Search
Close this search box.

Ideal Temperature For a German Shepherd For Maximum Comfort

Last Updated: December 27, 2023

Residing in the UK, where we experience mild summers and chilly winters, I frequently contemplate the ideal temperature for German Shepherds like my dog Willow.

This curiosity is further piqued by the fact that her littermates reside in the diverse climates of the US and the Caribbean.

Such variations in weather conditions have led me to reflect on the unique care requirements these dogs might need to thrive in such contrasting environments.

The ideal temperature for a German Shepherd is between 50° and 80°F (10° to 27°C). German Shepherds can tolerate higher and lower temperatures, but only briefly. Overly hot or cold conditions will make GSDs uncomfortable and may harm their health.

It’s on the feet of your loyal pets where you might first see the impact. Winters, especially, can be tough with all the salt on the roads, and you might need to consider dog boots for them—so they may have access to their daily walks without damaging their paws.

It’s vital to understand the risks of prolonged exposure to both overly hot and cold temperatures. You should know the danger signs of hypothermia and heat stroke and that senior German Shepherds and puppies respond to temperature differently.

A German Shepherd paddling in the river cooling down.
My German Shepherd Willow paddled in the river to help her cool down in hot weather.

German Shepherd Temperature Range

The temperature of your environment can have positive or negative effects on your German Shepherd’s health. The Animal Welfare Act includes sections to protect dogs from extreme temperatures.

Regulations state that the ambient temperature must not fall below 50°F (10°C) for dogs not acclimated to lower temperatures or rise above 85°F (29°C) for dogs in indoor facilities.

When considering the temperature requirements for dogs, although age, breed, coat type, body shape, health status, and level of acclimation all come into play when specifying acceptable temperature ranges, more research is needed to account for those specific factors.

As the German Shepherd coat consists of two layers, they will be far more comfortable, not exceeding a temperature of 80°F (27°C).

Additionally, regulations require that you must maintain humidity at levels of 30-70% for the indoor housing of dogs, and temperatures must not go lower than 45°F (7°C) or rise above 85°F (29°C) for more than four consecutive hours.

Do German Shepherds Get Cold?

A German Shepherd’s double coat is well-suited to cold weather, but extended exposure to temperatures below 20°F (-7°C) puts your dog in danger of frostbite and hypothermia.  

Most dogs enjoy playing in the snow and do well in conditions when you might need a winter coat. But when the temperature dips below 20°F (-7°C), your German Shepherd should only stay out for a few minutes or take a bathroom break.

Walking outside during a cold snap below 45°F (7°C) should be fine, but get indoors as soon as you notice your German Shepherd shiver or raise his paws off the icy ground.

Read more here: Do German Shepherds Get Cold?

German Shepherd In The Snow
My German Shepherd Willow in the snow, where her dense double coat gives her some respite.

Frostbite

German Shepherds have a dense double coat to protect against the elements. Their undercoat is an insulation layer in winter, while the topcoat (guard coat) protects against the wind and rain.

However, their ears, paws, and tail are vulnerable to cold and can become frostbitten in extreme temperatures and weather conditions. Canines are at risk once the temperature falls below 32°F (0°C).

Signs of frostbite in GSDs:

  • Tenderness or pain when touched
  • Pale, gray, or blue skin in the frostbitten region
  • Blistering or ulceration
  • Swelling
  • Blackened or dead skin 

You should take your best friend to a warm place upon noticing signs of frostbite. Avoid rubbing frostbitten areas or applying direct heat, such as with a hairdryer or heating pad. Instead, take your dog to the vet, who may prescribe antibiotics and painkillers.

While most mild cases of frostbite heal with no permanent injuries, severe frostbite can lead to permanent scarring, nerve damage, or amputation among some unfortunate pups.

Although frostbite is not usually a life-threatening condition, hypothermia can often follow, which can prove fatal.

For example, if his body temperature drops excessively due to exposure to ice or cold climates during walks, it can cause severe health complications, potentially worsening into anything from mild discomfort to serious illnesses like hypothermia.

Hypothermia

Your German Shepherds’ average body temperature ranges between 101°F (38°C) and 102.5°F (39°C). If a GSD’s body temperature drops to 98˚F or 99˚F (37°C), hypothermia sets in.

During your exercise with the dog, always be vigilant about changes in air temperature and outright signs of overheating or chilling.

Should you notice your dog acting disoriented, beginning to shiver during your walk, having difficulty walking or being lethargic, it is time to get him home immediately.

In climates where the cold is more intense, exposure to moisture, such as getting wet, could lead to a rapid drop in body temperature.

