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Euthanizing a dog is a very sensitive subject that needs to be carefully considered and discussed with a veterinarian. The ‘’When to euthanize a sick German Shepherd’’ issue is not something that you can do or plan out in a day as it takes time, careful monitoring, and a lot of experience.

Dogs are generally euthanized when there is no possibility for them to recover. That said, you should first rely on your veterinarian’s opinion once you see the first dying symptoms of your loved GSD. 

There is more than one sign that a GSD puppy is dying. Throughout this article, we will try to explain the six most common signs that will serve as a clear indication when it is best for your puppy to be put down. 

When To Euthanize A Sick German Shepherd

German Shepherd is lying leaning on an armchairGerman Shepherd is lying leaning on an armchair

Not only do they make fantastic family dogs, but GS puppies are also considered to be among the healthiest dog breeds in the world. Throughout their whole lifespan, German Shepherd dogs face very few, minor health issues that are easily treated.

Still, at times of their seniorhood, these canines display clear, easily recognizable signs that their time is coming. Even though euthanasia is not always the best option (especially in younger puppies that could be healed) – in those cases, this medical procedure is pretty standard.

German Shepherds generally enter their seniorhood at seven years of age, which is when the first problems start to show. 

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Lack of energy, a significant decrease of their mobility, lack of interest in their common daily activities, and lack of interest in food are just some of the most common symptoms of seniorhood in these German beauties.

Seniorhood is generally the time when these puppies get euthanized by their owner as they are no longer able to keep their spirits, nor their bodies lively.

On the other hand, sick puppies that are no longer responding to medications or that are suffering from a late, incurable disease are generally euthanised after consultation with a veterinarian.

What Is The Average GSD Lifespan?

The average lifespan of a full-blooded GSD puppy revolves around seven to ten years. Considering their impeccable health throughout their lifespan, this isn’t exactly the longest-lived breed of all.

Quite the contrary – these canines enter their seniorhood quite early in comparison to some other breeds. Still, the advantage of having a GSD puppy in your home is the fact that they are quite active until the very end.

Even though they may not be as active as they were in their prime, senior GSDs will still require a respectable number of minutes of outdoor exercise throughout their senior years. A moderate, thirty-minute walk is what every healthy GSD puppy needs during seniorhood.

On the other hand, the German Shepherd breed requires only the healthiest foods throughout its entire lifespan. These canines have a wide chest, and they are known as voracious eaters, which is the number one pre-condition for stomach torsion.

Keeping them on one to two well-planned meals that are protein-, fat-, and green vegetable-based is a great way to keep them as healthy as possible.

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Signs To Put Your GS Dog To Sleep

One thing is for sure – both male and female German Shepherd dogs will fight until last to preserve their positive, active, and vigilant attitude. These canines are just there to serve their owner, which is how they behave throughout their whole life. 

However, there are some clear signs that your GSD is no longer able to perform its regular duties. As soon as you notice them – regardless of its age – you should pay your veterinarian a visit.

Here are six most common signs that could be a clear indicator of death in your pooch. Take a good look at each of these symptoms, and see how each of them is manifested in dogs…

1. Your Dog Is In Pain

sick german shepherd lying downsick german shepherd lying down

A respectable owner should know the difference between minor pain and major pain in their German Shepherd puppy. Furthermore, pain caused by an injury or by a specific health issue should not be treated as a separate issue. 

Quite the contrary – that kind of pain should be treated together with other accompanying symptoms.

If you notice your GSD howling, yelping, restlessly pacing, or lethargically lying down – you have a potential diagnosis.

However, there are times when pain is an indication of a progressing condition in your companion. Progressive deterioration of organs in a GSD puppy is quite common in late seniorhood, and quite frankly – it is expected!

As medications are no longer working for your dog, the best that you can do for your pet, after careful consultation with your veterinarian, is to put it to sleep.

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2. Refusing To Eat Or Drink

Another common sign that explains the ‘’when to euthanize a sick German Shepherd’’ dilemma is lack of appetite. Sick GSDs that are suffering from major conditions such as heart disease, cancer, or some sort of autoimmune disorder usually come to the point where they cannot digest food properly.

Generally, older puppies are fed with the highest-quality dog food that contains proper amounts of green fibers. On the other hand, shady dog food brands are to be avoided.

