German Shepherd Diet and
Meal Plan Advice

By Hungry Bark | February 25, 2021

German Shepherds are a beautiful and unique dog breed with a wolf-like appearance. They are lovely active, strong, and athletic pets that typically weigh between 60 to 80 pounds. Because of their unusual strength, physical nature, and intelligence, German Shepherds require special nutritional and dietary requirements to stay healthy and active.

If you have just bought a beautiful German Shepherd, you must be wondering what's the best diet to keep your dog strong and healthy. With so many brands and products in the market, your head must be spinning.

This article will explore the best type of foods, nutrients, and diet combinations for your German Shepherd. We'll also cover the pros and cons of different dog foods and how much food your dog should eat.

Let's get to it.

What Nutrients Do German Shepherds Need?

Like other dogs, German Shepherds need lots of nutrients to grow and blossom, including fats, proteins, carbohydrates, minerals, and water. So while picking out meals for your pet, you need to go for foods that contain these nutrients.

Because German Shepherds are active and agile dog breeds, they require foods with high-calorie content to keep them energized, strong, and healthy at all times. For both puppies and adults, proteins are a major nutritional requirement and source of calories and energy.

Beyond providing energy and regulating their body temperature, protein keeps the immune and musculoskeletal system healthy, builds and repairs muscles, etc. Growing German Shepherds need a minimum of 22% protein, while adult dogs require at least 18% protein in their diets for optimal growth.

Fat is another essential nutritional requirement for German Shepherds. The fat in dog meals comes from the protein and makes their meal tasty. Like proteins, it provides energy and contributes to the development of muscles, cells, nerves, and tissues.

Although fat is vital, feeding your dog with excess fat can make your dog obese. The thing is, obese dogs develop an increased risk for diseases like cancer, diabetes, and hypertension. On the other hand, if your German Shepherd doesn't take in enough fat, it will develop skin problems.

Again, the amount of fat recommended for puppies and adult German Shepherds are different. Growing puppies need up to eight percent (8%) fat content, while adults require up to five percent (5%) in their meals.

Your dog's nutritional requirements may depend on factors such as age, activity levels, size, breed, and overall health conditions. For instance, my active German Shepherd that runs around the house will require a different meal plan from a similar dog breed that lies on the couch all day. Plus, pregnant German Shepherds will need more calories than dogs that aren't pregnant.

Here's another interesting example. A puppy will require twice as many calories as adult dogs. The same goes for middle-aged dogs, which may require 20 percent more calories than elderly dogs.

As you formulate your dog's meal plan, it is best to stay off high carb foods. Instead, it would be best if you got high protein, grain-free foods with moderate fat content.

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What Are the Best Types of Food
for German Shepherds?

Our dogs are very dear to us. And as our pets, we certainly want to get the best food that will enable them to grow and maintain a healthy profile. There are different types of dog foods out there, and choosing the right one can be difficult.

Most German Shepherd owners prefer to feed their dogs with commercial dry foods and canned wet foods. Others prefer to try out a combination of both dry and wet foods. However, some owners choose to go with raw diets or spend time cooking home-made diets for their pets.

Regardless of the type of food you choose, it is essential to balance and have all the nutrients required in the right ratios. If you select commercial dog food, please check the packaging for the list of ingredients and the food's dietary content.

As earlier mentioned, protein should be top of your list. You should consider foods with high-quality animal-based protein sources like lamb, beef, pork, chicken, fish, eggs, and plant-based proteins, such as grains, vegetables, and legumes. Moreso, the food should also be rich in fats, vitamins, and minerals.

Let's take a look at the different types of dog food that are suitable for your pet. We will also review the pros and cons of each food type.

Dry Food

Dry dog food is the most popular choice among German Shepherd owners. And the main reason most dog lovers prefer this food type is that it's less expensive and easy to store.

Cold-pressed dog food and kibble are the two major types of dry dog foods available.

Cold-pressed dog foods are complete meals produced at lower temperatures. Making the meal at lower temperatures allows the meal's natural ingredients to retain their nutritional value. These ingredients are necessary for digestion, growth, and good health and thus should be kept intact.

Kibble is a dry dog food shaped into pellets and made up of grains, vegetables, meat, and other ingredients. Unlike cold pressed dog food, most dog food brands produce kibble under high temperatures through a process called extrusion. The ingredients are cooked in liquid form and pushed out through an extruder. However, Hungry Bark produces dry food under extremely low temperatures to allow your dog food retain its nutrients, aroma, vitamins, and flavor.

