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How Cold Can German Shepherds Stay Outside? Ultimate Guide

Are you looking for answers on how cold can german shepherds stay outside then you are in the right place. in this guide, we have provided every detail you need to know.

so continue reading to find out……

One of my German Shepherds grew up primarily in the Midwest. Summers here are extremely hot and humid, and our winters are frigid with the occasional blizzard.

The extremes in weather in this region forced me to consider if a GSD would thrive in these conditions, or if it would be miserable. So before I decided to buy a GSD in the Midwest, I spoke with a number of breeders and other GSD owners who I knew in the area.

So, what temperatures can German Shepherds tolerate? The German Shepherd is an adaptable breed. Once acclimated, they can tolerate and do well in both hot and cold climates.

It is important, however, in any climate, to provide a German Shepherd with the appropriate amount of shade, shelter, and water.

My dog seems to do well whether he is playing frisbee in the hot sun, or whether he is running through 3 feet of snow in below-freezing temperatures.

How Cold Can German Shepherds Stay Outside?

dog is running in the snow

A healthy adult German Shepherd with a thick double-coat will be able to tolerate very cold conditions without much problem. And will be able to sleep outside as long as they are kept in a protective weather-resistant housing.

It goes without saying that housing is a must. Without a sturdy protective housing no german shepherd, or any dog, could survive sleeping outside in winter conditions when the temperatures are very low.

German shepherds are not as well adapted to the cold as some other northern breeds are, but they still boast thick double-coats with impressive insulating qualities.

GSD’s have a coarse semi-water-resistant topcoat that protects against snow, rain, and dampness. The undercoat is the soft fur that’s next to the skin. This is the layer that will keep a German Shepherd warm when the temperatures drop.

Do German Shepherds Get Cold?

German shepherds are as likely to get cold as any other creature on earth. While they do have a double coat that keeps them warm; even that isn’t going to be enough to keep them warm in freezing conditions.

How Come German Shepherds Don’t Mind The Cold As Much As Other Dogs?

You may have noticed that your german shepherd can handle the cold much more than other dogs. And it’s all thanks to their double coat.

A double coat consists of two different types of fur. In fact, it’s the reason that you can get your dog wet, but the water always seems to take forever to sink in.

The outer coat is there to protect your dog from the elements such as the wind and water. In fact, water is much more likely to glide off it, rather than be absorbed.

The inner coat is plush and warm. It’s like insulation, and as long as it doesn’t get wet, it’s going to help keep your german shepherd nice and warm.

It is important to note, that while in most cases german shepherds have a double coat, there are some that don’t.

How Cold Is Too Cold For German Shepherds?

As a rule of thumb, anything below 40°F is too cold for most dogs. And once it falls below 20°F, hypothermia and frostbite are likely to occur. (According to PetMD). However, even 50°F can be dangerous to a german shepherd who’s exposed. Especially puppies and dogs that are old or sick.

It’s Not Just About The Temperature

There are also other factors that need to be taken into account when figuring out how cold is too cold.

Wetness – If your German shepherd is damp, they aren’t going to be able to insulate themselves and are much more likely to feel the effects of cold. This can happen, even when the temperature doesn’t seem that bad.

Cloud Cover – Cloud cover during the day is going to make things feel colder, and no cloud cover at night makes things feel colder as well.

Wind Chill – We’ve all felt the effects of wind chill before. Even on a hot day, the wind can quickly make you feel cold. And it can cut through your german shepherd’s fur just as easily as well.

Exercise – And lastly, how much exercise your german shepherd is doing can affect them. If your pup is just laying around then they’re going to get colder a lot quicker than if they’re moving around.

As you can imagine, all of these combined can quickly make the environment too cold for your german shepherd.

How Can You Keep Your German Shepherds Kennel Warm?

How Cold Can German Shepherds Stay Outside

If your German shepherd likes to spend a lot of time outdoors, then it’s important to make sure their kennel is warm enough. Fortunately, there are lots of different things you can do to warm their kennel up.

And remember, whenever the temperature falls below 40°F, it’s too cold for your dog. So they’ll need to be brought inside.

