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How Long Does a German Shepherd Live?

German Shepherds have a fairly long lifespan compared to other dog breeds such as Pitbulls and Golden Retriever.

A German Shepherd may live even longer if they exercise regularly, and are screened and treated for any health conditions.

If you are worried that your GSD is approaching his senior years, it is important to know what to expect when that time comes, key health conditions that may affect your dog’s lifespan, and various ways you can use to increase your dog’s longevity.

How long do German Shepherds live for?

German Shepherds are popularly used as working dogs, and some farmers use them as herding dogs to take care of sheep and cattle.

This dog breed is associated with a healthy body, and this explains why they are hired as police dogs, guard dogs, and even as search and rescue dogs. They are highly intelligent, and they are known to follow instructions perfectly.

The standard lifespan for German Shepherds is between 9 to 13 years. The average lifespan is about 11 years. If the dog is well taken care of and has no health issues, he can live beyond 13 years, sometimes up to 20 years.

You can prolong your dog's lifespan by feeding them premium dog food, doing regular vet visits, maintaining a healthy weight, and keeping your dog active through regular exercises and evening walks.

Health Conditions that Reduce German Shepherd’s Life Span

German shepherds are prone to various health conditions throughout their lives, which may affect their lifespan. Doing regular screening can help identify these conditions at the onset.

The following are the main health issues that affect German shepherd dogs:


Young GSDs are generally adventurous and overly active, and they may get injured in accidents, which may affect their longevity. By the time your dog is 1 to 2 years, it becomes difficult to handle them as they get involved in fights with other dogs. Common accidents that may affect your dog's health include falls, motor vehicle accidents, dog fights, and cuts.

Hip Dysplasia

Hip and elbow dysplasia is common among German shepherd dogs, and it is estimated that the condition affects about 1 in every 5 GSDs.

This condition involves abnormalities in the hit-joint area, which causes dogs to experience discomfort in the hip and joints as they age. It can cause lameness, limping, and your dog may experience pain when walking.

Hip dysplasia is common in large dogs. While it may not have an immediate impact on your dog’s lifespan, it can make your pouch vulnerable to other health conditions such as Arthritis.

Hip dysplasia is a hereditary condition, and it mostly occurs due to back yard breeding, where unlicensed breeders crossbreed dogs without evaluating the breeds for any hereditary conditions. Proper breeding can help clear this condition.

Degenerative Myelopathy

Degenerative Myelopathy is a chronic disease that affects mobility and feeling of the legs. It affects the nerves of the spinal cord. It is an incurable disease, and it is associated with weaknesses of rear limbs that eventually cause complete paralysis of all limbs.

If your dog is diagnosed with degenerative myelopathy, you can engage them in regular exercises to help prolong their ability to remain mobile. As the disease advances, it reduces a dog's survival rate. In adverse cases, pet parents elect to conduct euthanasia to save their canine friends from the pain and agony that comes with the disease.


Bloating occurs when a dog eats too quickly than is normal.

It occurs when the stomach flips on itself, thereby blocking air and food circulation to the other parts of the intestines. Signs of bloating may include wretching, inflated abdomen, and rear limb weakness.

Since it prevents air circulation, bloating is a fatal condition that must be resolved immediately. Bloated dogs are treated as a case of medical emergency in veterinary clinics.

How to Prolong German Shepherd’s Lifespan

German shepherd dogs are susceptible to various health conditions that can prematurely reduce their lifespan. However, GSD owners can take certain actions to help their canines live a longer life before the 11 years average life span.

The following are some tips to help prolong your canine’s life span:

Regular exercise

German shepherds require regular exercises to remain fit and active. For a start, at least one hour of exercise per day is ideal to keep your dog's muscles active. You can engage your dog in various friendly exercises such as jogging, hiking, and walking. You can also leash them up and take them for morning jogs or evening walks.

Daily exercises can help keep your canine’s weight in check, ensure optimal health. Regular exercises can also help strengthen the bond between the owner and the dog and encourage proper behavior.

For senior dogs, pay attention to how they are walking or running if there are signs of pain in the joints and limbs. If the dog shows signs of pain or limping, you should have them checked up at your vet clinic. A few exercises every day are enough to keep them active.

Monitor her weight

Although German Shepherds are not at risk of obesity, it is important to check on your dog’s weight and health at all times.

Monitor the amount of food that your dog eats in each serving. Also, have your dog monitored regularly by your vet to ensure they pack a healthy weight.

Overfeeding can expose your dog to conditions such as joint and hip problems. Only give your dog the right amounts of food to prevent obesity.

