German shepherds are a unique breed of dog with a strong wolf-like appearance. They are active, energetic and very intelligent pets that usually weigh between 60-80 pounds. Because of their unusual strength, physical nature and intelligence, German Shepherds require owners with knowledge on dietary requirements to stay healthy and active.
If you’re a new owner of a beautiful German Shepherd, you might be curious as to the best diet to keep your dog strong and healthy. With so many options in the dog food market it can be a bit overwhelming. Well here at Furballfun.com we do more then just review awesome dog toys (although thats our favorite – Harvey), let us help break down the mystery of how much to feed your Shepherd.
This article will explore the best diet and nutrients for your dog. We’ll also cover the pros and cons of different products on our way to answering how much to feed a German Shepherd Per Day.
So let’s fetch some info.
What Nutrients Do German Shepherds Need?
The larger the dog the more nutrients needed. German Shepherds being considered a medium to large dog need their fare share of nutrients to grow and stay healthy. These nutrients aren’t so different from a humans needs in the sense that they should include a balanced diet of fats, proteins, carbohydrates, minerals, and water. To keep your pet healthy, make sure to pick out foods that contain these nutrients
German Shepherd breeds are active, which means they need a diet that is higher in both calories and protein. The average adult active dog should consume 1700-2100 calories a day. Obviously this would be slightly less for an older inactive dog or a pup. Consult with your vet for a weight check and to determine the best caloric intake for your pet’s individual needs.
- Protein for German Shepherds
Shepherds need protein, which is a major nutritional requirement and a source of both calories and energy. Beyond regulating their own temperature and giving them energy, protein is also vital for keeping your dog’s immune and musculoskeletal system healthy. Protein builds and repairs muscles in their body. German Shepherds need a minimum of 22% protein to stay healthy as a puppy, while adults need at least 18%.
- Fat for German Shepherds
Dogs also need fat in their diets, which you can get from adding protein-rich foods to their meals. Not only is fat essential for good health but it makes the food taste better. All while giving energy and building muscles, cells, and nerves.
Be careful about over feeding your dog fatty foods. While the obvious affect will be an overweight dog, this can lead to health issues that has you visiting the vet more often. Studies show that obese dogs are twice as likely to develop cancer, diabetes and hypertension. At the same time healthy fats are important for maintaining a healthy skin.
Puppies should consume a lower quantity of fat than adult German Shepherds. Growing puppies need up to eight percent (8%) fat content, while adults require up to five percent (5%) in their meals.
- Carbs for German Shepherds
In general, it’s best to formulate your dog’s meal plan that stays off high carb foods. Instead, it would be best if you got high protein, grain-free foods with moderate fat content.
Your dog’s nutritional needs may change based on factors such as age, size, breed and overall health conditions. An active German Shepherd that runs around the house will require a different meal plan from a similar dog breed that lies on the couch all day. A puppy will require more calories than adult dogs. Also consider if the dog is pregnant it may require a different amount of caloric intake.
Best Type of Food for German Shepherds?
Being a part of the family means we certainly want to get the best food for our dogs that will enable them to grow and maintain a healthy long lasting life. There are a few different types of dog food out there and picking the right one can be hard, but it’s important to do so. The type of food you pick can impact things like your pet’s health.
Most German Shepherd owners feed their dogs commercial canned and dry foods. Some other people prefer a combination of canned and dry food or going with raw diets.
It is important to balance your diet and have the right ratios of nutrients. If you’re selecting commercial dog food, check the packaging for an ingredients list and dietary content on the label
Noted above, protein should be your top priority. High-quality animal sources of protein include lamb, beef, pork, chicken, and fish along with plant-based sources such as legumes. Be sure the food you’re looking at is also full of nutrients and minerals.
We are going to look at the different kinds of dog food and review their pros and cons. However, do remember that not all dogs like the same type of food, so it’s important you try out different foods before deciding on one.
German shepherd owners generally prefer dry dog food, and this preference is often due to the lower cost of such food and its relative ease of storage. There are two kinds of dry food: Cold-Pressed and Kibble
- Cold-Pressed: in short these are meals produced at lower temperatures. Producing the product at a lower temperature helps retain the nutritional value of the ingredients. The thought with this kind of dry food is that by retaining the nutritional value of the ingredients they will in turn help your dog with growth, digestion, and overall good health.
