Can a German Shepherd Sleep Outside?


Can a German Shepherd Sleep Outside?

Can German Shepherds sleep outside?

On the rare occasion, it won’t hurt to leave your German Shepherd outside for the night. As long as the weather is appropriate and their other needs are met, it won’t hurt them. 

However, German Shepherds are very attached to their owners. They were bred to develop a devotion to their family that is hard to match. They are not designed to be outside dogs and should be around their family members as much as possible. 

Indoors is a much more appropriate place for German Shepherds to sleep (as well as most dogs – to be fair). 

You should plan on your dog being an innate and vital part of your life before adopting a German Shepherd. These dogs need a lot of attention and companionship. If you want your dog to spend most of its time sleeping outside, you may want to select a different breed.

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Where Should a German Shepherd Sleep?

We highly recommend crate training your German Shepherd at a young age. While many people purchase these as protection animals, that doesn’t mean that you should let them roam your house as puppies. 

Just like any other dog, German Shepherd puppies can be quite destructive. They don’t always hold their bladders well and maybe teething – two factors that can lead to a destroyed house. 

You should always crate train your puppy. Remember, your puppy should love their crate. It’s their place to calm down and get away from stressful situations. They should also spend the night in it – since you will be unable to supervise them while asleep. 

If your German Shepherd is crate trained correctly, they will likely choose to sleep in their crate even after you stop closing the door. Their crate should be their safe space. And who wouldn’t want to sleep in their safe space?

Sleeping in their crate isn’t always necessary, though. Even with proper crate training, some dogs may pick another spot around the house to sleep in—for instance, many sleep near the front door or under windows. If your dog is allowed on the furniture, they may choose the furniture as well. 

(If your dog isn’t allowed on the furniture, but they still get on it at night, we recommend continuing to crate them until they are reliably trained.)

german shepherd sleep on the grass

Can a German Shepherd Puppy Sleep Outside?

It is not recommended for a German Shepherd puppy to sleep outside. There are quite a few reasons for this:

  1. They can’t regulate their body temperature.

Puppies are not good at regulating their body temperature. The temperature changes and drafts outside can be potentially dangerous for German Shepherds younger than six months of age. While some puppies might be fine, those battling illnesses may become sick or often – which can affect their development. 

  1. Nighttime is vital for crate training. 

Every dog should be crate appropriately trained – especially very large dogs like German Shepherds. This can be difficult to do if your canine is sleeping outside. It is best to crate train them at a young age, which would include them sleeping inside. 

  1. Puppies are more susceptible to diseases. 

Before they are completely vaccinated, puppies are more prone to getting sick. Outside is often full of germs and parasites. While your dog does need to go outside, spending hours overnight might be a bit much. It is recommended that you keep your pet indoors to sleep until they are at least a year old and have been fully vaccinated. 

  1. German Shepherd puppies need bonding time. 

German Shepherds need plenty of companionship. While growing up, they should be spending much of their time with their family members. Unless you are sleeping outside at night, your puppy probably shouldn’t be.

Can a German Shepherd Live Outside?

No. There are very few occasions where dogs should live outside full-time. 

There are a few working breeds that do good spending much time outside with their flock. For instance, the Russian Bear Dog was bred to bond closely with their flock. If these canines are used in a working manner, then it would be cruel to separate them from their flock regularly. 

It’s their family, after all. 

However, German Shepherds are not one of these breeds. They bond very closely with their family and are very people-oriented. Their companionship need means that they need hours each day with their family. Otherwise, they may become destructive and even aggressive. 

This isn’t a breed you can put outside and forget about. 

Unless you plan on spending hours with your dog each day, you shouldn’t get a German Shepherd. You especially shouldn’t expect to leave a German Shepherd outside for home defense purposes – that isn’t how this breed works. 

They were bred to defend people first and foremost. They are often trained as protection dogs, but that doesn’t mean they will defend your home if you set them outside. Instead, they perform this job best when they are allowed plenty of bonding time with their family and kept inside.

Should You Keep a Destructive German Shepherd Outside?

Sadly, many owners don’t know what they’re getting into when they purchase a German Shepherd. 

These are relatively common dogs, which often means that they are adopted by owners that don’t know much about dog ownership. They may want a German Shepherd as an expensive alarm system or because they look fantastic.

However, German Shepherds are a lot of work. They require extensive socialization and training to be good canine citizens. As brilliant dogs, they need plenty of mental stimulation. Often, this means daily training exercises, puzzle toys, and long walks. 

They are also highly active, require much exercise. 

If these needs aren’t met, a German Shepherd will get destructive. However, the answer isn’t to keep your dog outside but to meet these needs. 

If your dog was never trained properly, now is the time to start. If your German Shepherd isn’t getting enough exercise, increase the frequency of walks. If your dog is still destructive, it is likely because they are not getting enough mental stimulation. 

This can be hard to judge for many dogs. Usually, bored dogs will try to make their own fun, resulting in destructive behavior for seemingly no reason. Your German Shepherd may break into your cabinets or chew up your couch. Adding training and puzzle toys can help. 

