As German Shepherd owners, we strive to provide our dogs with the best care. And so we consider a lot of their needs, such as exercise, mental stimulation, and even social needs. But probably the most important one we have to address is their nutrition. But just what and how much should we feed a German Shepherd for it to be healthy?
Well, let’s find out as we look further into a German Shepherd’s nutrition. In this article we’ll discuss how much a German Shepherd should eat, its nutritional requirements, and I’ll also provide a German Shepherd feeding guide to try and make the whole feeding process easier for you.
How Much Should A German Shepherd Eat?
On average, adult German Shepherds should eat at least 1,272 calories to 2,100 calories daily, depending on factors such as age and activity level. Older and less active German Shepherds tend to require around 1300 calories daily, while the active and energetic ones typically need at least 1700 calories a day.
Note, however, that these values are specific to adult German Shepherds, and a German Shepherd puppy’s diet will differ significantly.
Puppies will need twice the amount of calories per pound of weight as compared to adult dogs. And so given that adult dogs need about 35 calories per pound of weight daily, a German Shepherd puppy will need 70 calories per pound of weight a day.
Meaning, a 3-month-old puppy weighing 30 pounds will need at least 2100 calories daily to cater to its growth and development.
What Affects How Much Your German Shepherd Should Eat?
As previously mentioned, your German Shepherd’s food intake depends on its activity level. The more active a German Shepherd the more calories and food it needs to eat to replace lost energy.
Age also factors into your German Shepherd’s food intake. For instance, puppies need more calories per pound as compared to adults daily to facilitate growth and development.
Aside from that, older German Shepherds tend to become less active and will need to eat less food.
Your German Shepherd’s health and current weight will determine how much you should feed it. Simply put, you should feed your dog more if it’s underweight, and less if it’s overweight if you wish to prevent medical conditions.
An underweight German Shepherd will be more prone to malnutrition and, thus, skin infections, lack of energy, and even depression. Whereas an overweight German Shepherd will be more prone to medical conditions such as arthritis and hip dysplasia.
To know if you’re German Shepherd’s the right weight, here’s a growth chart which shows a German Shepherd’s average weight depending on age:
Average Weight And Height By Age For Male German Shepherds
|1 Month||5.5 – 9 lbs / 2.5 – 4 kg|
|2 Months||16 – 20 lbs / 6 – 9 kg|
|3 Months||22 – 30 lbs / 10 – 14 kg|
|4 Months||35 – 40 lbs / 16 – 18 kg|
|5 Months||40 – 49 lbs / 18 – 22 kg|
|6 Months||49 – 57 lbs / 22 – 26 kg|
|7 Months||57 – 62 lbs / 26 – 28 kg|
|8 Months||62 – 66 lbs / 28 – 30 kg|
|9 Months||64 – 71 lbs / 29 – 32 kg|
|10 Months||66 – 73 lbs / 30 – 33 kg|
|11 Months||66 – 75 lbs / 30 – 34 kg|
|1 Year||71 – 75 lbs / 32 – 34 kg|
|2 Years||71 – 84 lbs / 32 – 38 kg|
|3 Years||79 – 88 lbs / 36 – 40 kg|
Average Weight And Height By Age For Female German Shepherds
|1 Month||4.5 – 8 lbs / 2 – 3.5 kg|
|2 Months||11 – 17 lbs / 5 – 7.5 kg|
|3 Months||17 – 26 lbs / 8 – 12 kg|
|4 Months||31 – 35 lbs / 14 – 16 kg|
|5 Months||35 – 44 lbs / 16 – 20 kg|
|6 Months||44 – 49 lbs / 20 – 22 kg|
|7 Months||49 – 53 lbs / 22 – 24 kg|
|8 Months||53 – 57 lbs / 24 – 26 kg|
|9 Months||55 – 60 lbs / 25 – 27 kg|
|10 Months||57 – 62 lbs / 26 – 28 kg|
|11 Months||60 – 64 lbs / 27 – 29 kg|
|1 Year||60 – 64 lbs / 27 – 29 kg|
|2 Years||62 – 66 lbs / 28 – 30 kg|
|3 Years||66 – 70 lbs / 28 – 32 kg|
Note that these numbers are averages, and a German Shepherd can be smaller or larger than indicated while still being perfectly healthy.
German Shepherd Nutritional Requirements
Other than simply minding the amount of food to feed a German Shepherd, you should also consider the quality of the food and the nutrients that it provides.
Feeding your German Shepherd with low-quality dog food will cause malnutrition and lead to overeating and health issues like poor skin, gastrointestinal issues, and osteoarthritis.
So, when it comes to choosing your German Shepherd’s dog food, you must look out for two important ingredients, protein and fat. The dog food you choose must provide at least 22% protein and 8% fat for puppies or at least 18% protein and 5% fat for adult German Shepherds.
