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Living in north Florida, we experience both the extreme heat of the summer and pretty cold temperatures in the winter. Soon after getting Molly, I started to worry about those extremes and wondered what the ideal temperature is for Labradors?
The ideal temperature for a Labrador is between 50° and 80°F (10° to 26°C). Labradors can tolerate higher and lower temperatures, but only for a brief time. Overly hot or cold conditions will make Labradors uncomfortable and may be dangerous to their health.
It’s essential to understand the risks of extended exposure to both overly hot and cold weather. You should be aware of the signs of danger to know what to look out for and how to respond for both older Labradors and Labrador puppies.
Are Labrador Retrievers Good in Cold Weather?
A Labrador Retriever’s double coat is well-suited to chilly temperatures, but extended exposure to temperatures below 20°F (-7°C) puts your Lab at danger of frostbite and hypothermia.
Labradors love playing in the snow and will have no trouble with weather where you need a sweater or even a winter coat. But when the temperature dips below 20°F (-7°C), your Labrador should only stay out for a limited amount of time.
A walk outside during a cold snap should be fine but get indoors as soon as you notice your Lab begin to shiver or raise its paws off the icy ground.
Frostbite in Labrador Retrievers
Labrador Retrievers have a double coat against the elements, but their ears, paws, and tail are vulnerable to cold and can become frostbitten in extreme weather conditions.
VCA Hospitals lists these symptoms of frostbite:
- Pale, gray, or bluish discoloration of the frostbitten area
- Swelling, blistering, or ulceration
- Blackened or dead skin
- Dog flinches or whines when you touch the affected area
As your dog warms up, you may notice swelling in frostbitten areas. These areas will be very painful, and you should get your Lab to a veterinarian as soon as possible. While most mild cases of frostbite heal with no lasting injuries, bad frostbite can lead to permanent scarring, nerve damage, or even amputation.
Hypothermia in Labrador Retrievers
Your Lab’s normal body temperature ranges between 101°F (38.33°C) and 102.5°F (39.16°C). Any temperature reading below 100°F (37.77°C) indicates canine hypothermia. If your Labrador Retriever’s temperature is below 98°F (36.66°C), you should seek veterinary care immediately.
Should you notice your Lab acting disoriented or it begins shivering during your walk, it is time to get home immediately. If left out in the cold too long, your Labrador Retriever will become sluggish and ultimately unresponsive. Death or lasting injury can result from untreated hypothermia.
Labradors love rolling around in the snow or going for unscheduled swims in icy water. But if your Lab gets wet, they will be more susceptible to hypothermia. Labs don’t have heavy, water-resistant coats like Newfoundlands, nor can they tolerate arctic cold as well as Huskies. So it is best to avoid winter water time.
If your Labrador Retriever is suffering from hypothermia:
- Wrap the dog in warm blankets.
- If you use a heating pad or hot water bottle, wrap it in a towel or a blanket to avoid burning your Lab’s skin.
- Check the dog’s temperature every 10 minutes.
- When the temperature is above 100°F ( 37.8°C), remove the heating pad or bottle so your dog doesn’t overheat.
- Keep your Labrador Retriever warm and watch over them until they appear back to normal.
- If your dog continues to have problems, call a veterinarian.
Are Labrador Retrievers Good in Hot Weather?
While Labrador Retrievers can tolerate weather up to 90°F ( 32°C) if they have water and shade, they will be much happier indoors when the temperature rises above 80°F (26.66°C).
Labrador Retrievers, like all dogs, cool themselves through panting. But as the temperature rises, panting becomes less effective. Dogs must pant even harder on humid days. Humid hot days feel more uncomfortable for our dogs and us too.
Your Lab will need shade against the blistering sun and lots of water to drink. (Dogs lose moisture through panting as we do through sweating). If you have a child’s swimming pool or shallow trough, you can fill that and let your Lab soak to cool off.
My go-to products for keeping your dog cool:
PupFlask by Tuff Pupper (Amazon link): such a cool invention (no pun intended) :)
Gel cooling pad for dogs by Arf Pets (Amazon link)
Cooling Vest by SGODA: I need one of these in my size. This thing is awesome!
Should I Shave my Labrador Retriever in the Summer?
You should never shave your Labrador Retriever in the summer. Shaving your Lab’s undercoat removes their protection against UV rays and makes them more likely to overheat.
The long hairs in your Labrador Retriever’s coat hold in the air and act as an insulator. Air warmed by your Lab’s body keeps them warm in the winter. Air blowing through their hair cools them off in the summertime after they have lost their winter coat.
A shaved lab no longer has that cooling system and is more likely to suffer heatstroke. And because the undercoat no longer protects your Labrador Retriever’s skin from the sun, it is more prone to sunburn and later skin cancers. Many shaved labs suffer from patchy or coarse coats when their fur grows back, which is just as uncomfortable for them as it is for us to pet.
How Do I Know if My Labrador Retriever Has Heatstroke?
The most telling signs of heatstroke in Labrador Retrievers are:
- Excessive panting
- Red gums
If you notice these signs in your Lab, get them to cooler temperatures immediately. You can put a moist towel around your dog to help with cooling and provide access to cool water.
On days when the temperature rises above 90°F (32°C), keep your walks brief and bring a dog water bottle like the Tuff Pupper Water Flask (Amazon) to make sure you always have emergency hydration when your Labrador Retriever needs it. The flask is easy to use and made of eco-friendly materials.
Are Old Labradors More Sensitive to Temperature?
Labrador Retrievers become more sensitive to hot and cold weather as they grow older. Temperatures your Lab enjoyed as a young dog may be too much for them as a senior.
When they grow older, dogs become less able to regulate their body temperature. They are more prone to heatstroke in the summer and to hypothermia in the winter. And if your senior Lab develops arthritis (common among older labs), they will be incredibly achy and uncomfortable on cold days.
The less active senior lifestyle also means many older Labrador Retrievers are prone to gaining weight. An obese dog is at greater risk of heat stroke and cardiac problems. Keep your older Lab healthy by giving them a senior large breed formula like Eukanuba Senior Large Breed Dry Dog Food (Amazon) formulated to meet a big old dog’s nutritional needs.
Are Lab Puppies More Sensitive to Temperature?
Labrador Retriever puppies are more sensitive to temperature because their bodies are smaller than adult Labradors. You will need to keep a close eye on your Lab puppy when the temperature is below 50°F (10°C) and above 80°F (26°C).
Labrador puppies have boundless energy. They will play in the sun until they overheat if given a chance. Leaving your puppy in the yard during the day may be tempting (especially if you’re still working on housebreaking), but if it’s too warm, Lab puppies belong indoors.
While Labrador puppies love rolling around in the snow, they will start shivering while their parents are still happily plowing through drifts. You will need to watch your lab puppy closely and get them warm at the first signs of hypothermia.
While Labrador Retriever puppies will soon outgrow a smaller coat, it will get them through their first winter safe and warm. A coat like the Asenku Plaid Fleece Winter Dog Coat (Amazon) will help your puppy stay warm on winter walks. And a larger-size Asenku coat can also help a senior lab cope with chill and frost.
Labrador Retrievers can tolerate higher or lower temperatures for short periods but will do best in cool to moderately warm weather. Ensure your Lab has plenty of water when it is hot, and keep an eye out for shivering when the temperature drops.
While you can keep a Lab in a doghouse on a fenced property in a temperate climate, your Labrador Retriever will be much happier indoors with their family. The ideal temperature for a Labrador Retriever and the ideal environment is found in their owner’s house.