As warm-blooded animals, dogs are able to survive in a wide variety of environments. From the Afghan Hound that thrives in the hot conditions of desert climates, to the Samoyed that has lived in northern Arctic Russia for thousands of years, dogs go wherever humans go.
Rottweilers are no exception. These sturdy, loyal, and devoted dogs will stick by your side no matter what adventure you choose to take them on – but it’s good to remember that they’re not adapted for excessively low or high temperatures. While they’ll be more than game to run alongside you through burning deserts or deep snow drifts, their comfort must also be kept in mind.
Now that fall is here and winter will quickly be upon us, it’s a good time to learn how to keep your Rottweiler safe and happy when the temperatures drop.
Rottweiler Puppies Need Different Care From Adults
Before we begin, we’ll have to stress that we’ll be talking about adult Rottweilers, not Rottweiler puppies. Those who are experienced with puppy breeding will know that puppies from birth until around 2 months old do not yet have the ability to properly regulate their body temperature. Dogs this young should always be kept adequately warm in the whelping box with their mother, and not taken outside into the cold.
Even somewhat older Rottweiler puppies up to 6 months old will be more vulnerable to temperature extremes, both hot and cold, as their bodies are still developing and they won’t be as hardy as a fully grown adult Rottweiler.
How Cold is Too Cold?
With their double coat to keep them warm, Rottweilers are actually adapted to colder weather than many other breeds. Despite their coat being short, it is dense, straight and tightly packed, giving it good insulating properties against lower temperatures. They can typically handle temperatures as low as 20 degrees fahrenheit or -6 degrees celsius.
However, there are a number of different factors that will influence whether or not you should take your dog outside during winter. Wind chill is one factor that can make it feel much colder than the stated outdoor temperature, since it changes how quickly body heat dissipates.
Cloud coverage is another – the sun does a lot to keep the Rottweiler’s body warm, and if it’s overcast then temperatures can quickly drop to uncomfortable levels. The last, and maybe most important factor, is moisture. A wet dog in winter will get painfully cold very, very quickly – which is why it’s best to keep your Rottweiler warm and dry as best as possible.
How to Care for a Rottweiler Outside
You can usually maintain a normal daily routine with your Rottweiler during winter, including walks and outdoor exercise – after all, they need to stretch their legs or else they’ll start getting antsy indoors.
But before you take your Rottweiler outside during winter, it’s best to take into consideration all the aforementioned factors. What’s the temperature? Is it windy? Is the sun out? Has it been raining or snowing?
If the conditions are amenable to taking your dog outside, then you can safely bring out your Rottweiler with a little preparation. Keep the following things in mind:
- Don’t go so far that you can’t reach someplace warm if your Rottweiler gets too cold.
- Know the signs of hypothermia in dogs
- Keep your Rottweiler away from ice and water
There is little need to give your Rottweiler a jacket to keep them warm, as their coat will naturally thicken (after some shedding) during winter months. However, they may benefit from dog booties if the area where they will walk has been treated with road salts, since this salt can be irritating to their paw pads.
How to Care for a Rottweiler Indoors
When your Rottweiler is at home, you won’t have to make too many changes to your day-to-day life during winter. Humans are most comfortable with temperatures well above what a Rottweiler would consider “cold”, so when your Rottweiler is indoors with you, you’ll only have to make a couple of small adjustments to keep your dog happy.
While most dogs may eat the same commercially available dog food throughout the year, your Rottweiler may appreciate having warm, liquid food during the colder months.
The reason for this is twofold: warm food will be more palatable to them and help them conserve body heat, and your Rottweiler will benefit from the increased liquid intake to help them regulate their body temperature.
Also, the actual composition of their food may be changed to help them retain warmth. Dogs will want more protein and fat since their bodies use these macronutrients to protect themselves from the cold. However, it’s good to monitor your Rottweiler for excessive weight gain on this type of diet. Measure out how much you’re giving your Rottweiler, and cut back a bit if you notice them getting too chunky!
We’ve got a few more tips for you to keep in mind as you care for your Rottweiler during winter:
- Older Rottweilers will be more vulnerable to lower temperatures, so keep them inside the house more.
- Monitor your dog’s food, water, and shelter – if their food and water have frozen over, change them out immediately. If they live outdoors and aren’t adequately protected, bring them inside.
- If it’s dry and the temperatures are over 40 degrees fahrenheit, your Rottweiler will probably be unfazed by the cold. They’ll want to play like it’s summer!