What is the Life Expectancy of a German Shepherd Dog?

On average, healthy German Shepherd Dogs live approximately 9 – 13 years. Some make it longer and many others pass before they are 9.

My last German Shepherd, Fina, lived to 8.5 years of age when one day a tumor cut her life short. She was in otherwise excellent physical condition. Tragically, nothing could be done to help her. The veterinarian and vet tech cried with me when she passed; they knew she was a family member. I don’t think they do that with every dog as they see dogs daily in all stages of life, but many tears were shed when Fina died.

fina

Fina squirming around on her back.

Prolonging the life span of your German Shepherd Dog

Every German Shepherd owner wants to keep their canine companion around as long as possible. Luck is definitely a factor, no matter what the background is on your dog.

A few problems which can cut a German Shepherd’s life short include:

  • Hip Dysplasia
  • Degenerative Myelopathy
  • Organ Failure
  • Bloat
  • Cancer

It may sound like common sense but key tips for prolonging the life of your German Shepherd include:

  • Regular blood tests
  • Good diet and exercise
  • Healthy teeth (this is the most commonly overlooked factor to a long, healthy life)

Mixed breeds

It is worth pointing out that if a GSD is mixed with a longer-living dog such as a Labrador Retriever, they could live longer (or die sooner). Sable and white-hair dogs do not necessarily live longer than traditional black and tan or black and red German Shepherds though.

How long did your German Shepherd live

If you are reading this and your German Shepherd has passed, please feel free to comment below and let us know how long your German Shepherd lived for. We’d also love to hear your dog’s story, so feel free to email us.

34 Comments
  1. I RECENTLY LOST MY MALE GSD, SYRUS HE WAS 15 AND 4 MONTHS. WE ADOPTED HIM AT AGE 7 FROM A SHELTER. HE DEVELOPED PRIMARY LUNG CANCER WHICH WAS DISCOVERED AROUND HIS 15TH BIRTHDAY. HE HAD PNEUMONIA AT AGE 13 BUT WE WERE ABLE TO CONTROL THAT WITH ANTIBIOTICS BUT THAT CONTINUED TO COME BACK AND WE TREATED IT WITH ANTIBIOTICS. THIS MAY HAVE BEEN A SYMPTOM OF THE CANCER. HE DEVELOPED IN THE LAST YEAR OF LIFE WEAKNESS IN THE BACK LEGS, BUT HE COULD GET AROUND AND DID BETTER IN GRASS. HE SLOWED DOWN BUT HE WAS HAPPY AND CONFORTABLE. IN THE END HE STARTED TO HAVE DIFFICULTY BREATHING. THIS CAME ON SUDDENLY AND OUR VET RECOMMENDED EUTHANASIA.
    SYRUS WAS A VERY GOOD DOG. VERY LOYAL AND A GREAT COMPANION. HE WAS LOVED AND HE WILL BE MISSED.

  2. I recently lost my very loved Jack yesterday aged 11, although he was showing his age recently, very suddenly collapsed and when examined by the vet was told he is dying, did not wish to see him suffering or losing his dignity and made the awful decision to let him go to sleep, lost my previous GSD Max at 11 also. Although I do not regret a single day of the responsibility that came with owning these 2 beautiful boys I cannot go through this again!

  3. Just lost our beloved ‘Miss Berry’. She was 10 and a 1/2 years, so we were surprised and shocked, especially because her two predecessors got to 13 each. Miss Berry had been off her food a little, and was a bit slow this morning. This evening, she lay on her bed in the lounge, took a couple of deep breaths, and she was gone. At least she was in her favourite place, as we stroked her. So quick, and sudden! She was always an enigma.

  4. My rocky had to be put to sleep I let him out for his morning toilet and he struggled up the stairs and was in severe pain took him to emergency vets as it was a Saturday I had to use a local emergency vets briar house broadstairs and they gave him two injections and said he should be ok and to try to give him chicken and rice. But sadly he didn’t improve so had to take him to vets now Canterbury the vet examined him and said the prognosis is not good and he is in pain so I had to decide to put my beloved dog rocky to rest he was just 10 years old he was my first dog I got him at the age of six weeks old it was the hardest decision I have had to do he was my shadow literally my best friend is gone r.i.p rocky

  5. Mine died last night at 9 and a half, such a beautiful dog, I and my family are devastated. He had bloat, twisted stomach, they operated on him and he later died of a heart attack in the early hours. He was perfectly fine in the morning.