Both types of dry meals can be served dry or by adding water to make it gravy. However, you need to check the manufacturer's recommendations or instructions. The beautiful thing about dry foods is that they are concentrated and contain more nutrients. You don't need so much to satisfy your dog's appetite and nutritional needs.

Dry foods are less expensive, easy to store, and suitable for larger and older German Shepherds. You don't have to bother about wastage as you can leave it in your dog's bowl for more extended periods.

If you are looking for a well-rounded dry food recipe that fits your pet’s active lifestyle, Hungry Bark’s Superfoods with Chicken, Turkey, and Brown Rice is your best bet. This fantastic recipe is rich in protein, fat, fiber, moisture, omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids.

Canned Wet Foods

Canned wet foods are suitable for puppies and German Shepherds that find it difficult to chew. The food contains about 70 to 75 percent of moisture and hydrates dogs that do not drink much water.

When they are unopened, they have a longer shelf life than dry foods. However, if your dog doesn't eat it immediately, the food may be contaminated or wasted.

Here's the thing about wet foods. They are more expensive and contain fewer nutrients because of the high moisture or water content. As a result, your German Shepherd needs to eat more to get the optimal amount of proteins, fat, and nutrients that their body needs to stay active.

Moreso, you need to buy more canned foods to meet your pet's daily nutritional requirement, and that can turn out to be too expensive in the long term.

If your dog has trouble eating due to loss of appetite or picky eating behavior, you may need to consider wet canned foods. Again, there are many low-quality wet canned foods with low-quality ingredients, so you need to ensure that you purchase your products from reliable suppliers.

Semi-moist dog food is another dog food variant. They are mostly recommended for dogs that have digestion problems. Like other wet canned foods, they are expensive and offer less dietary content than dry foods.

If you want your German Shepherd to shed some weight, you may want to try out semi-moist foods.

Unfortunately, most manufacturers lace semi-moist dog foods with sugar salts, chemical enhancers, and preservatives to preserve the food's shelf life.

A Mixture of Dry and Wet Foods

Most dog owners may prefer to feed their German Shepherd with a hybrid of both dry and wet foods. The beautiful thing about this food option is that your pet will enjoy the best of both foods. If your pet is on a dry meal diet, you may change to wet foods as toppings or a special treat.

However, it would help if you were sure that you are not exceeding your dog's recommended calorie intake. Else, you may end up breeding an overweight, obese, and inactive dog.

Most dog owners mix both dry or wet foods in a bowl during each meal. Other people alternate both food types for morning and evening meals (wet for the morning, dry for the evening, or vice versa). In any case, you should seek your nutritionist or veterinarian's advice to ensure that you are within the calorie limit for your pet.

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Home-Made Diet

Most German Shepherd owners prefer to formulate or cook home-made meals for their pets. With home-made diets, you can control your dog's food and nutrients intake. Albeit, getting the right mix of fats, protein, carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals, and vitamins may be a daunting task.

If you are unsure of the quality and nutritional value of the commercial foods in your location, then home feeding may be your best bet.

Your veterinarian may also recommend home-made diets if your pet has health problems. In most cases, when your doctor needs to diagnose his condition, food elimination trials may involve placing your pet on controlled home-made diets. Also, a combination of disease problems or chronic illnesses may require putting your German Shepherd on home-prepared meals.

Most home feeders prefer to prepare the food and feed their dogs and as a way to develop an emotional bond with their pets.

Preparing home-made food is a great idea. However, it can be time-consuming and more expensive than commercial foods. If you are going to settle for home-cooked diets, it's best to consult a certified vet or a pet nutritionist to customize a healthy diet for your pet. It would be best to visit your pet doctor for regular health checks to avoid possible nutritional deficiencies.

Raw Diet

Raw feeding seems to be gaining popularity among pet lovers. The concept of raw feeding is merely feeding your pets with raw ingredients or food they would have eaten in the wild.

Most pet shops sell raw diets in commercial quantities.

Although most pet owners that feed their German Shepherd with raw diets claim that they see lots of improvement, this food type poses serious challenges for other pet owners.

The major downside of raw diet feeding is making sure the meal is balanced and contains all the ingredients necessary for growth, especially in puppies.

