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Can German Shepherds Live Outside?

Can German Shepherds Live Outside?

If you are thinking about getting a German Shepherd and have a lot of outdoor space, you may be wondering can German Shepherds live outside?  It really depends on the weather conditions, the shelter available, and the type of dog owner you are.

This article will dive into the living conditions needed for a German Shepherd to live outside safely and happily.

Can German Shepherds Live Outside?

German Shepherds can technically live outside with appropriate shelter and if the temperature is moderate.  However, it is not recommended to keep a German Shepherd outside full time, as they are very attached to their human companions and need a lot of social interaction to prevent unwanted behaviors from developing.

Can German Shepherds Live Outside In Winter?

German Shepherds should not live outside in the winter if the temperature is below 40ºF.  Temperatures below 20ºF can cause frostbite and hypothermia.  German Shepherds should live inside during the extremely cold winter months for safety.

Can German Shepherds Live Outside In Summer?

German Shepherds shouldn’t live outside if it is above 85ºF.  Since German Shepherds have a double coat, they do better in cooler temperatures than warmer temperatures. 

Heat is dangerous at certain levels for German Shepherds or any dog for that matter because dogs only have sweat glands in the ears and paws to help regulate their temperature.  Accordingly, they are more easily susceptible to overheating.

Is It Ok For German Shepherds To Sleep Outside?

It is sometimes ok for German Shepherds to sleep outside but it depends on the conditions.  Some German Shepherds prefer sleeping outside if it is too hot inside the house, other GSDs like to sleep outside to guard the house.

Can German Shepherds Sleep Outside

Generally, German Shepherds shouldn’t be left outside unattended overnight.  However, if your dog likes sleeping outside you can take efforts to secure a safe place for them to sleep while being outside.  Such as a garage or other shelter so that they are safe while you sleep.

Can German Shepherds Survive In The Wild?

Whether any individual German Shepherd can survive in the wild will vary between each individual dog. 

German Shepherds that never had a human family will have a higher likelihood of surviving in the wild.  This is because they will keep more of their natural instincts to learn to hunt and rely solely on themselves for food.

German Shepherds that have been kept as household pets will normally have a harder time surviving in the wild because they have become accustomed to relying on humans for their daily needs.  However, there are definitely exceptions. 

German Shepherds who have confident personalities with higher prey drives can survive in the wild more successfully.  Whereas German Shepherds who are timid with a lower prey drive may have trouble finding food and avoiding predators.

Tips For Keeping A German Shepherd Outside

Have a Quality Shelter for Your Dog

One of the keys to keeping any dog outside is giving them a safe space to be.  This could be a garage, a doghouse, a large outdoor kennel, or a homemade shelter.

With large breed dogs like German Shepherds, you need to make sure that the shelter is large enough for them to be able to move around, sit and stand comfortably.

Give Them Access to Fresh Water

Whether a dog is inside or outside they need to have access to fresh water.  This is especially important during the warmer months if your dog is outside because dogs use water as a way of cooling themselves down when hot.

Temperature Control Inside the Shelter

Keeping your German Shepherd at a comfortable temperature while outside is important.  There are various ways this can be achieved:

  • Insulation to keep it warm
  • A roof to provide shade
  • A mounted fan or air conditioner

Bring Your Dog Inside in Bad Weather

There are certain weather conditions that a dog should not be left outside in under any circumstances.  Such as if there are severe storms like hurricanes, tornados, bad thunderstorms with lightning, and extreme snow like blizzards.

If any of these conditions are in the forecast, bring your dog inside until the weather fully clears up.

Never Leave Your Dog Outside Unattended for Long Periods

Even if your German Shepherd is considered an “outside dog”, you should still not leave them unattended for long periods.  They need to be given time to roam outside of the shelter, to be around humans, to go for a walk,  to potty, and to play. 

Leaving any dog in an outside shelter for long periods without checking on them is unacceptable!

Make Sure to Give Your German Shepherd Plenty of Social Interaction

As mentioned above, German Shepherds are a social dog breed that thrives off social interaction with their humans and even other dogs or animals.  A GSD that is kept mostly outside still needs the same level of human interaction that an inside GSD would require.

German Shepherds need both physical and mental stimulation on a daily basis or they are prone to get bored and develop destructive tendencies.  All German Shepherds also need a good amount of training so they can understand what is expected of them both inside and outside.

Some people think that an outside dog can be interacted with less because they are outside, but this isn’t the case.  If you are going to keep a GSD outside, you need to make an extra effort to spend the appropriate amount of time with them to keep them happy and well-rounded.

Additionally, GSDs that are left outside without a lot of social interaction are more likely to develop aggressive behaviors because they learn to become wary of new people or situations since they aren’t exposed to as much.

Don’t Keep Your Dog Outside as a Form of Punishment

One of the most important tips is to never put your dog outside as a form of punishment.  If you want your dog to spend some time outside that is fine, however, it should never be because they did something you didn’t like or misbehaved.

Doing so is showing your dog that being put outside is bad and they may start to develop a bad impression of being left outside.  Similar to crate training, the outside shelter shouldn’t be associated with negative experiences like being punished.

Final Thoughts

Although it doesn’t work for every German Shepherd, GSDs can live outside under the right conditions.  Some German Shepherds actually prefer being and sleeping outside to inside for a variety of reasons.

If you are going to keep your German Shepherd outside, take steps to get them a proper temperature-controlled shelter, spend ample time with them, don’t leave them unattended for long periods, and make sure they have access to fresh water. 

Dogs don’t have to be either an outside dog or an inside dog, they can really be a little of both.  If you have a GSD that lives outside, make sure they also get to spend time with you indoors and well.

Under the right conditions, a German Shepherd that lives outside can be as happy and well-rounded as a GSD that lives indoors.

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