- Kibble: probably the most widely used dog food, kibble is essentially pellets made up of grains, vegetables, meat, and other ingredients. Unlike cold pressed dog food, most dog food brands produce kibble under high temperatures through a process called extrusion. The ingredients are cooked in a liquid form and pushed out through an extruder.
Pro’s of Dry Food:
- Less expensive than canned wet foods or raw diets.
- Uneaten food should last longer then wet foods
- Easy to pack and travel
- Concentrated nutrition provides pet with optimal requirements
Con’s of Dry Food:
- Open or Unopened can be susceptible to going bad over time, shorter shelf life than canned.
- Not as easy to digest and chew, especially for puppies or older dogs
Both kinds of dry meals can be served with or without water. You should check the manufacturer’s recommendations and consult with your vet for best practice. Dry dog food provides a more concentrated way of packaging food. This means that a smaller amount of dry food is needed to meet your dog’s nutritional requirements. At the same time, the content quality of dry foods is similar to the quality in wet and freeze-dried foods. Further Dry foods are less expensive, easy to store, and suitable for larger and older German Shepherds.
Canned Wet Foods
At times during your Shepherd’s life you might find it is having trouble with digestion. This can be for a number of reasons including some age related natural occurrences or some that are just an upset stomach. This is a great time to explore canned wet foods.
Pro’s of Canned Wet Foods:
- Suitable for puppies and Shepherds that find it difficult to chew.
- Contains about 70 to 75 percent moisture helping hydrate dogs that do not drink much water.
- Longer shelf life than dry foods if left unopened.
- Can help with digestion due to the liquid formation.
Con’s of Canned Wet Foods:
- More expensive than dry foods.
- Leftovers can go bad quickly.
- Slightly fewer nutrient content due to the added moisture.
If your dog is having trouble eating and digesting its food or has certain picky habits, it might be a good idea to consider wet canned foods. Some of these foods are of low quality and may contain low-quality ingredients, so make sure to choose a reputable food.
Mixing Dry and Wet Foods
Some owners may feed their German Shepherd with a hybrid of both dry and wet foods. The pet food industry is evolving and some pet owners are switching to wet food toppings, such as gravy or sauces, when on a dry food diet. Doing so offers the best of both worlds and your furry friend will surely enjoy it!
Be sure to check on the caloric intake when mixing the two together. Keeping nutrients at the optimal levels to ensure you don’t cause your pup to get overweight, obese and inactive.
The majority of dog owners mix dry wet foods together during each meal but some people may choose to feed them dry for the morning and wet for the evening or vice versa. If you’re unsure about your pet’s diet, get advice from a professional. They’ll help you determine an appropriate number of calories for your pet.
Most German Shepherd owners prefer to formulate or cook home-made meals for their pets. With home-made diets, you can control your dog’s food and nutrients intake. Albeit, getting the right mix of fats, protein, carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals, and vitamins may be a daunting task.
If you are unsure of the quality and nutritional value of the commercial foods in your location, then home feeding may be your best bet.
Your veterinarian may also recommend home-made diets if your pet has health problems. In most cases, when your doctor needs to diagnose his condition, food elimination trials may involve placing your pet on controlled home-made diets. Also, a combination of disease problems or chronic illnesses may require putting your German Shepherd on home-prepared meals.
Most home feeders prefer to prepare the food and feed their dogs and as a way to develop an emotional bond with their pets.
Preparing home-made food is a great idea. However, it can be time-consuming and more expensive than commercial foods. If you are going to settle for home-cooked diets, it’s best to consult a certified vet or a pet nutritionist to customize a healthy diet for your pet. It would be best to visit your pet doctor for regular health checks to avoid possible nutritional deficiencies.
Raw feeding seems to be gaining popularity among pet lovers. The concept of raw feeding is merely feeding your pets with raw ingredients or food they would have eaten in the wild.
Most pet shops sell raw diets in commercial quantities.
Although most pet owners that feed their German Shepherd with raw diets claim that they see lots of improvement, this food type poses serious challenges for other pet owners.
The major downside of raw diet feeding is making sure the meal is balanced and contains all the ingredients necessary for growth, especially in puppies.
Moreso, formulating raw diets may be difficult, especially if your pet is aging, pregnant, lactating, or sick.
