Ultimate Guide to German Shepherd Cold Tolerance

The first-night frost has settled again, and we are already starting to think about snow fun. But how do you keep it fun for your dog? What is the German Shepherd cold tolerance and what can you take into account?

german shepherd cold tolerance

German Shepherd Cold Tolerance

The living conditions of the German Shepherd dog can encompass both hot and cold temperatures. Thanks to its robust constitution and double coat, this doggie is relatively well sheltered from the elements. Although it thrives in temperate climates, the German Shepherd likes cold temperatures.

The German Shepherd Dog has an excellent quality coat

Free-falling mercury is not a problem for this dog: the German Shepherd’s cold tolerance is pretty high. By cold, do understand correctly: it is not freezing temperatures either. This doggie is far from having the cold resistance of the Malamute since the ideal climate for a German Shepherd remains to be temperate regions.

When temperatures drop below freezing, it is best to cut down on physical activity. You can also prepare your dog for winter by taking care of his paws: you can cut the coat a little so that it does not freeze. For dogs who live in cities, there are balms to combat the damaging effects of salt spread on sidewalks. Also remember to brush their coat regularly and adjust their diet, if necessary.

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The German Shepherd does not like to stay locked up

It’s not to say that this dog doesn’t like going around in circles. The German Shepherd loves cold temperatures not only because he doesn’t suffer from them, but also because nothing can get between him and his love for physical activities. And it’s not a little snow that will scare him!

To keep your pooch happy even when the mercury drops, adapt the duration of his activities to the temperatures. Hypothermia or frostbite quickly happens if he spends too much time in the snow. Also, be sure to optimize your German Shepherd’s living space by offering him a thicker bed or a warmer shelter.

How cold is too cold for a German Shepherd?

Large dogs like the German Shepherd can handle the cold better than their smaller counterparts. They have a thicker layer of fat and their body loses less heat. That is why the first symptom of cold only occur around 3 degrees Celcius (37 degrees Fahrenheit). Yet these dogs can also get too cold, so always keep an eye on this.

Risk factors

How well your German Shepherd can withstand the cold depends on the size and the specific characteristics of that breed. A number of factors ensure that the cold has a greater influence on your German Shepherd dog:

  • The coat. An obvious factor, a thinner coat retains less heat and therefore the dog cools down faster.
  • A bald stomach. This will also cause your dog to lose heat faster.
  • Age. Puppies have not yet built up a fat layer and old dogs have more trouble regulating their body temperature.
  • Health. Obviously, a sick dog can spend less energy on its body temperature and thus cools down faster. Consider carefully whether you want to take a sick dog into the cold.
  • Heavy wind or rain. Rain and wind can promote cooling so the dog will cool down even faster. Think of swimming when it is cold.
  • Snow clumps. Snow clumps get stuck in a dog’s coat and between the toes. Not only unpleasant, but it also cools down quickly. Let these clumps melt between your hands and do not pull them out of the coat.

How to know your German Shepherd cannot handle the cold

When a dog cools down too much, it is accompanied by a number of physical symptoms. Below are the 3 most obvious ones.

  • Shiver. Just like with humans, this is clearly visible, especially with short-haired German Shepherds.
  • Breathing is difficult. A normal frequency for breathing is 10-30 times per minute and should be emitted from the lungs without sound. 
  • The heart rate is getting weaker.
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Your dog’s behavior may also change. Is your dog is no longer looking for contact or does not want to play anymore, and shows one or more symptoms? Then there is the chance that your dog is cold.

Keep a close eye on your dog and take steps to make it more enjoyable for him. If your dog cools down too much, there is a good chance that hypothermia can occur.

German Shepherd Body Temperature

A dog’s body temperature is on average between 38 and 39 degrees Celcius (100 to 102 degrees Fahrenheit). Cold weather can cause this temperature to drop quickly. Small differences are okay, especially if they are only short periods.

When your dog’s body temperature drops below 37.5 degrees and he begins to show signs of cold, it is wise to take action. To get a good indication of body temperature you can use a human thermometer. Feeling the ears, belly, or legs is not a good way to measure a dog’s temperature.