Can Golden Retrievers Be Left Outside?

As one of the most active and exercise-loving dog breeds, golden retrievers will hardly ever pass up a chance to go outside and play.

Their active nature leads a lot of owners to believe they enjoy things more outside and makes them wonder just how long golden retrievers can or should be left outside.

Can golden retrievers be left outside? Golden retrievers can be left outside for short periods of time, but shouldn’t be left outside indefinitely, overnight or for long periods of time. Golden retrievers are prone to skin problems, and being left outside can increase the chances of skin problems arising, amid other concerns.

There are a few reasons why golden retrievers shouldn’t be left outside indefinitely or for long periods, and we’re going to walk you through them!

We’ll also take a look at how to know your dog is cold at night, so you can make sure to take the best care of your golden. Let’s get into it.

Leaving Golden Retrievers Outside: Why and Why Not?

If you know anything about golden retrievers, you likely know that they’re very active dogs. Golden retrievers are so active, in fact, that if they don’t get at least an hour or so of exercise per day, they can resort to destructive or undesirable behaviors.

Because golden retrievers are so active and need to expel energy on the daily, it’s great for them to be able to go outside. Not only that, but many golden retriever owners remark how much their dogs love the outdoors.

Golden retrievers often love long runs, hikes, swims, games of fetch, and just play in general. Where else is the perfect place to entertain a golden retriever if not outside?

In cases like these, golden retrievers can be left outside for short periods of time, although it’s best for them to be supervised or checked in on while out there. Golden retrievers probably shouldn’t be left outside unsupervised for more than a few hours at a time.

 Why is that, though? We can break down some of the reasons.

Why Golden Retrievers Shouldn’t Be Left Outside for Long Periods of Time

It’s clear that golden retrievers are active by nature and love to spend energy, and outside can be a great place for them to do so.

However, golden retrievers shouldn’t be left outside for long periods of time, especially while unsupervised. This means having a golden retriever as an outdoor dog or as a dog that sleeps outside at night is likely out of the question.

There are a few main reasons for this; let’s take a look at them.

Golden Retrievers Are Prone to Allergies and Skin Problems

One of the biggest reasons golden retrievers don’t make good outdoor dogs is due to their genetic predispositions. As a breed, golden retrievers are prone to many allergies, most of which manifest as skin problems.

There are quite a few environmental triggers that can cause an allergy for a golden retriever, and a lot of them are outside. Golden retrievers can and have been known to have allergic and skin reactions to anything like grass, pollen, flowers, dust, and mold.

These skin allergies commonly manifest as a condition called atopic dermatitis, which often needs veterinary care to be remedied.

Atopic dermatitis results in golden retrievers becoming extremely itchy, and can also result in infections, sores, and raw skin from the itching.

It’s always a good idea for golden retriever owners to brush and wipe off their golden retriever after being outside to avoid exposure to these environmental allergy triggers.

When golden retrievers are outside and exposed to the environment and aren’t wiped down or bushed, they have a higher chance of developing an allergy or skin problem.

That being said, you can imagine what might happen to a golden retriever who is left outside indefinitely, overnight or for long periods of time. Goldens left outside indefinitely or for long amounts of time would experience a lot more exposure to allergens and have a much higher chance of developing skin problems.  

Golden Retrievers Are More Susceptible to Heat Stroke and Heat Exhaustion

This reason especially applies to those in warm climates or those who may consider leaving their golden retriever outside in the warm or hot months.

Unfortunately, due to their thick double coat, golden retrievers are more susceptible to heatstroke and heat exhaustion than other breeds.

 Golden retrievers have a coat that retains more heat than a lot of other dogs. This poses an issue when it comes to being left outside.

When golden retrievers are left outside for long periods of time in warm climates or during the warm months, they are at a higher risk of heatstroke and heat exhaustion.

Not only that, but older golden retrievers are even more susceptible to heatstroke and heat exhaustion than younger golden retrievers.

Dehydration, which can come along with the symptoms of heatstroke and heat exhaustion, can be a worry as well.

Golden Retrievers May Dig Under or Jump Over Fencing

Think again about the nature of golden retrievers: these athletic, high energy, and agile pups have some skills when it comes to getting out of a yard.

