German Shepherd Feeding Guide: Best Dog Food For Puppies, Adults & Seniors, & Other FAQs

 

We’ve put together this German Shepherd feeding guide to include important information and considerations related to feeding German Shepherds.

We separately cover feeding guidelines for puppies and adult dogs, but also outline what might be some of the best dog food brands and products for each.

We cover considerations including (but not limited to):

– General dog feeding guidelines

– Nutritional guidelines

– How much to feed a dog per day

– Feeding a GSD puppy

– Feeding an adult GSD

– Feeding a senior GSD 

Whether you have just brought a puppy into your home, or you just want to brush up on your general dog food knowledge for an adult dog – this guide might be a good place to start.

Let’s take a look!

 

[This is an informational guide only, and not professional advice. It is not a substitute for a feeding plan or feeding advice from your vet. Because every dog’s body is different, your vet is the only one who can provide professional advice on the best dog food/diet.)]

 

*Additional Notes

You might also like to read this guide where we outline some of the general considerations to take into account with dog food. We also outline some of the essential guidelines to be aware of when assessing dog food.

This guide also outlines what comments different vets have made about dog food 

 

German Shepherd Feeding Guide: For Puppies, Adults & Seniors

 

Top Picks For Best Dog Foods For German Shepherds

*Options have been provided at both Chewy, and Amazon online sellers

 

For ‘All Life Stages’

Some dehydrated and wet dog food options that are formulated for ‘all life stages’ include:

 

– Dehydrated Food

One example of a dog food worth making mention of that is human grade, and processed in the USA is:

Honest Kitchen is currently made for dogs of ‘all life stages’ – it has ‘Complete & Balanced nutrition for dogs of all life stages, breeds and sizes including adults, puppies and gestation’

You can read a review guide on The Honest Kitchen Dog Food here.

 

– Wet Food

Natural Balance currently has ‘Complete, balanced nutrition for puppies, adults, and seniors’

 

For Adults & Seniors

Some popular dog foods for either adults, seniors, or both, are (*Check on the product description if a dog food is made specifically for either adults or seniors – some are one or the other, and some are both):

 

For Puppies

Some puppy food options might include:

 

You can find product summaries of these dog and puppy food products (other than Honest Kitchen) further down in the guide below (under the puppy, adult and senior dog sections).

Onto the rest of the guide …

 

Summary: What Kind Of Dog Food Should I Feed My German Shepherd?

The type of dog food you feed your dog, and how much, depends on a lot of factors including but not limited to:

– Age 

– Dog Breed

– Body Size and Composition

– Gender

– How Much Exercise They Get

– Whether They Are Pregnant And/Or Lactating

– Whether There Is Other Health Requirements To Consider

Each dog is different – by age, life stage, health conditions and requirements, and other factors and variables – so, each dog might do better with a different diet or type of food.

The best approach when you first get your dog is to see your dog’s vet for a general food plan, and also a recommendation of a food brand and product.

They can make a recommendation based on their assessment of your dog’s health and dietary needs.

Usually, some type of commercial dog food product is suggested by a vet as they are easily accessible, and foods like kibble dry food can be quite economical.

Commercial foods, although not perfect, also tend to be formulated to meet certain nutritional requirements (meet basic nutritional adequacy and balance), and be formulated for a certain life stage – puppy, adult, senior – and a nutritional analysis and life stage is usually on the packaging or label.

In some instances, specialised food plans for dogs with allergies, intolerances, health conditions etc. may be recommended by a vet.

You can read a guide we put together here about what various vets from around the internet have said about choosing the best dog food.

 

Other General Considerations For Choosing Dog Food For A German Shepherd

Other general considerations other than the ones listed in the above linked guide might include:

Aim for a balanced diet of proteins, fats/oils, minerals, vitamins, carbohydrates and water

Look for real meats listed first (not meat by products) on the food label

Foods with a wide range of natural organic base ingredients are generally good – stay away from low quality fillers like grains and flours

Foods high in grains or flours can cause weight issues, poor energy levels and general bad health

Gluten in grain can cause allergies and inflammation in some dogs

Foods with lots of artificial colors and preservatives might not be as good

Foods with a range of vitamins and plant based vitamins might generally be good

Highly digestible foods are generally good

Look for food that is nutritionally adequate and balanced (in terms of macro and micro nutrients)

In terms of proteins, whole quality meats might be better than meat by products

In terms of fats, omega fatty acids might be good compared to saturated fats.

Puppies have different feeding guidelines to full grown dogs – be wary of solid foods early on.

Puppies also need specific nutrients for energy and to help their bodies grow

Wean your dog between different types of foods when you are changing them (e.g. semi solid to solid food, and puppy food to adult food) – transition gradually – follow food label instructions and instructions of your vet

Senior dogs may need foods with less calories to keep weight off (if they can’t move and exercise as much), and more supplements for bone and hip health

Specialised diets might include raw diets, organic diets, home made food diets, and so on

Dog food packets are usually labelled puppy, adult or senior for the different dog stages, and will usually give your directions for how much to feed different sized dogs on the packaging. Make sure to ask the vet about any queries you have in regards to them

Rather than focussing on the type of diet or type of food, you might choose to ensure that your GSD is meeting their daily nutritional requirements, eating a balanced diet, while minimising bad and processed ingredients

Although natural and well balanced dog foods can be fantastic, double check with your vet the level of mercury and other often overlooked aspects of a particular food or diet.

