Big German Shepherds love nothing more than a nice, big meal after a long walk or jog with their pet parents. To keep a German Shepherd happy and healthy, how much should a German Shepherd eat?
German Shepherds will eat a lot of food, as these large dogs need nourishment to support their active lifestyles and larger frames. There are typical feeding guides you can follow based on your dog’s age and weight, but you may need to make adjustments based on your dog’s particular needs.
Knowing what a German Shepherd should eat is just as important as knowing what to feed them.
How Much Should A German Shepherd Eat?
A typical German Shepherd outside of their puppy year should eat, on average, three cups of dry kibble every day. This kibble should be spaced out throughout the day in meals. If you want to give your German Shepherd some wet food, you should take that into account when determining how many overall calories you should feed your dog.
Most pet foods will have a chart on their packaging that will tell you how many calories are in each cup, as well as how much of that particular food is recommended for the size of your dog. You might have to adapt feeding recommendations in order to ensure your German Shepherd is happy.
You don’t want to overfeed your German Shepherd, as it could lead to weight issues. It can take some time to learn your individual German Shepherd and their cues, as they might sometimes ask for more food than they need.
Finding the balance between making sure your German Shepherd is eating enough versus how much they can trick you into thinking they’re hungry when they just want to overeat is hard, but can be done.
How Much To Feed German Shepherd Puppies
When German Shepherds are little puppies under one-year-old, you will be slowly increasing the amount of food they are eating each month. When they are able to start eating kibble, they will start off with around a half cup a day, increasing about one-fourth a cup of kibble each month until they reach one year old.
This food should be split up between meals, from two to four per day depending on how often your German Shepherd puppy gets hungry. If you have to feed them a little more because they are growing to be quite the large dog, that should be okay.
You should also ensure that the food your German Shepherd puppy is eating is high in protein. You should aim for a kibble with at least 25% of protein, and it’s best to aim for protein from animal sources. Be sure that you’re feeding your puppy appropriate food formulated specifically for puppies as well.
How Much To Feed Young Adult German Shepherd
Every dog grows differently, so knowing when and how to change their feeding can be tough. With large dogs like German Shepherds, they reach their adulthood at a later stage than many other dogs.
As you’ll be working with a vet when your German Shepherd is young, they’ll be able to give you a better indicator of when your dog will reach adulthood based on how they are growing.
Typically speaking, your German Shepherd will be considered an adult when they have grown to about 80% of their expected size. This will usually happen within the first 24 months of their life. When they are becoming an adult, you will want to slowly transition your German Shepherd from puppy food to adult food, so their systems don’t get too overwhelmed by new food.
You can do this transition by mixing their puppy food with their adult food in small increments, slowly increasing how much adult food is in their bowl versus how much puppy food is in their bowl.
How Much To Feed Older German Shepherd
When your German Shepherd is fully grown, they should be eating between two and three cups of dry kibble per day. This range could potentially be adjusted if your German Shepherd is smaller or bigger than the average adult German Shepherd.
Your German Shepherd may also have to eat more or less depending on their life stage and activity level. For instance, an active, male German Shepherd adult may have to eat closer to four cups of dry kibble per day. Once your German Shepherd gets older and starts to slow down, they will need less calories to sustain them.
When your German Shepherd reaches their senior stage of life, they might not be as active as they once were. Getting your senior dog to exercise is still important, but you should be aware that they could be slower on walks. There are foods formulated specifically for senior dogs to be sure they get adequate nutrition to remain healthy in their older age.
How To Avoid Underfeeding And Overfeeding German Shepherds
Pet parents know that it can be difficult to manage meals in a way that keeps your pet satisfied but also keeps their health in mind. With German Shepherds being so active and being so large, feeding them can be a challenge. This is because you want to avoid overfeeding or underfeeding your German Shepherd.
It’s good to know that a German Shepherd should have some fat on their bodies. They shouldn’t be skinny dogs. Too much fat can be a problem, especially if your German Shepherd becomes overweight. This could lead to a variety of health problems, especially as they get older. Thankfully, there are ways to avoid overfeeding your German Shepherd to the point that they become overweight.
If your German Shepherd is constantly asking for food and isn’t distracted easily from asking for food, there’s a chance that they are still hungry. If you are giving your German Shepherd a bunch of treats or sharing your food with them often, it’s possible they are eating too much, especially if you’re not adjusting their kibble to account for their extra calories from other sources.
How To Feed An Overweight German Shepherd
If your German Shepherd becomes overweight, it’s best to talk with a trusted veterinarian about how to create a proper diet and exercise plan. Adjusting their food with the goal of weight loss is very difficult to do on your own, and underfeeding your German Shepherd can cause just as many health problems as excess weight does.
Adjusting your German Shepherd’s diet to help them lose weight is only part of the trick. You may also have to increase their activity or dedicate more time to playing with them to help them burn off some of the calories they are consuming.
You might also have to change the particular food they are eating, or cut down on the amount of treats they are receiving. They may not like this, but they’ll thank you later when they remain healthy for a long time.
What German Shepherds Should Eat
German Shepherds need to eat a diet rich in animal-based protein. This high protein is going to make sure their muscles remain nice and strong, and their diet is satiating enough to give them energy to get through the day. A diet lacking protein could cause your German Shepherd to become excessively hungry, which can lead to overfeeding them.
Protein is also ideal to keep their joints, bones, and muscles in tip top shape to avoid potential health issues down the line. German Shepherds are susceptible to injury due to their active lifestyle, and are known to develop joint issues later in life.
German Shepherds don’t really need a lot of carbs. In fact, many sources of carbohydrates in dog food can upset your German Shepherds tummy, as they are dogs prone to bloating and gas. If the food you choose does contain carbohydrates, try to avoid foods with oats, corn, rice, and wheat.
What German Shepherds Shouldn’t Eat
Letting your German Shepherd have a little nibble of your food is totally fine, so long as the food is something their system can handle. There are some foods that your German Shepherd should never eat, even in the smallest amounts. Knowing which foods to avoid is crucial to ensure your dog doesn’t get sick.
Foods known to be bad for German Shepherds include:
- Foods containing caffeine
- Xylitol (and other artificial sweeteners)
- Meat with bones inside
When we bring a dog home, we want what’s best for them to give them the most fruitful, long life possible. German Shepherds are big eaters, and can even be picky eaters, so feeding them the right way is important. However, don’t panic if you have to adjust how to feed them, as that’s completely normal.
Answering how much should a German Shepherd eat is hard, but there are guidelines you can follow to help you along the way. The way they eat and how much they eat will change throughout their life, and your vet is a great resource to help you adjust accordingly.