German Shepherd dogs are appealing in more ways than one. But is this dog suited to the weather in your area, particularly the summer heat? Let’s find out.
A German Shepherd can live in hot weather. But, owners should keep a close eye on him because dehydration and heat stroke are real possibilities!
Keep him indoors or in the shade when temperatures swell. Plus, keep drinking water close by at all times.
Will A German Shepherd Do Well In The Heat?
The German Shepherd breed is one that is associated with athleticism, strength, and hardiness. These dogs are usually kept outdoors since their main job is to protect their owners and property.
But how do these dogs fare in the summer?
German Shepherds can thrive in summer. But, they need assistance from their owners.
As an owner, you must use your discretion and keep your dog indoors when it is too hot! An active dog can easily be struck by heatstroke.
Make sure your dog is sheltered at the peak of the summer day. He should have clean water available to him 24/7 and should get exercise when temperatures are cooler outside.
You can also use pet-safe sunscreen and have a lot of shade in the garden.
There is no negotiating these terms!
Don’t Shave Your German Shepherd!
As is the case for every double-coated dog, their coat maintains its thickness naturally. Meaning there is no need to shave your German Shepherd ever! Doing so will have repercussions!
Many novice dog owners think it is a harmless shortcut to grooming a German Shepherd! The truth is that there is no shortcut way to grooming this dog.
You must put in the effort to groom your dog and groom them correctly!
A dog’s coat acts as insulation and keeps a dog warm in winter and cool in summer. It is a natural temperature regulation mechanism that should be left alone.
Shaving a German Shepherd’s coat will lead to issues in regulating their regular body temperature.
Secondly, there is always the chance that the coat does not grow back in time for the change of season. This would be a disaster that could affect your dog’s health.
Checking For Dehydration
Dogs pant to keep cool, so how would one check to see if their German Shepherd is actually thirsty? There is a secret way, in their skin.
The elasticity of a dog’s skin tells if the dog is dehydrated or not.
This simple skin test requires you to grab hold of some skin from your dog’s body. Pull-on it and then release it. If it returns to its normal position immediately, your dog is fine.
But if the skin is left out of position for a long time, this is a sign of dehydration.
To avoid any severe issues, you should immediately take precautions to make sure he is not thirsty.
Factors Affecting A Dog’s Ability To Cope With Summer Heat
Although we may think heat affects dogs the same way it does humans, this is not the case!
Dogs are actually well equipped to handle a considerable amount of heat and sun.
This is quite amazing seeing as some dogs including the German Shepherd wear a thick double-coat!
Here are some unique adaptations which make the German Shepherd equipped to tackle the summer heat.
If you have seen a German Shepherd during the winter season, you will recognize his thick double-coat.
Famous for his black and brown coat, this dog is definitely acclimatized for cold weather!
Dogs that have a shorter coat are not always best at handling the heat!
In fact, dogs with a double coat do manage to find a way to cope with the heat. You must be wondering how a dog with a double coat can manage summer with this coat?
Double-coated dogs have the ability to shed their coats in an attempt to gear up and adapt for the upcoming season.
This works both ways and a dog can shed and grow the coat again based on the season.
Another secret is that the two layers of the coat are different and come with their own separate purposes.
So you must be thinking, how does this help? Well, the outer layer is a protective one and will help to keep out objects, insects, and UV rays.
The innermost layer is composed of short thick hairs and will help to trap air between the skin and the hair coat.
This layer of hair actually doesn’t just act to keep the dog warm in winters. It uses a temperature control mechanism that works to regulate the temperature of the dog year-round.
What your dog eats can affect his ability to cope with the heat.
Traditionally, working line German Shepherd dogs would eat the scraps from their owners. Bones, bread crusts, meat offcuts were what the dog would eat.
This naturally is a high protein diet and it suits the German Shepherd. With such a diet composition, these dogs are able to maintain their coats.
This is great and beneficial seeing as the coat plays an important role in maintaining body temperature.
A poorly-developed scarce coat will not help a dog take measures to adapt to changing climate.
Indirectly, a poor diet would ultimately render your dog helpless against the summer heat. These dogs need a high protein diet to maintain temperature regulation and coat maintenance.
Being active under the hot summer sun should wear your German Shepherd down, right?
Although this is the case for us humans, it is not always the case for dogs. Dogs don’t wear down the same as humans.
In fact, they have a unique mechanism that allows them to cool down and not overheat. Dogs pant and this lets them stay cool to some extent. Additionally, their ears act as an area from which they can sweat.
But even then summer heat can become overwhelming for a dog that does not have access to water and food.
You should provide enough water and shade to your dog during summer. If you notice your dog is tiring out and thirsty, call him indoors and let him out when temperatures drop.
How To Identify And Avoid Heatstroke?
Heatstroke in dogs is a possibility if they stay in the hot sun for too long.
