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14 Signs Your German Shepherd Is Getting Old

14 Signs Your German Shepherd Is Getting Old

German Shepherds are known to be very active working dogs and amazing family members. But, over the years, they will slowly decrease that activity. This is just one of the signs your German Shepherd is getting old.

Looking at your aging dog that used to be full of life can sometimes truly be overwhelming. Don’t worry – you will not be the only one who feels this way. Aging is a natural process, and you need to embrace it.

Some dogs will show more of the aging signs while others might be vital until their last day.

If you want to know more about some signs that will show you the aging process of your dog, then keep on reading.

14 Signs Your German Shepherd Is Getting Old

You should truly feel blessed when you experience your dog becoming a senior dog. It does come with a lot of burdens and concerns, but this means that you two have experienced many beautiful years together.

Your dog’s quality of life may decrease a bit, but you are there to make sure that it is comfortable and loved as much as possible.

Here are some signs of aging that your dog might showcase. When you know these, you can prepare properly as to how to behave and how to help your dog out.

1. Not Being Able To Move Like Before

German Shepherd dog laying down

You will be able to see this in multiple examples. One of them is your German Shepherd looking a bit stiff when he wakes up from his beauty sleep. They will need some time to move properly, but this is normal.

It can mean that their bones and muscles are getting old with them, but it can also mean that they have arthritis. So, if you notice this, you should take your GSD to the vet to make sure that everything is fine.

Another example is that they are getting slower than they usually are. This can first be noticed in their exercise routine. Little by little, they will have less will and ability to perform the exercises that they used to excel at.

Read Also: How High Can German Shepherds Jump? These GSDs Are High

Eventually, they will have problems just moving around the house. If you are living in an apartment that is on a higher floor, you, as the dog owner, will need to help them get up the stairs.

You will probably need to get some sort of ramp so they can easily get up on a bed or couch.

2. They Will Have Changes In Their Weight

German Shepherds usually weigh around 85 to 90 pounds, according to the AKC. As they get older, they can either lose some weight or gain some weight. This depends from dog to dog.

The weight gain can come because of their decreased activity levels. They will lose muscle mass, but if they are eating as they used to, they will gain body fat.

Weight loss comes if they lose their appetite and refuse to eat almost everything. This is usually connected with some health issues.

If you have this problem, here is our article about what to feed a sick dog without an appetite to help you out.

The difference in their weight will not really show when they are young. Older dogs are more prone to this, but it does not mean that every old dog will have these weight changes.

3. They Will Have A Difficult Time Regulating Their Temperature

old german shepherd laying on bed

As dogs age, their ability to regulate their body temperature will decrease. They can easily get cold, but they can also get very hot at any given point. This is very important for pet parents to help them with.

If you and your German Shepherd are living in a place where it is always cold, you need to make sure that your pooch is warm at all times. You will most likely need to buy it some sort of jacket or shirt that will help it stay warm.

If you are living in an area that is mostly warm, then your dog needs to be cooled down. Provide it with a room that will be colder and without much sun. Also, its water bowls always need to be filled with cold and fresh water.

4. They Will Sleep More Than Usual

As German Shepherds grow old, their metabolism will slow down, and because of that, they will most likely be sleepier than they normally are.

We suggest when your pooch comes to its old age, provide it with a dog bed… not a crate. If you think that it feels comfortable in a crate, then that is fine.

But, if you are thinking about getting it a nice, big, and comfortable bed, check out our best beds for German Shepherds.

This is only up to you and your preference.

5. Their Coat Will Change Color

old german shepherd in a grass

German Shepherds come in different colors, but they have their distinctive combination of black and brown fur. However, as they get older, their coat will become gray.

They will never be fully gray, but they will have some gray patches. Their face is the part that will turn gray the quickest. This is such a pure thing to witness.

When I saw my first dog get this old, and I noticed its gray hairs, I shed a couple of tears. Not because of sadness, but because of all the memories that just burst into my mind.

6. They Will Become Forgetful

As German Shepherds get older, there is a big possibility for them to develop canine cognitive dysfunction syndrome (or CCDS), for short. This is a type of dementia that dogs can suffer from as well as we humans.

