Do Labradoodles get cold or does their curly coat keep them warm all winter long?
Despite their fluffy coat, Labradoodles can get cold. In some situations, Labradoodles can get so cold that they suffer from health complications, such as hypothermia and frostbite.
Labradoodles are particularly vulnerable to the cold through their paws, nose, and ears. So, you should work to keep your Labradoodle warm as the temperature outside starts to drop.
Do Labradoodles Get Cold?
If you’re feeling cold as the winter months get in, it’s natural to think your Labradoodle is probably feeling cold as well. The Labradoodle coat is a bit unusual among working dog breeds. You may be surprised to learn your Labradoodle can suffer from the cold more than you think.
This isn’t always easy for Labradoodle owners to understand! After all, your Labradoodle lives life with a permanent fur coat. If you walked around all year long in your winter coat, wouldn’t you be more likely to get too hot than too cold?
It will all depend on the type of coat that your Doodle inherits from its parent breeds. But, all dogs can get cold if the temperature is low enough.
Labrador and Poodle Coat Types
The Labradoodle is a newer dog breed with true working dog roots. It is a mix between a purebred Standard Poodle and a purebred Labrador Retriever.
The Australian breed line also includes breeds like the Cocker Spaniel, Curly Coated Retriever, and Irish Water Spaniel. Each one of these purebred parent breeds has the typical double layer working dog coat, apart from the Standard Poodle.
A working dog’s double layer coat will have a soft, thick and downy inner layer that sits right next to their skin. It will insulate their body heat and keep them warm and dry during the winter.
The Standard Poodle has a single layer coat. But, their tight curls or corded coats protect them in their original task of retrieving in the water and in harsh weather. Owners would clip their Poodle’s coats, leaving fur around certain vital organs and joints to protect their Poodles from the cold.
Which Coat Type Will My Labradoodle Have?
As with all mixed breed dogs, it’s impossible to know exactly what type of coat your puppy will grow up to inherit until they’re an adult. They could inherit any blend of traits from their parents.
This means, a Doodle could inherit the Labrador’s thick double coat. Or, it could get the Poodle’s tight curls. Or, it could grow up to have a single layer coat with straight Lab-like hair – offering a very low amount of insulation and protection from the elements.
A 2020 study demonstrated that many Labradoodles are bred to favour the Poodle coat, often due to claims of hypoallergenicity. So, it’s likely that your Labradoodle will have the Poodle’s single layer coat, although the amount of curl will vary.
What This Means
When a dog has a single layer coat, they are missing the “winter coat” part of a working dog’s coat. That is – the under layer that insulates them.
Without this layer, your Labradoodle can be far more susceptible to cold winter weather than other working dog breeds. Particularly if they don’t have the tight curls or corded fur that keeps their Poodle parent warm and protected.
The Three Main Labradoodle Coat Types
Labradoodle dogs are bred with three main coat types – wool, fleece, and hair. Each of these types has a different level of natural resistance to the cold. Any of them can come with or without an underlayer.
The gold standard for the Labradoodle coat is the wool coat. This coat takes its name from the thick sheep coat that produces lovely warm wool.
Wool Labradoodle coats are often single layer. But, the hairs will be wiry, curly, and will closely interlock with one another. This gives the wool coat more naturally insulating properties, because it can keep wind or water from reaching skin.
The fleece Labradoodle coat is looser and wavier than the wool coat. So, it will not be as resilient against cold temperatures when the wind picks up, or if there is rain and snow.
If it has an underlayer, it will be relatively warm in cooler weather. But, if it is single layer, your Doodle may get cold sooner than you’d think.
The hair Labradoodle coat is the most similar to the Labrador parent. In this fur type, your Labradoodle’s hairs are straight, or slightly wavy. This coat type can come with or without an underlayer, just like the other two types.
Doodles with a double layer hair coat will be very similar to their Labrador parent. But, those with a single layer hair coat will be most vulnerable to discomfort and health issues during wet weather or cold temperatures.
Where Do Labradoodles Feel the Cold?
Single layer coats will never be as warm as double layer coats, but they are certainly better than no coat at all. No matter which coat type your Doodle inherits, there are areas of their body that are more sensitive to the cold. This includes their:
- Paw pads
- And ears.
The Impact of Age and Health
An adult Labradoodle will naturally be more cold-tolerant than a young Labradoodle puppy or an older Labradoodle senior. In the same way, a healthy Labradoodle will tolerate cold temperatures better than one that is dealing with health issues.
If you’re caring for a young Labradoodle puppy, remember that their puppy coat is thinner, finer, and less insulating than an adult coat. Puppy coats are always single layer, too. It is not designed to protect a dog outdoors without another source of warmth.
