Let's talk about longevity or lack in the GSD

Posted by: Wisc.Tiger_Val

Let's talk about longevity or lack in the GSD - 02/02/15 08:42 AM

I have been blessed to have 2 GSD's to reach 13 years of age (well technically Cheyenne won't be 13 until Feb. 16th). I think about this off and on through the years.

First GSD was good old American lines (before they became popular for show) and (cough) the sire was the police canine (was suppose to be used for breeding). He lived to 13 1/2 years old.

Current GSD is West German Showline and what we not would call BYB (no titles minimal health certifications).

So neither had any line breeding.

Are we sacrificing long term health for the perfect looking or perfect drives? Have we lost or soon to loose healthy GSD's who are 10 plus years?

This is for breeders: Do breeders look at the longevity when selecting their breeding pairs? Have we lost some of this due to Line Breeding?
Posted by: Woodreb

Re: Let's talk about longevity or lack in the GSD - 02/02/15 11:46 AM

My experience seems rather similar to yours, Val.

Of my 5 GSDs, the longest lived was Rica, a Black & Silver from a BYB. She lived to 13 years old. From a longevity point of view, she did well. She did have HD, which I controlled by keeping her weight down and supplements. We had explored various surgical options, but the orthopedic vet told me that because of a couple of other issues in her back, he did not recommend surgery. Her progonosis was crippled by eight. I found that keeping her weight down, supplements and easy exercise did well for her and it wasn't until the last year or so (~12) that she became pretty crippled and needed help getting around.

Aodhan and Kelly both died of cancer, both around 9 years old.

So far, KW, Caleb and Ciara are pretty healthy, although Caleb has problems with seasonal allergies.

Rica - American Lines
Kelly - American Lines
Aodhan - West German Show
Caleb - West German
Ciara - DDR
Posted by: Codmaster

Re: Let's talk about longevity or lack in the GSD - 02/02/15 11:47 AM

as far as I know line breeding in itself would not cause our GSDs to be shorter lived.

Might even cause the avg. to live longer (if the line breeding dogs were long lived themselves.

line breeding will tend to emphasize the genotype of the dogs that the offspring are line bred on (both mental and physical traits that are genetically based)

we have had a couple of past GSD's reach the 13 yo mark. One an Am SL and another a BYB individual.
Posted by: lhczth

Re: Let's talk about longevity or lack in the GSD - 02/02/15 12:58 PM

My litter with no linebreeding was the one that had the most problems though Alexis and Aiden are almost 12. Both of their parents lived long lives. I think we live in a world where too many outside sources are also influencing the health and longevity of our dogs.

Yes, as a breeder I feel looking at longevity of lines is important.
Posted by: Codmaster

Re: Let's talk about longevity or lack in the GSD - 02/02/15 02:53 PM

BTW - interesting thought about breeders thinking about longevity in selecting breeding partners. I never heard of any that considered this although of course that doesn't mean that they don't - just never heard of it.
Posted by: middleofnowhere

Re: Let's talk about longevity or lack in the GSD - 02/02/15 02:58 PM

My shep/elk x lived to be 16 (d. cancer that we didn't find until too late)
My sammy might have been 12 when she died
My shep/who knows x lived to be 15 (d. probably renal failure)
My rescue shep - who knows? (d. heart worm - never got healthy enough to be treated for them)
Barker the Elder (shep but no data on pedigree - at least 1/2 show line) d. at 14 or 15 cause undetermined.
Barker the Younger (shep working line) (d at 11 or 12 of hemangio)
Big Beefy Black Dog who knows what (supposed to be shep x but not shep attitude and not very sheppy looking) d. at (I'd have to look it up but certainly younger than the GSDs) of bone cancer

And -- first three listed (these are listed in order of my getting them) were fed supermarket dog food - what ever was on sale when I needed the food without regard for carefully switching foods. They were given bones to chew.

So I'm rather voting for environmental crap - whether formaldehyde in building materials, air quality changes, chemicals used in our houses either in cleaning or in products.
Posted by: Wisc.Tiger_Val

Re: Let's talk about longevity or lack in the GSD - 02/02/15 05:13 PM

Well I believe that Environmental plays into this to a point.

I had as most of you know 4 GSD's at once so they were all subjected to the same things.
Cheyenne (German showline/BYB) was the first and still with me. No allergy problems, a few times the other dogs got some bug but she was fine.

Then DeeDee (American Showline)who had a reaction to a vaccination and messed up her nerves so I let her go at age 9.

Then Lakota (German Showline/working line) who had problems with allergies,Staph infections and pancreatitis. I had to let go at age 8 1/2, cancer.

Then Raya (German Showline), who it took me a while to figure out that she was allergic to chicken. After than she ate well and was healthy. Lost her at age 8 3/4 years old to either cancer or heart problems, didn't have it in me to take her in and have her opened up.

So I think in my at times muddled brain that some of it may be related to the immune system of the dogs. I have for many years before it was the thing used natural cleaning and laundry products.

I think in the past several years some of the breeding has changed. 10 - 15 years ago some breeders thought nothing of breeding a dog that had allergy issues or other things, LOL but heaven forbid don't talk about breeding a Coated dog.

I know that selecting lines that have a longer life span isn't a magic wand that all offspring will he healthy. Some times the Gene's just don't work together.
Posted by: lhczth

Re: Let's talk about longevity or lack in the GSD - 02/02/15 07:57 PM

Environment involves diet and how the diet is raised and processed, vaccines and what is in the vaccines (the latter is more of a problem), chemicals we put on them (flea, tick), chemicals we put in them (HW, flea, tick), treats, chemicals used on lawns (even if not our lawn), chemicals in our water, etc. Doesn't help that some issues were ignored in our breed even in its foundation (possible EPI in Alex vom Westfalenheim) and along the way.
Posted by: zyp

Re: Let's talk about longevity or lack in the GSD - 02/02/15 10:12 PM

Not a breeder, but would like to know, along these lines, what breed wardens look for. Do many American breeders subject their pairing ?
Posted by: Kayos

Re: Let's talk about longevity or lack in the GSD - 02/03/15 08:56 AM

I have never had a GSD live past 12 years and 2 months, that I know of.

Lucky my first GSD was from a BYB. She lived to 12 years and 2 months. She had bad HD and dementia and had gone blind.

Wolfie, my white GSD, died at 9 years and 4 months of hemangio.

Max was a rescue so I am not exactly sure how old he was when we lost him. I am thinking 12 plus.

Kayos is 12 years and 2 weeks and going strong. Unless something jumps up fast she should see 13. BTW I was filling out her paperwork for the GSDCA lucky 13 club and one of the questions was how many littermates are still alive. Sent her breeder the question and at this time last year only 3 pups of 13 in the litter still lived. That was a year ago and she has not inquired since. So Kayos may be the last one alive, not certain of that, tho. Aside from Kayos' hips, her health has been pretty much perfect her whole life. very hardy dog.

Havoc is nearing 8 and is not aging well so who knows about him? He also has bad allergies.

Mayhem may live forever. She is extremely hardy.
Posted by: JakodaCD OA

Re: Let's talk about longevity or lack in the GSD - 02/05/15 07:54 AM

I've been really lucky with all the dogs I've had I've never had one with bad hips/elbows or any life long issues .
Jake lived until 13, had a series of strokes frown
Kodi 9, spondylosis finally got him frown
Sami 13, severe arthritis, (she was my rescue)
Dodge 13, anaplasmosis side effects

My two aussies just passed last year, Jag 13 tumor on the heart
Jynx, 14 almost 15, dementia, arthritis, just plain old age frown

While they all lived a long life, I would give anything to have had them live longer frown
Posted by: laevsk

Re: Let's talk about longevity or lack in the GSD - 02/05/15 08:48 AM

My first GSD, Dawson, was a BYB dog. Oversized, had to be put down at 11 due to DM and other problems.

Trick lived to 13 1/2, mix of American (dam - "working" style dog, not show dog) and German (sire - no American in him). She was the absolutely most fantastic dog I've ever had or hope to have.

Tori, who went to live with a friend of mine when she was eight, lived to 14+. She was German and Belgian lines.

Taser is 7 and going strong, nothing much wrong with that dog so far.

I understand the concern with the longevity. I've studied Chow lineage more than GSD, and one of the things that really bothered me was that a number of breeders were producing dogs that lived to only 8 or 9 years old. I couldn't find out the "why" of their deaths, though, so it's unknown as to why they were only living that long. But as a purchaser of puppies, I look at longevity in the line as much as I look at any other potential health problem. If a breeder is producing dogs that typically die at a younger age, then I avoid that breeder. I want my dogs to live as long as they comfortably can, and I don't think that breeders who fail to take longevity as a serious quality in their dogs are doing our dogs a huge disservice.

I'm not sure whether line breeding has any real effect on longevity. I would think it would be more likely that it's choosing dogs for breeding who have a familial history of dogs that have died young from potentially congenital conditions, like cancers or bone/joint issues or even just breaking down young. And if you take two from the same lines, each with a background in early death, and line-breed those two, then you're doubling up on the problem. But if you line-breed two dogs from longer lived lines, you should be doubling up on the better side of things.

Line-breeding works with what it's offered, and properly done can really "set" good traits within a developing breeding line. When I look at Chows, the background on Khana (which I've researched back more than seven generations), I can see how the breeder was pushing together particular lines in order to work through some of the myriad problems the breed has - and in doing so, produced the first dogs to pass all six OFA health tests. Now we're seeing more Chows passing hips, elbows, patellas, thyroid, eyes and cardiac. But Khana's sire was the first, and she was the sixth chow to ever pass all of those tests. It was done with judicious close line-breeding, done twice in her five generation pedigree, along with some careful breeding within the lines but farther out, and an occasional out-breeding to add in something that needed assistance. I'm in awe of breeders who know their dogs so well that they can do this successfully.

I think line-breeding is a tool that can be used well. But to use it, a person needs to understand and know the dogs well - not only the dogs they're using, but all the dogs in those dogs' pedigree. They need to be honest about the health problems the dogs carry (including dying young), and then always breed with those health problems in mind. A new breeder, or one that is breeding casually, should NOT line-breed in my opinion. If you don't know what you're doing, you're likely to end up making the breed worse.

And any breeder who is primarily breeding for looks or drive is not an ideal breeder, also in my opinion. First and foremost, breeders should be focusing on health and temperament, THEN whatever else they want. Without a healthy dog and a solid temperament, what's the point of a pretty ear or a strong drive? It doesn't matter what breed it is - health and temperament should be first on a breeder's list.

Just for the record: I am not nor have ever been a breeder. I considered it with Khana, because of her amazing health record, temperament and intelligent (she is about the most perfect chow you can find), but after really looking into it I decided to leave it up to those who really worked hard to study the lines and bred to produce the best they can. If I HAD bred her, it would have been to a male chosen by the breeder of Khana's sire, because she's the one "in the know", but it just wasn't meant to be. I do want to add what I can to the knowledge base for the breed, which is why I spent the money to have Khana fully heath tested (and all results are published on the OFA and CHIC sites). Having the info on as many Chow lines as possible can only help those who are studying and trying to bring health back into the lines (Chows are notorious for bad elbows, patellas, thyroid and eyes).
Posted by: LJsMom

Re: Let's talk about longevity or lack in the GSD - 02/05/15 06:50 PM

Lady Jane died from Lymphoma just 4 months shy of her 16th birthday. I was never able to track down her breeding information.
Posted by: Achuyut

Re: Let's talk about longevity or lack in the GSD - 02/05/15 07:37 PM

Won't say it was my dog. But My Mom's Shepherd lived till 16 and was perfectly healthy. My grandpa had to leave him to a friends farmhouse with other dogs to play for work reasons. My grandpa was out only for three months and when he came back he heard the raja died because he refused to eat or drink over there. This was in 1985. So not sure which line he was from but a typical black and tan and amazing dog.
Posted by: Kayos

Re: Let's talk about longevity or lack in the GSD - 02/06/15 08:06 AM

One of my co-workers had a GSD named Sahib that lived to 16 1/2. The dog was his mom's actually and this was in the 80's. I would think he might have been American showlines from the description of him. Purchased from a breeder in upstate New York.
Posted by: Skywalker