Lastly, it’s not good for you to keep your German shepherd outside all the time. They need social interaction, so make sure you’re spending lots of time with them.

Here are all the different ways you can help keep your german shepherds kennel warm.

Use Thicker Blankets

When it’s winter you should use blankets that are a lot thicker than you would in the summer. They’re going to help insulate their kennel and stop the cold getting in, as well as warmth getting out.

Wool blankets are normally a great choice, however, there’s a whole range of different blankets to choose from.

Make Sure Their Bed Is Elevated

It’s also important to make sure you purchase an elevated bed for your german shepherd. One of the quickest ways they’ll lose heat is through the ground. It will just keep absorbing heat, quickly making them feel cold.

By elevating their bed you’re going to slow the rate in which they lose heat. On top of this, it can be a good idea to add hay and blankets underneath the bed, to stop any drafts and insulate their kennel more.

Fortunately, elevated beds aren’t expensive and you can pick them up for a good price on Skyenet.

Make Sure It Provides Adequate Protection From The Elements

Another great tip is to make sure that the kennel is providing adequate protection from the elements. You don’t want the entrance to be so big that lots of wind and rain can get in.

However, you don’t want it so small that your german shepherd struggles to get in. Also, you want to make sure there’s enough space away from the entrance that your german shepherd and their bed aren’t going to get wet if it rains.

You can also place a few windbreaks around the kennel for additional shelter from the elements.

Make Sure It Has A Sloped Roof

When you’re purchasing a kennel you need to make sure the roof is sloped. If it doesn’t have a sloped roof, water won’t be able to drain properly. This will lead to leaks that can get your german shepherd wet and make them feel colder.

Shape Their Blankets Like A Donut

When you’re setting up your german shepherds bed, try to shape it like a donut. Put blankets underneath them, then build blankets up in a circle. This way, they’ll be able to nest easier. And they’ll only be losing body heat from the top, instead of from their whole body.

As you can see there are plenty of ways you can keep your german shepherd warm in their kennel. But remember, if the weather drops below 40°F you’ll need to bring them inside.

How To Keep A German Shepherd Warm In Cold Weather

Your german shepherd is going to do pretty well at keeping themselves warm. However, if it’s particularly cold, or you’ve got an elderly, sick or very young german shepherd, you may need to help them out a little bit.

Here are some of the best ways to keep them warm!

Get Them Some Dog Boots

Okay, not all dogs like these, but if yours does, they’re going to be great for the winter months! While your pup’s pads can keep the cold away for some time, eventually their little paws are going to become cold.

By getting them some dog boots, you’re going to eliminate that problem and help keep their paws nice and warm!

And remember, give your german shepherd time to adjust to their dog boots. My dog didn’t like her boots at first, however, after about a week she’d leave them on without a problem.

If you’re not sure what boots to get, I’d recommend these ones!

Free Dog Training. Click Here.

Keep Their Paws Trimmed

You may think that letting your germans shepherd grow the fur out on their paws is a good idea. However, it’s actually a lot better to make sure they stay trimmed.

When the fur between their paws is too long, ice and snow can get caught. This ice and snow will bring a lot of discomforts until it melts. It’s going to be freezing cold and your pup isn’t going to be able to get it out.

A Nice Doggy Coat

Not every german shepherd will need a coat. However, if you have a puppy or an older german shepherd, then a coat is definitely recommended.

They are going to help your pup hold in more heat, and they’re also less likely to be hated like dog boots are.

In fact, my dog used to get super excited when she saw her coat coming out because she knew it meant she was going on a walk.

When you’re looking for a coat you should aim for something that’s water-resistant and has lots of insulation.

Something like this coat will work great.

Don’t Cut Their Hair Too Short

In the summer, you may cut your german shepherd’s hair short to keep them nice and cool. However, in the winter this is definitely something you don’t want to do. While grooming them should still occur, (to help their fur grow back thicker), you definitely shouldn’t trim their fur.

Dogs can die from dehydration

And many do each year, this is a very serious issue that people unfortunately sometimes overlook.

