Can Golden Retrievers Be Outside Dogs? No, Do This Instead


Goldens are pretty resilient and strong dogs, despite what their goofy nature might make you think. They can actually handle the cold pretty well thanks to this majestic golden coat on them.

Unfortunately, some people take this as an Okay sign that they can leave their goldens outside, and this is just wrong. So, just to give you the short answer:

Can Golden Retrievers Be Outside Dogs? Yes, Goldens can physically be outside dogs but they definitely shouldn’t stay outside all the time and they shouldn’t sleep outside. Staying outside for long will lead your dog to stress, separation anxiety, and other behavioral problems.

The thing is that people don’t get goldens as working dogs or guard dogs, and they are pretty bad as guard dogs, so there is really no justification for leaving your golden retriever outside all the time.

To be honest, leaving dogs outside in general is pretty cruel. We should indeed treat dogs in a way that’s similar to how we treat kids, because they depend on us in very much all the same ways; for food, shelter, medicine, and love.

To understand a bit more about how goldens can stay outside, how long they can stay outside, and how you can make staying outside good, safe, and comfortable for them, keep on reading.

Why Golden Retrievers Shouldn’t Live Outside

Golden retriever on the grass to illustrate the ansdwer to can golden retrievers be outside dogs

Here are 7 reasons why golden retrievers can’t be outside dogs:

  1. If the temperature is too cold for them
  2. If the temperature is too hot for them
  3. Because it’s too windy
  4. Because it’s too humid or too dry
  5. Because they need companionship
  6. Staying Alone puts them in many dangers
  7. Because they can be fearful

Let’s discuss each of these reasons quickly:

It’s too cold

Even though golden retrievers are cold-weather dogs and their coats can provide protection against the cold weather, they are not immune to it.

Goldens can’t stay outside physically when the outside temperature is Less than 20 °F (-6 °C) but they can feel the cold when the temperature drops to just 45 °F (7°C) which means that even at this temperature some goldens can’t tolerate the weather, especially seniors and young puppies.

Puppies can also suffer a lot in the cold, and you can learn how puppies get sick in the cold here.

It’s too Hot

Golden Retrievers are not meant to live in the gold weather, and while they can adapt, their health, skin, and coat suffer when they live in hot weather.

Generally, goldens shouldn’t stay outside if the temperature is higher than 80 °F (26 C). Staying outside in the hot weather can cause them to get dehydrated, their skin to get dry, and their overall health to get worse.

If you live in a hot area, you can learn how to help your golden adapt to living in the hot weather here. There are 13 tips in this post that you will find pretty helpful as they come from my personal experience, so make sure to check the post out.

Because it’s too windy

Not only does the wind bring all kinds of allergens and cause all kinds of problems to allergic and sensitive goldens, but it also drops the temperature very quickly and makes the dog feel a lot colder than the temperature would indicate.

Too Humid or Too Dry

Goldens require somewhat of balanced weather conditions. Weather that’s too dry can cause their skin to become dry, and weather that’s too humid can leave them particularly vulnerable to parasites and other skin issues.

If you live in somewhere where it’s too humid, you can learn what to do with your golden in my post on can goldens live in Florida here.

They need companionship

Golden Retrievers don’t just like companionship, they need it for their physical and mental health.

They can’t live a normal life alone, and the same can be said for almost all dogs, by the way, but it’s very prevalent in golden retrievers and other family dogs such as labradors as well.

Leaving your golden retriever alone outside for hours will lead to anxiety, stress, and cause them to develop destructive and undesired behaviors such as excessive chewing and excessive barking.

Staying alone outside can be dangerous

The world outside is not a safe place for golden retrievers. Dog thieves know that golden retrievers are valuable and they target breeds like golden retrievers all the time.

If you live in a rural area, there is also the risk of Coyotes, and yes, coyotes can attack your golden retriever and they are actually quite dangerous on Golden Retrievers. You can learn more about the risks of Coyotes on your golden retriever here and how you can protect your dog.

They can be fearful

Goldens have a heart of gold, but they don’t have the most courageous one that’s for sure. Goldens can actually count on you for protection, and some goldens can be very fearful, and staying outside alone can be a frightening experience for them.

Now imagine a fearful dog staying outside when suddenly they hear thunder, fireworks, or even a car backfiring. They will freak out and even try to run away!

How long can you leave your golden retriever outside?

The most you can leave your golden retriever outside is for 10 hours if they have shelter from the weather, food, water, and are in good health and well-trained.

Young puppies and senior pooches should not be left alone for more than 2 to 4 hours whether outside or inside.

Unfortunately, it’s a fact of life that most of us, including myself, have to go to our day jobs every day, at least 5 days a week, so you should probably check my guide on leaving your golden retriever alone here, I think you will find it pretty useful.

