It is so exciting to bring home a German Shepherd puppy. You can’t wait to spend time with your cute pet, start training it, and teaching it new tricks.
But serious pet owners understand that this breed needs a lot of care. German Shepherds are a large breed dog which requires a special diet to counter the breed’s health problems.
You must know your GSD puppy’s nutritional needs and how these change as your pet grows–having a German Shepherd as a pet is a significant responsibility because they rely on you for everything.
You can start your new role by learning how much your German Shepherd eats throughout its life.
How Much Should I Feed My German Shepherd?
German Shepherd puppy food is different from an adult dog’s. This difference is because as a large breed puppy, their nutritional needs change through their life stages. Puppies tend to eat a lot because they are growing at an accelerated rate.
Their growing needs mean that you should meet their nutritional needs to raise a healthy, strong adult German Shepherd.
Use the guidelines here to help take care of your German Shepherd‘s feeding needs as a puppy and an adult dog.
German Shepherd puppy feeding guidelines
A German Shepherd puppy must eat a balanced diet containing various nutrients such as fats and proteins to build muscle and bone.
Equally, phosphorous and calcium must form part of their diet if they will grow into healthy adults.
A German Shepherd puppy’s diet should comprise:
- 20% of protein
- 10% of fat
- Equal portions of calcium and phosphorous in their food diet
- Five hundred calories daily for the first few months should gradually increase to 1,600 calories as the puppy matures into a young adult.
After weaning from its mother’s milk, the transition from liquid nutrition should slowly include solid food like dry kibble.
Initially, the mixture should be more liquid than solid until the puppy’s digestive system adjusts to this new food.
This mixture should also be mashed, making it easier for the puppy to consume. Pet owners can increase the solid food every three days, gradually reducing the amount of liquid in the puppy’s food.
The transition period from liquid to dry food like kibble can take around 12 weeks. Your pet should weigh anything from 10 to 30 pounds during this time.
In terms of feeding schedule, puppies should get about five meals daily, with the amount of food in each meal containing approximately 1 ¼ and 2 ¼ cups of dry food.
After you have entirely weaned your puppy off wet food, you can begin a dry food feeding regimen. A general feeding guide should look like this chart between 3 and 14 months, based on body weight.
|Age in weeks||Weight in pounds||Cups daily (250 ml/250g)||Meals|
|13 to 22||18 to 40||2 ¼ – 3 ½||3 to 4|
|23 to 27||36 to 58||3 ½ – 4 ½||3|
|28 to 40||45 to 80||3 ½ – 4 ½||3|
|41 to 56||80 to 100||4 ½ – 5||5|
|57 to 65||100+||5||2|
|Add ½ cups of food for every 10 to 20 pounds of weight above 100.|
This table offers a general guideline to feeding amounts that can be adjusted to suit individual puppy and young adult needs. Active dogs may require more food to match their energy levels and sedentary dogs may need less. If you are unsure how much and what to feed your German Shepherd, speak to your vet for clarity.
GSD adult feeding guidelines
You should closely follow German Shepherd puppy and adult feeding guidelines. The reason is that this breed has a short colon in comparison to others.
A shorter colon means that digesting their food is more complex, and you should closely watch this situation to prevent health problems.
One of the German Shepherd’s major health issues is that it is prone to bloating, which in severe cases, can unfortunately kill this dog breed.
How much food you should give your German Shepherd adult dog and what type of food it should eat are essential because of this genetic weakness.
Nutrition for adult German Shepherd dogs should consist of a balanced diet, rich in proteins from meat, fats, carbohydrates, fiber, vitamins, and minerals that support an active lifestyle.
High-quality store-bought foods should already contain the prescribed balance of healthy dog meals and a minimum of fillers or preservatives.
Your adult German Shepherd will need at least 2,000 calories of food daily, which amount you can adjust for their gender, size, activity levels, and age.
For less active German Shepherds, the caloric intake can be reduced to 1,500 daily with a leeway of 200 calories on either side of this figure.
Dog owners should check the contents of the food they purchase to ensure the following composition in their German Shepherd’s feed:
- A meat protein content ranging from 18 – 24%. Proteins should come from fish, mammals, or chicken or dried meat meal. Be aware that some store-bought food is too high protein.
