How Long Do German Shepherds Live?

This is a question that more than 6113 of our readers have been asking us! Luckily, we have found the most appropriate information for you!

German Shepherds, also known as GSDs or Alsatians, are the second-most-popular breed in the United States. With their intelligence and ability to join you on all of your most active adventures, they can make the perfect addition to many families.

The German Shepherd lifespan is shorter than you might expect and may vary depending on where the dog comes from. While some websites claim that German Shepherds have an average lifespan of 10 to 14 years, the American Kennel Club (AKC) , which registers the breed in the United States, lists their lifespan as only 7 to 10 years. In America, many German Shepherds are bred toward a dog show breed standard that calls for a sloped back. 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. Mobility issues like hip dysplasia, arthritis, and back problems are some of the biggest factors that affect a German Shepherd’s lifespan. While mobility issues won’t kill a dog directly, the decline in quality of life that they can cause can lead owners to euthanize their pets to save them from pain. Bloat – A condition where the stomach fills with air and twists on its axis, cutting off the blood supply to the intestines. Hemangiosarcoma – An aggressive form of cancers that affects the cells that line blood vessels. Health problems that won’t necessarily affect a German Shepherd’s lifespan but may impact their quality of life include: All large dog breeds are prone to hip and joint problems, but with the traditional sloped back of the German Shepherd, back, hip, and other joint problems are more common in German Shepherds than many other breeds. Many health conditions are much easier to treat if they are caught early on, before your dog is showing symptoms. Additionally, dogs tend to hide their pain, so your vet may catch something like hip dysplasia before you see your German Shepherd limping. Additionally, any unnecessary weight can add more strain to already aching joints in dogs prone to hip dysplasia or arthritis. Making sure your dog has a complete and balanced diet can be trickier than you expect when reducing their food intake, so if your GSD is overweight, talk to your vet about the best way to help them lose weight safely. Because GSDs from American lines may have shorter lifespans than those from German lines, it may be worth your while to search for reputable breeders who have added German dogs to their breeding programs to help strengthen the breed and reduce the likelihood of genetic problems. You should be able to visit the puppies on site In addition to answering your questions, the breeder should ask you questions to make sure you’ll provide a good home for a German Shepherd You won’t find their puppies in a pet store The breeder does health testing on the parent dogs They will take the dog back if you can’t keep it While most commercial dog foods are labeled “nutritionally complete,” that doesn’t make them healthy. Many dog foods include filler ingredients like corn or meat by-product that have little to no nutritional value. A bored German Shepherd could easily turn to eating things they shouldn’t when left alone, and if they swallow something that doesn’t pass through their digestive tract, it could kill them, so exercise really can directly impact their lifespan. If you don’t care for your German Shepherd’s teeth, bacteria from under their gumline can enter your dog’s bloodstream and affect their organs, including their heart. Brushing your German Shepherd’s teeth every day with a toothpaste made for dogs is best, but if they won’t allow you to do that, regular access to chew toys or bones can help remove plaque and tartar from their teeth. You should also get a professional dental cleaning from your vet any time they recommend it, and it must be the kind where your dog is anesthetized. Dog sports like agility, flyball, freestyle, and more Constantly training new tricks Obedience competitions Puzzle toys As you can see, there are many things you can do to help improve your German Shepherd’s lifespan and quality of life. They still won’t live forever, but with a little luck, you’ll have at least a dozen good years with them.

Can a German Shepherd live 20 years?

How old do German Shepherds live till? Most German Shepherds live in between ten and thirteen years. Owners of small breeds of dogs might see their animals live up to seventeen or twenty, but larger dogs put more strain on their bodies and simply do not live as long, no matter how well they are taken care of.

Can a German Shepherd live to 15?

The average life span of a German Shepherd is between 10 and 13 years. Some may live shorter lives if they encounter unusual health problems, while some might live beyond 13 years if they’re in good health. As we can see in the table below nearly 50% of this dog breed dies between the age of 10 and 13 years.

