When is it Too Cold to Walk Your Dog?

You live in a cold environment, somewhere the winters can get mighty cold. Your dog still needs to go for regular walks, both for exercise and so it can do its business.

However, how cold is too cold? When is it too cold to walk your dog outside? Let’s remember that this does not only have to do with temperature, but with some other factors too.

Factors to Consider

Before we get into talking about specific temperatures, it is important to know that there are a variety of factors which will determine how cold is too cold to walk your dog. It’s not all just about the temperature itself.

1. The Breed

One of the biggest deciding factors here is what breed of dog it is. There are some dogs, like Tibetan Mastiffs, Black Russian Terriers, Bernese Mountain Dogs, Huskies, and other such breeds which are designed for super cold weather. These are dogs that really don’t care how cold it is.

Specialized dogs like this can easily be out in sub-zero temperatures. However, not all dogs are like this, and in fact, most are not. For instance, shorthaired dogs and dogs that originate in warmer climates won’t be able to handle too much cold for too long.

2. The Size and Age

What is also important to consider is the size and the age of the dog. Smaller dogs have a much harder time holding body heat, and they also don’t produce as much to begin with.

The larger the dog is, the more body heat it can produce and the more heat it can hold. Puppies and very old dogs are much more susceptible to the cold than middle-age dogs.

3. Wind and Moisture

The other thing to consider is if it is windy and wet out. For instance, it may be 25 degrees out, but if there is a harsh wind blowing and wet snow on the ground, it’s going to feel much colder, and that is going to make a big difference for the dog.

Always take the wind chill into account when looking at the outside temperature and remember that wet snow is going to sap a lot of body heat.

4. Temperature Guidelines

If the temperature is around 20 to 32 degrees, a medium or large dog can easily withstand being out there for around 30 minutes or more. Of course, once again, a large dog with plenty of thick fur, such as a husky, could go for 2 hours or more in these conditions, if not even much longer. After all, certain dogs are designed to be out in that cold.

When it comes to smaller dogs, with temperatures between 20 and 32 degrees Fahrenheit, they should not be out for longer than 15 to 20 minutes. Even with very thick fur, smaller dogs just cannot produce or hold enough body heat to deal with this kind of cold.

Now, many sources will tell you that if it is below 0 degrees Fahrenheit or negative 17 degrees Celsius, no dog should be out for a walk — this is totally bogus and completely false.

Sure, most average size dogs with normal fur can only stand a few minutes in these temperatures, but once again, large and thick-furred dogs, like Tibetan Mastiffs, Huskies, Black Russian Terriers, or Bernese Mountain Dogs are going to be fine in 0 degrees Fahrenheit, even for up to 30 or 60 minutes, or even much longer.

There are dogs out there designed to be outdoors in freezing cold mountains or to be outside on the frozen tundra that is the arctic; not all dogs are the same.


As you can see, this is not a one-size-fits-all kind of thing. A very small dog with barely any fur, such as a chihuahua, should barely be exposed to cold at all, whereas larger dogs bred to be comfortable in the cold and to feel at home in the mountains can easily withstand extreme temperatures for long periods of time. How cold is too cold to walk a dog all depends on the dog in question.