This is definitely one of the questions you should ask yourself when you are thinking of which dog breed would be the best for you in your current life situation. There are dogs that do not have any fur and then there are those that have profuse double coats, like the German Spitz. The coat of the German Spitz looks magnificent and gives them their specific look, but does it restrict in any way in which parts of the world they should live?
In case this is the first time you are reading my blog let me tell you first that I live in Finland, in northern Europe. That is, in a cold climate. For me, it was essential that my dog could handle the sometimes rough winter months. The problem is not only the cold but also the wet, dirty, and snowy weather that we so commonly have.
In short, the German Spitz can tolerate both cold and hot weather, but the answer isn’t so simple. So, let’s delve into this topic a bit more and look at how German Spitzes can handle different weathers.
German Spitz and Winter
With the profuse double coat, the German Spitz can handle the cold pretty well. The plentiful undercoat makes the coat work well against not only the cold but the wind as well. They are lively and energetic dogs and oftentimes they don’t even have time to notice the cold!
However, the smaller the dog is the more easily he/she gets cold in the winter. The German Spitz is a small dog (even the medium-sized Mittel) and you may notice them starting to lift their paws during the coldest of days. That is a clear sign that it is too cold for them and you should take them back inside the house.
Other signs may be shivering and unwillingness to move, but because German Spitzes are so energetic you may not notice anything other than them beginning to lift their paws all of a sudden, maybe even limp in the worst case. These little fluffballs want to keep going as long as they possibly can.
But what can we do to keep the dogs from getting too cold? We can put clothes on them! Now, I don’t like people dressing up their dogs for no reason. To me dogs are dogs and to be living their lives to the fullest they need to be what they are and not become the owner’s toys. However, there are situations where dog clothes are actually necessary for the man’s best friend. Cold weather is one of them.
There are plenty of options in stores these days and the dog clothing industry has become huge. You need to know which clothes are useful and which ones are nothing more than decorations. Always go for the useful ones instead of those that merely look cute. There’s a clear purpose as to why we want to clothe our dogs: to protect them from something.
While looking for a winter jacket make sure it protects the dog from the cold but from the chilly wind as well. Think of the situations where you might want to make your dog wear a jacket: is it to keep their muscles warm after a session in agility? Is it when you go hiking in really cold winter days? Or is it when you must take him out while it is raining heavily and you want to keep him from getting all wet?
I have a different jacket for all of those situations mentioned above. The double coat of the German Spitz protects them fairly well from the rain. You can witness this for yourself while bathing them; you will notice how hard it is to get their fur wet in the first place! When there is heavy rain, however, I do like to put a raincoat on them just to make my life easier. It protects them from mud and dirt, too.
German Spitz and the Summer Months
If the German Spitz can handle the wintertime fairly well, shouldn’t you assume that the double coat is extremely uncomfortable in the hot summer days? Yes, it can be, but this varies between individuals. Some of them can handle the heat fairly well while for others even mild temperatures are too much.
The color of the German Spitz is a factor, too. The darker colors absorb the sunlight which a risk factor for overheating. I have personally seen this with my two Mittels: the lighter colored one did just fine during the summer while with the darker one I had to make sure he didn’t spend too much time in the sun.
There are people who shave their German Spitz for the summer months and then there are those for whom this is an absolute no-no. In Finland at least this seems to be an ongoing debate each year. Can you shave the double-coated German Spitz or will it ruin their coat forever? I have no personal experience since I haven’t shaved any of my dogs. However, having observed close by those who have I can say that there is no harm done if you shave them. The coat will grow back in a few months, just in time for the winter. If you wish to take your German Spitz to a dog show then of course this is not an option for you.
The double coat can actually protect the dog from overheating as surprising as it may sound, so it is not as uncomfortable for the dog as you might first expect. The outer coat acts as an insulator and hopefully, the dog will shed most of the inner coat at the beginning of the summer. This of course is not always the case, but in fact, most of them will shed at the most peculiar times, like in the middle of the winter. Make sure to brush regularly so any of the dead hairs will be removed to make it easier for the skin to breathe.
One of my Instagram followers lives with their German Spitz in Australia where they get extreme heatwaves in the summer months. The German Spitz actually seems to be a popular breed down under. I often wonder how they can handle it. I guess it helps to stay inside during the day and only go for walks early on or late in the evening.
It does get hot in Finland too, believe it or not, and I can tell you that my gray Mittel is suffering at those times. We can’t go for long walks and when we do go out we must avoid walking on asphalt. If you want to read our personal story about heatstroke, you can do it here: German Spitz and Heat Stroke: All You Need to Know
Swimming would be a great option but he is not into swimming really. Some of the German Spitzes, however, are good swimmers.
There are other ways to cool a dog down during heat waves besides swimming. There are special cooling vests that to my knowledge work well. Then there are more inexpensive ways such as putting a wet towel on the dog’s back. My Mittel loves this. It really helps when it is uncomfortably hot. I have even tried it on myself. Then you can always take your dogs to a shower and wet the stomach area especially. However, these measures merely help dogs to stand the heat. They do not offer physical exercise the way swimming does.
I have written an article about swimming and you can go read it by clicking this link: Can/Will a German Spitz Swim? The link will open in a new window.
The German Spitz is a breed that can easily handle both hot and cold weather. However, their thick double coats give them an advantage in cold climates. In Finland, it is rarely too cold for them. They always want to go for long walks in the wintertime basically no matter what the weather is like. Around 5F I would probably put a winter coat on them just to be sure, even though their muscles do keep warm while moving.
However, warmer weather does limit the amount of walking we can do and I must always pay attention to the warning signs of overheating. My personal opinion is that the German Spitz would rather choose cold than hot if they could decide for themselves.
Overall the German Spitz adapts very well to your way of living wherever that maybe, but this, too, is something you might want to think over before getting a German Spitz for yourself. I wouldn’t choose the German Spitz as my breed if I lived in a place where it was hot all year around. Anywhere else, however, the little fluffballs can live just fine.
As long as you are there to love them and to give them what they need, the German Spitzes will be happy as well. They will be happy to shovel snow with you. They will be happy to be at the beach with you. And by the end of the day, they will be happy to snuggle up against you.