Moreso, formulating raw diets may be difficult, especially if your pet is aging, pregnant, lactating, or sick.

At these critical periods, German Shepherds require different nutritional needs. And if you want to notice any improvement, they must take in these nutrients at optimal levels.

If you decide to go with raw feeding, you should consult your vet or pet nutritionist for guidance. With proper guidance, you can start feeding your German Shepherd puppy with raw food from three to four weeks onwards.

Another major concern with raw diets is bacterial contamination and other food safety issues. Processed foods typically go through a cooking process where the germs, bacteria, parasites, and other pathogens are killed. But when you feed raw, you and your pets will be exposed to the risk of food poisoning and infection from bacteria, including Salmonella, E.coli, and Tuberculosis.

If you are thinking of feeding your German Shepherd with raw diets, you should ensure safe and proper handling of raw foods and consider other food safety issues. You can either prepare the food at home or purchase commercial raw food products.

We get it. There are occasions where you want to feed your dogs with raw diets like raw fish, meat, and veggies, instead of dry or wet formulated dog food. Do well to ensure that your German Shepherd is getting all the required nutrients or isn't at risk of diseases.

For adult German Shepherds, you may want to try meat with high protein and low-fat foods like  

  • Raw meat and meaty bones
  • Semi-boiled or baked meat and organs like liver.
  • Cooked fish (mackerel, sardines, salmon, trout, etc.)

Meal Plans for German Shepherds

The amount of food you should give your German Shepherd depends on her age, size, activity level, health condition, food type, and brand. Underfeeding or overfeeding your dog has serious consequences. So as your pet grows, you need to weigh and feed her with the food quantity that matches her weight.

Puppies typically eat more than adult German Shepherds because they need more nutrients and calories to grow and develop body parts.

Moreso, if your German Shepherd is a couch dog, it will consume less food than working police or sled German Shepherd dog that exercises all day. Working or security dogs need food with high protein content to provide extra calories for their daily activities.

Another essential thing to consider is your dog's health condition. If your dog is ill or pregnant, your vet may recommend increasing the amount of food you give your dog. Pregnant or lactating dogs typically need more calories and high energy foods to keep up with daily energy demands.

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Meal Plan / Feeding Guide By Weight

There are lots of German Shepherd food brands out there. However, you need to look for foods that meet your pet's unique dietary requirements.

A few great recommendations from Hungry Bark include:

  • Superfoods with Chicken, Turkey + Brown Rice
  • Superfoods with Turkey + Duck (Grain-Free)
  • Superfoods with Lamb + Turkey (Grain-Free)
  • Superfoods with Salmon (Grain-Free)

If you doubt how much food your dog needs, you should check the meal pack. Most dog food brands provide feeding calculators to help you work out how much your pet needs.

Dry Foods

Hungry Bark recommends these daily serving amounts for your German Shepherds.

  • 3lbs: 29-43 grams daily
  • 5lbs : 43-58 grams daily
  • 10lbs: 58-86 grams daily  
  • 20lbs: 129-192 grams daily
  • 40lbs: 192-244 grams daily
  • 50lbs: 244-288 grams daily
  • 60lbs: 288-331 grams daily  
  • 70lbs: 331-431 grams daily
  • 80lbs: 431-517 grams daily
  • Above 36kg (>80lbs): You should add half a cup for every additional 7kg (15 lbs).

Lactating German Shepherds need more calories than other adults. So If your female pet is lactating, you should visit your vet or pet nutritionist to recommend the best feeding schedule and amounts for your pet.

Puppies typically need three times the amount of food as adults. And Hungry Bark recommends thrice of daily adult servings for German Shepherd puppies. However, if your puppy’s activity level is low, you should stick to twice the daily adult servings to avoid obesity.  

If you are transitioning to Hungry Bark’s dry food, you should feed your pet 75% of the old food and 25% of the new food in the first three days. Within the next 4-6 days, you can serve your pet 50% of the new food and 50% of the old food.

In the next 7 to 10 days, you should feed your dog 25% of the old food and 75% of the new food. By day 11, you can fully transition to the new food.

Wet Canned Foods

If you feed your dog with wet canned foods, you should check the product's feeding guide to determine the right quantity for your puppy or adult German Shepherd. For instance, most manufacturers recommend that dog owners feed their dogs one of the 3 oz cans per 3 or 3.5 pounds of the dog's weight and split it into two or more meals.

