Maybe your German Shepherd is going blind.

Blindness is possible in dogs just like in humans.

Many factors can contribute to it, but genetics also play a big role.

This is why some types of dogs are more prone to blindness than others.

Here’s all you should know about blindness in German Shepherd dogs (GSD).

What Causes a German Shepherd to Go Blind?

The german Shepherd can go blind because of different eye disorders.

For example diseases like; chronic superficial keratitis cause blindness.

Chihuahuas and Bassett Hounds are also susceptible to losing their vision.

Breeding-related abnormalities are frequently to blame for blindness in these breeds.

Due to the natural aging process of dogs’ eyes, old age is another major cause of blindness in canines. [1]

The “number one” cause of blindness in GSD is chronic superficial keratitis or Panus.

Chronic Superficial Keratitis

This immune-mediated illness affects the cornea, the transparent component of the eye.

Various breeds may also be impacted.

However, it typically affects middle-aged German Shepherds and Belgian Tervurens.

The cornea initially develops a non-painful, raised pink mass.

Its located most frequently on the lateral or outside side.

Usually, both eyes are affected, but sometimes one may look more serious than the other.

Commonly, the third eyelid seems enlarged and swollen.

As the pannus worsens, the lesion will flatten, and spread. [2]

It will get dark or pigmented, and scar tissue will cover more of the cornea.

Additionally, a mucoid secretion could be seen.

Extreme cases may lead to vision impairment.

Due to the inability to see in the dark, this occurs.

This occurs because the cornea’s dark pigment prevents seeing through it.

The animal will go blind if the disease is not treated. [3]


In canines, diabetes mellitus (DM) is frequently identified at various stages.

When diabetes is poorly controlled, the development of cataracts and blindness proceeds fast.

The onset of cataracts postpones if diabetes is detected early and treated effectively.

A superior visual outcome is the result of improved blood glucose regulation.

Most dogs (75%) experience cataract development within a year of their DM diagnosis.

As diabetic cataracts grow, they lead to eye inflammation called “lens-caused uveitis”.

Other linked issues like the onset of glaucoma or retinal detachments are brought on.

When vets diagnose diabetes, it’s recommended to look out for cataract emergence.

Topical Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drug (NSAID) therapy can start when cataract development begins.

This lessens the consequences of uveitis and lowers further eye risks. [4]

Additionally, it makes the pet a better candidate for surgery.


Glaucoma develops from an imbalance between the eye’s fluid production and drainage.

As a result, fluid collects, and the ocular pressure rises dangerously.

The retina and optic discs may be destroyed as a result of the increased pressure.

Blind spots or vision loss that develops slowly over time is known as open-angle glaucoma.

High eye pressure accompanied by excruciating pain is known as closed-angle glaucoma.

The majority of dogs with early to moderate long-term glaucoma do not visit the vet.

This is so that owners won’t notice the alterations because the early signs are so modest. [5]

They include enlarged eyes, slight conjunctival vein congestion, and pupil dilation.

Suddenly Acquired Retinal Degeneration Syndrome – SARDS

SARDS leads to irreversible vision loss due to retinal degeneration.

Many patients also have endocrine problems, such as hyperadrenocorticism and hypothyroidism.

Almost half of all patients are diagnosed in December and January.

The mean lifespan of patients presenting is 8.5-10 years.

Female spayed dogs are the most common.

Patients with SARDS lose their sight within hours to days, while others may take a bit longer.

Changes in the retina are typically observed over weeks to months.

An extinguished electroretinogram (ERG) test is the most consistent finding. [6]

Is It Common for German Shepherds to Go Blind?

Yes, it is common for German Shepherds to go blind.

They are prone to a disease called chronic superficial keratitis or pannus.

Their predispositions are connected to the autoimmune response to their eye cells.

SARDS and diabetes also have an autoimmune nature.

So, scientists think that blindness is connected to the genetics of the immune cells.

A mutation in the IFT122 gene has been found in blind dogs, according to a study.

The now-found gene deficiency causes retinal degeneration and the gradual death of photoreceptors.

IFT122 is a brand-new candidate for treating human retinal dystrophy as well.

How Do I Know if My German Shepherd Is Going Blind?

By noticing specific symptoms you will know if your German Shepherd is going blind.

These symptoms include:

  • Eye cloudiness
  • Running into things
  • Anxiety or hesitancy when visiting new places
  • Unwillingness to climb or descend stairs
  • Puffy, Swollen or Red eyes
  • Eye irritation or pawing at the face
  • The dog appears befuddled, dazed, and easily startled
  • Things colliding

Diagnosing Blindness in German Shepherds

It’s critical to take your dog to the vet as soon as you fear it may be getting blind.

Your pet’s vet will perform a thorough physical examination.

It includes measurements of eye pressure and pupil reaction time.

Tests also include body temperature, reflexes, weight, and oxygen level.

You should track your dog’s symptoms and note the changes to inform your veterinarian.

To rule out core disorders, your veterinarian could also do other diagnostic tests. [7]

These tests could consist of:

  • Blood sugar
  • Blood pressure
  • Urinalysis
  • Comprehensive metabolic panel (CMP)
  • Total blood count
  • Blood urea nitrogen (BUN)
  • Tick, heartworm, and fecal testing

Tests Owners Can Do At Home

You may test your dog’s vision at home using the Menace Reflex Test.

Simply put your hand 18 inches away from your dog’s face to do the test.

Then swiftly move your hand such that it is about three inches from your dog’s face.

If your dog is vision-impaired, it should react by blinking its eyes or turning its head.

Otherwise, there may be a problem with his vision.

Another test you can do to evaluate your dog’s vision is the cotton ball test. [8]

To do this, take a cotton ball and hold it in front of your dog’s eyes.

Then, throw it wherever you like to see how your dog responds.

Your dog’s inability to move suggests that his vision may be affected.

Is Blindness in Dogs Treatable?

Maybe blindness is treatable in dogs.

It all depends on the cause and the treatment accessibility.

If your dog has diabetes, taking insulin will delay the onset of an eye cataract.

Medication, a particular diet, and exercise are advised as treatments for hypertension.

Another illness that can get treated with eye drops is glaucoma.

If there is no cure for your dog’s blindness, you should find a way to make your dog as comfortable as possible.

There’s a likelihood that other senses will sharpen over time.

This should compensate for the loss of vision and help them orient.

Blind canines will frequently learn to substitute their vision with hearing. [9]

Blind Pet Adjustment Steps

Your dog can still be active even when they are blind.

Just like with any dog, it’s crucial to keep your blind dog active.

Long walks and tug of war are a couple of simple activities for blind dogs.

Talking to your dog is very crucial because they cannot see you.

You should start teaching your dog some commands right away.

Talking to your dog can help you build a stronger link and a loving relationship with them.

Keep all passageways free, and install gates anywhere your dog might be in danger. [10]

Even when they get used to being blind, you’ll probably need to assist them with accessing the steps.

Covering sharp edges with rubber pads should help with sudden bumps and injuries.

Is My German Shepherd Prone to Blindness?

Yes, your German Shepherd is prone to blindness.

Click here to find out why dogs are color blind.

The types of blindness that occurs are connected to hereditary autoimmune diseases.

Blindness caused by hypertension and diabetes can be prevented and treated properly.

Most of the other types require surgery or are untreatable.

If you notice some eye changes, contact your vet immediately.