 

General Feeding Guidelines For An Adult German Shepherd

As stated above, no information is a substitute for the advice of your vet. Get a vet’s advice for feeding your adult GSD.

And, the set of considerations listed above and in other linked guides are good for general information.

Adult German Shepherds have generally reached maturity – they are no longer a puppy, and also aren’t considered a senior German Shepherd.

Commercially available dog food is usually labelled as ‘adult’ dog food on the label.

‘All Stages’ dog food may also be suitable for some Adult GSDs.

Adult German Shepherds might be considered adult between the ages of about 14 to 16 months, and 6 to 7 years – but, confirm with your dog’s vet.

 

However, another set of considerations to take into account might be:

“General guidelines all come down to good nutrition in the ingredients used, and a balanced diet of proteins, fats/oils, minerals, vitamins, carbohydrates and water.

When it comes to the ingredients listed on a dog food product label, you should be aware that dogs and German Shepherds are omnivores.

They can have both plant and animal based ingredients in their diets, but to be at their healthiest they need to have animal protein (meat by-products are secondary to whole meat).

It’s a good sign if the meat in the dog food contains more meat than by-products if it is listed first on the label as an ingredient.

Experienced vets have said that diets low in real animal meat, and high in grain-based products (usually cheap corn-based food), are the source of weight issues, poor energy levels and an array of other health problems in dogs they see.

Contrary to popular myth, they also say that high protein diets do not cause kidney damage or hyperactivity in your German Shepherd.

Other ingredients you want to stay away from in high amounts in commercial foods that lead to an artificial diet are grains, bad meats (that doesn’t pass human inspection, and/or contains animal antibiotics and hormones), greasy fats and artificial preservatives.

In relation to preservatives, Petmd says you might choose to limit artificial preservatives like BHA, BHT and ethoxyquin, in favor of natural preservatives like Vitamin A, Vitamin C and plant based preservatives like rosemary in the dog food you buy.

The trade off obviously is that natural preservatives don’t keep the dog food from going off for as long.

If you are still unsure of the best food for German Shepherds, consider this summary by qualified vet TJ Dunn:

“[Dog food should be] high quality/nutrition and highly digestible…Meat such as chicken should be listed as the first ingredient…protein level [should be]at 30% or more…fat content should be at 18% or more…and if there is a rather wide spectrum of ingredients such as omega fatty acids and vitamin E [or C], that’s good too…there should be no food colouring [and few artificial preservatives]”.

You might not need to eliminate grains from your German Shepherd’s diet altogether, but note that the gluten present in grains can be an allergen for itchy skin and ear inflammation in some German Shepherds and dogs.”

 

You’d certainly want to take into consideration if your dog has any allergies (such as allergies to grains for example), abnormal body functions (maybe they are lactose intolerant) or just reacts negatively to any foods in particular.

See a vet for a specialised food plan in the above scenarios.

 

General Feeding Guidelines For A German Shepherd Puppy

Your dog’s vet can suggest puppy food, and a feeding plan for your GSD puppy.

Commercially available food is usually labelled as ‘puppy’ food on the label (although, some ‘all life stages’ dog food may also be suitable for some puppies).

GSD might be considered puppies between birth and the age of about 14 to 16 months – but, confirm with your dog’s vet.

Puppies, because of their life stage and growing bodies, might have some specific guidelines to take into account of their own.

 

Difference Between Feeding A German Shepherd Adult & German Shepherd Puppy

German Shepherd puppies might have two main differences in their feeding requirements compared to full grown adults:

1. Puppies are still growing (bone, muscle, organs and their bodies in general) and need a different balance of nutrients and calories compared with adult dogs (who are in a maintenance stage and might need a more balanced diet and nutrients) to help in this growing process. Puppy formulas for example may contain these specific nutritional requirements

2. At some stages, the type and texture of dog food a puppy can ingest might be limited – based on what they can physically eat and swallow, and what their bodies can process properly

 

What Do I Feed My German Shepherd Puppy – What Do German Shepherd Puppies Eat?

In terms of knowing what to feed your puppy, it’s always best to ask your vet and to make sure you ask the breeder or rescue shelter/adoption centre (that you got your puppy from) what they were feeding the puppy beforehand (pass this info onto your vet as well). 

Commercially available dog food suitable for puppies is usually labeled as ‘puppy’ food somewhere on the label. It might be higher in calories and nutrients to cater to growing puppies, or have some type of formulation intended for the nutritional requirements of puppies.

Some ‘All Stages’ dog food may also be ok.

Dog food that is specifically for puppies can include puppy milk, dry puppy food and canned puppy food.

 

How To Feed A German Shepherd Puppy

Lauren Jones, VMD, has more information on how to feed puppies in this guide.

 

Stages Of Feeding A German Shepherd Puppy

To help you understand your German Shepherd puppy’s body, the stages of feeding a German Shepherd puppy might be:

 

1. Nursing and Mother’s Milk

The first 6-8 weeks a GSD puppy should be left with their mother to be nursed on their mother’s milk if possible.

This milk contains nutrients and antibodies to protect your puppy against disease.

So, if you wondered what to feed a 6 week old German Shepherd, milk is probably the best option.

 

2. Weaning And Transition To Solid Food

Weaning a puppy from mother’s milk to solid foods occurs at the 6-8 week mark, and the puppy is then ready to transition to solid foods.

Puppies have sensitive stomachs that are easy to upset – leading to diarrhea and vomiting among other problems.