That said, not all protein and fats are created equal. And so, do also consider the sources of such nutrients. Ideally, your German Shepherd’s protein must come from whole meat sources like beef, fish, poultry, and organ meats. In the same way, your German Shepherd’s fat must also come from healthy sources such as fish oil and vegetables.
Choosing The Right Dog Food For Your German Shepherd
Since puppies have different nutritional needs as compared to adult German Shepherds, it can be quite confusing to determine which food you should get for your dog.
But really, it shouldn’t be. After all, commercial dog food companies have made it easy by producing specially formulated dog food that provides specific nutrients a dog needs based on breed and age.
And so the only thing you have to do is confirm whether or not a specific dog food brand satisfies a German Shepherd’s nutritional requirement.
That said, there are a lot of choices in the market out there. So if you’re ever unsure of what to feed your German Shepherd, feel free to ask a veterinarian for recommendations.
German Shepherd Feeding Guide
Now that we understand your German Shepherd’s caloric and nutritional needs let’s now look into the feeding process, particularly the specific feeding amounts, frequency, and mealtime length.
German Shepherd Feeding Amounts
As a general guideline, here’s how much you should feed your German Shepherd according to its age:
- 16 weeks old and below: ½ to 1 full cup of food per meal.
- 16 weeks to 9 months old: 1 cup to 1 ¾ cup of food per meal.
- 9 months to 12 months old: 2 cups to 2 ½ cups of food per meal.
- 12 months old and above: 2 ½ to 3 ½ cups of food per meal.
Feel free to adjust these amounts based on your dog’s activity level.
German Shepherd Feeding Frequency
Much like the feeding amounts, your German Shepherd’s meal frequency will vary depending on its age. Here’s how many times you should feed your German Shepherd daily:
- During the weaning process or at 8 weeks old and below: 4 daily feedings spaced at equal intervals.
- 8 weeks to 9 months old: 3 daily feedings spaced at equal intervals.
- 9 months to 12 months old: Transition to two daily feedings, once in the morning and the other in the evening, and about 12 hours apart.
- 12 months old above: Two daily feedings unless advised a different schedule by the veterinarian.
For evening meals, it would be best if you feed your German Shepherd a few hours before bedtime. That way, you’ll prevent your dog from having excess energy and needing to go on toilet breaks during the night.
Finally, as much as possible, set about a maximum mealtime length of 15 minutes. That amount of time would be sufficient enough for your German Shepherd to eat its fill and will help prevent your dog from becoming a picky eater.
Feeding A German Shepherd Puppy
German Shepherd puppies need more care and supervision than adults. So, let’s look further into how to feed them.
When To Start Feeding A Puppy Dry Food
Ideally, a puppy should be nursed and fed by its mother up to the first 8 weeks of its life. However, to get your puppy used to eating dry food, you would want to introduce dry food starting at around 4 to 6 weeks of age.
To do so, soften up dry food by mixing it with milk replacer, and offer it to your puppy 3 to 4 times a day. As your puppy gets used to eating the food, gradually decrease the amount of milk replacer until the puppy eventually adapts to eating solid food.
Your puppy should get used to eating dry and solid food by around 8 weeks of age.
When To Move On From Puppy Food
You typically want to move on from puppy food as the dog approaches physical maturity. For a large breed like the German Shepherd, you should start transitioning into adult food starting at around 12 to 24 months old.
Make sure to do this switch slowly over a one to two week period by mixing and gradually increasing the adult food with the puppy food to avoid or minimize gastric upset.
Feeding A Senior German Shepherd
Your German Shepherd’s diet will then again change as it turns into a senior. This is as senior dogs typically require fewer calories due to lower energy needs brought about by lesser activity and slower digestion. Therefore, to keep your senior German Shepherd in shape, you must consider a low-calorie, high-fiber, and moderate protein and fat diet.
Usually, you can keep on feeding your senior dog with a decreased amount of its adult food or with specially formulated food for older dogs. But, considering older dogs may already have medical conditions that need to be addressed, your best bet would be to consult with a veterinarian to come up with the ideal diet for your senior German Shepherd.
Should You Give Your German Shepherd Supplements?
As a general guideline, do not provide your dog with supplements unless directed by a veterinarian. And for the most part, if you’re feeding your German Shepherd with high-quality dog food, then it will most likely already have all the nutrients it needs, and you shouldn’t have to worry about giving it supplements in the first place.
Aside from providing your German Shepherd with food, also always remember to give it enough water to hydrate. If possible, provide your German Shepherd free access to clean and fresh drinking water to prevent dehydration.
At this point, you might be boggled with how much you have to consider for your German Shepherd’s nutrition. Yet again, however, it’s not meant to be confusing as feeding your German Shepherd with commercial dog food would generally be sufficient. And as always, if you find yourself needing help, you can always consult with a veterinarian.