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.