German Shepherds are one of the most popular breeds worldwide. They have been bred for centuries to perform many tasks, such as guarding livestock, hunting, protection of property and so on. These dogs are very loyal and they make excellent family pets. However, it’s not just their loyalty that makes them good companions; they’re also known for being highly intelligent animals with strong memories and a great sense of self-preservation.
Germanshepers are known for having a life expectancy of 15 years or more, which is much longer than other breeds. A typical German Shepherd lives up to 20 years!
There are some breeders who go even further and claim that they’ve had their dogs live over 30 years! That’s almost unheard of in the dog world. You’d think these kinds of claims would get them shut down, but unfortunately that isn’t always the case.
The average lifespan of a German Shepherd is between 10 and 14 years old. Some have claimed that they’ve seen their dogs live up to 16 years, but those are rare cases.
Most Germansheepers reach adulthood around age 5-7, though there are exceptions like the famous “Old Man” (pictured above) who lived to be nearly 80 years old!
How long does a German Shepherd live? What kind of health problems do they suffer from?
The average life of a German Shepherd is relatively long. There are some health problems that they suffer from more than the average dog, but proper breeding and care can significantly increase their lifespan and decrease the chances of them getting ill.
This is a genetic defect that affects the hips. The head of the femur doesn’t fit into the hip socket correctly, which makes it difficult for your dog to walk or even stand up.
This condition can also be made worse by obesity, so make sure to keep your dog at a healthy weight.
This is similar to the hip dysplasia that afflicts humans. the joint of the elbow is malformed which can make it painful for your dog to walk or even lift its front legs.
This condition can also be made worse by obesity, so keep an eye on your dog’s diet.
A Patent Ductus Arteriousus
The blood vessel that supplies blood directly to the heart is incorrectly formed. This condition can be corrected with a relatively simple surgery when your dog is a puppy.
If it isn’t treated, it can lead to serious heart problems later in life.
This is another genetic defect that causes a build up of an amino acid called cystine in the urine. These crystals can cause your dog a lot of pain and if it isn’t treated, it can lead to kidney failure.
These are abnormalities in the bones of the spine. Most often than not, these aren’t serious and don’t cause any problems at all.
However, in rare cases they can lead to painful conditions such as spinal arthritis which can make it difficult for your dog to walk. Not all hemivertebrae lead to this condition, however it’s best to get your dog checked out by a specialist in case the condition does develop.
Though it doesn’t have an effect on your dog’s health, some breeders consider this to be a genetic defect because it makes the dog look unnatural. The muscles around the elbow are often larger and bulkier than they should be which can give your dog a strange appearance.
Progressive Retinal Atrophy
This is a disease of the eye that slowly leads to blindness. Most dogs are born with this condition, though they don’t show symptoms until later in life.
The first symptom is that your dog starts bumping into objects or running into walls for no apparent reason. Eventually, their vision gets so bad that they are nearly blind. There is no cure for PRA, though some cases it leads to complete blindness.
Resources and Further Reading
The German Shepherd Dog, by The German Shepherd Dog Club of America. This book is the best resource that I’ve been able to find on information about the history of the German Shepherd Dog and standard practices for breeding and raising these amazing dogs.
If you are looking for more detailed information on specific health concerns, this is the place to look!
The Art of Raising a Puppy, by Monks of New Skete. This is a great book if you want to learn more about raising a German Shepherd puppy.
It helped me when I got my first dog.
Cesar’s Way, by Cesar Millan. The Dog Whisperer is an absolute genius when it comes to understanding canines and their behavior.
If you’re having any problems with your dog, this book will help you solve them. Check out his TV show too!
Sources & references used in this article:
Association between life span and body condition in neutered client‐owned dogs by …, D Wilson, EM Lund, AJ German – Journal of veterinary …, 2019 – Wiley Online Library
Age‐associated changes in the immune system of German shepherd dogs by A Strasser, A Teltscher, B May… – Journal of Veterinary …, 2000 – Wiley Online Library
Neutering of German Shepherd Dogs: associated joint disorders, cancers and urinary incontinence by BL Hart, LA Hart, AP Thigpen… – Veterinary Medicine and …, 2016 – Wiley Online Library