German Shepherds are one of the most popular breeds of dogs, renowned for their intelligence and loyalty. But can a German Shepherd, a dog with double-coated fur, get cold and become sick?
The answer is yes. German Shepherds can be prone to getting cold in certain climates or environments. It's important to ensure that your German Shepherd stays warm and protected from the elements outdoors, especially during the colder months. If you live in a climate where it gets very cold, take measures to protect your German Shepherd against the chill.
In this article, we'll explore why German Shepherds can get cold and what you can do to help them stay warm and comfortable during colder months.
We'll cover topics such as how well-suited German Shepherds are for the cold-weather living, what kind of coats or clothing might be necessary for your pup if you live in an area with extreme temperatures, how long your GSD can be outside during the cold weather, and how long-haired vs. short-haired coat types affect temperature regulation.
By learning more about the breed's needs to keep them warm throughout the wintertime, you can ensure that your beloved canine companion stays happy and healthy all year round!
So let's waste no more time and explore this topic together!
How do I know if my German Shepherd is cold?
The best way to tell if your German Shepherd is cold is to monitor their behavior. If you notice that your GSD is shivering and trying to seek warmth from anything around them, such as the sun, a warm blanket, or a cozy spot on the couch, then it's likely they are feeling cold.
Other signs of being too cold include lethargy, whining or whimpering, and refusing to go outside. If you notice any of these signs, it's best to provide your dog with a warm coat or blanket and bring them inside.
Keep in mind that ignoring this behavior of your German Shepherd, and keeping him outside while he's freezing, can have lifetime negative consequences and can seriously damage his health.
If you notice that your German Shepherd is freezing, react immediately.
What temperature is too cold for German Shepherd?
The temperature that is too cold for a German Shepherd will vary depending on the dog. Generally speaking, temperatures between 0-45°F (or -18 to 7°C) are considered too cold for these breeds and can lead to discomfort and possibly even health issues.
It's best to observe your German Shepherd's behavior in colder temperatures and bring them indoors when you think they might get too cold.
Investing in winter coats or sweaters designed specifically for large breeds like the German Shepherd may be necessary if you live where the winters can be extremely cold. This way, your dog can spend more time outdoors without feeling uncomfortable or risking their health!
What temperature is too cold for a German Shepherd puppy?
Puppies are much more sensitive to extreme temperatures than adult German Shepherds. The temperature considered too cold for a German Shepherd puppy is usually between 32-50°F (or 0 to 10°C). Puppies can quickly become uncomfortable and even suffer from hypothermia and frostbite in these conditions.
Their body is weak, and they still need to develop. If you expose them to too low a temperature for a long period, the consequences can be catastrophic.
If you live in an area with cold winters, take extra care of your German Shepherd puppy and take them out for a short time (10-15 minutes) multiple times per day if the temperature isn't too low.
Once the outdoor temperature starts increasing, the temperature rises to 50°F (or 10°C) or more, and you can feel free to play with your German Shepherd puppy outside for longer periods.
Can I walk my German Shepherd in the winter?
Sure, you can walk your German Shepherd in the winter, although it's important to be aware of potential risks and take the necessary precautions. Before taking a winter walk with your GSD, consider the temperature, wind chill, and how long you plan to spend outside.
Avoiding long walks with your German Shepherd is best if the outside temperature is 32-45°F or 0 to 7°C. If the temperature is within the safe range and you plan to be outside for a short time (20 minutes or less), then it's probably okay to take your GSD for a walk.
Finally, paying attention to your dog's behavior during the winter months is crucial. Not all dogs can tolerate low temperatures equally. If you notice they are becoming uncomfortable due to low temperatures, take them inside before their health is affected.
Why are German Shepherds an excellent breed for cold weather?
German Shepherds are considered one of the best breeds for cold weather. This is because they have thick double coats that act as insulation, helping them stay warm in chilly temperatures.