Is 12 old for a German Shepherd?

12 years is quite old for a GSD, in general terms a GSD average lifespan is 10-13 years. Wishing the best for you in the situation, it’s never easy.

How long are German Shepherds supposed to live?

Most German Shepherds live in between ten and thirteen years. Owners of small breeds of dogs might see their animals live up to seventeen or twenty, but larger dogs put more strain on their bodies and simply do not live as long, no matter how well they are taken care of.

To help you achieve that, we have compiled everything you need to know about breed-related health issues and what you can do to increase your German Shepherd’s lifespan.

As owners, our goal is to be able to live as long as possible with our dogs and make their comparatively short life most enjoyable. How long they will actually live depends on many factors like breeding, health, exercise, care, upbringing, and the environment. The lifespan of a dog also seems to drastically decrease when body mass increases, especially in giant breeds like the aforementioned Great Dane. Modern show lines lean more towards a sloped and long back that makes them more prone to hip dysplasia and arthritis. The KC is concerned about the soundness in the show strains and a documentary called “Pedigree Dogs Exposed” really promoted this dispute. The Kennel Club remains in no doubt that currently, the single biggest threat to the reputation and interest of the breed is the lack of soundness in hindquarters. The Kennel Club Leading causes of death in dogs mainly vary by age and breed. A huge Swedish study with over 400,000 German Shepherds analyzed insurance data for morbidity and mortality rates. This is something that can be easily tested for so make sure you request health certificates of both parents that state that they are HD free. Depending on the allergens (meat, fleas, mold, trees…) that your dog comes into contact with your veterinarian might prescribe medicated baths, antihistamines, specific diets, or immunotherapy. Gastric dilatation-volvulus (GDV) or bloat is a very serious medical emergency which most commonly affects dogs with deep and narrow chests, like German Shepherds. Bloating occurs when the stomach fills with air causing it to flip and drag the spleen and pancreas with it. As a result, the organs lose blood supply and the pancreas starts to produce hormones that could stop the heart from beating. The dog’s abdomen will be significantly enlarged and painful, foamy saliva comes out of his mouth and he will be very restless and retch. During surgery, the stomach will be deflated and tacked to the abdominal wall to prevent bloat from happening again in the future. Dogs that are being fed only once a day or gulp their meals pretty fast are at a higher risk of developing this condition. This weakness happens due to the degenerating white matter in the spinal cord however a real cause has not been found yet. Weak hindquarters result in swaying, difficulty to hold balance, or stand up from lying down and the hind paws might get scraped along the ground. It’s characterized by episodes of unprovoked and recurrent seizures that manifest as spasmodic, involuntary muscle movements. There is a screening test called APTT (activated partial thromboplastin time) that can diagnose hemophilia but cannot distinguish between the various types. “Vector delivery via the portal vein in hemophilia A and B dogs was well tolerated, and long-term expression of cFVIIa resulted in a shortening of the prothrombin time, partial correction of the whole blood clotting time and thromboelastography parameters, and a complete absence of spontaneous bleeding episodes.” Blood (2009) The tube connecting the throat to the stomach is called esophagus and actively transports food and water. As food cannot be pushed along it can easily be regurgitated and just flushed out of the mouth due to the nonexisting swallow reflex. Other signs include, abnormal lung sounds, bad breath, coughing, fever, starvation and weakness. In order to carry the food into the stomach, the dog will need to be fed in an upright position by utilizing a “bailey chair” or other similar construction that keeps the pet at a 45-90° angle. Now that we have talked about several devastating illnesses that could affect your German Shepherd in his lifetime, let’s focus on the bright side and work on improving and even prolonging his life. Correct breeding is the very foundation of a healthy and well-tempered dog and genetics play a huge role in this. To avoid all the possible inheriatble diseases, request health certificates of both parents that adhere to the standards of the German Shepherd breeding club of america. Do your own research on the breed and acquire thorough knowledge on care, health, history and temperament of your chosen puppy. Behavior issues are also among the top leading causes of death in dogs so temperament test any puppy before buying it. Regular vet visits are super important to make sure that no underlying diseases remain unnoticed. At home, you can regularly check your dog for any lumps, behavior changes, skin irritations, or signs of sickness. Feeding your dog a high-quality diet is essential to keep him healthy, strengthen his immune system, and maintain his energy. Make sure that your dog doesn’t need to walk stairs on a daily basis and consider getting a ramp for your car, sofa, or any other elevated furniture. Physical exertion not only keeps your pet healthy and fit but lack of exercise is also the number one cause for most behavioral problems. German Shepherds love training and having a job so try out different things like agility, herding, or Schutzhund. Also don’t forget to incorporate a lot of mental stimulation in form of brain games, interactive toys, or learning new tricks.

