Can German Shepherds Live in the Backyard

German Shepherds need a lot of space to accommodate their energy and size.

However, it might not be wise to leave your German Shepherd in your backyard all the time. Of course, you can occasionally keep them there, but that should be their permanent residence.

There are several factors to consider before placing these dogs outside.

Why Some People Might Consider Leaving a German Shepherd Outside

Depending on your lifestyle, you might find having extra space for a German Shepherd convenient. Many people consider backyards an ideal space for exercising German Shepherds.

You can keep their activity levels high without letting daily walks interrupt your work schedule.

Having a big backyard might encourage owners to place or build an outdoor kennel.

Depending on the location, the kennel should accommodate the breed’s size. This kennel should also be sturdy to withstand winter and summer climates.

Other owners might leave them outside due to excessive shedding that affects peoples’ allergies.

Reasons to Not Leave a German Shepherd in the Backyard

Although some German Shepherds don’t mind the outdoor life, it’s not always the best choice.

Some owners can train them to live comfortable lives inside smaller homes or apartments. Typically, leaving the dog indoors keeps them safe from several hazards found in your yard.

Some of these dangers can cause physical harm, while others might alter your dog’s behavior.

They’re more susceptible to these conditions when unsupervised, making it essential to keep them indoors.

If you’re unsure about letting the dog live outside, consider these factors before deciding.

Exposure to Parasites

Although your backyard might appear to be safe, it might be home to unwanted parasites.

Leaving a German Shepherd near tall grass might leave them susceptible to fleas or ticks. This problem might be more prevalent if you don’t perform consistent yardwork.

Although many people consider German Shepherds a hardy breed, they can contract parasites occasionally.

The life stages most vulnerable to parasitic infections include puppies and senior dogs.

One way parasites can enter their bodies is through the ingestion of soil or stool. They can become infected if they lick their paws after touching contaminated surfaces.

Others might enter your dog’s body through a host, such as infected fleas or mosquitos.

Some common parasite symptoms include loose stool, inflamed skin, anemia, and digestion issues.

These symptoms can range from mild to severe, depending on the dog’s condition. Keeping your dogs indoors might reduce their chances of infection and go to the vet.

Examples of Parasites

Some common parasites include hookworms, roundworms, and tapeworms.

They reside in a dog’s digestive system once contracted. When your dog defecates or vomits, you might find traces of these organisms.

Some parasites, such as giardia, aren’t worms but can emerge without immediate symptoms.

This factor makes it equally dangerous when you have other pets at home. It can spread through fecal contact, putting dogs, cats, and humans at risk.

Exposure to Harsh Weather Conditions

When you leave your German Shepherd in the backyard, they’re more prone to harsh weather. It would be wise to consider local climate conditions before leaving the dog outdoors.

This climate tolerance might also depend on the type of German Shepherd you have.

Suppose you live in an area prone to flooding, windstorms, or other extreme phenomena.

A responsible owner shouldn’t risk their dog’s safety by keeping them in the backyard.

Frigid Conditions

German Shepherds have two layers of fur that allow them to tolerate colder temperatures.

However, this doesn’t mean you should keep them in the backyard in an overnight blizzard.

It would be best to keep German Shepherds indoors when experiencing below-freezing conditions.

Leaving a dog outside in the cold makes them more susceptible to danger.

These conditions might include hypothermia or frostbite. If you don’t monitor your dog’s activity, you might not recognize any warning signs.

The dog’s age also plays a part in how much weather they can tolerate. German Shepherd puppies don’t have thick coats for handling cold temperatures.

On the opposite spectrum, senior dogs are more vulnerable to health issues and colder temperatures.

Hot Climate Conditions

Another weather factor you should consider is heat tolerance for seasonal or year-round temperatures.

Although German Shepherds are adaptable breeds, you shouldn’t leave them out too long.

Your dog might become prone to heat stroke due to its thick coat.

The severity can significantly escalate if you don’t provide your dog access to water. A dog might burn its paw pads on patio pavement on hot days.

It would be wise to research your location’s highest temperatures to prevent heat stroke when outside.

High humidity levels can affect how dogs can cool themselves.

