Breed-related disease: German Shepherd

The German Shepherd is a breed of medium to large-sized working dog that originated in Germany, Intelligent as it is versatile, this breed was originally developed in Germany to guard and herd a shepherd’s flocks.

It has a double coat, which is comprised of a thick undercoat and a dense, slightly wavy or straight outer coat. Its hair, usually tan and black, or red and black, is medium in length and is shed all year round. Other rarer color variations include all-Black, all-White, liver and blue. The German Shepherd’s body is long-generally between 22 and 26 inches-in proportion to its height. This gives the dog strength, agility, elasticity and long, elegant strides.

Because this watchful, self-assured breed is nearly unmatched in intelligence, German Shepherds excel in high-pressure jobs that require next-level problem solving, like search and rescue or police work. These extremely confident dogs are also keen observers and thinkers who have an uncanny ability to make decisions and problem-solve on the fly. They’re lauded for their courage, which is another trait that makes them a versatile working companion. Though German Shepherds might seem aloof around strangers, they bond easily with their families and are incredibly loving companions.

The German Shepherd has an average lifespan of between 10 to 12 years. It is, however, susceptible to some serious health conditions like:

  1. Perianal Fistula: which is a disorder most commonly seen in German Shepherds. The disease is characterized by draining openings on the skin around the anus. Affected dogs may strain to defecate, have diarrhea or bloody stool and lick at the anal area frequently
  2. Megaesophagus: (from the Greek Mega meaning large) is a condition in which the esophagus (the tube that carries food to the stomach when we swallow) becomes limp and is not able to normally pass the food on its way to be digested. The type of megaesophagus that we see in German Shepherds is a congenital problem that a recent study found to correlate to chromosome 12. Affected dogs often begin to show signs, vomiting and regurgitation when they are weaned to a solid diet.
  3. Hip Dysplasia: Most people by now know about hip dysplasia. The hip joint is a ball and socket joint and hip dysplasia causes malformation of the components leading to instability. There can be abnormalities in either the ball or the socket (or both) and the chronic laxity causes abnormal wear and leads to osteoarthritis.
  4. Degenerative Myelopathy : is a neurologic disease and is a recessive genetic disorder in the German Shepherd Dog. Affected dogs are usually middle-aged or older patients and this disorder are difficult to distinguish from other causes of spinal cord compromise like intervertebral disc disease found commonly in many types of dogs. This genetic cause of weakness and paraplegia can only be positively identified postmortem with a histological exam of spinal cord tissue.
  5. Exocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency (EPI): This disorder of the digestive system is potentially life-threatening (particularly in its acute form) but often responds well to treatment. It is more common in some breeds than others and is frequently seen in German Shepherd Dogs.



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