Whether you are serving your dog dry or wet canned foods, please provide plenty of fresh and clean drinking water from a clean bowl. However, when the food and water become excessive, you may be overfeeding your pet.

Meal Plan by Age

Six Week Old German Shepherd

At six weeks old, your puppies are still very young and should be nursing and feeding off their mother's milk. They require the nutrients in their mother's milk to grow and the antibodies to ward off infections.

At this point, your job is to increase the mother's protein and fat intake. She needs all the calories and energy she can get to feed her puppies. Also, you need to check on the puppies very often to ensure they are taking in enough milk.

Ten Week Old German Shepherd

When your puppies are about eight to ten weeks old, you can gradually take them off their mothers' milk and feed them with wet food. Puppies need more food than adults to accelerate growth and develop muscles, so you need to increase their food intake.

Wet foods have about 70 to 80 percent moisture content. And because your puppy's dentitions are still developing, they can easily adjust to their transition to solid foods.

Twelve Week Old German Shepherd

You can gradually transition your German Shepherd from wet to dry foods at 12 weeks old. The best way to achieve this is to feed them with wet and dry foods at different intervals. You can mix about ten to 12 percent of dry foods into their food and increase the percentage of dry foods in bits as weeks go by.

Three Months Old German Shepherd

At three months old, your dog should have fully switched to dry food diets. It would be best to buy dry food products that are for German Shepherds of that age. You need to consider your dog's weight while planning their diets and feeding intervals.

Four Months Old German Shepherd

By four months old, you can gradually introduce live animal products into their food. You can mix the dry foods with live food ingredients like raw eggs, live and meaty bone. The raw foods will supplement some of the nutrients that are missing in the dry foods.

It is crucial to ensure that your meal combinations and nutrients in them do not exceed recommended levels. You should contact your pet nutritionist to formulate a suitable meal plan for you.

Five Months Old German Shepherd

At five months old, your puppy should have gotten used to the dry and raw meal combinations. You should also cut back at how often you're feeding them. Rather than provide them three meals daily, you can cut it down to twice (mornings and evenings).

Six Months Old German Shepherd

You can introduce live ingredients into their dog foods like liver, crushed animal bones, veggies, and live eggs by six months. These additions will help them build immunity against diseases, develop and strengthen muscle and tissues. Do well to keep their meals at twice per day to avoid overfeeding.

Eight Months Old German Shepherd

At the age of eight months, you should maintain a strict diet and feeding routine for your dog. If you want to introduce new foods or brands, you should start with about five to ten percent of the new food plus 90 to 95 percent of their old food.

As times go by, you can increase the proportions by ten percent weekly until they are comfortable with the new meal. You can do well to introduce special home-made meals as treats for your pets once a month.

Most people are tempted to feed their dogs with general dog foods. German Shepherds are unique dog breeds, and feeding them with general-purpose diets may cause diarrhea or vomiting.

One-Year-Old German Shepherd

At the age of one, your German Shepherd will begin to eat less food.

Suppose you have noticed this already. Don't be scared. It's natural for older dogs to eat less food than younger dogs because their metabolism rate is slower.

At this stage, you can limit the feeding frequency to once a day. If you don't cut down, your food may be wasted. Plus, it is best to avoid late-night feeding. Feeding them before dark will make the food digest early, keep them healthy and athletic.

How Often Should I Feed My German Shepherd?

German Shepherds have different nutritional requirements at different stages of their lives. Although most food brands recommend feeding frequencies based on their meal formulation, here's the average number of times you should feed your pet daily.

If your puppies are between six to 12 weeks old, you should feed them four meals daily. Puppies between the age of 12 to 24 weeks should eat at least three meals a day.

When your German Shepherds are six months old, you can reduce their meals to twice a day. Also, you can further reduce their meal to once a day when they are one year old.

Final Words

There you go. We have discussed the nutritional requirements and the best types of diets for your German Shepherds. Our article has also highlighted the best meal plan suited to your dog's age and weight.

Here's what you need to know.

Feeding your pet with nutritious diets is a way to show them how much you care. Healthy nutritious diets can strengthen your pet's immune system, improve your dog's behavior, skin and coat. 

When feeding your German Shepherd, do your best to stick to the recommended meal plan and choose the brands with the best and high-quality ingredients.

If you notice anything unusual with your lovely pet's feeding pattern or health, please consult your nutritionist or veterinarian.

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