They can forget most of the things that they have known their whole life. This can be scary for dog owners, but it usually presents no harm to the dog itself.

When you notice that they become forgetful, it is the time when regular vet checkups should start.

7. They Will Need To Go To The Bathroom More Frequently

German Shepherd black and red color on walk and pees in winter snow

When dogs get to the point of their life where they are considered to be senior dogs, it almost feels like they are turning into a puppy all over again. It is known that puppies can’t control their bladder that much.

This is the case with old dogs as well. They can also develop a urinary tract infection, which will make it even harder for them to control their bladder, or in other words, they will develop incontinence.

Urination will become more frequent, which can be difficult for people and dogs that live in an apartment. Some accidents might happen, so try not to get angry at them because they will not be doing that on purpose.

8. Their Eyesight Will Deteriorate

One of the common signs of senior years is bad eyesight or vision loss. One of the main eye problems that old dogs can develop is cataracts (or cloudy eyes).

This condition can appear on one eye, but it usually transfers to the other eye as well. This health problem starts with the dog slightly losing its vision, and it can gradually progress into your dog going completely blind.

This sometimes is a bigger problem for the dog owner than for the dog. There will need to be some changes made in its daily routine, but make sure that your dog knows that you are there for him or her, and that they feel loved.

Conjunctivitis is something that will appear a lot more frequently than it used to when the dog was young.

9. Their Hearing Will Deteriorate As Well

Shepherd dog indoors lying on the carpet

Just like their eyesight will deteriorate, their hearing will as well. This is really common among older dogs. At first, you might think that they are confused because their hearing just started to go bad.

It can get to the point where they will completely lose hearing in both ears. You need to clean their ears regularly because a lot more earwax of different colors will appear as the dog gets old.

10. Their Teeth Will Go Bad, And They Can Develop Gum Disease

You can say, in essence, that dog’s teeth get old as well. Dental diseases are very common during the period when your dog is getting into its senior years.

Their gums can get really dry, their gums can even become black or generally change color. Some of their teeth will fall out, and some might go bad. Because of this, they can develop bad breath.

This bad breath can be hard to get rid of, but you can always try brushing their teeth every day.

Dog food that you used to give the dog needs change when this happens. Softer food will be much easier for them to eat.

11. They Will Develop New Lumps

German shepherd sleeping on the grass at sunset

Dogs can have some lumps and bumps during their lifetime, but elderly dogs are much more prone to developing new lumps. Some will be bigger… others will be smaller.

They can even develop a lump on their tail.

Usually, these lumps are fatty lipomas that are not harmful, but whatever the case might be, you need to take your dog to the vet when you notice a new lump.

This is just in case that the lump is a type of tumor, which can also happen to older dogs.

12. They Will Have More Health Issues

Dog health is something that can go bad as well. Old dogs will develop much more health problems during their senior years than they ever had during their young age.

Some of the problems that can occur are:

Kidney disease

Urinary incontinence

Hip dysplasia

Heart issues


Nuclear sclerosis

These are just a few things that can happen. This is the reason why you should take your dog to the vet regularly.

13. They Will Experience Hair Loss

Woman's hand with a tuft of wool German red shepherd during molting

You will be able to notice that your dog will have patches where their coat will fall off. This can happen either in patches or their coat will thin out throughout their whole body.

There is not much that you can do here. It is a natural process. It can also be an indicator of some health problem, but mostly it is just because of their age.

14. They Can Get Confused

This is connected to them being forgetful. Some things that they have been usually doing on a daily basis can easily start to confuse them, and they can also develop disorientation at some point.

Puzzle toys are good for them. Try finding some toys that are not that complicated, but will make them use their brain a bit.

To Sum It All Up

There are a lot of signs your German Shepherd is getting old, and we hope that the list we made helped you out.

Some signs can be very scary and dangerous, and even fatal for your dog. Other signs are just natural processes that need to happen, and they do for the majority of dogs.

There is not much that you can do… just try to embrace the process, and make your dog feel loved and well taken care of.