To reduce the risk of upsetting your German Shepherd Puppy’s stomach, you can buy milk replacer or ‘puppy milk’, and mix this milk with your selected puppy solid food (dry or canned) to create a gruel (25/75%, and 50/50%). You can also use water.

In the transition phase a puppy might eat a gruel/mushy food mix to get their stomachs used to more solid food.

 

3. Eating Solely Solid Food

After 2-3 weeks of the transition phase of milk replacer and solid food, your puppy should be ready to eat solely solid foods at around 8 to 11 weeks of age.

Once again, your vet is the best person to approve the plan for weaning, transitioning to solid puppy food and the type of solid puppy food and puppy milk to feed your German Shepherd puppy. 

Veterinarian Dr. Kristy Conn says you will want to move on from feeding your puppy puppy food to adult dog food once it reaches maturity – which varies with the dog breed and the individual dog.

As a guide, dogs up to 80 pounds/36 kilograms (which fits in a German Shepherd’s weight range) generally reach maturity between 12 to 16 months.

Some vets might suggest to mix in some adult dog food with puppy food in different proportions when transitioning from puppy to adult dog food over the course of one to two weeks to minimize risk of stomach upset.

 

How Much To Feed A German Shepherd Puppy?

Your puppy’s vet can tell you that when you first get your puppy.

Though, most dog food manufacturers on the package instruct you on how often to feed you puppy, and how many cups per day.

The amount you feed your German Shepherd daily might be divided between the overall number of meals your feed it daily (including treats).

Generally a puppy of 10 lb to 30 lb (4.5kg to 14 kg) you will feed 1-2 cups of food daily (3.5 to 7 oz, OR 100 g to 200 g).

German Shepherd puppies will require more regular feeding of three to four times a day spaced throughout the day – so, if feeding your dog 2 cups a day in 4 meals, that’s half a cup per meal as an example.

Factors like exercise and actual size of the dog also come into account.

 

What Foods Not To Feed My German Shepherd Puppy

You can read more in this guide about what foods might be dangerous for dogs (and puppies).

It is also important to note that any new food you introduce to your German Shepherd that produces a negative reaction in their body you should also avoid.

Make sure when you are transitioning between your current dog food and new dog food, that you do so gradually (you can try different % proportions of each at meal time) so as not to upset your dog’s stomach, and so you have an opportunity to see how the new food affects your dog.

 

Feeding A Senior German Shepherd

Commercially available dog food may be labelled as ‘Senior’ dog food on the label.

A senior dog is considered senior or older as a large dog/German Shepherd at about 6-7 years of age, bearing in mind that their lifespan is about 13 years. 

Senior German Shepherds tend to put weight on more easily (especially if their movement isn’t great), so they might have lower calorie needs, and need highly digestible foods.

Senior GSDs might also have joint problems, so a diet higher in natural joint supplements like chondroitin and glucosamine might help for some dogs.

A few things to look out for with Senior German Shepherds are:

Senior dog food tends to be low calorie (helps with slowed metabolism and obesity), high in fiber (helps constipation), higher in the quality of protein.

Low fat and low sodium treats can work well

Snacks like carrots and apple slices are good examples of healthy snacks for senior dogs

 

When Might A German Shepherd Progress From Puppy To Adult?

It depends on the individual dog, but possibly around 12 to 16 months of age for a large breed dog like a GSD.

Check with your dog’s vet to confirm.

 

When Might A German Shepherd Progress From Adult To Senior?

It depends on the individual dog, but possibly around 6 to 7 years of age for a large breed dog like a GSD.

Check with your dog’s vet to confirm.

 

Puppy & Dog Food Summaries & Reviews

Some review summaries of the dog foods listed in the ‘top rated’ list at the beginning of this guide are (note that the Honest Kitchen Dog Food product has a separate link to it’s review at the top of the guide):

 

Taste of the Wild Dry Dog Food Bison & Venison 

This is a Canine dog food formulation for adult dogs.

It is grain free, has buffalo as the first listed ingredient, and is filled will vegetables, plants and natural preservatives over artificial preservatives and colors.

It meets the vet recommended 30% protein and 18% fat total, at 32% protein and 18% fat.

Taste of the Wild® High Prairie Canine® Formula is formulated to meet the nutritional levels established by the AAFCO Dog Food Nutrient Profiles for maintenance.

The top weight bag for the original formula is a 30 pound bag, and the measuring cup is also 8 ounces, or 0.5 pounds. It will last you just short of a month based on feeding a 60-80 lbs dog 3 cups daily.

Dogs seem to love the bison and venison flavors.

It is slightly cheaper that the Wellness CORE below and you get 4 more pounds of dog food in the bag, making it the best value for money.

It does however contain less protein overall than the Wellness CORE adult dog food.

Where To Check It Out?

Taste of the Wild Dry Dog Food Canine/Adult Formula – Bison & Venison (on Amazon)

 

Wellness CORE Natural Grain Free Dry Dog Food Original Formula

Wellness CORE Original Formula is made for optimal health of adult dogs.

Is 100% Grain Free – that means no wheat, corn, soy.

Like most Wellness CORE dog food, it is packed with protein at 34% protein (more than the suggested 30%). Deboned Turkey listed first as the main meat source, and there are only meat meals – no meat by-products.

Vegetables and fruits are used as fillers, and plant extracts and natural preservatives like Vitamin C are listed instead of artificial preservatives.

The top weight bag for the original formula is a 26 pound bag, and the measuring cup is also 8 ounces, or 0.5 pounds. It will last you just short of a month based on feeding a 80-95 lbs dog 3 cups daily.

Wellness CORE Original formula is made is the USA, and is formulated to meet the nutritional levels established by the AAFCO Dog Food Nutrient Profiles for maintenance.

If we had to pick a couple of things that doesn’t make this dog food perfect, its that it is slightly below the recommended 18% fat total, but not by much, at 16%. And, it still contains healthy Omega 3 and 6 fats anyway.

And the other is that it is only slightly more expensive than the Taste of the Wild dog food above – but, it does seem to be composed of a bit more protein and other nutrients TotW doesn’t have which could be why.

Where To Check It Out?

Wellness CORE Natural Grain Free Dry Dog Food Original Formula for Adult Dogs (on Amazon)  

 

Taste of the Wild Dry Dog Food Roasted Lamb Sierra Mountain Canine® Formula 

This Taste of the Wild dog food formula is made for all stages of dogs (puppies through to senior).

We picked this one as the best dog food for senior german shepherds because it is an all stages formula, and it contains the least calories of all the Taste of The Wild formulas at 338kcal/cup.

Lower calories helps keep weight off senior dogs’ bodies and joints with their slower metabolisms.

Taste of The Wild have formulas in general have great nutritional ingredients, and are economical, and this one is formulated to meet the nutritional levels established by the AAFCO Dog Food Nutrient Profiles for All Life Stages including growth of large size dogs (70 lbs or more as an adult).

Like the adult formula, this one has meat listed as the first ingredient – Lamb, and it contains vegetable and fruit fillers, as well as natural preservatives.

The top weight bag for this Lamb formula is a 30 pound bag, and the measuring cup is also 8 ounces, or 0.5 pounds. It will last you just short of a month based on feeding a 60-80 lbs dog 3 cups daily.

The protein and fat totals come in at 25% and 15% respectively, but it is not as important that those numbers are higher for senior dogs who aren’t growing.

Where To Check It Out?

Taste of the Wild Dry Dog Food Roasted Lamb Sierra Mountain Canine® Formula (on Amazon) 

 

Natural Balance Ultra Premium Wet Dog Food

Dick Van Patten’s Natural Balance® Ultra Premium Canned Beef Formula is formulated to meet the nutritional levels established by the AAFCO Dog Food Nutrient Profiles for All Life Stages – puppies to adults, and senior dogs.

Let’s start with the positives of this wet dog food…

Meat is listed first on the ingredient list (Beef, Chicken, Lamb and Liver flavours available), and it only contains natural preservatives like Vitamin C – nothing artificial. On the surface, it seems healthy for premium canned food.

Furthermore, for the price you pay for it, you get 12 x 13 ounce cans. 

Onto drawbacks might be:

It can be alot more expensive than feeding your dog dry dog food as an 80 pound dog will need 5 cans a day, making one batch of 12 cans last under 3 days.

It is not grain free

The protein and fat totals are quite low at 8% protein, and 5% fat

The moisture content is quite high at 78% water/moisture in each can

There are 410 kcal/13 oz can – which is alot of calories over 5 cans even for the most active dog.

Where To Check It Out?

Natural Balance Ultra Premium Wet Dog Food (on Amazon)

 

Wellness CORE Natural Grain Free Dry Dog Food Large Breed Formula 

Most things that we’ve said about Wellness CORE for the Original Formula above apply to the Large breed formula.

We’ve chosen the large breed formula as the best dog food for large breeds and German Shepherds with joint issues as it is protein focused, naturally grain free, and uses higher levels of premium ingredients like chicken & turkey, and glucosamine & chondroitin to meet larger breeds needs.

Glucosamine and Chondroitin are naturally occurring compounds that help joint repair and strengthening in dogs – good for prevention and management of joint problems in large dogs.

For an 81-90 lbs dog, Wellness CORE estimates giving them around 4 cups per day, which would make a 26 pound bag last you around half a month.

Where To Check It Out?

Wellness CORE Natural Grain Free Dry Dog Food Large Breed Formula (on Amazon)

 

Taste of the Wild Grain-Free Dry Dog Food Puppy Formula

Taste of the Wild Puppy Formula is actually an all stages dog food for both adult dogs and puppies – so you might choose to continue using it as your puppy grows. 

According to Taste Of The Wild Pet Food, it is formulated to meet the nutritional levels established by the AAFCO Dog Food Nutrient Profiles for All Life Stages including growth of large size dogs (70 lbs or more as an adult).

Other benefits this dog and puppy food includes is that it is grain free, Buffalo is listed first on the ingredients list, and it contains natural preservatives and supplements like Vitamin A and plant extracts.

A taste of the wild measuring cup is 8 ounces, or 0.5 pounds. If you buy the 30 pound dry puppy food bag, the bag will last you roughly 1 month on 2 cups a day, and 2 months on 1 cup a day. Taste of the Wild also has feeding guidelines on the back of the package.

This puts this puppy food in the range of best cheap puppy food, and best value puppy food for German Shepherds. 

One of the drawbacks of this puppy food is that it can leave your puppy’s breath smelling a bit fishy and doggy – but, you’d take that for the high quality and how economical each bag is.

Another drawback is that is comes in only slightly below the recommended 30% protein and 18% fat totals – at 28% protein and 17% fat.

