Do German Shepherds get cold? Well, yes they do.
While they are capable of tolerating low temperatures with their insulating double coat, extremely low temperatures will prove deadly for even such a well insulated breed like the German Shepherd. Thus, if you live in an area prone to such weather conditions, you’ll have to mind a few considerations.
In this article, I go in-depth into those considerations by looking into the temperatures that German Shepherds can tolerate, the dangers of low temperature, signs that your German Shepherd is feeling cold, and finally, what you can do to help keep your German Shepherd warm.
How Are German Shepherds Capable Of Tolerating The Cold?
German Shepherds have double coats that consist of a topcoat and an undercoat. Both these coats perform functions that insulate and help keep a German Shepherd warm.
The topcoat deflects water and snow which prevents the German Shepherd from getting soaked, while the thick undercoat works as the primary insulator.
How Cold Is Too Cold For A German Shepherd?
According to PetMD, the cold temperature won’t generally be a problem for dogs until it falls below 45 degrees Fahrenheit. At that point, dogs with low-tolerance to the cold may start to get uncomfortable. The next temperature benchmark is at 32 degrees Fahrenheit at which point the cold becomes a danger to puppies, thin-coated, and old or sickly dogs. Then finally, there’s below 20 degrees Fahrenheit, temperatures wherein your dog could develop health problems like hypothermia and frostbite.
Now, while these temperatures aren’t specific to German Shepherds alone, they will still serve as a good benchmark for what’s considered to be too cold for a GSD.
It’s also worth noting that actual coldness isn’t just what’s registered in a thermometer. Your German Shepherd may feel colder or warmer than the temperature reading due to the factors that follow:
Wind chill. If you live in a cold area, you would know that it would feel colder when there’s wind than when there’s not. Dog’s will feel the same way. A cold breeze may cut through your German Shepherd’s coat and reduce the coat’s insulating ability.
Dampness. Any dampness that soaks through your dog’s fur will get your dog cold.
Cloud cover. Cold days feel colder when it’s cloudy since your dog won’t be able to soak up and stay warm under the sun.
Activity. Movement and exercise can generate extra body heat, and thus a sedentary dog will feel colder than one that’s active.
The Dangers Of Extreme Cold On Your German Shepherd
It’s important that you monitor your dog well and warm them up if they feel cold. Else, it may develop risky health conditions like hypothermia and frostbite.
Hypothermia is a medical condition characterized by abnormally low body temperature. It’s a high-risk disease that may affect your dog’s heart, blood flow, breathing, and immune system. In severe cases, it may lead to coma and heart failure.
Symptoms of hypothermia include:
- Lethargy and stiffness
- Difficulty breathing
Thus, if your German Shepherd exhibits those symptoms or if its temperature reaches below 100 degrees Fahrenheit, consult with a veterinarian immediately.
Frostbite is dangerous as it essentially freezes your dog’s extremities. Mild cases would usually only case cosmetic damage, but severe cases may require the need for amputation.
Symptoms of frostbite are as follows:
- Pale, gray, or bluish discoloration of the affected skin
- Coldness or brittleness on the affected area
- Pain in the area when touched
- Swelling in affected areas
- Blisters or skin ulcers
- Blackened or dead skin
Again, if your dog exhibits any of these symptoms, warm your dog up, and take them to the vet immediately.
How To Tell If Your German Shepherd Is Feeling Cold
Given the dangers associated with extreme cold, you must be able to tell if your German Shepherd is feeling cold. That way, you’d be able to monitor and act accordingly.
Here are some warning signs that you need to watch out for:
Shivering. This is probably the most obvious indicator that your German Shepherd feels cold. If you find your dog shaking and trembling in the cold, get it inside and warm it up immediately.
Keeping their paws up and off the ground. If you see your German Shepherd trying to keep its paws up or walking as if it’s limping, that’s a good indicator that your dog feels cold.
Seeking for shelter. Another indicator that your German Shepherd may be feeling cold is if it’s constantly trying to hide behind or under something.
Restlessness. When cold, a German Shepherd may also act restless. So, if you notice your dog moving around restlessly, that may indicate that your GSD is trying to warm itself up.
Anxiety. Your German Shepherd may also get anxious in the cold. You’ll know if it’s anxious if they start to whine, whimper, and even bark. If it does, that means it’s uncomfortable, and that it’s time to warm up.
Lethargy. The cold will also slow down and tire your German Shepherd’s body. So if your dog is moving slowly or curled up and seemingly lethargic, it could mean that it’s cold.
If your German Shepherd is out in the cold and shows any of these signs, get them to shelter and warm them up immediately.
How To Keep Your German Shepherd Warm
So you find your German Shepherd exhibiting some of the aforementioned signs, what should you do then?
Well it is highly situational, depending on whether your dog stays indoors or outdoors. But there are general guidelines you can follow to keep your dog warm. They are as follows:
Provide shelter. Now, this would be easy if your dog stays indoors. But if your dog’s an outside dog, do consider a doghouse, especially a heated one. The doghouse will protect your dog from the rain, snow, act as a windbreaker, and will ultimately provide extra insulation to keep your dog warm.
Provide extra bedding. Following the same principle as shelter, extra bedding will provide your dog with extra insulation. So, if possible, provide your dog with extra blankets
Raise the bedding off the floor. Depending on insulation, the floor can easily become very cold. So, try and raise your dog’s bedding off the floor to keep it warm. Also, if possible, you could consider an elevated bed.
Consider A Heating Pad. If the elevated bed or extra beddings aren’t enough, you might want to consider a heating pad to keep your dog warm.
Exercise. One way to keep to your German Shepherd warm is to get it moving. Of course, if possible, do it indoors. But if not, be sure to limit outside time as much as possible.
Provide Proper Nutrition. Ensure you’re providing your German Shepherd with proper nutrition. Not only will this provide your dog with the energy to warm itself up, but it will also prevent it from getting too thin, which will reduce their cold tolerance.
Keep Your Dog Dry. As previously mentioned, any dampness that will soak through your German Shepherd’s fur will amplify the feeling of coldness. So, one way to keep your dog warm is to keep it dry.
Don’t Shave Your Dog’s Coat. Your dog’s coat plays an essential role in keeping warm. So, while it can be quite tempting to shave your German Shepherd’s coat due to all the shedding, don’t do so.
Do German Shepherds Get Cold?
To summarize, yes German Shepherds do get cold. While they are able to tolerate the cold due to their insulating double coats, they won’t be able to survive in extremely low temperatures.
That said, don’t let the cold dissuade you from getting a German Shepherd. Just know that if you do, you will need to put effort into keeping your GSD warm. But if you simply follow the guidelines presented in this article, you’ll be fine.