  6. Our Kojo died August 17, 2018. He was 12 yrs 5 months and 4 days. He died from degenerative myopathy.

  7. My Gypsy died yesterday afternoon with a suspected heart tumour. She was 9 years and 10 months old. For the previous two days, she was breathing hard and seemed despondent. I put it down to our extreme hot and humid weather but, Saturday morning, she wouldn’t get up. By the time I got her to the emergency hospital, she had passed out. They gave her oxygen and while the vet was telling me about the fluid around the heart, which was probably blood from a bleeding tumour, Gypsy started to fail. The vet give her an injection to alleviate her distress and she died within minutes. This all happened within the space of an hour and a half. Her sister and litter mate, Mandy, seems to have settled down, but she is very quiet. She was diagnosed with EPI five years ago, so I imagine her life expectancy will be shortened. I never expected Gypsy to go first and I am heartbroken.

    • So sorry for you loss.. Mine passed July 25th in her sleep. Perfectly fine that day so i thought.. My boyfriend mentioned she had been breathing heavier at night than usual. I assumed at the time it was the 115 heat in AZ…I am finally accepting she is gone and grateful if she had to go, it was while sleeping. Our PitMix went to her collar twice today to smell it. I think he realized today she wasn’t coming back.. Hugs to you….I know how hard it is as i am living it now…

  8. I lost my beautiful 8 1/2 year old female GSD on Thursday. She seemed healthy, did the same thing as usual, and then went to sleep and didnt wake up. She was a large boned female at 92 lbs. Not overweight…I heard dogs over 90 lbs typically wont make it much passed 8 years. My heart is broken but take comfort in the fact she when peacefully while sleeping and lived everyday happy. She was plagued with every issue GSD’s get when it came to dysplasia, panus, arthritis but she was always happy. I had a male that died of hemangioscarcoma just before 10 years. THink maybe Mox had the same…

  9. My baby girl Skyy was born 11/27/2007 she passed away on February 6, 2019. She had tweeted her back toward the end of 2018 and she had been getting acupuncture and was doing much better but she would feel so good she would forget she had an injury. The disc ruptured causing a blood clot that traveled to her lungs and she had a stroke. My big boy Skipper is currently 13+ years old born March 14, 2005, he has arthritis in both knees and his left hip. He gets acupuncture for the past year and CBD oil which has really helped him tremendously.

  10. MY GSD, Friedel, just passed from Hemangiosarcoma at just over 10 years old. Collapsed, and took to emergency vet, where it was discovered he had blood in his abdomen and was bleeding out. Breathing was also labored, which I had initially put down to being hot in Florida. Was given the choice of either surgery with blood transfusions that he may or may not have made it through – followed by chemotherapy to only had a couple of extra months, or to put him to sleep. Believe in quality of life over quantity, I chose to end his suffering and stayed with him until the vet confirmed no heart beat. Everything just happened so rapidly from what I thought was a healthy dog – to no longer being here.

    • The same thing recently happened to our girl, Tela, at 11 years old. Heartbreaking, and wish we would have known sooner. The vet said those tumors grow quickly and rupture.

    • My 11 year old GSD was diagnosed with the same cancer Sunday. She is still with me, and seems to be doing well, so I am just enjoying my days with her. I have never been so heart broken in my life than when the vet explained why she had suddenly passed out. Even though she is 11, she has always had the energy of a puppy, so I was in total shock to find out she is sick. I’ve been crying for three days, but am happy she is in good spirits. My heart goes out to you. Germans are the absolute best

  11. Our GSD Gus was just diagnosed with mild hip dysplasia. He is just 3 years old. We are treating him with joint meds and pain meds when needed. He is lean\fit and we follow veterinarians advise and avoid jumping and sprinting, we do walk him often to keep the joint moving.
    We have had numerous dogs, various breeds and we feel for each of you. Our dogs and cats have always been part of our family.

