How Cold Is Too Cold For German Shepherds?

Do you want to know how tolerant German Shepherds are of the cold?

Good! We got you covered.

In this DigDoggy article, you will learn:

  • How cold German Shepherds can tolerate
  • What temperature is dangerous for your GSD
  • Ways to tell that your GSD is already too cold

And much more!

german shepherd in cold weather with snow

If you do your best to be aware of your German Shepherd’s needs, then the beastly cold will not stop you from having fun outside with your pooch.

What's In This Guide?

      How Cold Is Too Cold For A German Shepherd?

      A German Shepherd in its prime, particularly one that sports a double coat, can handle temperatures up to 30° Fahrenheit (-6° Celsius).

      Most long-haired German Shepherds can even withstand slightly colder temperatures for short periods as long as they stay dry.

      The German Shepherd may not traverse 90 miles of snow like the Alaskan Malamute, Siberian Husky, and Samoyed.

      But rest assured, the trusty GSD can still cope well in frigid weather. German Shepherds were bred to herd a drove of full-fleeced sheep throughout the year, including the winter season.

      But if temperatures drop below 15° Fahrenheit (-9° Celcius), it would be downright cruel to have a German Shepherd stay outdoors for an extended time.

      Also take note that there are factors that exaggerate extreme cold weather problems, such as a dog’s age, health condition, and weight.

      All these factors have an effect on your dog’s response to the cold.

      What Should You Know About German Shepherds In Winter Weather?

      A German Shepherd having a medium-length or long outer coat followed by a thick undercoat will thrive better in the cold than a GSD having other coat options.

      While this coat structure is ideal for the winter weather, it does not warrant you to be a complacent owner. Here are a few things to keep in mind.

      The Wind Chill Is a Big Threat to Your German Shepherd

      Your German Shepherd might be fluffy and healthy enough to tolerate the cold reasonably well, but do not underestimate how cold the wind makes Doggo feel.

      When the wind speed increases, your pet’s body heat is carried away faster despite its thick fur.

      The thermometer might read 30° Fahrenheit but with a 20 mph wind rate, your pet may experience 10° to 15° Fahrenheit (-12° to -9° Celcius) temperatures.

      Prolonged exposure to such can lead to frostbite or worse, hypothermia.

      If your adventurous canine loves the outdoors, the least you can do is to provide him with a house or any structure with a wall and windbreak so that Doggo can get some relief.

      The Snow and Ice May Cause Your German Shepherd to Lose Your Scent

      Did you know that many dogs end up getting lost in the winter, especially when there is a snowstorm?

      As temperatures continue to drop, the moisture in the air freezes, trapping the scents in dry solids that dogs can barely detect.

      Therefore, always keep your dog on a leash if not in an enclosed space. If there is a fence, your dog will probably do fine without a tether but be sure to have him wear his ID tag.

      Your German Shepherd Can Get Dehydrated

      Many pet owners associate dehydration with hot summer days but any dog can get dehydrated throughout the year, including the beastly winter when water is likely to freeze.

      The humidity levels in the atmosphere are low during the cold winter months. This phenomenon makes dogs easily dehydrated if they do not drink enough water.

      So be sure your pooch has plenty of safe drinking water if he is going to be outside for a few hours.

      Consider using a heated water bowl. Water just left out in a bowl without any freeze protection could become undrinkable even if you place it inside a dog house.

      Keep Your German Shepherd Well Groomed

      It is important to keep your German Shepherd well-groomed and brushed in the winter.

      While it may be surprising to see how much Doggo can shed in the winter, brushing his coat daily can actually lessen the amount of shedding.

      Likewise, this daily habit can keep your dog’s coat healthy, which helps with insulation and protection from the cold.

      Rescue dog in snow looking through a hole in ice

      How Long Can German Shepherds Stay In The Cold?

      There is no specific amount of time as German Shepherds can be different.

      Some canines are better acclimated to the cold than others due to their physical makeup and overall health.

      Personally, I would not let my dog go outside for more than 20 minutes but that’s just me!

