The average life span of a German Shepherd with a healthy body is 9 to 13 years. Some dogs who suffer through serious health issues can have a smaller lifespan as well while some can live even more than 13 years if they are in the best of health.

German Shepherd Life Span

This is not a matter of worrying about the lifespan of a German Shepherd if you buy a puppy. People do not worry about how long a German Shepherd lives until something unusual happens. German Shepherd is one of the most famous dog breeds known for friendliness, intelligence, and large size. It is loved by the people for being responsive and energetic.

Knowing about the age of a German Shepherd can be helpful for the owner to keep an eye on the health of the GSD and to make sure a healthy old age for the dog.

Average Lifespan of a German Shepherd

Whereas, the average life span of these dogs is 9 to 13 years; Some owners have reported having German Shepherds of ages 18 and 20 but this information still needs to be confirmed.

Growing Phases of a German Shepherd

A German Shepherd reaches its adolescence between the 5 and 8 months of age which continues till it reaches adulthood between 18 and 24 months.

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Further Reading

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Health Issues Decreasing the Lifespan of a German Shepherd

German Shepherds are active dogs that want various physical activities and exercises. Without exercise, the German Shepherd will not be in its best shape, can get lazy and fall sick as well.

Some physical and behavioral issues can have strong impacts on the life of a dog and result in causing a decrease in the lifespan. These issues can be as follows.


An accident is a famous issue that causes a decrease in the lifespan of a GSD.

This accident can occur in many forms like

  • A road accident where a dog can get hit by a vehicle.
  • Dog fight with street dogs.
  • Cuts and wounds while climbing the fences or sliding on a sharp object.
  • Falling from a wall or rooftop.
  • Getting lost or abandoned from the owner
  • Eating poisonous food

Health Problems

Dilated Cardiomyopathy

As German Shepherd has a large size and huge body, the heart has more work to supply blood to the whole body. Due to this, the heart becomes enlarged and the cardiac muscle walls become thin leading to heart attack and sudden death.

Bone Cancer

Bone Cancer is a common disease in dogs. It causes microfractures in different bones of the body and lead to catastrophic failure of the affected bones.


This disease is caused by a cancerous growth in the spleen leading to internal bleeding and causing fatigue.

Gastric Dialatation and volvulus

Gastric Dilatation and volvulus is a common disease of large dogs with a deep chest. Small dogs with a deep chest can also suffer from it.

In this disease, the stomach bloats, and twists. This results in a life-threatening imbalance of electrolyte and fluids, which ultimately leads to failure of a body organ or heart problems.

Hip and elbow dysplasia

This is a disease caused by abnormalities in the joints of the hip and elbow bones. It is not a disease leading to the death of the GSD’s but it paralyzes the half body of the dog and makes its life miserable. Check out the best dog joint products.

In this disease, the esophagus dilates abnormally and collects the food in it. A dog may inhale food accidentally due to which the esophagus fills up, and results in pneumonia leading to death.

Myasthenia gravis

This is a neurologic immune disorder and is a similar disease to hip dysplasia as both have defined genetic markers. This disease is often related to Megaoesophgaus. Same like dysplasia, it is difficult to eliminate and get rid of.


It is one of the major fatal diseases of dogs. Inflammation and damaged cartilage lead to the most painful and progressive ailment of arthritis. It is the disease due to which people euthanize their dogs to get relief from this painful illness.

Intervertebral Disc disease

This disease is caused when the bony segments of the spinal cord start degenerating and cause paralysis.

Degenerative Myelopathy

It is a chronic disease of the nerves of the spinal cord. Ultimately it leads to the complete paralysis of all the limbs. It is mostly found in the dogs of 8 or 9 months old. It is an incurable disease and only ends when the owner decides to give euthanasia.

Aggression and Behavioral problems

Most of the dogs in the world are shot to death when they start behaving abnormally due to aggression or some hereditary or genetic behavioral and mental problems. In this condition, they start attacking people, biting human beings, and killing other animals. The only solution to deal with this problem when the dogs become uncontrollable is to shot the dog to death or euthanize it.

Tips to maximize the lifespan of your German Shepherd

The life of a German Shepherd is threatened by a lot of diseases and they are vulnerable to huge problems related to health. But it doesn’t mean that all doors are closed. There are still some doors of hope opened for you to take care of your dog at the best level and make all possible efforts to maximize its lifespan.

  • First things first, buy your German Shepherd from a reputable breeder. It will ensure protection from several diseases like hip and elbow dysplasia. The screening radiographs are also recommended for the GSD’s who have been a part of a breeding program.
  • Be conscious of the health of your dog since its puppyhood. Pay attention to its food, growth, and exercise to give it strong adulthood. Check out the best German Shepherd food.
  • Feed your dog with the organic food or raw diet under the expert supervision of veterinary and nutritionist. A nutritionally strong dog will be less immune to many diseases.
  • Regular veterinary checkups can help you figure out disease in the earlier stage and it will be easy to find a cure for it before the condition gets worst.
  • German Shepherds do not put on weight so easily. But obesity can become a big problem for large animals like GSD. Feed them with low calory food having calories between 1700 and 2200.
  • A proper feed with proper exercise to keep them fit and active and it will also prevent Gastric Dilatation and volvulus.
  • Physical activities like running, fetching, swimming, and jumping keep the dog’s mental stimuli engaged and prevents it from behavioral issues.
  • Continuous physical therapies can help overcome serious issues like arthritis and can save your dog from complete paralysis.
  • Selective breeding of healthy dogs can eliminate some genetic diseases like Degenerative myelopathy.

Take Away Note!

Living with a lovely pet like a German Shepherd can be the best experience of life and can be prolonged to its maximum. Your GSD can live to its kate teen if you take interest in your pet, take care of its food, exercise, and health, and take precautions to save it from various deadly diseases. It may be an exception but exceptions do exist!

Aamir Iqbal

Aamir is crazy for pets, but not the traditional ones… In fact, he enjoys chilling with cold-blooded reptiles. He loves adding reptiles and amphibians, whom he terms as his family. His local community calls him, Amir the Beast Boy!