The German Shepherd breed is an excellent choice for a canine companion. However, just like many other popular breeds, there are certain health problems that you need to be aware of. Here are a few of the most prevalent German Shepherd dog health issues to look out for:
Developmental bone and joint disease is a problem common to many large dog breeds, affecting the younger animals. If your dog is affected, he may show no symptoms at all, or he may demonstrate pain or lameness, and seem cautious about movement. Hip dysplasia may cause leg muscles to actually waste.
Many German Shepherds also suffer from Hemangiosarcoma, a cancer of the cells of the interior lining of the blood vessels. This condition can affect the skin, heart, liver, and spleen, as well as other organs. If you dog has Hemangiosarcoma, he may display weakness, light-colored gums, a distended abdomen, or even physical collapse.
Another German Shepherd dog health problem is weakness in the hind legs. This can also include wobbliness or a lack of coordination in the affected limbs. Multiple factors can cause this, including bone or spinal degeneration or possibly a slipped disc in the dog’s back.
Another problem to look out for is a diseased thyroid gland which will cause either over or under-production of thyroid hormones in some dogs. If your dog is experiencing skin infections, lethargy, hair loss, or cold intolerance it could indicate a thyroid problem.
Keep a keen eye on the eyes of your German Shepherd, especially if you notice apparent squinting, excess tearing or discharge, redness, or rubbing of the eyes. You should also be alert for any growths over the eye, regardless of the color. A condition called Pannus, an inflammation of the dog’s cornea, could cause any of these problems and be detrimental to your dog’s optical health.
A bacterial infection of the skin, sometimes accompanied by puss, is known as Pyoderma and can be a problem in German Shepherds. It is unknown what causes this condition, but it may be due to an immune deficiency. Your dog may have this if he displays pimples or sores, hair loss, redness or other abnormal skin conditions. Some dogs also become lethargic, or lose their interest in food.
A first step to avoiding these German Shepherd dog health issues is to make sure that your dog does not come from a breeder where other dogs had these issues. Watch your dog carefully, and be sure to consult your Vet if your dog displays any symptoms, or behavior out of the ordinary.