The German Shepherd, commonly referred to in GSDs and Alsatians, is the second most-loved breed within the United States. Because of their intelligence and the ability to be a part of the most thrilling activities, they are the ideal companion for many families.
Unfortunately, our dogs do not get to live the way we’d like them to.
What is the average length of time German Shepherds live? German Shepherd’s lifespan is shorter than you would expect and could vary depending on the dog’s origins.
How Long do German Shepherds Live?
Although some websites state that German Shepherds live an average life span of between 10-and 14 years, The American Kennel Club (AKC), which registers the breed in the United States, lists their duration as between 7 and 10 years.
The American German Shepherd could live shorter lives than German Shepherds from other regions in the world. What could be the reason?
In America, many German Shepherds have been bred for a show breed standard that requires an inclined back. The problem is that this sloped back increases the likelihood of arthritis, hip dysplasia, and other joint and back problems that may impact mobility in dogs.
While in Germany, GSDs have to undergo various tests to show that they are mentally and physically sound before being bred. With a focus on workability rather than appearance, GSDs in Germany are healthier than American German Shepherds and probably have less mobility issues that could lead to a dog being euthanized at a younger age.
Factors Affecting German Shepherd Lifespan
Mobility issues like arthritis, hip dysplasia, and back pain are a few of the most significant elements that can affect the German Shepherd’s life span. Although mobility issues aren’t likely to cause death directly to a dog but the loss in quality of life they cause could make owners consider killing their dogs to free the pain.
Other elements that could affect the German Shepherd’s longevity include:
- Bloat:-– A condition where the stomach fills with air and wrenches on its axis, cutting off the blood supply to the intestines. It is fatal in around half of the cases.
- Myelopathy degenerative A degenerative spinal-cord disease with no cure, which eventually causes paralysis. It is more prevalent in German Shepherds over other breeds.
- Hip dysplasia is a painful condition that causes the thighbone to not fit correctly in the socket of your hip. It can lead to mobility and arthritis.
- Hemangiosarcoma is an aggressive type of cancer that endangers the blood vessel cells. Common in German Shepherds.
- Epilepsy is treatable to a certain point, but seizures could eventually turn fatal.
The health issues that don’t have to be a factor in the German Shepherd’s life span but could affect their overall health can be a problem. These include:
- Exocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency (EPI)
- Problems with vision
Back, Hip, and Other Joint Problems in German Shepherds
Large dog breeds tend to develop joint and hip problems. However, due to German Shepherds’ steep rear and hips, the sloped back is more common.
German Shepherd, back, hip, and joint issues are more prevalent in German Shepherds than in other breeds.
Although there isn’t a method to stop these conditions, There are some ways you can aid in preventing or reducing symptoms and improve the duration of your German Shepherd’s lifespan.
What Can You Do to Help Your German Shepherd Live Longer?
There is no guarantee that your German Shepherd will have a long and healthy life. However, there are plenty of ways to improve your chances of enjoying many years of happiness with your pet.
#1 – Get Regular Vet Care
It is recommended that you take your German Shepherd to the vet atlist once a year while they are young and two times a year as they get older for health check-ups.
Many health issues are simpler to treat when they are discovered early. In addition, dogs can cover up their pain, which means that your vet could spot hip dysplasia or something similar before noticing the German Shepherd limping.
#2 – Maintain Your German Shepherd’s Weight
Over half of all pets are obese or overweight, and they suffer from numerous overweight-related illnesses as people. Furthermore, any excess weight could add stress to joints that are already painful in dogs susceptible to arthritis or hip dysplasia.
How can you tell if your German Shepherd is obese? If you look at them from the sides or when standing, they should have a tucked waistline. Also, you should be able to feel the German Shepherd’s back ribs.
Making sure that your dog is fed an adequate and balanced diet is more difficult than you imagine when you are trying to reduce the amount of food they consume If you suspect that your GSD has a problem with weight, speak with your veterinarian regarding the best method to assist them in losing weight without risk.
#3 – Find a Reputable Breeder
Because German Shepherds are an extremely popular breed, many breeders want to make money breeding dogs and don’t care about improving the breed.
A dog bred for appearance or to make money will more often be suffering from issues with the hip like hip dysplasia or chronic myelopathy than dogs bred to be productive and as healthy as possible.
