Determining health concerns which may plague your GS canine is something you, as eventual caregiver, must know and understand. Being aware of these conditions not only empower you to be selective when choosing breeders to deal with – understanding these ailments and symptoms of such gives you a better advantage of avoiding what needs to be avoided.
Common health ailments that plague GS dogs are the outcome of the improper breeding practices early in the breed’s existence, although it was deemed important to preserve the breed’s other traits. One of the more common medical conditions of the GS is elbow and hip dysplasia which could lead to the canine enduring pain later in its life and may cause dog arthritis. The University of Zurich conducted a study and discovered that 45% of the working police dogs were affected by a degenerative condition of spinal stenosis; however the sample examined was small.
19.1% of GS were found by the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals to be affected by hip dysplasia. Because of their large and open nature of its ears, GS are not susceptible to ear infections because there is no fur to obstruct the outer ear canal which would hold debris or moisture. A recent UK survey showed the median life span of GS to be 10.95 years which is just about right for a canine of their size.
The neurological disease, Degenerative Myelopathy, happens with regularity specifically in this breed which suggests that the GS breed is a sort predisposed to it. To rule out or detect this neurological disease, an inexpensive saliva test has been made available to screen for degenerative myelopathy. The test looks for the mutated gene responsible for and seen in canines with degenerative myelopathy.
In the United Kingdom, a small study revealed 16% of asymptomatic young GSD to be homozygous to the mutation of the disease with 38% of the lot identified as carriers.
With the advent of the screening test, the disease is better identified and can be bred out successfully from breeds which have a higher likelihood to acquire. It is recommended to give this test to predisposed breeds. The test can also be carried out using DNA samples from any canine using collected saliva samples which can be obtained by swabbing the inside of the canine’s cheek with the aid of a sterile cotton swab.
Prospective German Shepherd buyers can ask for the test to be carried out by any breeder now that a test has been made available. Potential GS dog caregivers may also purchase this testing kit from a breeder known to test their canines.
In addition, GS have a higher propensity than usual to acquire Von Willebrand disease. This is a common inherited bleeding disorder. Also detected in this breed is exocrine pancreatic insufficiency (EPI) which is a disease of the pancreas and is degenerative. 1% of the US GSD population is estimated to suffer from this disease. Pancreatic supplements given with food are the usual treatment of this disease.