German Shepherds, also known as GSD, are loved by many canine fanciers worldwide. So if you recently opened your home to one, the most common question to ask is, “How much food should I feed my German Shepherd?”
As large breed dogs, they have great appetites. However, as their primary caregivers, you cannot just allow them to eat anything they see or want.
Their nutrition and health should be the utmost priority when feeding them.
Planning out and giving a nutritious diet for your German Shepherd puppy is vital for their growth. It will keep them active and at their optimum potential day in and day out.
To help you out, continue reading this German Shepherd feeding guide. We will tackle many details, such as a proper feeding schedule, choosing out the best dog food, foods to avoid, and so much more.
German Shepherd Feeding Chart by Age: How Much to Feed Your German Shepherd?
Like any other breed, your dog’s diet varies in different stages of its life. A puppy may need to be fed more frequently than adult dogs, and they may also have differences in nutritional needs.
We’ve provided you with feeding charts in this section to help you plan your dog’s meal and food intake from puppyhood to adulthood.
However, it is essential to note that this is not a one-size-fits-all guide for feeding your German Shepherd. It should be adjusted depending on your dog’s needs and the recommendation of your pet nutritionist or dog’s vet.
Generally, German Shepherds need high-quality food to maintain their large stature, strong teeth, high energy, stunning coats, and healthy bones. A full-balanced healthy diet is vital in all of its life stages.
German Shepherd Puppy Feeding Chart (2 to 12 months)
When it comes to German Shepherd puppies, they should be enriched with high-protein foods and moderate amounts of fat content, preferably from animal or meat sources, so that they can grow into healthy adults.
To know the feeding requirement of your German Shepherd puppy, refer to the feeding chart below:
|Age||Daily Food Quantity|
|2 – 3 months||1 – 1.5||1050 – 1500||22 – 25%||8%|
|4 – 5 months||1.5 – 2||1200 – 1400||22 – 25%||8%|
|6 – 9 months||2 – 3||1600 – 1800||22 – 25%||8%|
|10 – 12 months||3 – 3.5||1700 – 2000||22 – 25%||8%|
Following these feeding guidelines can help your puppy’s muscle growth and bone development and prepare them for daily training and activities.
Feeding them right can also strengthen their immune system, making them combat common bacteria and viruses that they can get in social settings.
Adult German Shepherd Feeding Chart (1 to 6 years)
Like other shepherd breeds, German Shepherds are expected to reach their full-grown size at 12 to 18 months, although they may be much smaller in size if they have recessive dwarf genes.
Thus, they need to have all the nutrients they need at this age. As pet owners, we must aim to have healthy adult dogs. This means we need to provide them with a balanced diet.
As an adult German Shepherd, they will need different nutritional requirements than puppies.
Their adult food should give sufficient proteins and fats without putting too much strain on their vital organs or causing obesity.
To help you determine the needed daily consumption of your German Shepherd, refer to the table below:
|Age||Daily Food Quantity|
|1 – 6 years||3.5 – 4||1700 – 2400||18%||5%|
Following this chart can play a vital role for your adult dog to reach its standard size and weight. This can also help preserve your dog’s health to avoid severe health problems in the future.
Senior German Shepherd Feeding Chart (7 years and above)
Senior German Shepherd dogs tend to be less active and have much more fragile bones and joints than younger dogs. Therefore, they may need dog food with lesser fat, protein, and calorie content.
Like other aging dogs, an old German Shepherd may likely have a sensitive stomach and be pickier when it comes to commercial dog food and even their usual kibble.
However, you must still ensure that they get the essential nutrients they need.
The feeding chart below shows the daily consumption an old German Shepherd dog must have:
|Age||Daily Food Quantity|
|7 years and above||3.5||1300 – 1600||16%||>5%|
Generally, aging dogs can continue their adult dog food, given that there are slight adjustments since they won’t need as many calories as active dogs.
However, it is still advised to ask for a senior-specific diet from your vet or pet nutritionist just to be safe.
If you choose to give your German Shepherd dog homemade foods in all of its life stages, you may need to self-calculate and monitor its daily calorie consumption.
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German Shepherd Feeding Frequency: How Often Should You Feed Your German Shepherd?
Feeding German Shepherds has numerous factors to consider. How much you are providing them is crucial, but knowing how often you need to feed them is essential, too.
Initially, feeding German Shepherd puppies begins with four puppy food meals daily. This starts during the weaning process when they are slowly given solid foods aside from their mother’s milk.
Then gradually, it should be transitioned into three equally proportioned meals a day at two months old.
At around ten months, slowly transition your puppy’s feeding time into two meals daily, particularly breakfast and dinner.
This gradual change should go on until they are 12 months old. After that, they should eat twice a day naturally during adulthood.
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Optimal Feeding Time for German Shepherds
Another common question from new German Shepherd pet parents is, “When should I feed my German Shepherd?”