If left out in the cold for too long, your GSD will become sluggish and ultimately unresponsive. Lasting injury or death can result from untreated hypothermia.

Dogs love rolling around in the snow, and some breeds, like Labradors, love a dip in icy water. But if your dog gets wet, he will be more susceptible to hypothermia.

As German Shepherds cannot tolerate the cold, as well as the Great Pyrenees or Huskies who are acclimatized to colder temperatures, it is best to avoid winter water time.

If your German Shepherd is hypothermic, you will need to warm him by:

  • Getting him inside a warm place
  • Wrapping him in blankets or coats (warm these on a radiator first if you can)
  • Call your veterinarian

How Hot is Too Hot?

While German Shepherds can tolerate hot weather up to 85°F (29°C) if they have water and shade, they will be much happier indoors when the temperature rises above 80°F (27°C). 

For greater insight, check out this article, Can German Shepherds Overheat?

German Shepherds, like all dogs, cool themselves through panting. Heat loss through sweating from the paw pads and nose is minimal. Nonetheless, panting loses its effectiveness as the temperature rises.

On humid days, dogs must pant even more vigorously. Our dogs feel more uncomfortable on humid, steamy days, just like we do.

“In high temperatures, you’ll notice your GSD will sleep more as he is using a lot of energy panting to stay cool.” – World of Dogz

Your pup will need shade against the blistering sun and plenty of cold water to drink. If you have a kid’s swimming pool or shallow trough, you can fill that and let your doggo soak to cool off.  

Thicker coats, like that of the German Shepherd, decrease heat loss from the skin. Without proper attention, your dog may face heatstroke at higher temperatures than other dogs can tolerate.

Check out my video below for some great tips on how to keep your German Shepherd cool…

If your pooch struggles to keep hydrated, you can get a trendy water fountain such as the PetSafe Drinkwell from Amazon. This clever multi-tiered fountain is the perfect size for German Shepherds.

Note: Clicking the above link(s) will take you to Amazon or an online store where we have an affiliate relationship. If you make a purchase, we may earn a commission at no additional cost to you.

The free-flowing water lures your dog to drink more, and the continual water circulation keeps the water fresh and clean. And you don’t have to keep filling it up every hour!

You can also head to this article, 10 Ways to Keep a German Shepherd Cool, for some great ideas to keep your dog’s temperature down.

Check out my German Shepherd, Willow, in the below photo. She loves sunbathing – but only for a few minutes! It’s not long before she will get too hot and go and cool down on the cold patio.

A German Shepherd lying in the sun.

Should I Shave my German Shepherd in the Summer?

You should never shave your German Shepherd in the summer or at any time of year, for that matter. Shaving your dog’s undercoat removes his protection against UV rays and makes him more likely to overheat.

Your dog can also suffer from red and inflamed skin that becomes painful and easily irritated. Consistent exposure to direct sunlight is also associated with skin cancer.

Dogs don’t perspire through their skin like humans. So, shaving or trimming your dog’s fur doesn’t make him regulate heat better through the skin. Besides, your dog is programmed to blow his undercoat (shed heavily) in summer to regulate airflow and enhance cooling. 

The long hairs in your German Shepherd’s coat hold in the air and act as an insulator. 

The trapped body heat keeps your dog warm in the winter, while the air blowing through his fur after they’ve shed their winter coat cools him down, adapting to the varying outdoor temperatures.

This is similar to a blanket that preserves heat in cold temperatures and releases it in hot ones. A shaved dog no longer has that cooling system, and with the lack of protective hair, body heat easily escapes and can lead to more severe heatstroke symptoms.

Signs of Canine Heatstroke

Signs of heatstroke in German Shepherds are:

  • Vigorous panting or labored breathing
  • Dehydration and deep red gums
  • Trembling, disorientation, or seizures
  • Salivating or foaming at the mouth
  • Vomiting and bloody diarrhea
  • Collapse or unconsciousness

If you notice these alarming symptoms in your dog, get him to a shaded area with a cooler temperature. Pour cool tap water (not cold to avoid shock) over your dog and offer him foods that help cool down, such as small amounts of watermelon or cucumber, along with small amounts of cool water.

Don’t place wet towels over your dog, which can trap heat and worsen the condition.

Towels can be placed beneath him in minor cases, and if symptoms don’t improve, consult your vet.

On blisteringly hot days, adapt your dog’s walk schedule to early morning and late evenings when the weather is cooler. I usually take my German Shepherd, Willow, to a nearby wooded area where the trees provide ample shade.

I also take a dog water bottle like the Tuff Pupper PupFlask. This extraordinary lifesaver ensures I always have emergency hydration when my dog needs it.