Welcoming a German Shepherd into your family can be an exciting decision to make, but it also comes with a couple of important thoughts and expectations. Some of which would be its lifespan, how you can lengthen it, and how you can make the most out of its life.

Many dog owners would consider this a reasonably long life, but if you wish to cherish more time with your buddy, increasing your awareness of what commonly affects a German Shepherd’s longevity may help you stretch out its lifespan. This breed is considered a working type of dog; hence, unlike Pugs or Chihuahuas, they exert more physical effort that would cause their bodies to tire sooner. Moreover, some common ailments can be detrimental to a German Shepherd’s lifespan, and sadly, many of these issues are hereditary and are caused by improper breeding . For German Shepherds, their long bones, such as their arms and legs, are most commonly affected by osteosarcoma and can be treated through amputation, radiation therapy, or chemotherapy, costly. Lastly, it’s best advised that you monitor your dog if you sense that it’s not feeling well; this would lead to an earlier diagnosis that would have you ready in providing it standard care. If you’ve spent plenty of time with your dog, you’ll easily notice drastic changes with its behavior, yet some signs can be uncertain. A loss in mobility and balance means that your dog’s muscles are growing extremely weak upon old age, more so, the absence of its natural fun and outgoing behavior may only imply the nearing end of its life. This is because its digestive organs are slowly shutting down as death comes closer; your dog will no longer feel the need to eat nor drink at this time and would rather lie down to get some rest. When a German Shepherd is about to face death, it will no longer feel entertained with any toys or treats; never confuse your dog for loving you any less during this time but rather understand that it’s hurting and would seek more of your care and comfort. German Shepherds don’t live as long as humans do, so it’s crucial for every dog owner to be able to grant it years of happy and beautiful memories. It’s also important that your dog completes its vaccinations from birth until its adolescence; this would include booster shots and annual rabies doses.

German Shepherd Lifespan

German Shepherds have a life expectancy of about 7-13 years which is a bit shorter than the average lifespan of 10-13 years for all dogs.How long they will actually live depends on many factors like breeding, health, exercise, care, upbringing, and the environment.A large determining factor is breed-related health issues. German Shepherds can suffer from many life-shortening and threatening diseases that can abruptly cut into their lives.Luckily there are many things you can do to better and even prolong your dog’s longevity which we will talk about more below.

Leading Causes of Death in German Shepherds

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 don’t 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 (like German Shepherds).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 back’s 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.”Modern show lines lean more towards a sloped and long back that makes them more prone to hip dysplasia and arthritis.The KC is concerned about the soundness in the show strains and a documentary called “Pedigree Dogs Exposed” really promoted this dispute.Their position statement is the following:I have created a whole article on the difference between the sloped and straight back German Shepherd that thoroughly explains how it affects their mobility and how different conformations affect their posture and movement.