To reach optimal health and growth, young German Shepherd puppies should have a tight daily feeding schedule.
Young puppies have a faster metabolism compared to adult dogs. That’s why they need shorter meal intervals, preferably only a few hours apart. Not only that, a puppy’s blood sugar is regulated through these frequent feeding times.
In general, the last meal of your puppy for the day should be hours before its bedtime, so they have enough time to digest the food before they go to sleep.
As for transitioning puppies to adult German Shepherds, the three meals should be given in the morning, noon, and nighttime, so they may be provided with a full breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
This is crucial for their growth, especially if they are active and working dogs. Having a feeding schedule can also help monitor their food intake to avoid weight-related issues.
The optimal feeding time for adult and senior German Shepherds would be during the morning and night for their two meals daily.
Lastly, as owners, we must seldom give treats to our German Shepherds, preferably only during training. Too much of anything may be bad for your dog.
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Best Dog Food for German Shepherds
A good dog food for your German Shepherd puppy must be formulated for large breeds. Moreover, it should provide the sufficient nutrients needed for growth and development.
There are many commercial dog foods in the market, but you can also offer your GSD puppy homemade dog food or a raw diet. What’s important is it’s nutritious and healthy for your dog.
Consulting a vet is strongly advised to give your German Shepherd the best diet suited for its lifestyle.
To help you in this dilemma, the list below has dog food options you may want to consider offering to your GSD puppy:
- Dry Food: Dry food or kibble is a commercial food widely available in pet stores and dog food manufacturers. It’s affordable, easy to store, and does not spoil quickly. A number of dry foods are formulated to provide a balanced diet for dogs, but checking their nutritional guidelines and value is crucial since a German Shepherd puppy may need high carb foods. Furthermore, eating dry food can help maintain your puppy’s dental hygiene. However, dry foods don’t contain water, so it’s best to serve a fresh bowl of water nearby.
- Wet Food: Wet foods or canned foods are another option to feed your GSD puppy. It can be mixed with their dry kibble to add water or moisture to their diet. These kinds of commercial foods are expensive and can spoil quickly, and they may not be enough if fed alone to your puppy.
- Home-Cooked Diet: If you’re not into raw food, canned food, or other commercial dog foods, you may want to try home-cooked diets in your GSD puppy feeding plan. You can monitor directly what your dog eats, and you’ll feel much more at ease knowing you prepared it yourself.
- BARF Diet: Biologically Appropriate Raw Food is a type of diet that consists of raw meat, raw eggs, crushed animal bones, fruits, vegetables, probiotics, and other natural ingredients. Raw feeding is given as a substitute for processed foods with preservatives. However, you must consult your vet regarding raw diets to avoid bacterias that may upset your dog’s stomach.
Check out this video for a vet’s brief guide to feeding your dog a raw diet:
Another vital factor to note is your dog’s age and sex. We know a German Shepherd is a large breed dog. However, males tend to grow bigger and heavier than females, needing more food consumption.
A German Shepherd puppy may need to eat at frequent schedules with smaller meals, while adult ones may not need to be fed much often but will need more significant meal portions each time.
Overall, these dog food choices can cater to your German Shepherd’s needs. They have different pros and cons, so consulting your vet may be the best thing to do to know the best choice for your dog’s feeding plan.
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Foods to Avoid Feeding Your German Shepherd
Since German Shepherds have large appetites, we must always be mindful of what goes inside their mouths. They tend to eat whatever falls from the dinner table or even whatever food they set their sights on.
As we talk about food diets, we must not forget those foods you must avoid feeding your German Shepherd puppy.
Generally, they may not be too sensitive to dog foods or ingredients, but other foods may be fatal to them.
Firstly, let’s tackle food and ingredients that can be fatal to German Shepherds, even if it’s ingested in small amounts.
Coffee is one of the most toxic foods to dogs. They contain caffeine, which causes cardiac arrhythmias, high blood pressure, vomiting, tremors, and seizures.
If you’re a coffee-lover, make sure you have a secure place to store it away from your pup.
Another toxic food German Shepherd owners should not feed their dog is chocolate. As yummy as this is, chocolates contain theobromine. All dog breeds cannot metabolize this substance. That’s why it’s poisonous to them.
Gums, peanut butter, and candies that contain xylitol are also toxic to dogs. It causes disorientation, hypoglycemia, seizures, and collapse.
This is much more threatening than coffee and chocolate, so you need to be extra careful with this.
Aside from those mentioned above, there are many other toxic foods you should avoid feeding German Shepherds. They may not be fatal, but they can cause discomfort and progress to severe diseases.
It pays to check the food label all the time to safeguard your German Shepherd’s health. If you doubt certain foods or ingredients, you may consult a pet nutritionist or veterinarian just to be sure.
Many large breed dogs visit vet clinics due to unmonitored food intake. It is best to prevent this, but in case of accidents or unforeseen circumstances, it’s wise to know all the medical and emergency costs so you can prepare ahead.
