Traditionally, Australian Shepherds were used to herd sheep on massive estates. They spent the whole day running around the farm. In a way, this is what they’re used to and what they prefer.
But today, most Australian Shepherds spend most of their lives indoors. Although this isn’t perfect for them, it’s something that they can get used to and which they usually tolerate—as long as the space is not too small!
And one of the great things about being indoors is that it’s usually kept at a stable temperature that’s not too hot and not too cold.
So what happens when you put an Aussie outdoors in weather that is less than ideal?
That’s a question that my friend Kirsten struggled with. Her Australian Shepherd India was used to spending most of her time outdoors in the garden.
She would sleep outdoors, play outdoors and rarely set foot in the house. But the problem came one winter when the temperatures dropped dramatically.
My friend knew her dog preferred to sleep outside, but she wondered whether it was safe with temperatures below freezing.
I think this is a question many dow owners have, and this is why I decided to create this guide, answering all of your questions on the topic of “Can Australian Shepherds live outside?”
Keep reading to find out what temperatures are ideal for them, and which ones could be harmful.
Are Australian Shepherds outside dogs?
Yes, Australian Shepherds are outside dogs. This breed originated in the 1840s in America, when American settlers were looking for dogs that would herd their livestock all day long.
And this explains a lot about the look and personality of Australian Shepherd dogs.
These dogs are full of endless energy and playfulness, and they can run around for hours without getting tired.
While this is great news for those who live on farms, it can create situations that are difficult to handle for people who don’t have access to a lot of outside space.
After all, having so much energy means that Aussies need to spend a lot of time outside: there’s only so much you can run around and play inside of the house!
Ideally, Australian Shepherd dogs even enjoy sleeping outdoors in a kernel, rather than at home in a bed because this means they can go out when they want and exercise as much as they need to.
But that’s not to say that Aussies can’t enjoy being indoors. They are outside dogs that can also fare well inside of the house provided you make it comfortable for them.
Can Australian Shepherds live outside?
Australian Shepherds can live outside…if the conditions are in their favor! So for example, an Australian Shepherd can live outside in temperate conditions without any issues.
They can spend the day outside, play with their owners, play with other dogs, roam around, walk, and then go to sleep in an outside kennel at night.
This makes them happy because they like to be able to exercise when they wake up, and not to be dependent on their owners in order to go for walks.
That being said, there are a few conditions that need to be met in order for an Australian Shepherd to live outside. First, the temperatures need to be very moderate.
It could be dangerous to leave your Australian Shepherd outside for too long if it’s very hot or very cold (we’ll cover just how hot and how cold in a later section of this article.)
Another thing that’s important is that they have enough human contact. If you leave your dog outside all day but spend most of the day inside, they might get lonely.
Sure, Australian Shepherds love to spend time outdoors. But more importantly, they like to be where the humans are. So if you’re a home buddy yourself, your dog will get more socializing from being indoors, and that’s certainly better for them.
On the other hand, if you can spend a lot of time outside together with your dog, working in fields, gardening, or just hanging out, then it’s perfect for your Aussie to be right there with you.
What temperatures can Australian Shepherds tolerate?
There is no exact science when it comes to what temperatures Australian Shepherds can tolerate. However, there are a few signs that can let you know whether your dog is having a hard time handling the temperatures.
The first thing we want to note is that Aussies have a certain degree of adaptability. For example, my friend’s Australian Shepherd India develops much thicker, warmer fur when the temperatures start to drop.
This lets her enjoy temperatures at the beginning of winter. But even this fur has its limits. After a while, your dog can really get too cold!
If your dog is feeling too cold, you’ll find them seeking shelter in warmer places. They will also shiver, or seem uncomfortable and irritable. Finally, a lot of whining and barking can let you know that it’s too cold for your dog to stay outside.
Now this doesn’t mean that they can’t be outside. Just that they can’t live there for extended amounts of time.
Noticing when your dog is too hot is somewhat easier. You’ll see them panting a lot, looking weak and drooling. In the summer months, a certain level of panting is normal and even expected. But past a certain stage, it can become dangerous.
In general, Australian Shepherds can live outside in temperate climate. But if you notice any of the tell-tale signs that your dog is feeling too hot or too cold, you need to get them back indoors asap!
How cold is too cold for an Aussie?
Now comes the real question: how cold is too cold? Unfortunately, we won’t be able to answer it with numbers. As ever, you just have to be observant and learn to read the signs.
