Dwarf German Shepherd

German Shepherd with dwarfizm

Even though it may sound as if it goes against the entire breed, the dwarf German Shepherd does exist.

However, this is not linked to a concept of a designer breed. Instead, we are looking at a German Shepherd suffering from dwarfism. So, if you thought that only humans could suffer from this condition, then you would be wrong.

So what does it mean for the German Shepherd when they do indeed suffer from this condition? Well, you are about to find out everything that you will ever need to know.

But first, an important point.

When we talk about a dwarf German Shepherd, we are not talking about a miniature German Shepherd. That is a designer breed where they have sought to create a smaller version of a German Shepherd.

Don’t confuse the two as we are talking about two completely different dogs. In this instance, we are talking specifically about a German Shepherd that has actual dwarfism.


Pituitary Dwarfism

dwarfizm and how to take care of it

The condition we are looking at here is known as pituitary dwarfism, and if that sounds like something us humans would suffer from, then you would be correct.

The issue here with the German Shepherd is that the Pituitary gland is underdeveloped. This then leads to a reduction in different growth hormones, and that is what results in your German Shepherd being smaller than you would normally expect.

The pituitary gland is going to help with the creation of not only various hormones, but also general well-being. When something is wrong with this gland, then it can lead to a number of potential problems for the dog.

Also, it does mean a dwarf German Shepherd is going to be in absolutely perfect proportions. Everything is reduced in size, so it really does look like a substantially smaller German Shepherd.

But how does it effectively end up with this form of dwarfism?

Well, it takes both parents to have the gene to then be bred together. Just having the gene doesn’t mean they are also going to be a dwarf German Shepherd. It may be the case they have had one parent with the gene, and one without. However, it takes both to effectively ‘activate’ the issue with the pituitary gland.

But if you think that it must be quite rare to have this gene, then studies have shown it may exist in up to 1 in 3 German Shepherds. Therefore, the odds of breeding together two dogs that both have the gene is going to be substantially higher than most would expect.

Do Dwarf German Shepherds Require Special Care?

Lifespan and Health

But if you own a dwarf German Shepherd, is there any requirement for some special care?

The answer is that you do need to adapt how you care for your dwarf German Shepherd. They may constantly appear similar to a puppy, but we are talking about a dog that has a number of health issues that they need to try to overcome. So, it’s not as nice as you think.

This dog is not for someone who is new to caring for dogs. Thanks to their issues, this dog can easily have major issues with anxiety, and this can lead to a certain degree of aggression. You need to be able to understand how to help them with this issue.

At the same time, a dwarf German Shepherd is known to be significantly slower when it comes to learning new things. You need to display a great deal of patience when training them as they will tend to make mistakes, and that’s going to lead to you having to repeat things over and over before they pick up on what you want.

Be aware that you may have to constantly provide them with supplements or medication to help with different health issues. This takes some time, and for you to take them to the vet on a regular basis.

Also, some dwarf German Shepherds develop issues with their mobility. You may be required to adapt certain things to make it easier for them to get around. While this is certainly rarer than other symptoms or issues connected to dwarfism, it’s something that can happen. Don’t be surprised if you are required to build ramps or stop them from running upstairs to make sure their life is comfortable.

So a dwarf German Shepherd does require some special care, and that is something you need to understand before you go ahead and potentially become an owner of one.

They require additional help. You need to be constantly aware of what they are doing and how they are coping.

However, they will still be highly affectionate and loving toward you and your family. They will still be full of fun and make you laugh and smile, so it’s not all stressful and something that is difficult to deal with.

Lifespan and Health

Health Issues with fur

It would be reasonable to presume that a dwarf German Shepherd is going to have a number of health issues, but will it also affect their lifespan?

Sadly, the answer is yes. It is not uncommon for the lifespan of a dwarf German Shepherd to only be in the region of 3 to 4 years. That is significantly different to what you would see in a normal German Shepherd where living 13 years or more is not uncommon.

Also, they are prone to various health conditions due to the issue with the pituitary gland. These health conditions are going to often include.

  • Hair issues, including alopecia.
  • Bacterial infections on a regular basis.
  • Cardiovascular issues.
  • Difficulties with their breathing.
  • Lower intelligence making it harder for them to pick up on new things.
  • Neurological conditions.
  • Problem with testes in male dogs.
  • Problems with cycles in female dogs.
  • Teeth issues.
  • Secondary Hyperthyroidism.
  • Liver issues.
  • Kidney issues.

That is quite an extensive list. However, it’s not the case that each dwarf German Shepherd will then develop these issues. In saying that, it wouldn’t be a surprise if they developed at least one of these issues, if not more.

You do need to keep on top of any health issues that develop if you want to expand their lifespan. Of course, it may not be the case that they only live three or four years as it does depend on exactly how well their pituitary gland is working. It can easily be the case that it releases some hormones, and that can be enough to keep some of these issues at bay.

Can Dwarf German Shepherds Reproduce?

Can Dwarf German Shepherds Reproduce?

The issue of a dwarf German Shepherd and reproduction actually has two answers.

First, it is highly likely that they are going to be sterile due to their issues. However, the other answer is that even if they are capable of reproducing, and we will explain how that can be the case shortly, then they shouldn’t be allowed.

That’s because we are looking at a problem with their genes. If they have dwarfism, then there’s a pretty good chance that the gene will be passed onto any offspring.

So back to the issue of reproducing. While most are going to be sterile, there are some dwarf German Shepherds that have a pituitary gland that is still producing a reduced level of hormones. That can sometimes be enough for them to be able to reproduce. However, as we just said, you shouldn’t allow it to happen.

Is a Dwarf German Shepherd for Me?

how to care for german shepherd with dwarfism

The quick answer here is that a dwarf German Shepherd could indeed be the perfect dog for you, but only when you are aware of the different potential issues that we have discussed above.

Please don’t simply look at the size of a dwarf German Shepherd and believe that they look cute so you need to have one. You need to understand that this is a dog that will have various health issues, and there’s an above average chance that they will not live longer than 4 years.

You need to be prepared to really care for this dog and to have a lot of patience. You cannot really leave them alone for extended periods of time as they will become highly anxious at this. So, if you are away at work throughout the day, then this dog is not for you.

However, if you have the time, and space, to correctly care for a dog with some special needs, then there’s no doubt they can be the perfect companion.


A dwarf German Shepherd is a wonderful dog to own. However, the only reason why a dwarf German Shepherd exists is due to a genetic issue. It’s not the result of breeding or anything else. It’s not a designer dog.

It does come with health issues, a shortened lifespan, and it can also be infertile. In saying that, this dog is going to be just as loving as any other breed out there, and they will be loyal to their owners and family.

If you don’t mind dealing with the issues that they can have, then owning a dwarf German Shepherd can be a wonderful experience.


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