Hazards in the Garden

Another factor in helping you reconsider leaving your German Shepherd outside is your garden.

If you leave your curious dog unattended, they might ingest something in your garden. Some of these things can be very dangerous for them.

Toxic Fertilizers and Other Garden Substances

Some ingredients in fertilizers, compost, pesticides, and additives might be toxic to dogs when ingested.

If you see signs of drooling, diarrhea, or vomiting, consult your vet immediately.

Toxic Plants

Much like specific foods, several plants and flowers are toxic to German Shepherds.

If you don’t secure your garden, your dog can dig up and eat your plants. Some might cause gastrointestinal discomfort, while others might induce seizures or comas.

Some examples of plants you shouldn’t let your dogs come into contact with include:

  • Tomato plants
  • Aloe
  • Lilies
  • Tulips
  • Azaleas
  • Daffodils
  • Oleander
  • Oak trees (acorns and leaves)
  • Wisteria
  • Sago palm
  • Rhododendron
  • Onions
  • Chrysanthemum

Living Outdoors Can Leave Them Vulnerable to Harmful Animals

Depending on your location, other dangers come from leaving your dog outside.

An unsupervised dog might encounter several animals that might harm them. A curious dog might get bitten by a snake when you don’t supervise them.

Larger predators, including coyotes, might be a more significant threat for vulnerable German Shepherd puppies. Some animals might transfer diseases to your dog.

For example, a raccoon can give an unvaccinated German Shepherd rabies when bitten.

What About Cats?

A backyard German Shepherd might be more prone to getting into fights with feral cats.

This factor might not be ideal if your dog isn’t compatible with felines. Some cats might carry diseases and infect dogs through scratching or biting.

Leaving Your German Shepherd Alone Can Affect Their Behavior

When you leave your dog unsupervised, they might indulge in unruly behavior or cause trouble.

Dogs are naturally social animals, so leaving them alone too long can have negative repercussions.

Disruptive Behavior

Some people believe active dogs can have fun if they have enough space to run. However, if they don’t receive proper stimulation, they can become bored over time.

Although you might think leaving toys around can resolve the issue, it won’t be enough.

Dogs need motivation while playing and won’t chase a ball unless prompted. Leaving them alone with toys might create other problems.

Most people consider German Shepherds to be aggressive chewers due to their strong jaws and teeth.

They might break or tear their toys and devour what’s inside of them. You might find yourself spending more cash if they damage anything.

Dogs might remedy this boredom with disruptive behavior to garner a reaction from their owners.

Examples of this might include digging holes, chewing furniture, and excessive barking. These problems can escalate if you don’t resolve them as soon as possible.

Increased Separation Anxiety

When you leave your dog secluded for extended periods, they might develop separation anxiety.

This anxiety might be more challenging to overcome if your dog is inseparable from you. When you leave your dog alone, it might engage in behaviors resulting from their distress.

Your dog might attempt to escape the yard whenever they become overwhelmed with loneliness.

These actions might include attempting to squeeze through, dig under, or jump over fences. Your dog might damage door or window structures while attempting to reach you.

Decreased Socialization

German Shepherds are more comfortable when surrounded by their companions. When you leave them outdoors without frequent socialization, they begin feeling neglected.

Unsocialized dogs are more challenging to train due to a lack of interaction.

When you don’t praise or acknowledge them, German Shepherds won’t listen to your commands.

A lack of socialization might also lead these dogs to develop more aggressive tendencies.

This aggression might stem from fears developed outside. Becoming territorial over a yard might also elevate this aggression when intruders enter their vicinity.

It’s essential to give a German Shepherd the socialization it needs as early as possible.

There are ways to socialize an older dog, but it may take a bit longer.


While it may seem tempting to let your dog live outside, risks are inevitable. Leaving a German Shepherd in the backyard leaves them susceptible to toxic substances and disease.

They might also develop behavioral problems when separated from their owners or other housemates.

Keeping your German Shepherd indoors can improve their well-being and keep them out of trouble. By letting them live indoors, they’re more inclined to be a part of your family.

Controlled indoor environments might be more suitable for new German Shepherd owners.

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