How Long Do German Shepherds Live
While some websites claim that German Shepherds have an average lifespan of 10 to 14 years, the American Kennel Club , which registers the breed in the United States, lists their lifespan as only 7 to 10 years.
Why the difference? Its possible that American German Shepherds have shorter lifespans than German Shepherds in other parts of the world. How can that be?
In America, many German Shepherds are bred toward a dog show breed standard that calls for a sloped back. Unfortunately, this sloped back increases a dogs risk of hip dysplasia, arthritis, and other back and joint problems that can affect a dogs mobility.
Meanwhile, in Germany, GSDs must pass several tests to prove that they are physically and mentally sound before they can be bred. With more of an emphasis on working ability than looks, GSDs in Germany are more sound than American German Shepherds and likely have fewer mobility problems that could lead to a dog being euthanized at a younger age.
A Short History Of The German Shepherd
As the name of the breed suggests, the German Shepherd originates from Germany. The history of the breed dates back to the late 1800s. In the 1850s, German dog breeders were trying to standardize dog breeds to preserve the best traits that assisted their job of herding sheep. This was practiced within small communities of people in Germany where shepherds bred dogs.
German breeders wanted to have a dog that had the necessary skills for herding sheep such as intelligence, strength, speed, endurance, and a strong sense of smell. The breeders got results but the ability and the appearance of dogs differed from one community to another. As a result, the Phylax Society was formed in 1891 with the purpose of creating native dog breeds but it was disbanded in just a few of years due to internal disagreements on the traits of the dogs the organization should promote. Nevertheless, Germanys efforts to create a dog breed of the nations own continued.
In 1899, Max von Stephanitz, an ex-member of the Phylax Society and a former student of the Berlin Veterinary College, was shown a dog during one of his visits to a dog show named Hektor Linksrhein. The dog was agile, loyal, fast, intelligent, and appeared pleasing to the eye. The dog satisfied his beliefs of what a working dog should be, and he purchased him.
What To Watch Out For
In particular German Shepherds are prone to:
- Elbow and hip dysplasia incorrect formation of the joints, which often develops into painful arthritis.
- Chronic Degenerative Radiculomyelopathy a degenerative condition of the nerves which control the hind legs.
- Gastric Dilatation Volvulus bloating in the stomach of deep chested dogs which causes the stomach to twist around itself.
- Exocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency failure to produce enough of the enzymes needed to digest meals.
- Anal furunculosis painful infections of the anus.
- Panosteitis an inflammatory bone disease.
Eye disease, allergies, and epilepsy are other possible issues.
German Shepherds are also prone to posture and back problems that cause them to walk on their hocks.
Its quite a list, but bear in mind that we can now screen for many conditions in parent dogs before they mate.
And a good breeder will be happy to show you records of this.
Now lets look at the effect of mixing in some Husky genes.
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Your Homes Compatibility With A German Shepherd And A Husky
German Shepherds and Huskies are large breeds with high activity levels, so they need space to live and exercise. You also need to fortify your perimeters heavily.
German Shepherds are very athletic and can jump high walls and fences. Huskies are known for their escape-artist tendencies. They climb walls and fences, and they also dig.
If you have cats and other small pets, you may want to avoid getting a Husky because of their strong prey-drive. As discussed earlier, your German Shepherd may also join in the chase if they become excited.
German Shepherds and Huskies have thick coats, so they do well in cooler climates. If you live somewhere very hot, these might not be the best breeds to get together.
When dogs are hot, they can become irritable, and they are less likely to run off their energy. This creates a tension-filled environment and may lead to fighting.
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Variations Of German Shepherds
It is worth noting that these charts do not apply to the different variations of Shepherds, except possibly White German Shepherds .
East-European Shepherds, King Shepherds, and Shiloh Shepherds are bigger than standard German Shepherds. Miniature German Shepherds are much smaller and have completely different development requirements and problems.
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Why Do German Shepherds Have A Short Lifespan
In general, small breeds tend to live significantly longer than large breeds. As an example: a Chihuahua may become 20 years old while a Great Dane would die more than 10 years earlier.
Paradoxically, large animal species tend to live longer than small species. An elephant can easily live to be 80 years old while mice only have 2 short years.
So why does this rule change within the same species? Researches actually dont know 100%.
But a huge study with over 80,000 dogs has found that small and large dog breeds are differentially susceptible to certain diseases with large dogs being more prone to musculoskeletal diseases .
The lifespan of a dog also seems to drastically decrease when body mass increases, especially in giant breeds like the aforementioned Great Dane.
We will talk more about breed-related health issues of the German Shepherd below, but there is one problem that drastically shortens their lifespan: joint issues.