German Shepherd Health Issues

Like every breed, GSDs can be affected by a variety of health issues that are frequently seen and spread within the breed. Inbreeding and line breeding greatly promote the inheritance of recessive diseases.You have probably heard of inbreeding before where close relatives are being bred together to produce offspring.Diseases that would normally be recessive are now transmitted from both parents and as the gene pool becomes smaller and smaller the risk for inherited health issues becomes significantly larger.Linebreeding is a bit more complicated. Assuming you have two dogs that are siblings (both male) and you take one of them and pair him with a dam that is not related to the bloodline.You would get an x amount of puppies. Now you take one of those puppies (a female in this case) and breed her with her father’s brother. In conclusion, this example would be for the breeding of an uncle to his niece.This is called line breeding as you are breeding back in line to the original sire. As a form of inbreeding, it still has a high risk of genetic defects.

Hip Dysplasia

Hip dysplasia is caused by a deformed hip joint, meaning that the ball and socket of the joint constantly rub against each other.Many breeds are born with a certain predisposition to joint problems which are usually large and heavy breeds.Factors like growth rate, nutrition, and exercise can all influence the development of joint deterioration. Obesity and long and sloped backs can severely damage the joints permanently.If you notice pain, stiffness, lameness, or any decrease in the range of motion, talk to a veterinarian. The earlier hip dysplasia is diagnosed the better it can be treated.This is something that can be easily tested for so make sure you request health certificates of both parents that state that they are HD free.A Zurich study found that 45% of the police working dogs were affected by degenerative spinal stenosis and the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals says that 19.1% of German Shepherd are affected by hip dysplasia.

Allergies

German Shepherds oftentimes suffer from a skin allergy called “atopy”. Although this is not a life-threatening disease, allergies can severely impact your dog’s quality of life.Allergic dermatitis can be triggered by pollen, dust, food, fleas and yeast. Most dogs will show first signs between the age of 1 and 3 years.The ears and paws are predominantly affected and may be chewed, licked or rubbed. Symptoms include oily or dry skin, redness, itching, hair loss, and thickening of the skin.Depending on the allergens (meat, fleas, mold, trees…) that your dog comes into contact with your veterinarian might prescribe medicated baths, antihistamines, specific diets, or immunotherapy.There are also many supplements like Omega-3 that improve the overall health of the skin and help fight against inflammation. With no side effects, supplements are one of the safest methods to try.

Bloat

Gastric dilatation-volvulus (GDV) or bloat is a very serious medical emergency which most commonly affects dogs with deep and narrow chests, like German Shepherds.Bloating occurs when the stomach fills with air causing it to flip and drag the spleen and pancreas with it.As a result, the organs lose blood supply and the pancreas starts to produce hormones that could stop the heart from beating.The dog’s abdomen will be significantly enlarged and painful, foamy saliva comes out of his mouth and he will be very restless and retch.This always requires surgery as the condition may be fatal within less than 30 minutes. During surgery, the stomach will be deflated and tacked to the abdominal wall to prevent bloat from happening again in the future.Dogs that are being fed only once a day or gulp their meals pretty fast are at a higher risk of developing this condition. But also stress and anxiety can be determining factors.

Degenerative Myelopathy

Degenerative myelopathy describes the slow-progressing paralysis of first the hind and then the front legs.This weakness happens due to the degenerating white matter in the spinal cord however a real cause has not been found yet.Weak hindquarters result in swaying, difficulty to hold balance, or stand up from lying down and the hind paws might get scraped along the ground.This condition is sadly untreatable and mostly affects old German Shepherds that have the genetic mutation SOD-1.In the early stages, it’s often confused with arthritis due to the difficulty to walk and (seemingly) stiffness.

Hemophilia

Epilepsy is a rare neurological disorder that affects approximately 0.75% of all dogs. It’s characterized by episodes of unprovoked and recurrent seizures that manifest as spasmodic, involuntary muscle movements.The dog is no longer aware of his surroundings, might run into objects, and is not responsive. Salivation and a loss of bowel and bladder control may also occur.There are three main types of epilepsy in dogs:Idiopathic epilepsy is presumed to be inherited in many breeds, including German Shepherds. This disorder cannot be cured and only managed with anti-epileptic drugs.

