Your dog is part of your family, so you want to make sure that they can get the veterinary care they need if an issue ever arises. But, with potentially expensive veterinary costs, many people wonder whether pet insurance for their German Shepherd (GSD) makes sense.
In many cases, getting insurance for your German Shepherd will indeed be worth the cost. However, there are a few things to consider as well. For example, your GSD may be covered, at least partially, by your homeowner’s policy. You will also want to think about other expenses related to owning a German Shepherd and how much money insurance can save you.
In this article, we take a comprehensive look at pet insurance for German Shepherds. Is it worth it and what are the biggest expenses? How to get your German Shepherd insured and what are the options? We also discuss which breeds may not be insured. Without any further ado, let’s delve right into our German Shepherd Insurance guide.
Are German Shepherds Covered by Insurance?
There is no straightforward answer to whether German Shepherds are covered by insurance. The short answer is that it depends entirely on your policy. In terms of your home insurance policy, there’s a reasonable chance these dogs are covered. Some policies will cover your dog but others won’t.
However, there’s an important caveat here. Your homeowner’s insurance policy is unlikely to cover your German Shepherd’s vet care like a pet insurance policy would. Instead, a homeowner’s insurance policy would cover damage or injuries caused by your dog.
Simply put, standard home insurance policies tend to cover injuries caused by animals. The problem arises from the fact that some companies will exclude German Shepherds from this coverage. Others will include your dog but increase your premium.
Whether or not your homeowner’s insurance will cover your German Shepherd also depends on other factors. One is where you live, as whether or not you are held liable for your dog biting a trespasser varies by state. Some states also have one-bite laws that protect you from being held liable if it’s the first time your dog bit, someone.
Your insurance provider may also exclude all German Shepherds, along with other breeds with less-than-stellar reputations. Insurance companies may also determine whether your dog is covered based on his bite and training history. The coverage may also depend on whether your dog is vaccinated.
What About Pet Insurance?
If you buy a separate pet insurance policy for your dog, then this will typically focus on covering the cost of veterinary treatment, not liability from bites. That being said, some policies do let you add this type of liability coverage to your pet insurance.
However, the reason you would buy pet insurance is to prevent having to pay significant out-of-pocket expenses for your dog’s vet care in the future. Think of it as health insurance for your pup.
Biggest Expenses in Owning a German Shepherd
As you try to decide whether pet insurance for your German Shepherd is worth it, you will likely want to look at the overall costs of owning your dog. You’ll also want to know what portion of these expenses veterinary bills account for.
To give you an idea of overall expenses, consider the following average costs associated with owning a German Shepherd:
- Buying or adopting the dog: $100 to $10,000 or more (largely depending on whether you adopt or buy and bloodlines)
- Food: About $700 a year
- Grooming: $50 to $1,000 a year (depending on whether you do it yourself)
- Initial vaccinations and treatments: About $500
- Obedience: About $600
You will notice that a lot of the cost of owning a German Shepherd comes down to your preferences. If you want a purebred dog that you can enter in AKC shows, that will easily be the biggest cost for a while. For most people, however, veterinary care and grooming will be the highest cost.
A Closer Look at Vet Costs
The fact that vet costs tend to be the most expensive part of owning a German Shepherd is especially important. The costs mentioned above only account for the initial vaccinations and treatments and are only estimates. Remember that spaying or neutering your dog can cost anywhere from $50 to $800 or so.
Moreover, other estimates say that you can expect to pay about $630 for your dog’s first year of vet treatment, not counting spaying or neutering. After that, you can expect to pay about $675 per year.
On top of that, if your dog develops any conditions, the costs can skyrocket. For example, treating hip dysplasia can cost $500 to $13,000 to treat. Degenerative myelopathy can cost between $500 and $3,000. Allergies can cost between $100 and $2,000 a year. Unfortunately, German Shepherds have a high risk of developing all of these health issues, especially as they age.
