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5 Healthy Tips To Increase German Shepherd Life Expectancy

The German Shepherd is an amazing dog with tons of excellent qualities. They have a lifespan of 9-13 years which is average for most dogs. There are several factors that can affect how long they live. It is important to recognize these factors and hopefully extend their lives as much as possible.

German Shepherds are wonderful family companions and loyal as they come. Because of their wonderful friendship and joy that they bring, we want to see them stick around for as long as possible. Here are 5 healthy tips to increase German Shepherd life expectancy.

1. Keep Them Lean:

Keeping your German Shepherd lean and not overweight is a simple and proven way of increasing your dog’s life expectancy by about 18-24 months. This means feeding your dog the appropriate amount of food daily and not overfeeding them.

Proven Studies:

German Shepherd struggling to walk and run using a dog wheelchair to improve mobility
A dog wheelchair can help German Shepherds with mobility loss to stay active longer.

There have been two major studies regarding this increased lifespan based on lean diets. The first study tracked the lives of 48 Labrador retrievers over a ten-year period and was published in 2002.

The data showed that the dogs who were fed 25% less food had an 18-24 month increase in their life expectancy compared to the dogs who were fed the normal amount. They also received several health benefits, including lower glucose, insulin, triglycerides, and triiodothyronine.

A more recent second study compared the life expectancy of 50 different common adult dog breeds, including the German Shepherd. It found that dogs that were normal weight had a lower risk of death than overweight dogs and an increased life expectancy from 6 months all the way up to 2.5 years.

This is great evidence that keeping your dog lean and healthy can definitely add some months or years to your German Shepherd’s life.

Healthy Diet:

To keep your German Shepherd lean, feed them a high-quality, low-carb dog food with a protein range of 18%-22%. The appropriate amount of food will depend on their age and size. Here is a chart for caloric intake based on information from

Active Adult German Shepherd: Feed them 1,740 and 2,100 calories per day

Inactive Senior German Shepherd: Feed them 1,272 and 1,540 calories per day.

These caloric intakes are based on a 60-90 lb German Shepherd. Calories will vary for the different stages of a German Shepherd puppy.

2. Make Sure They Get Annual Check-ups

German shepherds extend life expectancy by walking and staying active with a dog wheelchair
Dog wheelchairs help GSD deal with DM or hip issues to improve mobility & stay active.

Another great way to increase German Shepherd life expectancy is to make sure that you take them for check-ups with the veterinarian at least once a year. For young puppies, you will want to take them twice a year.

Large dog breeds are more prone to hip and joint problems. German Shepherd hip dysplasia is one of the more common ones. Taking them for annual check-ups increases your chances of finding certain conditions or diseases early on in some cases.

This allows the vet to take certain preventative measures when catching the problem early on. Often times a dog may cover up the fact that they are in pain. The vet may be able to notice specific symptoms during the early stages.

3. Brush Their Teeth Daily

Brushing your German Shepherd’s teeth daily can help prevent periodontal disease and increase their life expectancy by a maximum of 3-5 years. According to studies, up to 90% of dogs over the age of three have periodontal disease.

In fact, it is the most common infectious disease affecting adult dogs. It is an inflammatory disease caused by bacteria in the mouth that targets the supporting structures around a dog’s teeth. It is progressive and gets worse over time.

Periodontal disease that is left unchecked in dogs can cause tooth loss and eventually make its way to your German Shepherd’s bloodstream, causing damage to some of the major organs, such as the heart, kidneys, and lungs. This disease can be fatal if left untreated.

How to prevent periodontal disease?

  1. Brush your dog’s teeth every day using a dog-friendly toothpaste (DO NOT USE HUMAN TOOTHPASTE)
  2. Feed your dog healthy dry foods to help reduce the amount of tarter and plaque
  3. Give your dog healthy dental treats
  4. Give your dog bones and toys that are safe for their teeth
  5. Don’t let your dog get bored (This can lead to them chewing on hazardous items)

Make sure you take your German Shepherd for routine dental cleanings once a year with your veterinarian. This will help to prevent the build-up of tartar and plaque.

4. Give Them Plenty of Exercise

German Shepherd with degenerative myelopathy uses a dog wheelchair to live longer life

Exercise is a great way to give your dog a long, healthy life while at the same time keeping their mind active and on point.

