rabbits and guinea pigs, are also not able to withstand cold weather and must be kept indoors.
So make sure you look after your ESA animal and keep cognizant of what their requirements are in during the winter months.