Looking for an ideal dog breed and wondering how long a German Shepherd (GSD) might live?
In this article we cover all things lifespan for German Shepherds. How long they live, what they usually die from, the oldest German Shepherd on record, and some of their common health issues for GSDs.
Table of Contents
How Long Can A German Shepherd Live?
Purebred German Shepherds typically live for 9-13 years. If your dog has been spayed or neutered they tend to live 10 – 17% longer (a few months to a few years) (source).
German Shepherd mixes can live longer than 9-13 years depending on the mix. Mix breeds with smaller dogs could increase how long your dog lives. According the American Kennel Club (AKC) a study by The American Naturalist found that small dogs live longer and for every 4.4 extra pounds your dog weights it decreases their lifespan by one month (source).
So, how do you know how long your GSD mix will live on average? Start by weighting them and comparing them to this chart. Since there are hundreds of possible mixed breeds with German Shepherds, this chart will allow you to estimate your dog’s lifespan no matter the breed. The chart uses 4.4 pound rule from The American Naturalist (for every 4.4 pounds they lose a month of lifespan).
Dog Breed and Weight Lifespan Chart
|Typical Breed||Average Weight||Average Lifespan|
|Chihuahua||10 lbs||12-20 years|
|Corgi or Terrier||30 lbs||12-15 years|
|Australia Cattle Dogs||50 lbs||11-15 years|
|German Shepherd||70 lbs||9-13 years|
German Shepherd Lifespan Female
There is very little lifespan difference between a German Shepherd male and female (source). Both will live an average of 9 to 12 years.
Neutering or spaying your dog could increase their lifespan by several months up to 2 years longer (source). That study was a database review of large independent databases of dog lifespan and cause of death.
In the study they found that female dogs did live somewhat longer but the real factor that increased lifespan was getting your dog spayed or neutered.
Is 10 Old For A German Shepherd?
Yes, a 10 year old german shepherd is not only 70 years old in dog years, but it is old for that breed. At an average lifespan of 9-12 years, your 10 year old german shepherd has lived a long life! At this age paying attention to their health is extremely important. GSDs suffer from several health issues as they get older as described below.
While 12 years old is not the maximum age of a GSD it is the average age at which they tend to pass away. The oldest german shepherd on record is described below.
If you spayed or neutered your GSD they tend to live a few months to a few years longer. The study that covered that information did not look at elderly dogs that were recently spayed or neutered.
What Do German Shepherds Usually Die From?
According to a study by the University of Georgia College of Veterinary Medicine, larger dog breeds die more often from organ issues or muscle and bone problems.
Of the most common muscle and bone issues, cancer was the top killer of large dog breeds like GSDs. Golden Retrievers had the highest rates of cancer of the large dog breeds.
The study pointed out that these were just averages and an older GSD could just as easily die from a small dog disease as they could from common cancers.
Toy breeds like Chihuahuas and Pomeranians were far less likely to die of cancer than other breeds. A similar pattern was found with people where smaller people got cancer less often than taller folks (source).
As shown with the other dog study above, the smaller your dog is the longer they live. This is not a reason to start starving your GSD. This is a reason to keep them healthy and near the middle to low end of their average weight (66 to 88 lbs for male GSDs and 49 to 71 lbs for female GSDs).
What Is The Oldest German Shepherd On Record?
Do not believe what you find on the internet for this information. Trusted databases with verified age and breed records are not commonly available to the public. You can find YouTube videos and forum posts of people saying their GSDs are alive at 20 or 24 years of age but these claims have not been independently verified by birth/pedigree records and veterinarians.
How Can I Make My German Shepherd Live Longer?
To help your GSD live longer do the following:
- Verify it’s breed. Is it a purebred GSD or is it a mix? You will use this information to calculate the average weight of your GSD or mix.
- Calculate the average weight for your GSD or German Shepherd’s mix. The average weight of a German Shepherd is 66 to 88 lbs for male GSDs and 49 to 71 lbs for female GSDs.
- Change their diet so their weight falls in the middle to low end of the average. Smaller dogs live longer than bigger dogs (source). Do not let your dog weigh less than the average weight for GSDs or their mix breed average.
- If your dog is young get them spayed or neutered. This has been shown to increase their lifespan by 10-17% (a few months to a few years). (source)
- Confirm the calculation above with your veterinarian and discuss your plans with them. They see hundreds of breeds and will help you accurately find the true weight and best lifespan practices for your dog
Common German Shepherd Health Issues
The most common GSD health issues are cancer of the musculoskeletal system and gastrointestinial issues.