Dog Health: Due to the breed's versatility, the GSD has become a very popular pet. This is a mixed blessing. While many people truly enjoy the pleasure a well-bred and well-trained GSD adds to their lives, others have been attracted to the breed primarily to make money. A well-bred GSD is a remarkable dog, but a GSD from a disreputable breeder, accidental breeding, or someone trying to recoup their initial investment, can be a nightmare. Without careful consideration of genetic, temperament, and physical characteristics, the resulting litter can be plagued with serious health and temperament problems.Health disorders (some genetic) seen in GSDs (some are explained in more detail below):  

d = dominant

r = recessive

p = polygenic

% = may not always be genetic

^ = suspected genetic

? = unknown

achalasia (r)
Dilated esophagus; vomiting begins at weaning

ankylosis (?)
Fusing of vertebrae in tail (or spine) reducing range of motion

aubaortic stenosis (?)

bilateral cataract (d)
Opague lens form in both eyes, usually after 2 years

calcium gout (^)
Lumps in skin caused by calcium deposits

calcinosis circumscripta

cerebellar hypoplasia (^)
Abnormal gait and loss of control starting at 12 weeks

chronic pancreatitis (^)
Lack of enzymes that digest fat and protein; chronic weight loss

cleft lip and palate (%)
Non-closure of bones of upper jaw and roof of mouth

corneal dermoid cyst (^)
Congenital cyst on eye surface

cryptorchidism (^)
Undescended testicle(s)

cystinuria (r)
High cystine in urine; prone to stone formation (males only)

degenerative myelopathy (?)
Spinal degeneration in older dogs

(Chronic Degenerative Radiculomyleopathy - CDRM)

diabetes mellitus (r)
Onset of insulin deficiency at 2-6 months

distichiasis (^)
Extra row of eyelashes irritate eye

ectasia (r)
Optic nerve/retina abnormalities (aka "Collie eye")

elbow dysplasia (d)
Progressive developmental deformity of elbow joints, symptomless to crippling (see ununited anchoneal process), may be polygenic

eosinophilic colitis (^)
Chronic bouts of diarrhea

eosinophilic myositis (?)
Acute, relapsing inflammation of the muscles

epilepsy (r)
Recurrent seizures onset between 1-3 years old

hemophelia a (r) (factor VIII deficiency)
Slowed blood clotting, hemorrhages

hip dysplasia (p)
Progressive developmental deformity of hip joints, symptomless to crippling

intervertebral disc disease (^)
Slipped disc, pain, weakness to paralysis of limbs

malabsorption syndrome (^)
Inability to absorb digested food leads to starvation

nictitating membrane eversion (r)
Third eyelid rolls back; treated surgically

osteochondritis dessicans (^)
Growth disorder of shoulder cartilage; pain, lameness (OCD)

pannus (^)
Vessels, skin and pigment migrate over eye surface, leading to blindness

panosteitis (^)
Acute shifting lameness of growing dogs, deep bone pain, self-limiting

patent ductus arteriosus (p)
Aortal development defect in fetus, loud heart murmur, exercise intolerant

perianal fistuala (^)
Open draining tracts around anus

peripheral vestibular disease (?)
Defect of the middle ear causing puppies to circle

pituitary dwarfism (^)
Normally proportioned dwarf, mentally retarded, usually fatal

renal cortical hypoplasia (^)
Degeneration of both kidneys, beginning at about 1 year

retinal atrophy (^) (generalized) PRA
Retina degenerates causing first night blindness then total blindness

right aortic arch (p)
Abnormal artery constricts esophagus, vomiting

soft ears (r)
Weak ear musculature

spondylosis deformans (^)
Spinal arthritis

ununited anchoneal process (d)
Elbow dysplasia; pain and limp in front legs

von Willebrand's disease (d)
Bleeding disorder