German Shepherds are known the world over as loyal, clever and highly trainable service dogs and pets. The breed was standardized in Germany in the 1900s after having been bred for physical power, a keen sense of smell and strong herding instincts. These are big dogs, weighing 70 pounds (32 kg) and standing 2 feet (64 cm) on average. With careful, strict training they can be excellent family dogs, and their size and strength make them formidable watch and guard dogs.
Should you Purchase Insurance for your German shepherd?
German Shepherds are not particularly long-lived, with an average lifespan of around 10 years. Selective breeding has resulted in the breed being particularly prone to a number of conditions and diseases:
- Canine degenerative myelopathy: this congenital disease attacks the spine of adult dogs, causing weakness in the hind legs that becomes worse over time and can lead to paralysis. A saliva test is now available that can determine if a dog has inherited the gene that is responsible for the defect. No treatments are available, but intense physical therapy, including swimming, may slow the disease, and prosthetic devices can be used to restore partial mobility.
- Dysplasia of the hip and/or elbow: these dogs may inherit a condition where the hipbone fails to fit correctly into the pelvis, or where the bones of the legs connect poorly. Over time, wear and tear can cause these joints to become inflamed, resulting in pain and restricted movement. The condition can often be reversed with surgery.
- Von Willebrand’s Disease: affected dogs have abnormal clotting proteins in the blood that causes them to have difficulty recovering from cuts, scrapes and bruises. Symptoms include unhealed wounds and blood in the feces. Diagnosis is confirmed by blood and urinalysis, and blood transfusions can be necessary to maintain a dog’s health.
Given that German Shepherds are susceptible to these and other diseases, and that they are extremely active dogs, owners can expect more than their fair share of vet bills. One way to protect your pet, and your bank balance, is to purchase a pet health insurance plan that covers everything from accidents to progressive diseases, so that you can focus on spending quality time playing fetch.