If u are looking for a German puppy , it is very important
to find a reputable German shepherd breeder, one who
cares about the breed and who has all breeding stock
tested and cleared for various genetic problems before
breeding. It is only by testing and breeding cleared
specimens that these will be brought under control.
We suggest that you start your search with the breed
clubs. Most clubs have a code of ethics and while it
doesn’t guarantee a perfect puppy, it’s
a lot better than dealing with breeders who don’t
know or care about such matters.
Canine hip dysplasia (CHD)
Is a skeleton problem, an abnormal development of the
hip joint where the head of the femur does not fit snugly
into the pelvic socket. It is characterized by a shallow
acetabulum ( the “cup” of the hip joint)
and changes in the shape of the femoral head ( the “ball”
of the hip joint) these changes may occur due to excessive
looseness in the hip joint. Hip dysplasia can exist
with or without clinical signs. When dogs exhibit symptoms
of hip dysplasia they usually are in pain and lame on
one or both rear legs. Severe arthritis can develop
as a result of the malformation of the hip joint and
this results in pain as the disease progresses.
Elbow Dysplasia ( ununited anconeal process)
Due perhaps to improper development (different growth
rates ) of the three bones making up the elbow, the
joint is lax or loose and in mildly affected dogs leads
to painful arthritis. Whereas in severely affected dogs,
osteochondritis dissecans (OCD), fragmented medical
coronoid processes and united anconeol processes can
result from the stress in the joint. Treatments involve
surgical correction if possible, or medical management
using asprin and other anti-inflammatory drugs.
Is a skeletal problem of spontaneous lamness and pain,
usually in large breed dogs in the 5 to 14 month age
range and affecting male dogs more commonly than females,
The pain can come and go and last up to two months (
sometimes up to a year). Analgesic medications like
asprin can be helpful in controlling the pain. In severe
cases, cortiosteroids may provide relief. Eventually
the conditiont goes away.
Von Willebrand’s Disease ( vWD):
Is a blood disorder, a deficiency in clotting factor
VIII antigen (von Willebrand factor).
Dogs affected by the disease do not effectively utilize
their platelets for blood clotting and therefore are
more likely to have bleeding episodes associated with
trauma or surgery.
Progressive posterior paresis:
Is a neural condition, a paralysis of one both hind
Cauda equina syndrome:
is a neural condition. The cauda equina (ce) is formed
by nerve roots caudal to the level of spinal cord termination.
Cauda equine syndrome (CES) has been defined as low
Pyrotraumatic dermatitis (“hot spots”)
Is one of two types of bacterial infections confined
to the surface of the skin( the other being “
skin fold dermatitis”) it is caused by allergies,
parasites and grooming.
Allergies in pets, are one of the most common causes
of skin conditions. Allergies can be difficult to control
and are chronic in nature. There are 3 main types of
allergies in relation to skin conditions. It is possible
for a pet to have a combination of all 3 allergy types:
1. Food Allergy; 2. Flea Allergy Dermatitis (FAD); 3.Atopy,
or Allergic Inhaled Dermatitis.
Malignant Neoplasms (abnormal growth of tissue
A malignant neoplasm is infiltrative with metastatic
potential. Therapy depends largely on that type of tumor,
its location and size, and symptoms of the animal. With
Canine Malignant Lymphoma, cyclic combination chemotherapy
can achieve long-term remission.
Pannus cataract (chronic superficial keratitis):
Chronic Immune mediated keratoconjuctivitis sicca(CIKS)
is the newer name for pannus. It is a serious inflammation
of the cornea and is potentially blinding.
Gastric Torsion - or Bloat (Gastric dilatation
This condition is caused by a twisting of the stomach
and thus trapping the stomach contents and gases resulting
in a rapid swelling of the abdomen accompanied by pain
and eventual death if untreated. It is a Top priority
emergency With immediate veterinarian action required.
This is a predicament most common in large deep chested
breeds. Anyone owning a deep chested breed, susceptible
to bloat should be prepared by recording and posting
the exact emergency procedures for the veterinary hospital
they got to – who to call after hours, how to
get to emergency clinics or alternative facilities and
what payment arrangements those facilities will require.
Perianal Fistulas PFs:
Are abnormal openings around the dog’s anal area
which soon get badly infected and can be painful. They
may or may not emit a foul smelling odor. The dog is
often observed to scoot along the ground. This is a
very serious disease and early detection and treatment
is very important.
Is a general term meaning “disease of the heart
muscle”. There are various types of cardiomyopathy,
one being “Dilated Cardiomyopathy” (DCM),
opposed to “Hypertrophic” Cardiomyopathy”
(where the heart walls thicken instead of becoming thin).
Cardiomyopathy is serious problem in many breeds but
especially in the Doberman Pinscher breed.
Pancreatic Enzyme Insufficiency (PEI):
Is a digestive problem where the Pancreas does noot
produce sufficient digestive enzymes which results in
poor nutrient absorption,German Shepherds are a very
popular breed. Unfortunately this has lead to large
numbers of breedings looking for very specifications
traits. A German shepherd bred for Schutzhund has to
have the required characteristics to compete in three
different disciplines in a competitive sport. A dog
bred for show, must have the correct look, color and
presence. Some dogs have been bred for size, color,
or even profit. This has meant that many breeders have
overlooked minor health issues. There has been a movement
towards reducing hip dysplasia and more serious life
threatening health issues such as mega- oesophagus,
but many German Shepherds still have milder health issues
which may lower their potential for work. This is a
collection of some of the problems I have had experience
with and have sometimes found alternative treatments
to help conquer. A change in management, food or supplements
can sometimes help.
