If you own a pointer, you may be wondering if it’s possible to keep them outside in the cold. They are a very active breed and some owners prefer their active dogs to stay outside for various reasons.
Pointers can stay outside in the cold if they are protected from the wind and snow. Their short hair and minimal body fat make them more susceptible to cold than other breeds. They require good kennels and plenty of food and water if left outside.
Knowing whether a pointer is able to stay outside can change a lot of how you live your life. This is more than just a yes or no question, though. It’s important not only to know why they can stay outside but how can you accomplish it while keeping your dog safe.
Pointers in the Cold
When it comes to pointers– English, German shorthaired, and wirehaired alike– they aren’t built for extreme cold. Pointers have short, thin hair covering their bodies which is really good for the summer and not stellar for the winter.
Pointers do best in mild weather when it comes to living outside. This breed thrives best inside interacting with the family. This is not always a feasible option if your pointer doesn’t get the exercise required to diminish their destructive energy.
A well exercised and calm pointer is a wonderful family companion. They are gentle and love to be around people. They are happiest when they get to sleep inside and love life right by your side.
Again, this may not be an option for your family. A pointer is very capable of living outdoors happily with the right facilities and attention.
If you live in a place that has extreme temperatures throughout the year, you will want to take extra precautions to keep your pointer safe and healthy.
This is especially true in colder climates. Pointers can better with the heat because of their short hair than they do in the cold for the same reason, as well as minimal body fat.
Snow and Wind Factors
Living outside in the cold is one thing, but adding snow and freezing wind will change the game. Pointers are pretty good outside in temperatures above 45 degrees Fahrenheit. Anything below that and you should either bring your dog inside or prepare their kennel outside to be warm and dry.
If you want your pointer to live outside fulltime, you need to make sure they have a shelter that blocks the wind and is waterproof.
When going outside with your Pointer in general, it’s important to take two important factors into account.
- the dog’s age
- the dog’s health
A pointer puppy is short; they have tiny little legs. It’s just a natural fact when it comes to puppies. When they walk in the snow, their bellies can more easily drag across the freezing surface or they could even be buried up to their shoulders in it.
This makes puppies significantly more susceptible to hypothermia and the negative effects of cold weather. Young but fully grown pointers fare better in the snow because they typically pair their taller builds with oodles of energy that keeps the blood flowing.
It’s always important to be careful in the snow in general with your pointers no matter the age. Try to keep your puppies warm and dry as much as possible due to their higher risk.
A dog’s health can also be a factor in whether or not they can deal with cold weather. A lot of troubles that manifest themselves in pointers, other than minor injuries, usually show up as the dog gets older.
The poor health of an older pointer can definitely put them at a higher risk when in the cold.
It is encouraged that you keep puppies and older pointers inside when the weather is cold and snowy.
It is also suggested that you put a sweater or jacket on your pointer if they aren’t faring well in the cold. Dog sweaters, categorized by the size of the breed, can be found in local pet shops, certain brick and mortar retail stores, and on Amazon.
Another reason you wouldn’t want to keep a puppy outside is that they are not typically trustworthy at this stage in their lives. You don’t want them wandering around, getting cold, and whining at your door all night long.
Things to Consider
Puppies should always be kept indoors to make sure they’re secure in a kennel, warm, and safe.
Young, healthy pointers that are full grown can make it in the backyard during colder months with the proper tools. They need a warm kennel, plenty of water that isn’t in danger of freezing, and plenty of food.
For these kennels, you will want to make sure that your pointer ALWAYS has plenty of water. Don’t leave the water exposed outside the kennel in case it freezes. Dog’s typically don’t like to drink water when it’s too cold and having cold water can just make that worse.
Just like in the hot summer months, pointers need a lot of water when it’s cold outside. Some owners have found that a good way to go about that is to add some warm water to your dog’s food to warm them up while getting them the water they need.
You should always check on your dog often when they’re sleeping outside to make sure they’re okay and their sleeping quarters are warm, dry, and comfortable for cold nights.
It’s important that you never ignore your dog when you move them outside. Just like when they live in your house, pointers require a lot of mental stimulation, socialization, and exercise.
Keeping them cooped up in the backyard with their only interaction being when you bring them food and water can cause them to become destructive. You may find your pointer digging up your yard or barking at everything that passes by your house.
Pointers need interaction with their family even if they live outside. They also need to be taken out, played with, and exercised for multiple hours a day. The winter will never be something that stops this process and instinct in your pointer. They will have buckets of energy no matter the weather outside.
Winter-Proofing the Outside Kennel
An outside kennel for your pointer needs to be a place of sanctuary in any weather. In the summer, it needs to be shaded and cool so your dog doesn’t overheat. In the winter, it needs to be well insulated to keep the cold air out.
The first step is always going to be to invest in a good shell for your kennel. A good one will have at least 3 walls (the fourth one with a doorway), a sturdy roof, and be grounded enough to not blow over, blow away, or collapse in the wind and snow.
TIP: Some owners suggest keeping the kennel, or dog house, in the garage or under a covered patio for maximum warmth and protection.
Insulation is key in cold weather kennels! Make sure wind and water can’t penetrate the walls and roof. Many pointer owners cover the floor’s of their dog’s kennel with enough hay to keep them comfortable and warm. Hay is a great choice because it typically stays warm and can help trap your dog’s body heat.
Make sure the door to your dog’s kennel is facing a way that is always protected from the full force of the wind. This can go a long way to keeping your dog cozy all night long.
Hunting in the Cold
Some pointer owners worry about how much cold their dog can take when they go hunting. Pointers, German Shorthaired Pointers specifically, can do pretty well in the cold because they’re constantly moving and have a lot of energy.
You do want to be careful and check your dog often. Hunting in snow can soak into them and cause issues with hypothermia if it goes unchecked. Make sure you dry off and warm up your pointer often to keep them safe.
Make sure they drink plenty of water and don’t overextend themselves. Hypothermia can hit quicker than you’d expect, especially out in the hunting field.
Some hunters also recommend booties in the winter to keep your pointer’s feet protected. Booties can be helpful for dogs that have injuries or cuts on their feet. Booties can protect them from further injuries and infection.
If you have a German shorthaired pointer and want them to retrieve in water during the winter, make sure to dry them off quickly afterward to make sure their temperature goes back up.
It is also suggested that you buy a chest protector for any pointer swimming and retrieving to make sure they are safe from unseen objects pointing out of the water.
It’s important to keep your pointer dry and warm no matter the situation. They are creatures that will always prefer to live inside your home with you (sometimes even on your bed cuddled up), but it is possible for you to have them outside in the cold if they have any and all means to keep warm and safe.