Some dog owners opt to have their German Shepherds sleep outside because they shed heavily. This not fair to the dog. Shedding should always be managed by appropriate grooming and not simply by banning the pup from sleeping inside!

Do German Shepherds Need to be Inside?

Yes. If you want your German Shepherd to develop a suitable temperament, they should be allowed inside at least half of the time. 

These dogs are active, so they may naturally want to spend a lot of time outdoors – especially when the weather is nice. However, they should never be forced to spend the majority of their time outdoors. 

There are a few reasons for this:

  1. They need to bond with their family.

German Shepherds rely a lot on their bond with their family members. They are people-oriented dogs that were bred for their devotion. However, if they aren’t around their family a lot, they likely won’t develop this relationship. A German Shepherd that isn’t devoted to their family probably won’t be a well-behaved one. 

Their eager-to-please temperament won’t be there if the relationship isn’t.

  1. They can become bored. 

German Shepherds are brilliant dogs. Their brains are always on. To develop properly, they need a lot of mental stimulation. 

If your dog is confined to the same block of space, they likely won’t get enough mental stimulation. This lack can lead to destructive behaviors. Dogs may start by digging holes or attempting to climb the fence (and you’d be amazed at a German Shepherd’s climbing ability). They may also bark needlessly.

In extreme cases, these German Shepherds can become aggressive. They may be a bit too excited to see people, leading to over-exuberant behaviors and aggression. 

These dogs were designed to get much of their mental stimulation from their humans. When interacting naturally with people, they will often get much of their needs met – especially if training and new situations are part of that interaction. 

  1. German Shepherds must learn to behave in the home. 

While these dogs are often well-behaved in the home, they have to learn how to behave well. If the dog is never allowed inside, they will likely not learn how to behave appropriately. Instead, they will behave indoors as they behave outdoors – as that’s all they know. 

If you want your dog to behave indoors, you have to let them indoors at least half of the time. Otherwise, they’ll learn their behaviors from outside, which are often inappropriate for inside the home. The best time to start working on house manners is when your pup is still small – that way, he will not ingrain unwanted behaviors. If you wait until your Shepherd is grown up to teach him house manners, it will be a much harder task.

german shepherd laying on the grass
  1. A dog left outside can’t protect your home. 

Many people choose to adopt a German Shepherd to protect their home. However, if your dog is left outside, he cannot protect his home. Plus, dogs that are left outside all of the time are likely not going to consider the inside of your home “theirs.” 

In these cases, they might not make a move to protect your home from invaders at all. 

Furthermore, dogs need the training to protect their home and people. Without the proper training, they often won’t know what to do when someone shows up. 

However, it isn’t easy to train your dog correctly if they aren’t inside. You’d need to ensure that they interact a lot with people. The key is for them to be protective against the right kind of people – not everyone. If they aren’t exposed to people, they may very well see everyone as a threat. 

Outside dogs often don’t have enough interaction with people to know how to protect anything. 

  1. German Shepherds need lots of socialization. 

German Shepherds need plenty of socialization. They tend to be a bit cautious of people due to their temperament. They aren’t instant friends with strangers. This is especially true for German Shepherds that are mixed with another guard dog breed, such as Shiloh Shepherds or King Shepherds.

It can be difficult for them to get enough socialization if they spend all their time outside.

Firstly, they won’t have much interaction with their people if they are outside. They need to be around their family to learn how to interact with them. If they aren’t, they won’t know how to interact with people in general – especially in a home setting. 

Secondly, your dog needs to be socialized with other people. Typically, this will take place indoors. If your dog isn’t used to being inside, they probably won’t know how to behave and be scared of common occurrences – like doors closing or hallways. 

Socializing your dog will be nearly impossible if your dog can’t feel comfortable indoors. This may backfire and make them more fearful of new people – since they associate strangers with scary situations.


German Shepherds shouldn’t spend more than 50% of the time outside. When they’re puppies, they should spend even less time outside by themselves – as they need extra socialization. 

You may allow your German Shepherd to sleep outside if they are an adult and the weather is nice. However, the best spot for them is in a crate or inside. After all, a German Shepherd isn’t going to be protecting anyone outside. 

Like all breeds of shepherds, these dogs are very attached to their people. They also need plenty of socialization, so they should be around people as much as you can justify.  

While your canine is awake, they should be inside for much of the time – especially if their people are home. There are some inherent dangers with keeping your dog outside, but this isn’t the main reason you should keep your German Shepherd inside much of the time. 

This breed needs to be with its people. As puppies, this is vital for socialization. They need to get comfortable inside a home. As adults, the mental stimulation of socializing with their people is essential to keep them happy.

Otherwise, they can become bored and destructive.

If you own a German Shepherd that has been crossed with more independent breeds, such as the King Shepherd (crossed with Malamute and Great Pyrenees), your dog will probably do better with more outside time.

Author: Kristin

Author: Kristin

Kristin was born in Tennessee and currently lives there with her husband and children. She is passionate about educating pet parents and helping them make the best possible decisions for their pets. She currently owns one dog, two cats, a lizard, and a variety of fish.