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Best Dogs for the Desert

Over the past six months, our Adoption Alliance rescue coordinator has seen nearly a dozen huskies come and go at the Riverside cities/counties animal shelter. Huskies are a comparatively uncommon breed in the desert; these beautiful, intelligent snow-dogs have thick, heavy coats suited for cold climates and can easily overheat in soaring summer temperatures.

Of course, any breed of dog can live in hot climates with proper care and grooming, but some thrive better than others.  Thick-coated dogs tend to trap more body heat–huskies and chows, for example. And dogs with exposed skin like the Mexican hairless Xolo and the Chinese crested are prone to sunburn. Because panting is a primary method for dogs to cool down, dogs with flatter faces and short snouts–English bulldogs, pugs, and boxers, for instance–have a harder time lowering their body temperatures.

So what dogs are best for our community?  Here’s a short list of pooches that, because of their fur and facial conformations, fare well in hot climates:

Australian cattle dog: Not to be confused with an Aussie shepherd, this bright herding dog enjoys mental and physical activity.

Beagle: Happy-go-lucky beagles desire the company of people and other dogs. They make compact and friendly family pets.

Border collie: Medium-sized and athletic, they are excellent herding dogs and very intelligent.

Carin terrier: Known as “Toto” dogs from “The Wizard of Oz,” they have a strong, outer weather-resistant coat.

Chihuahua: Alert and intelligent, Chihuahuas are a favorite among our desert residents. The long-haired variety can require grooming.

Dalmation: This high-energy breed needs daily excercise. They are playful, gentle, and family oriented–but they need time and space to play!

Doberman pinscher: These obedient canines are excellent watch dogs, and can make affectionate, faithful companions.

Italian Greyhound: Gentle and friendly, their small size makes them popular with condo living–provided they get their time to run and play.

Jack or Parson Russell terrier: Another intelligent and energetic dog, they don’t like too much rough play from toddlers. Eddie from TV’s “Frazier” was a Parson Russell terrier.

Miniature pinscher: Contrary to myth, these dogs were not breed down in size from dobermans. They are smart, alert, and strong-willed.

Vizsla: The lively and affectionate vizsla enjoys being part of the family and is fairly easy to train.

Weimaraner: These beauties are friendly, obedient, and highly trainable.

Of course, the best dogs of all for the desert are the ones you adopt from our desert’s animal shelters, not because of their shape or size or fur, but because they belong to YOU! 

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