how long do german shepherds live

How Long Do German Shepherds Live?

German Shepherd dog (GSD) is the favorite dog of the USA. Stats tell us that it has been the second most popular dog breed in the US for more than a decade. German Shepherds are loyal, intelligent, and brave. Moreover, they are excellent working and family dogs. They are highly social and can make a good bond with kids without hurting them. 

Knowing how long a German Shepherd will live is important. Having enough knowledge about the German Shepherd’s average life span and how to handle them can considerably help them live a healthy life. 

So, if you are wondering how long German Shepherds live and how to look after them in old age, you are at the right place. Stick till the end if you want your lovely dog to live long.

Average Lifespan of German Shepherd

Photo by Aleksey Oryshchenko on Unsplash

On average, a German Shepherd lives around ten to fourteen years. According to research, female German Shepherd lives almost 1.4 years longer than male German Shepherd. Female German Shepherd lives nearly 11.1 years on average, while male shepherds live nearly 9.7 years. In some rare cases, shepherds can live beyond eighteen years or die a natural death within five or six years.

Factors Affecting German Shepherd’s Lifespan 

factors affecting german shepherd’s lifespan

German Shepherd’s life span depends upon multiple factors. Some of these factors include the below mentioned.


Diet plays a significant role in the life of a German shepherd. Like humans, dogs’ health also depends greatly upon their diet. The diet of German Shepherds should be healthy and maintained, so don’t over-feed them. 

German Shepherds have a very active metabolism, and they can gain weight real quick. So, keep a check on their diet as well as their weight. Moreover, German Shepherds require different diets at different ages. So, the diet of a puppy, young and old German Shepherd, should be diverse and balanced.

Physical exercise

German Shepherds require a good amount of exercise daily to stay fit and prolong their lifespan. Many vets say that a three-month-old German Shepherd puppy should exercise for fifteen minutes every day. While one year and older, shepherds should exercise for more than an hour daily. 

Make sure not to make them exercise on stairs or hard surfaces as this might cause hip dysplasia which can then cause limping. The best place to exercise is a soft surface or soil. For best exercise, take your German Shepherd to the nearest park where it can run around freely and socialize with some of its mates.

Your dog should be toughly trained for an hour or two after two years of age. This will keep them in great shape. Dogs suffer from behavioral and physiological problems as a result of poor exercise.


Breeding also plays an important role in extending a German Shepherd’s life span. Many owners prefer helpful and temperamental dogs to aesthetically beautiful dogs. 

Since genetic traits are present in most disorders, inbreeding is used to protect specific characteristics. This extends the German Shepherd’s lifespan while maintaining admirable qualities.

The breed’s founder, Max von Stephanitz, utilized linebreeding to develop the perfect dog. Years of beauty show competition with the American Kennel Club, on the other hand, have impacted the breed’s attitude, ability, and lifespan.


German Shepherd is a multi-purpose breed and highly trainable. They can be helpful in herding sheep, as working dogs, and as a pet. Their trainability makes them the most common dog breeds in the US military.

Proper training can positively impact a shepherd’s brain and help them live longer. Poor training or negligence can lead to behavioral problems and shorten your dog’s lifetime. Undertrained dogs, like pups, bark at everything, which may be alarming. Trained dogs understand ethical manners and will not eat something they shouldn’t. Eating anything wrong can be fatal.

Size and workload

This breed is regarded as the best working dog. Thus, they put in more physical work than small dogs or Labradors, causing their bodies to exhaust faster. This shows why it is still likely to live shorter lives than smaller dogs even if kept good care of. Furthermore, various chronic disorders can shorten a German Shepherd’s lifetime, and many of these problems are inherited or the result of excessive workload or size.

Signs That Your German Shepherd’s Life Is About to End

It’s terrible for any pet owner to face the risks of losing a loving companion. But this day will, however, come, and you must be ready. You’ll immediately detect significant changes in your dog’s behavior if you’ve spent enough time with it. 

Other signals might be unclear. So, without any further ado, let’s go through five of the most prominent indicators that your German Shepherd’s life is coming to an end:

Silent and exhausted quickly

When a German Shepherd approaches its older age, you’ll notice that they lose their enthusiasm and become disinterested in games or activities they used to love. Moreover, when your dog’s life is coming to an end, you’ll generally find it resting around in peaceful spots away from other animals and humans. It also won’t move as much as it might want to avoid becoming even more painfully weaker than it currently is.

Flexibility and balance issues

A lack of movement and stability indicates that your dog’s bones and muscles weaken as it ages. Likewise, the loss of its usual playful and friendly attitude may suggest reaching the end of the road. 

Eventually, your Shepherd will find it challenging to move places. It will only appear shaky on its paws, and you will find it sleeping on the couch more commonly.

Loss of hunger

Loss of hunger is the most common indicator of bad health in an old German Shepherd’s life. You will find your buddy not eating their favorite dog food. This is because your pet’s digestive system is slowly going out of business as death approaches. 

Your German Shephard will no longer feel an urge to eat and drink at this point. It will prefer to lie down and rest instead. Aside from that, your dog may give up control of its bowels, causing it to pee or dump wherever it is lying.

Improper sleeping

Improper sleeping is another indicator that your buddy’s end is near. When a German Shepherd reaches the end, its sleep-related hormones are no longer active. Moreover, as they rest all day, they will find it difficult to sleep at night.

This change in sleep schedule is readily detectable, and you can’t do anything about it because it is the cycle of life.

How to Prolong German Shepherd’s Lifespan

german shepherd playing as a form of exercise
Photo by C Perret on Unsplash

If you love your Shepherd, you want it to stay with you as long as possible. Here are all the things you should do if you want your buddy to live longer:

Regular check-up

Stay in touch with your vet and pay a visit with your dog at least once a month. Even if your dog seems fine, you should take it to the vet for routine check-ups and medication. If you have a newborn puppy shepherd, make sure to vaccinate it properly until it reaches its adolescent age.

Proper exercise

Like humans, dogs also need regular and proper exercise to stay healthy and fit. Their activity can include short running and long walking sessions and hiking and fetching. You should know that a German Shepherd is a strong working dog and an energy powerhouse. Therefore, just a walking session is not enough to release their energy and make them tired.

It is advised to provide a proper playing space in your house to the Shepherd. If you don’t live in a big house with open indoor space, you can take it to a public park to provide a free space for fun.


Always remember that the German Shepherd is an intelligent breed. They can easily detect behavior changes of their owners, which can affect their behavior as well as mental and physical health. Therefore, stay playful and friendly with them to make them happy and live longer.

What Is the Most Common Cause of Death for German Shepherds?

what is the most common cause of death for german shepherds

German Shepherds may have a few inherited issues, but the breed as a whole is relatively healthy. Elbow dysplasia, hip dysplasia, degenerative myelopathy, and epilepsy are the most severe issues a German Shepherd can have.

They are also prone to minor ailments like skin disorders, gastrointestinal allergies, ear infections, and sight difficulties.


Being a German Shepherd owner is not as hectic as it might seem. They are pretty low maintenance as compared to other dog breeds.

Although German Shepherds can live around ten to fourteen years, what matters the most is how well they live. It is always better to be safe than sorry. So, look after your Shepherd, take care of them and spend quality time with them so you won’t have any regrets after they are gone.

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