High-quality diet

In a market flooded with thousands of dog food brands, it is important to watch out what your dog eats. Picking the wrong food can have long-term issues on your dog’s health, in addition to reducing their quality of life.

Before buying a dog food formula, check the ingredient composition and the guaranteed analysis printed on the dog food packaging to determine if it is ideal for your dog. A good formula should have real animal proteins such as chicken, turkey, or beef as the first ingredient. Grains and vegetables are also important ingredients.

You can also prepare home-made recipes for your dog. Make sure to consult your vet to determine the correct mix of nutrients depending on your dog’s age and nutrient requirements.

Regular vet visits

Your dog needs to be screened and examined regularly at the vet clinic to identify any health conditions at the onset. Routine diagnostics can help catch any risks early on and adjust your dog’s lifestyle immediately.

Also, remember to keep up with the vaccination schedule of your dog. The vaccinations are administered in three series when they are puppies and as they age to help protect them from infectious diseases.

Buy from Reputable Breeders

Before buying a German shepherd, it is important to ensure that you are dealing with a reputable dealer. Do background checks on your breeders to ensure they are licensed and have the proper documentation from the American Kennel Club.

Reputable breeders maintain proper documentation for all dogs, which shows the lineage and health history of all puppies on sale. A genuine breeder is keen on getting the best offspring from parents who pass medical tests by considering the parent’s health, temperament and genetic history.

Related Posts:

Are German Shepherds Good with Babies?

How Much Does a German Shepherd Cost?

How Much Does a German Shepherd Cost?

A German shepherd is a hardworking and gorgeous canine that has built its reputation as a loyal and the bravest dog breed in the world.

They are confident, agile and highly intelligent, making them one of the dog breeds on high demand. They are used as search and rescue dogs, guard dogs, and police dogs.

And the truth is, German Shepherds are generally more expensive than the average dog breed. You should expect to pay more for pedigree dogs with superior features.

Before buying a dog, it is important to understand how much a puppy costs and any associated ownership costs that dog owners can expect to incur. Plus, German shepherd ownership is a commitment that spans 9 to 13 years, and you should be prepared to incur certain costs to ensure your puppy is always in good health.

How Much Do German Shepherd Puppies Cost?

German shepherd pups are always in high demand, and therefore, reputable breeders charge a high price for these pups.

Generally, an 8-weeks old German shepherd puppy can cost anywhere from $500 to $1500. The cost of a family puppy is approximately $1000. You can expect to pay higher for German shepherds with unique colors or with an exceptional lineage. Breeders charge anywhere from $2000 to $10,000 for these pups.

If you want to buy a healthy GSD puppy, look for a nearby breeder with a good reputation. Breeders incur huge costs and time to ensure that the pup comes from good parents. The mother and father are first screened for any health and genetic issues, and only parents who pass the test are considered for breeding.

On average, breeders incur around $8000 to take care of a litter for their first 8 weeks of life, and this cost can go up to $24000 for show litters. This cost covers vet costs, food expenses, medical testing, and caring for the pregnant mother.

Sometimes, potential dog owners may be tempted to go for low-cost puppies from backyard breeders and low-cost pet stores. However, these breeders are more concerned with making a profit, and the puppies are bred in poor conditions and often suffer from health and genetic conditions.

How much does a Purebred German Shepherd Cost? 

Purebred GSDS have similar genetic appearances and characteristics to their parents or other GDS in their lineage. This means that the purebred puppy is in the same breed as the parent.

If you are interested in getting specific physical appearances and behavioral characteristics, you can expect to pay $500 to $2000 for a purebred German shepherd puppy from a reputable breeder.

You can also consider buying a German shepherd adult dog from an animal shelter at $50 to $300. You can also adopt instead of buying a puppy, and you will be rescuing a dog from a shelter and giving them a second chance. Dogs adopted or purchased from an animal shelter are often vaccinated and spayed/neutered, therefore reducing certain expenses.

How Much Does a German Shepherd Service Dog Cost?

German Shepherd Service dogs require a lot of work to bring up since they are used for K9 police and military work. They are intelligent and have high amounts of energy to perform the job they are trained to perform.

When breeding German shepherd for service work, breeders must carefully select breeding parents for the required temperament, and the puppies must start training from an early age. Breeders incur money in training puppies to be service dogs, and this makes them more expensive than a family pet.

The average cost of a German shepherd service dog ranges anywhere from $10,000 to $20,000.

