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German Shepherd: description, character, diseases [veterinarian's recommendations

German Shepherd (Shepherd dog) is a breed of herding dogs known in Poland for a long time, and as the name says it comes from Germany.

German Shepherd

It seems that Poles like and love this kind of sheepdog, the more so as it is currently one of the most popular breeds. It is often heard that it is a very sick dog, however, the frequency of meeting sick individuals must be calculated on the basis of the population in a given area. Nevertheless, sheepdogs do high genetic loads and predilection for certain diseases.

The German Shepherd Dog belongs to the first group of the FCI.

  • Character of the German Shepherd Dog
  • How much does a German Shepherd Dog live?
  • German Shepherd breed description
  • Care
  • Diet and supplementation
  • German Shepherd disease
    • NSAID juvenile osteitis
    • Pancreatic insufficiency
    • Skeletal diseases
    • Muscle tiredness
    • Other diseases
  • Reproduction
  • Is it worth choosing a German Shepherd?

Character of the German Shepherd Dog

What disposition do the representatives of these shepherd dogs have?

The German Shepherd is a dog, which is the bench for training. The dog of this breed is gentle (unless provoked), self-confident and devoted to the guardian. The great advantage of these dogs is their multifunctionality: they work well as a guardian, defender, as well as a police dog looking for explosives, a shepherd dog or companion dog.

Characterized by:

  • balanced disposition,
  • courage,
  • the hardness of character,
  • sharpness.

Vigilance and confidence these are important advantages of representatives of this breed.

How much does a German Shepherd Dog live?

The average life expectancy of a German Shepherd dog is 12 years .

German Shepherd breed description

German Shepherd weight and size

German Shepherd the volumeThe height at the withers of dogs is 60-65 cm, for bitches 55-60 cm.
Weight German ShepherdThese dogs gain body weight from 30 kg to even 45 kg when it comes to males.
German Shepherd weight and size

The appearance of a German shepherd dog

SilhouetteMedium-sized, strong German Shepherd has a slightly elongated body, is a well-muscled dog with dry bones and a compact build.
HeadProportional to the body, wedge-shaped, and the ears are conical and protruding.
ChestBroad, with a long sternum and moderately sprung ribs.
RumpCurrently, the kennels breed sheepdogs aimed at exposing the so-called. angularity of the croup. The croup of such dogs is strongly sloping, long, turning into the base of the tail.
Front limbsStrongly muscled, straight and elbows not turning in or out (even while moving).
HindquartersThey are characterized by strongly muscular thighs. They are parallel and set slightly backwards.
German Shepherd breed description


The color of the dog is black with a red, fawn, yellow or light gray tan. Among this breed we distinguish dogs:

  • long haired german shepherd,
  • German Shorthair Shepherd.


Dog grooming

Short-haired German Shepherds do not require frequent care. It is limited to brushing during the molting period and bathing up to twice a year. In the case of black long-haired German Shepherds care must be much more frequent to prevent the formation of tangles. Very good brushes for combing this breed are furminator brushes, which remove dead cover hair, slightly embedded hair and unnecessary undercoat of dogs.

For bathing, it is worth using dermatological shampoos, e.g. Hexoderm, or dog shampoos containing chlorhexidine, as sheepdogs are characterized by dry skin and frequent dandruff. A very good bath agent is white deer gray soap. It does not affect the skin pH of the German Shepherd Dog.

In case of dog dandruff problems, you can try adding regular kitchen vinegar in the amount of 2 tablespoons to the soup per 5l of water. This will lower the pH of the skin and reduce dandruff.

Diet and supplementation

German Shepherds are dogs fast growing. During the period of intensive growth it is recommended dietary supplementation in vitamins containing:

  • chondroitin sulfate,
  • glycosaminoglycans,
  • calcium.

Before supplementing with calcium and phosphorus, it is worth doing some checkups blood test (bone profile: AP, Ca, P), which will show us the actual state of these elements in the body.

German Shepherd disease

German Shepherd Dog: A Predisposition to Disease

NSAID juvenile osteitis

Like any fast growing dog, sheepdogs have an abnormal calcium to phosphorus ratio, resulting in abnormal bone saturation. Such changes concern long bones, most often the forearm. This disease is called enostosis juvenitis. Presented by periodic lameness in dogs 4 to 8 months of age which is resolved with the use of analgesics. The only way to confirm the disease is to take an x-ray.

