Can German Shepherds Be Outside Dogs (And Why?!)

Can German Shepherds Be Outside Dogs

Bringing home a German Shepherd puppy is an exciting time filled with new adventures and endless cuddles.

As responsible dog owners, one of the many decisions we must make is whether or not our furry friends can be outside dogs.

German Shepherds are known for their intelligence, loyalty, and versatility, making them popular working dogs and beloved family pets.

However, determining whether a German Shepherd can thrive as an outdoor dog requires careful consideration of several factors.

In this article, we will explore the dangers of leaving German Shepherds outside, the best practices for keeping them safe and comfortable outdoors, and the benefits of letting them inside.

Let’s dive in and discover the answers to all your burning questions, ensuring the well-being of your German Shepherd and strengthening the bond you share

Table of Contents

Can German Shepherds Be Outside Dogs?

When it comes to determining whether German Shepherds can be outside dogs, there are several key factors to consider.

German Shepherds are incredibly intelligent and versatile dogs that were originally bred for herding and working purposes.

Their strong bodies and quick learning abilities make them inherently well-suited to spending time outdoors.

However, it is essential to carefully evaluate their specific needs, temperament, and the environment they will be exposed to before deciding if they can thrive as outdoor companions.

One factor to consider is the climate in which you live. German Shepherds have a double coat with a dense undercoat, which provides insulation and protection from the elements.

However, extreme temperatures, whether hot or cold, can pose risks to their health. If you live in an area with particularly harsh winters or scorching summers, it may be more challenging for your German Shepherd to remain comfortable and safe outdoors for extended periods. 

Consider providing adequate shelter, shade, and access to fresh water to help your German Shepherd withstand extreme weather conditions.

Another vital consideration is the activity and exercise needs of German Shepherds.

These dogs are highly energetic and require plenty of mental and physical stimulation to prevent boredom and behavioral issues.

While being outdoors can offer them more opportunities to engage their senses and expend energy, they still need regular exercise and interaction with their human family members.

If you plan on leaving your German Shepherd outside for an extended period, ensure they have space to roam, toys to play with, and opportunities for socialization to keep them mentally stimulated and fulfilled.

Additionally, German Shepherds are incredibly social and thrive on human companionship.

They form strong bonds with their owners and are happiest when they are included as valued members of the family.

If they are left alone outside for long periods without adequate human interaction, they can easily succumb to loneliness, stress, and anxiety.

It’s crucial to provide regular quality time with your German Shepherd, regardless of whether they spend most of their time indoors or outdoors.

Finally, it’s important to weigh the specific circumstances of your living situation, such as the size and safety of your outdoor space.

Do you have a securely fenced yard or a suitable kennel area that will keep your German Shepherd safe from potential dangers and prevent them from wandering away?

Additionally, are there potential hazards like toxic plants or uneven terrain that could pose a risk to their safety?

It’s essential to ensure a safe and secure outdoor environment for your German Shepherd if you decide to have them spend significant time outside.

Ultimately, whether a German Shepherd can be an outside dog depends on a variety of factors, including their individual needs, the climate, and the specific living arrangements. It’s important to carefully consider all of these elements and make a decision that prioritizes the well-being and happiness of your German Shepherd.

Consulting with a trusted veterinarian or professional dog trainer can also provide additional guidance and support in making the best choice for your furry companion.

Dangers of Leaving a German Shepherd Outside?

While German Shepherds can spend time outdoors, it’s important to understand the potential dangers and risks associated with leaving them outside for extended periods.

Here are some key considerations to keep in mind:

