GSD Health Issues

We have listed some of the conditions suffered by German Shepherds. We hope you find this information useful but please understand that he information is only to help owners recognise conditions that need treated, if you think your dog is ill please consult your vet immediately.

Anal Furunculosis (Perianal Fistulas)

Anal furunculosis (or perianal fistulas) are deep unsightly sinuses that track through the skin, sometimes with flat open areas of ulceration.


Dog Aspergillosis is a fungal infection that invades the respiratory system, ears, throat and mouth. Dogs can inhale fungi spores or 'conidia' naturally present in the environment, such as in straw, grass or grain.


There are effective treatments for many types of cancers, and research is regularly identifying new ones.

Canine Dysautonomia

Dysautonomia is a condition characterised by a malfunctioning autonomic nervous system - the system responsible for involuntary functions like the contraction of smooth muscles, the heart rate, regulation of the pupil size, and so on.

Chronic Degenerative Radiculomyelopathy (CDRM)

Chronic Degenerative Radiculomyelopathy (CDRM) has been described as the most common cause of progressive hindlimb dysfunction in older German Shepherd Dogs.

Degenerative Myelopathy (DM)

Degenerative Myelopathy (DM) is a slow, progressive spinal cord disorder of unknown cause that is most commonly seen in aging German Shepherds.

Ear Canal

Dogs can have ear problems for many different reasons. There are many potential causes of ear problems.


Canine Epilepsy is a chronic condition characterised by recurrent seizures.

Exocrine Panreactic Insufficiency (EPI)

Exocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency (EPI) is when the pancreas is unable to produce the necessary enzymes needed to digest food. In easy terms the pancreas stops producing the enzymes needed to absorb the goodness from food.

Haemophilia A

Full information can be found at this link Working Dogs - Haemophilia A.

Heartworm (French Heartworm)

Heartworm is a major parasite of dogs in many parts of the world and causes serious health problems in unprotected animals.


A form of cancer that originates in the endothelium, which is the lining of blood vessels and spleen. These tumours are highly malignant and can be found almost anywhere in the body. The spleen, pericardium and heart are prone to be affected. Quite often there is little warning of the presence of these tumours before they cause severe clinical signs of the disease. An estimate of the average time from discovery of the tumour until death occurs in affected dogs is six to eight weeks.

Hemorrhagic Gastroenteritis

Hemorrhagic gastroenteritis is an acute condition of dogs characterised by the sudden onset of severe bloody vomiting and explosive bloody diarrhea. Large amounts of fresh blood are passed in the vomit and diarrhea, leaving the animal weak, depressed, and reluctant to eat. As the disease progresses, pets rapidly deteriorate, becoming shocked and collapsed. This is a life-threatening situation that requires immediate treatment. The mortality rate is high for dogs that go untreated.

Hepatic Encephalopathy

Hepatic Encephalopathy is a neuropsychiatric disorder that occurs in animals and people with advanced liver disease. In dogs, it is most often seen when blood is diverted or shunted around the liver, called portosystemic shunting. Blood can be diverted around the liver because of a congenital shunt present at birth or an acquired shunt that occurs secondary to long-term liver disease.

Hip and Elbow Dysplasia

Hip Dysplasia afflicts millions of dogs each year and can result in debilitating orthopaedic disease of the hip. It is caused when the femoral head does not fit properly in the hip socket, causing instability of the joint. Over time, this malformation can cause degenerative joint disease which causes increased pain and immobility.


MRSA is an opportunistic infection that can kill vulnerable animals. It is most dangerous when infecting a surgical wound, and we are currently seeing even healthy animals losing limbs as a result of this infection.

Osteochondrosis (OCD)

Osteochondrosis (OCD) is a degeneration of bone underlying the cartilage layer of joints. It can affect the shoulder, ankle or elbow joint and almost always shows up during the growth phase - between six to nine months of age - of larger breeds.


Pancreatitis literally means inflammation of the pancreas. If the condition is sudden in onset it is called acute pancreatitis, whereas chronic pancreatitis is a continuing inflammatory process with sub-acute recurrence's of the disease.


Both eyes are affected with this condition which looks like a fleshy growth or pigmented growth on the surface of the cornea. Sometimes a lot of small new blood vessels can be seen growing across the cornea (called neovascularisation). The growing lesion is slowly progressive and can become pigmented with black melanin.


Also known as 'long bone disease', 'wandering lameness', or 'pano'. Most commonly seen between the ages of 5 to 12 months, and for unknown reasons, is common in the German Shepherd breed. Pano is caused by excessive bone production on the long bones. Normally, a dog affected by this condition will grow out of the problem, but it is painful.

Twisted Gut (Torsion or Bloat)

This condition is caused by a twisting of the stomach and thus trapping the stomach contents and gases resulting in a rapid swelling of the abdomen accompanied by pain and eventual death if untreated. It is a true emergency, requiring immediate veterinary action.

von Willebrand's Disease (vWD)

vWD is a blood disorder, a deficiency in clotting factor VIII antigen. This substance is called "Von Willebrand's factor". Dogs affected by the disease do not effectively utilize their platelets for blood clotting and therefore are more likely to have excessive bleeding episodes upon injury. This is similar to hemophilia in humans.

Xylitol Poisoning

Xylitol is a sugar alcohol used in candy and chewing gum. It is also found in some pharmaceuticals and oral health products such as chewable vitamins and throat lozenges.

Forever Homes Needed

german shepherd rescue dogsWe have lots of gorgeous German Shepherds waiting to be adopted.

Complete our Adoption Form if you would like to adopt one of the dogs on our site.

Foster Homes Needed

german shepherd adoption1

If you can offer a warm, loving foster home please get in touch.

German Shepherds don't do well in kennels, we would love to have warm foster homes to offer instead of cold concrete kennels. ALL food and expenses will be covered by the rescue.

Success Stories

german shepherd rescue2We love to get pictures and follow-up stories from our families when they adopt a dog from German Shepherd Rescue Scotland.

You can see some of our adopted German Shepherds on our Success Stories page.