In the past I have mentioned how Border Terriers in hot weather really do not cope that well at all. Well, at least my Indy doesn’t – he gets like lethargic and almost lifeless.
Today, based on my experience with Indy, I would like to tell how Border Terriers cope in cold weather.
Why talk about Border Terriers in cold weather
I don’t know about you, but whenever searching for information about if and how Border Terriers cope in cold weather, I never come across anything much, other than the all important forums, where Border owners exchange their experience.
As there is so much information about Border Terriers in hot weather, but nothing much regarding their behaviour during the cold spells, I thought of sharing my experience with Indy so far.
The long and short of it is that Indy copes with cold weather much better than in the hotter months of the year. But, that doesn’t necessarily mean that he doesn’t feel the cold. Because Indy does feel the cold now as much as when he was younger!
Border Terriers and blankets
Like all Border Terriers, my Indy is extremely partial to blankets, duvet, bed spreads and anything remotely cuddling and warm. Even in the warmer months, Indy will prefer to sleep on a pile of old blankets rather than on a tidy pillow.
Remember that with blankets or old bedspreads, Borders can ‘rearrange their bedding’ as we like to call it – or rather, they can start digging in their pile of blankets imitating their hunting technique as if they were digging for vermin or foxes in the open. They need blankets to fulfill their natural instinct.
However, in the colder months Indy likes to have far more blankets than in the hot weather. And that’s no surprise, no big deal, you’ll tell me – if we humans feel colder, why shouldn’t a small dog like a Border? (and apologies to my beloved Borders, who I am sure would not appreciate at all to be addressed to as ‘small’ #lol)
Yet, that doesn’t mean that Borders do not like the cold weather.
Borders embrace the colder weather
Borders, especially when young, embrace the challenges posed by colder months. If a spell of snow may catch us cursing the bad weather in the morning when our car is stuck in the drive, Borders are not fazed off by biting temperatures or snowy conditions.
I remember when Indy was younger, he enjoyed running and frolicking in the snow with my son (also young at the time). And I remember as if it was yesterday when we used to have invigorating walks in the woods again after a spell of snow.
Now age 13, Indy hasn’t shown a great deal of enthusiasm about rolling himself in the snow – even because it hasn’t snowed as such in the part of UK I live for the last few winters. But Indy still finds energetic to have walks in colder weather. His pace gets brisker, but does not put him off from his regular walks or from exploring new routes.
Still, when the cold becomes pungent, or if it does rain, Indy will ‘tell’ me he is not interested in big walks, as he will keep wanting to U turn on the way back home. And this happens particularly if I try to give him his walk when dusk is drawing in and the air gets more pungent.
Borders and jumpers
This is more subjective to the favours of the individual dog than to the whole breed of Borders. Based on my Indy’s preferences, I would say that Borders are actually not that keen on been dressed up.
When cold, indoors Indy will like to be wrapped up in blankets and duvets, but outside he finds coats or jumpers restrictive of his movements. In the course of the years, I have tried getting Indy different types of coats and different sizes of jumpers for Indy. And admittedly at times he has humored me – but you could read his looks of indignancy that he had to put up with such humiliation, that in the end he would win that battle.
Nevertheless, I often see on social media the most endearing pictures of Borders wearing knitted jumpers or really cool coats, which turn them into proper canine country gentlemen – a lot of them remind me of a canine Sherlock Holmes, bar the lack of pipe and renowned hat.
If you are one of those very good Border handler, who can manage to put lovely jumpers or even boots on their dogs and to get them to sit long enough to be able to take their picture, by all means leave your comment below and post a picture of your lovely Border or of any other dog. It would be absolutely grand to be able to share winter pictures of our beloved fur babies 🙂
Our Indy will only agree to wear his favourite yellow coat when the weather gets really bitter. And the reason, I think, is yes, because coats or other garments of wear get in his way of being busy when walking, or just in case he may have to break to the chase of potential squirrels or cats. But it is more than that. I think for my Indy, and for some Borders, clothes are not needed as Borders are … well, they are Borders – they were born and bred, and live, by their creed and mission: the one of being sturdy small dogs, prepared to take on the whole world on and to get on with their job of reminding the neighbouring dogs, cats and any other animals that they and they only rule.
In a way, it is easier to spot when your Border is truly cold when they start getting older. When younger, they are far too brave and stoic, and as such they will just get on with the job in hand rather than showing any sign of shivering or curling.
However, do remember, when a dog starts feeling the cold, it is not good for his/her health, as it can set up arthritis, and more generally it slows down blood circulation, which in turn can lead to hypothermia – exactly like in humans.
Borders will tell you if they are cold
Borders have a very high degree of intelligence and perception of human mannerisms and facial expressions. Yet, they may not always understand why they are denied a longer walk altogether.
Borders can feel when it’s too cold outside for them to enjoy their walk. All you have to do is allow them to test the weather – let them out in the garden, and if they are reluctant to go out or to stay out for a prolonged period of time, that will tell you that really it is too cold for them.
⇒ ⇒ Be careful, however, as Borders can use their intelligence to craftily let you believe they’d rather stay indoors due to …laziness ⇐ ⇐
When too cold outside, let’s play indoors
Borders are highly energetic dogs, with their long skinny and all muscle legs. Especially when young (but my Indy still does it when not exercised enough), if you don’t give your Border enough exercise, they are not going to be tired during the night and they will pace … and pace … and pace again. A few weeks ago, we took Indy to our vet, concerned that for the past two nights Indy had been pacing extremely restlessly. By the second morning, after being sleep deprived for two whole nights, our brains had switched to anxiety mode to such an extent that, after googling the possible causes, we had persuaded ourselves that Indy might have a brain tumour.
The vet found no neurological sign, nor any sign for any other possible cause. But, after walking Indy to the vet and giving him another long walk afterwards, much to our surprise that night he slept like a pup.
So, that energy has to be burnt even if we can’t take our Borders out when excessively cold.
The secret is to keep our Borders occupied with games and with play time. For Indy, the ultimate fun is trying to catch us whilst we hold an old sock full of treats. Likewise, playing tug of war with the same sock full of treats is equally entertaining and energy consuming.
Ideally, we want replicate the same set up a Border would engage in the wild, that is hunting for a prey. If you can manage to hide your Border’s favourite toy under a pile of old cushions, so that your Border has to sniff and dig it out, that will equally be fun but also engage your Border’s brain and keep his/her instinct awake.
I am not prepared to say here that below a specific temperature your Border Terrier will be cold, and above the same temperature your Border will be alright. That would be silly of me, as ultimately I believe that, like us humans, each Border has his/her own sensitivity to the colder weather.
But yes, with age your Border will feel the cold more easily. And likewise, it mustn’t be forgotten that, if you strip your Border regularly as we do with our Indy, (s)he will be colder with the shorter fur. It might be worth, in the winter months, reduce the frequency of the stripping, so that their natural coat can protect your Borders from the lower temperatures.
Colder months do not have to be punishing for Borders nor for their owners. Even if the days get shorter, and your Border may be more inclined to want to go to bed earlier due to the natural instinctual clock associated with daylight, you can still have plenty of fun with your Borders.
And remember, winter months bring physical closeness – nothing beats a good old cuddle with your Border to ensure both you and your dog keep warm. Warmer bodies, warmer hearth!
As ever, Amazon has so much canine apparel in store to offer protection against the cold – should your Borders ‘decide’ that it is to their favour, of course! Here’s a few ideas: