Published: 17 Aug 2017 | Last Updated: 17 Aug 2017 13:28:59

 A new VetCompass study has revealed fascinating insights into the demography and common disorders of German Shepherd Dogs under primary veterinary care in the UK.

The German Shepherd Dog (GSD) is one of the most popular dog breeds worldwide. However, concerns for the health and welfare of the breed have been widely aired and there is evidence that breed numbers are now declining in the UK. This study aimed to report on the demography and mortality of GSDs in the UK, and to rank the prevalence of the most common disorders recorded in this breed.

The VetCompass Programme collects clinical data on dogs under primary veterinary care in the UK. This study included all VetCompass dogs under veterinary care during 2013.

GSDs dropped from 3.5% of the annual birth cohort in 2005 to 2.2% in 2013.

The median longevity of GSDs was 10.3 years (IQR 8.0–12.1). The most common causes of death were musculoskeletal disorder (16.3%) and inability to stand (14.9%). The most prevalent disorders recorded were otitis externa (7.89%, 95% CI: 6.64–9.29), osteoarthritis (5.54%, 95% CI: 4.49–6.75), diarrhoea (5.24%, 95% CI: 4.22–6.42), overweight/obesity (5.18%, 95% CI: 4.16–6.36) and aggression (4.76%, 95% CI: 3.79–5.90).

Aggression was more prevalent in males than in females.

These results may assist veterinarians to offer evidence-based advice at a breed level and help to identify priorities for GSD heath that can improve the breed's health and welfare.

The full paper is freely available on an open access format. 

O'Neill DG, Coulson NR, Church DB and Brodbelt DC. Demography and disorders of German Shepherds under primary veterinary care in the UKCanine Genetics and Epidemiology 2017 4:7

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