Factors that Determine the Price of a German Shepherd Dog

The price of a German shepherd will depend on the following factors:


The primary factor that determines the price of a German shepherd is the age. First-time dog owners prefer young puppies since they can be easily trained from an early age.

As a result, puppies between 8 weeks to 12 weeks old tend to be the most expensive, and the price decreases as they age. Young puppies can be trained to perform specific roles or even to behave in a certain way.

Adult dogs are cheaper compared to puppies. Although owning adult dogs means less work, it also means that the owner will spend a few years with them before they reach senior years.


Dog owners are likely to pay more to own a puppy with certain features that they desire in a breed.

Some dog owners who are interested in entering into dog shows and competitions may pay up to $7000 to own a puppy from show winning parents. Breeders charge a high cost for such puppies due to their high demand.

Similarly, a purebred German shepherd puppy will cost more than mixed breed puppies, since they retain certain characteristics of the breed that the dog owner is interested in.

Coat color

The coat color of a German shepherd puppy will influence its cost.

All German Shepherds are born either black, grey, or white, and the coat color may change as they grow. GSDs with white color are rare and are always in high demand. Potential dog owners will pay more for a white German shepherd, which is difficult to breed.

Breeder Reputation

Is the breeder credible and properly licensed?

Always verify that the breeder you are buying from has a good reputation of breeding healthy pups. Although certain breeders will claim multiple certifications to justify their high prices, it is important to ensure their credibility.

You can ask for referrals from friends and vets, and even attend professional dog shows to check the breeders present. You can also visit the breeder’s facilities to see the hygiene conditions, certifications, complete records of puppies, and even meet the mother of the puppy you want to buy. Confirm that there is proper documentation for health screenings, vaccinations, and lineage.

Reputable breeders offer a lifetime warranty on their puppies so that, if the new owner has any issues, they can bring back the puppy to the breeder.

German Shepherd Ownership Costs 

Apart from the initial cost of purchasing a German shepherd, there are other costs that add up to the full price of caring for your dog. These costs include:


If you want your GSD puppy to be sociable and well-behaved, you will need to enroll them in professional training. GSDs are easy to train, and 4 to 8 weeks of training is enough to make your dog acquire some essential skills. For such training, you can expect to pay about $50 to $100 for a 4 to 8 weeks training, running one hour per day.


A German shepherd is a shedding breed, and it requires brushing and regular baths every few days. You do not have to incur professional grooming costs, but you will need to buy a handy brush to brush the fur every few days. You also need to trim her nails regularly, and you can do it yourself or have a professional do it at about $10 per session.

Veterinary costs

German shepherds are likely to have certain health conditions such as bloating, allergies, epilepsy, and hip dysplasia, and it is the owner’s responsibility to meet the veterinary costs of their pups.

A dog owner should expect to incur $500 to $1500 in veterinary bills every year. They will also incur about $100 for annual examinations and vaccinations every year. If your dog is not spayed/neutered, you have to pay $50 to $200 for the surgery.

Therefore, a dog owner should have enough funds to cater for emergencies and medical expenses. Alternatively, the owner can purchase an insurance cover for such medical emergencies.


Dog insurance is as important as it is in humans. Insurance helps cover medical emergencies that could occur when least expected. The cost of insuring a German shepherd can range anywhere from $50 to $100.

Food expenses

GSDs are high appetite dogs, and they must be fed a premium diet that provides sufficient energy for their body. GSD puppies required a high-energy diet, and they require regular meals in small portions, usually 3 to 4 times every day.

German shepherd owners can expect to pay about $65 for a bag of premium dog food, and approximately $1000 every year. You can also treat your dog to small portions of treats for good behavior, and this can cost about $10 every month for a bag of treats.

Other costs

A dog owner is likely to incur additional costs to buy essential accessories for their canines such as dog leash, indestructible dog crate, automatic food dispensers, toys, and supplements.

Is it worth spending a High Cost to Buy a German Shepherd? 

German shepherds are unique dogs, with superior traits and characteristics. These dogs are intelligent, loyal, hard-working, and the most trusted companions that humans can have. This explains why they are preferred as guard and police dogs and are ranked the second most popular dog in the United States.

I have owned my German Shepherd for the last 8 years now, and he had been the most loyal and closest friend I have had in years. Spending $500 to $2000 to acquire a German shepherd is worth it, and you will not regret it. Make sure to get a puppy from a reputable breeder so that you get the most desirable characteristics in your future friend.

Related Post: Are German Shepherds Good With Kids

Are German Shepherds Good With Kids?

Are German shepherds sociable with kids?