Its convenient compact size and easy-to-use feature, along with a cool reversible leaf-shaped bowl that lays flat over the bottle when not in use, makes it a must-have item for any dog owner.

A GSD Cooling Down In The River by dipping its face in the water.
My German Shepherd Willow cooling off in the river by dipping her snout in the water.

Senior Dogs and Temperature

German Shepherds become more sensitive to hot and cold weather as they age. This is due to their reduced capacity to maintain their body temperature and adapt to different weather conditions.

Temperatures your dog enjoyed while young may be too much for them as they enter their golden years.

As they grow older, dogs lose control of their body temperature. They become more vulnerable to hypothermia in the winter and heatstroke in the summer.

If your senior GSD develops issues like arthritis, a common problem in older dogs, the discomfort becomes more noticeable during cold or damp weather.

The sedentary lifestyle of senior dogs often results in weight gain. Being overweight puts the dog at greater risk of heat stroke and heart conditions.

To keep your older dog fit and healthy, consider serving him a senior breed-specific food like Royal Canin Senior Large Breed Dog Food.

This particular dry food, an excellent ingredient in your furry friend’s diet, is formulated to meet an older dog’s nutritional needs. I like this food as it’s packed with nutrients, and the kibbles are shaped to compliment your GSD’s snout shape and jaw strength.

Puppies and Temperature

Just like adults, German Shepherd puppies are more sensitive to temperature due to their smaller size. Therefore, supervising your puppy when the temperature is above 80°F (27°C) and below 50°F (10°C) is crucial.

GSD puppies have boundless energy. If given a chance, they will play in the sun until they overheat. It may be tempting to let your puppy in the yard during the day (especially if you’re still working on housebreaking), but puppies should stay indoors if the weather is too hot.

While puppies love playing and rolling around in the snow, they can quickly shiver if exposed to the cold for too long. You must ensure your puppy isn’t left out in the cold. Look out for symptoms and get him warm at the first signs of hypothermia.

FAQs

Where should I shelter my dog in extreme cold temperatures?

In extremely cold temperatures, provide your German Shepherd with a well-insulated doghouse or kennel that offers protection from the elements. The shelter should have a raised floor to prevent direct contact with the cold ground, and it should be positioned in an area that is shielded from strong winds.

Additionally, providing extra bedding, such as straw or blankets, inside the shelter can help provide additional warmth. It is also advisable to place the shelter in a location where it receives ample sunlight during the day, as this can help naturally raise the temperature inside the shelter.

Can German Shepherds tolerate extreme heat?

German Shepherds have a remarkable ability to adapt to various climates, including extreme heat. Their thick double coat actually helps regulate their body temperature by providing insulation and protecting them from the sun’s rays.

Additionally, they have a well-developed respiratory system that allows for efficient cooling through panting.

However, it is important to provide them with plenty of shade and fresh water and avoid strenuous activities during the hottest parts of the day.

How can I keep my German Shepherd cool in hot weather?

To keep your German Shepherd cool in hot weather, ensure that your furry friend has access to plenty of fresh water at all times. Hydration is crucial in maintaining their body temperature.

Additionally, provide shaded areas for them to rest and relax, as direct sunlight can quickly raise their internal temperature.

Consider using cooling mats or bandanas specifically designed for dogs, which can help regulate their body heat. Lastly, limit strenuous exercise during the hottest parts of the day and opt for early morning or late evening walks instead.

Final Thoughts

German Shepherds can naturally tolerate high or low temperatures for a short time but will do better in cool to moderately warm weather due to their thick double coats.

Ensure your dog stays hydrated by providing plenty of water when it’s hot, and look out for shivering symptoms when the temperature drops.

Although you can keep your German Shepherd in an outside kennel in a temperate climate, your dog will be much happier indoors with the family. As German Shepherds are adaptive, the ideal temperature and environment for them is in your house.

Sharon Waddington
Sharon Waddington is the founder of World of Dogz. With over 30 years of experience working with dogs, this former Police Officer has seen it all. But it’s her trusty German Shepherd, Willow, who steals the show as the inspiration behind this website. As Sharon’s constant companion Willow has played a pivotal role in shaping her passion for dogs. Recently, Sharon has become deeply passionate about the plight of rescue dogs and is an active advocate for dog rescue, striving to make a difference in the lives of dogs in need.
SHARE THIS POST

Leave a Comment

Image for Newsletter Signup

Rescue.
Rehabilitate. Repeat.

Get the best in dog rescue news, care, and health tips, and be a part of the rescue dog revolution.