The treatment consists in the use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs for a minimum period of 7 days and supplementation of minerals after a blood test with a bone profile. The prognosis is very good and lameness symptoms usually resolve after NSAID therapy.

Pancreatic insufficiency

Exocrine pancreatic insufficiency is another congenital, less frequently acquired disease. It is characterized by insufficient production of pancreatic enzymes involved in digesting food in the intestines. Individuals with this disadvantage are clearly weaned in terms of weight and height compared to other dogs from the same litter. The coat is ugly and greasy and the faeces are loose and flaky. Body weight does not change or decreases despite excessive or normal appetite. Diagnostic TLI tests, a film test or a fecal fat test are performed to diagnose the disease.

Treatment consists of supplementing pancreatic enzymes in the form of capsules. These enzymes are of bovine or porcine origin.

Skeletal diseases

Orthopedic disorders are very common in large dogs of this breed. These are congenital or acquired changes. Congenital include hip dysplasia or elbow dysplasia, while acquired are:

  • spondylosis,
  • ponytail syndrome.

Dysplasia is an abnormal development of articular surfaces that can be diagnosed only at the age of 6 months of age. In this direction, a series of X-ray images is taken in appropriate projections.

Treatment of hip dysplasia in a German Shepherd Dog involves surgical correction of the defect. Additional therapy with the use of IRAP or PRP is an adjunctive therapy in the treatment of dysplasia.

Spondylosis is a degenerative disease in which bridges between the vertebrae are present. Bone spurs cause stiffening of a given section of the spine and pressure on the nerve roots, causing:

  • lameness,
  • pulling limbs,
  • sensory disturbance,
  • hind limb paralysis.

Treatment is surgical removal of bone growths, supplementation vitamin B, use NSAIDs and galantamine injections. A similar procedure occurs in the case of cauda equina syndrome. Low embedment of the sacrum causes pressure on the spinal cord. Surgical elevation and fixation of the sacrum, thus reducing the pressure on the spine, resolving the symptom of paralysis in the animal. In this case, it is also recommended to use NSAIDs, galantamine and B vitamins.

Muscle tiredness

It is also found in these dogs muscle tiredness. The reason is a disturbance in the conduction of the neuromuscular stimulus caused by the lack of acetylcholine receptors on the neuromuscular plate. Congenital disease manifests itself at the age of 6-8 weeks, and in the acquired form between the age of 1 and 7. Symptoms of muscle fatigue in dogs include:

  • stiff gait,
  • the dog shuffles its limbs,
  • usually the disease is accompanied by dilation of the esophagus.

Treatment consists of the use of pyridostigmine bromide or, in the case of autoimmune disease, glucocorticosteroids.

Other diseases

Other diseases this breed is predisposed to include:

  • rectal furuncle,
  • pre-chorio-ventricular valve dysplasia,
  • atopy,
  • zinc-dependent dermatosis.


German Shepherd breeding

The sexual cycle is typical and has no major deviations from the norm. Occasionally they may be at risk of miscarriage due to luteal insufficiency, but this is a rare condition. From 6 to even 12 puppies are observed in the litter. Childbirth is generally smooth.

Is it worth choosing a German Shepherd?

Unfortunately German Shepherds, both short-haired and long-haired are a breed burdened with defects and diseases related to virtually every system, however, do not be discouraged by this breed of herding dogs. You should seek the advice of a veterinarian in advance about your intentions to buy a puppy of this breed, or even visit a purebred dog farm with your doctor.

Personally, I am the happy owner of two German Shepherds, which are not burdened with any disadvantages, have not suffered from any diseases to which this breed is predisposed. I can certainly recommend these sheepdogs for large families living in single-family houses with a large garden.

You want to learn more about the character and aggressiveness of German Shepherds because you are going to buy a puppy from fci kennel? Or maybe you have a German Shepherd Dog too and want to share your experiences? Be sure to post a comment under the article. We will answer your questions about Shepherd Dog breeds as quickly as possible.

What is the life expectancy of a dog of the German Shepherd breed?

German Shepherd dogs live about 12 years.

What do German Shepherd dogs most often suffer from??

Dogs of the German Shepherd breed most often suffer from juvenile osteitis of NSAIDs, pancreatic insufficiency, diseases of the skeletal system, muscle fatigue.

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