Here’s an article to help you determine the medical and essential costs for your German Shepherd, along with some of the items you should be providing them with.
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How to Transition Your German Shepherd to a New Food
Puppy milk may not work on a three-month-old pup anymore. It only fits a week-old German Shepherd.
You may need to mix dry and wet foods at a certain age for your pup, or maybe you want to incorporate raw foods in their adult diet just like many dog owners do.
From mother’s milk to puppy food and adult dog food, there will always be a lot of food transitions when it comes to your puppy.
You just have to make sure you know how to do it correctly, and you provide the most nutritious dry dog food or wet food.
Switching your dog’s diet instantly will not only affect your dog’s weight but can also cause digestion problems and loss of appetite. You should give enough time for your dog to adjust to a new food gradually.
Like other shepherd breeds, you should allow a 7-day transition period from feeding German Shepherds their old food to their new diet.
According to the American Kennel Club (AKC), 25% of your dog’s new diet is given in the first couple of days, with 75% of their old diet. Then gradually increase it to 50% on the third day, and 75% on the 5th day.
By the 7th day, they suggest that dog owners feed 100% of the new diet since the dog should’ve adjusted totally at this transition stage.
However, you must monitor your dog’s response while switching the proportions of their diet. If there is discomfort, vomiting, or diarrhea, you may opt to slow down the process even more or consult your vet directly.
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Feeding an Overweight German Shepherd
If you free-feed a German Shepherd, it may likely cause excessive weight gain or obesity. This can cause extra pressure on your dog’s bones and joints, developing into hip dysplasia, leading to pain and decreased mobility.
Furthermore, it can easily cause heavy or labored breathing during sleep and irregular movements, such as climbing stairs.
Aside from dog food or canned food, a few more factors that can cause an overweight dog breed are table scraps, treats, and not enough exercise.
There are a lot of alternatives for treats bought from pet stores, such as fruits and vegetables. These are easier to digest, lighter, and healthier.
Eliminate table scraps and leftovers in their diet as they are unnecessary to these large breed puppies.
Following a specific schedule with specific amounts of puppy food can significantly help lose weight. Implementing control in their daily meals can help reduce unnecessary food consumption.
It is essential to understand that having an overweight dog is more likely caused by the lifestyle owners expose their dogs to. This is highly preventable if owners stay firm in their dog’s feeding plan.
Make sure to monitor your dog’s weight regularly to check its weight loss progress. Also, inform family members about the diet plan, so your German Shepherd will not be too spoiled with food.
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Frequently Asked Questions
Why Is My German Shepherd Not Eating?
There are a lot of factors why your GSD is not eating. It could be triggered by illness, dental problems, and environmental stress.
But it can also be because of adverse reactions to medicines, sudden changes in food, increased body temperature, or your dog just being a picky eater.
Sticking with your feeding schedule helps let the dog know that it’s time to eat. However, if your dog refuses to eat for more than 24 hours, it’s best to consult your vet right away.
Do German Shepherds Eat a Lot?
As a large breed dog, you can expect a German Shepherd to have a huge appetite. They are always eager to eat, may it be dry food, raw, or canned food.
However, it is crucial to know when or how much to feed a German Shepherd to avoid weight problems and severe diseases. After all, being a responsible owner can contribute significantly to your dog’s quality of life.
Can German Shepherds Eat Bones?
Yes. German Shepherds can eat bones as it is a great source of minerals. Furthermore, it strengthens your dog’s teeth and gums as it improves dental hygiene and prevents plaques.
However, there are cons to consider, too. According to AKC, if you want to consider giving them bones, there are certain rules you have to follow, such as giving them raw meat bones and throwing them out after three to four days.
Can German Shepherds Be Vegetarians?
Generally, German Shepherds can thrive and survive on a vegetarian diet, provided that they are supplied with enough nutrients, proteins, fats, and calories on a daily basis.
However, the best way to plan a vegetarian diet for your dog is to consult your vet or pet nutritionist, so your dog’s health may not be compromised by an unsure lifestyle change.
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As pet owners, we must be sure of how much and when we should feed them. Since German Shepherds are energetic dogs with huge appetites, we must put extra effort into planning out their diet.
Options such as dry, wet, raw, and homemade diets are all great for them. Free feeding them or giving too many treats can lead to severe health problems.
It is also essential to know what foods are healthy and should be avoided, as some foods are toxic.
However, aside from research, we need to consult their vet to ensure that we provide them with essential nutrients for growth, good health, and development in all stages of their life, especially for giant German Shepherds,
If you have other tips in feeding a German Shepherd, make sure to share them in the comments below.
My name is John Carter and I absolutely love pets, especially cats and dogs. I’ve got a Bachelor of Science degree in Animal Behaviour and Welfare and have several years’ experience working in animal shelters and rescues. My passion for animals started at a very young age as I grow up on a farm with several horses, cows, cats, chickens, and dogs on our property.