Additionally, their strong working drive and intelligence make them great at tracking and hunting in the snow.
The reasons why German Shepherds are the ideal breed for cold weather and enjoy the snow are:
Healthy breed: German Shepherd is considered a very healthy dog breed, and their body structure is perfect for living in cold climates.
Strong muscles: German Shepherds have strong muscles that help them remain active and perform better in cold weather.
Breed History: German Shepherds have a long history as they were developed in Germany during the 19th century. They're a hard-working dog breed, and from day one, these dogs work in challenging weather conditions, such as low temperatures, rainy days, heavy snow, or mud.
Double coat: German Shepherds have a double coat that helps them to stay warm and comfortable during cold days. The topcoat is thick, coarse, and water-resistant, while the undercoat is soft, dense, and insulating.
Body size: German Shepherds are a medium-sized breed, with males measuring up to 24 inches in height and females measuring up to 22 inches. The body of the German Shepherd is strong and muscular, with well-defined muscles that help them move quickly and efficiently in cold weather.
Activity level: Despite the heavy snow, German Shepherds have a high activity level that helps them to stay healthy and fit. They enjoy running around in cold weather on snowy days and need regular exercise to stay healthy and happy.
- Great paw blood circulation: The paws of the German Shepherd are designed to keep their blood circulation healthy and active in cold weather. Their fur-covered feet act like snowshoes, helping them walk on slippery surfaces without slipping
Games to enjoy the snow with your German Shepherd
Playing in the snow with your German Shepherd can be a great experience for both of you. Here are some fun games and activities that you can do with your German Shepherd:
Fetch: This classic game will surely be a hit with your German Shepherd, especially when played in the snow.
Hide and seek: Have one family member hide and have your dog find them.
Snowman building: Encourage your pup to help you build a snowman, then play fetch with it once it's built!
Sled Pulling: Harness up your pooch and let him pull you around on a sled or toboggan for winter fun.
Snowball fight: A great way to keep active while playing in the cold weather, take turns throwing snowballs at each other (don’t throw too hard!)
Follow the Leader: Follow your pup as they lead you through a snowy adventure - make sure not to get lost!
Sniff Walk/Scavenger Hunt: Give your dog an exciting challenge by having them search for hidden treats around the yard.
- Tracking: Give your pup a scent to follow and have them try to find the hidden object. These activities will help keep your German Shepherd active and engaged in cold weather and provide an opportunity for you both to bond over fun wintertime adventures!
Is 45 degrees too cold for a German Shepherd?
Temperatures between 0-45°F (or -18 to 7°C) are considered too cold for German Shepherds and can lead to discomfort, health issues, and even hypothermia and frostbite in puppies. 45 degrees is certainly on the colder end of this range, so it's best to take extra precautions to protect your German Shepherd from cold weather.
Make sure they wear a warm coat or sweater and limit their time outdoors if temperatures drop too low.
Pay extra attention to your dog's behavior during cold months, as not all German Shepherds can tolerate extreme temperatures equally.
How long can a German Shepherd stay outside when it's cold weather?
When it comes to cold weather, a German Shepherd can spend only a limited time outside. If the temperature is 32°F (0°C), your GSD should spend 30 minutes maximum outside. Normally, the time a German Shepherd can safely stay outdoors in cold weather will depend on several factors, including the temperature and wind chill, the dog's overall health, and how old they are.
For adult German Shepherds, the time allowed outside in cold weather can be extended. However, it's still important to pay attention to their behavior and take them inside if they become uncomfortable.
If you keep your German Shepherd outside, no matter what season it is, we highly recommend you stop doing this.
German Shepherds are very sensitive to extreme temperatures and need a dry, comfortable place to nestle in during chilly nights or hot days. If your dog spends too much time outside, you may be putting it at risk for hypothermia or heat exhaustion.
