I love hiking in the snow. I, therefore, wanted a dog that can spend several hours in the snow during hiking. Also, camping is my other favorite thing, so I desperately needed a dog that would be comfortable in the tent and under such low temperatures.
Since I knew German shepherds have a thick coat, I opted to do some research before buying one.
Here what I learned.
Do German shepherds get cold?
A German shepherd, when left outside for an extended time, can get cold. When temperatures drop to 4˚C it gets too cold for him. When exposed to temperatures of -6.7˚C your dog may suffer from hypothermia. German shepherds don’t need a coat in winter. Also, German shepherds can sleep outside in winter provided you insulate their kennel to keep them warm.
Can German Shepherds Stay in the Cold or Winter?
It feels uncomfortable sleeping or staying all day indoors for a German Shepherd dog simply because it’s winter.
Do German shepherds like snow? Yes, they love playing with snow.
As they play, their body temperatures go high, and their bodies become warm. Consequently, they can play much longer than you can endure if you’re outside with him. Even so, don’t allow a GSD to play in winter for too long.
They suffer from diseases related to high, low temperatures like hypothermia when exposed to temperatures below -4˚C. A GSD that has a high muscle mass, thick coat, and excellent surface area to volume ratio can tolerate temperatures as low as -9˚C to -12˚C for a given time.
Each GSD is unique. Some German shepherds have a better ability to regulate body heat during high, low temperatures.
Untreated hypothermia causes frostbite. In severe cases, a coma leads to the death of a German shepherd dog.
But how do you know if your GSD has hypothermia?
- Diluted eye pupils
- Difficulties in breathing
- Looking weak and dull
- Pale mucous membrane on the gum or eyelids (can also be bluish)
What Temperature is Too Cold for German Shepherds?
Age is one of the factors that determine what temperatures your German shepherd will tolerate comfortably. Elderly German shepherds as well as puppies may not be able to withstand a temperature of about 10˚C.
The same applies to sick German shepherds.
When temperatures get below 4˚C, it becomes too tough for him.
On the other hand, the lowest temperature a German shepherd can withstand is -6.7C. Such temperatures could make your German shepherd sick. They may suffer from frostbite. Else, hypothermia.
Do German Shepherds Get Cold Outside?
Though German shepherds possess a topcoat that’s uneven, and partially resistant to water, they still can get cold during winter.
Even so, they have better ability to withstand dampness, extreme cold temperatures during winter, and dampness than most breeds.
So, when left outside for too long, especially during winter, German shepherds gets cold.
Therefore, when caught up in the cold for too long, please look out for signs to see if it’s getting too cold for him.
Safe and Corrective Measures to Take When He Gets Too Cold
Do German shepherds get cold to a point where they can die? Absolutely, if temperatures are too low, his life gets threatened.
Therefore, when a German shepherd cold tolerance gets compromised, take safe and corrective measures immediately to save his life.
If you panic, you’ll not be able to offer excellent first aid or take the necessary precautions to save your dog’s life. He needs you at this time than ever.
Whatever first aid you offer, be professional and don’t overdo anything.
Make Him Warm
Dry your buddy’s far with a dry, cotton towel. Next, make him warm. If you’re away from home, cover him with a blanket. You can do the same if at home. Nonetheless, keeping him next to a source of fire would also be ideal. Ensure he is not too close to the place of fire.
After all, you’re only trying to make it easy for him to regulate his body temperatures.
If you’re lucky to own a hairdryer, use it to quicken the drying process. Keep testing his temperatures to verify his progress. You can use a thermometer to do so after every 30 minutes.
Call a Vet
While he is warming up, call a vet and explain the situation. If the vet needs to come and offer treatment services, seek to know if there’s anything more you can do before he arrives.
One minute could be enough to save a GSD suffering from hypothermia.
Steps to Take to Help Your GSD Tolerate Cold Weather
Your GSD needs to be active all days, even during winter days. On the other hand, you’re worried that he might fall sick if he can’t tolerate the cold weather.
What should you do?
Consider His Age
To effectively understand your German shepherd cold tolerance ability, consider his age before taking him out in winter.
Adult German shepherd dogs can tolerate cold weather much better than puppies. Also, GSD aged between 10 to 12 years might not tolerate cold weather so well. So, depending on his age, decide if he can go out or not.
Is your dog sick? Obviously, it would be unwise to take a sick German shepherd dog out when temperatures are extremely low. When he is sick, his body isn’t able to function normally. Therefore, he might not adjust his body temperatures to tolerate cold temperatures effectively.
Besides, he should rest, not play. Why? During this time, he cannot feed well to keep his body warm. So, keep him indoors.
Keep an Eye on His Behavior
A sick or an uneasy German shepherd dog always behaves abnormally. You can easily tell when something is wrong with him. Likewise, when you notice that he is not comfortable, is unable to walk, anxious, or is shivering; take him to a warmer place as soon as possible.
Some German shepherd dogs also whine when they are unable to bear with the cold seasons.
Shorten the Time He Stays Outside
Even though your buddy looks comfortable and jubilant, it’s advisable to avoid spending too much time in the snow.
Don’t let him freeze because frostbite can put his life at risk. In most cases, you’ll notice some frostbite on the tail tips and ear flaps.
It’s best to rush him inside and try keeping him warm.
Incorporate Proteins in the Diet
Proteins help your dog’s ability to fight diseases better. Besides, his skin and fur become healthy, too. Furthermore, protein boosts the development of muscles and repair of tissues.
With proteins, therefore, a German shepherd cold tolerance is better. You might as well add some calories so that he can stay warm.
Make His Paws Safe
Dogs, just like humans, struggle to walk when their body temperatures get too low. As such, it’s good to make it easy for your GSD by protecting his paws. So, buy your German shepherd boots for him to be able to tolerate cold weather.
Not only will he be able to walk better, but he will also feel warm.
Nonetheless, he might have to learn how to walk in boots if he has never used them before.
Keep Him Warm
Even when you’re sure you won’t be out for too long, keep your German shepherd warm. If he is warm, he can take longer time outside than when he is freezing and shivering. You can buy him a special jacket that will not only be effective in keeping him warm, but also waterproof as well as windproof.
Can German Shepherds Sleep Outside in Winter?
If you must leave your German shepherd to spend the whole night outside during winter, then you have to ensure that he will be warm.
Safety measures are necessary. So, give your German shepherd bedding so that he can cover himself so that he covers himself whenever he feels cold.
Else, cover the ground with hay as it absorbs the cold and keeps the dog warmer.
Also, weatherproofing and (or) insulating the kennel is vital.
Do German Shepherds need coats in winter?
German shepherds are among the lucky breeds that possess a heavy coat that keeps them warm. As such, they don’t need coats during winter. Otherwise, they might overheat; especially if they’re exercising intensively.
However, German shepherds suffering from kidney or a heart disease, needs a coat in winter.
The same applies to elderly German shepherds and puppies.
Many factors determine the suitability of a German shepherd cold tolerance. Considering each of them is vital for the safety of your GSD.
Whenever it gets too cold, take proper measures to make him warm as soon as you can.