Coats and Boots? - German Shepherd Dog Forums
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post #1 of 22 (permalink) Old 12-31-2010, 01:14 PM Thread Starter
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Coats and Boots?

I live in Michigan, Winter just started but in November before Thanksgiving our kids have already had 2 snow days. In bitter winter weather should GSD have warm coats and boots? W have been know to have Neg 20 degree weather. Also where I plan on walking, there will be salt. I've heard that Salt can burn the pads of their feet, plus I doubt pet safe salt is used in bulk at an apartment complex.

Researching what breed you will be. Will you be Chiaka or Luna or Van Gogh or Chobee?
We shall see...

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post #2 of 22 (permalink) Old 12-31-2010, 01:25 PM
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Boots for the salt would be a very wise choice to prevent burns.
Unless they're spending extended periods out of doors where they can get wet, or you actually notice them shivering and reacting to the cold, I wouldn't worry about jackets for them. If you're just walking them, they should be okay. Jackets for larger, coated breeds can end up being a detriment, as the dogs can overheat during physical activity.

If the weather is such that they can get wet when it's that cold, then yes, I'd consider some sort of rain slicker or similar, to keep them from getting wet. If they are dry, they should be able to regulate their own body temperature provided they're being active.

Remember that this breed often herded high into the mountains, in temperatures very similar to what you're experiencing, exposed to the elements for most of their lives. Unless they've got a faulty coat [not double-coated], or you've artifically altered their coat in some way [extensive de-shedding procedures, or clipping or cutting their coat], they can keep themselves warm enough on a walk.

GSD and GSD-mixes run the Iditarod every year, without jackets, just fine. They even sleep outdoors in the weather, in beds of straw, during the race.


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post #3 of 22 (permalink) Old 12-31-2010, 01:27 PM
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post #4 of 22 (permalink) Old 12-31-2010, 01:46 PM
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If you have to walk them in areas where there will be salt, boots are a good choice to keep their paws safe and healthy and also to keep them from licking their paws after a walk and ingesting chemical ice melt or salt. Some dogs also have more sensitive pads than others and if there's ice crusted on top of the snow, they can cut their paws, but it's not a terribly common problem.

If you're going to get boots, I would recommend the ones RuffWear makes. I have a set of the RuffWear Grip Trex and they stay on very well and the rubber sole protects their paws. They also don't tend to turn over a lot like a lot of other boots do. (Their website has very good guidelines for fitting as well, since many dogs take a smaller size on their back paws than their front.)

Whether your dog will need a blanket to keep him/her warm really depends on the dog and on the weather. Wet/Cold is hardest for dogs to deal with as opposed to Dry/Cold and while Shepherds generally don't need a coat, individual dogs may get colder quicker depending on their amount of undercoat and how much time they spend outside. (If your dog is in a home that's 72 degrees all year long and only goes out to walk, s/he may be quite cold when it's -20.)

A lot of companies that make blankets for horses also make dog coats and those are generally quite nice. RuffWear also makes coats but I don't like their coats, a lot of them have "sleeves" in the front. I prefer the blanket style. I've made my own before, so if you're handy with a sewing machine, that would be a simple project for you to take on.

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post #5 of 22 (permalink) Old 12-31-2010, 02:56 PM
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Most of Ruffwear's coats don't have sleeves. Only the new Cloud Chaser and the newer sweater-type fleece coat do. I like their coats a lot as they are built with comfort in mind and built for active dogs.
That said I rarely use a coat for Bianca. She usually doesn't need one, unless it's just raining really hard and I don't want to deal with a wet dog or if we are going to be out standing still for long periods in the cold.

As far as boots I find a lot of dogs hate them and won't want to walk in them. I did get a pair for my terrier because he ice/cold/salt was bothering his feet, and I got the Ruffwear Grip Trex which worked well except he would walk slowly and not want to go for as long walks while wearing them. For Bianca I got a set of Pawz disposable boots just to protect her feet from the chemical ice melters and salt. These look like balloons, they don't do anything about the cold but they keep their feet dry and free of salt.


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post #6 of 22 (permalink) Old 12-31-2010, 03:33 PM
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Quote:
Most of Ruffwear's coats don't have sleeves. Only the new Cloud Chaser and the newer sweater-type fleece coat do.
RuffWear currently only makes four cold-weather coats, the Cloud Chaser and Climate Changer have sleeves and the Sun Shower (which is technically a rain coat, not a cold weather coat) has a hood (why?). The K-9 Overcoat is the only cold weather coat they make that does not have sleeves.

