German shepherds normally live 11 to 13 years when well cared for. They are prone to hip and elbow dysplasia and are subject to other genetic diseases.
Many of the genetic problems of the modern German shepherd come from inbreeding early in the breed's history and from indiscriminate breeding. German shepherds have higher than normal incidences of degenerative myelopathy, Von Willenbrand disease and exocrine pancreatic insufficiency. Other common health problems include digestive disorders, epilepsy and tumors of the spleen. Breeders following the standards of the German Shepherd Dog Club of America use only mentally and physically healthy dogs for breeding and screen for genetic diseases.