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.

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German shepherds have defined my life over the last decades, and the best part is, the most loyal pooch chose me as his human dad.

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