  12. My beautiful caring outstanding German Shepherd dog
    “Harley” went to be with all his friends in heaven at the young age of 8 years young. We had taken him to the Vet on a Friday late about 6:00 pm so his regular Vet was closed, so we had to take Harley to an emergency Vet who knew nothing about him. She had taken 10 x-rays and an ultrasound and could not find anything wrong. What was concerning my husband and I “Harley” just starting to go Pee and # 2 on the floor which he never ever did. The women vet could not find anything wrong and said it could just be a virus. Over the weekend he seemed better but by Monday Night we went back to the Emergency Vet checked
    Him in another room and bought him back and said we have to put him down. She had no IDEA WHAT WAS WRONG with him. I asked her to take blood and she said
    He would need an ultrasound again, by this time there was no money left so I said I have enough for the blood work only SHE WOULD NOT DO IT. Harley passed Sept 2 2019
    Never ever go to Atlantic Emergency on Nova Rd in Port Orange. The Vet must have been about 28 years old
    And had no idea what the hell she was doing. So if you want your beautiful German Shepherd to live DO NOT go there. God Bless all these beautiful German Shepherd
    They are the best Dogs. I’m sorry for your Dog but it’s in the Bible “God knows all creatures birds dogs that fall they came from dust and will go back to dust so you will see
    Him or her again🦊

  13. My husband had a female German shepherd when I met him 4 years ago. Lucy just passed away this morning at 13 years old of kidney failure.

  14. I had to put my GSD down after 14 years. Just made it to his birthday too. Was slowly losing muscle mass in the hind legs. Shots to help his joints gave him another 9 months until he lost the energy to stand. Even held his urine till we could carry him outside. Second dog now in 15 years can’t go through this again.

  15. Our GSDeez Rio has been an incredible blessing. He started his life with hopes of becoming a K-9 officer but caught an unlucky break when his owner was fired from his job. My wife adopted him when he was just under a year old. I met him when he was 1.5 years old. He had completely rebelled and was as stubborn as the eye can see, always looking to attack small dogs, cats, and anything that had four legs. With some good ole fashioned incentive-based training, he quickly fell in line, allowing our family to get another dog, and even two cats. You could see him looking at the kitties with confusion at first. He knew that he wasn’t supposed to like them, but he saw the love that we had invested in him, and he could tell that we loved those little kitties, so he protected them like they were his own, even allowing them to smack him around a bit. For a breed that is known for their independence, he loves his bitch Diva. She is a Bully/GSD mix, with a heart of a 4-year-old child. Her love for him humbles my wife and I every day. He had a couple of traumatic events in his life. He slipped out of the back of my truck while I was going 45mph. I had his leash tied to the corner of the bed just short enough anticipating that if it ever happened, he wouldn’t get sucked under the truck. My wife had turned around to look at him. Her beauty must have weakened his knees or something because he just plain slipped. I couldnt slam on the breaks for fear of him getting ran over, so I had to make a slower stop than I wanted. He lacerated his hip tissue 14″ and scraped down some of his paws, but no broken bone, only emotional scars. He mellowed out tremendously after that event. Then I tore down an old shed on our property from the previous owners. Diva got into some of the contents while I was working on removing all the stuff in there. She tore open a couple of cans of bait for rats. Of course, Rio thought she was getting an extra meal so he started eating it. In no time he was having seizures, collapsing, breathing terribly. I saw the cans and realized he poisoned himself. They saved him, cost us a small fortune, but, its only money right? That was 5 years ago. Today he is 11.5, and judging by his symptoms, I don’t think he will see 11.75. So heartbreaking.

    • I’ve never seen someone tell a sad story while also flexing they have a hot wife.

  16. I had to white German Shepherd and both lived 10 years. In 2012 got a female solid black long hair Shepherd. Leila was my best friend, loyal and smarter than many humans. Around her 7th birthday I notice a pimple like on her shoulder. Took her to her vet and was told a hair follicle. That eventually was lymphoma cancer and took her life in less than n 4 months. I blame the sprays for bugs they do on Parks. Great, huge loss. Have her partner Judge who is 8 years old and weigh 130 lbs. Big great boy too.

  17. Hi. Sorry to hear about the losses of beloved GSDs on here. One thing to take comfort with is knowing that they Rest In Peace.

    My GSD just turned 15. He struggles to get up as he has arthritis but he’s being supported by zydax and a diet high in glucosamine. It’s been helping.

    Given his age, I wondering how far he might be from becoming the world’s longest living GSD. If there is such an accolade, perhaps I should nominate him for it?

    It’d be great to see him in a world record book of some sort 🙂 Any pointers would be appreciated.

    James

  18. I have read all the stories, and it really helps, as we lost our beautiful boy Bear on Monday night due to bloat, as we drove to get him to the Vets an hours drive a way. We didn’t realize how serious Bloat was, he died on the way. My husband an I are finding it really hard to take the loss, he was 10. We still have his half sister she will be 12 next birthday, it is so hard to accept that he has gone but luckily we have him buried on the farm, so I can go out and talk to him and explain to him what we are feeling. So so sad at the moment.

