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Old 07-02-2010, 09:03 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Average Life Span

The average life span of a german shepherd is 10-13 years (on average, according to several GSD websites). Then how come MY dogs are averaging less than 5???
My first GSD was a shelter rescue, given up at 7 weeks (yes, really) because she had chewed on an electrical cord and burned up the inside of her mouth. The shelter couldn't provide the hand feeding and special wound care this pup needed, so I took her home. She recovered beautifully, and then we had to euthanize her at 18 months with level 4 hip displaysia. 18 MONTHS!
Our next GSD was carefully researched: kennel had been around for 30 years, champions in the lineup, etc. We visited the kennel twice, met both parents among others in her line, etc. This dog was to become my "heart" dog, Shiloh. At 14 months Shiloh was diagnosed with autoimmune disease. Most affected were her joints and her eyes: she lost the ability to produce tears, among other things. After 2 rounds of renal failure and surgeries to graft eyelid tissue to her corneas to repair ulcerations and prevent rupture, we let her cross the bridge at 4.5 years of age.
Echo, my current beloved GSD, also came from a highly recommended, highly sought after breeder (different breeder than Shiloh). Echo began refusing her jumps at just over 3 years of age. Being slow on the uptake, I didn't associate that behavior with pain as she displayed no other symptoms. 6 months later she was non weight bearing on her rr; vet said severe displaysia. Pain meds and supplements for symptoms, but ultimately a double hip replacement will be in order. Today my beautiful girl is once again non-weight bearing, pain meds helping a little, but she's still unable to move around much. Hip surgery is not an option (my husband is currently laid off), so if she can't rebound on her own soon and if we can't keep her comfortable, we'll have to send her across the bridge soon as well. She is 4 years and 4 months old.
So that's three dogs reaching the bridge at 18 months, 4.5 years, and 4.5 years. An average life span of 3.5 years. For pete's sake, HAMSTERS live longer than this.
I am crushed and heartbroken.
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Old 07-02-2010, 09:23 AM   #2 (permalink)
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i would like to see the breeders of your last two dogs.. do you have links
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Old 07-02-2010, 09:27 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Bad luck

I know many dogs older than 10 years, including some with health issues. Ike is almost 8, has some arthritis but still gets around well and has more energy than my younger dogs. So I believe that the life expectancy is pretty accurate. But that doesn't mean that some of our dogs are not taken from us too soon.

I understand, prior to GSDs we had Mastiffs. Getting a dog to 8 or 9 was pretty good. Past 10 was unusual. We lost many at 5 or 6, and that still wasn't totally off base.

You do the best you can for them in the time you are given. Hang in there.
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Old 07-02-2010, 09:30 AM   #4 (permalink)
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That really stinks. SO sorry.

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Just in case.

Also, while not optimal, my one vet does FHO on large dogs who have crippling HD where the other choice is euthanasia. He is good at it, and seems to have a lot of success - I met a Golden and know of a GSD who both had it done and are doing well.
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Old 07-02-2010, 09:31 AM   #5 (permalink)
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I'm so sorry. I got my first dog thinking I'd have him for 10 years. Nope, I had him for 4 years, but they were happy years.

I figure my most problematic dog will probably live until she is 20.
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Old 07-02-2010, 01:25 PM   #6 (permalink)
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First, I am sorry

There is no rhythm or reason for the life span of our dogs. We do the best we can do and heartbreak comes with losing your dog at any age for any reason. I know because the lose of my 10 year old to cancer just killed me.

Many of those issues you list are genetic, especially HD. In many ways you have to go beyond the parents and look at the previous 5 generations, ask for information about other progeny from those parents and if you can contact their owners.

Look at their OFA and elbow ratings.

Look for parents and back who are 80 or below on the ZW hip rating (if german line).

Sometimes champion lines dont mean good hips if they only breed for show look. Look at working lines. Even with good genetics, watch the weight in the first year, watch any jumping, etc to allow the joints and plates to grown properly.

Auto immune, watch shots, food, and other things that can trigger immune issues.

If the second hip surgery is a cost issue, before euthanasia, I would recoomend contacting a GSD rescue group or even Best Friends Animal Sanctuary in Utah. Sometimes they will take the pup and they will end up being able to get the medical care needed.
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Old 07-02-2010, 02:19 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Thanks, everyone
We are off to the vet tomorrow for radiographs. I'm hoping, of course, that we will find just painful inflammation that we can treat without surgery. Echo is on cage rest for now in her over-sized crate with a thick soft pad. She's not quite sure why she's stuck in there when the sun is shining and we should be at the lake, but she's taking it pretty well.
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Old 07-02-2010, 02:37 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Wow, I am without words !
My last two animals were 12 and 14 when they passed on. Charlie was the half-breed Dane/Shepherd 12yrs ole his hips gave out and had him put down, Max was full breed 14yrs ole cancer took him away.
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Old 07-02-2010, 02:41 PM   #9 (permalink)
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This makes me very sad.

My Sin is only 16 months old and I already get sad and upset when I think about only having him 12-14 years old but the thought of only having him until he is 4 or 5 makes my heart break. I would be absolutely devestated, he and the cats are my life. They mean everything to me, especially since I live alone, they are all I have. I would be sick.
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Old 07-02-2010, 04:29 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by EchoGSD View Post
...
So that's three dogs reaching the bridge at 18 months, 4.5 years, and 4.5 years. An average life span of 3.5 years. For pete's sake, HAMSTERS live longer than this.

I am crushed and heartbroken. ...
How heartbreaking. I don't have an answer for you, each illness sounds like you had a terrible toss of the dice of life.

Three of the unrelated Hooligans have had bloat w/torsion and one had mesenteric torsion. I was lucky, they all survived emergency surgery, but I wrack my brain over and over and over again trying to figure out what I'm doing wrong with my dogs. One day I might not be as lucky as I have been and I want to know what I'm doing wrong. Sometimes I don't think there's a logical answer.

I'll be keeping my fingers crossed for you and your dog!!!
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