Escape is a concern of leaving a golden retriever out for a long period of time, overnight or indefinitely. Golden retrievers are intelligent and agile enough to dig under a fence to shimmy out, or even jump over a fence.

 Your golden retriever escaping the yard or outside area while left out unsupervised is concerning for you and dangerous for your pup; you never know where these social animals might end up.

Golden Retrievers May Be a Target for Theft

A lot of the time, we like to think of our dogs as our family and home’s “guard dog.” However, as much as golden retrievers might try to be guard dogs, they’re actually at risk for being stolen.

Unfortunately, leaving your golden retriever outside unattended for long periods of time puts them at greater risk for being a target of theft.

 To many, golden retrievers are friends and family members. Unfortunately, to some others, golden retrievers are just seen as a coveted pure-bred dog. Golden retrievers have been known to have been stolen from yards and even from public areas.

Don’t believe your golden could be at risk for theft if left outside unattended? Take this article, for example, where a golden retriever named Atlas was stolen right from the backyard of the man who was dog-sitting him. Thankfully, Atlas was reunited with his owner!

Golden Retrievers Are Pack-Oriented and Social

Golden retrievers are often renowned as the social butterflies of the dog world. They’re pack-oriented, and love being around humans, other dogs, and other animals. When they’re not around other humans and animals, they can get bored easily and resort to destructive behaviors.

If golden retrievers are kept separately from their families or owners for long periods of time, especially if they’re outside alone, they can develop behavioral and social issues.

Preparations to Take If Leaving Your Golden Retriever Outside for a Short Period of Time

By now, you can see why golden retrievers shouldn’t be left outside for long periods of time, overnight or indefinitely. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t leave them outside for short periods of time!

If you’re planning on letting your golden retriever outside for a short period of time, there are some preparations you’ll want to make to ensure your golden stays happy and healthy.

Leave Plenty of Food and Water

Even if you’re home while your golden is getting some outside playtime, it’s smart to leave out plenty of food and water.

Dogs burn more calories and energy when they’re outside, playing, and active, and they burn even more when it’s chilly outside. Leaving out food for your golden can help them stay energized and warm while they’re out.

As we mentioned earlier, golden retrievers are also susceptible to heatstroke, heat exhaustion, and dehydration. Water is a must! Whether it’s hot or cold out, make sure to leave your golden with plenty of water.

Make Sure Your Golden Has Shelter

The shelter is a must for dogs that are going outside, even for short periods of time. Having a shelter can help your golden retriever get shade, shelter, and just have an area to feel more comfortable in.

If it’s cold out, stack your golden’s shelter with hay or straw. It provides insulation from the cold and the wind and is much more useful than just blankets or other bedding.

Make Sure All Entrances/Exits to Your Outdoor Area Are Secure

You’ll need to make sure all the entrances and exits to your outdoor area are secure before leaving your golden retriever outside for a short period of time. As we mentioned, these guys can become quite the escape artists!

Keeping entrances and exits secure gives you better peace of mind that your golden will stay in the outdoor area without escaping and that it’s harder for someone to come in and potentially steal your golden.

How Do I Know If My Dog is Cold at Night?

You may have decided to leave your dog out for part or all of the night, you may be camping or hiking, or your dog may be in an indoor area that just happens to be cold.

How do you know if your dog is cold at night?

Well, there are quite a few ways to tell, and some ways to figure out if your dog will be cold even without looking at them. Let’s take a look.

Consider Your Dog’s Characteristics

It may not be the first thing you think of when trying to figure out if your dog is cold at night, but certain characteristics of your dog play a huge role in determining how much cold they can withstand and for how long.

When considering if your dog will get cold at night, think of their size, coat type, coat color, age, health, weight, and even height. These all play a factor on the temperatures your dog will be comfortable in and be able to withstand.


First, smaller dogs get cold more easily than larger dogs. So, in the case of golden retrievers, we already know that they can withstand colder than, say, a chihuahua.

