Poodles are well known as one of the most intelligent and distinct-looking dog breeds, and they’re great hunting dogs to boot. Because of their origin as outdoor working dogs, many people think poodles are suited to living outside. Is this true?
It is not usually recommended for a poodle to live outside. A poodle’s coat is not suited for harsh weather and may not be warm enough in colder weather. If your dog must live outside, it’s important to consider a good doghouse that can provide shelter and a warm place to sleep where he can feel safe and secure.
Poodles are almost always best off living indoors with you and your family. There are a lot of reasons for this, such as their anxiety, poor resistance to bad weather, and intelligence. There are also some scenarios where it may actually be best to keep a poodle outdoors. We’ll cover all of that and more below.
Why Shouldn’t Poodles Live Outside?
Since Poodles make a good hunting dog, it can be tempting to think that they’ll be just fine with living outside. After all, many other working dogs do, like Huskies and Australian Cattle Dogs.
However, there are a few key reasons that make them bad candidates for living outside:
- Their coat is not very good at keeping them warm
- Their social needs are too high to constantly be left alone
- Their intelligence makes them prone to being overly anxious
We’ll cover each of these, and other smaller reasons, in their own categories below.
Can Poodles Tolerate Cold Weather?
Despite their fluffy appearance, Poodles can not generally tolerate very cold weather for long. This is because their “fur” isn’t actually fur at all! It’s hair.
That may seem like a weird distinction, but it’s actually very important. This makes their coats:
- Distinct and curly
- Require more grooming
- Less effective at keeping them warm!
That last bit is the most important for this discussion. Because of their thinner coat, Poodles are really susceptible to cold weather. Those fancy sweaters you often see Poodles wearing are more than just fashion!
Here’s a handy chart to keep in mind what Temperatures a poodle can tolerate:
|50-60 degrees F°||Poodles may get a bit chilly, but physical activity like running or playing will keep them warm enough.|
|20-40 degrees F°||Danger of hypothermia in their extremities, like paws and tail. Poodles should not be out in this weather for extended periods of time.|
|Below 20 F°||Poodles should have a jacket or some other form of protection before going out for more than just a couple of minutes.|
Methods to Help Keep a Poodle Warm
Depending on how cold the weather is in your area, there are different ways to help keep your friend warm.
- Get them a well-fitted sweater or doggie jacket to help their natural coat keep them warm
- Keep them active and moving when out in cold weather to help their body heat keep up
- Always provide a warm space for them to retreat to when they get too cold
Even if the thermometer doesn’t say it’s that cold, always keep in mind that a wet dog is going to feel way colder than a dry one, and wind chill can make that even worse. When in doubt, bring them back to a warm space!
Can Poodles Tolerate Hot Weather?
So, they can’t handle cold weather well—but what if you live in an area that gets very hot? Can a Poodle be left outside in the heat?
While they can take the heat a little better than cold, Poodles still shouldn’t be left outside in the heat. Not only can it cause them serious discomfort and pain, but it can also even be fatal in the wrong circumstances. There are a few reasons Poodles can’t tolerate extreme heat.
Inability to Sweat
Dogs are unable to sweat through their skin and get rid of heat through evaporation, and Poodles are no different. Their paws will sweat a little bit, but the main way they get rid of heat is by panting and drawing cool air over their tongue. This helps keep their blood cool just like sweating does in humans.
This works better the colder the air is around them. As the temperature rises, panting is less and less effective at cooling a dog. So, don’t assume your Poodle is able to keep itself cool just from panting, especially if the heat is over 100 F°!
If you’re planning on leaving your Poodle outside in the heat for more than a few minutes, it’s extremely important to make sure it always has access to plenty of water. Evaporation can happen very fast at very high temperatures! Don’t assume your Poodle’s water bowl is full—always look before leaving them out there.
It’s not just evaporation that can leave a dog without water. Other things can happen, like:
- Your dog accidentally knocks their water bowl over, spilling it all
- The water becomes full of dead bugs or debris, and your dog doesn’t want to drink it
- Other animals, like birds, could be using your dog’s bowl and getting it even dirtier
Poodles are not any more susceptible to dehydration than other breeds, but it’s a very important thing to keep in mind if your Poodle is going to be kept outside for long periods.