Thirst and too much exercise are a combination that can definitely cause heatstroke. Many novice dog owners would probably ask what heatstroke in dogs looks like?
Signs Of Heatstroke In Dogs
- Lethargy and weakness (leading to collapse or fainting)
- Foaming or drooling from the mouth
- Increased panting and labored breathing
- Vomiting or diarrhea
Any or a combination of these symptoms is a reason to suspect heatstroke has struck your German Shepherd.
You can confirm this by consulting a vet with the symptoms your dog has.
So, the vet confirms your suspicion that your German Shepherd has heatstroke. What happens next?
Well, your vet will give you some advice on how to help your dog immediately.
Treating a German Shepherd For Heatstroke
- To treat heatstroke in German Shepherd dogs, you must immediately get it indoors away from the sun.
- Next pour water (not cold water) over their entire body.
- Try to get them enough lukewarm water to rehydrate them.
- Continue to pour a bit of water over them. You can stop when your dog’s breathing begins to normalize.
Your dog should recover in 30 minutes. If he does not, be sure to call a vet immediately.
It would do you well to monitor your dog after the incident and try to figure out the cause of the heatstroke. This will be vital to avoid it happening again in the future.
The Truth About Dog Houses And Summer
The German Shepherd is usually a hardy dog that can survive long periods of time outdoors than indoors. Further, many dog owners think that a dog house protects a dog against the hot sun.
Unfortunately, this is not the case!
Wooden dog houses may stop direct sunlight from falling over your pet dog. But, it does not stop him from feeling hot.
In fact, it is actually the opposite. Dog houses trap heat and there are very few ways for the heat to escape.
If you just go and put your hand in the dog house, you will feel how hot and suffocating it really is!
This should set the record straight about dog houses (whatever material they are made from).
Instead, in the heat of the day let your German Shepherd relax with you indoors. Having the air conditioning on will greatly aid the situation.
Ways to Make Your Dog House Cooler In Summer
Despite the drawbacks, a dog house is not a complete waste of time and money!
There are a few steps you can take to ensure your dog does not end up roasting in his house. These are some simple and straightforward steps that can make all the difference.
The main problem with dog houses is the fact that hot air enters and gets trapped without an escape passage.
So, how can you fix this? By providing a route for the hot air to exit the dog house of course!
You can do so by drilling holes on the top and letting a breeze flow through the structure.
Another option is to invest in dog houses that have the option to have an openable vent on the top. This makes it a multi-purpose dog house made for all weather conditions.
The worst mistake you could make for your dog is to position the dog house under the bare sun!
This will make the dog house heat up in no time at all, even if there is good ventilation. There must be something to break the heat of the sun.
Trees, buildings, and even tall shrubs can act as the perfect barrier for your dog’s house.
Many people prefer to place it in the open so they keep an eye out on their dog. This is not such a wise decision at all!
Shade is essential to keep your dog cool and that’s why you should make a point of it.
If the floor of your dog’s doghouse is the heat-attracting type, your dog needs a cool dog bed.
You can buy a gel dog bed that will remain cool or at least cooler than the floor. These beds are made with cooling raw materials and are usually elevated off the ground
They don’t cost much and your dog will love them!
How to Help Your German Shepherd Handle The Summer Heat?
When summer comes around, the wrong choices can cause heatstroke in your German Shepherd.
You will have to go out of your way to make sure the heat does not cause heat stroke or dehydration. Both are very serious and possibly fatal!
Shade Helps If They Are Not Indoors
If your German Shepherd is not out of the sun and indoors with you, he should be under some cooling shade.
Being in the line of the hottest sun rays will tire and dehydrate your German Shepherd. The best way to help him cope is to assure he is indoors with air conditioning.
Avoid Summer Heat Peak Time
During a typical summer season, the timings between 12 PM to 3 PM are when the sun’s intensity is at its peak.
Avoid taking your German Shepherd out for walks or activities during this time. Instead, take your German Shepherd out early in the morning or late afternoon.
Let Your German Shepherd Splash Around In A Pool
Setting up a kiddie pool in the backyard will be a welcome gesture, even if your German Shepherd is not fond of water!
In summer, a dog is likely to try anything to keep himself cool even if it means wading through water.
Another trick to helping your German Shepherd is frozen treats.
An edible item frozen or frozen in a water cube will be an interesting treat for your pet pal. They can lick the cube to get refreshing liquids while there is a tasty treat inside!
Luckily, this treatment may also be used to help teething German Shepherd puppies.
Yes, German Shepherd dogs can sleep outside provided the conditions are decent. They should be given a bed and a sheltered area to sleep under.
Sleeping outside is not rare for this breed since it is a guard dog with naturally protective instincts.
A German Shepherd can live in cold weather provided that they are not in the cold wind for a long amount of time.
Their double-layer coats help to insulate and keep warm air in and cold air out. Providing a shelter can prolong the amount of time they are outdoors in the cold.