German Shepherds are amazing family pets and wonderful working dogs. Their intelligence and easy trainability has earned them the title of third most popular dog in the U.S. Unfortunately like most dogs, their lifespan isn’t very long compared to humans. However there are plenty of ways that dog owners can increase the life expectancy of their GSD. This article will include some simple tips with proven studies that can help increase your German Shepherd lifespan.
Average German Shepherd Lifespan
The average German Shepherd lifespan is 10 years. This is similar to other large dog breeds. Life expectancy can range from seven years all the way up to thirteen years depending on several factors.
Factors Affecting Lifespan
- Bad Teeth – Gum disease will affect most dogs in their lifetime. Most dog owners never even look inside their dog’s mouth. Similar to humans your GSD’s teeth are a good indicator of overall health. Poor dental hygiene can lead to progressive periodontal disease shortening your dog’s lifespan.
- Breeder – American GSD’s appear to have a shorter lifespan than German GSD’s. This is most likely because they are bred in the U.S. for dog show standards as opposed to working dog standards in Germany. This leads to more health issues stemming from the sloped back that is revered in competitions.
- Health Conditions – Large dog breeds like the German Shepherd unfortunately suffer from many more health issues. Some of these include bloat, degenerative myelopathy, epilepsy, hemangiosarcoma and hip dysplasia. Any of these can lead to decreased life expectancy.
- Lack of Exercise – German Shepherds have a lot of energy and need a way to release it. If they lay around too much and don’t get at least two hours of exercise daily, it can lead to health issues and therefore affect their longevity.
- Poor Diet – Feeding GSD’s a low quality store bought food can take its toll over their lifetime. They need the proper nutrients and vitamins found in high quality kibble or homemade dog food. Fruits and vegetables are also great for keeping them happy and healthy.
How To Increase German Shepherd Lifespan?
Owning a a dog has been proven to increase the lifespan of a human. Studies have shown that dog owners have close to 25% lower risk of death. This is all the more reason to do everything we can to increase the life expectancy of our canines.
There are several things that we can do as owners to increase the longevity of our dog’s lifespan. It starts when they are a puppy. These tips should help you maintain a healthy dog and improve your well being at the same time.
1. Annual Check-ups
Taking your German Shepherd for regular annual check-ups with a veterinarian is a great way to increase their lifespan. For young puppies, twice a year is recommended. On top of developing a healthy diet plan, your vet can keep an eye out for certain signs and symptoms of potential diseases.
This is especially important for GSD,s. Large dog breeds are much more susceptible to certain conditions such as elbow and hip dysplasia. This involves improper development of the joints which can lead to lots of discomfort later down the road.
Annual visits to the vet can help prevent hip dysplasia. Often times the veterinarian will find early indicators that something is wrong. Dogs are tough and may even hide the fact that they are hurting.
2. Dental Care
Dental care is another proven method for increasing your German Shepherd’s lifespan. Brushing your dog’s teeth every day helps prevent periodontal disease which is extremely common in dogs. Approximately 8 out of 10 dogs over three years old have the infectious disease.
Like humans, periodontal disease attacks the support structures surrounding the teeth. If it isn’t taken care of quickly, the disease can end up in the dog’s bloodstream, possible leading to a damaged heart, kidney or lungs. If left untreated, gum disease can be fatal to dogs.
Tips For Preventing Periodontal Disease
- Brush your dog’s teeth daily with a dog friendly toothpaste (NO HUMAN TOOTHPASTE)
- Feed your dog dry foods that are healthy for plaque and tarter reduction
- Give your dog dental treats that are healthy and nutritious
- Let your dog chew on healthy bones and toys that won’t hurt their teeth
- Take them for regular dental check-ups at the Veterinarian
Following these simple tips should hopefully tack on a few years to your dog’s life. Dental health is one of the top ways for increasing German Shepherd lifespan.
A study performed by the Journal of the American Hospital Association in 2019 proved the effect of dental hygiene on lifespan. Dogs that had increased dental scaling lived longer. This process can be done at your local veterinarian. It involves removing the plaque and tarter build up at the gum lines.