Despite all the great things that come along with a Poodle’s beautiful coat, there are some negatives. One of those is that your poodle can get sunburnt through their hair because it is only a single fine layer.
In order to help avoid this, you can:
- Provide lots of shade for them to play in
- Use special sprays or lotions for dogs that include sunscreen
- Limit the time they spend outside and in direct sunlight
To learn much more about sunburn and how it affects your dog, I wrote this article a few months back. In it, you’ll learn exactly what steps to take to protect your poodle’s skin, as well as the best products to help you protect your poodle from the sun.
How to Help a Poodle Keep Cool
Lots of heat and sunshine is just an unavoidable part of some climates. How can you help your Poodle stay cool and safe in those circumstances? Here are a few tips:
- Always make sure they have a cool, shady place to rest. An indoor area with AC is even better.
- Provide plenty of water for drinking, and maybe even some for playing in. A small child’s pool filled with water for your Poodle to play in can really help them cool off.
- Use special products to help them, such as cooling bandanas or vests
Is it Cruel to Keep Your Poodle Outside?
There are some things that could tempt you to try and make your Poodle an outside dog such as:
- Bad behavior
However, Poodles are really not suited to be outdoor dogs and most people would consider it cruel to force them to do so.
- Are not suited for anything more than mild weather
- Need lots of social time with people
- Are intelligent and prone to anxiety
- Excellent escape artists, especially when bored or frustrated
For all of these above reasons and more, Poodles should never live outside except maybe under a few specific circumstances we’ll talk more about below.
As one Poodle owner said,
“Really, the only way I can imagine a poodle happy outside is if you move outside with him.”usviteacher. Poodle Forum
Can Poodles Sleep Outside?
Ok, so Poodles shouldn’t live exclusively outside. What about just sleeping outside?
The short answer is no, probably not, for many of the same reasons they shouldn’t live outdoors in the first place. Poodles love their owners, and forcing them to sleep outside is likely to result in one of these things happening:
- They get extremely anxious from separation and start misbehaving, like digging or destroying outdoor decorations
- They bark, scratch, and whine all night to be let back in
- They just can’t sleep, leading to lethargy during the day and potential illness
Instead of making your Poodle sleep outside, it’s better to fix the problem that made you want to move them outside in the first place. For example, making a Poodle sleep outside because they were misbehaving at night is only likely to make the problem worse. Instead, consult a qualified dog trainer to help you fix the misbehavior.
To learn more about how living outside can affect your poodle’s sleep, I wrote this article as a comprehensive guide to your poodle’s sleep.
When Should a Poodle Live Outdoors?
Poodles should almost never be forced to live outdoors. However, there are a few specific circumstances that could mean it makes sense for them to be an outdoor dog, either temporarily or permanently.
As we said above, forcing a Poodle to live outdoors because of behavior issues is likely only going to make the issue worse, you should instead train them.
Unfortunately, leaving them inside is not always an option, especially if they are very destructive. Training takes time, and you probably can’t just take weeks off from work to fix it. On the other hand, you can’t let your Poodle keep tearing up your couch every time you leave.
In this scenario, there are a few options:
- Confine them to a crate or kennel while you are gone
- Make a single smaller room of the house “puppy proof” and keep them there while you are away
- Move them outside until the behavior is back under control.
Getting them a crate or confining them to a single room where they can’t hurt anything is always preferable—but if you really have no other option, then temporarily moving them outside can work.
Even if you have a perfectly behaved furry friend, there may still be times when they can’t be inside the house for a day or two. You might be:
- Having areas of the house treated with pesticides that are unsafe
- Replacing carpets or flooring
- Painting, or other projects involving fumes that are unsafe for dogs
In these cases, it may make sense to move your Poodle outside for a day or two just to keep them safe and out of the way.
Regardless of the reason, if you do have to move your Poodle outside, it’s very important you take steps to make them comfortable and happy outside. We’ll cover some tips below.
