Before getting a puppy, it is worth asking about the life expectancy of a German Shepherd. Some owners do not think about the age to which these dogs can live, and for them, it becomes a surprising fact that, on average, at 10-11 years, such a pet already passes into the category of “elderly”.
How long does a German Shepherd live?
Dogs of the German Shepherd breed are not long-livers. Larger dogs are known to live less than decorative pets.
The average life expectancy of a German Shepherd dog is 10 to 15 years.
This life span is influenced by many factors, such as health, lifestyle, build, and size.
There is a table that can be used to determine the approximate age correspondence of a German Shepherd dog and a human:
|Dog Age (Years)||Human Equivalent (Years)|
|Average-size GSD||Large GSD|
Up to 1.5 years old a GSD is considered a teenager, and the pet is fully formed only by the age of 2 to 3 years.
From 3 to 6-7 years old, the German Shepherd is the most active. There are rarely any diseases of the musculoskeletal system at this age, so the adult dog can move a lot and maintain a full lifestyle.
Health problems begin when the dog is 8-9 years old. During this period, genetic diseases can reveal themselves, and their joints start to deteriorate and ache. By the age of 10-11, many heavy GSDs experience discomfort when walking, moving less, and preferring to rest more.
At 13-15 years old, large dogs are considered long-livers. At this age, they need rest, complete and easily digestible food, a warm and dry room.
What affects life expectancy
Many factors influence the life expectancy of German Shepherds:
- Animal size and build
Not all German Shepherds have the same weight and height. Commonly, larger dogs live 1-3 years less. For example, a dog with a weight of 88-99 lbs (40-45 kg) and height of 25 inches (65 cm) will live less than an animal of the same breed with a bodyweight up to 77 lbs (35 kg) and height up to 23 inches (60 cm).
Many German Shepherds are kept all their lives on a chain or in a roofed doghouse outside. But here, too, conditions can vary. A dog lacking walks and constantly chained on a short chain (up to 7-10 ft (2-3 meters)) will live less than an animal that regularly goes out for a walk and is kept on a long leash (from 13-16 ft (4-5 meters)). The same applies to pets living at home. A dog with an active lifestyle (long walks, training) will live longer than an animal that is only taken out for a walk for 1 hour a day.
There is an opinion that males live 1.5-2 years less than females, but it depends not only on the sex but also on the size (males are always larger and more massive than females).
Persistent lack of minerals and vitamins leads to metabolic disorders and the development of diseases that can shorten the life span. That is why it is crucial to make the proper diet for your pet.
- Psychological environment and communication with the owner
GSDs need constant contact with humans. Animals lacking this are under continuous stress, and this has an impact on their lifespan. Shepherds that live in continual isolation die earlier than pets that have constant contact with the owner.
- Genetic diseases
Many German Shepherds suffer from musculoskeletal system diseases (dysplasia, joint inflammation, arthritis, osteochondrosis, etc.). The breed individuals are also prone to dermatitis, allergies and other skin disorders. Animals with such diseases live less than healthy dogs.
Some owners constantly feed their pets, and as a result, they get obese. Being overweight puts a lot of stress on all the organs, so obese dogs die before lean and fit ones.
How to Extend the Life of a German Shepherd
Many owners seek to extend the life of their beloved four-legged friend.
Here are a few rules to follow:
- Watch your dog’s weight
Obesity is terrible even for young dogs, and it’s deadly for older pets. Being overweight puts more stress on joint tissues, leading to arthrosis, arthritis, and other diseases. Internal organs are covered with a thick layer of fat and can no longer function properly. Be sure to monitor the amount of food your dog eats. An older German Shepherd dog is best kept in a condition in which the ribs are well palpable.
- Having daily exercise
Many animals over the age of 10-11 years prefer to lie down more and refuse to take long walks. But the movement for shepherds is vital. Make your pet go out for at least a short walk, stopping to rest if necessary.
- Eliminate stress
Treat your four-legged friend well. No one knows how long an elderly pet will live, so socialize with him daily, pet him, and offer him his favorite treats. Don’t bring new pets into the house, as this can have a negative impact on the health of the elderly pet.
- Regular checks at the vet
Show your dog to the vet more often. Every six months, urine and blood tests should be done to detect the development of the disease and initiate treatment.
- Keep your pet mentally active
Shepherds are in great need of regular training. Even if your pet has become elderly, don’t stop learning new commands and repeating old ones.
If the quality of life of an old German Shepherd has significantly reduced, he is experiencing severe pain, and no supportive measures can help to relieve his condition, it is worth thinking about humane euthanasia. For this procedure, it is better to invite an experienced veterinarian to your home so that the dog will go quietly in his familiar home environment.
German Shepherds do not live as long as many people would like. However, if you choose a puppy from a good kennel from strong and healthy parents, there is a chance that the pet will live up to 15-16 years. Observe all the rules of care: proper diet, regular active walks, periodic check-ups with the doctor.