How Long Do German Shepherds Live?

German Shepherds are an adorable dog breed that is popular among many families globally. Known for its intelligence and muscle, the German Shepherd or GSD is extremely loyal and protective of its owners. The dog breed’s temperament is something to admire!

So, how long do German Shepherds live?

That is a question that many dog lovers circumvent when adopting a GSD pup. In fact, I do not like thinking about it either before the inescapable come to pass. But since that’s what it is ‘inevitable’, it is wise to know your GSD buddy’s lifespan so you can maintain its health.

Before we go further,

Some Quick Stats About the GSD

Did you know that the German Shepherd has been ranked at the 2nd position of the most popular dogs in the U.S. for the past 10 years? It also has been in the top 10 for decades.

  • Size: Large dog breed
  • Breed Group: Herding
  • Type: Purebred
  • Coat: Medium-length double coat
  • Height: 60 to 65 cm (male); 55 to 60 cm (female)
  • Weight: 30 kg to 65 kg (male); 22 to 32 kg (female)
  • Litter Size: approx. 8 pups
  • Colours: Black, Sable, Black & Red, Grey, Grey, and Black & Silver
  • Other names: Deutsche Schaferhunde, Alsatians 
  • Temperament: Intelligent, Alert, Obedient, Confident, Loyal, Curious, and Brave
  • Average puppy price (USD): $300 to $900

As you can see, there is one stats missing above and it is what we pay close attention to.

How Long Dog German Shepherds Live?

On average, the German Shepherd has a lifespan of 12 years. However, nearly half of the breed dies between 10 and 13 years. Just like with any other dog breed, health plays a significant role when it comes to a German Shepherd’s lifespan. As such, some may live longer while others have a short lifespan and die younger or earlier.

The uncontrollable factors that affect your German Shepherd’s life expectancy include heredities or injury. But the good news with all this is that there are things you can do to boost the span and excellence of your German Shepherd’s lifespan.

Check out the table below for detailed info on GSDs life expectancy:

Age (years)Death Rate (%)
Below 9 years17%
9 years8%
10 years9%
11 years10%
12 years17%
13 years10%
14 years8%
Beyond 14 years20%

Table: Age at which most German Shepherds die

What Do German Shepherds Usually Die From?

Generally, German Shepherds are a hale and hearty dog breed with a sweet life expectancy. But they do have some health issues that tend to claim their lives. And while they might be not curable, that does not mean that you overlook the conditions as they can be lethal.

In this section, we shall look at the primary causes of death in German Shepherd pups and adults in detail.

6+ Primary Causes of Death in German Shepherd Pups

During their young years, puppies are still emotionally immature, innocent, and adventurous. At the age of 9 and 18 months, German Shepherd puppies are difficult to control, especially if you have not sterilized your female GSD or neutered your male GSD. 

German Shepherds can live out their standard life expectancy if they can survive this first year in their lives. 

Some primary causes of death in German Shepherd pups include:

  • Parvovirus – It is a catching disease that is spread via direct contact with infested dog waste or dog and symptoms include severe diarrhoea, weight loss, vomiting, and more. It is common to pups under 6 months, rarely in 2+ years old. Effective vaccine is given at the age of 14-16 weeks.
  • Leptospirosis – Caused by the spirochete bacteria found common in wet areas with stagnant mud or water, this infective disease is transmitted by racoons, domestic animals and rats. Your GSD pup can be infected via drinking contaminated water or contact with infected urine. See your vet on this.
  • Hypoglycemia – This disease causes a significant drop in blood sugar levels in German Shepherd pups less than 5 months leading to distress. It can be fatal if overlooked.
  • Trauma – 

Other causes of death in German Shepherd puppies include falls, desertion in animal shelters, getting lost, dog fights, lacerations from adventures, and even worse, car accidents.