How to Make Your Outdoor Space More Poodle Friendly
If you’re moving your Poodle outside permanently, or even if they are just going to be spending a lot of time outdoors, there are some things you should do to keep them healthy and happy!
Shade or Rain Cover
It’s crucial to make sure your dog has a good amount of cover from the elements. A Poodle should never be kept outside in extreme weather—below 40 F° or above 95 F°—but even in mild climates you should make sure they still have cover.
Good cover can include:
- Trees or tall bushes
- Opaque patio furniture
- Doghouse or other interior space
A huge component of any outdoor space intended for dogs is a good, reliable source of clean water. Many owners just put out a big bowl of water. This can work just fine, but it has a few downsides:
- It can easily be soiled by dog drool, dead bugs, and dirt
- It can be spilled, leaving the dog without any water at all
- It can evaporate quickly or freeze in extreme temperatures
A great alternative to a simple bowl, and the fountain I use for my dog, is the Petsafe Drinkwell dog fountain. The constant running water means the supply is always clean. You can see photos of this fountain, as well as the current price an Amazon here.
Poodles are one of the smartest breeds of dogs, and unfortunately, that can make them amazing escape artists! Before leaving your Poodle unattended in a backyard, make sure:
- The fence is too high for them to jump
- There are no nearby items they can use to get over the fence
- The fence is buried deep enough or has a barrier underneath, so they cannot dig under
- The gate latches are lockable in a way that a Poodle couldn’t accidentally bump open
The ultimate in outdoor luxury for your Poodle is going to be a doghouse. Doghouses provide many things, including:
- Refuge from heat, cold, rain, and sun
- A place where your Poodle can feel safe and secure
- A cozy spot for them to rest and nap
You can get really creative with what your dog’s house can do. Some even include feeding and watering stations! We’ll go more into making a great doghouse below.
Essential Components of a Good Outdoor Doghouse
A good doghouse is essential for your Poodle if they are going to be spending any long periods of time outside. There are a few things that go into making a good doghouse.
Doghouses should be placed in a shady spot, preferable over grass or dirt where they can be sunk into the ground a couple of feet. This helps keep them insulated from outside temperatures.
If a doghouse is placed in a spot where it gets a lot of sun, it will quickly turn into a sauna that no Poodle would want to spend much time in.
This may seem obvious, but make sure your doghouse is big enough to fit your Poodle when they are fully grown. A space that is too cramped will discourage your Poodle from actually using it as a den.
A less obvious fact is that a doghouse shouldn’t be too big, either. Dogs of all types tend to like small, secure places to make a den. If it is too big, your Poodle might be tempted to go to the bathroom in one end.
In general, there should be enough space for your Poodle to stand up and turn around, but not much more.
Easy Entrance and Ventilation
Make sure to face the entrance towards an area that is easily accessible for your dog—don’t make your poor Poodle squeeze through a small gap just to get to it! Equally, it’s best for the entrance to face into an open space. Your Poodle will prefer to be able to watch the yard from their den.
Another important factor is good ventilation to keep fresh air circulating. In warmer months, taking the front door off of the doghouse can provide good ventilation. You can also install a small fan to pull air through the doghouse and out the back.
Cleanliness and Pest Removal
Your Poodle isn’t the only one who might like this nice new space! It’s important to check regularly to make sure no unwanted visitors have moved into your dog’s new home. Cleaning their doghouse often will help with this.
So, Can Poodles Live Outside?
There can be any number of reasons why you might be tempted to let your Poodle be an outdoor dog. In the end, it will only serve to make them unhappy. Poodles aren’t suited to be outdoor dogs because they:
- Have coats that are too thin to withstand cold weather
- Can be sunburnt and overheat easily from very hot weather
- Are very social, and need lots of human interaction
- Can be excellent escape artists without supervision
If you find that your Poodle needs to spend a lot of time outside, make sure they have:
- Reliable supply of clean water
- Shade or other cover from the elements (especially a doghouse!)
- An escape-proof backyard
Whatever the circumstances, Poodles are a very smart, playful, and loving breed of dog.