German Shepherd Lifespan – How Long Do German Shepherds Live?


The average lifespan of a German Shepherd ranges from 9 to 13 years. Generally, females tend to live about 1 to 2 years longer than males.

As a German Shepherd owner, you might be eager to know what you can do to prolong your dog’s life. You may also want to know about the health issues that are common in the German Shepherd breed.

In any case, this guide is for you. Here, we talk about the German Shepherd life expectancy and also discuss ways to keep your pet healthy.

What is the Average German Shepherd Lifespan? How Long Do German Shepherds Live?

German Shepherds life expectancy comes to 9-13 years with a healthy diet, regular vet visits, and daily exercise. The most common health issues in the popular dog breed are hip dysplasia or hind legs weakness which is a degenerative joint disease.

As such, large dog breeds like German shepherds have a shorter lifespan. This is why, their life expectancy compared to smaller dog breeds is lower.

By buying your dog from a reputable breeder, you can prevent these genetic issues and ensure that your pet lives a healthy life. You can also do some things, which we will discuss shortly, to keep your pet healthy.

Also Read: 9 Causes of Back Legs Weakness in Dogs

What Are the Health Complications in German Shepherd Dogs?

The most common German Shepherd health issues that could affect or shorten your dog’s lifespan are:

Degeneration Joint Disease

According to the American Kennel Club or AKC degenerative joint diseases like degenerative myelopathy and elbow and hip dysplasia are common in this popular breed. The hip joint in the affected dogs tends to pop out while running or walking resulting in pain, lameness, and difficulty while getting up.

Similarly, German Shepherd, hind leg weakness is also a common issue in this dog breed that results in arthritis.

Poor breeding and line breeding are often a cause of these joint-related. Good breeders only breed German Shepherds that have been cleared in the hip and elbow evaluation tests.

Bloat or Gastric Volvulus

Like all large dogs, bloat is another health issue common in the German Shepherd breed, it occurs due to the twisting of the dog’s stomach and intestines as gas and food mix and contracts the organs.

It can kill a dog if surgery is not done right away. This disease can shorten the German Shepherd’s lifespan. Other breeds like Cane Corso, Great Danes, and St.Bernards which are large breeds also have this condition.

Symptoms of bloat are stomach pain, retching, uneasiness, labored breathing, etc. They usually arise after the dog has eaten.

It is important that dog owners educate themselves about the symptoms of bloat as timely medical help can save their dogs’ lives.

Periodontal Disease

Pet parents must take precautions to prevent periodontal disease. Failure to brush your German Shepherd teeth can cause toxins to enter the German Shepherd’s bloodstream. These toxins can then harm all the other organs in the pet’s body including the heart.

How Can You Increase German Shepherd’s Lifespan?

There are several things you can do to increase your German Shepherd’s life span. These are:

Daily Exercise and Mental Stimulation

When ex-cavalry officer Max Von Stephanitz created the German Shepherd from a line of police working dogs, he focused on the breed’s essential conformation to create healthy, multipurpose dogs that could guard property, work in military settings, function as a police dog, or even as search and rescue dogs. The dog was originally bred to be a multi-purpose farm dog.

Today, most German shepherd breeders breeding programs focus on their German shepherd puppy to become a family dog or companion dog. Often the German shepherd puppy is forced to be a couch potato by their owners like common dog breeds.

Unfortunately, without exercise, German shepherds tend to get extremely bored and even depressed. This can cause health issues like obesity as well as behavioral issues like destructive behavior in the German Shepherd dog.

Your German Shepherd dog needs at least 2 hours of daily exercise. It can be walking, hiking, swimming, agility, flyball, and other canine sports, etc. You must also mentally stimulate your GSD by giving it puzzles, treat dispensers that encourage it to think, setting up obstacle courses, etc.

Healthy Diet

A balanced diet and a healthy dog food intake can increase your dog’s life expectancy considerably. You can select a dog food based on the advice given by your vet or breeder, your German Shepherd’s age, size/weight, and overall activity. 

Many German Shepherd owners opt to feed a raw diet to their dogs. The RAW or BARF diet has the following benefits:

Always talk to your vet prior to making any dietary changes for your furry friend. Your GSD puppy will need puppy food 3-4 times a day whereas adult dogs need to eat two meals a day.

Also Read: Can Dogs Eat Potatoes?

Regular Medical Care

With timely medical visits, your vet can assess whether your dog is at a healthy weight – not under or overweight. Obesity in German Shepherds can result in pressure on the dog’s joints. Most dogs with obesity tend to have diabetes, arthritis, and other underlying diseases.

Routine vet care can also help you catch health issues in their early stages. This can prolong your dog’s life span.

Brush your Dogs Teeth Every Day

Daily brushing is very important to prevent plaque and tartar on the German Shepherds teeth. It can also freshen up your shepherd’s breath and whiten your dog’s teeth. Many dogs suffer due to poor oral hygiene.

Regular oral care will also help prevent periodontal disease and keep your pet’s organs healthy as well. This can increase its average lifespan and lead to a happy life.

Is 10 Years Old for a German Shepherd?

Yes, since the average life span of a German Shepherd is 9-13 years, a 10-year-old German Shepherd is considered old or senior. According to the UK Kennel Club, some signs your dog is old include:

  • White hair around the muzzle and eyes
  • Slower movements
  • Longer naps
  • Reduced appetite
  • Foul breath
  • Lumps and bumps
  • Patchy hair loss with a dull coat.
  • Increased confusion and disorientation

Can German Shepherd Life Expectancy be 15 Years? Can a German Shepherd Live 20 Years?

Based on how long German shepherds live and according to vets, a German Shepherds life expectancy is shorter than other dog breeds because they are large dogs. In general, larger dogs tend to live less than smaller dogs.

The maximum a German Shepherd is known to live in between 12-13 years – its average life expectancy. You can do the above things to ensure that your dog lives a long and happy life. Also, ensure buying from a good breeder who refrains from line breeding.

What is the Most Common Cause of Death in German Shepherds?

A study conducted on over 400,000 GSDs and other larger breeds showed that the most common causes of death in these dogs were joint problems, myelopathy, and hip dysplasia. Some dogs even died from cancer.

Most German shepherds live healthy lives with proper nutrition and regular veterinary care.

Conclusion – How Long Do German Shepherds Live?

Most German shepherds live between 9-13 years. Female German shepherds usually live slightly longer – up to 10-14 years. Buying from a good breeder can ensure fewer German Shepherd health issues like degenerative spinal stenosis.

In general, a balanced diet, regular exercise, dental care, and scheduled vet visits to catch diseases early in your dog can help prolong your German Shepherds life span.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *