Welcome to #BreedersTalk! A series dealing with important dog breeding matters, one article at a time. For each, we handpick a handful of influential dog breeders to share their interesting points of view with you.
Winter is on our doorstep. Many dog breeders keep their dogs at home, indoors. But many keep their dogs outside whether in the garden or in kennels. In both situations, the cold may become too much to be comfortable for them. We have asked a few breeders about how they manage to keep their dogs warm enough to have them feel comfortable during subzero freezing cold days. The obvious choice is to use a dog house heater or cheaper heating mats for dogs.
Indoors & Heating Lamps
Here at Glitzy Poms, we keep our Pomeranians inside, yet on the cold days when it gets too cold in their room, I use red light heat lamps to keep the puppies comfortably warm throughout those cold days.
My nursery is connected to my home, with air conditioning and heat inside so it doesn’t ever get too cold or too hot.
Macee Whitton, Glitzy Poms
Insulation & Heating Systems for Toy Breeds
I breed toy breed dogs that feel the cold at any time of the year, let alone on winters’ coldest days. Living on the west coast of Scotland, we suffer from many wet days throughout the year, and it is a constant battle to keep the dogs dry, as they love to run and play whatever the weather. We like our dogs to have the freedom to come and go at will, so we have to have plenty of heating in place to keep them dry, or to dry them after they have been outside in the wet.
We have some dogs that live indoors as house dogs, and some that live outdoors in kennels, which are more like lovely summer houses, each with their own garden to run and play, they are never locked up. In our house, all of our indoor dogs sleep in their own crates, which are surrounded on all sides (except the door) with blankets and are also filled with warm cozy fleece blankets. They are located in the dining room where we keep the log/coal burner running throughout the night, not just in the winter, but most nights throughout the year, and also through the day. All of our litters are born and raised inside our house, and each litter has their own room, with a pen which has a heat lamp overhead, and the pups also get microwave heat pads during their first few days, as well as the central heating throughout the house when necessary.
All of our outdoor kennels are timber-based and are also insulated, they are 5′ x 4′ x 6′ high, and the largest is 8x6x6. Within the timber kennels, we place plastic kennels so, in effect, they have a kennel within a kennel, and these are filled with warm fleece blankets and duvets and lined with vet bed. Above each of the kennels, we place a heat lamp containing dull emitter porcelain heat bulbs up to 150w. They run 24/7/365 except for summer days/nights.
We also have some timber kennels located within stone barns, and they also have plastic kennels within the timber kennels, so in effect, they actually have a kennel, within a kennel, within a kennel. And they are also heated with low emitter heat lamps. So they are super toasty. The stone barn floors are covered with lino so that they are easy to mop and keep clean and dry, they are more like a kitchen than a barn. We also have a log burner in there which we run on the coldest days and nights, mainly to keep the barns damp free, but the barn becomes very toasty once lit and the dogs love to lie next to them.
It costs a fortune to keep our doggies warm year-round, especially living on the wet and dank west coast of Scotland, but you do what you have to do for your dogs to keep them warm, damp/draught free and healthy.
Heated Water Bowls & Coops
The right size coop with fresh dry clean soft straw. Insulation would also be an important addition here. I also put a flap covering the opening to keep the warmth within the coop.
They have heated water bowls so they constantly have lukewarm water to drink and heat them up from within. I feed them twice a day.
Mike S., Coonhound Breeder
Given that I live in one of the hottest places on the planet (Perth, WA, Australia), I really don’t have any first-hand experience in dealing with the issue of hypothermia with my dogs.
All I can say is that many breeders find heat mats and heat lamps useful. A thermostat can be used to regulate their temperature output. Lamps are potentially warmer than most mats I know of. You can put in globes of varying wattage to moderate the potential heating capacity. For example, 60W for moderate warming, through to 100W or 150 W. Ceramic globes are long-lasting (year or more) compared to infrared which can shatter with the tiniest amount of moisture contact.
Breeders should beware of overheating whelping boxes as it encourages the puppies to spread out which can make it very hard for mum not to lie on and suffocate them. Best is to keep it moderate and direct the heat in one spot so the puppies are cool enough to clump together there to keep warm. For this reason, heat mats can be a good choice. The best mats are the softly pliable type that is water-resistant. Or use in combination with an overhead lamp in very cold conditions. The lamp can be raised or lowered to achieve the best conditions and puppy behavior.
Dr. Meg Howe, Veterinarian & Vet
Ideally, try to keep your dogs at home so they can use your own house heating system and you can invite them back outside once the weather allows. If you really can’t, then a boxed kennel with great insulation is vital. Once the insulation is sorted, you can either use a heater or straw to make the space warm enough for your dog. Make sure you check it often.
Share how you keep your dogs warm outdoors in the comment section below!