Australian Shepherds can handle quite a lot of cold weather, so you don’t necessarily need to be worried as soon as temperatures get a bit fresh. If you’re not feeling cold wearing just a jacket and some boots, then your dog certainly won’t be either.
However, when you start putting on a few layers whenever you go out and become reluctant to go outside, it’s a sure sign it could be too cold for your dog too.
At this stage, you only need to leave you, Australian Shepherd, outside if they really seem to be doing well. If you see any signs of shivering, whining, or unwillingness to exercise then it’s a sign it’s too cold for your dog.
Aussies are sturdy, but don’t push them to their limits! If it’s too cold for them, your Aussie may start feeling faint, they may be in pain, and they could even develop frostbite.
This can lead to serious medical problems. So with the first signs that temperatures are getting too cold, take your Aussie to live with you inside the house and only let them outside for a few hours each day.
Any more than that could start being dangerous for their wellbeing.
How hot is too hot for an Aussie?
In the summer months, you need to make special arrangements for your dog to be able to live outside. And in some cases, they may not even be able to at all.
When it gets warmer, Aussies tend to shed their fur which helps them to stay cooler. But even then, some temperatures can get unmanageable. Again, there are no clear guidelines. Depending on their size, fur, and amount of body fat, your Aussie may be more or less suited to handle hot weather.
What’s really going to make a difference is how much access to shade your dog has. If your dog spends most of the day outdoors but can rest in the shade of a large tree or of a building, this won’t necessarily be a problem.
On the other hand, if your dog has to spend the whole day out under the burning sun, they could start feeling very faint very fast.
If you notice your dog panting a lot and being less energetic, it’s a sign that the weather outside is too hot for them. You either need to make sure that they have access to some kind of shade or let them back inside of your house.
If you ignore your Aussie’s need for cool weather, they could become severely dehydrated and even faint or have a seizure! So this is not something to take lightly.
The Pros and Cons of Living Outside for Australian Shepherds
Still wondering whether you should let your Australian Shepherd live inside or outside? There are some definite advantages for both that you need to weigh. Here are the main pros and cons you should be aware of:
Pros of living outside for Australian Shepherds:
Aussie’s enjoy the outdoors and this gives them the opportunity to exercise more and burn off some energy. Also, you don’t have to deal with their hair shedding inside of the house.
Cons of living outside for Australian Shepherds:
The weather can sometimes be too hot or too cold for Australian Shepherds (at which point you’ll need to get them back inside of the house).
Aussie’s could get lonely if your family spends a lot of time inside the house. It’s also not ideal if you only have a small garden or yard for your dog.
Lastly, some dogs bark at neighbors or mail delivery people.
What do Australian Shepherds need to live outside?
So you’ve decided to leave your dog outside of the house for most of the time. Provided temperatures are mild and your garden lends itself to it, this is a great decision! It will give your dog the opportunity to exercise more, enjoy some fresh air, and more importantly not get restless.
But this doesn’t mean you don’t have to spend some time thinking about what your dog needs in order to be happy. Australian Shepherds do very well outdoors, but they still need some pieces of equipment in order to feel comfortable!
Australian Shepherds are such loyal dogs that it’s unlikely they will run away. However, it’s a good idea to give them a collar. We would recommend getting them one that also serves as a flea collar, in order to protect them from pests.
If you let your Aussie outside, then it needs a comfortable place to live. During the warmer months, an open basket will do the job perfectly. Choose one that is outdoors-proof, meaning it isn’t made of a material that can get damaged by the rain or the wind.
During the winter months, then you need to make sure they have a warmer place to live. You may want to choose a doghouse that is protected from the rain, hail, and snow.
Also make sure to give them a bed that is warm enough, preferably with some blankets. If you can get your hands on one, you may even want to give them a heated outdoor bed that will keep them warm all throughout the night.
Finally, your Aussie will need some toys to play with. For such an energetic breed of dogs, you can’t beat the classics- a frisbee or tennis ball. They love running for them and engaging with you at the same time.
Toys that they can play with by themselves are also useful, but they won’t enjoy them nearly as much!
Australian Shepherds are dogs that can live outside and actually prefer it as long as the weather doesn’t go into the extremes. So if you get a chance, allow your dog to live in your garden rather than in the house.
That being said, always pay close attention to the way they are feeling, and get them back inside if you suspect they may be getting too hot or cold!