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What Is the Average Lifespan of a German Shepherd?

If you are considering getting a german shepherd or are a concerned owner, you may wonder how long german shepherds live.

The average lifespan of a German Shepherd is about ten years. However, the exact lifespan of a German Shepherd depends on the dog’s health conditions, care, and place of breeding.

To learn more about how long german shepherds live, what affects their lifespan, and how to lengthen their lives, keep on reading.

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German Shepherd Life Span: What You Need to Know

German shepherds are the second most popular dog breed. They are beloved by people across the world and are well-known for their role as police dogs and watchdogs.

Despite their stereotypes as strong, mean dogs, they are very loving and loyal.

Certainly, they will protect you in a fight or a break-in and are strong enough to assist you, but they should not attack unprovoked.

Their loyal personalities may make them seem aloof at first, but they will quickly adapt and become loyal and trusting companions.

Although German Shepherd dogs are extremely popular, their lifespans are relatively short compared to other dogs.

According to the American Kennel Club, the average lifespan of a German Shepherd is about 7 to 10 years in America.

However, research shows the world’s average lifespan may be closer to 10 years because breeding standards for German Shepherds in other countries are higher than the standards for American dogs.

Irresponsible breeding has shortened the lives of many types of dogs in the United States, not just German Shepherds.

Breeders want to make the most money they possibly can, so they use undesirable practices to maximize their profits and breed as many purebred dogs as they can as fast as possible.

To do this, breeders use practices such as inbreeding (breeding dogs to other dogs related to them), which shrinks the available gene pool for the resulting dogs.

Inbreeding increases the chance that dogs will receive recessive traits damaging to their health and remove genetic variance that benefits the breeding pools.

Breeders use inbreeding to attempt to manually select for traits such as eye color and shape that two related dogs share.

By trying to guarantee a particular experience and appearance through breeding dogs considered “desirable,” breeders unknowingly shorten American dogs’ lifespans by also selecting for genetic deformities.

However, even when German Shepherds are bred correctly, many factors can affect their lifespan and cause them to live shorter than the average lifespan.

What Affects Lifespan


Young dogs may face more risks than older dogs due to their reckless nature and excessive energy.

For the first year of their lives, German Shepherds are more likely to take risks and act without caution, especially if they are not neutered or spayed. One common concern for younger dogs is that they will be hit by a car.

Young German shepherds tend to be adventurous and may wander around if they are let out. Furthermore, they are less tied to a particular place, such as your yard, when they are younger, so they may stray from their designated area if they are not fully trained.

This may lead them to walk into the street and be hit by a car. This risk is reduced as they age and become more attentive or are trained to stay in your yard.


When pets get older, their weight can have drastic effects on their health. Obesity in pets leads to a myriad of health problems, such as arthritis, from increased pressure on the joints.

It can also shorten lifespan by increasing the risk of diabetes and cancer. Cancers such as bone cancer can end your canine’s life.

Joint Issues

Bone and joint problems also affect German Shepherds at high rates and may lead them to be euthanized because their quality of life becomes extremely poor.

Two ailments that often affect german shepherds are arthritis and hip dysplasia, which cause pain in the joints.

Neurological Disorders

Finally, neurological disorders that affect your dog late in life will shorten their lifespan. When dogs are already faced with old age, the onset of a neurological disorder can accelerate aging.

For example, degenerative myelopathy is a degenerative spinal cord disease that is more common in German Shepherds than in other breeds.

This disease generally begins when German Shepherds are 8 or 9 years old, and causes their spine’s nerves to waste away. Fortunately, this disease is painless, but it has no cure and will eventually lead your dog to become completely paralyzed in all limbs.

Many inevitable diseases can cause your German Shepherd’s lifespan to shorten. However, there are some steps you can take to help your dog live longer and reduce the risks of several causes of death.

How to Help Your German Shepherd Live Longer

As your pet ages, they will start showing signs of cognitive dysfunction. These signs can include being unusually confused by loud sounds and changes in sleep patterns.

Although it can be difficult to watch your pet age and struggle, these feelings are a natural part of the aging process. Luckily, you can do a few things to improve the quality of your pet’s life as they age and help them live a longer and healthier life.

Nutritious Foods

Obesity is an ailment that impacts more than half of all dogs. Maintaining your dog’s healthy weight is one of the best things you can do to help your pet stay happy and avoid unnecessary joint strain and obesity-related issues like heart disease and cancer.

If your dog is overweight, you should talk to your vet about a healthy diet and food brands that may help your dog lose weight. You should also ensure your dog gets regular exercise.

Even if your dog is not overweight, feeding them natural or nutritious foods can help them stay healthy.

When purchasing dog food, ensure that meat is the first ingredient, and check to make sure vitamins and minerals come from fruits and vegetables.

Joint Supplements

Furthermore, because german shepherds are so susceptible to joint problems that may shorten their lives, you should consider trying a joint supplement.

You can start them on joint supplements at a young age to help prevent joint problems from developing and consider supplements like fish oil that improve arthritis and inflammation.

Vet Visits

Finally, you should take your German Shepherd to the vet regularly to ensure that you catch any problems early before becoming more damaging.

You should take your German Shepherd to the vet at least once a year when they are young to ensure they are growing properly and are up-to-date on necessary vaccinations and health procedures.

As they age, you should take them at least twice a year so the vet can check for any relevant health issues and address them as they arise.

Health conditions are easier to treat when you catch them early, and your vet’s trained eye will be able to see signs of health conditions before you can.


Generally, German Shepherds will live for about ten years, but may not live as long in America due to irresponsible breeding practices.

Purchasing from a responsible breeder will allow you to find a dog that will live longer while supporting sustainable practices. To increase your German Shepherd’s lifespan, you should feed them a healthy diet and supplements, ensure they exercise, and take them to the vet for regular check-ups.

With proper care, your German Shepherd can live a happy, healthy, long life.