You may have noticed that I have given you a fairly large lifespan estimation above. The AKC states the longevity from 7-10 years while other sites lean more to 10-13 years.
This discrepancy may be due to the different breeding styles of the show lines and working lines.
The AKC breed standard defines their backs appearance as follows The withers are higher than and sloping into the level back. The back is straight, very strongly developed without sag or roach, and relatively short.
Their position statement is the following:
How To Take Better Care Of Your German Shepherd
The best way to help lengthen the lifespan and increase the life quality for your German Shepherd dog is by taking good care of them. For the most part, the GSD breed is pretty low maintenance.
You just need to understand their health and personality needs and ensure that you customize your care plan with that in mind. Here are a few tips on how to improve your GSDs health condition so that you know where to start.
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Skeletal Health And Supplementation
Musculoskeletal disorders are debilitating conditions that are often associated with genetic makeup, malnutrition, and stress-related events. Some breeds like the German shepherd, are predisposed to a variety of different skeletal disorders, including but not limited to: canine hip dysplasia, Cauda equina syndrome, and osteoarthritis. These conditions can be a result of poor breeding or induced by intense exercise and poor diet.
Canine hip dysplasia is an orthopedic condition resulting from abnormal development of the hip joint and surrounding tissue causing the instability and partial dislocation of the hip joint, resulting in pain, inflammation, lameness, and potentially osteoarthritis of the joint. German shepherds are genetically predisposed to CHD and the University of Veterinary Medicine in Germany found its prevalence estimated to be approximately 35% of veterinary cases associated with the disorder.
Osteoarthritis is one of the main contributors of musculoskeletal pain and disabilities that commonly affect German shepherds. Mechanical stress, oxidative damage and inflammatory mediators combine to induce the gradual degeneration of the articular cartilage in the joint, resulting in reduced muscle mass, pain, and locomotion.
Vitamins such as A and D also have crucial roles in bone development and maintenance by regulating bone and calcium metabolism. Adequate levels should be incorporated into a German shepherd diet to promote a healthy musculoskeletal system.
What Happens When A German Shepherd Loses A Tooth
If the deciduous tooth fails, the permanent tooth has free path to grow. The change of teeth goes unnoticed by many four-legged friends, so that you as the owner will not notice. However, it comes to discomfort when changing teeth, causing severe pain. During the change of teeth, there may be accompanying symptoms such as eating loss.
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Keep Stress Levels Down
According to the Ontario SPCA, stress increases a dogs chance of getting ill, not to mention displaying unwanted behaviors.
Avoid punishment, which contributes to stress and keep your training sessions upbeat. Offer plenty of calming massages to your dog, which is shown to decrease stress levels.
Some owners report changes in their GSDs personalities after daily massages. Work in times when you and your dog have quiet one-on-one calming sessions for both of your health.
How Long Do German Shepherds Live With Health Problems
In this case, the type of health condition you are suffering from is always important. Not all diseases attack in the same way or reduce life span with the same intensity. A dog with a chronic disease can have a long enough life expectancy if he is properly cared for.
The key is always in food and care. Of course, if detected early, some diseases can be treatable, while if the case is very advanced, there is probably not much that can be done. In the end, everything is variable and depends on multiple factors. However, it is unlikely that a five or six-year-old dog with a chronic health condition such as hip dysplasia, a very common inherited disease in German Shepherds, can complete their expected years.
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How To Extend German Shepherd Dogs Lifespan
There is obviously a lot of time between the average 11 years and the maximum 18, so it is fair to wonder how you might help your German Shepherd live longer.
Of course, there is nothing you can do to ensure your German Shepherd Dog will make it to 18, but there are certainly things you can do to help increase your pups lifespan.
Weve already discussed the importance of health screenings. You can help your dog live much longer by catching any illnesses it may have early on, since this allows for more effective treatment.
There are plenty of other things you can do, as well.
Getting A Long Life Out Of Your German Shepherd
You cant control a dogs genetics. You can however control the quality of their life. Giving them the best life possible during the time that they are here with us is the best thing that we can do for them. The steps listed below can help you increase the lifespan of a German Shepherd, as well life quality.
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Summing Up The German Shepherd Life Expectancy
Since conformation dogs are often riddled with health problems, working dogs should be more long-lived. Dont take their coloring for granted though, sable dogs can also be bred for the show ring!
Do your due diligence and research carefully when looking for your buddy. With luck and determination, youll have him for the next decade or more.
Have an old German Shepherd? Tell us all about him in the comments!
How Old Is The Dog
Dogs level of nutrition is directly proportionate to the age of the dog. Younger dogs require a lot of nutrition because of their playful nature. Nutrition is what facilitates their high level of energy and activity. This factor, therefore, affects their survival period without water making it shorter.
