why is my german shepherd so fat

Why Is My German Shepherd So Fat?

There are a variety of reasons why your German Shepherd could be fat or overweight. For the most part, it could be caused by overeating, improper diet, and the lack of activity. In some cases, however, it could be due to medical conditions.

Either way, being fat or overweight may affect your German Shepherd negatively, and thus it needs to be addressed.

And so in this article, we’ll discuss the different reasons why your German Shepherd is fat or overweight, and what you can do to get it back in shape.

How To Tell If Your German Shepherd Is Fat Or Overweight

Before you can get your German Shepherd into shape, you would first have to ascertain that it is indeed overweight.

The best way to do so would be to have your German Shepherd weighed and diagnosed by a veterinarian. But other than that, there are methods that will allow you to assess your dog’s weight and shape yourself.

Weight Check

A simple way to check would be to get your German Shepherd on a weighing scale and look to see if it’s weight falls within the following values:

Male German Shepherds:  65 to 88 pounds or 30 to 40 kilograms.

Female German Shepherds: 48 to 70 pounds or 22 to 32 kilograms.

Keep in mind though that these are just averages for adult German Shepherds, and your dog could fall outside this range while still being perfectly healthy.

The Feel Test

Another great way to check if your German Shepherd is overweight is by using the feel test. To do it, simply place your hands on the side of your German Shepherd’s body and try to feel for its ribs. 

If your German Shepherd’s fit, then you should be able to feel each rib without being able to see them. If it’s overweight, however, you won’t be able to feel the ribs due to a fat layer covering them.

Inspect The Appearance Of Your German Shepherd’s Body

The next way to check would be to look at your German Shepherd from two different angles, the top and the side.

Look Down Toward Your German Shepherd’s Body

For the first method, stand behind your German Shepherd and look down on its body.

If it’s healthy, you should be able to see a well-defined waist gradually curving from the ribcage to the hips. Or simply put, your German Shepherd’s chest should be wider than its abdomen.

If it’s overweight, however, your dog won’t have the usual definition but will instead look round or oval-shaped.

Inspecting Your German Shepherd From The Side

The next method would be to look at your German Shepherd from the side to inspect its waist.

A fit German Shepherd will have a waist that’s slightly raised or an abdomen gradually sloping upward from the rib cage. In contrast, an overweight dog will have its waist hanging down, oval-shaped, and leveled with its chest.

Panting And Other Symptoms

Aside from your German Shepherd’s shape, there are other symptoms that may indicate your dog’s overweight. These symptoms are as follows:

  • Excessive panting
  • Tiredness or slower movement
  • Laziness or reluctance to go for walks or play

What’s Causing Your German Shepherd To Be Fat?

Now that you know how to check if your German Shepherd’s overweight or not, let’s now look into the possible reasons as to why your German Shepherd is fat or overweight. That way, you’d have a better idea of how to get your German Shepherd in shape.


A simple and common reason for your German Shepherd’s weight gain is overeating.

Note that German Shepherds need between 1,272 to 2,100 calories daily depending on activity level for it to stay fit and be in proper weight.

If you don’t measure your dog’s portions and don’t calculate its caloric intake, then you may just be feeding it too much.

Improper Diet

Aside from the quantity, you also have to consider the quality of food that you feed your German Shepherd.

Low-quality dog food primarily consists of fats and carbohydrates which will cause weight gain and make it difficult to control your dog’s weight.

Lack Of Exercise

Like humans, your German Shepherd also requires exercise to stay in shape. Lack of activity combined with high food consumption will cause your German Shepherd to become fat and overweight.


Older German Shepherds are naturally less active and have slower metabolism. And so it’s no surprise that they tend to gain weight as they grow older, especially if their food consumption remains high.


Lastly, your German Shepherd’s weight gain may be caused by an underlying medical condition.

Hypothyroidism, for one, slows metabolism down to cause weight gain. While another condition called Cushing’s disease affects the production of the cortisol hormone, which regulates body weight.

How To Help Your German Shepherd Lose Weight

Consult With A Veterinarian

The first thing you have to do is take your German Shepherd to the veterinarian and make sure that it’s weight gain isn’t caused by any medical condition. The vet should also be able to provide you with actionable steps or recommendations to help get your dog healthy.

Adjust Your Dog’s Diet

Next, be sure that you’re providing your dog with the right amount of high-quality dog food.

Again, German Shepherds need between 1,272 to 2,100 calories or 3 to 5 cups of commercial dog food daily depending on its activity level. So be sure to feed your dog with just the appropriate amount. 

Also, avoid feeding your German Shepherd with human food as they’re usually packed with calories and may contain fat or other ingredients that lead to weight gain. 

Provide Enough Exercise

Lastly, try to provide your German Shepherd with exercise daily. 

Ideally, your German Shepherd should have at least an hour of exercise a day, but be sure to take into consideration your dog’s current capability. 

If your German Shepherd has difficulty doing vigorous activities, then you may wish to start with slow walks. If it can’t walk for an hour, then walk for less. Eventually, your German Shepherd will be able to do more activities such as hiking and playing fetch.

Why Overweight German Shepherds Need To Lose Weight

Keeping your German Shepherd overweight will make it more susceptible to a variety of ailments such as joint problems, heart disease, and diabetes. If not addressed, it may even lead to weakness and early death. So, it’s vital that you get your German Shepherd into shape if you want it to be able to live a long and healthy life.

Why Is My German Shepherd So Fat?

To summarize. Your German Shepherd could be fat or overweight for a variety of reasons. The most common of which being overeating, improper diet, or lack of activity. However, it could also be caused by your German Shepherd’s age or health issues such as hypothyroidism and Cushing’s disease.

Again though, no matter the reason, it should be addressed. So keep the guidelines presented in mind and help your German Shepherd become healthy.

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