  1. Adverse Weather Conditions: German Shepherds are susceptible to heatstroke and hypothermia. In hot climates, they can easily overheat, especially if they don’t have access to shade and fresh water. On the other hand, in cold climates, their short fur and lack of body fat make them more vulnerable to freezing temperatures. Exposure to extreme weather conditions can lead to serious health issues or even fatal consequences.
  2. Predators and Wildlife: Depending on your geographical location, leaving your German Shepherd outside unattended may expose them to encounters with predators and wildlife. Coyotes, bears, or even smaller animals like raccoons can pose a threat to your dog’s safety. It’s essential to have a secure and enclosed yard to minimize the risks and keep your German Shepherd protected.
  3. Potential Poisoning: When outdoors, German Shepherds might have access to toxic substances such as pesticides, fertilizers, or plants that are harmful to them if ingested. Additionally, they may accidentally consume objects that can cause internal blockages. Supervision and ensuring that your outdoor space is free of potentially harmful substances or items can help prevent such incidents.
  4. Loneliness and Lack of Socialization: German Shepherds are highly social dogs that cherish companionship and thrive on human interaction. Leaving them outside for long periods without adequate human contact can lead to feelings of loneliness, stress, and anxiety. Lack of socialization may also result in behavioral problems and a deterioration in their overall well-being.
  5. Potential for Escape or Theft: German Shepherds are known to be intelligent and inquisitive, making them prone to escape attempts if they are left unsupervised outside. This can put them at risk of getting lost, being involved in accidents, or encountering dangerous situations. Additionally, leaving them outside unattended can make them a target for theft, as their breed is highly sought after.

To ensure the safety and well-being of your German Shepherd, it’s essential to carefully weigh the risks and implement preventative measures.

If you do choose to have your German Shepherd spend time outside, consider providing them with a secure and spacious dog run or a well-fenced yard.

Adequate supervision, regular exercise, interaction, and shelter from extreme weather conditions are crucial. 

If you need to leave your German Shepherd outside temporarily, ensure they have access to fresh water, shade, and a safe and comfortable space.

Can German Shepherds Live Outside In Winter?

The ability of German Shepherds to live outside in winter largely depends on various factors, such as their physical health, individual tolerance to the cold, and the specific climate they will be exposed to.

While they have a double coat that provides insulation, it’s essential to understand the risks and take precautions to ensure the well-being of your German Shepherd during the colder months.

Cold Tolerance

German Shepherds are generally more tolerant of colder temperatures than some other breeds due to their thick double coat.

However, every dog is different, and factors such as age, health, and acclimation to cold weather play a significant role.

Puppies, senior dogs, or those with health issues might have a lower tolerance for cold weather, making it less appropriate for them to live outside in winter.


If you decide to keep your German Shepherd outside in winter, providing appropriate shelter is critical.

A sturdy and insulated doghouse is essential to protect them from harsh weather conditions and frigid temperatures.

It should be elevated off the ground, have a dry bedding material, and a door flap to block cold drafts.

Additionally, the doghouse should be small enough to retain your dog’s body heat but spacious enough for them to stand, turn around, and lie down comfortably.

Fresh Water

Maintaining access to fresh, unfrozen water is crucial in winter.

Water bowls can easily freeze, so consider using heated bowls or frequently checking and replacing the water throughout the day.

Dehydration can occur even in cold weather, and by ensuring a continuous water supply, you are safeguarding your German Shepherd’s health.

Outdoor Time

German Shepherds’ exercise and activity needs must be met even in winter. While they may enjoy playing in the snow, be cautious of extended exposure to extreme cold temperatures. 

Limit outdoor time, especially during freezing temperatures, to avoid frostbite or hypothermia. 

Short walks or play sessions in a well-fenced yard can provide exercise while reducing the risks associated with cold weather.


In particularly frigid conditions or for dogs with lower tolerance to the cold, considering a dog coat or sweater may be beneficial.

These can provide an added layer of warmth and insulation, especially during walks or when spending extended periods outside.

Monitoring for Warning Signs

It’s crucial to be vigilant and watch for any signs of discomfort or health issues related to the cold. Signs of hypothermia can include shivering, lethargy, difficulty breathing, pale gums, and even unconsciousness.

If you suspect your German Shepherd is not tolerating the cold well or experiencing any adverse effects, consult with a veterinarian promptly.

Ultimately, the decision to have a German Shepherd live outside in winter requires careful consideration of their specific needs and the local climate.

Keep in mind that while they can handle cold weather better than some other dogs, their unique circumstances and personal tolerance must be taken into account.

If you’re uncertain or doubtful, it’s generally recommended to provide indoor accommodations during extreme winter weather to ensure the health and safety of your furry companion.

Can German Shepherds Live Outside In Summer?

