German Shepherds seem like pretty cool dogs, but can they stand the heat outside? I want my fuzzy German buddy to be comfortable in the intense heat of the summer months, so I decided to do a little research and here is what I found out.
So, can German Shepherds stay outside in the heat? German Shepherds do well outdoors if they have proper access to shade and cold water. Frequently groom your German Shepherd to keep him free of loose hair that could cause overheating. They also tend to dig during summer to cool themselves in the moist earth that lies just under the surface.
Your German Shepherd should do just fine if left outside, but you should always keep a close eye on him. An unsupervised German Shepherd could cause a lot of trouble and you never know when dehydration or heat exhaustion could strike. It is always better to be prepared.
Why Do German Shepherds Do Well in the Sun?
If I could think of two words that describe the physical appearance of a German Shepherd they would be Big and Furry.
Big furry things have an advantage in the winter months. All that hair and extra body mass do a great job of staving off the cold, but it doesn’t seem like they would be very helpful when the sun starts baring down in the summer.
So, why is it that German Shepherds seem to thrive in the sun? The answer may surprise you.
Not all German shepherds are the same. Those bred in Eastern Europe generally have longer coats, while those bred in Western Europe have shorter coats. The shorter coats are called short stock coats and the longer ones are long stock coats.
Both coats are fairly long, but the long stock coat has a second undercoat that insulates the dog.
Can you guess which coat is better if you want to keep your German Shepherd outside?
It may be counter-intuitive, but the long stock coat is actually better for a GSD in the heat.
“But wait a minute!” You may be thinking. “How would you feel stuck in sweltering 90-degree weather stuck in a thick fur coat!” It depends on how the coat was designed.
The long stock coat of a German shepherd is like 2 coats in one. The outer layer of the coat protects from the elements while the inner coat insulates the main body of the animal. That is, it keeps in warm air during the winter, and cool hair during the summer.
I don’t think I would like to go outside in a fuzzy coat during the summer, but it looks like that’s what keeps your GSD cool during those hot, hot, summer months.
Should You Shave Your German Shepherd in the Summer?
Shaving your GSD in the summer seems like a natural thing to do. Heck, when I get hot I love getting a nice haircut and feeling the cool wind blow against my scalp, but is it the same for your German Shepherd?
If you see a heat wave coming you may want to hold off with those clippers because your German Shepherd’s coat may be the only thing preventing heat exhaustion.
As we discussed earlier in the article, a German Shepherd’s coat insulates from the blazing heat of the sun. Remove that insulation and your dog will have to face the full power of the blazing sun without protection.
I have heard of some people shaving their dog and then covering them with sunblock. That’s like taking away a knight’s shield and giving him a pot lid. You are doing way more harm than good.
Trust in your German Shepherd’s natural systems, they have proven themselves before and they will work now.
Does Your Dog’s Diet Affect His Heat Tolerance?
You are what you eat, and what your German Shepherd eats just might a
German Shepherd’s were bred to be working dogs and consequently spend a lot of time outdoors.
Back in their shepherding days, their diet consisted mainly of scraps from the shepherd’s table. Old crusts of bread, stale water, and of course bones and the odds and ends of whatever meat the shepherd happened to be eating. It was a high-fat, high protein diet and the GSD seemed to thrive off of it.
The same seems to apply today.
German Shepherd owners have seen that their dogs seem to work better in the sun if they eat a high protein diet. Protein is certainly good for your GSD’s coat and a healthy coat, we have learned, is essential to keeping cool.
If your dog seems to be struggling in the heat, maybe it’s time to cut the vegan diet and serve up some high protein meat.
What Does a German Shepherd’s Activity Level Have to Do With the Heat?
Have you ever had to work outside in the summer? The sun blazes overhead and beats down on you like a hammer. I worked a landscaping job one summer as a teenager and it was miserable.
After a couple of hours shoveling dirt in the hot sun, you feel like passing out. Don’t dogs feel the same way working in the sun?
Well, to some extent.
German Shepherds are working dogs and are capable of handling all kinds of weather. It’s true that German Shepherd’s originated in Germany where temperatures rarely climb over 80 degrees Fahrenheit, but GSDs have worked all over the world without much of a problem.
People speculate that a little activity under the sun may actually benefit your German Shepherd. Dogs sweat through their tongues and their bodies don’t heat up the same way a human’s body would.
Instead of heating a dog up, the motion may actually replenish the air trapped under a dog’s fur. Almost like a fan. The dog runs and the old stale air trapped under his thick coat is replaced with cool fresh air.
Obviously, you will want to monitor how hard your German Shepherd is working and playing. Too much activity will lead to heat exhaustion just like in humans.
Be aware of your dog at all times and if he displays any signs of dehydration or heat exhaustion, give him some water and remove him from the sun.
Avoid strenuous exercise on extremely hot days.
Do Dog Houses Keep Out the Heat?
A lot of German Shepherd owners feel safer with a dog house. “The elements aren’t such a big deal.” They think to themselves. “After all, my dog has a dog house. He will be living in style through all kinds of weather!”
While dog houses are a great way to protect against some kinds of weather, they may actually do more harm than good when things get hot.
Dog houses can act like heat traps in the summertime. The heat pounds its way into the house and stews inside trapped baking your poor dog.
It’s pretty simple to tell if your dog house is a heat trap or not. There are two very easy way to check to see if it is a heat trap:
- Your dog will spend a lot of time out of the doghouse.
- Put your hand inside of the house and it will be fricken’ hot.
Pretty easy, right?
