In theory, German Shepherds are capable of living outside in moderate to cool climates, but they should never be forced to live outdoors. Find out why most experts would make the argument against if German Shepherds live outside the home for extended periods:
Table of Contents Hide
- Can German Shepherds Survive Outdoors?
- Why Should German Shepherds Not Live Outside?
- What are the Dangers of Letting a German Shepherd Live Outdoors?
- Can Keeping a German Shepherd Constantly Outside Cause Behavioral Issues?
- How Long Can You Keep a German Shepherd Outdoors?
- Will German Shepherds Be Comfortable Outdoors in Cool and Warm Weather?
- How Can You Balance Indoor and Outdoor Living for Your German Shepherd?
- Can German Shepherds Sleep Outside?
- How Can You Make Your German Shepherd Comfortable Outside?
Can German Shepherds Survive Outdoors?
German Shepherds are strong, athletic, and have a thick coat that protects them from the elements. These dogs also enjoy the fresh air and being in wide-open spaces. These features mean that this breed can survive outdoors for a short time.
It is important to remember that German Shepherds are domestic animals. Due to this, they don’t retain any of the instincts their ancestors had. There is a limit to how much protection their coat provides as well. These dogs may survive in certain climates but can’t adapt to all of them.
You should also consider the fact every German Shepherd is different. Some may enjoy being outdoors and thrive in natural environments. There may also be dogs that will not respond as well to the outdoors and be quite miserable.
Why Should German Shepherds Not Live Outside?
The main argument against letting German Shepherds live outdoors is that they are highly social creatures. German Shepherds form a strong bond with their human family members. They are loving and loyal, preferring to spend most of their time with people.
As mentioned, German Shepherds enjoy being outside for some time. It is best, however, if they can enter and leave the house as they please. This is what will make them happiest.
What are the Dangers of Letting a German Shepherd Live Outdoors?
It is not just their emotional wellbeing that you have to worry about if you were to make your German Shepherds live outside. There are other hazards that you should be aware of as well.
To begin with, there is a greater chance of them getting sick. When they are outside for an extended period, your dog is exposed to more germs and contagions. They are also more likely to encounter disease-carrying animals that may then pass on these illnesses to them.
German Shepherds that are kept outdoors have a higher chance of being attacked by wild animals as well. Even if you have a fence, this won’t always keep out animals such as raccoons, rats, snakes, or even squirrels.
Keep in mind, even the smallest animal can be a danger to your German Shepherd if there is a chance of them passing on diseases.
Last, but not least, you also need to be concerned about exposure. Their thick coat may protect them from cooler temperatures, but this breed doesn’t do well with the heat. To add to this, if they get wet in the rain, this will increase the risk of hypothermia.
Can Keeping a German Shepherd Constantly Outside Cause Behavioral Issues?
Yes, leaving your German Shepherd outside for an extended time can result in behavioral issues.
Separation anxiety can lead to undesirable behaviors in your dog such as excessive barking and howling. Once this behavior has set in, it can be difficult to train your German Shepherd out of it. This may result in barking when they are indoors as well.
Making them stay outside with no company or activities can cause your German Shepherd to become destructive. They may dig holes, chew up any furniture or objects left outside, or attempt to destroy your backyard or patio.
Your German Shepherd may also suffer from a lack of socialization when kept outside for a long time. It isn’t just enough for your German Shepherd to be socialized as a puppy. They need to be around humans to maintain proper behavior and get used to human interaction in the long run.
If your German Shepherd is left alone to their own devices, they will forget how to behave around people. They may also lose their gentle touch. You may end up with a German Shepherd that snarls, barks, or even nips at people. This will make it much harder to keep them under control as well.
How Long Can You Keep a German Shepherd Outdoors?
The exact time your German Shepherd can stay outside depends on a variety of factors. These include the weather as well as your German Shepherd’s preferences.
Barring other factors, you should only keep your German Shepherd outdoors for no more than an hour or two. As stated, not all dogs enjoy being outside. If your German Shepherd doesn’t like the outdoors, they may want to come in sooner than usual.
To ensure that you don’t put any undue stress on your dog, make sure they can access your home at any time. Perhaps you can leave a door open for them or install a doggy door. This way, they can come and go as they please.
Will German Shepherds Be Comfortable Outdoors in Cool and Warm Weather?
German Shepherds don’t do well in warm temperatures. Their coat is thick, which means that they overheat quite easily. It is important to keep your dog inside during the summer or on very warm days. This is especially important during the hottest parts of the day.
This breed does hold up well in the cooler weather, however. Due to their coat, these dogs can even play in the snow. Some love the winter weather.
You should be aware that German Shepherds aren’t built for the cold in the same way that Huskies or Samoyeds are. There is a limit to the kind of temperature they can withstand. In general, at temperatures around 40°F, it is considered too cold for your German Shepherd.
It isn’t just the temperature that you need to watch out for. The wind can make the surroundings a lot colder, increasing the risk of your dog catching hypothermia.
It is also dangerous for your German Shepherd’s coat to get wet in the snow or rain. This will make them more susceptible to the cold. If you notice that your dog’s coat is even slightly damp, bring them inside immediately and dry them off.
In cooler temperatures, don’t let your German Shepherd stay outside for more than 20 minutes at a time. Don’t leave them outside by themselves, either. Stay with them or step outside to monitor the temperature regularly.
How Can You Balance Indoor and Outdoor Living for Your German Shepherd?
As previously stated, it’s ideal to give your German Shepherd a chance to come in and out as they please. This allows them to choose the environment that they like best.
This isn’t always possible, of course, and you will need to monitor and control how much time your German Shepherd spends outside. Firstly, only ever let your dog outside when you are home.
Avoid leaving them outside when you have gone out unless your German Shepherd prefers this arrangement.
If you are unable to leave a door or entry point open, let your dog in every 20 minutes or so. After they have spent some time in the house, give them the option of going outside again. If they don’t appear to be in the mood, however, don’t force them.
Always be mindful of the fact that your German Shepherd is outdoors and make it a point to check on them frequently. If you hear them whining or scratching to be let inside, let them in.
Keep an eye on the weather at all times. If you notice that the temperature has risen, there is a strong wind, or it has begun to rain, bring your German Shepherd in immediately.
Can German Shepherds Sleep Outside?
Your German Shepherd may love being outside at night, especially during the warmer months where it is cooler outside than indoors. Or, they could be especially active at night.
In such cases, you may wonder if it is alright to let your German Shepherd sleep outdoors. Before making this decision, check that it is safe for your dog to do so. If you live in a remote area with lots of wildlife, this may not be the best option for your dog.
On the other hand, if your German Shepherd isn’t at risk, you could consider this. Have a trial period to see how your German Shepherd reacts to being left outside at night. Make sure to keep checking on them during those first few nights. If they want to be let in, do so.
How Can You Make Your German Shepherd Comfortable Outside?
Even if your German Shepherd will be outdoors for a short time, they need to be comfortable and safe.
If your backyard already has an overhanging roof or covering, set up this area for your dog. Have a dog bed, along with plenty of freshwaters. They can hang out here to get away from the sun when it gets too hot. It also gives them a comfortable area to rest.
If you don’t have such a spot, you will need to put up some kind of shelter. This could be an awning or a dog house. They need a safe place from the sun or the rain.
Make sure that this area is proficient at keeping both the sun and the rain away from your dog. They should also have a soft and comfortable area to rest or sleep.
It is best to keep German Shepherds indoors as much as possible and only let them outside for short periods, especially when it is very warm or cold. This will give your dog the best of both worlds while ensuring that they stay safe and happy.