View Taste of the Wild Grain-Free Dry Dog Food Puppy Formula (On Amazon)

 

Wellness CORE Natural Grain Free Dry Dog Food Puppy Formula

Wellness CORE Puppy Food is also formulated to be an all stages dog food, and Wellness Pet Food states it is formulated to meet the nutritional levels established by the AAFCO Dog Food Nutrient Profiles for maintenance.

Wellness CORE is 100% grain free (no wheat, corn or soy), has Deboned Chicken listed as the first ingredient, and has natural preservatives like Vitamin C and plant extracts.

It is PACKED with protein. It meets the vet recommended feeding guidelines of at least 30% protein and 18% fat – at 36% protein and 18% fat.

The top weight bag for the puppy food is a 26 pound bag, and the measuring cup is also 8 ounces, or 0.5 pounds. It will last you just short of 1-2 months based on whether you are feeding your puppy 1 or 2 cups a day.

Wellness CORE Puppy food is made in in the USA.

If you are trying to weigh up the main differences between the Wellness CORE and Taste of the Wild Puppy Food formulations, two main differences are:

– Taste of The Wild is centred around more Bison, Venison and fish meats and extracts, whereas Wellness CORE is more chicken and turkey

– Wellness CORE Puppy Formula contains better protein and fat totals at 36% protein and 18% fat, compared to Taste of the Wild’s 28% protein and 17% fat.

– Taste of the Wild is slightly cheaper and contains 30 pounds of dry food compared to 26 for Wellness CORE – making Taste of the Wild only slightly more economical

Obviously, the complete list of ingredients for each brand is different as well.

View Wellness CORE Natural Grain Free Dry Dog Food Puppy Formula (On Amazon)

 

Dry Dog Food Or Wet Dog Food For A German Shepherd?

Your dog’s vet can help you select one.

But, in general, dry dog food/kibble can be more economical for some dog owners.

Some wet dog foods might be higher in calories and sodium concentration per serving.

Make sure to check nutritional information of different types of dog food before buying.

 

What Are The Best Brands Of Dog Food To Feed German Shepherds?

Rather than looking for a particular brand, you might make sure the brand or product you end up choosing fits in with your vets recommendation, and is adequate and balanced nutritionally.

This way you are picking based on professional advice and also health based criteria, rather than looking for a brand first. 

 

Weaning A German Shepherd Between Different Types Of Food

Whether you have a full grown dog, or a puppy, it’s important to wean your GSD between foods.

This essentially involves gradually decreasing the proportion of old food, and increasing the proportion of new food in your dog’s bowl – so their stomach can get used to the new food.

Follow the instructions on the new food label for proportions.

This is particularly important for puppies transitioning from say liquid and soft foods to solid adult dog food.

If you are unsure about weaning – ask your vet.

 

German Shepherd Feeding Amount Guidelines

There’s 3 ways you can check the feeding amount for a GSD …

 

1. Ask Your Dog’s Vet

The safest and best way is to ask your dog’s vet.

Whether you bought your German Shepherd from a breeder, or adopted from a rescue or shelter, or even took in a dog being re-homed, although the breeder or previous owner might have good knowledge and mean well with the recommendation they make to you about what your dog was being fed and how much/how often – double check with a vet.

You dog’s first vet visit is also a good opportunity to make sure everything like vaccinations, de-worming treatments, flea prevention etc. is all in order.

 

2. Read The Food Label On The Commercial Dog Food You Buy

When it comes to dog food, most people go commercial as it’s quicker, easier and more affordable.

Commercial dog foods come in many different types of formulas, but the most commonly purchased are puppy food formulas, adult dog food formulas, and all stage dog food formulas.

Each one has a slightly different balance of nutrients and calories to suit the life stage of the dog.

All commercial dog foods, whether you buy dry or wet dog food, or even puppy foods like puppy milk for example, will have feeding instructions or a feeding chart to give you a guide of how much to feed your dog.

For example, for a 5lb puppy they might suggest feeding your puppy 1/2 a cup to a full cup of food a day.

For a full grown 80 lbs GSD they might suggest feeding 3 1/2 cups to 5 cups a day.

If you have to feed your dog 4 cups a day, and you are feeding them twice a day, you would give them 2 cups per meal.

Treats might only comprise of 10% of a German Shepherd’s daily intake – and should replace the portion of food you were going to give them.

It’s important not to overfeed, as it can lead to excessive weight gain and obesity, which have problems in themselves.

 

3. Consider General Feeding Guidelines

GSD Puppy

Generally a puppy of 10 lb to 30 lb (4.5kg to 14 kg) you will feed 1-2 cups of food daily (3.5 to 7 oz, OR 100 g to 200 g).

German Shepherd puppies will require more regular feeding of three to four times a day spaced throughout the day.

 

Adult GSD

An adult GSD of between 60 lb to 90 lb (27kg to 40kg) you will feed 3-5 cups of dog food daily (10.5 to 17.5 oz, OR 300 g to 500 g).

Generally, you should feed an adult (at 1-2 years of age onwards) German Shepherd twice a day – morning and evening.

 

Senior GSD

Consult your vet at when your dog is about 6-7 years of age to discuss how much you should be feeding your GSD.

It depends on a range of factors.

 

Petmd has a good article outlining a few more tips for determining you dog is getting the right amount of food.

 

You may want to look for the visual signs in your German Shepherd to indicate that you are feeding him or her enough:

Hourglass figure

Tucked up look from the side

Ribs that aren’t easily visible

A shiny and consistent coat can mean your dog is getting the right nutrients from its food

Your dog’s vet at checkups can also tell you if they are in a healthy conditions and are a healthy weight.

