German Shepherd Breed Health Problems

HAEMOPHILIA: Only males are affected, but bitches are the carriers, so any female producing hemophiliac puppy must be immediately discarded for breeding. Blood tests can be taken in most countries and Shepherds can be tested at an early age, so if your dog comes from a line known to produce hemophilia, have the dog tested. 

VON WILLEBRANDS DISEASE: This can occur in either sex. The type of bleeding is different from hemophilia. The US seems to be country mainly affected at the moment. 

EPILEPSY: Not all convulsions are hereditary. They can be caused by a knock on the head, a brain tumor or after-effects of the distemper. Your Shepherd will suddenly go rigid, shaking its head, champing its jaws, and producing a lot of white, frothy saliva. The dog will suddenly fall over its side, with the legs making galloping movements, and sometimes the dog will lose control of its bladder. The attack will be over in about two minutes. The Shepherd will then appear dazed for a few minutes before becoming normal again. The only way to ascertain whether this is idiopathic (hereditary) epilepsy or not, is for your vet to give the dog a thorough clinical examination and take a brain reading with an encephalograph. If hereditary, do not breed form your Shepherd. Epilepsy can be controlled with drugs, but if your dog’s condition deteriorates, the kindest solution is euthanasia. Epilepsy usually starts between one and three years of age but it can also occur in between eight and nine years. 

STOMACH TORSION OR BLOAT: This is horrible complaint, and unless the dog is rushed to the vet within twenty minutes of the onset, it will be fatal. For no apparent reason, the stomach turns on its axis, thus blocking gases from being passed at either end. If you feel the stomach, it will be as hard as rock. The vet will operate immediately and return the stomach to its correct position. If caught in time, the operation is usually successful, but it can recur. Many opinions exist as to the reasons for this complaint, but to date, no real explanation has been found. It seems to be occur more in larger breeds. 

HEATSTROKE: This is an emergency which requires immediate attention. Dogs left in cars during the summer months without suitable ventilation, those tied up in full sun, or left in concrete runs without access to shade are all liable to develop heatstroke. Special care must be taken to ensure your Shepherd always has access to shade if living in a hot country. The first signs are rapid panting, staggering and then falling over. Put the dog in a bath of cold water, hose down with a garden hose, or put ice-packs around the dog. Packets of frozen food make excellent ice-packs. Unless you can bring your Shepherd’s temperature down quickly, heatstroke can prove fatal. 

PYOMETRA: This condition is similar to metritis, but far more serious. It does not usually occur in a bitch with puppies, but older bitches are more prone to it. If your bitch goes off her food but drinks a lot, has a temperature and a smelly vaginal discharge, take her immediately to the vet, who will operate at once. If ignored, pyometra will prove fatal. 

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