Coat Type

What about your dog’s coat? It probably goes without saying that dogs with thicker or double-layer coats have more tolerance for the cold. For example, huskies and Newfoundlands actually love the cold! Those thick coats really aid in cold tolerance.

As we mentioned previously, golden retrievers are a breed of dog with very thick coats. That makes them a good contender for withstanding the cold more easily.

Coat Color

Have you ever worn a black shirt when it’s warm out and immediately regretted it because of how much warmer it made you? Keep that thought in mind as you consider your dog’s coat color.

Coat color is another factor in how much cold a dog can withstand. Just like with clothes, dogs that have dark coats absorb and hold more heat. That means dogs that are black, dark brown, brown, or other dark colors absorb and hold more heat.

On the other hand, dogs that have light coat colors, like white, gold, tan, and even red, will absorb less heat than their dark-haired cousins.

Age and Health

Naturally, your dog’s age and health are a factor in temperature regulation. Dogs who are sick or have been sick recently or dogs who are old have a much harder time regulating their body temperature. They get cold more easily, were younger and healthier dogs don’t.


Simply put, dogs that are skinnier get cold more easily than dogs that have more body fat. Body fat is a good insulator, and that applies to dogs just as much as it does humans. Golden retrievers are large dogs, and this can aid them in withstanding cold temperatures.

Consider the Weather Conditions Outside

Weather conditions will tell you just as much, if not more, about if your dog will be cold than your dog’s characteristics.

However, the two go hand in hand, and it’s important to consider your dog’s characteristics and the weather conditions outside when trying to determine if your dog is cold at night.

Things that will make weather conditions more chilly, and therefore have a higher chance of making your dog cold are:

  • Cloud cover
  • Wind
  • Frost
  • Rain and other moisture

The wind almost always has the potential to make weather chillier and can cut through those layers of your dog’s thick coat, making them colder.

Similarly, damp conditions – even if it’s not actively raining, snowing, or something else – can very quickly chill any dog, even if it’s not entirely cold in the air.

If it’s windy, there’s cloud cover, or it’s damp outside, there’s a much higher chance that your dog is cold at night.

The General Temperatures Dogs Can Withstand

We humans are able to guess if we’ll be cold or not based upon the actual temperature outside. Shouldn’t we able to do that with our dogs, too?

We do know general temperatures that dogs can withstand when it comes to the cold.

First, dogs that are small, light in color, have thin coats, or just aren’t great with the cold, in general, tend to get uncomfortable around 45 degrees Fahrenheit. At this temperature, they likely won’t have any adverse effects, but they won’t be loving it.

Next, temperatures below 32 degrees Fahrenheit are concerning dogs that are very young, very old, injured, sick, or recovering from being sick. At this temperature, those dogs can experience adverse effects and become very uncomfortable.

Lastly, in general, when temperatures dip below 20 degrees Fahrenheit, owners of any type of dog need to be concerned. At and below this temperature, dogs are at risk for hypothermia and frostbite.

Watch Your Dog’s Body Language and Behavior

The body language and behavior of your dog is perhaps the most reliable way to tell if he or she is cold or not. Not only that, but your dog’s body language can also tell you if they are at risk of hypothermia.

Signs That Your Dog is Too Cold


Warning Signs of Hypothermia
● Seeking places for shelter

● Lifting paws off the ground

● Generally seems anxious or uncomfortable

● Whining or barking

● Shaking and/or shivering

● Hunched posture

● Tail tucked between legs


● Generally weak

● Acting lethargic

● Pupils that are fixed and/or dilated

● Stiff muscles

● Slow breathing

● Shallow breaths

● Seeming not mentally alert

● Acting as if in a stupor

● Loss of consciousness


If you see any of the following signs in your dog’s body language or behavior, it’s likely that he or she is too cold and needs to be warmed up and/or come inside (especially at night). Just like there are signs your dog is too cold, there are signs that your dog may be at risk for hypothermia. If you see any of the following symptoms in your dog, seek veterinary care for him or her immediately.

Final Thoughts

If you’re worried that your dog is too cold at night, always check on him and monitor his body language and behaviors. It could be the difference between a dog that’s a little chilled and a dog that develops cold-related health issues!

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