As the temperature rises during the summer months, it’s important to consider the well-being of your German Shepherd if you’re considering them as an outside dog. While German Shepherds can tolerate moderately warm weather better than some other breeds, there are certain risks and factors to consider to ensure their safety and comfort.

Heat Sensitivity

German Shepherds, like all dogs, are at risk of heat-related illnesses such as heatstroke and dehydration.

They have a dense double coat, which may not provide adequate insulation in hot weather. 

Additionally, their dark-colored fur can absorb and retain heat, making them more susceptible to overheating.

Dogs with health issues, such as respiratory or cardiovascular problems, are even more vulnerable.

Assess your German Shepherd’s heat tolerance and health status before deciding if they can live outside during the summer months.

Shelter and Shade

If you choose to keep your German Shepherd outside in summer, providing appropriate shelter and ample shade is crucial.

Ensure the doghouse is well-ventilated, raised off the ground, and positioned in a shaded area to protect your dog from direct sunlight.

You can also consider using cooling mats or providing a fan in the shelter to improve air circulation and aid in temperature regulation.


Access to clean and fresh water is vital for your German Shepherd’s well-being, particularly in hot weather.

Dogs produce more saliva and pant to cool themselves down, leading to increased water loss. 

Make sure there’s always a sufficient supply of water available in a shaded area.

Consider using a large, shallow dish or a self-refilling water bowl to prevent dehydration.

Limited Exercise in Heat

German Shepherds require regular exercise, but during hot summer days, it’s important to adapt their exercise routine.

Avoid walking or engaging in vigorous activities during the hottest part of the day. Opt for early morning or late evening walks when temperatures are cooler.

Be attentive to signs of overheating, such as excessive panting, drooling, weakness, or disorientation, and take breaks or seek shade when necessary.

Cooling Techniques

Implementing various cooling techniques can help your German Shepherd stay comfortable. 

You can provide a kiddie pool for them to splash around in or use misters to create a cooling effect in their outdoor area.

Additionally, frozen treats or toys can help keep them entertained while providing relief from the heat.

Monitoring for Heat Stress

It’s crucial to monitor your German Shepherd for any signs of heat stress or heatstroke. These may include excessive panting, drooling, rapid heartbeat, lethargy, staggering, or vomiting.

If you suspect heat-related issues, immediately move your dog to a cool, shaded area, offer water, and consult a veterinarian.

Ultimately, the decision to have a German Shepherd live outside during summer must take into account their specific needs, individual tolerance to heat, and access to appropriate shade and cool shelter.

Regular monitoring, proper hydration, and modified exercise routines are essential.

If you’re unsure about how your German Shepherd will handle the summer heat or if your area experiences extremely high temperatures, it may be safer for them to have periods of supervised outdoor time while primarily living indoors where the environment can be controlled.

Is It Ok For German Shepherds To Sleep Outside?

Whether or not it is okay for a German Shepherd to sleep outside depends on various factors. 

While some German Shepherds might enjoy sleeping outdoors, it’s important to consider their specific needs, safety, and comfort when making this decision.

Here are some key points to consider:

  1. Climate and Weather: Climate plays a significant role in determining if it is appropriate for a German Shepherd to sleep outdoors. It’s crucial to consider the temperature extremes, including both cold and hot weather conditions. German Shepherds have a double coat that offers insulation, but they may not be able to handle harsh winter temperatures or intense heat without adequate shelter, protection, and measures to regulate their body temperature.
  2. Adequate Shelter: If you decide to allow your German Shepherd to sleep outdoors, ensuring they have proper shelter is essential. A sturdy, weatherproof, and insulated doghouse or designated sleeping area can protect them from rain, wind, and excessive sun exposure. The shelter should be roomy enough for them to stretch out comfortably and shielded from drafts. Providing a comfortable and soft bedding material can also help insulate them from the ground and create a cozy sleeping environment.
  3. Security: The safety and security of your German Shepherd should also be considered if they sleep outside. Ensure that your yard is securely fenced to prevent escape attempts, and inspect the area regularly for potential hazards or gaps that could allow them to wander off or be harmed. Additionally, be mindful of any potential threats from other animals or wildlife in your area.
  4. Social Interaction: German Shepherds are highly social dogs that thrive on human companionship and interaction. If your German Shepherd sleeps outside, it’s important to ensure they do not feel isolated or lonely. Regular quality time spent with your dog during waking hours and providing opportunities for socialization and engagement are essential for their mental and emotional well-being.
  5. Monitoring and Flexibility: Regardless of where your German Shepherd sleeps, it’s crucial to monitor them for any signs of discomfort, stress, or health issues. Regularly check on them, evaluate their behaviour and physical condition, and be prepared to make adjustments to their sleeping arrangements if necessary. As responsible dog owners, we must remain flexible and adapt to the needs of our furry companions.

