How Long Do German Shepherds Live?

One of your biggest concerns when adopting or buying a German Shepherd is how long it will live.

Knowing the typical lifetime of a dog breed and how to keep him healthy as it ages can be beneficial information for pet parents.

two vets examining a german shepherd

So, read on to learn more about the lifespan of a German Shepherd and how to enjoy a long, joyful life together.

In this guide, you’ll learn;

  • How long GSDs live on average
  • Factors that affect a German Shepherds lifespan
  • How to help your German Shepherd live longer

And much more!

What's In This Guide?

How Long Do German Shepherds Live?

The German shepherd dog has a 10  to 13-year life expectancy. On average, female German Shepherds live 1.4 years longer than male German Shepherd dogs.

Male German Shepherds have a typical lifespan of 9.7 years, while females live to an average of 11.1 years. 

Some German Shepherds have been known to live a whopping 18 years! German Shepherds, like any dog, can live longer than expected.

There have been stories of German Shepherds living into their late teens, possibly 18 to 20 years old, but these reports are mostly unsubstantiated.

A German Shepherd, estimated to be 17 years old, was reported to be abandoned at a shelter in Gardena, California in 2014.

Read More: >> How long Do Chow Chows Live?

Factors that affect a GSD life span

A lot of things can influence the lifespan of a German Shepherd dog, a breed predisposed to a bunch of health problems.

But fret not! The good news is that many of these problems can be avoided by proper care. Let’s have a look at some of them.

Genetics and Quality of Bloodline

How a German Shepherd is bred plays a big role in how long they live. Many breeders prioritize practicality and temperament over beauty. 

Inbreeding is utilized to maintain particular features because most diseases have recessive genes.

Line-breeding is slightly less risky than breeding to their siblings. This extends the German Shepherd’s lifespan while maintaining favorable characteristics.

The breed’s founder, Max von Stephanitz, used line-breeding to develop the ideal dog.

However, the dog’s performance, posture, and longevity have all been affected by wrong breeding. The desired tiny back slope was overbred, resulting in deformity.

Back slanting that is too extreme can cause bone and joint issues, especially when your beloved GSD ages. 


Your German Shepherd puppy’s health depends on a balanced diet. Puppies of large breeds should be fed a special joint-healthy chow.

Adult dogs, too, must have their caloric needs met without overindulging. Obesity might result from overeating, which hurts their overall health. 

To improve their health, senior dogs will require a modified formula.

Only feed top-quality food meant for large breeds. Read here to see our favorite dog foods for German Shepherds. 


In addition to healthy nutrition, puppies require adequate activity or exercise for mental and physical stimulation.

German Shepherds are active dogs that need tons of physical exercise to feel accomplished. Remember, a tired dog is a happy dog! 

A three-month-old German Shepherd can walk for 15 minutes, while a one-year-old German Shepherd can exercise for one hour.

In addition to a daily walk, lots of playtime with stimulating toys will keep your German Shepherd entertained and happy. 

Pups are not allowed to play on rough or hard surfaces. Hip dysplasia, a painful ailment that can cause limping, can be caused by early abuse of your dog’s hips.


Inadequate training or neglect can lead to behavioral problems and shorten your dog’s life expectancy.

An unhappy or aggressive dog will have a shorter lifespan than a fulfilled, well-trained canine model citizen.

In addition, untrained dogs and pups will chew on everything. Numerous foods like onions and chocolate that are perfectly fine for human consumption are toxic to dogs.


Even though giant mammals live the longest, small body size within a species is linked to slower aging and longer life.

When it comes to breeds, Canis familiaris, also known as the domestic dog, has a wide range of sizes.

German Shepherds are medium to large dogs. However, some breeders might try to breed for size and make them larger.

If a dog is bred for the big bones and sizes as opposed to healthy genetics and temperament, this could be problematic down the road. 

Read More: >> How long do Golden Retrievers live?

German shepherd on vets table

What can you do to extend the life of your German Shepherd?

Here are five ways to care devotedly to your German Shepherd and potentially extend the life of your four-legged pal.

Feeding healthy diet

Feed high-quality low-carb dog food with a protein content of 18% to 22% to keep your German Shepherd slim.

Depending on their size and age, the right amount of food will be determined.

If your dog has special dietary requirements, you can consider some supplements for that extra “oomph”. 

Here’s a chart for recommended caloric consumption for a 60 to 90 pound German Shepherd. 

1,272 to 1,540 calories per day Inactive Senior German Shepherd.
1,740 to 2,100 calories per day Active adult German Shepherd
Depending on weight, check with your vet! Puppies below 12 months

Providing adequate exercise

Exercise is an excellent technique to ensure that your canine pal lives a long and healthy life while also keeping his mind engaged and focused.

German Shepherds are active, canine athletes that need at least one to two hours of exercise per day. 

In addition, regular exercise keeps your Shepherd’s cardio in tip-top shape, and bones, muscles, and joints strong.

Daily walks will help both you and your dog live healthier and longer.

Isn’t that an amazing way to keep your German Shepherd healthy and fit, as well as enjoy some quality bonding time with your best friend?

Here are some entertaining activities to keep your dog active and healthy:

  • Take a walk with them on a dog-friendly trail in your neighborhood.
  • At least once a day, and twice if possible, take them for a walk outside.
  • Use your dog’s favorite ball or toy to play fetch with them.
  • In the backyard or at the park, toss a frisbee with them.
  • Make an obstacle course for them to run through.
  • Your dog will be less bored if you exercise them often. This will result in a healthier dog in the long run, as well as a sharper mind.