Don't get me wrong, I like the gear RuffWear makes when it comes to boots, packs, and the like, but I don't get some of their designs for coats. I like the K-9 Overcoat but wish it had a different front/chest because that is so wide it's not comfortable for narrow-chested dogs. Their quality is excellent on everything, I'm just questioning some of the design features on the coats - like sleeves and hoods.

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post #7 of 22 (permalink) Old 12-31-2010, 03:42 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AbbyK9 View Post
RuffWear currently only makes four cold-weather coats, the Cloud Chaser and Climate Changer have sleeves and the Sun Shower (which is technically a rain coat, not a cold weather coat) has a hood (why?). The K-9 Overcoat is the only cold weather coat they make that does not have sleeves.

Don't get me wrong, I like the gear RuffWear makes when it comes to boots, packs, and the like, but I don't get some of their designs for coats. I like the K-9 Overcoat but wish it had a different front/chest because that is so wide it's not comfortable for narrow-chested dogs. Their quality is excellent on everything, I'm just questioning some of the design features on the coats - like sleeves and hoods.
Speaking of packs, is it safe to put one on a dog if there is a lot of snow and ice while wearing boots? Or would that be too much sensory going on?

Researching what breed you will be. Will you be Chiaka or Luna or Van Gogh or Chobee?
We shall see...

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post #8 of 22 (permalink) Old 12-31-2010, 03:47 PM
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Let me ask this...if it's neg 20 out, how long do YOU plan to be outside? I know when it's that cold here, I don't go out so my dog doesn't. If you are planning on going outside, then look Schneider Saddlery. They have coats on sale for less than $20. You can't make a waterproof one for that. Personally, I don't think the German Shepherd need it unless you plan on being outside in extreme temperatures for an extended period of time. If you end up with a short hair dog such as a boxer or doberman, then I might invest in one.

But since you are in the city, I might look at boots to protect their feet from the salt, as previously mentioned, if you are going to be on alot of treated surfaces. I believe MI salts everything, right? And find some good conditioning cream to keep their feet from getting cracked. But if you are going to be on grass and snow, I wouldn't worry about it. Their feet will toughen up. If you put boots on them then their pads will be sensitive. Kind of like our first journey outside in bare feet in the spring.
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post #9 of 22 (permalink) Old 12-31-2010, 03:58 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jax08 View Post
Let me ask this...if it's neg 20 out, how long do YOU plan to be outside? I know when it's that cold here, I don't go out so my dog doesn't. If you are planning on going outside, then look Schneider Saddlery. They have coats on sale for less than $20. You can't make a waterproof one for that. Personally, I don't think the German Shepherd need it unless you plan on being outside in extreme temperatures for an extended period of time. If you end up with a short hair dog such as a boxer or doberman, then I might invest in one.

But since you are in the city, I might look at boots to protect their feet from the salt, as previously mentioned, if you are going to be on alot of treated surfaces. I believe MI salts everything, right? And find some good conditioning cream to keep their feet from getting cracked. But if you are going to be on grass and snow, I wouldn't worry about it. Their feet will toughen up. If you put boots on them then their pads will be sensitive. Kind of like our first journey outside in bare feet in the spring.
HAHA. It's not neg 20 out all winter, but it has been known to go that low. Where I am, a typical winter day will very from low 20's to about neg 10. It depends on how cruel mother nature feels like being on any particular day! lol.

Yeah. we even salt our cars! lol You should see the under carriage of cars that are over 5 years old! It's a sight! lol. I plan on walking him/her for at least an hour in the morning and again at night. Now I may not be so motivated in the bitter cold, but my worst nightmare is having a high strung dog, because I failed to exercise them properly.

Researching what breed you will be. Will you be Chiaka or Luna or Van Gogh or Chobee?
We shall see...

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post #10 of 22 (permalink) Old 12-31-2010, 04:17 PM
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I grew up in Michigan on Lake Mi. I know how cold it gets...and how much snow that I really DON'T miss. On those cold days here in PA, and I do have a fairly high strung dog, we stay inside. Play mental games with them. It'll be ok for a couple of days.

On a side note, I really admire that you are doing all this research beforehand.

ETA: oh...the only problem I've had with Jax's feet is playing frisbee when the ground is frozen but there isn't any snow for padding. She rips the pads on her feet on the ground but I think I'll try some vet wrap and see is she'll leave that on her legs while she's playing
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