At these critical periods, German Shepherds require different nutritional needs. And if you want to notice any improvement, they must take in these nutrients at optimal levels.
If you decide to go with raw feeding, you should consult your vet or pet nutritionist for guidance. With proper guidance, you can start feeding your German Shepherd puppy with raw food from three to four weeks onwards.
Another major concern with raw diets is bacterial contamination and other food safety issues. Processed foods typically go through a cooking process where the germs, bacteria, parasites, and other pathogens are killed. But when you feed raw, you and your pets will be exposed to the risk of food poisoning and infection from bacteria, including Salmonella, E.coli, and Tuberculosis.
If you are thinking of feeding your German Shepherd with raw diets, you should ensure safe and proper handling of raw foods and consider other food safety issues. You can either prepare the food at home or purchase commercial raw food products.
We get it. There are occasions where you want to feed your dogs with raw diets like raw fish, meat, and veggies, instead of dry or wet formulated dog food. Do well to ensure that your German Shepherd is getting all the required nutrients or isn’t at risk of diseases.
For adult German Shepherds, you may want to try meat with high protein and low-fat foods like
- Raw meat and meaty bones
- Semi-boiled or baked meat and organs like liver.
- Cooked fish (mackerel, sardines, salmon, trout, etc.)
Meal Plans for German Shepherds
The amount of food you should give your German Shepherd depends on her age, size, activity level, health condition, food type, and brand. Underfeeding or overfeeding your dog has serious consequences. So as your pet grows, you need to weigh and feed her with the food quantity that matches her weight.
Puppies typically eat more than adult German Shepherds because they need more nutrients and calories to grow and develop body parts.
More so, if your German Shepherd is a couch dog, it will consume less food than working police or sled German Shepherd dog that exercises all day. Working or security dogs need food with high protein content to provide extra calories for their daily activities.
Another essential thing to consider is your dog’s health condition. If your dog is ill or pregnant, your vet may recommend increasing the amount of food you give your dog. Pregnant or lactating dogs typically need more calories and high energy foods to keep up with daily energy demands.
Meal Plan By Weight
There are lots of German Shepherd food brands out there. However, you need to look for foods that meet your pet’s unique dietary requirements.
A few great recommendations from Hungry Bark include:
- Superfoods with Chicken, Turkey + Brown Rice
- Superfoods with Turkey + Duck (Grain-Free)
- Superfoods with Lamb + Turkey (Grain-Free)
- Superfoods with Salmon (Grain-Free)
If you doubt how much food your dog needs, you should check the meal pack. Most dog food brands provide feeding calculators to help you work out how much your pet needs.
Hungry Bark recommends these daily serving amounts for your German Shepherds.
- 3lbs: 29-43 grams daily
- 5lbs : 43-58 grams daily
- 10lbs: 58-86 grams daily
- 20lbs: 129-192 grams daily
- 40lbs: 192-244 grams daily
- 50lbs: 244-288 grams daily
- 60lbs: 288-331 grams daily
- 70lbs: 331-431 grams daily
- 80lbs: 431-517 grams daily
- Above 36kg (>80lbs): You should add half a cup for every additional 7kg (15 lbs).
Lactating German Shepherds need more calories than other adults. So If your female pet is lactating, you should visit your vet or pet nutritionist to recommend the best feeding schedule and amounts for your pet.
Puppies typically need three times the amount of food as adults. And Hungry Bark recommends thrice of daily adult servings for German Shepherd puppies. However, if your puppy’s activity level is low, you should stick to twice the daily adult servings to avoid obesity.
If you are transitioning to Hungry Bark’s dry food, you should feed your pet 75% of the old food and 25% of the new food in the first three days. Within the next 4-6 days, you can serve your pet 50% of the new food and 50% of the old food.
In the next 7 to 10 days, you should feed your dog 25% of the old food and 75% of the new food. By day 11, you can fully transition to the new food.
Wet Canned Foods
If you feed your dog with wet canned foods, you should check the product’s feeding guide to determine the right quantity for your puppy or adult German Shepherd. For instance, most manufacturers recommend that dog owners feed their dogs one of the 3 oz cans per 3 or 3.5 pounds of the dog’s weight and split it into two or more meals.
Whether you are serving your dog dry or wet canned foods, please provide plenty of fresh and clean drinking water from a clean bowl. However, when the food and water become excessive, you may be overfeeding your pet.