Other common problems that affect the breed include gastric dilation and volvulus (which will cost $1,500 to $3,000 to treat) and lumbosacral instability plus degenerative disc disease (which will cost $500 to $3,500 to treat). Even other smaller yet common issues can add up, such as pannus, which costs about $700 to treat annually.
The bottom line here is that vet costs are most likely to be the largest expenses you will have for your German Shepherd unless you get lucky and he’s incredibly healthy throughout his life. However, as long as your dog has a long life, he’s likely to have at least some expensive problems.
What Dog Breeds Does Insurance Not Cover?
As mentioned earlier, homeowner’s insurance usually includes coverage in case your dog bites someone on your property. This is important as, in most states, you would be liable and have to pay for the cost of their treatment.
Unfortunately, some insurance companies have blacklisted some dog breeds. The list of blacklisted dog breeds includes some that you would expect to see based on their reputation, like Pitbulls. But there are also some surprises, such as Labrador retrievers.
This is because most insurance companies will determine which breeds to blacklist by looking at the data for dog breeds that have bitten the most people in recent years. To some extent, that means that more popular breeds are more likely to be on the blacklist, as there are more of them as pets and therefore have a higher risk of bites.
That being said, some of the breeds on the blacklists are there because of having higher rates of biting people or being able to potentially cause more damage with their bites.
Every insurance company will have its own blacklist of breeds it does not cover and this may vary from year to year. That being said, the following are some of the breeds that may not be covered:
- Alaskan malamutes
- Chow chows
- German Shepherds
- Labrador retrievers
- Presa Canario
- Wolf hybrids and coyote hybrids
Although less common, some insurance companies will also exclude or blacklist the following breeds:
- American bulldog
- Cane Corso
- Caucasian shepherd
- Great Dane
The best way to tell if your German Shepherd is covered is to contact your insurance agent or insurance company. If you have another breed as well, don’t assume that it is covered just because it is not on either of the above lists. Your insurance company may be an exception to the rule and have a stricter list.
What to Do if Your German Shepherd isn’t Covered
So, what happens in a situation where your homeowner’s insurance policy doesn’t cover your German Shepherd? The simple solution is to get a supplemental insurance policy. There are policies specifically designed to cover dog bites, which is what your homeowner’s insurance would have covered.
As mentioned, you may also be able to add liability coverage for bites to your pet’s vet insurance, although this is not always an option.
Can German Shepherds Be Insured?
Yes, German Shepherds can be insured, either via your homeowner’s insurance or a separate pet insurance policy. Which of these you choose will largely depend on your goals.
As mentioned earlier, your homeowner’s insurance covers the costs associated with your dog biting or otherwise injuring someone who is on your property (liability coverage). Meanwhile, pet insurance covers your dog’s veterinary treatment.
You can also find some pet insurance policies that let you add liability coverage for an extra fee.
Just keep in mind that not all insurance companies will insure German Shepherds. Some have breed restrictions or other restrictions in place.
If your insurance company does cover your German Shepherd, you should expect a small increase in your premiums when you add him or her to the policy.
Are German Shepherds Excluded from Homeowners’ Insurance?
As mentioned, some homeowners’ insurance policies do exclude German Shepherds while others don’t. It is in your best interests to check your policy’s details or ask your insurer directly to be sure. Remember that even if your German Shepherd is covered by your homeowners’ insurance, this is liability coverage, not coverage for vet costs.
The Bottom Line
Whether to get insurance for your German Shepherd can be a complicated decision. To start, your dog may already have some coverage under your homeowner’s policy. However, this is just liability coverage in case he or she bites someone. If you want coverage for vet costs, you need a pet insurance policy.
It is your decision as to whether you think pet insurance is worth it for your German Shepherd. If your dog remains exceptionally healthy, you may spend more on insurance than you save or break even. However, it is much more likely that you will save more than you spend on insurance, especially as your dog ages.
Because of this, most people will find it worth it to get pet insurance for their German Shepherd. Think of it as a small price that ensures you can always afford your canine’s future treatment.