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German Shepherd Health Conditions

German Shepherds are intelligent, loyal, and can be trained for so many amazing jobs from therapy and companionship to search and rescue missions. But just like any other dog breed, there are certain health conditions they are prone to. The breed is predisposed to a number of genetic disorders due to ancient disease liability genes that preceded breed formation. Since these mutations occurred long before the separation of breeds, genetic diseases are seen across all breeds and in mixed breeds, too. Luckily, with the modern DNA analysis we are able to detect more than 200 health risks in breeding dogs to minimize the occurrence in the next generation, so you can live a wonderful life together for years to come!

German Shepherds are a relatively healthy breed, so the chances are that you’re going to spend many years together from now on.

However, there are a few genetic conditions owners should be aware of. The most common ones include:

Allergies, Bloat, Bleeding Disorders, Exocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency, Bone and Joint Problems, Epilepsy, Heart Disease, Hip dysplasia, Elbow Dysplasia, Eye Problems, Hyperadrenocorticism (Cushing’s),  Pancreatic Deficiency, Anal Gland Problems, Neurological Disorders, Diabetes, Neurological Disorders.

It is very important that your puppy is coming from healthy parents that are not diagnosed with any of the above mentioned genetic conditions. Evaluation of Hips and Elbows is a requirement for all breeding dogs in German Shepherd Breed. It is unethical to breed a dog that has any of those conditions, as not only it may impact longevity and quality of life of the breeding dog, but affect the offspring as well. 

Additionally, a healthy breeding dog can be tested to identify if there are DNA mutations  that can lead to poor health conditions in puppies. Not all genetic conditions can be tested. It is assumed that up to 17% puppies produced by healthy parents that do not carry DNA mutations will be affected by breed-related conditions.  Many of these health conditions can occur in an otherwise healthy dog coming from lines that have no history of the condition. It can be devastating to hear that this condition is just common for German Shepherd Dog or is "genetic" and happened just because. 

Sadly, even with the most up to date knowledge and science, breeders and veterinary geneticists can not eliminate these genetic conditions from the breed as the trait can not be identified in a healthy dog that shows no symptoms of the condition. Therefore, it is important that owners understand the genetic health predisposition in the breed and the chances they take with this breed.

When inquiring about genetic guarantees, it is critical to understand that a breeder can guarantee the DNA-based conditions ONLY, as parents can be tested for it. All other genetic conditions common in the breed can still happen. Congenital defects, such as umbilical hernia or a heart murmur are not breed-related and would be true for all canines.  



Inherited defects resulting from mutant genes or chromosome abnormalities tend to occur in patterns of inheritance. Such patterns include dominant (in which the defect will occur if either parent supplies an abnormal gene to its offspring), recessive (in which both parents must supply an abnormal gene) or others, such as sex-linked (in which the gene is associated with the X chromosome and not the Y chromosome).

Modern DNA analysis allows breeders to test their breeding stock dogs for chromosome abnormalities to eliminate many inherited conditions. 




The birth defects present at birth are called a congenital condition. The frequency of individual defects varies with the species, breed, geographic location, season, and other environmental factors. It is estimated to occur at a rate of 0.2 to 3.5% of all canine births. Commonly reported congenital and inherited defects in dogs include neurologic defects, eye defects, heart defects, skeletal muscle defects, failure of one or both testicles to descend into the scrotum (known as cryptorchidism), and hip and elbow abnormalities. Most congenital defects have no clearly established cause. Most congenital defects are diagnosed early in a puppy's life.


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A genetic predisposition (sometimes also called genetic susceptibility) is an increased likelihood of developing a particular disease based on a breed's genetic makeup. A genetic predisposition results from specific genetic variations that are often inherited from a breed as a whole. Having a genetic predisposition does not mean an individual dog will develop the disease or that it is inherited from a particular parent. These are the health risks that associated with the breed and can not be eliminated by testing of the breeding stock dogs.


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