 

How Much To Feed A German Shepherd Per Day

It differs between puppies, adults and seniors.

We’ve listed rough amounts above.

As a reminder:

A vet should be able to tell you how much to feed a dog per day, and the number of meals they should have in a day (plus what time of the day)

The packaging of the dog food usually also tells you how many cups of food to feed them per day – which you might space out over the number of meals they have. This is helpful when using commercial dog brand products nutritionally formulated for dogs of different sizes and life stages.

 

How Many Times To Feed A German Shepherd Per Day

It differs between puppies, adults and seniors.

For puppies, it might be between three to four times a day, and for adults, it might be twice a day (once in the morning, and once at night).

 

How Many Cups Of Food To Feed A German Shepherd 

The food packaging should tell you how many cups to feed your dog based on their weight.

 

How Many Tins Of Food To Feed A German Shepherd 

For wet food, the food packaging should tell you how many tins to feed your dog based on their weight.

 

German Shepherd Dog Food Calculator

You can do an online search for dog food calculators.

They usually require you to put in information like your dog’s weight, their ideal weight, their activity level, and other information, and they can tell you answers such as how many calories to be feeding your dog per day.

But, you should always cross check this with a vet.

 

German Shepherd Food Chart 

Online dog food charts can tell you information such as how much food (in calories, or cups per day) to be feeding a dog of a certain weight.

But, you should always cross check this with a vet.

 

How Much Does It Cost To Feed A German Shepherd?

It depends on how many servings/cups of food your dog eats per day.

If your dog goes through one bag of food per month, you can multiply the cost of the bag by twelve, and you have your cost per year.

There may also be costs for things such as treats and bones as well.

 

What Might Be The Minimum Standards Commercial Dog Food For German Shepherds Has To Meet?

Pet food generally doesn’t have it’s own specific and enforceable regulations in any country.

There are general regulations for animal food in some countries.

In the US for example, ‘The Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FFDCA) requires that all animal foods, like human foods, be safe to eat, produced under sanitary conditions, contain no harmful substances, and be truthfully labeled’ (fda.gov)

There’s also a voluntary membership association called AAFCO that outlines some standards in the US.

In Australia, Pet food is essentially self-regulated with voluntary industry standards applied through the Pet Food Industry Association of Australia (PFIAA) (kb.rspca.org.au)

In different countries, regulations, standards and labelling requirements can differ.

So, be aware of what these are, and where the gaps and limitations in them might be.

You will be required to do additional research to ensure what you are getting in each pet food product, and cover information you might not get given on a label.

Note that standards are the minimum, and not the standards you should necessarily follow for optimal health.

Also note that certain phrases like ‘organic dog food’ mean different things in different countries.

Check what different phrases mean by law in your country.

 

What Is The Worst Dog Food For A German Shepherd?

It depends on the individual dog.

But, very generally, foods that are inadequate or unbalanced nutritionally, and contain low quality ingredients might be bad.

Refer to the dog food considerations guide mentioned above for more indicators of bad dog foods.

 

What Foods Can’t A German Shepherd Eat At All?

You can read more in this guide about what foods might be dangerous for dogs.

It is also important to note that any new food you introduce to your German Shepherd that produces a negative reaction in their body you should also avoid. This can be specific to the individual dog or puppy.

Also, make sure when you are transitioning between your current dog food and new dog food, that you do so gradually (you can try different % proportions of each at meal time) so as not to upset your dog’s stomach, and so you have an opportunity to see how the new food affects your dog.

 

Homemade Dog Food For German Shepherds

Homemade dog food diets need approval by your dog’s vet first – so speak to them.

Read more in this guide about homemade dog diets.

 

Grain Free Food For German Shepherds

Read more in this guide about the considerations and potential pros and cons of a grain free diet for dogs.

 

German Shepherd Is A Picky Eater – What To Do?

This can be for various reasons.

Sometimes dogs are spoilt or overfed, and this can be a cause of picky eating.

But, other times it can be a more serious cause. If the problem persists, see a vet.

 

My German Shepherd Is Not Eating – What Do I Do?

If your GSD isn’t eating at all, and you suspect the problem to be serious, obviously you’ll want to get professional advice from a vet.

If you want to read more on this issue, you can do so in Why Is My German Shepherd So Skinny Or Won’t Eat?

 

Dog Food For German Shepherds To Gain Weight 

It can be dangerous or harmful to your dog’s health if you are trying to feed them with the sole intent to get them to gain weight yourself.

Seek the advice of your dog’s vet before doing this. They may diagnose another health condition you were unaware of that was causing the weight issue first.

 

Do I Need Breed Specific Dog Food For My German Shepherd?

Breed specific dog foods have been developed by commercial dog food companies as a point of difference from the all breed dog foods categorised by stage of life, or dog size.

One such current example of breed specific dog food for German Shepherds is the Royal Canin dog food brand.

Royal Canin claims the dog food formula has been developed for the breed specifically.

But, are you better off feeding your GSD a breed specific dog food like Royal Canin?

Instead of picking a specific brand of dog food, you might ask your dog’s vet what balance of nutrition and what adequacy of nutrition your dog needs, and picking a dog food based on that. 

So, breed specific brands might not necessarily be better than other brands. It can depend on several factors specific to your individual dog’s needs.

