The Dwarf German Shepherd or Miniature German Shepherd is not a recognized type of German Shepherd, but like the Giant German Shepherd, it is simply a dog of this breed with peculiar characteristics. In the case of the Dwarf German Shepherd, its condition is due to the fact that it suffers from dwarfism, as it happens with other species of animals, including humans. This is a condition of genetic origin.

German Shepherd Dogs are likely to suffer from pituitary dwarfism, which not only can affect the quality of life of the animal, but also shortens its life expectancy. Dwarf German Shepherd Dogs live about 5 years at the most, in many cases they do not reach that age.

Characteristics of a Dwarf German Shepherd



Working dog


Between 60 cm and 65 cm from the ground to the shoulders


70 Lb to 130 Lb

Life Expectancy

10 to 12 years

Photos of Dwarf German Shepherds

dwarf German shepherd
miniature german shepherd
dwarf german shepherd
dwarf german shepherd

Temperament of a Dwarf German Shepherd

The German Shepherd is a dog known for its great intelligence and loyalty. The Dwarf German Shepherd is ultimately a German Shepherd, so it can be expected to have the same behavior. In most cases this is the case, however, it should not be forgotten that pituitary dwarfism can lead to other disorders in the dog, since it is an affectation of the pituitary gland. Some of these disorders are neurological. Depending on their severity, the dog may even present behavioral problems, becoming aggressive in extreme cases.

How do you know if your German Shepherd has dwarfism? What symptoms should alarm you?


A dwarf German Shepherd is a dog that has inherited two copies of a recessive gene that causes them to suffer from this condition.

The most obvious indication that your puppy is a dwarf German Shepherd is that he does not grow normally above a certain height. Evidence of this condition can begin to be seen around two months of age.

Between two and three months of life the growth of the mini toy dog, as it is also called, begins to be slower than in a normal German Shepherd.

From the age of three months onwards, other symptoms can be seen:

The puppy does not shed its coat like the rest of the dogs in the litter, but retains its soft baby coat. Over time his coat may become sparser and shed a little, but he will eventually develop an adult coat. On the other hand, his skin becomes scaly and blackened. In many cases the puppy retains a greater amount of hair on the head and hocks.

In many cases, puppy teeth do not change into adult teeth, and if the puppy teeth fall out, the adult teeth will take longer than normal to grow.

In the case of male dwarf shepherds, the reproductive organs may be smaller than normal and the testicles may not fully form or may not descend at all. In the case of females, their first heat cycle may be long delayed or may not occur at all.

From one to four years the Miniature German Shepherd may still be growing to the maximum size it will reach. The height will vary from one dog to another, but will never be the size of a normal German Shepherd. The cartilage at the top of the leg bones may take until this period to solidify and close completely. At this stage, neurological or spinal related problems may occur due to deficiencies in their formation. In some dogs this deficiency can cause serious problems such as paralysis, pain, difficulty to move, etc. Also a German Shepherd with dwarfism due to these problems can present problems of anxiety and aggressiveness with other animals and also with people.

What other symptoms can dwarf shepherds exhibit? What other diseases are they susceptible to?


In addition to the ailments already described, dwarf German Shepherds are prone to other ailments such as:

Bacterial skin infections due to alopecia Renal failure due to underdeveloped liver and kidneys.

  • Cardiovascular problems
  • Shortness of breath
  • Slow intelligence
  • Secondary hypothyroidism
  • Puppies often have a shrill bark.

What other factors can cause dwarfism in a German Shepherd?

Although dwarfism, as mentioned above, is primarily a genetic condition, other causes that affect the pituitary gland can cause the same problems associated with dwarfism in the dog. What can these factors be?

  • Tumors
  • Cysts
  • Some type of infection

Can dwarfism be prevented in the German Shepherd?

Dwarfism, being a condition of hereditary origin, can be transmitted to an offspring through both parents. This is a condition that is not uncommon in the German Shepherd breed, so much so that it is estimated that 20% of German Shepherds can be carriers of it.

A blood test can be used to determine whether a dog is a carrier of the disease. If the dog is positive, it should not be used as a stud dog.

Unfortunately there are many unscrupulous breeders today who operate puppy farms – also called puppy mills – who are more concerned with profit than with the health of the animals. These breeders do not test the dogs before breeding them and are therefore an uncontrolled source of potential carriers of the disease.

For this reason, it is important that when you purchase a puppy, you ask the breeder to test its parents to ensure that your puppy is not likely to carry the harmful gene.

Can dwarfism in a German Shepherd be cured?


The condition of Dwarf German Shepherd Dog is invariable, it is not a condition that can be reversed or cured. However, although it is a disease that drastically shortens the dog’s life expectancy and brings many health disorders to the dog, there are treatments that can be effective in improving the symptoms of the ailments associated with the condition of dwarfism.

On the other hand, this condition is related to the malfunctioning of the pituitary gland. There are also treatments that can to some extent supplement the functioning of this gland.

A Dwarf German Shepherd Dog can be related to this condition in two ways:

The dog is only a transmitter 

In this case the dog receives only one copy of the recessive gene transmitting dwarfism. Dogs in this category do not show physical evidence of dwarfism, however, they can transmit it to their offspring.

The dog is suffering from active pituitary dwarfism.

In this case the dog has the physical appearance of a dwarf dog and suffers from all the conditions associated with the disease. In this case the dog possesses both copies of the recessive gene, received through its parents.

What is the treatment for dwarfism in a German Shepherd?

As pituitary dwarfism in the German Shepherd Dog is mainly caused by the malfunctioning of the pituitary gland, the first treatment is focused on supplementing the lack of hormones that should normally be produced artificially by this gland.

When a dwarf German Shepherd is given this type of treatment, the symptoms or other problems associated with its dwarf condition will be less severe and the dog will be able to lead a better life.

In most cases, dwarf German Shepherds that undergo these treatments develop adult teeth and grow hair more like a normal German Shepherd.

As with any artificial therapy, it must be taken into account that it can have side effects, in this case, skin affectations such as rashes or cysts can occur.

Care with a Dwarf German Shepherd Dog

If you have a dwarf German Shepherd you should know that it is a special dog, in the sense that it has a health condition that limits its quality of life as well as its life expectancy.

Ideally, you should take your dog periodically to the veterinarian for treatment to supplement the hormone deficiency due to the pituitary gland affectation.

On the other hand, you should be attentive if other symptoms or affections related to his condition appear, such as: difficulty to move, beginning of paralysis or other manifestations of neurological disorders.

Keep in mind that your dog may be affected in the bones and cartilage of the upper part of his paws, so you should be more careful and not subject him to high exercise loads.

Make sure you provide your dog with a balanced diet and do not overdo it to avoid overweight.

What other dog breeds can suffer from dwarfism?

As already mentioned, dwarfism is a genetic condition that is not exclusive to dogs; other animals and even humans suffer from it. However, in the case of dogs there is a higher tendency to suffer from this disease in the following breeds:

Other types of sheepdogs, such as the Australian Sheepdog

  • Samoyeds
  • Labradors
  • Spitz
  • Irish Setters
  • Weimaraners
  • Miniature Pinscher
  • Karelian Bear Dog
  • Border Collies

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