Although German Shepherd health problems can be attributed to a variety of factors from improper breeding to poor diet, fortunately, a majority of the causes are preventable.
Common German Shepherd Health Problems
German Shepherd hip dysplasia is a serious issue that continues to arise. German shepherd hip problems can occur at any time if they have hip dysplasia. The hips aren’t sound and strong, they can collapse under the dog’s weight. This condition gets worse as a dog grows older and unfortunately there is no cure for it only treatments to alleviate the pain.
Panosteitis in German Shepherds
Another issue is panosteitis in German Shepherds but a dog can make a full recovery from it if properly treated. It is a condition in which the bones of the animal become inflamed. It usually is more prominent in males than females and affects dogs between 6 and 18 months. Symptoms of panosteitis include the dog being lame in one leg, only to be fine with that leg later and be lame in another. It can be diagnosed by taking x-rays of unaffected limbs and compare them to x-rays of affected limbs.
Luckily, the disease usually only lasts between two and three weeks in most cases and can be treated if diagnosed early. Panosteitis has been compared to “growing pains” in human teenagers.
German Shepherd Skin Problems
Unfortunately, German Shepherds also are prone to skin issues. Fortunately, many of the skin issues are often related to diet or grooming and are therefore easily treatable.
Although cleanliness is important, bathing your dog too often can cause dry skin. German Shepherds can also be sensitive to wheat, which is found in many commercial dog foods. Food allergies like these can cause excessive scratching in your dog. Excessive chewing and licking of the paws and coat are also indicators that the dog is suffering from an allergy.
Flea dermatitis is also another issue German Shepherds have. Flea dermatitis occurs when dogs are allergic to the saliva from a flea’s bite. Only a single flea bite is needed to cause a reaction. Otherwise, there has been some talk that flea dermatitis is a symptom of a compromised immune system which can be fixed by a proper diet.
Ear and Nose Issues in German Shepherds
German Shepherd ear problems is another thing to consider since these dogs can be prone to ear infections. Their ears might require some cleaning from time to time but not too much cleaning because that can be an irritant, which might cause infection.
Interestingly, ear infections in the breed are also known to be associated with diet so again, by feeding a high quality diet with no grain, the German Shepherd shouldn’t have as many issues.
There aren’t many nose issues with German Shepherds and the majority of skin issues seem to be allergy related, which can stem (once again) from diet. Sinus infections, polyps, and tumors are some nose issues that can occur in a German Shepherd but they aren’t typically prominent.
German Shepherd Diet
There are many different food brands to choose from for your German Shepherd. As you’ll recall from earlier in the article, there has been some talk about diet being a contributor to hip dysplasia. Puppy food is high in protein, which is supposedly a good thing because it helps your puppy grow fast.
Some people would beg to differ that it is a good idea for the puppy to grow too fast. If a puppy grows too quickly, it doesn’t give the body enough time to form correctly so the hips don’t grow right. As an option, when feeding a puppy, one could opt a food with lower protein.
Still others would go even further and argue that the best dog food for German Shepherds is the SARF diet. SARF stands for Species Appropriate Raw Food; in other words, the German Shepherd would be eating primarily what nature intended it to eat – meat.
A typical SARF diet consists of 45-50% raw meaty bones, 45% muscle meat, and 5% organ meat.
If raw feeding isn’t possible then the best kind of kibble for your puppy should have no more than 20% protein. A diet between 5-10% fat and Omega-3 and 6 Fatty Acids in the ratio of 1:3 is the recommended by some experts. The calcium level should be between 1-2%.
German Shepherd Care and Grooming
German Shepherd shedding is something to consider before getting one since they do shed year round. They shouldn’t be bathed too often because water dries out the skin, which can cause issues.
Grooming is something that can be enjoyable for you to do since it allows you to spend time and bond with your dog. Grooming should be done twice a week with a metal rake. Mats in the undercoat can happen and they occur more frequently in the neck, chest and thigh areas. A metal rake brush will be able to remove the mats.
German Shepherd Exercise
Can you commit to daily walks or runs with your dog? German Shepherds need a fair amount of exercise and daily walks provides mental stimulation. Many German Shepherds also love to play fetch so be sure and take advantage of this when providing exercise to your dog.
Miscellaneous Info on German Shepherds
German Shepherds are part of the Herding Group and are easily one of the more recognizable breeds today.
How big do German Shepherds get? Well, their size can vary, depending on bloodlines but the average size of males is 66-88 pounds. Females are between 49-71 pounds. The average height for males ranges from 24 to 26 inches. Females range 21 to 24 inches. The German Shepherd life span averages at around 9.7 years. Due to their bigger size, the German shepherd life expectancy isn’t as high as smaller breeds.
In general, the German Shepherd is a good breed with only a few major health issues. They make amazing pets and are fiercely loyal. Unfortunately, German Shepherd health problems are real but the majority of them can be prevented or alleviated with proper treatment and awareness.