      Regardless, 30° Fahrenheit (-6° Celcius), factoring in the wind chill, is not going to be safe for any German Shepherd to be hanging out in the yard even for an hour.

      A good rule of thumb is to always keep your furry pal indoors unless he plays outdoors supervised.

      Perhaps an hour or two in an enclosed yard is acceptable as long as you have provided basic amenities, such as an insulated dog house, a heated bed, and a heated water bowl.

      What Affects The Cold Tolerance Of German Shepherds?

      The German Shepherd features several physical traits that naturally prepare the breed for the harsh winter weather.

      But bear in mind; you should not subject your pooch to the extreme cold in certain situations.

      Coat Type

      The German Shepherd sports a thick, double coat — an outer coat and undercoat.

      The outer coat comprises medium-length dense, stiff hairs that often lie flat.

      This layer of coarse hairs serves as a water-repellent barrier, repelling a range of cold weather elements like rain and snow. Whereas, the undercoat is thick and fleecy.

      The main purpose of the undercoat is insulation, keeping Doggo from getting too cold in the winter or too hot in the summer.

      However, not all German Shepherds have the standard double-coat. There can be variations in the length and thickness of the fur.

      Some dogs can have a short, medium, or long outer coat. While most German Shepherds have a double coat, there are those without an undercoat.

      Therefore, you need to recognize your German Shepherd’s coat structure to determine how well Doggo could cope up in cold weather.

      Evidently, German Shepherds with thick plush double coats will fare best in sub-zero temperatures.

      Fat and Muscles

      Have you ever wondered why a naturally stocky breed like the Bull Mastiff is going to feel less cold than a Poodle?

      That is because muscles generate heat as a byproduct of metabolism. Additionally, a higher percentage of body fat provides more insulation and protection from the cold.

      German Shepherds have an excellent muscle and fat ratio to keep their vital organs well insulated. Likewise, these canines are tall enough to keep their bellies away from the icy ground.


      Puppies don’t have enough muscle mass and body fat. Winter is harsh for their underdeveloped bodies and thin fur coats. 

      Seniors also have a low tolerance for frosty weather as they no longer regulate body heat as efficiently as they used to; hence, their temperature drops a lot faster than younger canines. 

      Moreover, geriatric dogs lose muscle mass and their immunity dwindles as they age.

      You may have to let your pooch wear a vest and use a heated bed in case you live in an area with unforgiving climates.

      You can still take a six-month-old puppy or an old dog out for potty by getting him warm clothing, such as doggie sweaters, winter boots, and vests.


      What Are The Signs That Your German Shepherd Is Cold?

      Regardless of how adaptable the German Shepherd is, you always need to pay close attention to what your dog’s body language is telling. Be on the lookout for the following signs:

      • Shivering or tremors
      • Verbal signs of stress, such as anxiety and whining
      • Lethargy or sluggishness
      • Needing to burrow 

      German Shepherds may cope up in different ways but these are the common signs that your pooch might be feeling too cold.

      Final Thoughts On German Shepherds in cold Weather

      The German Shepherd is built to tolerate cold weather well thanks to its heavy lush coat and large muscular body.

      Regardless, you should always keep a close eye on your German Shepherd so that you know that Doggo is handling it right.

      It can be difficult to say exactly what temperature is too cold for your German Shepherd but the average GSD fares well in a place where outdoor temperatures plummet to 30° Fahrenheit (-6° Celcius) or so.

      However, anything below 20° Fahrenheit (-6° Celcius) could be dangerous, so make sure to keep an eye out. 

      Wind chill makes tolerable cold temperatures bitter and miserable.

      As for puppies and seniors, you should never subject them to extreme temperatures. Always ensure your dog’s comfort and well-being.

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      Lara Writes

      Lara, a.k.a Alpha Mama, is a great dancer and belter singer, although the world tells her otherwise. However, her greatest pleasure is working with animals. If the Alpha Mama is not being delusional, she manages to create informative articles and clear-cut buying guides. She also likes to share her personal experiences that may ignite your soul or possibly change your life!

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