What are the common health issues in German Shepherds? German Shepherds are very recognizable and noble dogs. The breed’s intelligence and temperament make them great police dogs and service dogs. For all these admirable traits, they can suffer from breed-associated health problems.
Perianal fistula in German Shepherds
Perianial fistula is a health problem characterized by draining openings on the skin around the dog’s anus. An affected German Shepherd may struggle and strain to defecate, suffer from diarrhea or have bloody feces. Odd and foul odor on the dog’s blankets and bedding is one of the early signs. This problem comes with secondary risks like infection of the skin around the area. Perianal fistula can also be painful for dogs and could cause loss of appetite.
Although lengthy, treatment for this condition is available. Studies have found that switching to hypoallergenic diet also helps decrease the change of a recurrence.
Megaesophagus in German Shepherds
In German Shepherds, megaesophagus is found to be more of acongenital condition. The type of Megaesophagus found more often in German Shepherds iscalled congenital idiopathic megaesophagus. Megaesophagus is a condition in which the esophagus becomes loose and hinders normal passing of food to the stomach. According to Clemson Canine Genetics, they “have found a significant association between the megaesophagus phenotype in German Shepherd Dogs and a region of chromosome 12 in the dog.”
Clemson Genetics added that the finding has led them to further examine the region of chromosome 12 to determine a haplotype that is shared by all dogs with megaesophagus in the study.
German Shepherd puppies suffering from this condition regurgitates food as soon as they are weaned and switched to solid food. The good news is this condition is easily manageable. Dogs suffering from Megaesophagus need to be fed on elevated chairs or be fed a liquid diet.
Degenerative Myelopathy in German Shepherds
In German Shepherds, Degenerative Myelopathy is a recessive genetic disorder. It is a neurologic disease that mostly affects middle aged or older dogs. This condition is a bit hard to diagnose because the symptoms are similar to other spinal and nerve problems. Thegenetic cause of weakness is hard to identify and will require a post mortem examination with histological exam of the dog’s spinal cord tissue. Dogs suffering from Degenerative Myelopathy suffer from weakness of the hind limbs that often progresses and leads to lower body paralysis.
Hip Dysplasia in German Shepherds
Like in Labrador Retrievers, Hip Dysplasia is also common among German Shepherds. This painful condition causes malformation of the components of the hips’ joints and sockets. German Shepherds suffering from Hip Dysplasia may have abnormalities in the either the ball or the socket – or both. Chronic careless moves and actions of your German Shepherd can cause the hip components to induce abnormal wear – leading to osteoarthritis.
Responsible German Shepherd breeders make sure to have their dogs tested for HD before deciding to breed them – to help prevent passing on the gene to future offspring.