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How Cold Does It Get in a Dog House? Dr. Ernie Ward

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Veterinarian Dr. Ernie Ward stays in a dog house overnight during the winter to find out how cold it gets inside and what a dog experiences.

Location: Chicago, IL
Outside temperature: 8-12F (-13.3-11.1C)
Wind: Calm
Test subject (Dr. Ernie Ward): 5'8", 145 lbs. (172cm, 66kg)
Test Dog House:

Watch video to find out how cold it gets inside the dog house!

How Hot Does It Get In A Parked Car?

Cold Chart:

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  1. Great video and demonstration.

  2. You mentioned in your opinion no dog can or should handle those temperatures? What about dogs that are bred for the cold like a great pyrenees? This morning I walked out to feed and water my animals. It was 2 degrees. She was laying in the snow happy as can be instead of in the barn or under the chicken coop out of the weather. LGD’S are bred for the cold. But working farm dogs aren’t the typical pet either.

    • big Paul — thanks- intro to video I state “certain specialized breeds”

    • Hapezibah Skacy

      January 5, 2018 at 5:58 pm

      DrErnieWard explain working dogs that are various breeds that prefer the cold than a 75°-80° house. I say working dogs since we have an issue of roaming livestock that have destroyed our property and wild animals that have killed livestock. We keep ours in a sturdy wood build dog house surrounded by a dirt bottom. With dirt pushed against the outer walls. The ground is warm than a bottom.

  3. Bethany Horvatin

    January 8, 2017 at 12:14 am

    This makes me so incredibly sad. I see so many dogs out without even a proper dog house, just a lean-to. Granted I live in the South, deep in the country, but still…it got down to 19 degrees last night. I can’t even imagine it. My two giant mutts are currently curled up in a blanket in my music room.

  4. I hope someone was monitoring him during this experiment. He’s definitely mildly hypothermic and it’d be easy for him to fall asleep and die. Really feel for humans and dogs who live outdoors in the winter

  5. Charlene Vallino

    January 9, 2017 at 12:16 am

    Plus dogs and cats have skin not hide. I always look at my dogs and ask, “do you know how lucky you are?” HahaSometimes I can’t sleep just thinking about how many animals are out side in the cold.Good demo

  6. Hope this affects the cruel human beings who leave their dogs out in a cold doghouse in freezing weather. It’s unforgivable what humans do to domesticated animals – no animal should suffer like this.

  7. You are only doing an experiment with a plastic dog house on the ground. Do you think most people use this.  I have my beagle inside now because its 5 degrees.  But she has been out in much colder weather in the past.  She has an insulated box, straw to fill almost 3/4 of the box and plastic put around 3/4 of the outside of the box.  If the box is small their body heat stays inside of the box.  I’ve put my hand in and felt the warmth.  I’ve felt her body after she came out of the box and it was warm.  Don’t judge what it’s like just for a stupid plastic box when all boxes aren’t like that. I’ve never seen a dog stay in that kind of box.

    • Unfortunately, Renee, most people in my county DO use plastic dog houses of one kind or another. When I investigated calls, I was thrilled when I would find wooden dog houses. Even if dilapidated, I could at least offer the owner tips on how to improve it, as you can always nail on shingles, nail on a piece of 1×6 across the bottom to keep the straw in, and nail a flap over the doorway, etc. The plastic dog houses barely have a lip at the bottom, which is not high enough to keep the straw from being drug out of the house by the chain. Of course, I’ve had many dog owners tell me that their dog doesn’t like straw in his house because they’ve watched him “kick it out.” Sadly, they don’t know dog behavior well enough to realize the dog is loving the straw, and simply making a bed, much like our house dogs do with their bedding.

      Although you understand what your dog needs to stay warm outside, probably 70% or more of the dog owners in my area who keep their dogs outside 24/7, fail to do at least one or more of the following each day: provide adequate straw or any straw at all, provide water at least twice a day in freezing temps, provide adequate food, provide a shelter that adequately protects the dog from wind/snow/rain, keep the chain free of entanglement, etc.

      I had to investigate a case of a male Shih Tzu mix which had frozen to death when his chain wrapped around a railing and he couldn’t reach his dog house. His dog house was an igloo big enough for a German Shepherd, and contained only a scattering of straw which didn’t even cover the floor of the house. A neighbor had heard the dog barking, but said the poor dog normally barked for hours because his owners often failed to feed and water him, and clearly didn’t respond to his barking either. That poor little dog suffered in one way or another most of his short life. That’s just one example. And for every one reported, there are probably ten or more that go unreported.

    • we need to start arresting these monsters

    • Renee this man is an animal DOCTOR!! So there is no need to be rude!! Just because you have a guilty conscious for being an idiot and leaving your dog outside in the cold!!! That’s not his fault!! What I don’t get is why is he inside now, but not ALL the time?? Personally if you can’t provide them with a warm loving INSIDE home 100% of the time then….DON’T GET A DOG!!!!! Don’t be a vile disgusting selfish human being who only shows an animal your love and attention when it’s convenient for YOU!!! I’d love to see you make a video exactly like this. And put your money where that big mouth of yours is!!!

    • Thank you, when i see this crap house zhe video lost its reality to me

    • I fully agree with you, as a Canadian I have seen sled dogs who live full years outside and are completely fine, this idiot uses a plastic dog house and claims it’s what everyone would use. He also states that “there’s no snow which would make it warmer” (paraphrase) but the reality is that snow is an insulator and would make it warmer. He does not know what he is talking about and misinforming uneducated people

  8. Karen Josephson

    January 9, 2017 at 10:18 pm

    Thank you Dr. Ward. I’ve been an AC Director in two counties and am going to share this video a lot!! It’s informative, straight forward and simple to understand. Education is key in hoping to illicit change in human behavior. And the education has to be given in a way that is accessible to the human.
    Most pet guardians/owners just need basic information to make decisions. Empirical data and lengthy studies make most people’s eyes glaze over!
    Sending you thanks for your work and who you are. PS. Did you get frostbitten??