Furthermore, if your dog isn’t properly trained to stay in its designated area, it might escape, as a German Shepherd has an instinctive urge to explore. Keeping your pup inside or in a designated area (and training him) can help prevent this and keep your furry friend safe.
German Shepherds are highly social animals, and other animals and people MUST surround them at a certain period during the day. Treat your German Shepherd dog as a family member. Once you see how loyal, smart, and protective they're, you'll be unable to imagine your life without them.
How do German Shepherds handle the cold weather?
Dogs bred to live in cold climates are better adapted to handle extremely cold weather than other breeds, including German Shepherds. For example, the Siberian Husky, Chow Chow, Alaskan Malamute, Samoyed, and Japanese Akita are some breeds most well-suited for colder temperatures.
German Shepherds can also handle cold temperatures. They are not quite like these types of dogs that we just mentioned, but they can still tolerate low temperatures, thanks to the:
1. Thick Double Coats: German Shepherds have thick double coats that help regulate body temperature and keep them warm in cold weather conditions.
2. Fur Density: The fur density of a German Shepherd also helps protect it from the elements, especially extreme cold temperatures.
3. Temperature Regulation Ability: German Shepherds possess an innate ability to regulate their body temperature, allowing them to handle colder temperatures better than other breeds.
4. Higher Metabolism: Their higher metabolism helps them generate more heat which can help combat the chillier air in wintertime climates.
5. Cold Climate Breeding History: Historically, these dogs were bred for living and working in cold climates, meaning they are inherently better adapted to cooler areas than other breeds without this type of background or bloodline history behind them.
10 ways to keep your German Shepherd warm in the cold weather
Keeping your German Shepherd dog warm during the cold weather isn't complicated as it may sound.
Here are 10 easy ways to ensure that your German Shepherd is feeling cozy when temperatures start to drop:
1. Ensure their house or shelter is insulated – If you keep your GSD outdoors, ensure that their doghouse or shelter is properly insulated and provides enough protection from the elements. Add extra insulation during cold nights if necessary. Also, you can install underfloor heating in your dog's house.
2. Give them extra bedding, such as blankets or cushions: Dog beds with removable, washable covers are ideal for keeping them warm and cozy during cold winter nights. Ensure the blankets or cushions material is durable, warm, and soft.
3. Install rubberized flooring to keep their feet insulated: If your German Shepherd spends lots of time outdoors, install rubberized flooring in their kennel or house to keep them insulated from the cold ground.
4. Keep your dog away from cold drafts and open windows: Make sure your GSD is not exposed to cold drafts and open windows. Keep your German Shepherd in a well-insulated and warm room during the winter.
5. Create a small, enclosed space for them on cold days using pillows and towels: On especially cold days, create a small, enclosed space for them with some pillows and thick towels. This will help the pup to stay warm and comfortable.
6. Allow your dog access to sunny spots around the house: Let your GSD find the sunniest spots in the house or yard during cold days. This is a great way to keep the body of your German Shepherd warm (and they also love to lie down and sleep in sunny spots!).
7. Exercise your pup during the day to maintain its body temperature: Take your German Shepherd out for some exercise, even if it's just a short walk around the block. This will help to maintain their body temperature and keep them warm.
8. Feed your German Shepherd more in cooler months to increase their metabolism: Feeding your GSD a little bit more during the winter months can help to increase their metabolism and generate more heat in their body.
9. Keep the coat of your German Shepherd dry and clean: This is important for all dogs, especially German Shepherds, since they have double coats. Wet and dirty coats can make your dog cold and uncomfortable. Be sure to brush their coat regularly and bathe them only when it's unnecessary.
10. Monitor the time spent outdoors in frigid temperatures: Extreme low temperatures can be dangerous for your German Shepherds. Monitor the length of time they spend outdoors in frigid weather and make sure to bring them back inside when it gets too cold.
Do German Shepherds like cold or hot weather?