I have at times come home to find that my dog has knocked over his water bowl. This is not too serious of an issue if you have an inside dog and the temperature in your house is moderate.

But, if your dog spends a lot of time outside and that is where you keep its water bowl, it can be a serious problem. Water evaporates very quickly on hot days.

Signs of overheating and dehydration

Keep a close eye on your GSD during hot weather. If it is exhibiting any of the following signs or behaviors, you need to make sure that you take it indoors and provide it with fresh, clean water immediately.

  • Thicker than normal saliva
  • Lessening or loss of appetite
  • Heavy panting 
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Generally tired with low energy
  • A dry nose and gums
  • Loss of skin elasticity

If you take your dog inside and these symptoms or behaviors do not improve quickly, then you need to take your dog to the veterinarian immediately. Intervention at this stage is critical to avoid a potentially life-threatening issue.

Note on skin elasticity

According to dr. Jerry Klein, the chief veterinarian for the AKC, skin elasticity is probably the easiest way to check if your dog is dehydrated.

“Dr. Klein suggests that you gently hold some of the dog’s skin near his shoulder blades, raise it up, and then let it go. Watch carefully as it falls back into place. In well-hydrated dogs, the skin instantly will spring back to its original position. The skin of dehydrated dogs, on the other hand, will take longer to fall back into place.”

However, the best way to keep your dog from being dehydrated is simply to avoid dehydration in the first place. Always make sure that your dog has a clean supply of fresh water at all times.

Because dogs have individual requirements, it’s a good idea to ask your veterinarian how much water at a minimum that your dog should be drinking.

Though as a general rule, dogs should drink about an ounce of water per pound of their body weight per day. This will, of course, be dependent on your dog’s activity level and how hot the weather is outside.

Additionally, make sure that your dog always has access to shade. Just like you seek out shade on a hot day, so does your dog. A dog kept in the hot sun without access to shade can quickly overheat and begin to dehydrate.

Your GSD’s fur and hot weather

It may seem like common sense to you to brush your dog a lot during the summer because excess fur = a hot dog. However, this aspect of grooming a GSD is often misunderstood.

Your GSD’s fur grows in layers. Similar to an insulated home, it actually traps cool air and keeps it in. So, do not be overly eager when brushing your GSD.

Take care to lightly brush your GSD and remove only the hair that is already shedding on its own. Removing more hair than that will disrupt its natural layering and may cause your GSD to become too hot.

Further  Tips For Cold Weather

Extra precautions need to be taken when the temperature begins to drop. Although german shepherds can keep themselves warm pretty well, you’re still going to need to help them out a little bit.

Here are some tips for keeping your pup safe in during cold weather.

Don’t Keep Young, Sick, Or Elderly Dogs Outside For Too Long

If your german shepherd is young, sick, or old make sure they’re not spending as much time outside. They aren’t going to be able to handle it as well as a healthy dog.

It’s better to take them for multiple small walks rather than one big long one.

Keep Them On The Leash

If your german shepherd likes to run off, it may be a good idea to keep them on a leash during walks.

When it’s snowing and cold they’re going to have a harder time finding your scent and tracking you. If you take them somewhere they can get lost, they may not be able to find their way back to you.

Give Them Plenty Of Food (Especially Protein)

During the winter your german shepherd may expend more energy just keeping warm. To make sure they’re able to do this effectively make sure you’re giving them extra food. Especially food that’s high in protein.

Protein will help keep them satiated for longer as well as giving them lots of energy!

Don’t Take Them To Ponds Or Lakes

If the temperature is close to or below freezing, it’s not a good idea to take your pup to any ponds or lakes.

If they jump in when it’s frozen there’s obviously the strong chance that they aren’t going to be able to get back out.

And worse still, make sure you don’t go in after them. They’re much better at swimming than you are, and normally they’ll be alright, while you may not be so lucky.

Make Sure They Don’t Step In Salt Or Chemicals

Salt and chemicals are going to be an irritant to your dog’s paws. If they have nothing protecting their feet, they’ll often become painful.

The danger here is when your pup tries to soothe this pain by licking them. Once they do this they’ll ingest salt and chemicals which can become fatal.