  9. Our nights here in Canada can be much worse. Make sure to bring them inside. Thanks for making this Doctor.

  10. do you recommend we bring in foxes, coyotes, and wolves also? What do you do to alleviate their suffering?

    • You do understand that the diet of a dog is not the diet of wild animals.   Also, some dogs have been bred for indoor living.

    • wild animals are free to find a protected place in the landscape to sleep, and are not limited by the fences or chains of humans, although I do believe wild animals suffer and have to deal with extreme conditions as well.

    • Rene T Is that some sort of excuse for leaving a dog out in the cold? Did you even watch this video? Do you leave your dog out in the cold? FYI, wild animals also suffer when cold, if old or infirm they often die in the cold, but they are not chained, as dogs are. And what do YOU do for anything? Why don’t YOU spend the night in a kennel in those temperatures?

    • Uhhh….they are wild animals that have adapted over thousands of years and so able to tolerate extremes? Geez dude

    • Homo sapiens did not wear clothes or lived in heated houses either. Why don’t YOU stay outside too, without any clothes like “foxes, coyotes, and wolves”?

  11. I have an American Eskimo (white Spitz) that voluntarily goes and stays outside even when the temperature is -10 to -15F degrees. He’ll stay out for hours, waiting for ‘mom’ (the wife…his favorite human) to come home from shopping and will look at me like I’m nuts when trying to coax him back in the house to be warmer. But then, he’s a breed that was bread to live and survive in cold weather.
    For the average dog…one not bread for cold climates, like the Chihuahua, Beagle, Rotweiller, and other short-hair breeds…this information will definitely be a life saver during cold winter weather.

  12. Watching this video made me so happy to think my dogs are asleep on the couch right now ;o;

  13. I’ve had outdoor dogs for decades and they ALL stayed outside in the winter and ALL were perfectly healthy and warm.
    ALL lived to be very old and NONE ever needed a vet
    By contrast, everybody i have ever known with INDOOR dogs has to make constant trips to the vet and their dogs have multiple health problems and die early.

    • RF Tech True on that.

    • Google User my friend had an indoor Yorkie lived to 18. My moms friend has an indoor Yorkie who’s nearly 10 going strong. I had a Pom who was outdoor who lived to 9. My moms other friend has a Yorkie who’s 13 who’s indoors. My dogs are young 2.5 year and nearly 4 year. The 2.5 year old has only been sick once and the 4 year old has some health problems but he’s going strong and hasn’t been that sick this year. I think dogs should be indoors. Why would you get a dog and chuck them outside to forget about them? Dogs thrive on company my 2 indoor dogs are quieter than my Pom who was outdoors (I had no choice in the matter I was 12) I couldn’t imagine leaving a dog outside especially small dogs like mine.

  14. I would like to see more videos like this on the regular news so people would be more aware of what animals go through during cold weather, very special thanks from duke an missy my German Sheperds , great video

  15. Valinda Laughlin

    January 14, 2018 at 7:23 pm

    This is so sad. I posted a picture on my FB of a dog that is tied out in the cold and never brought in. We’ve had subzero temperatures. I can’t believe the people who have ostracized me for the post.

  16. Proves nothing about dogs or other animals. You are a human. My dogs can choose to sleep in their dog houses or inside. Even on the coldest nights, sub-zero F, they will sometimes choose outside. One is a poodle, the other a Border Collie. Go figure.

  17. “No dog can take 20 degrees” what a total dork. Wolf, Coyote, Fox. How do they do outside? It’s 20 degrees give me a break that’s a warm day for a husky or a great pyranese. Your a human that must never go outside in the cold and is wearing offbrand winter clothes and your comparing it to a thick skinned ANIMAL with fur and you call yourself a doctor? I am now dumber for listening to this.

    • My huskies coats are rated for something like -45 degrees. When I heard that line I was like this guy needs to do some research and quit spreading false information.

    • Binky D’Eath actually he was very correct in a lot of what he said, don’t be ignorant on the internet and call someone else out for it. That’s called being a jackass.

    • because all dogs are winter coat breeds? im sure the vast majority of dogs dont have thick fur coats like huskies and would not last long in the temperatures of this video. I’m sure he is aware of breeds like huskies, but he isn’t making this video for those kinds of dogs now is he. He is talking about breeds that dont have thick winter coats that would easily die in these conditions without proper housing

    • He shouldn’t use the words “No Dog” then, he’s spreading false information regardless.

    • Wolf is constantly moving or actually finding shelters themselves, plus they are living in packs and warming each other. Dog do not have luxury to choose warmer shelter themselves. Plus cold weather can bare only dog breed adapted only for cold weather who grows undercoat for that season.

  18. Some dog houses have heaters inside, but it’s a powerful message for people who don’t have one.

  19. Try the experiment with a door closed on the doghouse, properly insulate the doghouse with straw, and fill the doghouse with straw bedding. Id be interested to see the results.

  20. I know exactly what it’s like to be forced to live in the cold for prolonged periods of time and the health damage it does. I don’t understand why so many people think they’re experts on what a dog feels in the same situation though. I don’t understand why people are using specialist breeds to say you’re wrong when you said those specialist breeds don’t count. Nor why so many morons comment here saying they know better than an expert, especially when they clearly weren’t paying attention to your words. I’m sorry so many people have missed your point. :/

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