Re: Let's talk about longevity or lack in the GSD - 02/10/15 02:28 PM

It seems that dogs themselves, regardless of breed lines just live as long as they do. Healthy food, regular vet visits, love galore, it just happens. Same with people. Thats why every soul is unique. Ive lived and lost many animals. Its love and living well til we all cant.
Posted by: H@M

Re: Let's talk about longevity or lack in the GSD - 06/07/15 02:30 PM

My first german shepherd, a black and tan named Morgan had a stroke on his 13th birthday and had to be put down. I just assumed that after age 8 or so every day was just icing on the cake.
Posted by: MaxaLisa

Re: Let's talk about longevity or lack in the GSD - 06/07/15 07:39 PM

Max was WGSL, and he was never a well dog. But starting at 4 or 5 weeks old, he was pumped with vaccine after vaccine, so he never really stood a chance. Stupid breeder and vets. He died at 10 1/2 due to hemangiosarcoma, but was very ill for about 8-12 months before that.

Aside from the environmental issues, which I believe ARE crucial, breeding I think is a huge part of longevity. Breed a line that runs low normal or low IgA (not uncommon in the breed), and you breed a dog that is lacking in mucosal defenses. How drugs are processed, and things we are susceptible is also partially genetic.

Max's sire died not too long after Max was sired, from some sort of cancer (I think), though I never learned of the details. He passed on some undesirable faults, from what I could learn. As Max's holistic vet told me after he passed, he was, in general, so deficient, it was bound to happen. I don't know a lot about his genetics, but I know they weren't stellar, and top that off with all those vaccines at such a young age, he really didn't stand a chance, but I kept him going as long as I could.
Posted by: Codmaster

Re: Let's talk about longevity or lack in the GSD - 06/14/15 01:48 PM

Sorry about your loss - he sounds like a great dog!

Which vaccines was he pumped full of that you think had such a bad impact on him?

4-5 weeks is kind of young for some of the commonly given vaccines against some of the nasty things that can happen to dogs i.e. rabies for example.
Posted by: MaxaLisa

Re: Let's talk about longevity or lack in the GSD - 06/14/15 03:41 PM

Thanks CM.

They started the puppy series at 4 weeks, and vaxed him weekly - I have the records packed away so don't have the exact ones handy. It's not one vaccine, they just wrecked his immune system when it was maturing, and vaccines at such a young age are useless while they still have maternal antibodies. Poor guy. The one smart thing they did was wait until 6 months for the rabies.

I was fortunate that I had his vaccination schedule when I adopted him at 18 months, so I knew.
Posted by: Codmaster

Re: Let's talk about longevity or lack in the GSD - 06/15/15 01:11 AM

4 weeks does seem awfully young for most shots.
Posted by: anniej

Re: Let's talk about longevity or lack in the GSD - 06/15/15 01:21 AM

I have had two German Shepherds - both died before the age of four. I adopted Cara who was four because I wanted to make sure I had a dog who lived past four! I have told her she is not going anywhere until she is at least sixteen ( fingers crossed)😀
Posted by: Kayos

Re: Let's talk about longevity or lack in the GSD - 06/16/15 03:35 PM

I have only had one GSD die sooner than what I thought was normal. Wolfie died at 9.5 due to cancer. Max, my rescue was probably 11.5 or so.

Both Lucky (my first GSD) and Kayos have made 12 plus. Lucky died at 12 years and 6 weeks. Kayos is 12 years and 5 months and going strong.
Posted by: annie

Re: Let's talk about longevity or lack in the GSD - 10/18/15 07:52 AM

My first girl was 13. Her sire Ch Reno of Lakeside lived to be 16. My next girl was 12 and died from cancer. Next 2 were 9 and just shy of 12. Both had degenerative myelopathy. My 2 yo had both
parents clear for DM. I wonder about all the chemicals we put on them, in them an around them.
Posted by: PaddyD

Re: Let's talk about longevity or lack in the GSD - 10/18/15 10:07 AM

Originally Posted By: annie
I wonder about all the chemicals we put on them, in them an around them.


