How Long Do German Shepherds Live? How to Increase Dog’s Lifespan?

German Shepherds have to be one of the most’ famous’ dogs out there. By famous, I mean most recognizable, lovable, obedient, and one of those dogs breeds with the best reputation. In fact, German Shepherds rank second as the most popular dog in the United States.

Yes, German Shepherds are not a bad option at all to have as a man’s (or woman’s) best friend. Unfortunately, these precious buddies of ours cannot be by our sides throughout our whole lives. 

So, how long do German Shepherds live? This would be 10 to 14 years of age for the quick answer. In this article, we will be answering that question further in detail.

You are probably on here because you have a German Shepherd already, adopted one recently, or are just about ready to get a puppy yourself.

Of course, like humans, care must be placed on what the diet and lifestyle are for the dog to ensure they live as long as they can. We would want them by our sides as long as possible, don’t we?!

Do you have a specific question about how long do German Shepherds live? Then use the table of contents below to jump to the most relevant section. And you can always go back by clicking on the black arrow in the right bottom corner of the page. Also, please note that some of the links in this article may be affiliate links. For more details, check the Disclosure section at the bottom of the page. 

How old is the oldest German Shepherd? 

As much as we want German Shepherds to live as long as we do, this is unfortunately not the case as they reach only 10 to 14 years. The oldest German Shepherd to be recorded ever is said to have lived to 18 years. 

For a German Shepherd to reach this age, the pup must have gone through life without any of the following common German Shepherd conditions: elbow dysplasia, hip dysplasia, autoimmune thyroiditis, epilepsy, hemangiosarcoma, and degenerative myelopathy. 

Owners must also make sure to screen their dogs with a cardiac evaluation and eye examination. 

What is the average age of a German Shepherd? 

The average age of a German Shepherd is 12 years old. So you can expect to have these dogs for at least a decade. There will be evident changes in personality and maturity when raising a German Shepherd. The juvenile stage (between 3 to 7 months) is the most popular time people get a German Shepherd.

This is the age where they are most open to socialization and training. The adolescent stage (7 months to 3 years) is when they reach sexual maturity and have behavior problems, which is why this is the time to think about neutering and spaying them.

The adult GSD (3 years+) is when the dog is the most well-behaved and mature, a more calm dog.

Then the senior German Shepherd (7 years onward) starts to slow down. In all stages of the German Shepherd’s life, the owner must take constant care and make the right decisions regarding health checkups. 

What is the average lifespan of a German Shepherd? 

The average German Shepherd’s lifespan is 11 years. This varies depending on the dog’s lifestyle (diet, genes, and exercise). Believe it or not, there is also a difference with how German Shepherds are raised in America versus in Germany.

The American GSD lifespan tends to be shorter because German Shepherds are bred for dog show purposes, which means strict expectations on how they should appear. In America’s dog show standards, this means a sloped back.

This, unfortunately, can lead to some problems such as arthritis, hip dysplasia, and other joint or back problems. Overall leading to affected mobility for the animal.

On the other hand, Germany does not so much emphasize dog shows, hence a longer average life expectancy of a German Shepherd because it is less about the looks and more about the physical, working ability.

They must pass several tests to show that the dogs are physically and mentally good before they are bred. This leads to a higher chance of having no hip or elbow dysplasia. 

How to increase German Shepherd lifespan? 

There is no guarantee that your dog will live a long life, but there are ways to boost the chances of that happening. The first thing to do is to go to the vet regularly. At least once a year would be great. This is because a lot of health conditions could be treated better and easier when they are detected earlier. Additionally, it’s harder to tell if a dog is in pain, so the vet care will be able to say if your dog is okay. 

Another way to increase the lifespan is to maintain the German Shepherd’s weight. Additional weight can increase the chances of the dogs developing joint aches. Along with this advice, you should feed your dog high-quality food.

Many commercial brands will advertise as being nutritionally complete when this is really not the case. Make sure to really read the label and see that there isn’t any corn, artificial colors, preservatives, and flavors.

Meat should be the main ingredient, then vitamins and fruits after, as the other main ingredients. 

Another important note, when looking for a German Shepherd, make sure you are getting them from a credible, reputable breeder. How to avoid a backyard breeder or puppy mill is by visiting the puppies on-site, seeing if the breeder will ask you questions back (to see if you are a fit), you will not find their puppies in the pet store.

They will take the dog bag if you cannot keep it, and that the breeder has done health testing on parent dogs.  

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