German Shepherd Feeding Guide
Australian families love German Shepherds! These gentle giants are incredibly loyal companions who make for great watch dogs and playmates for kids. Adopting a dog can be a joyous time in your life, but it also comes with a lot of new challenges to navigate. So what exactly does your German Shepherd need, to live a fit and healthy life?
In this German Shepherd feeding guide, we’ll take you through the key stages of puppyhood and explain what kinds of foods and what amounts are best for your growing puppy. We’ll also cover some of the common health and wellness questions you might have, such as how many times a day you should feed your German Shepherd, or what kind of diet you should start them on.
You’ll also learn more about the weaning process, how to use treats to your advantage, and a few great all natural dry dog food options to feed your German Shepherd.
How Much Should You Feed a German Shepherd Puppy?
The best food for German Shepherd puppies in their first four weeks of life is milk from their mother. This specialised care is usually left to German Shepherd breeders or veterinarians, who are knowledgeable in caring for pups with no mother to nurse from.
If you have recently brought a German Shepherd puppy into your family, they are most likely older than 8 weeks, and so have started to eat solid foods.
It’s good for pups to get used to eating dry food while they are still young. After the four-week mark, it is advised to include some dry food in their diet. You can do this in a few simple steps:
- Mix some dry food with specially formulated puppy milk to form a soft mixture. You can feed your puppy this mixture three to four times a day.
- Over time, reduce the amount of milk you include in this mixture, until they are at the point where they are happily eating dry foods.
- Once your pup has adapted to eating solid foods, you should feed them ½ to 1 cup of food per meal.
Read on to learn how much you should feed your German Shepherd puppy as they get older.
4 Months – 10 Months
German Shepherd puppies do a lot of growing in their first year of life! These puppies will usually weigh around 20% of their adult weight by the time they are two months old. By three months, their weight should double to 40%. German Shepherd puppies will continue to grow by 10% each month until they hit seven months old. With this rapid growth can come some risks. German Shepherds are susceptible to bone growth disorders, like hip dysplasia, that can start in puppyhood. Because of this, it’s vital to feed your pup the right amount of food and monitor their feeding patterns.
The exact amount you’ll feed your puppy will depend on the specific food you’re using. Different foods have different caloric values, and therefore, different amounts will be necessary. Refer to the brand-specific feeding guide or your veterinarian for more information.
10 Months – 12 Months
Your German Shepherd puppy’s body will reach maturity as they approach their first birthday. They will be very active in their adolescent years, and so should be fed with this in mind. The transition from puppy food to adult food should happen between 12 and 24 months of age. This is because, being a larger breed who grows very quickly, you want to ensure that you are feeding them according to their large breed needs.
Remember that the more active the pup, the more food they require. While following feeding guidelines is important to avoid over and underfeeding, you can adjust the amounts of food you provide to your dog based on level of activity. If you are unsure, it is always best to ask your vet for guidance.
What Should You Feed German Shepherd Puppies?
You need to take special care when considering what you should feed your German Shepherd puppy, as they require different nutrients compared to their adult counterparts.
German Shepherd puppies need to eat food that is high in proteins and fats. Protein is essential to your pup’s developing tissue, while fats will assist in healthy brain, skin, and eye function. Hypro Premium’s Turkey & Lamb Grain Free kibble, for example, contains fatty acids such as Omega 3 and emu oil, which are essential for ensuring that your puppy’s joints and muscles can keep up with your puppy’s naturally high energy levels. Carbohydrates are also essential for supporting your active pup.
German Shepherds & GDV
As mentioned, German Shepherds can be at risk of bone development problems as they age out of puppyhood. However, they can also be at risk of gastric dilatation or volvulus, or GDV. Certain dog breeds can be more susceptible to GDV; particularly deep chested breeds including German Shepherds. GDV can occur when a dog bloats a few hours after eating a meal. While some instances of bloating are harmless, GDV occurs when a dog’s stomach expands and twists into a bubble, constricting blood flow and potentially causing death.
Though the exact causes of GDV are not known, eating large volumes of dry foods with a higher fat content is suspected. You should avoid dry foods that list oils or fats among the first four ingredients on the label. If you are concerned about your German Shepherd’s risk of developing GDV, talk to your vet about preventative measures you can take when feeding, hydrating, and exercising your dog.
How Much Should You Feed a German Shepherd Adult Dog?
The amount of food you give your German Shepherd is determined by their weight, energy levels, age, and reproductive status. For most adult German Shepherds on a maintenance diet, calorie requirements range between 1,435 to 1,780 calories per day. Female German Shepherds, which tend to be about 8 kilos lighter than males, may need less food, as will less active dogs. Dogs who need less food, whether they are less active or simply older, will usually still need around 1,300 and 1,780 per day.
German Shepherds should be fed twice a day, once in the morning and once in the evening. Their daily allotment of food should be split between these two meals. For most dogs, it is recommended that you exercise your dog before meal times to assist with potty training.
Though it may be tempting to bring your GSD out for a run or some exercise after a meal, this isn’t advisable for dogs who are at risk of GDV. Please allow at least 2 hours minimum before your dog exercises after a meal. You should also try to give your German Shepherd a high quality food that is designed for larger or working breeds, especially if they are very active.