Can Golden Retrievers live outside in the cold?

No, Golden Retrievers can’t and shouldn’t live outside in the cold. Golden Retrievers are adapt to the cold weather, but they are not as immune to it as other cold-weather breeds like Huskies and Alaskan Malamutes.

Golden Retrievers are indeed happier in cooler climates, but it gets too cold at night for them and they shouldn’t sleep outside.

Can Golden Retrievers live outside in the heat?

Golden Retrievers generally do well in warm climates but they shouldn’t live outside in the heat. If the temperature rise above 41 degrees Fahrenheit, your dog will be in the risk of dehydration and heat strokes.

How to Train Your Golden Retriever to stay Outside

It’s always a good idea to get your golden retriever trained on staying outside on their own, because there will be exceptions and rare instances where you need to leave them outside temporarily.

The concept behind training them to stay outside on their own is to train them to be calm by themselves when they are outside. Of course it’s best if they are socialized at a very young age and the younger you start this training process the better.

Training them at a young age helps the commands they are trained to stay with them for a lifetime and makes the training process easier.

There are a few ways to train your golden retriever on staying outside on their own, but I’ll give you an example that you can easily follow;

  1. Start by staying outside the house with them.
    • Stay with them outside calmly for 30 minutes with no activity. Just you and them outside relaxing.
  2. Leave them and go inside but leave something that smells like you with them.
    • The smell of you should calm them down.
    • If they stay calm, come back outside and praise them. You want to show them that every time you go away you will come back to them.
  3. Once they get a bit more used to it, take the item away and repeat
    • Now you want to take this away so they can stay outside anywhere without fear or needing your presence to calm them down.
    • If they stay calm, come back and praise them and even take them for a walk.

I have also found in my own experience that dogs that were crate-trained already have an easier time being trained to stay outside since they already have a good measure of self-control.

How to Make Staying Outside Comfortable for Golden Retrievers?

There are some basics to make staying outside comfortable for your dog, regardless of the weather, and then there are some special recommendations I would like to make in different cases such as when it’s hot, cold, windy, humid, etc.

Making sure your golden retriever is comfortable and safe while staying outside is a must if you are going to leave your dog outside for any period of time.

Essentials for Staying Outside in Any Weather

These are the basics your dog will need to stay outside:

  • Food
  • Fresh Water
  • Shelter
  • Something to engage with

Let’s discuss each of them quickly.

Food

Your dog should have enough food for the time they are staying outside. They shouldn’t get hungry while staying outside and they definitely shouldn’t miss a meal because of it.

Water

Your dog should have access to fresh water while staying outside.

The old-fashioned way to do this would be with a bowl but this way has a lot of issues; you (or someone) need to refill the bowl when the dog is done with it, things can get easily in the bowl like leaves and debris – making it unsanitary for the dog to drink the water, and the bowl could e knocked down easily – whether it’s by the dog or something else, which will leave the dog without water.

The modern way, and the way I do it all the time now, is to leave them with a water fountain. I use the PetSafe water fountain, which you can check on Amazon here.

Shelter

Your dog needs to be safe from the elements such as the sun, wind, rain, or dust. They need a place where it could provide shade, be warm (or cool), and be their safe haven while staying outside.

Unfortunately, dog houses don’t really dog a great job of that, and if you are going to to use a dog house as their shelter, then you will need to make some modifications according to the weather to make it effective.

If you are going to get a dog house I also highly recommend getting a raised dog house

Something to Engage them

Golden Retrievers are very active, social animals, and they have a lot of energy to expand through the day, which is why the need a good dose of daily exercise.

That’s why you need to leave your golden retriever something that they can engage with. This can be anything as an interactive toy or a chew toy or even a couple of robes to chew and pull on.

You can get my recommendations for toys for goldens here.

Now, let’s discuss something super important; how to weatherproof your dog house so it stays in a moderately cool temperature and keeps the dog protected from the cold or hot weather outside.

How to Weatherproof the dog house

You can insulate the dog house to weatherproof it with a few options. Here are a few different ways to insulate your dog’s house:

  1. Fiberglass – Affordable and easy to install
    • You can use a pair of heavy-duty scissors to cut it instead of a table saw
    • However, fiberglass can irritate the dog’s skin quite a bit, so you will need to wrap it in something else that is not irritating to the dog’s skin such as wood panels.
  2. Reflective Foil – Effective and easy to install
    • The reflective foil will help the dog’s body stay warm by reflecting their body heat back at them, ensuring less heat loss (which is how we get cold, by losing our body heat to the colder air around us)
    • They’re relatively easy to install, quite affordable, and super effective.
    • You can install the foil on the inside walls of the dog’s house and then cover them with a layer of fiberglass foam
    • You can check the reflective foil I use to insulate my dog’s house (very effective) on Amazon here.
  3. Special Bubble Wrap – Easy to install
    • Bubble wrap can also be a good option for insulating the dog house since it is effective and requires no special tools to install.
    • This is a special bubble wrap that is used in packaging, and you can get it on Amazon here.