Megaesophagus

The tube connecting the throat to the stomach is called esophagus and actively transports food and water.Megaesophagus occurs when the tube dilates and is restricted in its ability to move food to the stomach.This leads to a variety of medical problems. As food cannot be pushed along it can easily be regurgitated and just flushed out of the mouth due to the nonexisting swallow reflex.Those reflexes also protect the lungs from inhaling and disruption of the tube can lead to pneumonia.Common causes of this condition are nerve diseases (myasthenia gravis, dysautonomia) or diseases to the esophagus tissue (stricture, esophageal obstruction) that are oftentimes congenital.The most prominent symptom of megaesophagus is the regurgitation of food and water. As a result of the lack of food intake, dogs may loose weight or even completely avoid swallowing food.Other signs include, abnormal lung sounds, bad breath, coughing, fever, starvation and weakness.Treatment is focused on curing the underlying cause and managing the symptoms of megaesophagus.In order to carry the food into the stomach, the dog will need to be fed in an upright position by utilizing a “bailey chair” or other similar construction that keeps the pet at a 45-90° angle.

How to Increase Your German Shepherd’s Lifespan

Now that we have talked about several devastating illnesses that could affect your German Shepherd in his lifetime, let’s focus on the bright side and work on improving and even prolonging his life.

Choosing the Right Breeder

Every good life starts with the search for the best breeder. Correct breeding is the very foundation of a healthy and well-tempered dog and genetics play a huge role in this.To avoid all the possible inheriatble diseases, request health certificates of both parents that adhere to the standards of the German Shepherd breeding club of america.Even if the parents are not affected by any disease, they could be carriers of recessive genes that will be passed onto the next generation.Check the breeder’s knowledge on these breed-related health issues and make sure that no questions are left unanswered.Read my guide on All 17 Questions You Need to Ask Your Potential Breeder which will help you determine a responsible breeder by asking the right questions.Do your own research on the breed and acquire thorough knowledge on care, health, history and temperament of your chosen puppy.Behavior issues are also among the top leading causes of death in dogs so temperament test any puppy before buying it. Good breeders will assist you with that and match you with the right puppy.

Watch the Weight

Maintaining a healthy weight is critical especially for German Shepherds that are prone to obesity. A good rule of thumb is to check if you are able to feel your dog’s rips when petting him.They shouldn’t be visible but touchable without a layer of extra skin or fat on top. When looking from above, the waist should be visibly distinct from the rest of the body. Regular weighing and monitoring will help you with that.

Vet Visits

Regular vet visits are super important to make sure that no underlying diseases remain unnoticed. Early diagnosis and treatment is the best thing that can happen to your dog in case of an illness.Your GSD should also be up to date on his vaccinations and worm treatment. At home, you can regularly check your dog for any lumps, behavior changes, skin irritations, or signs of sickness.

Nutrition

We are what we eat and that also applies to our dogs. Nutrition and exercise are the foundations of your dog’s body and both have to be adequate and balanced.Feeding your dog a high-quality diet is essential to keep him healthy, strengthen his immune system, and maintain his energy.Whether you are choosing kibble or a raw food diet, make sure that it has everything your dog needs and high-quality ingredients.But how do you know if your dog’s food has high-quality ingredients? For this case I have put together a comprehensive guide that you can download below:

Hip Care

As we have discussed above, GSDs are super prone to hip and joint issues. Make sure that your dog doesn’t need to walk stairs on a daily basis and consider getting a ramp for your car, sofa, or any other elevated furniture.Alternatively, you can obviously pick him up which might or might not be possible for you. But even when picking up your dog, there are a few things you need to watch out for.His rump should always be support with one hand and his body kept level to avoid straining the back. I have created a whole post about how to carry and pick up your dog correctly so make sure to check it out.

Rebecca Ussery
I just don't see how a two peckered billy goat can be that productive...jus' sayin' I was getting a lot of editorial. Bacon advocate. Organizer. Travelaholic. Tv fanatic. Amateur entrepreneur. Internet nerd. Gamer. Interests: Photography, Painting and Drawing
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