can german shepherds live outside

Can German Shepherds Live Outside?

Can German Shepherds live outside?

As herding dogs German Shepherds are physically capable of living outside. They’re big, strong, and equipped with double-coats that help them tolerate both hot and cold weather. So given that their needs are met, yes they can technically live outside.

But just because they can, doesn’t mean that they should. 

German Shepherds are highly social dogs and need to spend time around their pack or family. Keeping them outside and away from social interaction may lead to loneliness and behavioral problems like separation anxiety and aggression.

To add to that, keeping them outside will also expose them to a variety of dangers that may even affect their health.

In this article we look into why German Shepherds shouldn’t live outside, the benefits of keeping them indoors, and a small guide to help you manage an indoor German Shepherd.

Why You Shouldn’t Let Your German Shepherd Live Outside

There are a few reasons why you shouldn’t leave your German Shepherd outside. They are as follows:


While German Shepherds have the natural capability to tolerate both hot and cold weather due to their versatile double coats, exposure to extreme cold or heat can be dangerous, if not fatal.

For instance, leaving your German Shepherd under the summer sun or in temperatures above 85 degrees Fahrenheit may cause your dog to overheat or develop heatstroke, both of which can significantly harm your dog.

On the other hand, leaving your German Shepherd outside in the cold may also lead to hypothermia or frostbite, which are again, harmful and sometimes even life-threatening conditions.

Animal Encounters

Keeping your German Shepherd outside may also open the possibility of unwanted animal encounters. 

Personally speaking, I’ve had a few encounters with snakes in our yard. And while I’m not a snake expert to tell if they were venomous or not, I guess that alone shows the dangers that your German Shepherd may face when it’s left outside. 

And it’s not just snakes. Your dog could also encounter disease carrying animals like raccoons and rats.

Health Hazards

Aside from the possible health issues presented by extreme weather and disease-carrying animals, there are also other outdoor hazards that may affect your German Shepherd’s health. Chemicals such as fertilizers and insecticides, or plants like oleanders and lilies, may all poison your dog.

Behavioral Implications

German Shepherds that are left outside without social interaction are prone to developing behavioral issues. Because of this, they begin to exhibit destructive behavior such as excessive barking, chewing, and digging.


German Shepherds easily get bored when they’re left alone. And when boredom strikes they look for ways to entertain themselves, hence the destructive behavior.

Separation Anxiety

Again, German Shepherds love to spend time in the presence of their pack, which in this context is you and your family.

If they don’t get to do so, they may develop separation anxiety, a condition wherein a dog becomes upset about the separation from its loved ones. Like boredom, this condition may also lead to destructive behavior.

Benefits Of Keeping Your German Shepherd Inside

It goes without saying that keeping your German Shepherd inside would allow you to protect it from outside dangers, keep it away from health hazards, and prevent the development of behavioral problems. 

But other than that, it will also allow you to develop a better relationship and understanding of your dog. You’ll be able to have a better grasp of its needs and how to take care of it.

Guide To Keeping A German Shepherd Indoors

While it’s certainly ideal to keep your German Shepherd indoors, it is by no means easy to do so. They are after all big, active, and heavy shedding dogs.

Managing Your German Shepherd’s Shedding

To avoid having to clean up a mess due to your German Shepherd’s shedding, you would have to implement a regular brushing schedule.

Brushing your German Shepherd at least three times a week will help manage shedding by removing loose hair before they fall off. Meaning, you will be able to remove and dispose of your dog’s dead hair before it gets into undesirable areas such as your furniture or clothing.

Just remember to do it outside.


Always provide your German Shepherd with the proper amount of exercise to prevent it from developing any behavioral problems. Try to give your dog at least an hour of exercise daily, be it by walks or games such as fetch. 

Mental Stimulation

Aside from exercise, you should also provide your German Shepherd with the right amount of mental stimulation, to yet again, prevent it from developing behavioral problems. 

A great way to do so would be to get your dog puzzle toys that will challenge and keep its brain occupied.


Socialization is crucial if you want to prevent your German Shepherd from becoming dangerous to your family, or other people and pets.

Through it, your dog will develop a better understanding of the world it lives in and thus will be able to interact with its environment appropriately.


Training will help you manage your German Shepherd’s actions better, and will effectively keep your dog from developing bad habits. Being able to control your dog will allow you to prevent it from running and playing around the house recklessly and causing damage.

Why Do Some People Keep German Shepherds Outside?

Image by Capri23auto from Pixabay

There are a variety of reasons why people consider and even keep their German Shepherds outside. They are as follows:

Tradition. In the past, keeping a dog outside wasn’t necessarily frowned upon. Thus, some people actually grew up having outside dogs. In fact, outside dogs are very much still prevalent in rural areas.

Shedding. German Shepherds are heavy shedders, and some owners may think that the best solution to manage the mess it causes would be to let it shed outside.

Preventing Issues. Sometimes a person might opt to keep a German Shepherd outdoors as they believe it’s effective in preventing damages in the house or issues regarding the safety of family members such as children.

Protection. Some people get German Shepherds as guard dogs, and they may think that it’s ideal to have their German Shepherd live outdoors for it to protect the household effectively.

For the most part, these reasons seem to be quite reasonable. But still, they don’t negate the aforementioned dangers and hazards. So while somewhat understandable, keeping a German Shepherd outdoors remains to be unideal.

Can German Shepherds Live Outside?

To summarize. Yes, German Shepherds can technically live outside. But that doesn’t mean that they should.

Keeping a German Shepherd outside exposes it to a variety of dangers that may affect its overall quality of life. Also, outside dogs generally lack social interaction and that does not work well for a social dog like the German Shepherd as it may lead to boredom and separation anxiety.

Final Thoughts

There’s a debate as to whether keeping a dog outdoors constitutes animal cruelty. Some would say that it is and that leaving a dog outdoors deprives it of interaction with its pack and exposes it to a variety of dangers. Others, however, would say that dogs throughout their history have lived outdoors and that they have even evolved in ways that they can live outdoors (such as in the case of the German Shepherd’s double coat). Both sides can present valid points, and thus it’s sometimes difficult to determine which is correct.

I personally think it isn’t. After all, an outdoor German Shepherd can be treated equally and possibly better than an indoor one. So is it animal abuse if all of the German Shepherd’s needs are addressed? I don’t think so.

I’d say the most important thing, whether you let your German Shepherd live inside or outside, is take proper care of it and raise it right. Spend time with it and always address its needs.

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