- Fat levels of at least 14%, 5% of should be from flaxseed, chicken, or canola oil.
- Carbohydrates must possess a slow-release, low-glycerin content or should be low enough to maintain the German Shepherd’s insulin at a steady rate.
- Adult feed phosphorous and calcium ratios should reflect a balance of 2.1:1.
- Feed must contain DHA to support and maintain a healthy brain and visual function.
It is often a good idea to supplement store-bought food for adult German Shepherds with a raw diet.
You can even cook vegetables at home and complement the adult dog’s food with extra vitamins and minerals, like Omega fatty acids, as required. But keep in mind that GSDs can’t eat many human foods, as they are toxic to dogs.
What Is The Best Dog Food For German Shepherds?
Always choose an age-appropriate quality food for German Shepherds as they have sensitive digestive tracts.
Puppies also reach adulthood at around 14 months and continue to grow until they are about two years old. Choose your pet’s food accordingly.
Another consideration when selecting German Shepherds’ best food is the calcium content. Excessive or insufficient calcium in the food can promote bone growth problems such as joint dysplasia.
The best commercial food choices for your German Shepherd include:
- Dr. Gary’s Best Breed German Dog Diet
- Merrick Grain-Free Large Breed Chicken and Sweet Potato
- Instinct Raw Boost with Real Duck Dog Food
- Victor Purpose Nutra Pro Dog Food
- Iams Proactive Health Large Breed Adult Dry Dog Food
- Taste of the Wild Southwest Canyon
- Orijen Puppy Large Dry Dog Food
- Holistic Select Large and Giant Breed Adult Health Dog Food
- Blue Buffalo Wilderness Salmon Adult Recipe Dog Food
- Diamond Naturals Large Breed Adult Chicken and Rice
- Eagle Pack Power Adult Dog Food
Always check the German Shepherd food guidelines above and match these to the dog food brands listed.
Ensure that the calcium and phosphorous ratios are 1:1 for puppies and 1:1.2 for adult dogs as an imbalance of calcium can seriously impact your pet’s health.
Much research has gone into developing dog food for German Shepherds, so your job is more straightforward. Ensure that you purchase the right dog food for your pet’s age and growing needs.
When switching food brands and types, ensure that you transition slowly from puppy food to adult food to allow your pet’s digestive tract to get used to the new food.
Can German Shepherds Be Overweight?
How much does a German Shepherd eat depends on how much you feed your pet?
Stick to expert guidelines, and you can prevent overeating that leads to excess weight gain.
Excess weight mainly occurs when dogs and owners consume too many calories for their activity levels. Weight accumulates when dogs consume more energy from food than they burn off.
Extra weight leads to lethargy, depression, and more inactivity, creating a vicious cycle.
Overweight and obese German Shepherds will eventually develop structural problems such as joint dysplasia.
Hip dysplasia is already a common problem in this breed, and obesity exacerbates this disease’s potential in the animal.
Heart problems and diabetes are other health problems commonly found in German Shepherds. Again, overeating and a lack of exercise will increase your pet’s chances of poor health.
If your dog is not overweight from overeating, other overall health problems may be contributing to being oversized.
Hyperthyroidism can cause a sudden loss of weight or a weight gain, as can Cushing’s disease. Unexplained weight gains or losses are cause for concern.
Take your pet for a complete exam to check where the problem lies.
Age can also be the reason why your pet has put on weight. In this case, it is best to adjust their food intake in line with their decreased activity. Old German Shepherds are typically less active so will require fewer calories.
Overweight dogs have an increased risk of developing life-threatening diseases. They are also prone to dying if they must undergo surgery.
Taking care of your pet means that you should avoid the temptation to overfeed it as they are masters at tugging at your heartstrings.
The best thing you can do to care for your pet is to keep it slim and active if you want to provide it with a quality life.
It is simple to find a guide to how much German Shepherds eat in theory. However, turning this theory into practice can be a bit of trial and error.
Important facts to note are that puppies’ nutritional needs are vastly different from adult dogs.
Also, keep an eye on the quality of food you give to your German Shepherd as their digestive systems are far more sensitive than most dogs. Ultimately, you’ll need to keep track of your GSD’s health and wellness and monitor your dog’s body over a long period and make any changes based on how they respond to the food you choose.