Keeping them lean

Maintaining a slim and not overweight German Shepherd is an effective and proven approach for extending the life of your four-legged companion.

This means giving your dog the right amount of food every day and avoiding overfeeding. Keep those high-fat treats to a minimum! 

Another study, which lasted ten years and followed the lives of 48 Labrador retrievers, was published in 2002.

When compared to dogs who were fed the standard amount of food, the canines who were fed 25% less food experienced an 18-24 month increase in life expectancy.

They also saw improvements in their triglycerides, triiodothyronine blood sugar, and insulin.

Brushing teeth daily

Brushing helps prevent periodontal disease, an illness that affects up to 90% of dogs over the age of three.

In dogs, untreated periodontal disease can lead to tooth loss and eventually enter the bloodstream, causing harm to the lungs, heart, and kidneys.

If left untreated, this condition can eventually kill your animal pal.

Spaying or Neutering at the right age

Spaying or neutering your pup can greatly improve his life expectancy. A 70,000-animal study conducted by the University of Georgia yielded some notable results.

The life expectancy of male dogs who were neutered increased by 13.8 percent, while female dogs’ life expectancy increased by 26.3 percent.

Unaltered dogs have a shorter life expectancy for a variety of reasons, one of which is that they are more inclined to seek out new partners.

This leads to more dog fights, which might result in diseases or injuries.

Escape artists that manage to get out in the hopes of finding a mate are also in danger from traffic and other environmental factors. 

Getting neutered or spayed lowers health risks by:

  • Less risk of getting specific forms of reproductive system malignancies
  • Eliminates the danger of testicular cancer 
  • Prostate cancer risks are lower when German Shepherds are neutered or spayed at the proper age. Having your dog neutered or spayed too soon can cause issues.
  • At the age of 12 to 15 months, male German Shepherd house dogs can be neutered. Their skeletal growth could be jeopardized if they start too soon. 
  • Before reaching the age of five months or their first heat, female German Shepherds can be spayed.

Annual Checkups

Another excellent technique to extend the life of your German Shepherd is to take him to the veterinarian at least once a year for a check-up.

You should take young puppies twice a year for vaccinations.

Hip and joint disorders affect large dog breeds more than small dog breeds. One of the most frequent issues German Shepherds face is hip and elbow dysplasia. 

In some circumstances, taking them for annual check-ups boosts your chances of detecting certain problems or diseases early.

When a veterinarian detects a problem early enough, he or she can take preventative actions. A dog’s discomfort is frequently concealed.

During the early stages, the veterinarian may be able to spot certain signs that you might miss. 

Breed Life Expectancy 
German Shepherds  10 to 13 years
Bernese Mountain Dogs  6 to 8 years
Great Danes  8 to 10 years
Rottweilers 8 to 10 years
Belgian Malinois  10 to 14 years
Labrador Retriever 10 to 12 years

In stark contrast, a tiny breed like the Yorkshire Terrier’s life expectancy is 13 to 16 years. 

What are the most common causes of German Shepherd death?

There are a few genetic disorders with German Shepherd dogs, but the breed is generally healthy.

Epilepsy,  spine elbow, and hip deformity, as well as bloat, are among the most common problems.

Minor skin, stomach, eye, and ear problems are very common in them.

German Shepherds are also prone to exocrine pancreatic insufficiency (EPI), which is why they should be fed moderate kibble.

Heart problems and autoimmune thyroiditis should be looked for during routine checks by your veterinarian.

Your dog’s life can be saved by regular screening and early detection of health problems.

Hemangiosarcoma and bone cancer screenings should also be on your radar. Hip dysplasia is a common genetic disorder in many German Shepherds.

A study shows the heritability of hip dysplasia in litters of German Shepherds.

Can A German Shepherd live for 15 years?

German Shepherds have a lifespan of approximately 9 to 12 years, but some GSDs have been known to live past 18 years.

If your dog is taken care of with utmost dedication, he might be able to outlive his expected lifespan. 

Final Thoughts on The lifespan of German Shepherds

GSDs are known for their dedication, loyalty, strength, and intelligence.

Careful training and care during the early months and years of these puppies’ life are crucial to ensure a long and happy relationship with this wonderful breed of dog.

Even if your German Shepherd is still young, it is worthwhile to inquire about his or her life expectancy when you next visit the veterinarian. 

They’ll be able to inform you about any troubles they’ve had in the past or warn you about any that are just beginning, as well as give you an estimate of how long your dog will live.

Your veterinarian should be able to advise you on how to help your dog live a long and healthy life.

With proper care and loving home, you and your German Shepherd can enjoy a long, happy life together.

Thanks for reading and all the best to you and your pooch! 

Picture of Adeline Ee

Adeline Ee

Adeline holds a BA in Mass Communication from the University of Washington. She is a certified canine behaviorist, marine conservationist, rock climber, and scuba diving instructor. Originally from Singapore, she now lives on Gili Air, an island off Lombok, Indonesia.

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Adeline Ee

Adeline holds a BA in Mass Communication from the University of Washington. She is a certified canine behaviorist, marine conservationist, rock climber, and scuba diving instructor. Originally from Singapore, she now lives on Gili Air, an island off Lombok, Indonesia.

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