Understanding The German Shepherd Life Span And How To Prolong It

German Shepherd Life Span

Understanding the German Shepherd life span is important when caring for these dogs.

The tougher question to ask, however, is how long do German Shepherds live?

These dogs can’t stay with us forever, so it is important that we understand the perils of GSD old age and their average life expectancy.

The aim of this guide on the German Shepherd average life span is to look at the general life expectancy of this breed, the different stages of their life cycle and some factors that may influence a longer life or premature death.

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The General Life Expectancy of German Shepherds in Years

So what is the lifespan of a German shepherd?

A survey carried out in the UK suggests that the median German Shepherd life expectancy is 10.95 years, based on their size, weight and history.

A more useful way of putting this is that the average lifespan of the German Shepherd is around 10 to 12 years.

There are some that will live longer and others that will live for a shorter amount of time, but this is the general average.

German Shepherd Life Expectancy

Let’s take a quick look at the German Shepherd life cycle to get an idea of German Shepherd old age.

German shepherd puppies tend to reach adolescence at the age of 2. Their hormones take over as sexual maturity occurs and this is when owners notice more behavioural problems.

At this point, they are seen as the equivalent of 15-year-olds, which gives you a good idea of what to expect. Luckily, this tends to only last a year before the dogs reach adulthood.

German shepherd age is much different than that of human ageing and it is wrong to simply work on the old-fashioned principle of “doggy years”.

It is thought that a dog ages seven years for every human year, but this actually depends on the breed. If this were true of a GSD lifespan, these dogs would feel like a 70 year old at age 10.

A more accurate scale suggests that they reach “retirement” age at 12 and may be able to live a little longer with appropriate care. By 9 they are beginning to slow down as middle age takes over.

German shepherd Average Life expectance

Health issues that may have an impact on the lifespan of German Shepherd dogs

There are number of health issues that are commonly seen in this breed and they can have an important impact on the life expectancy of German Shepherds. These include:

# Hip and elbow dysplasia

# Arthritis

# Degenerative myelopathy

# Von Willebrand disease


# Diabetes

# Hearing loss

# Vision loss

# Weight gain

# Senility

# Decreased activity

Regular check ups and fast responses can help you to discover potential issues and treat them before they become too severe.

Some of these problems may be unavoidable, but that doesn’t mean that they can’t be managed in a way that allows for a longer, more fulfilling life.

Some owners will also question the German Shepherd mix lifespan compared to that of the pure bred dog.

There are some genetic issues that can have a big impact on the long-term health of the dog, such as spinal and hip issues.

These issues could be more prevalent in pure-bred dogs. It is always best to look at the medical history of a puppy before buying to see what issues might occur down the line.

Dogs bred for shows with exaggerated champion lines could have problems.

ways to prolong gsd average life

Are There Any Other Ways to Potentially Prolong The Life of a German Shepherd?

A shepherd lifespan is dependant on the health and well-being of the dog. Some will live beyond 12 with the right care, while others will suffer from health issues and may not reach the age of 10.

The day-to-day care and well-being of the dog can play a big role in determining this life expectancy.

A fit, healthy dog with the right exercise regime and diet is more likely to stick around than one that doesn’t get all the right exercise or the chance to stay slim.

These dogs need plenty of room to run around, walks that suit their ability and a diet that adapts to their time of life.

There are different dietary needs for each German Shepherd lifecycle stage. Pay attention to formulas and minerals to help prevent some of the issues mentioned above.

One important question for owners is to neuter or not to neuter.

It is often suggested that GSD owners should look into neutering their pets early to combat those issues of adolescence.

On top of that, there are some studies that suggest that neutered females live almost a year longer than intact females. There are also reduced risks of certain cancers, but some vets will point out the risks involved in going through with this procedure.

There is a chance that it will make no difference to a male German shepherd lifespan so talk things through with your vet.

Further Reading: German Shepherd Training Commands: Complete Step-By-Step Guide

Life with german shepherds

Preparing For The End

Life with a German Shepherd can be filled with plenty of wonderful years of adventures and good health. There is a good chance that you will be able to spend a decade with these animals and enjoy their company in relatively good health.

However, it helps to be prepared for the worst once they reach double figures. As long as you have a plan in place to deal with end of life care whenever it is required, you know that your dog can enjoy their final days.

In the end, while we might not want to think about life expectancy of GSDs because it leads to thoughts of death and loss, it is important that all owners know what to expect.

The German Shepherd life span can appear to be pretty short compared to our own, but we can give these wonderful dogs plenty of happy, healthy years with the right knowledge and precautions.

Understand the changes of adolescence and adulthood, be aware of dietary and health care changes, consider the pros and cons of neutering your pet and, above all, give them the best quality of life that you can.

Make the most of every year they live, whether they go strong until 14 or you have to let them go at 9.


Passionate lover of dogs and proud owner of a friendly, mischievous and energetic Golden Retriever named Beethoven! I’m incredibly excited to share my experiences on how best to care for your beloved pet. The more we know, the happier we and our canine friends will be!

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Howtotrainthedog.com does not intend to provide veterinary advice. While we provide information resourced and canine education, the content here is not a substitute for veterinary guidance.

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