Known as gentle giants, Great Danes make great pets. Though, if you are familiar with the comic strip, Marmaduke, they are also a bit goofy and somewhat cumbersome due to their size and their playfulness.
While these characteristics aren’t bad, they need to stretch out those long legs more than the average dog. If you own a Great Dane and you live in a cold climate, you may be wondering if your pup needs a winter coat.
Do Great Danes need a winter coat? Yes, Great Danes need a winter coat during cold weather. Despite their size, Great Danes aren’t suited to cold weather. So if you live in a colder climate you do need to consider keeping your Great Dane warm.
Any time your Great Dane is outside for more than 15 minutes, you should take precautions to keep your dog warm and healthy throughout the winter months.
Many dog owners make the mistake of thinking their pets are safe to be outside in the cold because they have fur. Large dogs owners might be more inclined to think their dogs are okay in the cold because of their size.
But remember, our pets are mammals just like us. They may have fur which appears to be warmer than our body hair, but that’s not always the case.
Continue reading to find out why Great Danes aren’t built for cold weather, how to pick out the right winter coat, and other safety factors to consider during winter.
Why Aren’t Great Danes Cold Tolerant?
Great Danes don’t have the insulating layer of fat that most cold-tolerant dogs possess. Think about the Alaskan Malamute, they typically have more fat than Great Danes. They also have longer, double-coat fur.
Great Danes on the other hand, have only a single coat. Double-coated breeds have a coarser, outer coat, and a softer undercoat, which gives them extra protection in cold weather. So with only a single coat, Great Danes are at a disadvantage in cold climates.
Keeping Your Great Dane Indoors
Many pet owners may be inclined to only let their dog out or walk them when they need to go to the bathroom during the winter.
This is generally a good idea for any dog, as the more exposure they have to the cold weather, the more likely they are to suffer from exposure-related health issues.
Unfortunately, there are also pet owners out there who don’t consider what the cold will do to their dog at all. Regardless of the breed do not leave your dog outside in winter.
A dog house isn’t going to be enough to protect them from the cold, and it’s cruel to have an “outside only” dog no matter what the weather is like. A good rule of thumb is, if you wouldn’t want to be outside all day or overnight, don’t do it to your dog either.
Great Danes Get Cabin Fever Too
Just like humans, dogs can get antsy if they are cooped up in the house all day long. Great Danes are especially affected by staying inside all day because they are an energetic breed.
If you only take your Great Dane out to go to the bathroom, they may seem depressed or start to act out. They may also be more desperate for your attention or cry at the door even when they don’t have to go to the bathroom.
Choosing the Right Winter Coat
So you have decided you are going to get your Great Dane a coat, but where do you start? If you’ve searched online, you probably found a lot of articles promoting different brands.
While those can help you decide on which coat you purchase, you might notice there are a lot of different types, and it can be confusing trying to figure out which one is best for your dog.
You might consider a raincoat or a windbreaker during months that aren’t as cold, but let’s focus on the one you need when it’s really cold outside. There are a few different types to look at, like jackets, sweaters, hoodies, parkas, and snowsuits.
The best way to determine the right coat for your dog is to consider the following:
- The lowest average temperature of your area
- How much inclement weather you have in your area
- What types of precipitation your area experiences in winter
- How functional the coat design is
- How comfortable the coat is
- How durable it is
- Extra features that meet your needs
If you are in an area that experiences a lot of changes in winter, look for one that has a lot of versatility. For instance, a dog jacket that is waterproof and has a warm lining, or a thin-insulated design. This design will be easiest for your dog to wear.
Many of them are sleeveless, and some are hooded. Having a waterproof outer shell is great for days with mixed precipitation too. It will also keep your dog warm on dry days too.
If you live in a really cold area with heavy snowfall, it might be better to buy more than one type of coat. You will need a snowsuit with full sleeves for the coldest days and heavy ground coverage.
However, you don’t want to use the same coat on milder days, so opt for a windbreaker or a sweater when it’s a mild day.
Keep in mind, while they look cute, sweaters, hoodies, and jackets that aren’t waterproof aren’t going to provide as much warmth, and they will actually make your dog colder if they get wet.
Introducing your Great Dane to a Winter Coat
If you’ve ever watched funny dog videos online, you’ve inevitably seen dogs walking funny in new clothes. While your Great Dane might do this at first, you will need to be persistent to get them accustomed to the coat. Doing the following can help make the process successful:
- Make sure the coat is comfortable
- Have them wear the coat inside first
- If you have a yard, let them go outside in it alone at first
- Put it on every time you go out for a walk
- Get them a coat as early as possible
- Don’t yell or use the coat as a punishment
- Don’t leave them outside in the cold to punish them
Getting a comfortable coat is very important. You don’t want the coat to be too snug or too loose because it will make your dog uncomfortable. Make sure your dog can move around in it without issue to determine if it’s a good fit.
Punishing your dog is not a good way to motivate them either. Every dog owner can get frustrated, but It’s best to maintain a calm attitude. Being aggressive or punishing the dog for not wearing it will only make them hate it more.
