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What You Should Know About The German Shepherd And Cold Weather

The German Shepherds are popular throughout America and are known to be very versatile working dogs, but how they will do if you spend much time outdoors in cold temperatures? Here’s what you need to know about how German Shepherds handle the cold.

Can German Shepherds endure the cold? German Shepherds are large, active dogs with dense double coats that do a wonderful job of keeping them warm in the cold. It should come as no surprise that this German herding breed is well built for the cold, as Germany is known for its low temperatures.

Do all German Shepherds adapt equally well to the cold? What are some of the things to keep in mind when taking your German Shepherd out in the snow?

Here’s everything you need to know about the German Shepherd and cold weather .

What makes German Shepherds a good breed for the cold?

The German Shepherd is known as the best worker among dogs and is recognized for its loyalty, courage and firmness in the face of danger. However, what is it that makes them a great cold-weather breed?


German Shepherds were bred to work year round in the typical freezing temperatures of Germany, so they have adapted to the cold temperatures from the start.

German Shepherds were initially raised as cattle herders and guardians, so they spent most of their time in the elements with their flock.

Over time, German Shepherds were also trained as war dogs, police dogs, and guard dogs. In each of these races, German Shepherds had to be able to endure long days of freezing temperatures.


The first physical attribute that prepares German Shepherds for the cold is their size in which we can see that the male weighs between 30-41 kg and the female 23-32 kg.

This significant size means that Shepherds have some bulk to keep them warm as the temperature drops.


The main defense of a German Shepherd against the cold is its lush coat . The AKC German Shepherd standard has a medium length double coat.

The outer coat is dense, a bit hard to the touch, and is close enough for a classy appearance. The undercoat is soft, lush, and provides ample insulation.

These two types of coats work together, the exterior protects from weather and wind, and the interior provides dry insulation regardless of the weather.

It is important to note that there is another type of coat on German Shepherds that is not recognized by the AKC. Long-haired German Shepherds have a significantly longer coat than standard AKC- recognized Shepherds .

Because these dogs are not accepted by the AKC, they are considerably rarer and often more expensive.

Importantly, while long-haired German Shepherds may appear fluffier and seem to do better in the cold, most of the time these dogs only have one coat, rather than the double coat that characterizes the standard German Shepherd. .

With only the hairs on guard to protect them, Longhaired Shepherds are much more vulnerable to the cold because they do not have the dense undercoat necessary to insulate them. You can expect your Long Haired Shepherd to cool faster and be less resistant to weather than the shorter varieties. On the plus side, they also spill less.

It is unusual, but occasionally long-haired shepherds have an undercoat. In these cases, they are likely to do better in the cold than short-haired shepherds.

If you want a German Shepherd that really excels in the cold, the unusual double-coated longhaired Shepherd may be worth looking for. Please note that although these dogs have a double coat like the AKC recognized variety, they are not yet recognized.


The German Shepherd is a very active breed that can stay warm on a cold day just by being busy. Your pastor will probably want to run at least several hours a day and of course, pastors are skilled at all kinds of activity from agility to herding to tracking.

This is a dog that is bred to go all day regardless of the temperature, and all that activity helps keep your Shepherd warm.

How cold is too cold?

Unlike some Northern breeds that were bred to live and sleep in the snow, such as Huskies, Saint Bernards, and Malamutes, German Shepherds were bred to live and work with people and livestock. Your Shepherd will not mind even extremely cold temperatures while on the go and active.

In extremely cold temperatures, it becomes necessary to protect your Shepherd’s legs with boots / boots or balsam.

Their paws weren’t designed to run through the snow all day for long periods, but rather the Shepherd typically has bursts of activity along with time to lick their paws. If you expect your dog to run all day in the snow, paw protection is in order.

Cold weather tips

You can assume that your Shepherd will be able to withstand the cold without problems. After all, this is what they were made for, and your Pastor sure isn’t slowing down. However, even if your dog seems to be having a great time in the snow, there are a few things you can do to make it safer and easier for them.

Monitor your dog’s temperature

Keep an eye on your dog’s temperature indications. If they are panting while running and playing, they are probably fine. However, if your dog runs a lot without panting, and especially if you notice that your dog is shaking or appears lethargic, take him to a warmer place immediately.

Paw balm

Paw balm has been used throughout history to protect the paws of dogs that have to crawl on ice and snow. Musher’s Secret Protective Pet Paw Wax has an excellent reputation for being easy to apply.

The formula even includes vitamin E to heal any wound, as well as to keep the legs healthy. You just have to rub your dog’s paws before leaving to protect them from ice, snow, and salt.

Can a German Shepherd freeze to death?

Although German Shepherds are more cold hardy than other breeds, they can certainly freeze to death. A shepherd who is left without cover or provided a simple shelter in freezing temperatures can succumb and freeze to death.

Young dogs, older dogs, and pregnant and nursing mothers are especially vulnerable. This is not a dog that is designed to be out of the elements 24/7, but rather a companion that must remain with livestock or family.

How do German Shepherds fare in hot weather?

The German Shepherd has a versatile coat that tends to do well in all different temperatures. You can expect your German Shepherd to tolerate hot weather well, as long as you make sure to provide him with plenty of water and don’t let him push himself too hard.

Never shave your German Shepherd in an attempt to cool them down. Their double layer is designed to regulate their temperature and actually keeps them cool. The exception may be with long-haired, single-coat shepherds, which can benefit from being trimmed in hot weather.

Can German Shepherds sleep in the snow?

When the work day is over or when your dog is less active, the shepherds will quickly cool off outside in the snow. Shepherds were bred to work hard in the cold but sleep in the heat. Shepherds need to sleep in an isolated barn with livestock or in the house with people.

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I love the animals. Reading and writing about them, their customs, their peculiarities or the attention they require is exciting, and I also believe that it makes us better people. I share articles that solve the questions that dog caregivers face on a daily basis.

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