Your German Shepherd should get at least two hours of exercise daily to maintain optimum health and longevity. This is according to the American Kennel Club. German Shepherds are very active dogs with plenty of energy that needs to be burned throughout the day. As your shepherd ages, they are at an increased risk for hind leg weakness. Regular exercise helps to keep their legs strong and prevent muscle atrophy.

Walking your dog every day will help to increase the life expectancy of your dog as well as yourself. According to the American Heart Association, health benefits rise the more people walk. This is a great way to benefit you and your German Shepherd.

Some fun ways to exercise your dog:

  1. Take them for a walk outside at least once a day and twice if you can
  2. Play fetch with your dog using their favorite ball or toy
  3. Set up a makeshift obstacle course for them to run
  4. Play frisbee with them in the backyard or at the park
  5. Take them on a hike at your local dog-friendly trail

The more your dog exercises, the less bored it will be. This translates into a healthier dog overall and should keep their mind sharp.

German Shepherd Parents Use Dog Wheelchair to Help Their Pups Walk

You have given us something we never thought we would ever have again. I want to thank everyone at Walkin’ Pets. First I want to thank Nancy for her assistance over the phone, helping us get the measurments for Rocco’s walker. We received Rocco’s walker Monday. From the minute we put it on him he started running in the yard, which he hasn’t done for a very long time. You could see a smile on his face not to say the smile and joy on ours. He does his “business” without any help from us holding him up. He’s barking with the dogs next door again. You have given us something we never thought we would ever have again.

– Russ Cionko

When we returned home, we hooked him up again and took him for a little walk. He ate a great, big dinner of turkey, rice and veggies…

Just wanted to thank you all again for your patience and excellent service in getting Sam properly fitted to his new wheelchair. When we returned home, we hooked him up again and took him for a little walk. He ate a great, big dinner of turkey, rice and veggies, chewed on his big bone for a while and is now passed out on the living room rug. He is happy. He drank water for the first time in three days on the way home!

– Sam’s Family

5. Neuter or Spay at the Appropriate Age

According to the, neutering or spaying your dog will increase its life expectancy by a considerable amount. A University of Georgia study of 70,000 animals made some significant findings.

Male dogs that were neutered had a 13.8% increase in their life expectancy, and female dogs had a 26.3% increase in their life expectancy.

One interesting reason that unaltered dogs have a reduced life expectancy is that they are more likely to seek out other mates. This results in more fights with other dogs, leading to infections or injuries. They are also more likely to get hit by a car.

It’s vital that you work with your veterinarian to determine the best time to neuter your German Shepherd. A study by UC Davis found that neutering a dog before age one triples the risk of joint disorders. Early neutering may also contribute to a dog’s likelihood of CCL tears. Females spayed within their first years have an increased risk of becoming incontinent.

Reduced health risks from getting neutered or spayed:

  1. Less risk of developing certain types of reproductive system cancers
  2. Eliminates the risk of testicular cancer
  3. Lower rates of prostate cancer

Make sure to neuter or spay your German Shepherd at the appropriate time in their development. Neutering or spaying your dog too early can lead to problems.

Male German Shepherds should be neutered after they are done growing. Your vet will help determine the best time to neuter your shepherd. Any earlier could risk a negative impact on a dog’s skeletal growth.

In Closing:

Putting these five healthy tips into action will hopefully help your dog live a long and happy life. The more time on this earth you get to spend with your furry friend, the better!

P.S. Give your German Shepherd lots of love and attention!

About the Author:

Written by Todd Yeakle, owner of Shepherds’ Bone, a blog created by father and daughter that is focused on German Shepherds and other Shepherd dog breeds!

German Shepherd dog wheelchair

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  1. How great that you can extend your dog’s life by brushing their teeth every day. I want to get a dog this month. I will find a great place to purchase a german shepherd puppy in the area.

  2. Learning the scientific fact that brushing my dogs teeth once daily could increase her life expectancy tremendously is”music to my ears”! Once I have finished typing this comment I’m going to search online for a dog friendly toothbrush! This information was very helpful and exactly what I wanted to know.
    Thank you! WOOF-WOOF. Sincerely, Melissa & my female 5 year young German Shepherd “Rivers”😊

  3. The best way to ensure a healthy German Shepherd is to buy from a reputable breeder. Genetic testing of both parents along with hip scores

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