Believe it or not, German Shepherds enjoy cold weather more than hot weather. The breed was initially bred in Germany for cold climates, which means that their bodies are small and compact but also uniquely adapted to thrive in colder temperatures.
German Shepherds have shorter inner coats of fur, which helps them stay warm during winter. This coat of fur also helps to protect them from cold winds and rain.
On the other hand, German Shepherds are not well-adapted to hot climates because their thick coats of fur can make it difficult to regulate their body temperatures in intense heat. They may become listless, seek out shady spots or dig up shallow holes in the ground for a cool respite.
Can German Shepherds live outside in the winter?
Yes, German Shepherds can live outside in the winter if they have access to a warm shelter and plenty of fresh water. They’re also equipped with a thick double coat that helps them stay warm in cold weather. However, if temperatures drop below freezing (32°F / 0°C), bringing them inside where it’s warmer is best.
If the weather conditions are not ideal, please do not keep your German Shepherd outside. The bad weather conditions for German Shepherds are temperatures below 32°F / 0°, heavy snow, heavy rains, and strong winds.
Can ice burn German Shepherds' feet?
Ice can burn German Shepherd's feet, though it is not common. The skin on their feet is quite thin and delicate, which means that their paws are particularly susceptible to the cold temperatures of ice or snow. Ice burn occurs when their paws come into direct contact with the cold substance, resulting in pain and discomfort.
If your German Shepherd's feet have been exposed to ice, inspect their paws and clean off any snow or ice that may be stuck between the toes or on pads.
If necessary, apply a balm to help soothe the burned skin. Also, it is important to remember that dogs should not walk on icy surfaces for prolonged periods.
Keep a close eye on your GSD and take precautions to protect their paws from injury.
German Shepherd temperature range
The normal body temperature for a German Shepherd dog is between 101 and 102.5 degrees Fahrenheit (38.3 to 39.2 degree Celsius). To check your GSD's temperature, you should use a thermometer rectally for the most accurate reading.
Contact your veterinarian immediately if your GSD's temperature is higher or lower than the average range. A too-high or too-low temperature can be dangerous and indicate a health problem.
The perfect outdoor temperature for a German Shepherd Dog is between 50 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit (10 to 21 degrees Celsius). This temperature range offers the best conditions for your pup as it's not too hot or too cold.
At these temperatures, a German Shepherd dog can stay comfortable, get enough exercise, and play without being over-stressed from the weather.
Do German Shepherds need boots?
The short answer is it depends. In cold climates, German Shepherds may benefit from wearing dog boots to help protect their sensitive paws. Also, providing dog boots for your GSD is a good idea if the outside temperature is too high.
Dog boots provide insulation to help keep their paws warm and protect them from the dangers of ice, snow, salt, or hot surfaces. Boots can also be helpful in certain terrain if your dog is an avid hiker.
However, these items are not necessary for all German Shepherds. Not every GSD needs boots, and some may even find them uncomfortable. If you choose to provide boots for your pup, ensure they fit properly and let them get used to wearing them before taking long hikes or going on wintery adventures.
Related product: Paw Protection Shoes
Related product: PAWF® Dog Shoes
Do German Shepherds need a coat in winter?
German Shepherds generally don't need a coat or any jacket in winter. Their double-coated fur keeps them warm and protects them from snow and ice. However, if you go on long walks during winter (you're outside for more than 30 minutes), it's recommended to have winter gear for your dog, such as a jacket and boots.
Winter jackets for German Shepherds should provide adequate insulation to keep your German Shepherd warm and dry. The jacket should fit snugly without being too tight or constricting. Also, look for jackets with reflective panels to ensure your GSD is visible in the dark winter months.
When it comes to dog boots, there are several options available. Choose a pair that fits properly and is flexible enough to allow for natural movement. Additionally, consider boots with anti-slip soles for extra grip on icy surfaces.