Since GSDs of American lines might have shorter lives than dogs of German lineages, it might be worthwhile to look for breeders who have included German dogs in their breeding programs to improve the quality of their breed and decrease the risk of genetic disorders.
How can you ensure you don’t get a backyard breeder or a puppy mill puppy?
Here are some guidelines for locating a trustworthy German Shepherd breeder:
- You should be able to visit the puppies on site
- Alongside responding to your inquiries, the breeder will inquire about your concerns to ensure that you’ll provide an ideal home for the German Shepherd.
- You should be able to visit the puppies on site.
- The breeder conducts health tests on the parent’s dogs.
- They’ll take your pet back if you can’t keep it.
#4 – Feed Your GSD High-Quality Food
Although most commercial dog food brands are marketed as “nutritionally complete,” that doesn’t mean they’re safe.
Many dog food products contain filler ingredients such as corn or meat by-products of any nutritional value. It’s why cheap dog food is like human junk food.
Like eating healthy food can help humans live longer High-quality dog food can aid the German Shepherd to live a long healthy, and happier life.
How do you know if your dog’s food is of high quality?Here are some suggestions:
- It should not contain corn, animal by-products, artificial flavors, colors, or preservatives.
- Meat should be the primary ingredient. Real meat is superior to meat meal as the primary ingredient, but meals can be added later on the list.
- Vitamins and minerals should be derived from genuine vegetables and fruits, not synthetic sources.
#5 – Consider Supplements
Because the German shepherds are so susceptible to joint pain, it is recommended to start giving them joint supplements containing glucosamine and chondroitin when they’re young to alleviate joint pain.
Another great supplement you can look into to supplement your German Shepherd is fish oil. The ailments that fish oil may assist with are:
- Intestinal inflammation
- Spinal issues
- Elbow dysplasia or hip
- High cholesterol
- High blood pressure
- Dry skin or itchy skin
#6 – Give Your German Shepherd Plenty of Exercise
Every dog needs exercise to avoid obesity and maintain its fitness. But German Shepherds are a breed with a high energy level and can become destructive in the absence of adequate exercise.
A German Shepherd can easily switch to eating things they shouldn’t if left alone and can ingest things that don’t pass through their digestive tracts, which could cause death; therefore, exercise can directly affect their life span.
German Shepherds require at minimum an hour of exercise each day. They are bred to work for a long time, so a gentle 30 minutes walk every day isn’t enough to use every ounce of energy.
The exercise options you should be thinking about together with your German Shepherd are:
- Dogs running around in a dog park
- Playing fetch in the backyard
- Jogging with you on a leash
- Doggy daycare
#7 – Take Care of Their Teeth
You might not be aware that dental problems can harm your dog’s overall health. If you do not take care of the health of your German Shepherd’s teeth, bacteria that are present under their gumline could get into the bloodstream of your dog and cause organ damage, including their heart.
Cleaning your German Shepherd’s mouth every day using toothpaste designed for dogs is ideal, but if they refuse to let you do it, frequent chewing games and bones will help remove tartar and plaque from their teeth.
Also, you should have a professional dental cleaning from your veterinarian whenever they suggest it, and it should be one in which your pet is anesthetized. Dental cleanings that are not anesthesia-free are becoming more and more popular; however, they don’t remove gumline in areas where bacteria are prevalent.
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#8 – Keep Their Mind Active
The German Shepherd is exceptionally intelligent and can become bored quickly. A bored German Shepherd could be prone to unsavory behaviors that might not necessarily lead to a shorter life span but could cause you to rehome your dog.
There are a few methods to help keep the mind of your German Shepherd busy are:
- Dog sports such as flyball, agility, freestyle, and more.
- Always learning new techniques
- Competitions in obedience
- Puzzle toys
#9 – Give Your GSD a Job
Bred to work all day long, German Shepherds are happier when working. If you’ve got the time and energy to develop your GSD could be a therapy dog, Search and Rescue dog, or sheepdog.
Do you not have time to offer them a job outside? Give them tasks to complete at home, such as taking their toys away or monitoring the children.
Final Words: Summing Up the German Shepherd’s Life Expectancy
As you will observe, there are plenty of options to increase your German Shepherd’s life span and overall quality of living. They won’t last forever. However, with a bit of luck, you’ll be able to enjoy at the very least a dozen enjoyable years with them.