Causes and Solutions: Why Is My German Shepherd So Small?

Concerned about size? Let’s discuss why is my german shepherd so small and explore the factors influencing their stature.


German Shepherds are one of the most popular dog breeds in the world. They are known for their intelligence, loyalty, and protective nature. However, some German Shepherd owners may notice that their dog is smaller than average. This can be concerning for many reasons, as a smaller size can indicate potential health issues or breeding problems.

Brief overview of the German Shepherd breed

German Shepherds were originally bred in Germany as herding dogs. They were later used as police dogs and eventually gained popularity as family pets due to their loyalty and obedience. The breed is known for its athletic build, with males typically weighing between 65-90 pounds and females weighing between 50-70 pounds.

Explanation of why some German Shepherds may be smaller than average

There are many reasons why a German Shepherd may be smaller than average. Genetics plays a significant role in determining a dog’s size, but environmental factors such as diet, exercise, and living conditions can also impact growth. In some cases, breeding practices can also lead to smaller size.

Importance of understanding the causes and solutions for small size

Understanding the causes of small size is important because it can help prevent potential health problems from developing or worsening. It can also help ensure that future generations of German Shepherds are bred responsibly to reduce the likelihood of genetic factors contributing to small size. Additionally, knowing how to address small size through proper care and management can improve overall quality of life for both the dog and owner. While a smaller sized German Shepherd may seem like a minor concern at first glance, it is important to understand why this may occur in order to properly care for your furry friend. By exploring possible causes such as genetics, environmental factors, and breeding practices, you can take necessary steps to improve your dog’s health and wellbeing. Stay tuned for the following sections where I will delve deeper into each of these causes.

Genetics and Breeding Practices: The Culprits Behind Small German Shepherds

German Shepherds are known for their impressive size, strength, and agility, which make them excellent working dogs. However, not all German Shepherds are created equal. Some of them may be smaller than average and lack the physical traits that set this breed apart. If you’re wondering why your German Shepherd is so small, genetics and breeding practices might be the answer.

The Influence of Genetics on Size

Genetics play a significant role in determining a dog’s size. While some dogs may inherit their parent’s large stature, others may not be as lucky. In other words, if both of your dog’s parents were small in size or had genetic mutations that affect growth hormones or bone development, their offspring could end up being small as well. But genetics alone don’t always explain why some German Shepherds are smaller than others. Inbreeding and crossbreeding can also have an impact on the dog’s size.

The Dark Side of Inbreeding

Inbreeding is a breeding practice where closely related dogs mate with each other to preserve certain traits or characteristics in their offspring. While this may seem like a good idea from a breeder’s perspective, it can cause serious health issues in dogs. One of the most common problems associated with inbreeding is reduced genetic diversity. When two closely related dogs mate with each other repeatedly over several generations, they pass down the same genes to their offspring repeatedly as well. This increases the chance of passing down harmful mutations that could cause stunted growth or other health problems. Moreover, inbred puppies are more likely to suffer from degenerative diseases that affect bone development and cause dwarfism.

The Risks of Crossbreeding

Crossbreeding is another way breeders play with genetics to create new breeds or improve existing ones. While crossbreeding can sometimes result in healthier and stronger dogs, it can also lead to unexpected outcomes such as smaller size. When two different breeds of dogs are mixed, their offspring may inherit traits from both parents that don’t always complement each other. For example, if one parent is a large breed and the other is a small breed, their puppies could end up being smaller than average due to the dominant genes from the small breed. Moreover, crossbreeding can result in unpredictable temperaments and physical characteristics that might not be suitable for certain tasks or lifestyles.

The Bottom Line

Genetics and breeding practices have a significant impact on a German Shepherd’s size. While some dogs may be naturally smaller due to genetics alone, inbreeding and crossbreeding can also cause health issues that affect growth hormones and bone development. As a responsible owner, you should research your dog’s breeder before purchasing or adopting them to ensure they come from healthy bloodlines. Stay tuned for the next section where I discuss how environmental factors such as diet and exercise can impact your German Shepherd’s growth.

Health Issues

Why Health Issues are Important to Consider

When it comes to the size of your German Shepherd, it is important to consider all possible causes. Health issues can be a major factor in determining whether or not your dog will grow to its full potential size. Neglecting these issues can result in stunted growth, decreased lifespan, and overall poor quality of life for your furry companion. It is essential that you stay informed and monitor your dog’s health regularly.

Thyroid Problems

One common health issue that may affect the growth of a German Shepherd is thyroid problems. The thyroid gland produces hormones that regulate metabolism and growth. When the gland fails to produce enough hormones, hypothyroidism occurs, which can lead to weight gain, lethargy, and stunted growth in dogs. If you suspect that your German Shepherd has thyroid problems, take them to a veterinarian for a blood test. Treatment options may include hormone replacement therapy or medication prescribed by a veterinarian. However, it is important to note that early diagnosis is key in treating this condition effectively.


Another common cause of small size in German Shepherds is malnutrition. Inadequate nutrition during the critical stages of development can lead to stunted growth and other health problems later on in life. It’s important to ensure that you’re providing high-quality food with proper amounts of essential nutrients such as protein for muscle development and calcium for bone density. A balanced diet supplemented with multivitamins can also help prevent malnutrition-related problems later on. If you suspect malnutrition as being the culprit behind your dog’s small size, work with a veterinarian or animal nutrition specialist to assess their dietary needs.

