Major Disorders in German Shepherds

We have been going through the most important diseases and conditions the German shepherd is susceptible to. Once again, these diseases are not exclusive to the German shepherd, they also occur in many other breeds.

This article will cover the last major problems you should know about. The best way to prevent many of those is to make sure you find a respectable breeder who is interested in breeding only healthy German shepherds.

This is also a good time to point out the disadvantages of pet shops. As you can see, dogs are susceptible to many different diseases which we can’t fix or control. Most shops run on impulse buying, you see the cute puppy and you must have him then and there. Mostly, families with children are targeted.

The truth is, every puppy is cute; so that doesn’t give you a lot of accurate information about the dog’s past and ancestry. Most likely he was bred to be sold for profit, without any regard for his well-being. With German shepherds it’s even more risky since they can have so many health problems.

Chronic superficial keratitis

This means an inflammation of the cornea (the eye’s surface) and it affects vision, usually in both eyes. The mode of inheritance is not known but it appears to be caused by an appropriate response to increased levels of ultraviolet radiation.

This condition will gradually scar the cornea and cause visual impairment. It can occur in a matter of months or in a timeline of several years. Regardless, the condition is not painful and can be controlled.

However, it will be a lifelong treatment. Otherwise the lesions will return worse than ever. You use anti-inflammatory drops combined with drugs that will prevent visual loss or will return vision as much as possible. Your veterinarian will make specific recommendations based on the individual case.

Panosteitis in German shepherds

A common disease which causes pain and lameness in young, large sized dogs, such as German shepherds.

The cause is unknown, and lameness will appear suddenly for no suggestive reason. The disease will go away by itself, but changes in bone structure can become permanent.

It usually lasts between one to three months and symptoms cease entirely by two years of age. To treat it, you restrict the dog’s activity and exercise and use drugs to alleviate pain.

Renal cystadenocarcinoma and nodular dermatofibrosis

This condition is specific to German Shepherd dogs. Nodules form of skin, mostly on the head and legs. Almost always the condition is associated with kidney cancer. It has autosomal dominant inheritance which means that all German shepherds that have the gene will also have the condition.

The real problem in trying to eradicate this condition from the breed is that the signs are first seen in dogs over five years of age. So there’s no way to know before you breed the dog, therefore it’s very hard to control. In any case, skin lesions in the form of bumps on the skin will appear. These lesions cause few problems, but they can be painful as they grow larger.

The trouble is that they are associated with kidney cancer (Renal cystadenocarcinoma). There is no cure for this condition. The nodules can be surgically removed and don’t usually come back if properly excised, however new ones can and will appear. Kidney cancer is much harder to manage. In most cases a special diet and fluid therapy is all that can be done.

Reading about all these potentially debilitating diseases might deter you from considering a German Shepherd at all, but the point is not how problematic the breed can be, but how beneficial will choosing the right breeder be for you.

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