Exercising your dog has many different benefits. It is a great way to keep them busy, fit and healthy while simultaneously improving their overall well-being and increasing their lifespan.
German Shepherds need at least two hours of exercise every day for maximum health. This will keep their minds active and sharp while keeping their bodies nice and lean. This goes hand in hand with proper nutrition.
Play with your dog and take them on walks daily to increase longevity. Walking is proven to have many health benefits. This goes for humans as well. Just walking thirty minutes a day lowers the risk of heart disease by nineteen percent. You and your GSD will be much healthier.
Fun Ideas To Exercise Your Dog
- Go on a dog-friendly trail hike in the mountains
- Make a homemade obstacle course for them to complete
- Play fetch or Frisbee with them outside
- Take them to the park to run around
- Walk them for thirty minutes once or twice a day
This is one of the easiest ways to increase your dog’s lifespan. It will also help relieve boredom and reduce or even prevent certain conditions.
4. Healthy Diet
A healthy diet is one of the most important aspects of your dog’s life. Feeding them the right food and the proper amount will have a big impact on their lifespan. You never want to overfeed your dog or give them too many unhealthy treats.
A Lean Diet Leads To A Longer Life
Feeding your German Shepherd a lean healthy diet can increase their lifespan by approximately 1.5-2 years. Overweight dogs have more health problems. German Shepherds are already prone to several health issues. If your dog is lean and healthy, some of the more common health conditions can be avoided.
Several studies have been performed to assess the relationship between diet and lifespan in dogs. One such study was conducted by the Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicine. It followed over 50,000 dogs over a period of 10 years.
It compared 12 dog breeds, including German Shepherds to see if lifespan was affected by obesity. Results showed that the median lifespan was longer in the normal weight dogs compared to the overweight dogs. While GSD’s were on the low end of the amount of time gained, smaller dogs like the Yorkshire Terrier gained up to 2.5 years on a leaner diet.
This is great news for you and your pup. Make sure you talk to your vet about the best diet for your dog. It may just give you a few more years with your dog. It is especially important in middle aged dogs.
Calories Per Day
Feed your GSD a high quality dog food with low carbs and protein in the range of 18-22 percent. This will of course vary depending on their age and weight. Here is a basic chart for calories recommended by PetCareRX.com.
|Adult German Shepherd||Senior German Shepherd|
|1,740-2,100 calories daily||1,272-1,540 calories daily|
These numbers are based on an adult GSD that weighs between sixty and ninety pounds. The caloric intake for puppies will differ depending on their stage of growth. Consult your veterinarian for a more detailed diet plan.
5. Neuter Or Spay
Neutering or spaying your German Shepherd is the best way to increase their lifespan. Unaltered dogs are at a much greater risk of getting injured or developing infections. This is because they will roam looking for mates. Unfortunately, they can get into fights with other dogs or get hit by a car.
Getting them neutered or spayed will keep outdoor dogs closer to home decreasing their risks. They will also have less health problems.
- Decreased risk of prostate cancer
- Less chance that they will develop different types of reproductive system cancers
- Possibility of testicular cancer is eliminated
Studies show that neutering or spaying your dog increases your furry friends health and longevity. This University of Georgia study of over 70,000 animals had some staggering results. It concluded that fixed male dogs lived 13.8% longer and fixed female dogs lived 26.3% longer. Overall the altered dogs lived 1.5 years longer than the unaltered dogs on average.
When to Neuter or Spay
Male German Shepherds that will be house pets should be neutered between 12-15 months old after they are fully grown. If the procedure is done before that, it could be harmful to their skeletal growth. Females on the other hand should be spayed earlier on at around 5 months of age.
Ten years with a German Shepherd, or any dog for that matter, can go by quick! Hopefully these dog studies and tips will help to increase your German Shepherd’s lifespan. Stick to a healthy lean diet and stay on top of their dental care for increased longevity. Remember to neuter and spay at the appropriate times, give your dog plenty of exercise and take your GSD for annual check-ups at the vet!
Please leave a comment below and let us know what you think!
Have you ever lost a German Shepherd? If so how old did your precious pup live to be? There are stories of German Shepherds living to be eighteen years old. Let us know! We would love to hear about your experience!