Health Issues Commonly Seen in German Shepherds

Health Issues Commonly Seen in German Shepherds

Health & Safety

German Shepherds have been a popular choice of dog to keep as family pet for many years and there's a very good reason why this is. Not only are they striking dogs to look at but they are incredibly loyal and dedicated companions too. However, as with many other pure breed dogs, the German Shepherd is known to suffer from certain genetically inherited disorders as well as a few acquired ones.

The average life span of a German Shepherd is around 10 to 13 years and if you are thinking of offering a home to one, it is better to be aware of these health issues which will help you detect any early symptoms should your dog develop any of them. Should you be thinking of getting a puppy, then it's really important that you contact a well established and reputable breeder that has a well planned breeding programme in place which reduces the risk of puppies inheriting any disorders from their parents.

Below is a list of health issues seen in German Shepherds that are either hereditary or acquired:

Hip Dysplasia

Another condition that commonly affects German Shepherds, hip dysplasia is caused by the abnormal development of the hip joint which typically occurs when dogs are still growing. Dogs with the condition tend to be extremely lame and in severe cases, arthritis sets in debilitating a dog's movement even more. Veterinary attention should be sought if you are at all worried about your dog because the sooner the condition is diagnosed, the sooner your pet would be made to feel more comfortable.


Sadly German Shepherds are prone to suffering from epilepsy which can be quite frightening when a dog first has a fit. However, the condition can be very successfully controlled by giving dogs with the condition the right type of medication. Because it is incurable, German Shepherds would need to be kept on medication for the rest of their lives.


This is a horrible condition that's very similar to multiple sclerosis in people. The condition causes dogs to progressively become paralysed in their hind legs. There is no treatment for CDRM and it's typically diagnosed in middle aged dogs.

Anal Furunculosis

This is an infection that takes hold around a dog's anus for which the cause is still unknown, although there is some belief it is because of the breed's bushy tail which does not allow enough air to that region of the body. Although the condition can be treated in several ways, it is expensive and the infection typically recurs.

Haemophilia A

Haemophilia A is a blood clotting disorder that leads to excessive and often uncontrollable bleeding. The condition affects male dogs only so it's really important to check with breeders to make sure none of the lines they use in their breeding programmes suffer from the condition. It is also worth noting that although males are affected by the condition, females may well be carriers too.

Pancreatic Insufficiency

Over recent times, Pancreatic Insufficiency is a condition that is more frequently seen in the breed. Dogs suffering from the disorder are unable to digest their food correctly with the result being they are continuously hungry yet they lose weight and condition becoming increasing thin as time goes by. Dogs with this disorder need to be put on medication for the rest of their lives which typically consists of pancreatic enzymes that can be added to their food or in capsule form.

Bloat which is also called gastric torsion

Bloat is a very serious condition that affects Boxers and which needs to be treated as soon as possible because if not, it could prove fatal in less than one hour.


German Shepherds are very loyal dogs and if well socialised from an early age are a pleasure to be around, which is why they have been such popular family pets for so long. Although they are strong looking dogs, the breed does tend to suffer from certain hereditary disorders as well as a few acquired ones. Existing and potential owners need to be aware of these conditions in order to detect any early signs there may be a problem because the earlier a health issue is diagnosed and treated, the better the prognosis. Not only this but the sooner a dog is given the right sort of therapy, the sooner they will feel more comfortable.

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