Our pets are members of our families, and we want them to live as long as we do. Unfortunately, that isn’t the case. The average German Shepherd’s lifespan is about 9-13 years, with the oldest known German Shepherd living to be 18 years. Small dogs and cats may live longer, but large dogs like the German Shepherd simply don’t live as long. While your German Shepherd sadly won’t live forever, you can take steps to prolong your dog’s life by familiarizing yourself with common health problems German Shepherd are likely to develop and getting your dog screened regularly.
You should note that mixed breed German Shepherds may have a different life expectancy than purebreds. In general, mixed breeds tend to be healthier and hardier than purebreds due to their larger genetic pool. If mixed with another breed that tends to have a longer lifespan, you might be able to expect your German Shepherd mix to live longer than the average purebred GSD. However, there are no guarantees when it comes to mixed breeds; what’s true for one mix may not be true for another.
Common Health Problems
No matter how healthy your dog is, there are certain health problems that German Shepherds are prone to. Some of these common health issues are more serious than others. Below, we have broken down common German Shepherd health issues into two categories: minor and serious.
Important Health Screenings That Can Prolong Your GSD’s Life
It is important to remember to take your dog to the vet on an annual basis for a checkup. Your vet can perform certain health screenings and routine blood tests to catch any early signs of disease and recommend the best preventative care to keep your dog healthy and happy. Dogs as young as 4 months old can be screened for hip dysplasia. Catching diseases early can help improve your dog’s quality of life by opening the door for treatment and pain management plans before the disease progresses and becomes severe.
Ways to Keep Your Aging Dog Healthy
Like humans, all dogs age. Elderly dogs will not have as much energy as they once did, but it’s important to continue your routines to keep them mentally and physically active. Here are three tips for keeping your dog happy and healthy as he starts to age.
1. Keep up your daily walks.
Even though your elderly German Shepherd probably can’t walk as far as he used to, it’s still very important to keep him active. Aim for multiple short walks a day if your German Shepherd can handle it. Keep an eye on his gait and look out for any signs that he may be tired or in pain. If he seems to be lagging, that is your cue to head home.
2. Keep teaching your old dog new tricks.
You might think that training is for young dogs, but dogs of all ages can and should learn new things. It will help keep your German Shepherd mentally engaged. Even if he doesn’t learn as quickly as he used to, reward small progress with plenty of treats and praise.
3. Mingle with the neighborhood dogs.
Elderly dogs are still eager for connection and playtime, so take some time to coordinate dog playdates with other mature dogs in your neighborhood. Just try to avoid pairing your older dog with a puppy or a young adult, as they could actually harm your pet while playing rough. If you don’t know anyone with a dog nearby, try a dog park.
Dogs have a relatively short lifespan compared to humans, and it is heartbreaking when a beloved pet passes away. However, you can make the most of your years together by ensuring that your German Shepherd is getting adequate health care. Don’t neglect your dog as he gets older; elderly dogs need mental and physical stimulation just as much as young dogs do.
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