DITTO
Posted by: middleofnowhere

Re: Let's talk about longevity or lack in the GSD - 10/18/15 06:43 PM

MY GSD Mix (dog #1) I got at 2 yo. Fed grocery store kibble - whatever was on sale. Traveled widely with me. Moved from pillar to post. Died at 16 from a cancer that we did not catch early enough. (pent;y of exposure to flea meds but little else)
Next GSD Mix (dog #3) I got at about 12 weeks. She had probably run away frightened by 4th of July fireworks. Again, grocery store kibble most of her life. D @ 15 from kidney disease. She had been on rimadyl for her hips and that probably caused it.
Next GSD (dog #5) I got at about 12 weeks. Died at 14. Undiagnosed illness. Wasn't sound for the last few years.
Next GSD (dog #6) I got at 8 or 9 weeks. Ms. Tank! Died at 9, hemangio.
Next GSD (dog #7) I got when 5 & 6 were still quite active. His age was undetermined, I picked him up from the pound where he had every parasite dogs in Arkansas could get. I had him for about 9 mos when he died from heart worms. The vet at the time I had him did not think we had him healthy enough to withstand the treatment. I wish I had seen a different vet. His death was purely due to human neglect. He was a nice guy, a sweet boy. He had been someone's beloved pet for a while. He'd never tell what happened but he was very greatful. (ok sorry for the rant)

I got my numbers off here but I'm not going to fuss about it.
Posted by: Codmaster

Re: Let's talk about longevity or lack in the GSD - 11/04/15 02:33 AM

some of my dogs

1. BYB female died at 5.5yo - brain cancer
2. Show dog from Caralon Kennels - Scootie Sherlock died at home from "old Age" just curled up one night and didn't wake up at 13.5yo
3. BYB female PTS at almost 14yo due to Degenerative Myeolapathy (same damn disease we have now with Baron)
4. Son of a top German ScH dog - died about 13 (same "old age" never did an animal autopsy

5. Current dog 7.9yo male will not be with us much longer based on the recent progress of DM. Lucky to make it to 8yo (I HOPE!)

A plea to breeders - eliminate this dreaded, terrible disease that takes a dogs body while his/her mind is still full of life! It is a genetic disease so we can eliminate (or almost so) if we will stop breeding dogs that carry the mutated genes!!!!!!!!!!!
Posted by: mjbgsd

Re: Let's talk about longevity or lack in the GSD - 11/04/15 02:02 PM

I've only ever owned three GSD's and my parents owned one when I was a baby. Their's died around 8 years old, probably American BYB from the photos. She had severe HD and had to be put down due to that.

I had to put Cody down a week before his 9th birthday 3 years ago. He came from a BYB and was a mixture of American/German lines. I'm assuming he had a cancer because over the last two years of his life he became so skinny, diarhea constantly, and just stopped eating. Weighed 85lbs before his health went down and 55lbs the day he was put down. Had tests done on him but couldn't find anything wrong. He had a whole host of problems from severe allergies to being nervous of certain things. But his loyalty and obedience was amazing. I still miss him.

Akbar is as healthy as a horse. No issues there.

Isa is going on 11 and she may not make it past that. Akbar had landed on her, back in January2015, at the wrong moment when she was passing me and he just wanted to say hi by jumping up to me.. Took her to a specialist and he said her left knee was the issue but to fix it she'd have to have major surgery and with her age it's just best to make her feel as comfortable as we can and to give her natural remedies for when she's in pain. Her walk is more of a gimp and she can't run anymore but she still enjoys getting out. The doctor told us that she's had this condition her whole life but with the circumstances of Akbar landing on her it has showed up now. I always wondered when she was much younger why she started to avoid jumps when I use to do obedience and now I know why. Had I forced her to continue this may have appeared earlier. We were also told she has what looks like the beginning stages of DM.. So until her time, we will make her as comfortable as we can. smile
Posted by: Kayos

Re: Let's talk about longevity or lack in the GSD - 11/05/15 08:42 AM

ANd now it is a few months since I posted on this thread. Kayos has cancer and was given about 2 months. That was 6 weeks ago. She is still hanging in there and chasing balls. She is 12 years, 9 months and 16 days. smile Still hoping she makes 13.
Posted by: mjbgsd

Re: Let's talk about longevity or lack in the GSD - 11/05/15 06:56 PM

I'm rooting for her kathy smile
Posted by: middleofnowhere

Re: Let's talk about longevity or lack in the GSD - 11/06/15 01:52 AM

Me, too.