I have found these three methods to be the most effective. I have tried other methods like wood and a carpet but I have found them much less effective. You can check the sources section down below for more ways to insulate your dog house.

Now, let’s talk about some special ways to make sure your dog stays comfortable in different weather conditions;

If it’s Warm/Hot Outside

If it’s too hot or warm outside, your dog needs protection from the heat and something to refresh them. Here are a few tips:

  • Cooldown their water in the fridge for a few hours before adding it to their bowl
  • Add ice to their water to cool it down
  • Give them shade and protection from the sunlight
Reminder
While dog houses can protect your dog from the sun, they can often be hotter on the inside than the weather outside and can cause the dog to dehydrate quickly.

This is why your dog needs shade and not just a dog house. Here is something I do when I leave my dogs outside, I put out the beach umbrella for them. It’s kind of perfect as it allows them to enjoy the weather while being protected from the sun as well.

If it’s Cold Outside

If it’s cool outside, but not too cold for them, you can still leave them outside given that they have the food and water they need. A dog house here can be useful in the day but can be pretty harmful in the night as things can get too cold inside the dog house as this vet showed in this video.

However, during the day, a well-built dog house can offer some protection and help them stay warm. Here is how:

Move the dog house to a sheltered location

Move the dog house to the wind-sheltered side of your house or inside the garage. Make sure it’s protected from the wind with a strategic placement.

Get a Raised dog house

The dog house needs to be kept off the cold ground and has not contact with it. You can do so by getting a raised dog house.

Raise the house

Alternatively, you can raise the dog house yourself by placing it on a thick pad of woodchips or something similar that can raise it by a few inches from the ground – just enough to it doesn’t touch it and doesn’t get cold from it.

Get them a heating pad

An electric heating pad can be very useful in keeping your dog warm when it’s cold outside. Make sure the pad you get is weather proof, disconnects automatically, and is easy to clean.

The one I’ve been using and really like recently is also large enough for my dog to lay on, and it’s quite affordable. You can check this heating pad on Amazon here. I also really like its long cord and that it has different heating levels.

If it’s Windy Outside

If it’s windy outside, you will need your dog to be protected from the wind. To do that, you need to place their house strategically where it will not be constantly exposed to the wind, and you may need to put some fences or sticks as windbreakers around the house.

If it’s Humid Outside

Humidity can be quite harmful to your golden retriever’s skin, and your golden retriever may need to get inside to get protected from the humidity and stay dry.

Alternatively, you can get them a small dehumidifier for their dog house, but keep in mind that the device may not work as well if the house itself is not well-insulated.

Here is the small dehumidifier that I put in my dog’s house when it’s particularly humid outside and they have to – or want to – stay in their dog house for a couple of house:

If It’s Dry Outside

Dry weather is worse for your dog’s skin than humid weather. Dry weather can cause the dog’s skin to get dry which can cause excessive shedding, dandruff, flaking, and other problems.

You need to make sure that your dog has a lot of fresh water in the dry weather, and you can also get them a humidifier for the dog house, but you need to get the setting just right so it doesn’t turn into an excessive humidity problem.

Conclusion

In conclusion, golden retrievers shouldn’t live outside. If you want a dog to keep outside, please don’t get a golden retriever and consider other breeds that will do better in the cold weather.

Goldens are incredible companions, and companions should not sleep outside the house. Treat your golden like you treat your children, because they both depend on you for their basic needs of food, water, shelter, and love.

Related Questions

Are Golden Retrievers indoor or outdoor dogs?

Golden Retrievers are indoor dogs and shouldn’t stay outside for more than 6 hours at a time and they shouldn’t sleep outside. Golden retrievers are family dogs and staying outside all the time is very bad for their mental health and will lead to many behavioral problems.

Can Golden Retrievers sleep outside?

No, Golden Retrievers can’t and shouldn’t sleep outside especially if it’s cold for them. Golden retrievers should always sleep indoors, and sleeping outside can be problematic as it can lead to behavioral problems, anxiety, stress, and fear.

How Cold Can a golden retriever be outside?

Adult Golden Retrievers can stay outside when it’s cold but it can be too cold for them when the temperature is Less than 20 °F (-6 °C). Goldens can feel the cold when the temperature drops to 45 °F (7°C) but senior dogs and young puppies can feel the cold at temperatures higher than that.

Sources

How to insulate a dog house

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