You are not alone. This is probably the most common question that families with kids ask before adopting or buying a German shepherd.

The truth is, German shepherd dogs (GSDs) are known to be protective and loyal to their owners, and they are always calm when around the family members.

However, if the canine has not trained to be social from an early age, it is important to exercise caution if he is unfamiliar with kids from the family or outside the family. Plus, large adult dogs do not always mix with babies.

Are German Shepherds Good with kids?

Yes, German shepherds are generally good with kids, but there are a few things you should watch out before allowing your canine to play with your kids.

First, the temperament of your German shepherd depends on the home environment. The home should provide a safe environment that allows the puppy to have a good relationship with all family members, including the kids.

A German Shepherd exhibits certain desirable characteristics such as loyalty and braveness, which can be beneficial or even cause problems if the home environment does not allow them to show these qualities.

If your canine is taught how to socialize from an early age, he can be a loyal protector of your kids when you are away. For example, this German shepherd was shot multiple times while protecting his teen owner from burglars.

German shepherd Temperaments 

The general appearance of a German shepherd does not portray a kid-friendly dog. From their muscular built and sharp eyes, the German shepherd is built for herding, which was its original function.

However, despite being a naturally big dog, a German shepherd is a calm and patient dog and can live well with kids. Small kids are unpredictable, and they can easily provoke a GSD when you least expect it. How the dog reacts to the provocation depends on its temperament, and how they has been trained.

A study by the American Temperament Test Society (ATTS) showed that German shepherd dogs have a relatively stable temperament of 85.3%. This exceeds the average temperament level of 83.4%. Out of 3383 GSDs that have been subjected to this test, 2885 dogs passed the test, and only 498 dogs failed the test.

The high temperament score means that GSDs are likely to remain calm when playing with kids. However, these dogs may develop certain behavioral problems such as separation anxiety when their favorite family members are away. When this occurs, the normally calm dogs may start being aggressive when provoked.

Traits That Make German Shepherds Good With Kids 

There are certain characteristics of German Shepherds that makes them ideal for families with kids. Some of the characteristics include:


German shepherds are one of the most loyal dog breeds that you can count on to have your back if you are in trouble. This trait is borrowed from their original role of herding sheep, where GSDs developed the trait of working hard and obeying their masters.

In a family setting, German shepherds extend this loyalty to all family members, including the kids, who they interact with daily. Training your GSD puppy to socialize from a young age can teach them to show loyalty to the kids.


German shepherds are undeniably obedient dogs, and they follow commands with ease. If you teach them kid-friendly habits at the puppy stage, they will grow observing these rules to the letter.

That notwithstanding, GSDs are highly trainable, and they are capable of learning new commands quickly. They are known to start obeying commands on the first attempt with a 95% success rate.

Allowing your kids to participate in the training can boost their relationship with your puppy. Your dog will also learn to respect the commands given by the kids, and encourage obedience.


When it comes to protecting their human family, GSDs know when and how to react. Even potential criminals understand that they can’t mess with German Shepherds.

With their muscular built, weight 90 pounds plus, and athletic height, GSDs are built to handle and neutralize their targets. This is why they are used as guard dogs, police dogs, and in guiding visually-impaired persons.

Properly trained GSDs have a high adaptive intelligence that enables them to identify potential threats before they happen. If any family member is in trouble, GSDs can risk their lives to protect their owners from harm, while neutralizing any threats posed.

What Makes German Shepherds BAD for Kids

There is no doubt that German Shepherds make good dogs for families with kids. However, there are certain traits and behaviors that may make German shepherds risky in families with babies and fragile kids.

Muscular nature

GSDs are naturally muscular and have big bodies. While this is a desirable trait when it comes to offering protection, it may pose a risk to kids.

Dogs may not know their real strength, and may unintentionally hurt their playmates. Plus, GSDs are pretty active dogs, and they may become excited upon seeing their human friends or other dogs, and cause injuries in the process of hugging or jumping on their friends.

Nevertheless, this trait can be managed at an early age, and GSDs can be trained to obey commands that restrain them from causing harm to kids or even other pets.

Loud barking

Babies and loud noises don’t go together.

Any time your German shepherd starts barking or howling, your baby may interpret that as a threat to them, and they will start crying. For small kids, the loud barking may scare them, and they will have a bad relationship with their pet.

Loud barking is an inborn trait, which is comparable to singing in humans. They can also bark loudly anytime they feel you are in danger, or to alert you when something is amiss.

Still, loud barking can be controlled through proper training. Train him to be calm by using certain commands, and they will obey anything the barking or howling goes overboard.