 

Analysing Royal Canin

In this guide we outline some of the general considerations to take into account with dog food.

Some question you might ask about Royal Canin might be:

Does it contain real meat sources?

What sort of grains does it contain – corn? 

Does it contain healthy fats?

What sort of benefits does it have over other foods – chondroitin sulfate and glucosamine?

You can check out Royal Canin here:

You can go to Royal Canin’s website and see what benefits they claim in their food for a specific breed, and how they’ve formulated their pet food to cater to that.

 

Dog Food Formulated For Specific Types Of Dog Breeds, Such As Large Breeds

Some companies also produce dog foods for types of dogs, such as large breeds.

The same principles might apply here – understand what you dog needs, and analyse the dog food product based on that instead of the brand or marketing.

 

Raw Food Diet For A German Shepherd

You should definitely seek the advice of your dog’s vet before switching them to a raw food diet – get their approval first on how to manage this diet for your dog in a safe way.

Some information on the raw food diet for dogs:

 

Summary Of Raw Food Diet For Dogs

Dogs ate a diet that resembled a raw food diet prior to domestication

When dogs became household pets, diets moved towards commercial dog food brands

Raw dog food diet is centred around raw meat, bones & organs, and fruits and vegetables

Bacterial contamination of meat and an unbalanced nutritional diet are some of the main concerns about a raw food diet

Better overall health caused by staying away from the processed ingredients in commercial dog food is one of the main potential benefits of raw dog food

Puppies, sick dogs, or dogs with issues processing food might be at a higher risk with a raw food diet

Rather than focussing on the type of diet or type of food, you might choose to ensure that your GSD is meeting their daily nutritional requirements, eating a balanced diet, while minimising bad and processed ingredients

 

What Is The Raw Food Diet?

It is generally a diet based around raw meat, bones, fruits, vegetables, raw eggs and some dairy like yogurt.

A typical raw dog food diet might include key foods like:

Muscle meat – it can be on the bone or off it

Bones – can be either whole or ground

Organ meats such as livers and kidneys

Raw eggs

Vegetables like broccoli, spinach, and celery

Apples or other fruit

Some dairy such as yogurt for example

 

History Of The Raw Food Diet

The raw dog food diet has been in existence for much longer than just the last few decades – its just that the diet didn’t really have a name until recently.

In fact, prior to domestication, it was more common that dogs would live on a diet of raw bones and meat or organs, and vegetables and fruits.

It is only since domestication of dogs that commercial dog foods became widely available, and society as a whole moved to this way of feeding dogs when they were domesticated and became household pets.

A person who is responsible for bringing the raw dog food diet to prominence is Australian veterinarian Ian Billinghurst.

From 1993, he had opinions related to the ideas that commercial dog foods were only a recent trend that was triggered by domestication, and that raw dog food diets were the original diet for dogs.

He brought about the term ‘BARF diet’, an acronym that stands for Bones and Raw Food, or Biologically Appropriate Raw Food.

Billinghurst had two main suggestions:

Adult Dogs could once again thrive on a raw food diet, just as they did prior to domestication

Grain-based commercial pet foods were harmful to a dog’s health

 

In modern times, racing greyhounds, sled dogs and dog’s whose owners have adopted the raw food diet for their pet’s are likely to be living on a raw food diet.

Racing greyhounds and sled dogs in particular have mostly always eaten raw foods.

 

Are Dogs Omnivores Or Carnivores?

In most veterinary schools, they might teach vets that dogs are omnivores – meaning they eat meat and organic matter.

So technically, dogs might be considered to be omnivores.

However, there are some convincing arguments made by practicing vets that dogs could more naturally be carnivores.

Arguments on either side centre around intestinal size/shape, a wolf’s eating diet, DNA and how dogs ferment plant matter.

 

Potential Benefits Of A Raw Food Diet

Potential benefits of feeding your German Shepherd a raw dog food diet are:

Less prone to food allergies and other food sensitivities like hot spots

Less doggy smell

Shinier coats

Healthier skin

Cleaner teeth

Higher energy levels

Smaller stools

 

A lot of these benefits are thought to be because most raw foods don’t contain processed ingredients that react negatively with a dog’s body.

 

Potential Risks & Drawbacks Of A Raw Food Diet

Potential risks of feeding your German Shepherd a raw dog food diet are:

Threats to human and dog health from bacteria in raw meat – especially if the meat is bad meat or picks up bacteria in the handling process or outside environment

An unbalanced diet that may damage the health of dogs if given for an extended period – meats are high in protein 

Potential for whole bones to choke an animal, break teeth or cause an internal puncture

Puppies can be at risk when eating a raw food diet

Dogs with weak immune systems (particularly sick or diseased dogs e.g. dogs with cancer or pancreatitis), or an inability to process proteins as well, might get sick with this diet

Can cost more than commercial dog food diets

Can take a lot more time to prepare than commercial dog food diets

 

How Some People Try To Minimize The Risk Involved With A Raw Food Diet

Buy fresh and good meat

Buy meat that passes human inspection

Make sure the meat is handled in clean conditions and stored properly

Make sure when the meat is fed to your dog that the area you feed them is clean, and that they feed in the one place

Make sure the diet contains a range of foods has a balance of nutrients that your dog needs to fulfil their daily nutrient requirements

Make sure bones are a suitable size and texture for your dog’s mouth and teeth

Bulk buy foods to save on costs

Bulk prepare foods where possible to save on time

Above all – ask your vet if a raw food diet is suitable for your dog, and if so, how you can safely adopt this diet (some dogs for example might not process a high protein diet very well)

 

Raw Food Diet vs Regular Dog Diet – Cost Comparison

As an example..