Other elements that affect cold weather tolerance in German Shepherds
There are some other elements that you must consider before you take your German Shepherd out during the cold weather, and those are:
1. Age and health: Elderly dogs and those with health issues may not be able to tolerate cold temperatures, as well as younger, healthier GSDs.
2. Size and weight: Larger, heavier German Shepherds may be able to stay warmer in winter weather than smaller GSDs.
3. Coat quality: Unfortunately, not all German Shepherds have the same coat quality. If your German Shepherd has a good diet and genes from its parents, there is a good chance that his coat quality will be high.
4. Undercoat: German Shepherds have an undercoat which can also aid in regulating their body temperature. A healthy, dense undercoat will help keep your GSD warm and dry during cold weather. Not every German Shepherd has a thick, fluffy coat. If their undercoat is thin, your dog won't have enough insulation to keep them warm in the winter.
5. Dampness: Moisture can affect your German Shepherd's ability to tolerate cold temperatures. If they're exposed to snow, rain, or dampness for too long, this could lead to hypothermia or other health issues.
6. Wind chill: The wind can cause the air temperature to drop significantly and make it feel even colder. Make sure your GSD is well-protected from cold winter winds when you go for a walk.
7. Cloudy days: While the sun may help keep your German Shepherd warm on a cold day, it's not always reliable. On cloudy days, your GSD will need additional protection from the elements, like clothing and boots.
What to do if your suspect your German Shepherd has hypothermia?
Hypothermia is a medical condition caused by the body's core temperature dropping to a dangerously low level, usually below 35°C (95°F). In dogs, hypothermia can be caused by exposure to extremely cold weather and/or immersion in cold water.
It can also be caused by prolonged anesthesia, shock, or severe blood loss. If you suspect your German Shepherd has hypothermia, immediately take them to the vet.
Symptoms of hypothermia in German Shepherds include:
- Shivering or trembling
- Lethargy or weakness
- Cool skin to the touch
- Bright red gums that turn blue or pale
So, what should you do if you suspect that your German Shepherd has hypothermia?
Taking immediate action is important if you suspect your German Shepherd has hypothermia. The first step should be to seek medical attention as soon as possible for your dog. A veterinarian can assess the severity of the hypothermia and develop a treatment plan accordingly.
When transporting your GSD to the vet, keep them warm and dry. Wrapping your dog in a blanket or placing them in a heated space is ideal. More, you can administer warmth directly to your dog by applying hot water bottles or heating pads to the affected area.
Do German Shepherds like the snow?
Most German Shepherds love snow for the same reason as everyone else: snow games are interesting and exciting! Thanks to their double-coated fur, they can spend a decent amount of time playing in the snow with their owners and other dogs.
However, not all GSDs enjoy the snow. Some may find it too cold or prefer to stay indoors when the weather is bad. If your German Shepherd doesn't seem to enjoy the snow, there's no need to force them to go outside. Just let them stay inside where it's warm and dry.
Here is one absolutely lovely video where a German Shepherd dog, after 5 years, has an opportunity to play for the first time in the snow.
The essential gear for German Shepherds throughout the winter
Having the right gear to help your German Shepherd stay warm and comfortable during the winter is important. Here are some essential items you should consider for your pup:
Winter Coat: A good quality coat will keep your dog's fur dry and insulate them against cold temperatures.
Booties: Booties can help protect your pup's paws from cold and icy surfaces.
Boot Socks: Boot socks help keep your dog's feet warm, dry, and protected against snow and ice.
Sweaters: A good quality sweater will provide extra warmth during cold days or evenings.
Paw Balm: A paw balm is great for protecting your pup's paws from the elements and keeping them moisturized.
- Safety LED collar: A safety LED collar can help make your pup more visible in the dark and during snowy days.
Frequently asked questions
Do German Shepherds need blankets?
German Shepherds can benefit from blankets in certain situations, especially if they spend a lot of time outdoors, are elderly, it's too cold or have a health problem. Blankets can help protect them from the elements, providing warmth and comfort.