Growth hormone deficiencies

Another less-known cause of small stature in German Shepherds are deficiencies in growth hormones. Growth hormone deficiencies can affect the production of bone and muscle tissue, leading to a decreased size. If you suspect that your German Shepherd has a growth hormone deficiency, consult with your veterinarian. Treatment options may include hormone therapy or medication.

Conclusion: Taking Health Issues Seriously

It is important to take your German Shepherd’s health seriously when considering their size. Thyroid problems, malnutrition, and growth hormone deficiencies are just three of many health issues that could cause stunted growth in dogs. Regular check-ups with your veterinarian can help identify any potential problems early on and ensure that proper treatment is provided. Remember – a healthy dog is a happy dog!

Environmental Factors

Poor Diet Choices that Could Lead to Stunted Growth

One of the biggest issues when it comes to German Shepherds, or any dog’s growth is their diet. Many pet owners fail to realize that their pet’s diet can have a significant impact on their overall health, including their growth. A poor diet can lead to stunted growth and a host of other health problems. German Shepherds require a high-quality, protein-rich diet to support healthy growth. A diet lacking in essential vitamins and minerals may affect the dog’s bone development leading to stunted growth. Many commercial dog foods contain fillers such as cornmeal, which does not provide sufficient nutrition for your pet and can lead to malnourishment. As a responsible pet owner, it is crucial to invest in high-quality dog food containing all essential nutrients like protein and fatty acids required for your German Shepherd’s healthy development. Furthermore, feeding table scraps or human food should be avoided as it can cause gastric upset and obesity.

Lack of Exercise that Could Lead to Muscle Atrophy

Inactivity is another significant environmental factor that can stunt the growth of your German Shepherd. Regular exercise plays an essential role in maintaining muscle mass and keeping bones strong. Lack of exercise could result in muscle atrophy (muscle breakdown) which could weaken the joints leading to arthritis. Dog owners must ensure that they take their German Shepherd for regular walks or engage them in activities like playing fetch or frisbee with them daily for at least 30 minutes so they may grow proportionally without any hindrances due to lack of physical activity.

Living Conditions Such as Cramped Spaces or Lack of Sunlight

Living conditions such as small apartments with no access to sunlight could also impact the growth rate and height of your German Shepherd negatively. Inadequate areas could lead to your dog’s inability to perform physical activities, leading to developmental issues. If a dog is not exposed enough to sunlight or fresh air, its bones can become weak. Sunlight helps in the absorption of Vitamin D, which is essential in calcium absorption and bone growth. Hence, keeping your German Shepherd in a spacious and open area with plenty of sunlight can positively affect their growth. The environment plays a significant role in determining the growth rate of your German Shepherd. A poor diet choice might lead to malnutrition, lack of exercise can result in muscle atrophy; cramped living spaces may prevent free movement and weaken bones. Therefore, it’s crucial pet owners must provide their pets with healthy food choices that contain all essential nutrients required for their development, keep them physically active by taking them for walks or playing games with them and providing adequate environmental conditions such as spacious areas with access to sunlight.

Breeder Practices

Early Weaning: A Breeder’s Shortcut to Profitability

A breeder who weans puppies too early may see an economic boost in the short term, but the long-term effects on the puppies can be detrimental. German Shepherd puppies require proper nutrition and care during their first eight weeks of life to ensure that they develop properly. When breeders separate puppies from their mothers before this time, they miss out on the crucial period where the mother’s milk provides essential nutrients and antibodies needed for growth and immune system development. Puppies that are weaned too early may suffer from a weakened immune system, stunted growth, and malnourishment. If you’re looking for a German Shepherd puppy, make sure that you select a breeder who follows responsible weaning practices. Responsible breeders will not separate puppies from their mothers until at least eight weeks of age.

Unethical Breeding Practices: Inbreeding and Crossbreeding

Inbreeding and crossbreeding are both breeding practices that can result in smaller-sized German Shepherds. Inbreeding is when closely related dogs mate with each other repeatedly over multiple generations; this practice can lead to genetic issues such as health problems or physical deformities. On the other hand, crossbreeding involves breeding two different breeds of dogs together; while it can result in some desirable traits, it could also result in offspring with unpredictable traits or health issues. Any breeder who is willing to engage in either of these unethical breeding practices should be avoided at all costs.


The size of your German Shepherd can be influenced by a variety of factors including genetics, health issues, environmental factors like diet and exercise habits or living conditions as well as breeder practices such as early weaning or unscrupulous breeding methods like inbreeding or crossbreeding. If your German Shepherd is smaller than expected, it’s essential to determine the root cause of the issue. Working with a veterinarian can help identify any health issues that may be impacting your dog’s growth or development. Additionally, working with a reputable breeder will ensure that you’re getting a healthy puppy whose growth and development are not negatively impacted by unethical breeding practices. While it may be disappointing if your German Shepherd does turn out to be smaller than expected, know that they can still live happy, healthy lives regardless of their size. Ultimately, the most important thing is to provide them with proper care and attention to ensure their well-being for years to come.

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