Common German Shepherd health problems include health issues that tend to afflict large breed dogs, such as hip and elbow dysplasia, and bloat. German Shepherds are also prone to develop panosteitis, epilepsy, perianal fistulas, von Willebrand's disease, and degenerative myelopathy.
The German Shepherd is strong, muscular, loyal, and intelligent. German Shepherds are not only excellent companion dogs, but also very competent working dogs. They excel in being guide dogs, police dogs, tracking dogs, to name just a few.
The German Shepherd is one of the most popular breeds in the U.S.A.- Ranked 2nd most registered breed by the AKC for 2017.
The average lifespan of a German Shepherd is from 9 to 13 years.
Like all other breeds, German Shepherds are susceptible to certain health problems, some of these problems are common among large breed dogs.
As a large breed dog, the German Shepherd has several health problems that affect their joints, such as:
This problem is characterized by the elbow joints of the front legs being malformed, due probably to different growth rates of the three bones making up the elbow.
Dogs with this condition usually display an obvious limp - they may hold the leg out from the body while walking, or even attempt to carry the front leg completely, putting no weight on it at all. Signs may be noted as early as four months of age.
Elbow dysplasia is a lifelong problem, although some dogs can be helped with surgery which, in some cases, can eliminate the problem totally.
It causes sudden lameness which is a result of excessive bone production on the long bones of the front and hind legs, causing inflammation. It is most commonly seen in dogs between the ages of five to 12 months.
Usually a dog affected by this condition will grow out of the problem by 18 months old, but it is painful.
Puppies on a high-protein diet are prone to pano, because this kind of diet makes the puppy grow too fast.
These two German Shepherd health problems are connected with the nervous system, and can cause a lot of hardship to the dog:
DM is an autoimmune disease in which the dog's own immune system attacks his central nervous system. As a result, the dog suffers from progressive neural tissue damage.
At its early stage, the dog's hind limbs will be affected - the muscles will be weakened and you can notice a loss of coordination in the hind limbs.
As the disease progresses, the dog may also display symptoms such as incontinence, has considerable difficulties with both balance and walking, and eventual paralysis.
The treatment of DM involves exercise, dietary supplementation, medication, and other supportive measures.
Other common health problems found in GSDs include:
Perianal fistulas most commonly occur in middle-aged (5-8 years old) male dogs, but can occur in dogs as young as 1 year and as old as 14 years.
The exact cause of this condition is unclear. It is believed that inflammation of the sweat and sebaceous glands in and around the anus causes infection. As a result, abscesses form, open, and then drain.
Dogs with tails that set low and carried close to the body (e.g. German Shepherds) are prone to these fistulas because air does not circulate under the tail, making it an excellent environment for bacteria to multiply.
Symptoms of this condition include constant chewing or licking of the perianal area, and scooting across the floor. Other symptoms may include constipation, diarrhea, or bloodly stool. Ulcers and bleeding may be seen around the anal area, as well as foul-smelling discharge.
Dogs affected by this disease are more likely to have excessive bleeding episodes upon injury. The dog may also develop nosebleeds or bleeding from the gums. Some dogs may have internal organ bleeding (e.g. the stomach or intestine), and you may see blood in their urine.
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