Can German Shepherds live outside?

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German Shepherds are my favorite breed of dog, so I wanted to learn more about them. I was curious if German Shepherds could live outside, so I decided to research it to find out.

So, can German Shepherds live outside?

While German Shepherds may sometimes prefer to sleep or spend time outside, it’s not good for them to live outside full-time. German Shepherds are social animals and they need to spend time around people to be happy.

German Shepherds are dogs whose behavior is largely dependent on socialization and on their training, and keeping them inside or outside can have an impact on that.

Why Shouldn’t German Shepherds Live Outside?

There are a few reasons why a German Shepherd should not live outside full-time. The following are some of those reasons and why they may be bad for a German Shepherd.


One of the most basic reasons is the weather. German Shepherds are double-coated and so they have thick fur. This keeps them nice and warm in the winter and it can cool them off in the summer after they shed. If they are always kept outside, however, the summer sun may become too much. German Shepherds are prone to getting heatstroke due to the heat on their thick fur.

Heatstroke is unpleasant for anyone. If a dog gets it, it can vomit, faint, become lethargic, and have many other symptoms that are unhealthy. Depending on where you may live, summer can be extremely hot, as well as humid, a combination that is not good for German Shepherds.

While they may also be okay in the winter, for the most part, temperatures can get extreme in some places. If they aren’t acclimated to the harsher temperatures, they can struggle. When they are let inside, they are given a break from the cold. Staying outside in it constantly may be fine in some cases, but it can have adverse effects for other reasons as well.


German Shepherds are generally pretty healthy dogs. However, any dog that stays outside all the time can be prone to health issues. Some may come from lack of hygiene. If they aren’t washed enough, they can get really dirty and that can mess up their fur and possibly the protection that it provides. And it’s pretty easy for a dog to get dirty when left outside.

There are also environmental dangers outside. Poisonous plants that a dog could get into are a risk. There can also me antifreeze melt in the winter, or other chemicals around, from acid rain top pesticides to gas that could have leaked in from a shed or garage. These chemicals are dangerous and possibly deadly for German Shepherds, as well as any other dog.

A German Shepherd may also hurt its paws on salt and chemical melt. If there are sharp tools or objects left outside, that could injure them as well. And if you have a fence, they could hurt themselves trying to jump over it.


This is probably the biggest reason to not let a German Shepherd live outside 24/7. German Shepherds are extremely intelligent dogs, and so they need a lot of stimulation, both mentally and physically.

German Shepherds love being work dogs for police or firefighters for this reason because they are given a lot to do for their minds and bodies. Staying in a yard all day every day does not give them the stimulation they need. Even if the yard is big enough for them to run around freely in, they will get bored from doing the same thing.

Yards typically just don’t have the necessary stimulation for German Shepherds to enjoy them if they are always there. It may be good for a few hours, but it’s not enough. And a bored dog will develop behavioral issues. Many people have discovered that if they leave a German Shepherd outside full-time, it will bark. A lot.

Constant barking will annoy you and your neighbors, but dogs do it because they are bored, as well as lonely.

“Generally speaking, most experts agree that, for many reasons, it’s always best to keep your dog indoors — and it’s never best to leave him or her outdoors unattended for extended periods of time.”

-Animal Planet

German Shepherds are also highly social dogs. They need a lot of love and affection. If they are left outside and away from the family, they will not receive the love and care that they need. A couple hours of attention a day simply won’t be enough.

German Shepherds are capable of being extremely well-behaved and well-trained, but that requires time, effort, and attention. If a German Shepherd is not socialized well, to your family or to strangers, it can become aggressive and even violent.

A German Shepherd left outside will not form attachments to your family, and so it will feel no real need to protect it, or to behave.

German Shepherds that are made to live outside will have many behavioral problems, like constant barking, aggression, and violence. They may also try to run away, and they may try to break things that are left outside. German Shepherds can also be prone to digging, chewing, or biting and scratching if they are not trained and socialized well.

Clearly, there are some issues with leaving it outside to live. This does not mean it can’t be outside for a few hours at a time. Some dogs may even prefer sleeping outside, as long as they are still a part of the family and allowed inside.

What Are Benefits of Letting German Shepherds Inside?

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In addition to protection from weather and potential health problems, there are several benefits to letting your German Shepherd inside and as a part of your family.

German Shepherds are extremely affectionate dogs, and so when they attach to you, they will be a loving and loyal friend. They are also more obedient and easier to train when they care about you, because they want to impress you and do a good job.

They will also be more likely to behave. Many people who live with a German Shepherd have been able to train it not to bark and to behave very well. It will be friendly with others and not violent or aggressive.

Some people want to leave a dog outside because they are allergic and dogs tend to shed.

If that is the case, it’s important to know that German Shepherds are a breed of dog that sheds a lot. This can be made to be manageable, but if you don’t want to deal with all that fur, it may be wiser to consider getting a different breed of dog.

German Shepherds do need exercise, however, so they will still need to spend some time outdoors. If you balance their indoor and outdoor time, they will be able to run and play outside and have lots of fun without getting bored. That means they’re less likely to break things and make messes, inside and outside. It will be well-balanced, and you’ll be able to have plenty of fun together.

How your German Shepherd behaves largely depends on how it is raised and treated. Allowing it to be a part of your family and spend time indoors can give you a great friend that will be with you for a long time.

How long can German Shepherds be left alone?

German Shepherds should not be left alone for more than eight hours a day. They need a lot of stimulation and attention to limit behavioral problems such as barking or chewing, and so time alone should not be excessive.

How long does it take to house train a German Shepherd?

Puppies take about 20 days to be able to control their bodily functions, and at 8-16 weeks they can hold their pee for about 2 hours. Adults should have an easier time, depending on their former background.

Are German Shepherds good family dogs?

German Shepherds can be great family dogs if they are trained right. They have a caring temperament, love activities, and are highly intelligent. They are protective and loyal to a family that gives them love and attention.

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