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Are German Shepherds Prone to Obesity?

Are German Shepherds Prone to Obesity?

Are you wondering if your German Shepherd might be overweight and if the breed is particularly prone to obesity?

Although German Shepherds are a very active breed, they are actually especially prone to certain issues such as weight gain and joint problems. All sorts of things can cause your German Shepherd to become overweight, from genetic diseases to a lack of exercise to an improper diet. It is important to keep your dog at a healthy weight so they can live the most comfortable life possible.

This article will discuss the reasons that German Shepherds are prone to obesity, how to tell if your dog is overweight, and how to make sure your dog stays at a healthy weight.

Are German Shepherds prone to obesity?

Are German Shepherds prone to obesity? Yes, they are more likely than some other breeds to become overweight, simply due to their genetics. Since they are also prone to certain joint diseases which go hand in hand with weight gain, it is especially important to keep an eye on your German Shepherd’s weight as they get older.

Is it bad for my German Shepherd to be overweight?

Obesity in your dog is no small matter. It is an issue that can actually take as many as three years off of your dog’s life. Although it may seem cute to have a “chunky” German Shepherd, it is important to know that obesity can lead to a number of serious health issues for your dog.

Some issues which are often caused or intensified by obesity are:

  • Arthritis
  • Hip dysplasia
  • Heart or lung issues
  • ACL issues
  • General stress on the body
  • …and more.

German Shepherds are a breed that is already more likely to suffer from arthritis and hip dysplasia, and being overweight can only increase the risk of these conditions.

Other problems such as heart and lung disease and ACL issues can be caused by obesity. In general, excess weight puts a lot of stress on the body, leading to a higher risk of injuries and discomfort. Your German Shepherd’s quality of life will be vastly reduced due to all of the issues mentioned above.

So, in summary, it is not ideal for your German Shepherd to be overweight. It is very important to make sure you are paying attention to your dog’s weight and doing what is necessary to keep them at a healthy size. Your dog cannot go on a diet or exercise to shed a few pounds alone—it is up to you as the owner to do so for them.

What can cause my German Shepherd to gain weight?

When asking yourself “Are German Shepherds prone to obesity?” you may also wonder what the most common causes of weight gain are. By far, the most common cause of gaining weight in dogs is simply overeating. 

If you allow your dog to have access to food all day without restriction—also known as “free feeding”—your dog is probably eating too much. Likewise, if you are not measuring the amount that your pup should be eating each day and are giving them too large of portions, then they are also overeating.

In addition to the amount of food your German Shepherd is eating, the quality of the food is also a very important factor to consider. If the food is full of excess empty carbohydrates, it may cause your dog to gain weight. Human food can also cause weight gain.

Lastly, lack of exercise or some medical issues may be responsible for weight gain. If your dog gets the proper amount of exercise each day and they are not being overfed, you should consult a veterinarian to determine what is causing the weight gain.

How can I tell if my German Shepherd is overweight?

Since you see your dog every day and German Shepherds are especially fluffy under all their fur, it can be hard to tell if they have gained weight. The most accurate way to tell if your pup has gained weight is to weigh them, whether at a veterinarian’s office or at home. However, there are also some signs you can monitor at home:

  • You should be able to press along your German Shepherd’s sides and feel each of their ribs without being hidden by fat.
  • From the side and while standing upright, your dog’s belly should not hang down as low as their chest. There should be some definition between the belly and chest.
  • From above, you should see some definition in your dog’s “waist.” Their abdomen should be smaller than their chest.
  • If your German Shepherd becomes out of breath or seems to have no interest in running or playing, they may be overweight and out of shape.

All of these are things you can keep an eye on at home to check if your German Shepherd is overweight. Once again, however, the most accurate and reliable indicator is to have your dog regularly checked out by a veterinarian.

How can I prevent weight gain in my German Shepherd?

To prevent weight gain in your German Shepherd, there are a number of things you can do. 

Firstly, make sure that you are not overfeeding your dog. Check what the recommended amount of food per day is for their ideal weight and do not feed any more than that. 

Secondly, ensure that your dog is getting the proper amount of exercise every day. If they are out of shape and never get to go outside and work off some of the calories they are consuming, then they will easily gain weight.

Lastly, you should be getting your dog regularly checked out by a vet. This will help to ensure that they are in good health and maintaining an ideal weight. 

How much exercise does my German Shepherd need?

The average German Shepherd needs at least an hour and a half of exercise every day. This can be split up into multiple smaller walks or play sessions if you like, but you should make sure that your dog is getting at least this amount of exercise per day.

Some good ways to exercise your German Shepherd include going on walks, taking them for runs or hikes, play sessions such as fetch or tug-of-war, or training sessions where you teach them new tricks such as agility. German Shepherds are working dogs who love to be taught specific tasks to do, so training is a good way to exercise them both physically and mentally at the same time.

How can I get my German Shepherd to lose weight?

The first thing you should do when beginning to get your German Shepherd to lose weight is to determine what is causing the weight gain. If you have simply been overfeeding your dog, then that is an easy fix! Check how much food your dog should be getting and adjust to the proper amount. 

If you have been feeding your dog an unhealthy brand of food, then switch the brand to something healthier. There are even brands of diet food specifically made for weight loss, although you may need a prescription from a vet to get one of these.

If your dog has not been getting enough exercise, you can simply begin taking them on more walks or runs to get them to be more active. If none of these things apply, however, your dog’s weight may be due to an underlying medical condition.

Should I take my German Shepherd to the vet?

If none of the above factors apply to you—as in, your dog is active, you are not overfeeding them, and they are eating a healthy brand of food—yet they are still overweight, it is time to head to the vet. Your German Shepherd’s weight gain may be due to an underlying medical condition, and in order to treat it, you need to figure out what it is.

In general, if you are ever in doubt, you should consult a veterinarian for professional advice.

Should I stop giving my German Shepherd treats?

You do not have to stop giving your dog treats, but it is important to monitor just how many they are getting. Just like how humans can gain weight from eating too much candy, too many treats can throw off your dog’s calorie intake and cause them to become overweight. You should also make sure that the treats you are giving your dog are not overly unhealthy or high-calorie.

Are table scraps bad for my German Shepherd?

You should never feed your dog table scraps. Dogs are not made to properly digest human food, and while they may go crazy for your after-dinner scraps, you are essentially feeding your dog packs of pure fat with little nutritional value for dogs. If you want to give your dog a treat, you should find some healthy treats made for dogs and restrict them to that.


Are German Shepherds prone to obesity? Yes, among other things such as joint issues and hip dysplasia, German Shepherds can easily become overweight. It is important to monitor your dog’s diet and health to ensure that they are not overeating or suffering from an underlying health issue, as obesity can drastically reduce their quality of life.