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5 Secrets To Extending Your German Shepherd’s Life

5 Secrets To Extending Your German Shepherd’s Life

“What can I do as an owner to extend my German Sheppie’s life?”, you may ask. Well, I’d say more than you think, for sure. 

Your GSD doggie is expected to live from 9 to 13 years, depending on its health, maintenance, and genetics. 

However, keep in mind that this is the average life expectancy, meaning that there might be certain secrets to extending your German Shepherd’s life, so let’s dive in and unravel the mystery of the oldest living GSD pups.

Following The Footsteps Of The Oldest Living German Shepherd

Owning a German Shepherd has been one of the best experiences I’ve ever had, and I wish it had lasted much longer as my Max was a truly special doggo.

That’s why I admire Zehra Oya Buldu, the owner of one of the oldest German Shepherds in the world as she got the chance to spend more than 23 years with her Zeynep, and I hope they’ll enjoy their time for many more years to come.

Zeynep is currently in the process of getting recognized by the Guinness Book of Records as one of the oldest canines alive.

According to Zehra, Zeynep is an active canine that loves going for walks with her owner, but also spending time with children and other animals.

German Shepherds are great with cats, so it’s no surprise that Zeynep gets along well with six other kittens she shares her home with.

The secret to Zeynep’s long life lies not only in physical activity and great interaction with her owner and other animals from the household, but also in genetics.

According to Princeton’s geneticist, Joshua Akey, who participates in the ongoing study, “Dog Aging Project”, the answer to dog aging might lie in the canine’s DNA, which is further explained in the research, “Comparing the DNA of exceptionally long-lived dogs to dogs that live to the average age for their breed.”[1]

We, as dog owners, can’t have any significant impact on the genetic background of our pets, but what we can do is improve our dog’s lifestyle habits, which can result in a longer lifespan.

So, What Are The Secrets Of A German Shepherd’s Long Life?

1. Keeping Your Pup Fit And Full

A balanced diet is one of the key factors that impacts the quality of a German Shepherd’s life, and any other canine for that matter. Healthy meals that provide enough nutrients will not only extend your pup’s life, but also improve the quality of it.

Alcohol, sugar, coffee, chocolate, fats – all of these foods and beverages are known as the biggest enemies of any dog breed, so it’s natural that every responsible dog owner will avoid them.

There are also certain foods, like low-quality dog food, that don’t contain enough nutritional supplements such as vitamins, minerals, and healthy fats, which essentially means that the dog gets only empty calories that contribute only to obesity.

High-quality food that is adapted for every stage of a canine’s life, be it homemade, raw food, or kibbles, will benefit a German Shepherd’s health and life expectancy in a great manner. It will provide them with nutrients essential for the dog’s healthy development, which will result in a longer lifespan.

RELATED: German Shepherd Raw Diet Habits: Yes Or No?

2. Don’t Forget About The Vet

Annual checkups are essential for a canine’s health, and they can help you extend your German Shepherd’s life. You might not even be aware of certain health issues if your GSD doesn’t show any visible symptoms.

However, if you take your pup to the vet for a regular checkup, there is a high chance you’ll be able to detect any medical condition in the early phase, which will increase the possibility for successful treatment.

Your vet might even be able to discover a health risk and act preventively to protect your GSD from a certain medical problem.

Keep in mind that your pup might not feel so happy about checkups, so make sure to bring its favorite treats with you in order to keep your GSD calm at the vet’s office.

3. Outdoor Time For A Healthy Canine

German Sheppies love exercise of any kind, especially if it involves outdoor time. As an owner of such a highly-energetic breed, you need to be prepared for an active lifestyle.

Dog walks, playtime in a park or a back yard, or any other type of physical activity will greatly benefit your pup as it will help him maintain a healthy weight and prevent undesirable behavior. 

4. Longevity In Beauty

Can you imagine not taking a bath, cleaning your teeth, or brushing your hair for more than a month? I’m sure not. Well, if your GSD could speak, he’d probably say the same thing.

I’m not saying your pooch will love it, but he’ll eventually get used to grooming, just like Tesla, a shy but courageous German Sheppie that loves to take baths.

Grooming does not only keep a canine’s hair shiny, it also helps prevent skin infections caused by fungi or bacteria. GSDs have a double coat, which is the perfect spot for the development of such pests.

However, if you bathe your German Sheppie frequently (at least once every three to four weeks), and brush its fur, you will significantly reduce the risk of such health issues.

Dental Hygiene

When was the last time you brushed your dog’s teeth? If you haven’t done it for a long time, you’ll probably take the toothbrush and get down to business right after reading this article.

Doctor Jan Bellows, from the American Veterinary Dental College (AVDC), stated that dental health can prolong a canine’s life by three to four years, which is why he advises dog owners to regularly brush their pets’ teeth.

I know it’s not easy to clean a German Shepherd’s teeth (been there, done that), but considering how much it can benefit their overall health and longevity, it pays off to pull in all the effort you can.

5. Spay/Neuter For The Future

There are several benefits of spaying/neutering a German Sheppie, including physical development, mental health, and lifespan.

According to research done by the University of Georgia, male GSDs that were neutered had up to a 14% longer lifespan than their unneutered counterparts, while the lifespan of female GSDs was 26% longer than in unspayed female canines. [2]

Therefore, if you’re having doubts as to whether you should sterilize your doggie, this information might be quite useful to help you make the final decision.

In Conclusion

I can’t promise you that your German Shepherd will live as long as Zeynep, but if you follow these secrets to extending your German Shepherd’s life, you can expect your pup to live at least a few years longer.

I’m sure you’re already doing the majority of these things, but even if you skip something, it’s not a big deal.

However, I’d definitely recommend that you implement all of these “secrets” as soon as you can as they will help keep your pooch with you for at least a little longer.

READ MORE:

What Are German Shepherds Bred For? Surprising Truth

References:

1. Fuller-Wright, Liz. “What is your dog’s lifespan? A Princeton geneticist is seeking the keys to canine health and longevity.” (February 2, 2022)

2. Hoffman JM, Creevy KE, Promislow DEL (2013) Reproductive Capability Is Associated with Lifespan and Cause of Death in Companion Dogs. PLoS ONE 8(4): e61082.