I'm worried about Kane, my GSD


Cows, Chooks & Impys - OH MY!
14 Years
Nov 9, 2007
SW Arkansas
My baby Kane has grown up. He's 17 months old now, right at 100 lbs. That may be large for a GSD, but he does take after the east german (sire's) side of his lineage; all large working dogs. Kane is not overweight under all his fur, he's just big. Ziggy, Kane's sire, has sired some pretty large pups, though Kane may be the largest. Kane at 8 weeks (16 lbs):


If I remember correctly the breeder told me that Kane's sire Ziggy (Ode) weighed 110 lbs. in his prime:


Kane looks ALOT like Ziggy, but even more so like the grandsire Xuck:


We don't know how much Xuck weighed, but he was obviously a very large dog.

Kane is a sweetheart. Happy-go-lucky dog, without the usual GSD standoffish-ness, loves everybody so long as you don't harm his mama. Kane gets daily exercise, aerobic too, throughout the day. But still, I worry.

When Kane comes in from exercise or play, he sounds like a freight train. He breathes so hard! It takes him about half an hour to cool off and for his breathing to return to normal. Also, he overheats easily. In the evenings he rarely lays close to us in the living room (carpet) choosing to lay on the kitchen tile floor instead. When they have to be crated, Kane has his very own tower fan to keep him cool. We keep the house A/C set on 68, but still Kane gets hot at times.

I'm worried about his heart. I don't want him to drop dead one day, way too young. Our vet is excellent, but an old-fashioned vet. She doesn't have x-ray equipment or an EKG machine. Still no vet I'd rather have for her wisdom, knowledge, and compassion. She says Kane's heart and lungs sound fine by stethoscope.

I haven't discussed it with the vet yet, but I want to take Kane to the city to be seen by the vet we took Charlie Girl to for x-rays when she had cancer. Not sure how to phrase it, but I want him to have a heart check-up to be sure.

DH says I worry too much?
Yes I would take him to the vet in town. My sister raises golden retrievers. They play lots and never get winded like your saying your dog does.
I just love GSDs! Someday I want to get a true GSD from the west lines. Is yours the DDR lines? I've spent some time on the pedigree database. I used to own a GSD when I was a teen.
Please keep us updated on his condition.
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I don't blame you for being concerned that your vet might be a little "old-fashioned". I felt the same way about our country vet so I started taking my Dane to a different vet. The vet referred me to a dog cardiologist for an ultrasound of my dogs heart when he was about 18 months old. Danes often have heart trouble. He had another ultrasound at 3 years of age. The cardiologist told me that if they are going to have congenital problems it would have likely shown up by age three. Luckily, his heart looked good as his grandmother died at age 7 of a sudden heart attack. The breeder told me that the dog had never had a sick day. Your concern is valid and I think you would rest easier if you had the ultrasound done. If I remember correctly, it was about $400. Good luck.
Hey, I would take him in for a work up just for my own peace of mind if nothing else...I have a breed, Dobermans, that are pron to cardiomyopathy...I had a large male who had his heart listened to with stethascope (sp?) by a vet at the University vet clinic...the vet declared his heart was fine...this was in June and the dog died in January from cardio...they just can not tell you enough by listening with the scope...you need an EKG and all of that to be sure...I am not trying to alarm you, just caution you...I don't know how GSDs respond to heat nor to I recall at the moment where you live, but the dog should cool out faster than that and not heat up so dramatically for so long...it is so darn hot here already...I am being careful with my four in the middle of the day just because...and they do so love the ac as they are rotten to the core...lol...but, I would check the dog's inner workings if it were me and mine...
Both of our boys, Jax and Kane are from east german lines on their sire Ziggy's side and west german on their dams, Babette and Chrystal (sisters).

We need to get busy finishing their pedigrees on the website, but here they are so far:

Jax: http://www.pedigreedatabase.com/german_shepherd_dog/dog.html?id=650465

: http://www.pedigreedatabase.com/german_shepherd_dog/dog.html?id=651055

has been NO cardiac issues whatsoever with the breeders dogs and they have been breeding GSDs for decades. I just worry about flukes.
You need to see a veterinary cardiologist. They can do a rather inexpensive test called AUSCULTATION. This is basically just listening very carefully to the heart and all it's sounds to make sure they don't hear murmurs or anything else suspicious.

You can also have a test done called a Doppler Echocardiogram. This is done using ultrasound, and the dog will have to have an area on his rib cage shaved in order to do it. This test tells the true and absolute story of cardiac structure, function, including valves, blood flows and velocities, etc.

Don't waste your time with a vet who is not a cardiologist. Might as well only cry once, when you open your wallet.

Board Certified Veterinary Cardiologists by State
If you're concerned, then it's worth getting a second opinion from a specialist, or at least a more forward-thinking vet. Listening with a stethoscope will tell you if there are any murmurs, but not all heart disease is accompanied by a murmur. There are several laboratories out there (the two biggest veterinary labs, Idexx and Antech) that offer cardio BNP testing, which uses a biological marker to look for signs of heart disease. It's a simple blood draw and while not exactly cheap by most standards, it's a lot less expensive than an ultrasound and can tell you that yes, your dog's heart is fine, or that your dog's heart shows some evidence that further tests (such as an EKG or ultrasound) are needed to evaluate the heart further.
Hi Gritty

I would worry too, honestly. My Foenix didn't have good stamina at all, though he was normal coated, he would also overheat easily, and take a long time to cool down. Foenix was about 87 pounds average, and very fit, but I always wondered why he had such low stamina. Kane is long coated and thats part of the reason its not a desireable trait--a dog that used to be expected to be very very active ALL day long, winter or summer, didn't do well with a longer coat, and the coat isn't as likely to shed dirt, and derbris.

I don't know that you need to see a specialist..however if it makes you feel better then by all means do that. It'll cost you a pretty penny though.
(to be honest I would have it done if I were worried and I had the money)

Another thing about the sizes of GSD. East German lines aren't usually that large. I spent a lot of time around dogs with "pure" DDR pedigrees, and many specimines. They are usually very solid, fairly compact and have good bone, but oversized no. A 110 pound GSD isn't normal. If Kane is oversized then you might have to doubly sure he doesn't get obese, and gets regular, moderate exercise.
Thanks y'all.

Jamie, yeah I know Kane is kind of a fluke. Ziggy is heavy without being so large. Kane is large AND heavy. He has a chest I swear a mile wide. Kane is quite a bit taller and much wider than Ziggy.

He gets daily walks around the farm with me (I've been sick lately, so we've had to curtail), a wee bit of training and play with older brother. We no longer call Jax "big brother" since it's pretty obvious he's not.

Diet and Kane are two words that go together daily in this house. I really have to watch how much he eats and what he eats. I'm constantly apologizing to him because the boy does love to eat.

Can I afford the city vet no? Will I find a way? YES!
Good for you
It'll be a constant issue to keep him from getting overly fat with his food motivation...though on the other hand you could teach him to run himself on the treadmill for a half hour ----- if you used a steak on a string LOL

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