German Shepherds are the true definition of the saying “dogs are a man’s best friend.” They’re resilient and loyal companions that can complete a variety of tasks and are great with children. Their thick coat makes them irresistible to pet, and also makes for a lot of hair all over your house.
Because of this fluffy coat, a lot of people think they’re meant to survive in cold weather. But do German Shepherds like the cold?
Do German Shepherds Like the Cold?
German Shepherds love the cold, and they’re more tolerant of it than most other dog breeds. Their thick coat is a double coat, which makes for perfect protection in colder climates to help them stay warm.
German Shepherds were bred in Germany from various breeds of herding dogs of the time. They were used to guide livestock all year round. Thankfully they have thick coats, because Germany can get pretty cold in the winter.
That said, it’s safe to say that German Shepherds have adapted to the cold and this trait has been passed down the breed. If you own a German Shepherd you know how much they like to be outside in the winter.
In fact, it can be hard to try and get them back inside sometimes! And it’s not only the temperature they enjoy, they are also commonly seen frolicking in the snow. They can run, dig, and roll in the snow without it bothering them much at all.
How Long Can They Stay Out in the Cold?
The amount of time that a German Shepherd can stay out in the cold depends on the area that they are used to, as well as the area that they are currently in. The more acclimated to cold weather your dog is, the longer they can tolerate it.
With this being said, you need to keep an eye on your dog and on the time when they are out in the cold. Their paws can get frostbite if they aren’t used to being in the cold for extended periods of time.
In places where it’s only cold for half the year, a good timeframe to keep them outside can range from 1-2 hours at a time, but any more than that and they risk getting overly cold.
You may be able to spot signs, but German Shepherds will not let you know when they get too cold, so you’ll have to make that decision for them.
If you live in a place that is cold for most of the year, your German Shepherd is probably used to the cold and can handle it for much longer periods of time without risk of freezing.
What is Too Cold For a German Shepherd?
While some German Shepherds can handle down to 4 degrees Fahrenheit, and others may not want to go out if it’s 35 degrees, a safe temperature for them is around 20 degrees Fahrenheit and above.
Just like humans, German Shepherds can feel colder if there’s wind or deep snow. Keep in mind they will get colder faster when they are in the snow playing versus just going on a walk.
Their coats are typically waterproof and because they’re so thick, they can easily handle these temperatures for a few hours, as we said before. However you should not keep them outside all day because the cold can make them sick.
A perfectly healthy dog handles the cold better than a sick dog. If a sick dog is exposed to cold for too long it can definitely worsen their condition. But even if a healthy dog is outside for too long, they can develop conditions such as frostbite or hypothermia.
How to Know if Your German Shepherd is Cold
Like we said earlier, German Shepherds will not be keen to let you know when they’re cold, especially when they love to be outside in the snow. Since it’s up to you to keep them safe, you should know the signs of when your German Shepherd is getting too cold.
Some dogs will start to bark or whine at you if they’re getting cold. Some more obvious signs are excessive shivering or burrowing themselves into the snow trying to get warm.
In extreme cases, they might start looking drowsy or lethargic. They may also just stand in place, unable to move if their paws are frozen. This means playtime is over and you need to get them to warmth as soon as possible.
When bringing a German Shepherd back inside, you should dry them off with a towel as best as you can. This will warm them up slowly. Make sure you get their paws and in between their toes if you can, as this will help to prevent them from getting frostbite.
What Climate Do German Shepherds Prefer?
German Shepherds are used to both hot and cold weather. While constant changes between the two are not ideal, they can adapt easily to both. Just like you shouldn’t leave your dog in the cold for long periods of time, you shouldn’t leave them out in the heat either.
They can easily overheat and get heat stroke, so if they are going to be outside and it’s over 70 degrees Fahrenheit, make sure they have plenty of shade and water with them to avoid dehydration.
Most German Shepherd owners will say their dog loves the winter way more than the summer.
While this can be true for some of them, German Shepherds are really big lovers of the outdoors and need lots of exercise, so they’ll want to go out no matter the weather. It’s up to you to protect them and decide that they’ve had enough.
Their double coats will shed in the spring and fall to prepare them for the next season, so even though their coat is dense and thick in the winter, it actually provides them great insulation in the summer by reflecting the sun and keeping them cool.
German Shepherds love the great outdoors. Whether 35 degrees and snowing or 75 and windy, they’ll want to have some time to enjoy it. Their coats are made to keep them regulated through all types of weather, and they often won’t notice when they’ve had enough.
Make sure you know the signs of when it’s time to bring your dog inside to rehydrate, dry them off, and start a cuddle session on the couch.