The aims of this retrospective study were to describe the morbidity and mortality in German shepherd dogs (GSD) in Sweden, based on insurance data, and to test the hypothesis that GSDs are predisposed to immune-related diseases. Morbidity was defined as incidence rates and based on veterinary care events. Mortality was defined as mortality rates and based on life insurance data. The study included 445,336 dogs, 7.3 per cent GSDs, covered by both veterinary care and life insurance between 1995 and 2006 in the Swedish insurance company Agria (Agria Insurance Company, Stockholm, Sweden). For veterinary care events (morbidity) GSDs were most over-represented for immunological disease, with a relative risk (RR) of 2.7, compared with the risk in all other breeds combined. The most common disease category (morbidity) in GSDs was skin disorders with an incidence rate of 346.8 cases per 10,000 dog years at risk. The highest RR for cause of death in GSDs compared with all other breeds was for skin conditions (RR=7.8). Locomotor disorders were the most common cause of death in GSDs. The GSD is predisposed to immune-related disorders, such as allergies, circumanal fistulae and exocrine pancreatic atrophy, with significantly increased risk compared with all other breeds.