Galaxy merger simulations have explored the behaviour of gas within the galactic disc, yet the dynamics of hot gas within the galaxy halo have been neglected. We report on the results of high-resolution hydrodynamic simulations of colliding galaxies with metal-free hot halo gas. To isolate the effect of the halo gas, we simulate only the dark matter halo and the hot halo gas over a range of mass ratios, gas fractions and orbital configurations to constrain the shocks and gas dynamics within the progenitor haloes. We find that (i) a strong shock is produced in the galaxy haloes before the first passage, increasing the temperature of the gas by almost an order of magnitude to T∼ 106.3 K. (ii) The X-ray luminosity of the shock is strongly dependent on the gas fraction; it is ≳1039 erg s−1 for halo gas fractions larger than 10 per cent. (iii) The hot diffuse gas in the simulation produces X-ray luminosities as large as 1042 erg s−1. This contributes to the total X-ray background in the Universe. (iv) We find an analytic fit to the maximum X-ray luminosity of the shock as a function of merger parameters. This fit can be used in semi-analytic recipes of galaxy formation to estimate the total X-ray emission from shocks in merging galaxies. (v) ∼10–20 per cent of the initial gas mass is unbound from the galaxies for equal-mass mergers, while 3–5 per cent of the gas mass is released for the 3:1 and 10:1 mergers. This unbound gas ends up far from the galaxy and can be a feasible mechanism to enrich the intergalactic medium with metals.