What is bloat (gastric torsion)?
Bloat (otherwise known as "gastric torsion") can be a problem with any deep chested breed like German Shepherds. The stomach twists so nothing can pass through the esophagus to the stomach or through the stomach to the intestines, causing gas to build up. This is an immediate health concern where the dog should be taken to the vet or emergency clinic. Signs of bloat include a distended rigid abdomen, indications of vomiting with no results and inability to belch or pass gas.
High activity directly before or after eating can exacerbate bloating. Keeping the dog quiet at least one hour before and after eating can help reduce the chances of bloat. Pre-moistening the dog's food with water can also reduce the chances and smaller meals can also reduce the risk of bloat if you do not free-feed. (Free-fed dogs just need to have their activity level watched, but do not usually eat enough at any one sitting to cause problems. Bloat is more of a problem with a dog that "gulps" its food which a free-fed dog won't usually do. Don't leave pre-moistened food down for a free-fed dog too long as it can breed bacteria. Instead, leave them smaller portions, but refill more frequently.)
What is the life expectancy of a German shepherd?
Most lines of GSD's will live to between 12-14 years of age. 11-12 years is probably a very reasonable expectation. A GSD becomes "middle-aged" between 5-7 years old, and is generally considered "geriatric" at about 10. Their food intake and exercise and nutrition needs may change over this period of time. They may begin to develop stiffness in their joints (much like people do as they get older). Healthy teeth are important as bacteria from decaying teeth can affect the health of the dog.
What is the difference between males and females?
Some people will say that males are more "location" protective while females are more "pack" protective. Males are generally more territorial, so unless training steps are consistent, marking could be a problem. (Neutering may help alleviate this problem. Any dog not intended for a breeding program should be neutered or spayed. Besides eliminating the possibility of unwanted puppies and reducing some undesirable behaviors, it's considerably healthier for your dog since it eliminates or severely reduces the chance of testicular or mammary cancers. Breeding should *never* be taken lightly.) I have found that it is more useful to look to the individual temperament and personality of each pup in the litter then to generalize about sex differences.
How old will my puppy be when I take it home?
Puppies are old enough to go to their new homes by seven to eight weeks.