How Much Does It Cost to Own a German Shepherd?

German Shepherds are loyal and protective friends.

From guiding the sightless to chasing down criminals, German Shepherd dogs (GSDs, if want to get technical) can do it all. This dog breed is intelligent, courageous, and obedient—but they’re not for everyone. German Shepherds need attention, require daily exercise, and strict training.  

If you’re a dog owner or are considering adopting, we’ll give you the rundown on German Shepherds to see if they’re the right fit. We’ll take a look at breed basics, costs, common illnesses, and German Shepherd pet insurance, like coverage offered by Lemonade.

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German Shepherd fast facts

PersonalityLoyal, intelligent, hard-working
SizeMedium/large
WeightMale: 66–88 lbs.
Female: 49–71 lbs
Average life span9–11 years
Lifestyle fitApartment living, farm life
Approximate lifetime care costs$47,000–$99,000

If you’re a GSD parent, you should expect to play lots of fetch and go on lots of long walks. It takes a great deal of exercise to tire a German Shepherd out. Without physical activities, it’s likely that your dog will become bored and frustrated, leading to chewed-up shoes and couches.

If your furry friend has had an active day, they’re more likely to be well-behaved. With their boundless reserves of energy and focus, German Shepherds can train for almost anything: herding stock, assisting people with disabilities, sniffing out drugs, or serving alongside the military.

All of this makes a German Shepherd a great dog for home protection and to defend against intruders. They’re very loyal, which is why people say GSDs are the best companion dog due to their protective nature and obedience. Note that while they’re extremely warm to their close family, it’ll take extra time for them to embrace a new face.

What’s German Shepherd insurance?

German Shepherd pet insurance, like that offered by lemonade, can help cover the costs of your vet bills. You pay a monthly premium and in exchange, you can protect your fur fam without stressing as much about the costs. A dog insurance policy covers a range of costs related to accidents, illnesses, and preventative care. At Lemonade, there’s even a special plan for puppies to help with all of your early pet parent costs.

How much does it cost to have a German Shepherd?

This canine is on the more expensive side, with dog breeders pricing puppies between $450-$1,900. If you decide to adopt your German Shepherd through a breeder, make sure they are experienced and reputable.

If you plan on adopting instead, you’ll pay anywhere from $250 to $350 in adoption fees.

During the first year, you’ll spend nearly $3,500 to get your new friend vaccinations, grooming appointments, pet food, and a pet insurance policy. This price drops to around $500-$1,500 for each year following.

If you plan on spaying/neutering your dog, hiring a dog walker, and boarding your pup once a year, expect to pay anywhere from $47,000-$99,000 during their lifetime.

What else should you know about German Shepherds?

To decide whether this dog breed is for you, it’s good to have an understanding of some German Shepherd-specific health problems you may run into. We hope you never see your dog go through these. But if you do, it’s always a good idea to be prepared and know the signs. 

German Shepherds are more likely to develop degenerative myelopathy, a progressive neurological disease that impacts the hind legs. If you notice your pooch is limping, losing muscle in their hind legs, or struggling to stand, contact your veterinarian to get them checked out. While there is no cure, some cases are related to a lack of Vitamin E and can be monitored with supplements. 

Exocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency (EPI) is a genetic disease that affects your dog’s pancreas. It breaks down cells that are needed for digestion. Dogs with this disease struggle to digest and absorb food, which can lead to gas, weight loss, loss of appetite, and diarrhea.    

Knee and hip dysplasia are common hereditary health conditions in many breeds. If your GSD goes untreated, these diseases could cost you $1,500 to $6,000. Since these conditions are inherited, we recommend asking your breeder for certifications from the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals. Elbow dysplasia is less common overall, but still somewhat common for German Shepherds.

Along with other deep-chested dogs, this breed is at risk of bloat. Usually, it impacts dogs who rapidly eat large meals, chug too much water, or eat after working out. It is an unexpected, lethal condition that can develop rapidly, so it’s important to know the signs. If your dog is excessively salivating, throwing up without vomit, whining when his abdomen is touched, or suffering from a distended stomach, get them to the vet immediately.

Like humans, dogs show symptoms in a variety of ways. We suggest calling your vet if your dog starts acting differently—or just seems a little “off”—so you never overlook something serious.

One final note: If you go the adoption route, you might be able to find a mixed-breed dog that is part German Shepherd. These mixes might experience fewer health issues than their pure-bred cousins, so it could mean owning a pup with the qualities and features of a German Shepherd—but minus some of the complications full Shepherds tend to experience.

German Shepherd mix
A German Shepherd/Border Collie mix is a great adventure companion.

Should you get your German Shepherd pet health insurance?

German Shepherd’s are at a higher risk of certain genetic health issues—which can be scary and lead to unexpected vet bills. Plus, it can be pretty expensive to pay for common first-year expenses like vaccinations for rabies and heartworm, regular checkups, and a spay or neuter procedure.

Dog insurance will give you peace of mind and keep your four-legged friend healthy. You can get a quote from your favorite insurance company in just a few minutes—it’s quick, simple, and even a little fun…

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Why is Lemonade great for German Shepherds?

With Lemonade pet insurance, pet parents can customize their policy to get the coverage their furry friend needs.

For starters, a basic Lemonade pet health insurance policy includes accident and illness coverage. This will help cover the costs of tests, treatments, and medication if your dog has an unexpected accident or illness.

base policy

A base policy is great for the unexpected things in your fur fam’s future, but Lemonade also offers affordable preventative care, designed to keep your pet healthy, and helps cover expenses you’re probably already paying for.

By adding a preventive care package to a Lemonade policy you’ll also get access to live medical chat and be covered for all types of routine care—like your annual wellness exam, checkups, blood tests, several vaccinations, and other routine health care for your pet.

preventative package
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Lili Cook

Lili Cook is a Content Analyst at Lemonade. She lives with three adorable dogs, including a Frenchie who has her own stroller. Lili is obsessed with numbers, data, and making insurance awesome.

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Please note: Lemonade articles and other editorial content are meant for educational purposes only, and should not be relied upon instead of professional legal, insurance or financial advice. The content of these educational articles does not alter the terms, conditions, exclusions, or limitations of policies issued by Lemonade, which differ according to your state of residence. While we regularly review previously published content to ensure it is accurate and up-to-date, there may be instances in which legal conditions or policy details have changed since publication. Any hypothetical examples used in Lemonade editorial content are purely expositional. Hypothetical examples do not alter or bind Lemonade to any application of your insurance policy to the particular facts and circumstances of any actual claim.