  19. My beloved GSD died today 12\20\19 around 6am. She was about 13 years old. We gotlt her at 2yr old. she was going to stay with me as her owner went on a trip. But the owner never came to get her ,she stayed with me till this day. All that happend is that she went to sleep overnight and never woke up. She was a very loyal family dog that will be missed by many.

  20. I just lost my large bone GS, Taja, at 15 years and 5 days today. We welcomed her into or lives the first year of our marriage and first born. Losing her is like my married life has change, she was with us since year one. She had hip dysplasia and multiple masses on her shin. She was my very precious guard dog and she did her job untill the end to protect my family. I still can’t feel like what I chose was right dispite having to watch her struggle to stand for breakfast before I went to work this morning. I had to stay and watch; I had to see through the choice we made and I will never forget that event. I miss you Taja, and thank you.

  21. We just lost our beloved Lobo at age 10. He declined suddenly and we discovered he had a mass in his splean that had spread to his heart. It was very tough and will continue to be tough without him. He was a very special dog with a unique personality. He loved everyone, especially my wife Shanda. He was her best buddy and guardian. We miss you lobo.

  22. 16 years so far for our Ruby. Shes been the best puppy for practically my whole life! I think she is mixed with other breeds, but german shepard is the most prominent. Shes had some lung tumor for a while, but shes still kickin.

  23. We lost our beloved Simba on Dec 27,2019. Got her at 6 weeks old and she was just over 9. She was so healthy that our new vet didn’t think she was 7 when she first met her. She had a torn ligament at 8 and made it through the surgery and healing with no problems. Then she had a hematoma on her ear that had to be drained and her poor ear never perked up again. Then at the beginning of December she started limping on her front right leg sometimes, so took her to the vet. It ended up being arthritis with a bone spur. Took home some anti inflammatory meds and after a week she seemed better. Then she stared having trouble with her approach to coming up the stairs, then she was really lethargic, then didn’t really eat unless it was a treat, then start walking in circles and losing her balance. The vet did xrays and ultrasounds and lab work. Everything came back fine. No mass, no blockage, nothing broken, liver and kidneys functioning fine. Urine test had slight levels for possible infection so started on antibiotics and anti inflammatory meds. Nothing changed, she got worse. Day after Christmas took her back to vet who gave her meds to relax her cause she was so anxious and kept her overnight because she wasn’t perking up. Got a call Friday that she’s worse which she shouldn’t have been cause they had given her steroids and something else that would of perked her up. We were told she was trying to die. That she possibly had a brain tumor. We didn’t want her to suffer any longer so we said goodbye to her. It’s been so hard, harder than with other dogs that we’ve had that lived longer. For all her hair and water messes and hyper energy when we had none she was the best German Shepard ever!!!

  24. German shepherd’s are wonderful dogs!
    So lost one at 10 half yrs to organ failure had to pts
    female
    My other died suddenly at 8 years & 6 months of a heart attack at home having recently been on steroids for a skin problem that had been sorted whether a connection I don’t know but he was normal leading up that point.
    My other girl was 9 years 4 months died v peacefully at home with us all kidney failure as had been diagonoses a few months earlier she also had very poor digestion & required a special diet & powder from age 4 but was perfectly happy & energetic until her time. Last girl was 11 years 7 months tumour was found a year earlier that spread to another before we had to say good bye & I lasted on the floor at the vets with her while she went to join her friends I just love the breed & have no more Heart left to broken! !
    We currently have a 12 year & 1 month old neutered boy still on his feet he has a good hip score & Dm clear So apart from being slower & some minor issues that don’t need medication he’s all good for now ☺️
    Hugs to you all

  25. I lost my Maxiboy last night. He was 8.5. No idea why. He was a little unwell at Christmas and then came good. Was having a little bit of difficulty getting up. We were going to take him to the Vet tomorrow but he went peacefully in his sleep last night. He was a big guy at 47kg, was a rescue us being his third owners for the last 2.5 years. My heart is broken.

  26. We just lost our beloved fur baby, Bentley, on December 21, 2019. He was only 9.5 years old. He had a stroke/seizure 6 months prior and made a full recovery. Then he started having seizures again in December. To say we are heartbroken is an absolute understatement. Miss him terribly every day. He truly was the best. The vet thinks that he he had a brain tumor. 😥

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