It’s important to note that German Shepherds are known for their loyalty and desire to be close to their family.

While they might enjoy the option of sleeping outside, many German Shepherds thrive when they are allowed to sleep indoors with the rest of the family.

Sleeping inside allows them to feel secure, receive warmth, and experience the comfort of sleeping close to their loved ones.

Considering all these points, the decision whether for a German Shepherd to sleep outside or indoors should be made on an individual basis, taking into account the specific needs and preferences of the dog, the climate, available shelter, and the overall safety and well-being of your furry friend.

Can German Shepherds Survive In The Wild?

German Shepherds are intelligent, adaptable, and resilient dogs with inherent traits that were originally developed for herding and working purposes.

While they possess many skills that would aid in survival, it is generally not recommended for German Shepherds to be left to fend for themselves in the wild.

Here are several reasons why:

Dependency on Humans

German Shepherds have a strong bond with their owners and are highly reliant on human companionship.

They have been selectively bred over generations to work closely with humans, making them highly social dogs.

Without the human interaction, care, and guidance they are accustomed to, German Shepherds would suffer from loneliness, stress, and would struggle to meet their basic needs.

Lack of Survival Instincts

Domesticated dogs like German Shepherds have been bred for specific traits and skills in the context of human companionship.

While they possess some innate instincts, such as hunting or defense, these instincts may not be honed enough to serve them effectively in the wild.

Unlike their wild counterparts or natural predators, German Shepherds may not have the same level of instinctual survival skills.

Finding Food and Water

In the wild, sourcing food and water would be a significant challenge for a German Shepherd. 

Domesticated German Shepherds are typically fed commercial dog food or a balanced diet provided by their owners.

They would struggle to find sufficient nutrition and safe water sources in the wild. Their ability to hunt or scavenge might not be developed enough to sustain them long-term.

Exposure to Elements and Danger

Domesticated dogs, including German Shepherds, have been adapted to live in an environment largely insulated from the harsh realities of the natural world.

The dangers of predators, extremes in weather, exposure to diseases, and the risks associated with unfamiliar territory and hazards would greatly threaten a German Shepherd’s ability to survive without human intervention.

A German Shepherd abandoned or left to survive in the wild would be subject to a myriad of risks and challenges.

While their genetic lineage may make them capable of certain survival instincts, these instincts are often compromised or overridden by their domestication.

German Shepherds are not equipped to live independently or thrive in a truly wild environment without the support, care, and guidance of humans.

If you find yourself no longer able to care for your German Shepherd, it is always recommended to explore rehoming options or work with a reputable shelter or rescue organization.

These organizations can provide the necessary care, attention, and opportunities to find a new loving home where the German Shepherd’s needs will be met.

Tips For Keeping A German Shepherd Outside

Tips For Keeping A German Shepherd Outside

If you have made the decision to keep your German Shepherd outside, it’s crucial to ensure their safety, comfort, and overall well-being. Here are some tips to help you provide the best possible environment for your outdoor German Shepherd:

  1. Adequate Shelter: Proper shelter is essential for your German Shepherd’s comfort and protection. Invest in a well-constructed and insulated doghouse that is large enough for them to stand, turn around, and lie down comfortably. The doghouse should be elevated off the ground to prevent moisture and drafts, and it should have a slanted roof to deter water from collecting. Provide bedding material like straw, blankets, or rugs inside the shelter to offer additional insulation and a cozy sleeping area.
  2. Secure Fenced Yard: Ensure that your outdoor area is securely fenced to prevent your German Shepherd from escaping and to keep them safe from potential dangers. The fence should be tall enough to prevent jumping or climbing over and have no gaps through which your dog could squeeze. Regularly inspect the fence for wear or damage to maintain its effectiveness.
  3. Fresh Water and Nutrition: Always provide access to clean, fresh water to keep your German Shepherd hydrated. Check the water throughout the day to ensure it hasn’t become dirty or frozen. Proper nutrition is essential, so provide a balanced diet appropriate for your dog’s age, size, and activity level. Consult a veterinarian for guidance on the best diet for your outdoor German Shepherd.
  4. Shade and Sun Protection: Your German Shepherd should have access to shaded areas to escape direct sunlight and prevent overheating. Provide ample shade through strategically placed trees, a canopy, or a tarp to shield them from the sun. Avoid leaving your dog outside during the hottest part of the day and ensure there is always a shaded spot available in their outdoor space.
  5. Regular Exercise and Mental Stimulation: Outdoor German Shepherds still require regular exercise and mental stimulation. Provide plenty of room for them to run, explore, and play within their designated outdoor area. Incorporate daily walks, interactive toys, and training sessions to keep them physically and mentally engaged. Engaging their minds and bodies will help prevent boredom and destructive behaviors.
  6. Social Interaction and Attention: While your German Shepherd may spend significant time outdoors, they still require regular human interaction and attention. Schedule daily playtime, training sessions, or one-on-one time to bond and show them love and affection. This interaction is crucial to their overall well-being and emotional fulfillment.
  7. Regular Veterinary Care: Just like indoor dogs, outdoor German Shepherds require regular veterinary care. Schedule annual check-ups, vaccinations, and preventive treatments for parasites. Regular vet visits will help ensure your dog’s health and catch any potential issues early on.
  8. Extreme Weather Precautions: Take precautions during extreme weather conditions. Provide additional insulation or heated bedding in colder temperatures, and monitor your German Shepherd closely for signs of discomfort or hypothermia. In hot weather, provide extra ventilation, cooling mats, and access to water to keep them cool and prevent heat-related illnesses.

Remember, while your German Shepherd may spend extended periods outside, they still benefit from time inside with their family. Providing indoor time allows for increased socialization, mental stimulation, and exposure to varied environments.

By following these tips, you can create a safe and stimulating outdoor environment for your German Shepherd, ensuring their well-being and happiness as they spend time outside.

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Is it OK to leave my German Shepherd outside?

    It depends on several factors like climate, weather conditions, safety, and the dog's needs, but always ensure they have proper shelter, fresh water, and companionship.

  2. Will German Shepherds stay in the yard?

    German Shepherds are generally inclined to stay within the boundaries of a secure yard but providing sufficient physical and mental stimulation helps deter them from attempting to escape.

  3. Can German Shepherds sleep outside in the winter?

    German Shepherds have a tolerance for colder temperatures. However, it's crucial to provide an insulated, weatherproof doghouse, bedding, fresh water, and regularly monitor their well-being.

  4. Is a German Shepherd an indoor dog?

    German Shepherds can be both indoor and outdoor dogs. However, they thrive on human companionship, so having regular indoor time for socialization and mental stimulation is beneficial.


When considering whether German Shepherds can be outside dogs, it is essential to carefully evaluate their specific needs, temperament, and the environment they will be exposed to.

While German Shepherds are adaptable and resilient, leaving them outside comes with risks. Understanding the dangers, providing adequate shelter, fresh water, mental stimulation, and regular human interaction are crucial factors to consider.

Ultimately, the well-being and happiness of your German Shepherd should be the top priority.

Whether you choose for them to spend time indoors, outdoors, or a combination of both, ensuring their safety, comfort, and overall health should guide your decision-making process.

Consulting with a veterinarian or professional dog trainer can provide valuable guidance as you navigate this choice.

Remember, a happy German Shepherd is one that is loved, protected, and given the attention and care they need to thrive.Is it OK to leave my German Shepherd outside?

I have been fortunate to have German Shepherds as my beloved companions for the past decade. I trained , cared for them, and formed an unbreakable bond with each fluffy butt that I came across. Inspired by my profound love for German Shepherds, I decided to start a website dedicated solely to these magnificent dogs
Zara Hawkins

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