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The Best Dogs To Keep Outdoors

Sometimes we just can’t keep a large dog or dogs indoors. When this situation happens, you need to know which breeds are the best dogs to keep outdoors.

The best dogs to keep outdoors can be determined by 3 factors: Size of Dog, Climate and Dog Temperament. Dogs are pack animals and therefore, should not be left alone. When outside, dogs should have a companion, such as a second dog or a person.

We’ll dive a little deeper into each of these factors and thoughts. Let’s take a look and give me a comment if you like the article. I spent a long time researching this so I hope it’s useful to you. Read onward, my pooch-loving friend…

Dog Size And Why It Matters

Size may not seem like that big a deal until your pooch is getting eaten by a coyote. Now, this is an extreme case but it can happen. This truly depends on your area and what wildlife is in the area. Most of North America, for example, have predators which in most areas are able to kill a small dog. For example, in Southern Ontario, we have coyotes that have been known to take a small dog for a meal. This, of course, is typically due to foolish owners who let out their small breed without supervision.

Small Breeds – Not The Best Dog Breeds To Keep Outdoors?

Small breeds like Chihuahuas and Yorkshire Terriers are good examples of breeds you don’t want to leave out on their own. I think the reason is clear why we should focus on only keeping breeds outside that are larger than native predators. This, in my opinion, is common sense.

Retaining Heat

With regards to size, there’s more than just self-defense to keep in mind. The second reason why we should consider a dog breeds size is that size is relative to the dog’s ability to retain heat. An animal’s ability to retain body heat is related to the body’s surface area versus its mass. The larger the surface area, the larger the area where one can lose heat. Likewise, the smaller the surface area, the smaller the amount of space available to lose body heat.

The ratio of mass versus surface area for a smaller dog means they will lose body heat much faster than a larger dog. With this also in mind, it is again relevant to consider the dog breed size when considering whether or not the dog is suited for the outdoors. This is especially true if in a cooler climate. Let’s use that segue and jump into climate, shall we?

Climate And Breed Considerations

The ultimate factor regarding how the outdoors and our pooch react to one another is to take a look at the climate where you live. This is a determining factor when considering the best dog breeds to keep outdoors. Some breeds of dogs are better suited for cooler climates and some not so much. Take a Husky for example, or should I say, Siberian Husky? Husky’s were bred with cold weather and relentless work in freezing conditions in mind. A Husky is well suited to cold weather. Put one outside in Florida, and your dog could suffer some very serious heatstroke. Heatstroke can be deadly as I’m sure you likely know. Ask yourself about the temperature, both during the day and at night, if it will be suitable for your dog’s comfort.

Rain, Snow, and Humidity

We also want to consider the humidity and precipitation. Having a waterproof dog house is always a good addition to help things out. But, the temperature is our foremost important factor and thus that is what we will focus on here. So how do you know what temperature the dog can take? Well, I use two basic methods when determining this. First and most obvious is some quick research on the particular breed, particularly the origins of the breed in terms of geographical region where the breed originated. Second, I look at the breed’s coat. If a breed has a thick, lush coat, it is likely better suited for cooler temperatures than breeds with a thin coat. Remember though, you can always install a dog house heater onto your dog house to help keep your pooch warm and cozy.

Lastly, I also like to consider what purpose the breed was intended to fulfill. Breeds are often tougher that were intended as working dogs and thus working breeds of dogs are slightly better suited to handle tougher conditions such as temperature variations.

Dog Temperament

The best dog breeds to keep outdoors are those breeds which have personalities that have independent qualities. The pack leaders, if you will. It is good to have confidence as well. This way the dog has less of a chance of getting ill effects from being away from their human family. When considering to keep your dog outside, it is best to understand the history of dogs. It is also good to consider how they came to be the way they are today. Dogs originated from wolves. Sure your Yorkie doesn’t look like a wolf, but the genetics are there keeping the dog ‘programmed’.

Genetic Programming

A major part of this programming is the pack mentality. Wolves have been so successful by staying in groups called packs, as you likely know already. Wolves have lived in packs for millennia. This is one of the aspects of dogs that makes them so great as pets – they love their pack. This drives the dog’s sense of loyalty and companionship. So if we take a dog and dump it outside, we want to make sure that it has some company. Whether you are going to spend a lot of time outside with the dog, or you have multiple dogs, it is best that the dog has company.

Intelligence And The Best Dogs To Keep Outdoors

Dogs are highly intelligent animals, they get bored and they also get lonely. Keeping a dog alone outside will most definitely cause behavioral and psychological issues for the dog. Some believe that it is cruel to leave a dog outside alone due to their need to be in a pack. This is why we consider strongly when determining the best dogs to keep outdoors, the dog’s independence.

With my dog, I only keep the dog out in the yard when I am out with it. She is a Yorkie and I live in Southern Ontario. We have both red-tailed hawks and coyotes here. Both of which would love to make a meal out of my little pooch. That’s why I won’t leave her alone outside. That and my dog follows me around without exception so it would definitely be detrimental to the dog’s psychological state. If I had a large or even a medium dog, I would not keep it outside permanently. I would likely do the same as I do now, that keeps my dog with me.

Outdoor Dog Case Study

I do have friends who have large dogs that are kept outside. My friends who do this have 3 large breed dogs so they have company and are never alone. This is the ideal scenario when looking for the best dog to keep outside all the time. They have a higher chance of survival should any local indigenous predator come by and think the dog would make a nice meal.

If you have large dogs that just aren’t suited for indoors, then you can keep them outside. As long as the dog house they have can keep them warm and dry, and that they have companionship. This way, they feel like they have the security of a pack. Most large breeds of dogs can do well outside, as long as these prerequisites are met


Dog breeds that are hardy, confident and independent are the best dogs to keep outdoors. It is best practice to make sure that the dog you keep outside is larger than predators where you live. This is so you don’t find your dog has become a meal for something. Keeping a dog with a companion may help to prevent behavioral issues. Take climate and the dog’s coat into consideration as well so you don’t freeze or overheat your pooch. A chart of popular species that are better suited for the outdoors can be found below.

Thanks to Andre for the great Picture! Want to know more about the outdoors and your dog? How about plants that don’t mix well with dogs. About the author – information can be found here.

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