There will be times in your dog’s life where their feeding needs might change. For example, less active senior dogs will need to eat less food as they will not be burning calories as quickly as a lively little puppy will. Senior dogs may benefit from a higher fibre and lower calorie diet.
Your dog may also develop chronic or short term medical conditions that require specially formulated food. German Shepherds can be particularly susceptible to skin disease or allergies, including canine atopic dermatitis, bacterial skin infections, flea allergy dermatitis, or forms of contact dermatitis. Before adjusting your GSD’s diet, consult with your veterinarian if your dog is having skin issues.
If you are unsure about what you should feed your German Shepherd, you should always consult your vet as they will be able to determine if your dog is suffering from any allergies or chronic health issues: creating a nutritional plan to help keep your dog healthy and happy for years to come.
Best Food to Feed German Shepherds
It can seem like there are too many options when it comes to feeding your German Shepherd. Part of figuring out what you should feed your German Shepherd includes deciding between wet, dry, or a raw food diet.
Wet food for German Shepherds is often high in protein and fat, and is better at keeping your dog hydrated than other food sources. This can help prevent GDV in German Shepherds. However, it often doesn’t keep as well as dry foods.
Dry dog kibble is a good option for your German Shepherd as it keeps well and can help keep your dog’s teeth clean. However, low quality kibbles that may not always meet your dog’s nutritional needs.
A raw diet can be a good option for your German Shepherd as you have more control over the kinds of food and amount of nutrients your pup is consuming. For this reason, raw diets require a lot more work on your part as an owner.
Whatever you decide to feed your German Shepherd, all adult dogs need minimum nutrient requirements met.
Make sure you check the ingredients on any prepared dog foods you feed your German Shepherd to make sure they contain the required values of nutrients. Always check with your vet before changing your dog’s diet.
How To Make Sure Your German Shepherd Stays Healthy and Fit
Food is a very important factor of your dog’s overall wellbeing. One way to upset your dog’s overall fitness is by providing them with too much food. Don’t fall for those puppy dog eyes – too many calories in your dog’s diet can increase your dog’s risk of developing a serious chronic illness. The amount of food you feed your dog should be determined by their activity levels, age, weight, breed, and size. Your dog’s health is also impacted by the type of food they are given. Any meals prepared for your dog need to contain the right balance of nutrients. You will need to adjust these nutrients in your dog’s food as they move through each stage of life.
You should also be extra careful not to introduce your dog to foods that are harmful to their health. While we might enjoy the taste of nuts, artificial sweeteners, and onions, these can be toxic for dogs and can cause serious illness and even death. German Shepherds in particular need plenty of exercise as they are a large active breed with a lot of energy.
How Often Should I Feed My German Shepherd?
No matter how old your German Shepherd is, it is important to keep to a consistent feeding schedule. This can assist in house and obedience training, as well as monitoring your dog’s food intake. A feeding schedule can help you keep track of any changes in behaviour around food that might signal illness or physiological stress.
|Under 8 weeks||4 times a day|
|8 weeks – 9 months||3 times a day|
|Over 9 months||2 times a day|
Adult dogs should be fed once in the morning, and once in the evening. You should consider how exercise fits into your dog’s routine. It can be useful for your dog to get some exercise after their evening meal in particular, to make sure they have time to burn off all that energy before bedtime.
How Many Treats Should I Feed My German Shepherd?
Dogs love getting treats! They are vital if you are using positive reinforcement to train your pet, as they are the perfect incentive your dog needs to behave in the way you need them to. Treats are a great tool to help your dog overcome behavioural issues that can be problematic or dangerous for your family. Any kind of aggression, including nipping or possessive behaviour around food or toys, should not be tolerated as it can lead to injuries. You can use different treats to reward certain behaviours, with high value treats like chicken pieces only being given to reward exceptional behaviour.
While dog treats are a lovely way to show affection and approval, they should only be given in moderation. For an adult dog, no more than 10% of your dog’s total caloric intake should come from treats. Treating can turn into overfeeding if you aren’t carefully monitoring your dog’s diet.
Hypro Premium for Adult Dogs
Hypro Premium offers a range of tasty and nutritious foods that are a great source of all the nutrients your German Shepherd needs to stay fit and healthy.
For puppies weaning off milk and onto solid dry food, try Grain Free Turkey & Lamb kibble. Its expertly crafted formula includes natural premium ingredients like turkey, lamb, beans, peas, potato, carrot, spinach, and natural oils that are vital to healthy development. Grain Free Turkey & Lamb kibble supports joint, skin, and coat health, as well as immune system development.
For adult German Shepherds, Grain Free Kangaroo & Turkey kibble is a great choice for supporting the health and wellbeing of your active dog. This kibble is full of real meat proteins, derived from kangaroo, turkey, and chicken, and high-quality fats to promote sustained energy. It also helps to maintain gut and joint health, and contains carbohydrates to keep your German Shepherd going all day long.
All Hypro Premium dog foods contain plenty of antioxidants and minerals that assist in keeping dogs of all ages healthy. And if you’re wondering how much a German Shepherd costs to feed, Hypro Premium offers excellent affordable delivery options so your dog never runs out of that delicious Hypro Premium goodness.