Do German Shepherds Get Cold Outside?
All mammals, including German shepherds, can suffer and even die when they are exposed to temperatures that are too cold. If you live somewhere that gets cold in the winter and have a German shepherd, it’s important to understand what temperatures they can and cannot endure and for how long.
German shepherds should not be left out in the cold for long periods of time. They can get frostbite and hypothermia, which can lead to death. However, German shepherds can tolerate colder weather than many other breeds, so don’t let a snowy day stop you from taking them on a walk or letting them in the yard for a while.
As a general rule, your dog should not be outside for more than two or three hours at a time when it is freezing (under 32 degrees Fahrenheit). Time outside should be even more limited when it gets down below 20 degrees Fahrenheit, as well as after the sun goes down and when it is windy.
German Shepherds Have Double-Coats
Just like you gear up for cold weather with a coat, hat, and scarf, dogs gear up for winter weather, too. In the colder months, their fur grows thicker and warmer.
German shepherds are one of several breeds that has a double-coat. This means their fur grows in two distinct layers with different functions.
The top layer is long and wiry. This layer gives the dog a texture that better protects it from ice and snow than something more fuzzy would.
The bottom layer is softer and fuzzier. It’s called the undercoat. This layer provides the insulation it needs to stay warm. Fascinatingly, the insulation of the undercoat is also what keeps German shepherds cool in the summer!
The downside of your German shepherd’s double-coat is that it comes with a lot of shedding. While they usually shed more in the spring and summer, it is important to brush them as they shed in the winter too. Keeping their coat healthy helps them stay warm.
How to Tell if Your German Shepherd is Too Cold
When a dog is too cold, it may exhibit signs of being anxious. It may shiver and whine. You may also notice that it moves more slowly. These are definitely signs that it’s time to head inside where it is warmer.
Treat your dog with respect and understanding. If you are cold when you go outside despite the fact that you’re wearing a coat, your dog is probably cold despite his or her coat, too!
Tips for Taking Care of Your German Shepherd in the Winter
- If your German shepherd is going to spend time outside in the winter, make sure it has a shelter where it can stay out of the wind and snow, as well as plenty of freshwater. Don’t leave your dog outside for long periods of time when it is freezing.
- Know your dog’s limits. When you’re letting your dog play outside in cold weather, or taking it for a walk, make sure you know the signs that it’s ready to go warm up.
- Remember that puppies and elderly dogs have less tolerance for cold than adult dogs in their prime.
- Watch out for antifreeze and salt. Some of the chemicals people use to prevent ice on sidewalks and elsewhere can be really dangerous for your dog.
- Don’t wash your dog outside when it’s cold. If they need a bath, do it inside, and don’t let them go back out until they’re totally dry.
- Use a leash. You never want your dog to get separated from you, but it can be especially bad in the winter when snow makes it harder for them to follow scents.