Here are a few tips to keep your doghouse cool:
Move your dog house to a shaded area. No better way to keep cool than staying out of the sun. Simple and easy. Find a spot in your back yard where the trees shade the ground. No trees in your back yard?
Buy some trees and plant them. Don’t want to buy and plant trees? Consider placing your dog house close enough to your own house so that it’s in the shade. Just anywhere out of the sun, please.
Make sure air is moving through the doghouse. Nothing is more suffocating than hot stagnant air. Don’t subject your dog to the discomfort. Get a vinyl doghouse that has a closeable vent on top. Drill holes near the roof to get a cross breeze flowing. Anything to keep the air moving on the inside.
Consider getting an air conditioner for your dog house. It doesn’t have to be expensive or fancy. Any small fan or battery powered air conditioner should be enough. Here is a great small solar-powered fan for a dog house that I absolutely love! Check it out!
Get a cooler bed. Dogs spend a lot of time close to the ground. If your dog spends his time resting on the hot ground you can be sure that he won’t be cooling down anytime soon.
You can fix that problem by getting a cool dog bed. There are a lot of elevated or gel beds that are great for outdoor use and keeping your dog nice and cool. If you are interested, you can check out my favorite gel bed for German Shepherd’s here.
How to Groom Your German Shepherd for the Heat
Your German Shepherd will thank you if you keep him nice and clean in the summer months. All that running and sweating outside can have some adverse side effects if you aren’t careful. Here is what you need to do to make sure your German Shepherd is ready to take on summer the right way.
Brush your dog weekly to keep off loose hairs. Your German Shepherd is going to shed in the summer. Like, a lot. If your German Shepherd has a long stock coat, expect a lot of hair to fall out.
Long stock GSDs shed heavily in the spring, when it first starts getting hot, and the fall. Brush your dog at least once a week to keep off the extra loose hairs. Not only will it keep your house a lot cleaner it will keep your dog cooler as well.
Check for ticks and other bugs. German Shepherds love to go romping around exploring in the summer and bugs love to burrow into dogs that love to romp and explore. Help your dog out by scanning him for ticks and other bugs at least once a week.
Hold a weekly bath. German Shepherds have a knack for getting their fur dirty, especially in the summertime. The extra gunk hanging in their fur is a real drag and might impede a dog from getting cool.
Do the nice thing and bathe your GSD at least once a week. Not only will your dog thank you for your extra effort, but the noses’ of everyone around you will too.
Basic hygiene is an important part of keeping your GSD cool and happy. Don’t neglect your dog when it is hot outside.
Signs of Heatstroke and How to Handle it
Heatstroke is a serious issue for dogs. If left without water in the boiling son, your German Shepherd could quickly overheat and collapse. Let’s look at the signs of heatstroke and what you can do if you see it happening.
Recognizing Heat Stroke
First, let’s take a look at some of the symptoms of heat stroke:
- Lethargy, weakness, or collapse. This is a clear sign that your dog has been out for too long in the sun. Your usually happy and energetic friend acts as if he is exhausted. He lays around, struggles getting up, or even collapses under his own weight.
- Drooling and foaming at the mouth. All dogs stick their tongues out of their mouths when they get hot, but GSDs aren’t known for drooling. If you see your dog leaking like a faucet or even worse, foaming at the mouth, you can be sure that something is wrong.
- Seizures, vomiting, or bloody stools. These are not good signs. If you see your dog experiencing any of these symptoms, they are sure to have heat stroke.
- Difficulty breathing or excessive panting. German Shepherds aren’t bulldogs, they don’t have any difficulty breathing. If your dog is gasping for air then you will know that something is wrong.
Keep a sharp eye on your dog at all times. If you notice any of the symptoms above, you can be sure your GSD is in trouble. Next, we will talk about how to treat heat stroke.
How to Treat Heatstroke for a German Shepherd
Treating heatstroke is simple enough. Once you recognize any of the symptoms above, immediately bring your German Shepherd indoors where it is cool.
Give your dog water so it can hydrate.
If your dog refuses to take water, call a vet immediately. If your dog doesn’t seem better within half an hour, contact a vet immediately,
After you have helped your dog, assess what caused the heatstroke and take care of the problem.
Tips for Bringing Your German Shepherd Out on a Hot Day
Hopefully, by now you realize that the sun can be dangerous and you will have to keep a close eye on your German Shepherd if you want him to be safe. But just because it can be dangerous doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a little fun in the sun.
Let’s go over some tips of how to safely enjoy the heat with your GSD:
- Use Sunscreen. That’s right! There is dog safe sunscreen and it can be extremely useful on a hot day. Apply it to your German Shepherds nose and under his eyes to make sure he doesn’t get burned from the sun. Epi-pet is a great brand that comes in a bottle that you can spray for easy application.
- Always provide shade. Whether it’s a walk in the park or a day at the beach, there should always be a generous amount of shade nearby. Consider taking an umbrella to the beach so your pooch has a place to rest when it gets too hot.
- Have plenty of cold water. Nothing keeps a dog happier than a gulp of cool refreshing water. Help you dog out and make sure you have plenty of water on hand. Make sure you are keeping hydrated!
Can German Shepherds stay outside in the cold? German Shepherds are excellent cold weather dogs and able to withstand frigid temperatures well below 0 degrees Fahrenheit. Be cautious if you take your GSD out into the cold. Make sure that they are moving properly and staying warm.
Can German Shepherds sleep outside? German Shepherds are working animals and sleep outside very well. Make sure that they have a safe sleeping area guarded against the elements and they should do just fine.