Some dogs are just built differently, especially when it comes to cold weather. If you have a husky or a malamute, then you know what we’re talking about. If you don’t, then you’ve probably seen cute videos of them covered in snow and running around like the happiest dog in the world. What is it about the cold that gets these dogs so excited? Why do huskies love snow so much?
We at Doggy Brace have the answers!
Why Do Huskies Love Snow?
The answer is actually pretty simple: Siberian Huskies are snow dogs. They were specifically bred to love cold weather, because they were bred to live and work in the snow! They’re sled dogs, trained to run long distances through sub-zero temperatures and blizzards, which means the winter is their season.
They are literally built for it! They can easily withstand temperatures below zero and their coat can keep them warm (for a short period) when temperatures drop to -75F! How is this possible?
Well, we all know what huskies shed a lot. That’s because they have two coats of fur — their top coat and a thick undercoat. They shed that undercoat in the spring to keep them cool, but in the winter, it gets nice and thick to provide a layer of natural insulation. On top of the underlayer is an outer layer known as the “guard hair coat”, which prevents snow and ice from sticking to huskies.
Additionally, huskies pack on extra fat during the winter to keep them warm too! This, paired with their coat, is the ultimate winter coat.
Even their ears and tails are built for the cold! Their ears have built-in ear muffs, and their tails are long enough that they can protect their face and nose (where their fur is shorter) from the cold. It’s like a scarf!
How Do Husky Paws Stay Warm?
There are very few places that aren’t covered in fur — their paws and their noses. With their tail to cover their nose, you may be worried about keeping your dog’s paw pads warm. Unless it’s really wet outside, this isn’t a concern for huskies.
Husky paws naturally stay warm thanks to their system of veins and arteries, which create an efficient flow of warm blood. Second, they have a type of freeze-resistant connective tissue and fat in their paw pads.
Why Do They Love Ice?
Sure, a dog can be built for something and still not like it — just because your husky is a sled dog, that doesn’t mean they’ll automatically like pulling things! When it comes to snow and ice, most dogs like it because they’re fun!
Snow brings a lot of new sensations and smells, which is great for dogs. They can roll in it, snap it out of the air, lick it, and do so many more activities that they can’t experience during the majority of the year. It’s like baking holiday cookies — it’s a once-a-year treat!
What About Alaskan Malamutes?
Though they are strikingly similar in appearance, Alaskan Malamutes are not Siberian Huskies.
Alaskan Malamute is much larger and more stocky. Siberian Huskies can pull light loads very fast across frozen environments. Malamutes, on the other hand, can carry massive loads.
They have the same two layers of coats too, as well as the same ear, tail, and paw insulations, which means they’re both built for snow!
Should You Be Worried About Frostbite?
Yes and no. The problem isn’t snow and ice, it’s water. If your husky or malamute get wet, then they are more susceptible to frostbite and hypothermia. If it’s just snow, then you should be okay!
They can tolerate temperatures as low as -60F, though they may become uncomfortable around -20.
If you are concerned about your dog being too cold outside when the temperatures dip below zero, there are signs you can watch for that include:
- Refusing to leave dog shelters or their curled-up positions
- The presence of ice on their fur (this could indicate they are losing heat sufficiently to melt snow that is refreezing on their fur)
- Tries to lift paws off the ground
- Whining and barking
- Malamutes aren’t big barkers, so if they’re vocal, something could be wrong
- Seeking unconventional places for shelter