A breed founded and nurtured in the snowy mountains of Akita and Odate, Japan, the Akita is bred to handle cold weather and snowy terrain. With a thick double coat, a muscular frame, and webbed toes, this is a hard-working dog that doesn’t think twice about a romp in the snow. But when is it too cold for this pup to spend time outdoors? At what point does this cold-loving pup have to call it quits and head in to lay by the fire?
Do Akitas get cold? Yes, Akitas experience the sensation of being cold, but the threshold at which they begin to feel that coldness varies based on a range of factors, including age, body condition, health, and coat condition/health.
In the following article, I will cover what you need to know about the cold tolerance of the Akita. I will look at some questions including – Do Akitas Get Cold? How Cold is Too Cold For Akitas? Can Akitas Sleep Outside? Do Akitas Need Blankets? Are Akitas Good in Snow? And I will look at the answers to these questions and what factors – if any – affect them. For example: did you know that an Akita’s ability to tolerate the cold is influenced by more than a handful of influencing factors?
Do Akitas Get Cold?
Akitas do get cold! All animals experience the cold, but the question is – at what point do they feel it? For example, a small breed like a Chihuahua will chill before an Akita due to their size and coat style. The Akita has a high tolerance for cold weather – some sources cite that this robust dog can withstand temperatures up to -40 degrees, but I recommend taking that suggestion with a grain of salt.
Veterinary professionals recommend that once temperatures reach 20° F there is a real possibility for any animal to experience frostbite, hypothermia, and life-threatening complications. It is important to note that while vets cite a cold threshold of 20° F, this temperature is based on exposure for a brief period. Prolonged exposure to temperatures above 20° F can still cause significant health complications.
How Cold Is Too Cold For Akitas?
Breeders developed the Akita breed in the snowy mountainous areas of Akita and Odate, Japan. While establishing the “breed standard,” breeders ensured that this hardy working breed could withstand the frigid winter temperatures that are common in the Akita and Odate areas.
Just how cold are Akita and Odate? In Akita, the coldest winter month averages around 29 degrees Fahrenheit. In Odate the coldest winter month averages around 35 degrees Fahrenheit. Winter temperatures can dip below these averages, but fortunately, the Akita is prepared with its thick insulating coat.
It is important to remember, however, that even though the Akita has an insulating coat to protect against the cold, does not mean that they should spend their life living outside! If you want a specific temperature when it becomes too cold for an Akita to be outside it can be hard to judge this. Many factors influence how well a dog fairs in specific temperatures including:
- Body condition
- Health conditions
- Coat health
Young dogs often have sparse fur, low body fat, and an underdeveloped immune system. These factors all increase the likelihood of cold-related complications.
Older dogs can also have sparse fur, low body fat, or a compromised immune system. These things can contribute to cold-related complications!
Underweight dogs or dogs with little body fat (like the greyhound) are more prone to cold-related complications than dogs with a higher body fat percentage (like Saint Bernard.)
A variety of health conditions can make a dog susceptible to cold-related complications, these include:
- Hormonal Imbalances
- Heart Disease
- Cushing’s Disease
- Kidney Disease
- Any condition that influences the body’s ability to regulate body temperature.
Coat health also plays a big part in a dog’s ability to regulate body temperature. For example, a dog with a mange that has patches of missing fur is more susceptible to the cold than a dog with a healthy coat.
Dogs that have a double-layered coat can also experience cold-related health concerns when improperly groomed. For example, using a shedding blade and stripping a dog’s protective, insulating undercoat increases the likelihood of cold-related complications.
General guidelines from veterinary professionals advise that when temperatures drop below 45° F some dogs may begin to experience discomfort. When temperatures hit 32° F, smaller dogs, dogs with thin coats, older dogs, and dogs with medical concerns will experience cold-related health problems. When temperatures hit 20° F, cold-related health concerns like hypothermia are a real possibility.
Can Akitas Sleep Outside?
Any dog can sleep outside, but just because they can, does not mean that they should! Dogs are pack animals – they live, eat, sleep, and hunt in packs in the wild, so they have a natural desire to group with “family.” Forcing a dog to sleep away from their family unit is cruel, isolating, and it is an unpleasant experience for your pup!
Setting social factors aside and focusing solely on ambient temperatures – is it possible for Akitas to sleep outside? The answer depends on where you live and the average monthly temperatures.
Do Akitas Need Blankets?
Breeders developed the Akita breed in the cold and snowy climate of mountainous Japan. Bred with a double-layered coat, the Akita has a fluffier undercoat that sits close to the body to keep in heat and a rougher outercoat that stands no more than two inches out from the body that provides waterproof protection.
So long as the Akita’s coat is healthy and intact (meaning that their undercoat has not been stripped by improper grooming, that the outercoat is not too long, and their coat is in decent shape), your Akita has plenty of protection against the cold.
Even though your Akita is protected against wintry weather, it does not mean that they do not want or appreciate a blanket! Depending on their personality, some dogs like to snuggle when they sleep, others like to burrow, and others prefer to create a nest! Blankets help your dog to make a comfortable and customized bed!
Blankets are also a fantastic way for dogs to exercise their natural denning instinct. If you have ever seen your dog spin in circles and scratch at their bed, this is “denning.” Giving your dog blankets allows them to create a custom sleeping space and get comfortable!
Are Akitas Good In Snow?
Breeders originally bred the Akita in the snowy, mountainous regions of Akita and Odate, Japan. The Akita is not just a dog that does well with the snow – it is a dog that was born into the snow! In fact, before they were officially called “Akitas,” these dogs were referred to as “snow country dogs.”
The Akita’s coat is a short, thick, double coat that is perfect for cold, snowy weather. A soft undercoat keeps the body insulated, while the outer coat is stiffer and stands slightly away from the body. This coat combination helps to keep the Akita warm as well as dry in snowy conditions.
Some breeders have developed a longer-coated Akita breed, but, this is not on par with breed standards according to the AKC. More to the point, the long coat is dangerous for dogs that do spend time outdoors because it allows for ice to collect and gradually lower the Akita’s body temperature.
In addition to the double-layered insulating coat, the Akita has a unique adaptation that makes life in snowy areas more manageable – webbed toes! One of the few breeds with webbed toes, the Akita is not a “water breed,” the Akita’s webbed toes allow for better weight distribution when walking over snowy, mountainous terrain.
*Note: Every dog is an individual. Just because one dog can thrive in freezing temperatures does not mean that another can – even if they are both the same breed.
It is also crucial to remember that just because one source says that a breed can endure below-freezing temperatures does not mean that they should. Your dog is a member of your family, and you are their pack. It is your responsibility to protect and respect them, and that means providing a safe, warm, and loving home where you include them as a member of your family unit.