There are some countries that have really cold weather that is ice cold. The weather is so cold that some dogs can’t really cope with the cold weather and need to stay indoors.
However, are German Shepherd different? Can German Shepherds stay outside in the cold?
Yes, German Shepherds can stay outside in the cold because they have a double coat that helps them stay warm, have a low body surface area, and blood vessels in their paws that keep them warm.
However, they shouldn’t be left outside for very long periods of time or they will have hypothermia or suffer from frostbite.
Nature of their coat
A German Shepherd is one of the few dog breeds that have a double coat. They have two layers of coat that grow.
The outer coat is long and coarse to protect them against cold and ice. While the undercoat is thick and soft, it insulates the dog against cold weather and heat in the summer.
Even though they do shed a lot; they are better suited for colder weather.
A German Shepherd coat will grow longer and thicker as the winter approaches.
The insulation means that they are able to run and play in the cold weather without any cloth.
It’s also important to keep a dog well-groomed and brushed in the winter so it lessens the amount of their shedding and keeps their coat healthy.
Features that keep a German Shepherd warm in the cold
A low surface area
A German Shepherd has a low surface area relative to that of a small one. Dogs who live in colder areas have a larger body mass but they have a low volume compared to small dogs.
This allows them to let heat out easily.
They also have lots of muscles under their fur that keeps them warm during the winter. The main reason is that
Other features that keep your German Shepherd warm
German Shepherds have bushy tails that keep them warm at night when they curl up their tail to minimize heat loss keeping their eyes and nose warm.
They also have a network of blood vessels in their paws that helps maintain heat so they don’t get cold easily.
When your German Shepherd has a piloerection reaction to the cold weather where their guard hair and undercoat stand up and trap the cold weather away from the skin and body.
Do German Shepherds get cold outside?
German Shepherd dogs do well in cold weather as long and tolerate it very well. On average, the German Shepherd can tolerate temperature above 0 or at -5.
You have to be careful if the temperature falls below -5 because that’s when your German Shepherd will begin to feel the cold.
So, German Shepherds love the cold weather and can easily tolerate depending on that the temperature doesn’t fall below a certain level.
They especially love the snow. When they first see snow, they are investigative and curious and feel happy about this environmental change.
They also love to play outside in the snow because it’s fun for them.
What causes your German Shepherd to not be able to tolerate the cold weather?
Even though there are cases where German Shepherds can tolerate the cold weather easily, there are some situations in which they can’t tolerate the cold weather at all.
Thus, some German Shepherds must not be taken outside in the cold weather because they won’t have the ability to tolerate it.
Here are the top causes when your German Shepherd shouldn’t be put in the cold weather.
If your German Shepherd is still a puppy, then it is definitely a big no-no for them to stay outside in the cold weather.
Puppies are very small and have minimal body fat so they can’t really warm themselves up during cold weather.
They also don’t have a proper coat or a high percentage of muscle mass to help raise their body temperature during the cold.
In addition, they have an underdeveloped temperature regulation centers in their brain so they don’t know how to regulate their own temperature.
2.) Senior dogs
As a German Shepherd dog grows old, they start to gradually lose muscle mass and immune functions that help protect their bodies from the cold weather.
They also lose the hair in their coat which is necessary to keep your dog warm and protect them from other things.
So, under no circumstance, you have to not take your senior German Shepherd outside in really cold weather.
3.) German Shepherds without an undercoat
Regardless of their coat length, a German Shepherd without an undercoat can’t stay below freezing temperatures.
They simply won’t be able to tolerate the cold weather because they don’t have an undercoat to help them stay warm when they are cold.
4.) Being sick
When your German Shepherd is sick, they have less energy to be able to tolerate the cold. This is especially true for chronic illness.
The reason is that chronic illness can make your dog lose muscles and body fat. Without muscles and body fat, your dog will feel the cold.
5.) Malnourished dogs
Dogs who don’t eat well and are of low bodyweight can’t handle the cold weather really well; they don’t have the energy to keep themselves warm.
The slightest change in temperature can make them really cold.
What to provide your German Shepherd when they are feeling cold?
Providing your dog with a shelter gives them a chance to keep themselves warm having a place to go to when there is a lot of cold wind.
A dog house will protect your dog from environmental changes such as the rain and snow while providing additional insulation.
It will also trap inside heat making your dog feel warmer when they are sitting in it.
However, some dog houses still need heaters to keep them warm.
Always keep your German Shepherd hydrated with fresh water. Water can speed their metabolic process that is responsible for keeping your dog warm.
Water helps against dehydration and your dog not feeling tired all the time.
Proper bedding keeps your dog warm during the cold weather. To provide proper bedding, you can put blankets, pillows, and let them wear cloth so they wouldn’t feel the cold.
4.) Proper nutrition
Proper nutrition helps keep your dog warm because they have the necessary energy that is used to keep them warm.
Give your German Shepherd healthy foods that are great for their health as well as staying warm.
What are the signs that your German Shepherd can’t handle the cold?
- Shivering: If your German Shepherd is shivering. Then this is the first sign that your dog is cold. Shivering is a survival mechanism that indicates that your dog’s body temperature is falling.
- Burrowing: If your dog is constantly burrowing and nesting in their doghouse, they are showing you that they are feeling cold and need a warmer place to stay in.
- Anxiety and stress: You have to monitor if your dog is feeling stressed or anxious so you can know if your dog is feeling cold or has another problem.
- Unusual lethargy or sluggishness: This can be a serious indicator of hypothermia. Hypothermia is a serious condition where your dog’s temperature is really lowered. It happens when your dog is exposed to cold weather for too long.
It’s important that you observe your German Shepherd while they are outside to know how they are dealing with the cold.
Tips for German Shepherds who feel cold
Keep your dog indoors
Even though German Shepherds can tolerate cold weather really well, you have to not leave them outside for a very long time or they can get hypothermia or frostbite.
It’s important to bring them inside especially for German Shepherds who can’t tolerate the cold weather.
Provide them with comfortable bedding where they can actually sleep in it. Never let them sleep on the floor or basement because it tends to be cold and won’t keep your dog warm.
In the winter, there are chemicals that are used to melt the ice. These chemicals are bad for your dog to ingest; dogs are attracted to tasting this liquid.
These liquids are often found in garages, basements, and inside cars. So it’s important to know where these chemicals are found and stop your dog from ingesting them.
Protect your dog’s paws
You can protect your dog’s paws by putting petroleum on the paws before going out for a walk.
By doing so, you keep away any dangerous obstacles from harming your dog.
A better option is to buy your dog boots to protect their paws and keep them warm during the cold weather.
Feed them more often
German Shepherds are big dogs who need to eat especially during winter. Together with your vet, know exactly how many times should you give your dog food.
But generally, they need to eat more in the winter. Feed them healthy food that will give them the energy to stay warm.
Don’t forget to give them water to drink so they stay hydrated as well. Never leave your dog’s food or water outside so they don’t become contaminated with the ice or chemicals.
German Shepherds can tolerate and stay outside in the cold provided that they don’t stay for very long periods of time.
However, there are some certain conditions where your German Shepherd can’t tolerate the cold. In these times, you have to take care of your German Shepherd through providing them shelter, food, water, and many other things.
To know more about whether German Shepherds feel the cold or not, check Do German Shepherds feel the Cold and Can They Tolerate it?