A healthy German Shepherd dog stands tall, exudes confidence and charisma. They are loyal, responsible, fearless, and intelligent. They will protect you with their life. Versatile as it is, it takes efforts and works to keep a GSD healthy. A healthy GSD will weigh 50 to 90 pounds and have a lifespan of 10 to 13 years depending on various conditions. Rigorous training sessions, good diet are quintessential for long life. They are however indoor dogs and should as a member of the family. They get along with other house pets as well, especially if they are brought up together since puppyhood. They are protective in nature and will make you feel safe. They are interactive and will, therefore, talk to you in their own way.
What tongue and voice are to you, is tail to German Shepherds. They communicate with tails. Therefore it is you who should learn their language to have a better understanding of your pet. They express emotions such as excitement, nervousness, dominance, relaxation, insecurity, confusion through their tails and it does not take much time for a GSD lover to read these signals. Tails are an important part of their physique and therefore also vulnerable to diseases like any other part of the body.
Knowing that tails are the primary communicators used by German Shepherd dogs, here is a chart of tails signals of a GSD:
- Wagging to the left shows negative feelings.
- Wagging to the right is a positive sign.
- Slow wagging shows fear, anxiety.
- A fast wagging tail means it is excited, happy.
- If it sticks up diagonally it means eagerness or aggression.
- Tail lower than parallel to the ground indicates a relaxed mood.
- If the tail is between the legs it means your dog is scared.
- If it is simply hanging down it means it is upset.
- If the tail is sticking out from the body it means your German Shepherd dog is paying attention.
Due to unfortunate reasons, German Shepherd dogs develop various tail problems. If you are quick to read the signs you can aid before it goes out of hands. Caring for your pet regularly will significantly lessen the chances of any disease.
What is the best way to ensure my German Shepherd dog does not have tail problems?
The best way to avoid any health condition is to make sure your pet is free of genetic illnesses. This must be made sure before breeding.
A common question that GSD owners should ask breeders is about ‘curled tail’.
Is the curled tail of my GSD normal?
Curled tail, also called gaytail and right-tail at times is not a normal condition in your German Shepherd dog. It is often due to poor breeding, genetic defects, or simply the tail is broken at the end. The good news is that a curled tail will not affect their health in any way. Many owners, however, opt for surgery, although this condition is irreparable. Surgery may fix it for the particular dog, but will not prevent genetic passing down in the next generation of puppies.
What are some common tail conditions?
1.) Anal Furunculosis
What is it?
Anal furunculosis is a chronological disease in German Shepherd dogs. It is inflammatory, and progressive in nature and appears similar to a perianal fistula.
Symptoms of this will include pain while excretion, odor around the perineum area, ulceration, and inflamed anal region.
Often happens to GSDs with wide tails, or with hyperactive sweat glands in the anal region. Another cause may be weak immunity in the intestines, which causes increased growth of bad bacteria.
How can I prevent it?
If your dog has any of the symptoms you need to get them examined immediately. Examinations usually get uncomfortable therefore your dog will be sedated. Diagnosis of anal furunculosis will include drug therapy which may last from four to twenty-four weeks. The vet may also suggest surgery, which is effective. 95% of cases are seen to improve with medical therapy. Regular clipping and cleaning during grooming, proper diet, will help prevent the disease in the first place.
Some side effects may include weight loss, upset stomach, molting, bone pain, fecal incontinence.
2.) Limber Tail Syndrome
What is it?
Limber Tail Syndrome is also known as Acute Caudal Myopathy, or swimmer’s tail. It is a condition in German Shepherd dogs and other large breed dogs, where the tail becomes weak and droopy.
A weak wagging of the tail, struggling to get up or walk (as it uses the tail for balance) is the sign of Limber Tail Syndrome. It may become very painful for your dog and it might not want to eat or perform basic activities due to pain.
It is caused when the dog overuses the tail, therefore straining the muscle group of the tail which is used for wagging. Overuse of tail during play, heavy work session, a long swimming session, and subjection to cold water or weather can lead to this condition.
It might also be caused due to prostate disease, infections, osteoarthritis, lower back pain due to infected intervertebral disk.
How can I prevent it?
The doctor will examine the tail starting with cautious palpation from the base of the tail. This will help the doctor to understand where exactly the pain is. Limber Tail Syndrome is not a life-threatening malady. It can be treated with simple rest. At times the doctor might provide some anti-inflammatory medicines.
It is rare that your dog will develop the disease again. So there is no need to stop them from the activities which make them happy.
3.) Skin Infection
What is it?
Skin infection around the tail is common among German Shepherd dogs, especially when not groomed and checked up for long. Signs will include itching in the tail area, and your pet will try to fidget and chew the tail to ease the discomfort. This itch will lead to infection if left unattended. The general first indication of any tail problem is hair loss.
How can I prevent it?
Do not try to ignore or treat the infection yourself. Tails are very less flesh. Until you know the severity of the infection if it had spread to the bones or not, it is unwise to perform diagnosis. Causes of infection can vary and only a professional should treat it at any cost.
Usually for skin infections, the doctor may prescribe antibiotics and suggest regular visits and cleanings.
How do you take care of your German Shepherd dog?
German Shepherd dogs are big creatures and need a lot of room to live freely. Keeping them in small enclosed spaces will affect their mental health. Constant tail chasing is a sign that they are bored and jittery.
Make a thorough check at your home itself for fleas under the skin. Do not hesitate to check for other infections.
Proper diet with whole meat protein, whole grains for carbohydrates, healthy fats such as omega-3 is essential to prevent the development of any diseases.