6 Primary Causes of Death in German Shepherd Adults

  • Cancer – This is the leading cause of death in adult German Shepherds, especially in their golden years. While some cancers are curable via surgical removal, others need chemotherapy but it is better off if they are discovered earlier.
  • Bloat – This is a condition where your German shepherd’s stomach is filled with air after eating and is extremely fatal. It results from feeding him too much food at once. To prevent this, split his meals into several smaller meals throughout the day.
  • Hemangiosarcoma – Ranked as the most common disease in German shepherd breed that can cause death, this refers to the cancer of the spleen that causes bleeding and exhaustion.
  • Osteosarcoma – Also known as bone cancer, this disease causes micro fractures in your German Shepherd which can result in catastrophic failure of the bone that is affected.
  • Dilated Cardiomyopathy – This disease causes your German Shepherd’s heart to enlarge while the cardiac muscle walls continue to thin which causes congestive heart failure or abrupt demise.
  • Gastric Dilation & Volvulus – This is a condition where your German Shepherd’s stomach bloat and twist causing a fatal fluid and electrolyte imbalances, toxicity from organ death, and heart irregularities. 

How to Extend the Lifespan of a German Shepherd

Although German Shepherds are prone to a host of conditions which can cause an early death or shorten their life expectancy, there are things that can extend it. This is where your effort plays the part of making sure that he lives happily and longer with optimal health.

So, how can you prolong the life expectancy of your German Shepherd canine buddy?

  1. Buy from a scrupulous dog breeder

There are lots of unscrupulous breeders in the market that in there just for the money. So, make sure that the breeder you buy your German Shepherd from is a reliable one. Conduct in-depth research before spending a dollar for:

  • AKC documentation
  • Pup and parents health history paperwork
  • Health standards of their workplaces

Also, a responsible breeder will never allow you to carry your pup home unless he is 8+ weeks.

  1. Ensure that he gets regular exercises

We all know that German Shepherds are bred to be energetic and active canines which mean they need to burn off this energy via regular exercises. As such, makes sure that they get sufficient exercise such as walks, playing with toys, hiking, or running.

This should be done for at least an hour per day.

  1. Check their joint health

Joint problems are amongst the common conditions facing German Shepherds health. They are working dogs, yes, but that does not mean burdening them with heavy work, especially at when 1-2 years old.  Do not expose them to harsh impacts.

The dog breed is very healthy and muscular, but their maturity is gradual which means you have to be gentle on the joints. Consult your vet for your dog’s joint development.

  1.  Maintain a healthy weight

Did you know that surplus weight intensifies the risk of hereditary health issues and injury for your dog? Yes, it does! So, make sure that you monitor your German Shepherd’s weight gain and consult your vet for more advice on the same.

Remember to be careful with the type of food your GSD consumes as age kicks in.

  1. High-quality food

Like humans, dogs thrive well if you feed them with high-quality food which explains why they are fussy eaters. In fact, this changes with advance in age, personal palate, levels of activity, and likely allergies. Others even like homemade or raw dog foods more than kibbles.

While high-quality food comes with a high price tag, it saves your medical bills that might escalate due to health issues. It also helps improve your German Shepherd’s quality of life. So, ensure the dog foods you buy include proteins, veggies & fruits, carbs, vitamins & minerals at the top of the ingredients list.

  1. Prevent bloating

Bloat is another health risk that German Shepherds are susceptible to, a life-threatening condition that occurs after eating causing air in the stomach. As mentioned earlier, it still amongst the leading causes of premature death in GSDs.

To prevent bloat, make sure your canine buddy daily diet is split into multiple small meals. If you dog love eating, utilize a slow feeder bowl to limit the eating speed. Another option can be exercising him immediately after he eats to him digest the food.

Other ways of extending your German shepherd’s life expectancy include:

  • Spaying or neutering your German Shepherd which is said to reduce the risk of death from transferrable diseases or distress.
  • Reduce the chances of distress by monitoring your kid’s interaction with the puppy, their exercise activities, using pet car seats, yoking a tiny dog bell, and using a leash with body harness.


German Shepherds are great companion dogs that you will enjoy having at home. Their adorable traits have made them prominence globally, especially in the U.S. And while they are susceptible to various health conditions, some fatal, their average life expectancy is 11 years.

Although their sloped backs are detrimental to their overall health which explains why their life expectancy is lower compared to others in the herding group, they can live longer!

Even before you write down a check to buy a German shepherd puppy, do your homework and ensure they come from a responsible breeder. That is the first move to making sure they live longer, in addition to diet & nutrition, joint health check-ups, preventing bloat, and more!