The German Shepherd is one of the toughest breeds and is renowned for its good health and longevity. But even for such a hardy pet, much less time is allotted than for a person: German shepherds live for 12-15 years.
You can prolong the life of a four-legged pet, the main thing is to follow the rules of keeping and monitor the well-being of the dog.
The Lifespan of German Shepherds
The life span of a German shepherd varies between 10-15 years and depends on many factors, the main of which are:
- quality of care;
- the endurance of a particular individual.
The life span of a German shepherd dog depends on gender. Females are distinguished by longevity because they weigh less, less often get into conflict situations with other pets.
At home, German Shepherds live 1-2 years longer than outdoors in a kennel. Aviary or chain keeping shortens the life of the dog.
How to Find Out The Age of a German Shepherd
The age of the German Shepherd can be determined by several criteria:
- the quality of the wool (in young animals, the cover is thick, strong, shiny, in aging shepherd dogs, the wool is crumbling, becomes gray and sparse);
- temperament (the older the dog, the more passive he will behave);
- teeth (the sharpest canines, incisors, and hooks in puppies under one year old; by old age in German shepherds all teeth are rounded).
Interesting! Probably every dog owner asked the question: “How old is my pet in human terms?” Even dog handlers will not be able to answer exactly, but on average a dog lives 1 year in 5-7 years.
How to Extend the Life of a German Shepherd
The main factor affecting a dog’s lifespan is health from birth. If the puppy is strong, received from parents who do not have congenital problems, then the owner’s task is only to maintain good health with proper care, care, and veterinary service.
If the baby is lethargic from the first day of life, has congenital pathologies, then its term can only be extended by constant high-quality correct treatment.
A dog will not be able to live without quality food for long. German Shepherd puppies need an enhanced nutrition rich in vitamins and minerals:
- calcium for skeletal formation;
- vitamin C – for immunity;
- iron – for the circulatory system.
The diet can be composed of super-premium complete dry food or natural food. The second dietary option requires additional vitamin supplements since it is difficult to balance the portion on your own.
An adult shepherd needs at least 800 grams of food at a time (two meals a day). The amount of food increases by 150-200 grams in the winter season and on the day of active training.
In order not to injure the digestive system, food is heated to room temperature. Avoid introducing bones, fatty foods, strong allergens into the diet.
Interesting! Scientists have found that every extra 4 pounds of weight in German Shepherds reduces their life expectancy by 1 year.
Walks and games
Even if the German shepherd lives in an open-air cage or kennel, it has the ability to move freely around the yard, it must be walked twice a day for 60-90 minutes, and actively trained at least 4 times a week.
Pets living at home (apartment, country house) need to walk for at least 2-3 hours in the morning and evening. Active play will help strengthen the skeleton and limbs, which will reduce the risk of developing joint problems.
Important! Exercise is also important for older German Shepherd Dogs. Despite the fact that older dogs prefer passive rest, you should not radically change their lifestyle. It is enough to shorten the duration of the walk and reduce the intensity of training.
Timely treatment and deworming
Timely treatment of even a harmless cold is a guarantee that the disease does not develop into a chronic one and does not give complications to organ groups. The disease can be determined by characteristic symptoms or by test results.
Sick pets, puppies from parents who have health problems, should be checked by a veterinarian every 4-6 months. To do this, they take blood and urine tests, do an ultrasound scan, and in some cases – an x-ray.
Worm infestation is a common problem in all mammals. Dogs should receive prophylaxis in the form of tablets or suspensions every 3-4 months.
If this is not done, an increase in the number of parasites in the body causes serious problems with the heart, liver, and lungs.
Care and hygiene
Although German Shepherds are very strong, they are not afraid of either cold or heat, it is better to provide them with warm housing: a heated kennel, a place in a house protected from drafts and direct sunlight.
It is important to regularly clean the enclosure, booth, or room in which the dog is kept.
“Germans” are not particularly picky about the content, they do not need haircuts, frequent bathing. But a regular examination of the coat, teeth, ears, and eyes, preventive washing of mucous membranes will help to avoid inflammatory processes.
Important! Timely treatment of the cover from ectoparasites will help to save the health and life of the pet. The bite of an infected tick causes piroplasmosis and other dangerous diseases.
Causes of Premature Death in German Shepherds
German Shepherds are service dogs that often live in military units or in border areas. They are always at risk from hard, dangerous work. The high mortality rate among German Shepherds is due to the frequent injury during assignments.
At home, shepherd dogs die due to improper care: poor diet, excessive or insufficient physical activity, non-compliance with the vaccination regimen.
Owners are often inattentive during walks, allow pets to pick up garbage, and eat from the ground.
This increases the risk of eating disorders and deadly arsenic and rat poisoning.
Important! Lack of training and education can also become one of the reasons for premature death if the German shepherd does not know how to walk on a leash, does not listen to commands when crossing the roadway, and runs away from the yard.
But there are other causes of death that do not depend on the person – hereditary or acquired diseases, to which the German shepherd breed is prone:
- kidney and urinary tract disease;
- failure of the liver, pancreas, volvulus;
Signs of Aging in German Shepherds
There is no definite threshold through which a dog becomes elderly. The aging of the body begins at the age of 5-6 years, but this does not mean that signs of wilting will appear from this age.
Usually, the age at which the old age stage begins for dogs is calculated by the formula: 2/3 × X, where X is the lifespan of an individual of a particular breed.
This means that German Shepherds are considered elderly from the age of 8.
- The main sign of aging in dogs is decreased activity. German Shepherds are not dogs that remain puppies for the rest of their lives. By the age of 2, the “Germans” have ceased to pester the owner with requests to leave the ball. From 5-7 years old, the pet no longer runs so fervently on walks, prefers to lie or sit. The older the shepherd, the less interested it is in other dogs and the opposite sex.
- The dog’s gait also changes: the shepherd waddles slowly, running and physical exercises are given to her with difficulty. Aging of the joints occurs, because of which walking becomes a burden, can bring pain (with arthritis, arthrosis, joint dysplasia).
- The condition of the coat is deteriorating. Molting becomes protracted, bald patches appear places with a sparse nap. One can see gray hair on the beard, muzzle, brow ridges, later silvery hairs cover the back and tail.
Important! Elderly shepherd dogs are less trained, they can forget the learned commands. Due to the deterioration of hearing and reaction, the pet does not listen to the owner, does not understand the signals. Do not scold the dog for this, it is better to go to the veterinarian for a hearing test.
Recently, more and more news about the cruelty of owners, leaving a sick old dog to die on the street or in the veterinary clinic.
You always need to fight for the life of a pet, even if it seems that the situation is hopeless. After all, we are responsible for those whom we have tamed!