“The cost of a raw dog food diet varies with the ingredients used and how it is prepared. For a 30-pound dog, a one-day supply of one variety of a frozen, commercially available raw chicken diet costs about $2.50; others may range up to $5 a day. A super-premium, commercial dry dog food costs about $1.” – Source

 

What Some Vets Say About A Raw Food Diet For Dogs

– “For most animals, it’s more beneficial than processed foods,” says Doug Knueven, DVM, of the Beaver Animal Clinic in Beaver, Pa. – Source

 

– Lisa M. Freeman, DVM, PhD, headed an evaluation of raw dog food diets published in the Journal of the American Veterinary Association in 2001. She cautions pet owners against them, saying that many dog owners are choosing raw diets based on online myths and scare tactics about commercial pet food.

For pet owners who want to avoid commercial food, Freeman advises a cooked homemade diet designed by a nutritionist certified by the American College of Veterinary Nutrition.

Freeman, a nutrition professor at the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University, says that many of the benefits attributed to a raw food diet for dogs, such as a shinier coat, instead are the result of the high fat composition of the typical raw diet. High-fat commercial foods that would produce the same effect are available, she notes, without the risk of an unbalanced diet. Supplements can also be used as an alternative to increasing fat in the diet. – Source

 

A Few More Resources On A Raw Food Diet For Dogs

Raw Dog Food: Dietary Concerns, Benefits, and Risks

Common Feeding Mistakes That Can Harm Your Pet

Focussing On Protein In The Diet

The Raw Deal On Raw Diets: A Veterinarian’s Perspective

 

Dog Food For German Shepherds With Hip & Joint Issues, Or Hip Dysplasia

See your dog’s vet for recommendations.

They may suggest foods with calcium, Omega 3 and Vitamin E.

These nutrients possess natural anti-inflammatories and support bone and joint health by helping in the production of joint health compounds like glucosamine, chondroitin sulfate and MSM.

They may also suggest joint supplements.

 

Dog Food For German Shepherd With Allergies Or Intolerances

A food allergy is different to food intolerance

Allergies are genetic problems whereby there is a reaction (usually itching or skin problems) in your dog’s body triggered by exposure to an allergen in the dog food is eating.

An intolerance doesn’t create an allergic response, but a response more along the lines of diarrhoea or a gassy stomach. 

If you suspect your German Shepherd is allergic or intolerant to the foods you are feeding him or her, you need to take them to the vet.

They may suggest options such as hypoallergenic foods, or ingredient elimination diets.

 

Dog Food For German Shepherd With A Sensitive Stomach

Common symptoms of a dog’s sensitive stomach might include:

Intermittent loose stools

Occasional vomiting

Excessive flatulence

 

A sensitive stomach to food can be for a number of reasons.

Take your dog to the vet and get advice on what to do next.

 

Dog Food For German Shepherds With Dry Skin or Flaky Skin

Skin problems with food might be to do with allergies, so if you suspect this, see a vet.

If you think the problem may just be a mild one and that the skin is just dry and flaky, it could be because of some of these reasons:

You live in a dry area with little humidity

Your dog may not be getting enough water through their food or drinking enough water

The food your dog is eating is highly processed and doesn’t contain any quality nutrients that contribute to a healthy coat or skin

Your dog may be lacking digestive enzymes or probiotics in their diet

Your dog’s digestive system may not be working like a normal dog’s system does

 

Dog Food For For German Shepherd With Diarrhea

Diarrhea can be for a number of reasons, from something as simple as sensitivity to the food a dog has just eaten, to something more serious.

Get a vet’s advice if the diarrhea persists (past say for example 24 to 48 hours).

 

Dog Food For German Shepherds With EPI

If you suspect your GSD has EPI, this is a veterinary issue.

So, take them to the vet and get advice on what to do next.

 

Dog Food For German Shepherds With Ear Infection

If you suspect your GSD has an ear infection, this is a veterinary issue.

So, take them to the vet and get advice on what to do next.

 

Feeding A Pregnant Or Lactating German Shepherd

Pregnant or lactating German Shepherds can have their own feeding requirements.

See your dog’s vet for advice on what to feed a pregnant or lactating GSD.

 

Best Dog Food For A German Shepherd Mix

The guidelines might not change much compared to what is mentioned above i.e. it depends on the individual variables of the dog, what your dog’s vet says, etc.

Some commercial dog food manufacturers specify that their dog food is for mixed breeds on the label.

 

Additional Resources

You can check out reviews and buyers guides here:

 

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3 thoughts on “German Shepherd Feeding Guide: Best Dog Food For Puppies, Adults & Seniors, & Other FAQs”

  1. You quoted 300-500 gms of dog food for adult Shepherds. MY 2 year old girl is 29 kilos, very skinny/lean and she is eating 1.5 – 1.8 kilos a day. 3x to 5x your recommendations. She is in season this month – Is this normal ?

    Reply
  2. Hi,
    My dog Baloo is eating the equivalent of one can of canned food morning and evening. He is 7 months old and weighs about 75 pounds. We want to wean him off canned food and towards dry food, but he is a master of stealing food and will often attack our sheep, chickens, cats, and even calfs if he doesn’t get his way. Any suggestions?

    Reply

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