5 Common Leg Problems in German Shepherds Every Dog Parent Must Be Aware Of

German Shepherd is one of the most active canines that people bring home and look up to for company. This beautiful dog breed is an awesome bonding expert. How? It does so by bringing all family members together in the living area by using cute tactics. The dutiful nature of this dog is sure to impress you; but do you have any idea about the discomforts that GSD deal with?

In this post, we intend to focus on leg problems. It is because these seem trivial and are quite likely to miss your radar if you are a new dog parent. The leg problems in GSD do need immediate attention and consistent monitoring. If left unattended, these may lead to severe discomfort or a handicap of permanent nature in him. So, here is a quick overview of all common leg issues that are typically found in GSDs.

Common Legs Issues in German Shepherds

1. Hip Dysplasia

GSDs tend to grow faster at the hind. It leads to disproportionate growth of hip joints. Since the ball and socket joint of bigger breeds like GSD tend to rub against each other more than usual, the condition gives way to skeletal system-based discomfort called hip dysplasia.

As a new dog parent, you must know that this condition can be avoided by early precautions. Your furry pet needs your little attention in terms of ensuring that he is exercised well and regularly. Still, if you want what hip dysplasia looks like, here are a few quickly recognizable symptoms:

  • Showing different gait while walking
  • Displaying resistance towards climbing stairs or not doing the same enthusiastically
  • Lameness in hind portion or hopping like gait
  • Disproportionate growing of shoulder joint to balance out huge hind
  • Grating joint
  • Stiff posture
  • Limping tendency
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Hip Dysplasia is an issue commonly occurring in most big-size dog breeds like GSD. Some lazy, small-size breeds that are not physically strong and agile may also suffer from it. The only way to prevent it is by paying attention to the nutrition and physical activity needs of dogs. A regular examination from the vet can also help.

2. Degenerative Myelopathy

Degenerative Myelopathy is an uncommon nerve disorder, but a reality in dogs. The disease progression of this disorder shows its origin from the spinal cord. When not treated or in an advanced stage, the disease covers the hind portion of the body and weakens it. Thus, the GSD suffering from degenerative myelopathy shows discomfort in walking and maintaining posture. (Extracted from K9 Carts, a veterinarian’s initiative), this degenerative myelopathy manifests into signs like:

  • Weak hind body
  • Inability to maintain posture
  • paralysis in the hind portion in the long term
  • bowl and urinary incontinence

3. Panosteitis

Panosteitis is an inflammatory disease of the bone marrow. The disease can emanate from not feeding the dog correctly, which leads to the formation of fatty deposits in the bone marrow. Some researchers associate it with defective genes, but the researchers are yet to trace the complete genetic association. Whatever the reason is, this discomfort is a reality, and shows its presence through:

  • pain
  • degenerating hind bones on inspection
  • fatty deposits in the bone marrow screening
  • change in bone shape detected in radiography
  • restricted activity

The good news is that this disease disappears on its own and starts showing limited impact as the dog reaches puberty; sometimes, by middle age, the GSD is completely out of the disease’s impact.

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4. Myasthenia Gravis

Often, new dog owners share their concern that their German Shepherd’s back legs look somewhat bent to them. And their concerns are real. Researchers attribute this deformity to the neuro- and musculo-degenerative disorder called Myasthenia Gravis. As stated in a study titled ‘Myasthenia gravis in Dogs’, conducted in the School of Veterinary Medicine, Cambridge,1970, the disease led to the formation of tumors. It did take away a few patients’ dog’s lives too. However, those who did not suffer too fatal symptoms, still struggled with issues like deformed limbs, bad posture and joint pain. The leg problems diagnosed in GSDs that suffered from Myasthenia Gravis were:

  • Difficulty rising up on legs
  • Inability to maintain posture
  • Unexplained fatigue
  • Resistance to fetching games, exercising
  • Slight limping
  • Bent legs

Sometimes, the disease is not the reason for bent legs though. This characteristic may arise due to breeding and can be considered as an identifying feature to spot pure breeds from mixed ones.

5. Chronic Degenerative RadiculomyelopathyCDRM

A form of common myelopathy found in German Shepherds, this disorder of hind legs looks more like arthritis among dogs.It is the chronic counterpart of muscular degeneropathy and differs distinctly from the latter in cause and progression. Mostly, it is the sign of aging in this species and poses a problem when this furry angel shows the signs of premature degeneration of hind leg bones and joints. It is always better to talk, in detail, to an experienced pet veterinarian to learn about the plausible leg problems while picking the dog for making a family member Some of the vets share that the symptoms may comprise:

  • wobbly legs
  • weak hind portion
  • difficulty climbing stairs or walking
  • reluctance to exercising
  • subdued and socially withdrawn behavior
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That is why it is important to never miss vet appointments if you are a true GSD lover, or have found the new love in this dutiful breed.


Aging and musculo-or- neurogenerative disorders lead to a variety of leg problems in the GSD breed. Though GSD looks like a sturdy beast, it does require caring like a baby, you must always remember that! Leg problems can take away the worth of your purchase and may force you to part with this furry buddy sooner. So, be aware of all the issues of bones and joints and create an intelligent mix of diet, exercising, and medical care to keep your GSD safe from any kind of limbs issues.

1 thought on “5 Common Leg Problems in German Shepherds Every Dog Parent Must Be Aware Of”

  1. I rescued a 4 year old sheppard who’s name was Money, yes it seems that is what have been so important to the previous owners. I changed it to Monty. Some days Montavious the Braviest. I don’t think this dog had known what is was like to be valued and loved. He has his own couch but looked at me like I’m not supposed to be up here. No I’ve fallen asleep on the floor, it’s hard and you wake up sore, and when I lifted his hanging over the edge legs and feet and slide the ottoman under them he gave me a look of astonishment, but if I sleep with mine hanging over they I wake up and they are numb. Monty went from charging any and all who entered the house, and nipping them if they flinched to taking his ball up to complete strangers in the park so they can throw it for him. It’s been quite a transformation, and I’m grateful he was able to experience what it’s like to be a member of a family and he knows he is loved.
    Monty’s problem is caused by the previous owners idea of exercise was having Monty run and jump to catch the ball, on the street. All the landing and pounding has caused him to experience pain and discomfort, especially in his eighth year. It would be nice if we could instill some common sense in people. when you’re out with your dog and you get thirsty, they’re thirsty to, the floor is hard, concrete shouldn’t be jumped on. Just give a damn cause we agreed to take care of our pets and they deserve that and much more.


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