Sam Shephard is an experienced German Shepherd owner and has learned throughout the years how to optimize the breed's health and wellness.
Compared to many other large breeds, German Shepherds actually live fairly long and happy lives, especially if they are kept active and regularly visit the vet. While you may not want to think about your beloved pet entering his or her senior years, it is helpful to know exactly what you can expect when it comes to your dog’s life expectancy and when you should start treating your German Shepherd like the senior that he or she is.
Average Age for German Shepherds
Most German Shepherds live in between ten and thirteen years. Owners of small breeds of dogs might see their animals live up to seventeen or twenty, but larger dogs put more strain on their bodies and simply do not live as long, no matter how well they are taken care of. A dog that is neglected or does not get proper exercise will actually die much earlier than age eleven.
While some German Shepherds do live far beyond age thirteen, this is fairly uncommon and impossible to predict, especially if you do not know the lineage of your dog and what health problems they might encounter as they transition into old age.
Why It's Important to Visit Your Vet
When you next take your German Shepherd to the vet, it would be worth your time to ask about your dog’s life expectancy, even if they are still fairly young. Your vet will be able to look at your dog’s current health. They will be able to tell you what issues they might have had in the past or warn you of any that are in the early stages and tell you how long they expect your dog to live. Your vet should also be able to tell you exactly what you should be doing in order to help your dog live as long as possible.
How Can We Keep Our Dogs Young?
An older dog might seem content just laying around the house, but if your dog is just middle-aged and not actually old, it is very important to keep them moving. If they are allowed to just hang out around the house, they’ll probably age faster and definitely will not be as happy or as healthy as they continue to advance in life. Here’s what you can do to make sure that your older German Shepherd stays as healthy as possible in his or her golden years.
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1. Keep Going on Walks
While your older dog might not be up for the ten miles runs you used to take every single morning, they still want to get out of the house. Just like you, spending too much time cooped up in the house is going to drive your German Shepherd crazy. So, leash them up and take them out on walks. Pay special attention to how they are walking and any signs that they might be experiencing pain or are getting overtired so you can turn back before an enjoyable outing just becomes a painful one for your pooch.
2. Teach Them Something New
It’s not true that you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. This might actually be the perfect time to teach them some new tricks. It will help keep their brain engaged— something we all need as we progress into our elder years. Whether you just want to teach your German Shepherd to shake or you are going to refresh some of the tricks that he knew as a younger dog, spend some time each day teaching your dog and rewarding him for his progress and effort.
3. Meet New Friends
While it’s important not to put your dog in with a dozen younger dogs who are going to hurt him with their enthusiasm, your dog still wants to make new friends and still wants to hang out with other dogs. Avoid putting your dog in with brand new puppies, however, who might be a little aggressive in their play, so much so that they could actually hurt your dog. Hanging around some dogs that are the same age or are at least more mature than those early, energetic days of puppyhood is a good way to keep his mind stimulated.
Accept When Your Dog Is Growing Older
At some point, you will simply have to accept that your dog is growing older and will eventually pass away. Many owners will have gotten their German Shepherds as brand new puppies and will have cared for them their entire lives. It can be as tragic as watching a human friend or family member grow old and pass away, especially because you have dedicated a lot of time to caring for this animal and you have forged a strong bond.
Pay Attention to Your Dog's Needs
It is important not to neglect your older dog, simply because they start to seem more and more content just to lay on their dog bed and sleep. Especially if you have other dogs that seem like they need more attention and have more energy, you might start to neglect your older German Shepherds. Do not do this!
Even if your dog is over ten years old, they still need and want your attention and approval. Make sure they are given just as much love and respect when they are growing older and coming to the end of their life as they did when they were brand new puppies, full of energy.
© 2019 Sam Shepards
Oscar Sekga on January 06, 2020:
I found this information very resourceful and it has rekindled my interest in old dog. I will pay more attention to ensure his golden years are more enjoyable.