If you get your dog as a puppy, it’s best to get them accustomed to wearing a coat as early as possible. If your Great Dane is already an adult, or you’ve moved from a warm climate to a cold one, it may be harder, but with a lot of love and affection, you can still be successful.
Coats Can’t Protect Against All Winter Hazards
Even when your Great Dane wears a coat, Winter safety doesn’t stop there. Keep the following dangers in mind whether you are walking your Great Dane or letting them out in your yard:
- Antifreeze, salt, and de-icers
- Icy sidewalks and frozen lakes or ponds
- Prolonged exposure
Making Your Yard Safe
If you let them out in a fenced-in yard, or you walk them around in it, the good news is you have a lot of control over the potential dangers your dog encounters.
Make sure you use a pet-safe de-icer on your property, instead of salt. If you spill anti-freeze you must clean it up quickly. Anti-freeze has a sweet taste, and both cats and dogs are attracted to it.
If your dog ingests anti-freeze get help right away. Ingesting anti-freeze will make your dog very ill and can be lethal.
If you have any water features in your yard, don’t leave your dog alone outside or have them off a leash. If you already have a fenced-in yard and you want to let them out, consider fencing your water feature as well so they won’t accidentally get into it.
If the water is deep your dog could break the ice and drown. Even shallow water can be dangerous. If they get wet, they will be more susceptible to frostbite and hypothermia. When wet, even a minute of exposure can be too much.
Keep track of how much time you let your dog out by themselves; set a timer if necessary. A doggie door (yes, doggie doors big enough for Great Danes exist), it will give your dog control over how long they want to stay outside, but you should still check on them.
Safety During Walks
If your dog doesn’t mind wearing them, you might want to consider getting booties. If not, keep in mind your dog might step on areas treated with salt, or other unsafe de-icers.
You can clean their paws off when you return home. Just make sure you keep an eye on your dog and don’t let them lick their paws before you clean them.
Always walk your dog on a leash, especially in winter. Even if you are visiting a dog park, unleashing your dog during the winter can be dangerous. They could become lost because of lower visibility and snow masks the smells they rely on to navigate.
They are at a greater risk of encountering dangerous chemicals if you aren’t with them. They are also at a much greater danger of ending up falling through ice, even if you are right there with them.
Take care to watch out for icy walkways as well. Just like you, your dog can slip and fall, injuring themselves. Black ice, or clear ice, is especially dangerous because you might not see it immediately. Be mindful of the conditions of any sidewalk, road, or path.
Finally, keep your walk short in extreme temperatures. Even if you are wearing warm clothes during your walk, I’m sure you will get cold quickly too.
Remember, if your dog isn’t wearing booties or a coat with sleeves, it would be like you wearing no pants or shoes outside. So get back inside as soon as possible.
Warm Up Indoors
When your dog comes back inside, follow these steps to keep them healthy and without injury. Besides wiping their feet, you should also dry their paws, and any other areas they are wet when you come back inside.
Dry them with a towel and allow them to safely sit near a heat source. You can also use a hairdryer, but many dogs don’t like the noise.
Check their nose and paw pads regularly for any signs of chaffing and frostbite. If your dog shows signs of frostbite, you should consult your veterinarian or take your dog to an animal hospital in an emergency.
If you notice signs of chafing or sores, restrict outdoor time to bathroom use only. Use products to help soothe those areas, and first aid if necessary. Make sure to use safe topical products, because they will lick themselves and ingest it. Make sure sores don’t become infected.
If they constantly have cracked paw pads, sores, a chafed nose, making an indoor bathroom area. Especially for puppies and senior dogs. You can buy framed Astroturf pads, although they are expensive.
You can also use puppy pads. Just make sure to designate an area away from main living areas, to avoid them using the bathroom elsewhere.
Your Great Dane is a beloved family member, and I know you want the best for them. Show them you love them by getting them an appropriate winter coat and stay safe when you bring them outside. Trust me, they will thank you for it.
What temperature is too cold for a Great Dane?
Generally, most dogs aren’t at risk in temperatures of 30° – 40°F. At 15° – 25°F, your Great Dane shouldn’t be kept outside alone for any prolonged period, even with a coat. Temperatures of 10°F or below are extremely dangerous. You should only take your Great Dane outside for short bathroom trips at that time.
What about taking my Great Dane on a trip in the car?
Your Great Dane will be fine in a temperature-controlled vehicle, but never leave them alone in a freezing car, even with a coat. Just like you shouldn’t leave them alone in a hot car, leaving them alone during the winter is dangerous too, even for a short period. It’s best to leave them at home when you go out.
My name is John Carter and I absolutely love pets, especially cats and dogs. I’ve got a Bachelor of Science degree in Animal Behaviour and Welfare and have several years’ experience working in animal shelters and rescues. My passion for animals started at a very young age as I grow up on a farm with several horses, cows, cats, chickens, and dogs on our property.