Similarly, senior Labradoodles may experience thinning coats with age. This can leave them ill-equipped to stay warm in cold winter weather. So, take extra care to keep very young or very old Labradoodles from getting too cold.
How Cold is Too Cold for Your Labradoodle?
Some breeds, like the Siberian Husky, can spend their whole lives outside in sub-arctic temperatures. They seem to do just fine, and love the colder weather. But a Labradoodle is not a Siberian Husky.
The Labradoodle should live inside with their humans. If they are left to live outside, they can quickly become too cold and experience health issues, especially as winter comes around. Most people like to keep their homes around 68 degrees Fahrenheit (20 degrees Celsius), or higher in winter.
When you walk out into winter weather after being in a nice warm house, it won’t take you long to feel cold. The same is true for your dog. The sudden shift in temperature can affect your indoor Labradoodle just as much as you. Especially if they have a single layer hair coat.
Dog Body Temperature
Dogs typically have a higher baseline body temperature than people. The general body temperature range for a healthy adult dog is from 101 to 102.5 degrees Fahrenheit (38 to 39 degrees Celsius).
So, general pet safety guidance suggests that any temperature below 50 degrees Farenheit (10 degrees Celsius) can cause indoor pets that venture outside some discomfort.
Tips to Protect Your Labradoodle from the Cold
If your Labradoodle has the thinner hair coat with only a single layer, your veterinarian may suggest getting them a doggy coat to keep them warm when going outside in winter. On top of this, investing in little boots for your dog can be a great way to protect their paws from cold ground, especially snow.
Many dogs will find these a little strange to walk in at first, so make sure you let your Doodle get used to them before trialing them outside. You can also choose to limit the time your Labradoodle spends outdoors when the weather is very cold.
There are plenty of ways you can exercise your Labradoodle in your home if it is too cold outside, such as playing active games of tug or retrieving games and training. You can even search for dog-friendly indoor spaces to exercise your Doodle.
Wet, Icy, or Snowy Conditions
Your dog is going to feel even colder if they get wet when the temperatures are low. Ice and snow is a particular hazard, because your dog can slip over.
Arthritic or elderly Labradoodles can easily sprain muscles or break bones in this weather. So take extra care when exercising a Labradoodle outside in snow, ice, and heavy rain. If your Labradoodle is very old, it may be best to exercise them inside until the weather is better.
Salt or De-Icing Chemicals
If your Labradoodle walks across salt or de-icing chemicals, they can suffer from abrasion and chemical burns on their sensitive paw pads. Plus, it’s natural for your Labradoodle to lick their paws if they’re experiencing discomfort.
But, this could lead to them ingesting toxic salts or chemicals. Which could lead to a trip to the vet. So, be careful when walking your Labradoodle in any areas where people have spread chemicals or salt on ice. And, wipe down or wash off their paws once you get inside.
What to Do if Your Labradoodle Gets Too Cold
Signs that your Labradoodle is too cold include:
- Slower movements or lack of movement
- Ice on their fur
- Acting anxious
- Looking for warm places to burrow
These symptoms are signs that your Doodle could be suffering from hypothermia. If you notice this, wrap your dog in a blanket and call your veterinarian straight away. If the vet is closed, get them straight to the emergency vet.
They will be able to safely advise or help you to warm your dog up at the right speed, and to administer any medical aid that is needed.
Do Labradoodles Get Cold? A Summary
Your Labradoodle will need help to stay warm in cold weather. Doggie sweaters and booties, a heat pad, and some extra daily calories can all help to keep your Labradoodle warm in winter. Keeping potty breaks quick and exercising indoors will also help.
If you ever notice the above signs of hypothermia in your Labradoodle, make sure to contact your veterinarian straight away for help.
References and Resources
- Gestes, T. ‘Is Your Pup Too Cold?’, Archview Labradoodles (2019)
- Kelsey, S. ‘Winter Care of Your Labradoodle’, Agape Labradoodles (2017)
- Gelaude, L. ‘Labradoodles and Winter Weather’, Copper Canyon Labradoodles (2016)
- Coopshaw, K. ‘Australian Labradoodle Breed Standard’, Worldwide Australian Labradoodle Association (2021)
- Donlin, J. ‘Cold Weather Animal Safety’, The American Veterinary Medical Association (2021)
- Laflame, D. P. ‘Tufts Animal Care and Condition’, Tufts University Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine (1993)
- Ali, M. (et al), ‘Genetic Analysis of the Modern Australian Labradoodle Dog Breed Reveals an Excess of the Poodle Genome’, PLOS Genetics (2020)