Note: This is not a substitute for veterinary advice!
Health problems in the German Shepherd Dog:
Many dogs and humans seem to be suffering with allergies.
These often manifest in dogs as itching, dry or red
skin, and may be a factor in recurring ear infections
or hot spots. Allergy tests can be done at a veterinary
clinic to pinpoint food or environment related causes.
An elimination diet may also be useful in diagnosing
the cause. In the case of mild itching and scratching,
moving to a raw or BARF diet can help and sometimes
cure completely. With more severe problems, where the
dog is clearly uncomfortable and has open sores or large
red areas you should see your veterinarian.
Supplements which have helped many dogs include the
addition of Salmon Oil capsules which can be added to
the food up to a dose of 1000mg per 10lbs body weight.
Borage Oil can also help, the dose for this is typically
1000mg per 50lbs body weight. A good Probiotic /enzyme
blend can also help alleviate some symptoms of allergies.
Some people have found dried nettle leaf helps given
at a rate of 1tsp per 50lbs. Yucca can also help in
the short term to reduce inflammation and half sever
itching. Hair loss from scratching
Shampoos which can help with the itching include oatmeal
and tea tree preparations. A tea tree rinse after shampooing
can also help. This is made by adding ½ tsp Tea
tree oil to one pint of water. This rinse is poured
over the dog and left on.
There are other causes of scratching, popularity the
ears. Ear infections and mange mites can also cause
the ears to become itchy and inflamed. These are usually
easily treated by topical preparations available from
your vet. It is always a good idea to have your vet
check your itchy dog, and run a blood test and any other
diagnostics before you assume the itching is due to
a specific cause.
Hot Spots can be caused by bites by insects such as
fleas, mosquitoes etc or spiders, or by the dog scratching
or biting a part of his body. They are particularly
common in hot and humid places. They begin as a red
inflammation, then quickly get larger and often yellowy
or crusty. The quicker you can apply treatment, the
better. Cut the hair away all around the spot so you
can see at least half an inch of normal skin. The best
treatment I have found is Witch Hazel, Aloe and Tea
Tree. I mix 4oz of Thayer’s Witch Hazel with Aloe
with 10 drops of pure tea tree oil in a small spray
bottle, and squirt that on to the hot spot twice a day.
This mixture is excellent for drying up hot spots and
wounds. If the hot spot is over a joint, it may be that
the dog is experiencing some discomfort there, a trip
to a chiropractor to remove hot spot trimmed and drying
the root cause can prevent recurrence. Hot Spots can
also be caused by collars, so be sure to check the dog’s
neck regularly and cleanse and thoroughly dry any rubbed
areas. With my Golden Retriever, I found Sulfodene very
useful if applied quickly, but his hot spots would spread
very quickly and often required a course of the antibiotic,
Cephalexin to clear them up.
The German shepherd breed is apparently prone to these
thickenings found between the toes. They can be quite
sore and make the dog mildly lame. There is often no
redness, just a hard thickening of the skin. If you
Squeeze the hardening gently, the dog will pull away
showing some discomfort. Sometimes, if the cysts appear
on more than one foot, the cause within a couple of
weeks. These cysts often go hand-in-hand with allergies
be caused by a foreign body like a grass seed. It is
a good idea to check with your vet and maybe take x-rays
before trying a home treatment. Panalog is also reputed
to be a good treatment for this condition when there
are no foreign bodies and no underlying bone problems.
Some GSDs are very prone to ear infections, usually
one particular ear. Again, the best prevention is keeping
a close eye on the dog, and treating as soon as any
symptoms appear. Black goo in the ear, scratching, and
the ear appearing to be set on the side of the head
are indications. Keeping the ears clean, and removing
grains from the diet can help, be gentle when cleaning
the ear, and try not to clean too often as irritation
might be a catalyst for infection. The mix that I use
for hotspots also works well to clean ears and for mild
infections. I mix 4oz of Thayer’s Witch Hazel
with Aloe with 10 drops of pure tea tree oil in a small
spray bottle, and pour it into the ear twice a day for
2-5days. This will usually clear mild infections, but
if there is no improvement in a couple of days, a trip
to the vet may be in order.
Not a condition in itself but a symptom of illness
or stomach upset, diarrhea is more common in some dogs
than others. Some dogs are sensitive to very fatty meats,
or a change in diet from cooked to raw and vice-versa.
The most effective way to stop diarrhea is to withhold
food for 24 hours, and then offer half a can of pure
pumpkin with 2tbsp of yoghurt (for a 50lb dog), an additional
enzyme/probiotic might also help.
Many German shepherd pups experience pano during their
rapid growth in the first year or so. My experiences
have been between 4 and 11 months of age, with between
a week and two months duration. Pano is considered to
be self limiting, so while it is distressing for an
owner to see, a sore pup will rest more and recover
quicker. Make sure your pup has a comfortable bed, and
limit his exercise. If you pup looks a little chubby
at this point, cut down his food a little, this may
help to slow his growth and limit the time he is sore.
A glucosamine chondroitin supplement may also help.
German Shepherds seem to be prone to disorders associated
with the immune system. One possible cause of Hypothyroidism
is thought to be autoimmune disease. This is also thought
to be hereditary. It often shows up between the ages
of 2 and 5 and has many disparate symptoms. If your
dog shows a strange change in behavior, gains weight
or has skin and hair problems, it may be a good idea
to have a simple test done to see if thyroid dysfunction
may be a cause. The medication is inexpensive and effective
but the dog must be monitored with regular blood tests
to ensure the dosage is correct.