Constant lack of appetite is a clear sign that your GSD has not much time left.

3. Lethargy

a German Shepherd puppy lies sad on the grassa German Shepherd puppy lies sad on the grass

It is not that uncommon that older German Shepherd canines suffer from neurodegenerative diseases, such as degenerative myelopathy. That said, puppies that have these kinds of diseases in the late phase are generally lethargic, inactive, and in constant pain.

Their energy level significantly decreases, as well as their drive for action. In this regard, lethargy is an obvious indication that your GSD has lost its primal needs, such as the need to exercise on a daily basis.

Lethargy, though, never comes alone. In sick GSDs, this is a condition that usually comes along with other symptoms such as lack of appetite, hiding in dark spaces, excessive sleeping, and so on.

4. Inability To Move

Even though lack of activity and general inability to move properly can be assigned to some minor conditions, such as hip dysplasia – this can also be the sign of imminent death in a dog.

GSDs are one of the most active dogs in the world, which makes their lethargic or poorly-active character such an unusual sight. 

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Still, deadly sick German Shepherds are most likely to be unable to move much or to move at all. During this hardship phase, euthanization is probably the most suitable solution as semi-paralyzed puppies are often suffering enormous amounts of pain that cannot be treated medically.

5. Inability To Use The Potty

When in their prime – these canines are one of the easiest dogs to potty train. GSDs are generally considered to be extra-smart dogs that easily learn new tricks and commands. Therefore, their potty training is a walk in the park when they are completely healthy.

On the other hand, puppies that are in a near-death stage of life are usually unable to control their bladder, which is why it is most likely for them to defecate or pee in unusual places.

If your sick GSD is doing these kinds of things, it is probably time to discuss euthanization with your veterinarian.

6. Difficulty Breathing 

Heart problems in dogs go hand in hand with their seniorhood. That said, canines that have a major heart disease after the age of seven are most likely to be panting, breathing heavily, and even collapsing.

If your dog is incapable of breathing properly during the simplest walk – this can be the sign of a progressing heart disease. 

The ‘’When to euthanize a sick German Shepherd’’ dilemma, in this case, is often resolved as soon as you subject your dog to a vet exam. Puppies with a progressed heart disease are highly unlikely to live longer than six months.

How To Help Your GSD Pass Away

Woman with cute German Shepherd dog at homeWoman with cute German Shepherd dog at home

1. Maintain Normal Behavior

It is not uncommon, even for a dying GSD puppy, to display affection towards its owner. That being said, a responsible owner should maintain a normal relationship with its pet until the dying hour. 

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GSD puppies are extremely intuitive and smart dogs, which is why acting stressed out around them can negatively affect their already-bad health condition. Instead, try maintaining the exact same amount of enthusiasm as when it was healthy.

2. Keep The Atmosphere Low-Key

Deadly sick GSDs cannot be subjected to high-volume spaces, nor too loud environments. Instead, provide a comfortable bed for your puppy, and try keeping the atmosphere low-key.

All they need in these sad moments is peace, quiet, and your presence. Anything else is just too much to deal with.

3. Be There All The Time

It is no secret that these canines are considered to be one of the best family dogs in the world. They will do anything to please their owner and to be around them at all times. So, the least that you can do for your dying puppy is to reciprocate!

Be there all the time. Try providing as much of a comfortable environment as possible. That will be enough.


The “When to euthanize a sick German Shepherd” is a pretty debatable matter. In fact, first-time dog owners are always advised to get a professional opinion from their veterinarian before they decide to do it.
On the other hand, experienced owners who have already had this sort of experience can look into these six symptoms to find their answer. Even so, medical advice from your vet is highly recommended.

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By Andy Marcus

Hello, my name is Andy Marcus, and I am a passionate dog lover and enthusiast. For me, there is nothing quite like the joy and love that a furry friend can bring into our lives. I have spent years studying and learning about dogs, and have made it my mission to share my knowledge and expertise with others through my website. Through my website, I aim to provide comprehensive information and resources for dog owners and enthusiasts. Whether it's training tips, health and nutrition advice, or insights into dog behavior, I strive to create a platform that is accessible and useful to everyone who loves dogs.

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