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We all want to keep our dogs happy and healthy, and part of that process is feeding them well. With the sheer size of a German Shepherd, you might wonder; what do German Shepherds eat? How hard is it to feed them?
German Shepherds grow to be large, strong dogs, and so they need to be fed a planned diet. Their diet needs to consist of primarily dog food that is formulated for their particular life stage and breed size. Since German Shepherds are so big, they could benefit from dog food that’s made specifically for large dogs.
Knowing the nutritional needs of a German Shepherd, as well as which foods they need to avoid, will nurture their growth and development, aiding in a fulfilling life for your pup.
What Do German Shepherds Eat?
German Shepherds should be fed a diet of protein-rich kibble. They can be fed wet food occasionally if they enjoy it. Of course, water should be available for them at all times, especially if your dog is an active one. There are some human foods that German Shepherds like and can tolerate as treats, but these foods should only be shared with your dog sparingly.
You will have to play with the type of food that you feed your German Shepherd, as well as the quantity of food, as they grow. You don’t want to overwhelm their growing bodies with adult-grade food, as it’s unnecessary and not formulated for their nutritional needs. For instance, puppies usually need to take in more calories and more fat than adult dogs.
You might also find your German Shepherd’s food preferences change over time. That is completely normal for many pets, including dogs.
Proper Nutrition For German Shepherds
Dog foods contain a mixture of nutrients, including protein, fat, carbohydrates, and fiber, as well as essential vitamins and minerals. Some foods will have more of one nutrient than the other, as certain breeds need certain nutrients more or less. For German Shepherds, protein is essential to keep them strong.
German Shepherds that are active will also need to be fed a high-calorie, high protein diet. This will help them continue to stay strong and have an abundance of energy, even when running around and playing all day.
In terms of protein sources, animal-based protein is king. This can be poultry, lamb, pork, or fish, for example. Plant-based protein is okay if it’s mixed in with animal protein, but the protein source should be predominantly from meat.
Since German Shepherds enjoy their exercise, the protein content will also keep their muscles and bones nourished well so they can be repaired after strenuous activity. A decent percentage of fat in their kibble will boost this reparative property.
Do German Shepherds Eat A Lot?
German Shepherds can absolutely mow down a lot of food, especially after a nice long walk. On average, German Shepherds can grow to be between 50 and 80 pounds, so these big dogs need to eat a lot. This doesn’t mean you should let them free feed from a large bowl and fill it to the top all the time.
Overfeeding any dog, including an active German Shepherd, isn’t ideal for their optimal health. Of course, this could lead to obesity, which could snowball into other health problems down the line. If your German Shepherd eats too much in one meal, they might also get sick.
Once you determine the amount of food they require daily based on their age, weight, activity level, and size, you should split that amount between three to four meals a day. You also want to account for whether or not you’re giving them wet food as well as dry food.
Are German Shepherds Picky Eaters?
German Shepherds do have a reputation for being particular about their food. This doesn’t guarantee that all German Shepherds will be picky and difficult to feed. It’s just worth noting that, if your German Shepherd just sits and stares at their bowl, it could be because they are bored of that food.
One thing you can try to avoid their boredom with food is having a couple of types on hand at a time. These can be two foods you know they enjoy. You can alternate between them so they don’t get bored of the same thing every day.
Sometimes, it might seem like your German Shepherd is being picky, but they are just really being cheeky. If your German Shepherd adores wet food, but you only give it to them for one meal a day, they might try to trick you into giving them more by making you think they don’t like their dry food.
When they get hungry enough, they will eventually give in and eat their kibble. Dogs will not starve themselves, especially German Shepherds.
Human Foods That German Shepherds Can Eat
Letting your German Shepherd have a sample of your snack is something you should only do on occasion. Even though it can be really hard to resist those beady puppy dog eyes, you don’t want to let your German Shepherd get into the habit of always eating your food. A little taste here and there is fine, but too much, and you could be fattening up your pup.
Moreover, some pet parents enjoy making their dogs homemade treats, as they have more control over the ingredients going into their dog’s snacks. If you want to try this, it’s very simple and inexpensive to do. Knowing what human foods your German Shepherd can eat, however, is a must.
Some examples of human foods that are okay for German Shepherds to eat occasionally are:
- Apples (no seeds or cores)
- Plain, cooked, unseasoned chicken or fish
- Yogurt (low fat, plain)
- Eggs (cooked, no seasoning)
- Peanut butter (natural, no salt, no sugar)
What German Shepherds Shouldn’t Eat
There are certain foods that are bad for just about every dog, including German Shepherds. It’s crucial that you know what these foods are so you can avoid letting your pup get anywhere near them. There are foods that can be toxic for your German Shepherd and can make them very sick.
Some fairly well-known foods that are bad for all dogs to eat include:
- Peanut butter with xylitol
- Artificial Sweeteners
- Pits and seeds of fruit
Other foods that your German Shepherd shouldn’t eat that you might not be aware of are:
- Overly processed and fried foods, including fast food and fried meat
- Raw meat or fish
- Meat or fish with bones intact
Dairy isn’t inherently bad for German Shepherds, but you may want to limit the amount of dairy they eat. Try small bits at a time to see how they react. Dogs, including German Shepherds, can be lactose intolerant. Thus, dairy could end up constipating them, making them excessively gassy, or could even give them diarrhea.
Meal Planning For German Shepherds
Your German Shepherd’s dietary needs will change as they grow from a puppy to an adult dog. As previously mentioned, their caloric and fat needs have to be adjusted for each stage. When your vet weighs your German Shepherd each year for their checkup, take note of their weight so you can determine whether you are feeding them the adequate amount.
Ideal dog food for a German Shepherd would be one that has high animal protein content, a small percentage of fat, and as few carbohydrates as possible. German Shepherds do not need carbs for energy, as they get it from protein and fat.
Dog food bags will often have a measuring guide to know how much to feed your dog based on their current weight, and will also offer up a breakdown of nutrients and calories per cup. If you are needing to adjust their food intake to help them either gain or lose weight, do this with a veterinarian’s help.
You also need to monitor activity levels when determining how much to feed them. When they are young, they are more likely to be active. If you’re taking them on a lot of walks and they run around playing a lot, they need to be nourished enough to avoid injury and sustain energy. When they get older and more docile, they won’t need as many calories.
The number of options in the dog food aisle can make it incredibly overwhelming to know what to pick for your dog. You could ask any pet store employee, pet parent, and vet – what do German Shepherds eat – and you will get a different answer from everyone.
Knowing what your German Shepherd needs based on their breed characteristics is a great place to start. Thankfully, a lot is known about the German Shepherd given how adored these gentle giants are. While you might have to tinker with foods until you find one that your dog loves, rest assured that following the general guidelines is the best thing to do for your German Shepherd’s health.