This factor is not the case with elderly dogs. They can survive a little longer because of their habit of being less playful, which reduces the level of nutrition they need.
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How Old Should A 10 Year Old German Shepherd Be
10-year-old German Shepherd Unfortunately, a German Shepherds expected lifespan is between 9 and 13 years old, and their time left here is getting short. It is common for German Shepherds to face arthritis, skin problems, decreased activity, dental issues, weight gain or loss, or even cancer at this age and older.
Accidents Claim Younger Dogs
Young adolescent dogs are still emotionally immature, naïve, and adventurous.
German Shepherds between the ages of nine and eighteen months can be especially hard to handle if they havent been spayed or neutered.
If dogs can survive their first year, theyll have a higher chance of living out their normal lifespans. Things that can happen in the first year:
- Hit by car
- Lost or abandoned at an animal shelter
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Does Health Issues Change The Average Lifespan Of A German Shepherd
Typically, there are many types of health issues common to German shepherds. However, the most prevalent health issues are skeletal problems.
- Skeletal Problems: Many studies have already concluded that the German shepherds life span is not affected by skeletal problems.Such problems such as hip dysplasia, joint pain, and more only cause pain. However, this may lead to the decision of euthanizing dogs.So the answer to the question, How long can a dog live with hip dysplasia? may differ.
- Dental Problems: German shepherds also take their fair share of dental issues. While its not exactly life-threatening, it does affect a German shepherds life span.This is because it may threaten their kidney, liver, heart, and more. This can then result in a shorter lifespan and can cut up to three years on your German shepherd.Some health issues are unpreventable, but there are those that can be avoided. The bad news is that breeders often doesnt care about this.
Reasons You Do Not Want A German Shepherd Dog
Now, wait a minute! youre saying. Of course I want a German Shepherd! Otherwise, I wouldnt be looking at this article! Very good. You have taken the first step towards becoming a responsible purebred dog owner, first by doing your research, and second by taking the time to examine the problems inherent in your chosen breed.
Here are 10 reasons you might want to reconsider your choice of a GSD:
1. Health problems.The GSD is not a dog for those who just want to plunk down cash for the first puppy they see and head home . German Shepherds, like any large breed, are prone to canine hip dysplasia, a crippling and potentially fatal disease. The breed also struggles with or is prone to elbow dysplasia, allergies, cleft palate, degenerative myelopathy, perianal fistulas, exocrine pancreatic insufficiency, bloat, panostetis, Von Wildebrands disease, Wobblers Syndrome, heart and skin disease and thyroid disease. Many of the congenital diseases in dogs can be tested for and therefore prevented by responsible breeders. But you must be willing to ask questions of your breeder to find out what problems have cropped up in his or her lines. Good GSD rescuers will also be aware of such problems, and whether the rescued dog youre considering has shown symptoms of or has been treated for any health issues while with the rescue.
If youve considered the above and are still interested in getting a German Shepherd, check out our free guide to Choosing Your New German Shepherd!
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Where Did The German Shepherd Originate
German Shepherd Dogs originated in Germany in the late 1800s. Originally, GSDs were not companions, rather they worked for farmers to herd sheep and protect them from predators.
After World War I, people realized how easy German Shepherds were to train, thus establishing them as a popular household pet.
Do German Shepherds Like Crates
All dogs want to feel safe where they are living. I think all of you must have kept your GSD in a crate when you brought them home but what about their feeling, do they actually like to live in crates?
Everyone loves the shelter where they live, its just the same case for German Shepherd. Yes, German Shepherds like to live in crates as it is their shelter where they feel safe and want to hide when they fear something.
German Shepherds enjoy living in crates only when they are well crate trained. Remember not to keep them inside crates for more than 4 hours as it has some negative aspects that they can face.
Here are some of the issues you German Shepherds can face when kept in the crate for a longer time:
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What To Do If You Find A Lost German Shepherd
If you find a German Shepherd Dog or any other pet and it does not have an identification tag with a phone number, you can:2. List the missing pet on the .3. Call the Local Authority to collect the lost animal.4. Take the animal to the local Animal Shelter near to your suburb.5. Take the pet to the local Vet Clinic who normally scan the animalâs microchip and contact the registered owner of the pet.
The Oldest German Shepherd
There are many factors that can affect this number. In fact, the oldest German shepherd recorded was able to celebrate its eighteenth birthday.
There are many owners that claim their German shepherds to have lived longer than 20 years, so the real oldest German shepherd might be older.
Regardless, you now know that theres really no 100% answer to the question how long do German shepherds live?
However, it also means that some may have lived shorter, despite living a normal life. But why exactly is it possible?
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