Blankets can also provide a sense of security for stressed or anxious dogs who may otherwise be unable to rest properly.
Do German Shepherds get cold at night?
Yes, German Shepherds and almost all other dog breeds can get cold at night, especially during winter. German Shepherds are particularly susceptible to colder temperatures due to their thick double coats and are less tolerant of cold than some other breeds.
To protect your German Shepherd from the colder temperatures, it is important to ensure they have a warm and dry place. For additional protection and safety of your German Shepherd, keep your dog INSIDE when it's cold outside.
During the night, the temperatures are lower than during the day. If the body temperature of your German Shepherd gets below normal, your dog's health will be seriously endangered (in extreme cases, it can even lead to death).
Is 20 degrees too cold for a German Shepherd?
Yes, 20 degrees Fahrenheit (-6.6 degrees Celsius) is too cold for a German Shepherd. Despite their thick double coats, GSDs have less tolerance to cold than some other breeds and are more susceptible to it. While their fur keeps them warm when temperatures drop, if the temperature gets too cold, the thick coat can become wet with sweat or snow and lose its insulating effect.
If temperatures outside reach 20°F or lower, it is best to keep your German Shepherd inside where it's warm and dry.
The ideal temperature for a German Shepherd puppy
There is much to consider regarding the ideal temperature for a German Shepherd puppy. Maintaining an ideal temperature is important so the puppy can grow and develop properly. The ideal temperature range for a German Shepherd puppy can be between 68-75 degrees Fahrenheit (20-24 degrees Celsius).
If the temperature drops below 68°F or rises above 75°F, it is recommended to take corrective action, such as providing a heating pad or air conditioner. Further, you should provide your German Shepherd puppy with a safe and comfortable place to rest where it can stay warm.
Why is my German Shepherd licking his paw after being in the snow?
Your dog's paw pads may have cracked, chapped, or even frostbitten. The most common reason for this behavior is the cold temperatures associated with snow. Licking can serve as a way of soothing and healing these areas and relieving the discomfort.
If your German Shepherd's paw licking is excessive or seems to be causing pain, it's best to consult your veterinarian. They can help determine the cause of the problem and provide guidance on the best course of treatment.
As a general rule, you should always wipe your dog's paws and legs when they come in from the snow to remove any snow, ice, or salt that can be irritating.
Do German Shepherds like water?
Most German Shepherds love water, and it is common to find them splashing around in a pool or lake. They are even known for their excellent swimming abilities, as they have strong hind legs that help propel them through the water.
Suggestion: Do German Shepherds love water and water games?
Are German Shepherds indoor or outdoor dogs?
German Shepherds can be both indoor and outdoor dogs. While they will thrive in both settings, their needs may differ depending on the environment. Indoors, German Shepherds need plenty of exercise, mental stimulation, and companionship to stay healthy and happy. Outdoor German Shepherds need physical activity, including running and playtime, to stay fit and active.
It is important to remember that German Shepherds are most comfortable in moderate temperatures, so providing a warm, dry place (preferably indoors) during cold winter is essential.
There is no one universal answer to this question since German Shepherds can be used as police, military, or service dogs.
Working lines differ from show lines and are more durable in bad weather conditions.
Related blog post: Different types of German Shepherds (with photos)
German Shepherds are one of the most "durable" dog breeds. They can stand longer in bad weather conditions than most dogs, but this doesn't mean they should stand in bad weather conditions.
If you're an owner of a German Shepherd dog, the best practice is to find a balance between keeping him inside your house and outside.
When the weather conditions are not ideal, our advice is to always let your German Shepherd inside your house and create a space just for him.
This can be a big comfortable dog bed, multiple pillows on the floor with a warm blanket, or a large crate.
Try to make your German Shepherd feel as comfortable as possible in your home, and protect him from bad weather conditions. In return, he will provide you with endless love and friendship that you will remember for the rest of your life!