Sometimes, it’s a good idea to wash your pup’s feet once they’ve come in from a walk to reduce the risk.

Don’t Leave Them In The Car

Just like you shouldn’t leave them in a car on a hot day, make sure you don’t leave your pup in a car on a freezing cold day either.

Both extremes are going to be dangerous for your dog and if left for too long, could wind up being fatal.

Don’t Keep Young, Sick, Or Elderly Dogs Outside For Too Long

If your german shepherd is young, sick, or old make sure they’re not spending as much time outside. They aren’t going to be able to handle it as well as a healthy dog.

It’s better to take them for multiple small walks rather than one big long one.

Don’t Take Them To Ponds Or Lakes

If the temperature is close to or below freezing, it’s not a good idea to take your pup to any ponds or lakes.

If they jump in when it’s frozen there’s obviously the strong chance that they aren’t going to be able to get back out.

And worse still, make sure you don’t go in after them. They’re much better at swimming than you are, and normally they’ll be alright, while you may not be so lucky.

Dry Them Thoroughly

When you return from your walk make sure you dry them thoroughly. Even though your house is warm, as previously mentioned, being wet can quickly cause your dog’s body temperature to drop.

When they come in, make sure you give them a good towel to dry, and if possible use a hairdryer as well.

Interested In Training Your German Shepherd The Right Way?

If you haven’t trained your German Shepherd properly, then this is the perfect time to start. Whatever bad behavior your shepherd has, whether it’s barking at night or other bad behaviors, using the right training program is the key to having an obedient and happy pup.

With Brain Training For Dogs, you’ll save yourself a ton of time and effort. Instead of banging your head against the wall trying to figure out why your dog won’t listen, you’ll follow a path that has been tried, tested, and most importantly, that’s given proven results. Not to mention the fact, you’ll be able to fit the course around your schedule, not fit your schedule around a trainer or obedience class.

So instead of worrying about whether they’re going to be well-behaved or not, you’ll only have to worry about how much fun you’ll have with them!

And in most cases it’s still going to be:

  • Cheaper than hiring a professional.
  • Cheaper than replacing everything they might break.
  • And definitely cheaper than a lawsuit against you, if they decide to bite someone.

Just imagine how great it will feel to finally be able to trust your German Shepherd completely and never worry whether they’ll be naughty or not. Instead, you’ll have the peace of mind that you have a well-behaved pup, and the boundaries you set for them, will always be there, EVEN IF YOU’RE NOT.

And the best part is it also has a 60-day money-back guarantee! So there’s no reason not to give Brain Training For Dogs a try!

So if you’re tired of your dog’s bad behavior, or how they react around other people and pooches, then give it a try! You’ll be amazed by the results!

Conclusion

So do german shepherds get cold? As you know now, they do get cold! However, they are able to spend some time comfortably in colder weather.

Here are some of the main things you should remember.

  • Anything below 40°F is too cold for german shepherds to stay outside. Once the temperature falls below 20°F it’s likely they’ll suffer from hypothermia and frostbite.
  • Wetness, wind chill, exercise, and cloud cover will also affect how cold your german shepherd is going to be.
  • You can tell your german shepherd is too cold if they’re shivering, howling, barking, they have a hunched back and tucked tail, they have muscle stiffness, a lack of energy, and they try to keep their paws off the ground. If it’s too cold for you, it’s probably too cold for them.
  • You can keep your german shepherd warm in cold weather by buying them dog boots, a dog coat, keeping their paws trimmed, and making sure their coat isn’t too short.
  • You can keep your german shepherd’s kennel warm by using thick blankets, making sure their bed is elevated, that it protects them from the elements, it has a sloping roof, and you place their blankets in a doughnut shape.
  • In cold weather make sure your pup has plenty of water, more food, that you keep them on a leash, dry them thoroughly, and don’t take them to ponds or lakes, leave them in the car, let old, young, or sick dogs stay in the cold for too long, and make sure they don’t step in chemicals or salt

If you liked this article or you have any more questions make sure you leave a comment in the section below. Otherwise, have a great day!

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