Miriam and her husband are proud dog parents to a sweet Chiweenie, and they've learned a lot about how to keep him warm in winter.
California Winters and Backyard Chiweenies
Living in Southern California is not always about sunshine and great weather; we get our share of cold weather. Between the heat waves and chilly weather, it can be a challenge keeping our Chiweenie comfortable.
We got through summer with its 106˚F heat waves, and now we are suddenly faced with low temperatures that we are not accustomed to. The drastic change in temperature is uncomfortable, and your backyard Chiweenie will need your help to keep warm in the cooler months ahead.
Sensitive to the Cold
Shadow is our 11-year-old male Chiweenie. He has always lived outside in the backyard, but I often worry about him during the cold weather. Since Chihuahuas get cold easily, it makes sense that your Chiweenie will also be sensitive to the cold.
During the day, the temperature is pleasant enough: about 75˚F. But by the middle of the night, the temperature drops down to about 40˚F, and I know Shadow is probably shivering or burrowed in a hole in the backyard.
You would think he would sleep in the garage in the little bed I bought him, but the garage gets colder than it does outside!
Is Your Chiweenie Cold?
Chiweenie experts and owners agree: If you are cold, so is your Chiweenie. You can use this as a guide if you are female, but men tend to be warmer than us, so this "rule" may not work in your dog's favor if that is the case.
For instance, when I think Shadow is cold, I tell Jerry (my husband). He always says, "It's not hot, it feels good. It's cool." But I know better. I always have a hooded sweatshirt on when I go outside to see Shadow, and if I am still cold, then Shadow needs his sweater.
Temperature Gauge: Ear Folding
So, how do I know that Shadow is cold? If he is not shivering, I check his ears, and if they are cold, so is Shadow.
Shadow likes to fold his ears so the cold air does not get in them. He closes them by folding them over like an envelope; it reminds me of "origami". For all I know, all Chiweenie’s fold their ears like this! All I know is that when he starts folding his ears like this, he is cold.
Please Remember: Older dogs, disabled dogs, puppies, dogs with short fur, and specific breeds (Chihuahua, Dachshund, Greyhound, and so forth) have a tougher time retaining warmth than other dogs.
Please read the following tips so you can learn how to keep your Chiweenie warm this winter, yes, even in Southern California.
Keep Chiweenie Indoors for Longer Lifespan
Outdoor Chiweenies Have a Shorter Lifespan
Veterinarians and dog experts all agree: Dogs that live outdoors do not live as long as dogs that live indoors. This is because they must brave the elements of cold, wind, sun, and so forth. Plus, there are predators to worry about in mountainous areas, unforeseen dangers in the yard (thorns, holes in the yard) and who knows what else. Backyard living is not as easy as it seems.
Shadow Was Raised as a Backyard Dog
Although Shadow was raised an outdoor dog all his life (11 years), a few days ago I started bringing him indoors so he could sleep inside and avoid the icy-cold temperature he has been struggling with.
Here in Southern California, it is only fall, yet the air at night feels unusually cold and crisp. To me, it feels like mountain air. The newsman may say it is 60˚F, but to me, it feels more like 40!
My husband made a gate yesterday that blocks the kitchen off from the rest of the house. So, last night was his first time sleeping inside. He was an angel. He did not bark or make a mess.
After I picked up my daughter from work, we went out to the backyard and called Shadow. He came trotting up from out in the yard somewhere, shivering really hard!
Shadow Now Sleeps Indoors at Night
I felt bad seeing him shake hard like that, so I brought his old bed that usually sits on the mat next to the back door. I placed his bed under the table, near my chair by my computer; this is where I usually sit.
Right after I let him in the house, he started wagging his tail, and then he found his bed, curled up in a ball, and went right to sleep. He is so cute.
My Best Advice for Keeping Chiweenies Warm
If you can, bring your Chiweenie in the house when it is too cold for him/her. But if you are unable to bring him/her inside, then be sure to find warm bedding to help your pet stay warm through the cold winter nights.
Please do not leave your dog outside for the night if he/she is shivering. Bring your Chiweenie inside for a little while. Let him/her warm up, and then put a sweater and some little boots on him/her before putting him/her outside again.
More Ideas for Warmer Winters
You can use old clothes, towels, and blankets to make your Chiweenie's bed softer and warmer. Plus, Chiweenies like to burrow in piles of bedding. Here are some tips you may want to try.
- Warm bedding made from old clothes is ideal; plus, your pet will love them because your scent is on them. Please remember: Wash bedding once a week to keep it clean and fresh.
- Buy or make a jacket for your dog. Use dog clothes such as sweaters, boots, coats, and hoodies unless your dog refuses to wear them or keeps taking them off . . .
- Be sure that your dog always has clean, unfrozen water available. Heated bowls can be purchased for outside dogs that live in snowy regions.
- Bathe your dog indoors during cold weather! If you can't bathe your Chiweenie inside, then maybe you should wait for a warm day. Do not bathe your pet outside in cold weather; it is just mean.
- No haircuts in the winter. Your dog needs all the fur he can get during these cold months. Long fur helps insulate your pet by holding the heat in and works the same as wearing a sweater or jacket.
Tips for Selecting Your Dog's Sweater
If you have never shopped for a dog sweater, you may need help selecting one that fits properly. Before you purchase or make your dog a sweater, you should take the following measurements using a cloth measuring tape; and then bring this info with you:
- The dog's width: Measure the widest area, usually around the rib cage.
- His/her length: Do this by measuring from the back of your dog's neck to the end of his back/rear end.
- Neck measurement: Start the neck measurement at the base of your dog's neck, then wrap it around lightly to where the tape meets.
- Weight: Normal weight for Chiweenies is between 8–20 pounds (lbs.) depending on the type you have (some only reach 10 lbs., while others can reach about 20 and not be fat).
Remember: Chiweenies and Dachshunds have longer bodies than other dogs. If you get a standard dog sweater, it may fit poorly and be uncomfortable.
Shadow's Ill-Fitting Sweater
Please Take This Chiweenie Poll
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.
© 2014 Miriam Parker
Please Post Your Comments Below
Michele on November 11, 2019:
Reading this made me so sad for your Chiweenie.
Ramona Meischner on October 13, 2019:
Comment is this if you have to leave your pet outside and not make it a family member you do not deserve it. Those fur babies need love companionship and affection! They are not to be left outside like a piece of lawn furniture. For those of you that said that you leave here chiweenies and Chihuahuas outdoors in the cold weather they should be taken away from you. I have four dogs and two cats and I'll live inside plus a Chiweenie long haired chihuahua chihuahua terrier mix and a chow chow shepherd. None of them live outside away from me if they have to be outside they would not be here. I didn't put my kids outside to raise them! These comments are absolutely ludicrous
Dahian Santiago on February 20, 2019:
If it were true that small dogs that chiweenies can't be left outside my chihuahua wouldn't have have lived 18 years