Meal Plan by Age
- Six Week Old German Shepherd
- At six weeks old, your puppies are still very young and should be nursing and feeding off their mother’s milk. They require the nutrients in their mother’s milk to grow and the antibodies to ward off infections.
- At this point, your job is to increase the mother’s protein and fat intake. She needs all the calories and energy she can get to feed her puppies. Also, you need to check on the puppies very often to ensure they are taking in enough milk.
- Ten Week Old German Shepherd
- When your puppies are about eight to ten weeks old, you can gradually take them off their mothers’ milk and feed them with wet food. Puppies need more food than adults to accelerate growth and develop muscles, so you need to increase their food intake.
- Wet foods have about 70 to 80 percent moisture content. And because your puppy’s dentitions are still developing, they can easily adjust to their transition to solid foods.
- Twelve Week Old German Shepherd
- You can gradually transition your German Shepherd from wet to dry foods at 12 weeks old. The best way to achieve this is to feed them with wet and dry foods at different intervals. You can mix about ten to 12 percent of dry foods into their food and increase the percentage of dry foods in bits as weeks go by.
- Three Months Old German Shepherd
- At three months old, your dog should have fully switched to dry food diets. It would be best to buy dry food products that are for German Shepherds of that age. You need to consider your dog’s weight while planning their diets and feeding intervals.
- Four Months Old German Shepherd
- By four months old, you can gradually introduce live animal products into their food. You can mix the dry foods with live food ingredients like raw eggs, live and meaty bone. The raw foods will supplement some of the nutrients that are missing in the dry foods.
- It is crucial to ensure that your meal combinations and nutrients in them do not exceed recommended levels. You should contact your pet nutritionist to formulate a suitable meal plan for you.
- Five Months Old German Shepherd
- At five months old, your puppy should have gotten used to the dry and raw meal combinations. You should also cut back at how often you’re feeding them. Rather than provide them three meals daily, you can cut it down to twice (mornings and evenings).
- Six Months Old German Shepherd
- You can introduce live ingredients into their dog foods like liver, crushed animal bones, veggies, and live eggs by six months. These additions will help them build immunity against diseases, develop and strengthen muscle and tissues. Do well to keep their meals at twice per day to avoid overfeeding.
- Eight Months Old German Shepherd
- At the age of eight months, you should maintain a strict diet and feeding routine for your dog. If you want to introduce new foods or brands, you should start with about five to ten percent of the new food plus 90 to 95 percent of their old food.
- As times go-by, you can increase the proportions by ten percent weekly until they are comfortable with the new meal. You can do well to introduce special home-made meals as treats for your pets once a month.
- Most people are tempted to feed their dogs with general dog foods. German Shepherds are unique dog breeds, and feeding them with general-purpose diets may cause diarrhea or vomiting.
- One-Year-Old German Shepherd
- At the age of one, your German Shepherd will begin to eat less food.Suppose you have noticed this already. Don’t be scared. It’s natural for older dogs to eat less food than younger dogs because their metabolism rate is slower.
- At this stage, you can limit the feeding frequency to once a day. If you don’t cut down, your food may be wasted. Plus, it is best to avoid late-night feeding. Feeding them before dark will make the food digest early, keep them healthy and athletic.
How Often Should I Feed My German Shepherd?
German Shepherds have different nutritional requirements at different stages of their lives. Although most food brands recommend feeding frequencies based on their meal formulation, here’s the average number of times you should feed your pet daily.
If your puppies are between six to 12 weeks old, you should feed them four meals daily. Puppies between the age of 12 to 24 weeks should eat at least three meals a day.
When your German Shepherds are six months old, you can reduce their meals to twice a day. Also, you can further reduce their meal to once a day when they are one year old.
There you go. We have discussed the nutritional requirements and the best types of diets for your German Shepherds. Our article has also highlighted the best meal plan suited to your dog’s age and weight.
Here’s what you need to know.
Feeding your pet with nutritious diets is a way to show them how much you care. Healthy nutritious diets can strengthen your pet’s immune system, improve your dog’s behavior, skin and coat.
When feeding your German Shepherd, do your best to stick to the recommended meal plan and choose the brands with the best and high-quality ingredients.
If you notice anything unusual with your lovely pet’s feeding pattern or health, please consult your nutritionist or veterinarian.