Common diseases of the German Shepherd

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German shepherd

The German Shepherd is a breed of dog originally bred for grazing, although today it is a guard and companion dog. Strong, hairy and solid body, in addition to his great intelligence and loyal personality, makes him an excellent companion for you.

If you are thinking of adopting one, you need to know the common diseases of the German Shepherd, to be prevented and in case they appear, to be able to detect and treat them in time.

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Index of contents

  • 1 Skin diseases in German Shepherds
    • 1.1 Scabies
    • 1.2 Dermatitis
  • 2 German Shepherd Eye Diseases
    • 2.1 Glaucoma
    • 2.2 Keratitis
  • 3 German Shepherd Joint Diseases
    • 3.1 Hip dysplasia
    • 3.2 Elbow dysplasia
  • 4 Other diseases that affect the German Shepherd
    • 4.1 Canine Parvovirus
    • 4.2 Mastitis
    • 4.3 Gastric torsion

Skin diseases in German Shepherds

German shepherds have a tendency to suffer from the following skin diseases:


Your German Shepherd can suffer two types of scabies: demodecic and sarcoptic. The first one is caused by the mite Demodex canis, while the second is produced by the presence of the Sarcoptes scabiei.

Both types of scabies cause:

  • Hair loss
  • Redness of the skin
  • Pruritus
  • Inflammation


Dermatitis in German Shepherd can appear due to a genetic predisposition, but it also has a bacterial and parasitic origin, or is triggered by poor hygiene or allergies. It is an inflation of the skin that manifests itself in these symptoms:

  • Hair loss
  • Pruritus
  • Redness of the skin
  • Peeling
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German Shepherd Eye Diseases

Among the common diseases of the German Shepherd are ailments related to eye health, such as the following:


Glaucoma is a genetic disease that can be detected in your shepherd from the age of 3. Is about an increase in eye pressure due to the accumulation of fluid inside the eye.

This increased pressure degenerates the optic nerves and can blind your dog if it is not attended to in time. You can learn more about glaucoma from:

  • Symptoms and treatment of glaucoma in dogs


Keratitis is an inflation of the cornea, the transparent portion of the eye. If your dog suffers from this disease, it will present:

  • Signs of pain
  • Tearing Light sensitivity
  • Appearance of the third eyelid
  • Inflammation


German Shepherd Joint Diseases

Despite his strong appearance and massive body, the German Shepherd tends to suffer from various joint related illnesses:

Hip dysplasia

It is one of the common diseases of the German shepherd, since the hip dysplasia it is of genetic origin. It occurs as an inflammation between the hip bone and the femur. Your dog will present:

  • Pain
  • Difficulty exercising
  • Lameness Stiffness in the legs
  • Cracking in the joints
  • Descaling

Dysplasia in German Shepherds has no cure, but it is possible to improve the quality of life of your dog and help him to cope with this ailment with a balanced diet rich in chondroprotectors and low impact exercise.

Elbow dysplasia

It is a common genetic malformation in large breed dogs. It affects the elbow joint and develops as the dog grows. Although hereditary predisposition is an important factor, poor diet and exercise inappropriate for your dog’s age cause it to manifest.

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In case your dog suffers from this disease, it is observed:

  • Pain
  • Trouble exercising
  • Limp
  • Stiffness after long days of play

Detecting elbow dysplasia early is crucial to your dog’s life. Otherwise, the pain will get worse and limit your movements.

Other diseases that affect the German Shepherd

As with other dog breeds, your shepherd can contract diseases caused by viruses, bacteria, or various reasons. These are the most common:

Canine Parvovirus

Parvovirus is a disease that can become a cause of death for a German shepherd, as it is fatal if not treated immediately. It is produced by a virus capable of genetically mutating, making the strain difficult to detect, slowing down the diagnosis.

Your symptoms are:

  • Dehydration
  • Fatigue
  • Fever
  • Disinterest in games
  • Vomiting
  • Lack of appetite
  • Bloody diarrhea

In case your dog presents several of these symptoms, see your vet immediately.


Mastitis affects lactating females. It consists of an infection of the breasts caused by staphylococci. It can occur immediately after delivery or as a result of wounds caused by puppies when suckling.

The mastitis It is painful for your dog and dangerous for puppies, as staphylococci contaminate breast milk.

Your symptoms are:

  • Pus on the breasts
  • Signs of pain
  • Diarrhea
  • Threw up
  • Fever
  • Shortness of breath Swelling

Gastric torsion

Gastric torsion, known as gastric dilation volvulus (GDV) in English, and sometimes simply called swelling, is a disease that frequently affects German shepherds.

The true cause is unknown, but appears to be manifested by the accumulation of gases in the stomach. This collapses the circulatory system and causes the arteries in that area to strangle the stomach.

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The symptoms are:

  • Stomach expansion
  • Excessive salivation
  • Pain when pressing on the belly
  • Cardiac arrhythmia
  • Cough

Gastric torsion is fatal if not treated in time, so we recommend going to the vet when your dog shows any of the symptoms.