GSD Health Problems
GSD health problems: even the German Shepherd can't escape them. The German Shepherd Dog has become a very popular pet, due to the breed's versatility and incredible intelligence. In many ways this is a very mixed blessing for this dog breed.
While most people really enjoy the pleasure a well-bred and well-trained German Shepherd adds to their lives, many others have been attracted to the breed primarily to make money. While a well-bred GSD is truly a remarkable dog, a German Shepherd from a puppy mill, a disreputable breeder, out of an accidental breeding, or someone simply trying to make money on the side, can, quite simply, be a nightmare.
Anyone not taking careful consideration of all the potential health, genetic, temperamental, and physical characteristics, will definitely increase the potential of a litter that will be plagued with serious health and temperament problems it's whole life.
Although many of the GSD health problems listed below are found in German Shepherds, they are not necessarily found only in GSD's, nor are they necessarily common in GSD's. This list of GSD health problems may seem a bit intimidating at first.
Keep in mind that a good look into any individual purebred dog breed will reveal a substantial list of health problems that may be common to that one particular breed.
This list shouldn't scare you away but it should encourage you to find a reputable German Shepherd breeder who is aware of these potential GSD health problems and does their best to keep their breeding program free of these potential problems. Remember also that this list of GSD health problems is by no means all inclusive.
Potential GSD Health Problems - German Shepherd Illness:
Chronic pancreatitis (suspected genetic) - lack of enzymes that digest fat and protein; chronic weight loss
Cryptorchidism (suspected genetic) - undescended testicle(s)
Diabetes mellitus (recessive) - onset of insulin deficiency at 2-6 months
Intervertebral disc disease (suspected genetic) - slipped disc, pain, weakness to paralysis of limbs
Osteochondritis dessicans (suspected genetic) - growth disorder of shoulder cartilage; pain, lameness (OCD)
Perianal Fistulas - A perianal fistula begins as a painful abscess or lesion somewhere near a dog’s anus. A fistula is an abnormal crevice or tract that forms from an abscess. There are usually more than one fistula present, and if left untreated, they can result in chronic, painful, draining deep sores.
Retinal atrophy (suspected genetic) - (generalized) PRA - retina degenerates causing first night blindness then total blindness.
Soft ears (recessive) - weak ear musculature. All German Shepherd's are born with floppy ears. Normal GSD ears will begin to stand up on their own in the 2nd or 3rd month. Some GSD's ears will never develop the musculature to stand erect. This is an inherited recessive trait. Though soft ears primarily affects a German Shepherd dog's showability (hanging ears are a disqualification), soft-eared GSD's are also more prone to ear infections.
Ununited anchoneal process (dominant) - elbow dysplasia; pain and limp in front legs.
von Willebrand's disease (dominant) - bleeding disorder. A blood disease, an inherited dominant condition, that can include mucosal bleeding. Clinical blood tests must be done to distinguish this from other conditions. Results of breeding two VWD dogs are lethal. VWD is autosomal and not sex-linked.