German Shepherds are known for being active, smart dogs, with an insatiable appetite for pleasing their owner. Knowing how much you mean to them, would you risk shortening their lifespan or causing them unforeseen grief by feeding them low-quality dog foods?
They have a keen sense of smell, love to work, and work for long periods of time without getting distracted. These are the reasons so many law enforcement agencies, and search & rescue organizations rely on them as service dogs.
Your diet is important to you, so the diet you give to your GSD should be just as important. GSDs grow to be large dogs, weighing in between 70 and 100 pounds when they’re full grown, which requires a healthy blend of fats, proteins, carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals.
A lot of owners believe dog food is dog food and take the route of saving money over looking at what is actually inside of the food that they’re giving their dogs. This is a huge mistake, because even if you’re saving money, you could be costing yourself big in the long run. Not to mention degrading your dog’s health.
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With your German Shepherd’s healthy appetite, strong, active metabolism, and large, muscular bodies, they require a lot of food. There’s no mistaking that fact.
Most dogs need as many calories as you and I do to maintain a healthy body weight.
Please note: these estimates are based on an average weight for this breed. Every dog is different. Please talk to your vet before making changes to your dog's diet.
Young puppies need at least 500 calories per day, increasing as their size increases. Young adults and adult dogs need between 1,500 to 1,700 calories per day.
Full grown German Shepherds require between 2,000 and 2,250 calories per day, while older dogs begin to dwindle down in their caloric intake, requiring between 1,200 and 1,400 calories as their energy levels decrease.
For young puppies, it’s best to allow them to continue feeding off of their mother. At 4 weeks old, you can begin transitioning them into regular dog food. At 6 months old, you can complete the transition, feeding them entirely dry or canned dog food.
Not all dog foods are created equal.
If you pick 10 different foods and have them examined, you’re going to find 10 different ratios of fats, proteins, and carbohydrates.
As far as German Shepherds are concerned, with their higher energy levels and different caloric requirements, there are general guidelines you should follow with the foods that you choose to feed them.
AAFCO recommends that dog foods for large breed dogs, like your GSD, contain between 30% to 40%, with a minimum of 22% high-quality protein. Notice the key term there, high quality. That means protein from actual meat based sources, not the animal byproducts, low quality expired meat from grocery stores or meat that isn’t fit for human consumption.
They also recommend that your dog’s diet contain between 15% and 30% high-quality animal-based fats. The fats help your dog develop healthy joints and bones, lubricate their internal systems, and give them the necessary fatty acids they need to help aid digestion.
Carbohydrate sources are among the most debated ingredient in your dog’s food, mainly because they can come from so many different sources. One fact remains, though, that German Shepherds need between 5% to 8% carbohydrates from their diet.
The biggest debated aspect of carbohydrates is based on the ingredients used to provide them
A lot of low-quality dog food manufacturers will skimp and use wheat based products, soy, and corn. These have all been proven to hinder digestion, causing your dog’s internal systems to work more, and are a leading factor in most food allergies that dogs have or develop.
Vitamins and minerals, while a substantially smaller portion of your dog’s diet, are just as important as the protein, fat, and carbohydrates that you feed them. A proper diet full of essential vitamins and minerals helps your dog maintain their beautiful coat, build up their immune system to help them fight off illness and disease, and prevent behavioral problems, like aggression.
The best vitamins and minerals come from real fruits and vegetables. Ingredients such as berries, peas, and lentils are perfect for providing the micronutrients required.
On top of ensuring the food you give them contains a healthy balance of the required macro and micronutrients, you also need to provide them with an ample supply of fresh, clean water.
Most owners leave water down all day and refill it as it begins to empty. Make sure that you’re always cleaning the water bowl, and providing them with a high-quality source of fresh water 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
When you’re on the fence about choosing a food for your dog, the best thing you can do is look through the top 5 ingredients included on the label. The label is letting you know which ingredients make up the largest portion of the recipe the companies used to manufacture the food.
As a general rule, you want to avoid these 5 ingredients:
You have to pay attention, though.
A lot of shady companies have begun breaking those ingredients up into multiple groups so that the ratios they’re using are less on an individual basis, but when put together they make up the largest portion of the food.
We condemn those acts and make sure that any recommendations we provide are free of those marketing gimmicks, and contain only the best, highest quality ingredients.
The ingredients we just listed are known for causing health issues in
If you notice your dog having digestive issues, losing hair, constantly scratching, or not wanting to eat the food you’re providing, dig through the ingredients list and see if you can single out one of those top 5.
Your German Shepherd’s daily feeding schedule will vary as they grow older.
As a general rule, newborn puppies, and puppies up to 4-6 weeks in age need to be feeding off of their mother. Their mother’s body has the essential micronutrients that aren’t available in dog foods to help them build up their immune system during their first few weeks of life.
Once your puppy reaches 8 weeks in age, you can begin transitioning them into eating dry kibble. While you’re making the transition make sure that you’re adding 10% dry kibble per day, to their existing diet of wet kibble. This will help their digestive system adapt to the changes.
Here is our recommendation.
Once your dogs reach 6 months old, you can make the final switch to dry food only. Spend two weeks transitioning, and then feed your dog twice per day. It’s advised that you shouldn’t leave food down all day because the dogs will continue eating -- running the risk of developing obesity.
More in-depth feeding guidelines can be found here.
German Shepherds are known for having a healthy appetite but also have a fragile digestive system. That means they’re more susceptible to allergic reactions and other health problems caused by low-quality dog foods.
Here is our recommendation.
German Shepherd’s are unique from other dogs based on the fact that they have shorter
The best way to combat this problem is to ensure their diet is packed with high-quality sources of fiber, such as oats, barley, fruits, and other leafy greens. The fiber helps aid their digestive process, working the food through their system quicker, while allowing them to withdraw the needed nutrients in higher numbers.
Gastric Dilatation Volvulus, otherwise known as gastric bloat, is a common problem with deep-chested dogs, such as your German Shepherd. It happens when your dog’s stomach fills with gas, food, and liquids, and begins expanding like a balloon.
As the gas that’s building up is unable to escape, your dog’s stomach will begin to twist and rotate. This can be fatal if it’s not treated quickly by a qualified veterinarian. Outside of cancer, bloat is the leading cause of death in large dogs.
To prevent the problem, you should feed two smaller meals each day, instead of leaving the food down 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. You should also limit the amount of water your dog is allowed to drink directly after eating, and limit the amount of exercise they receive for an hour or two after a meal.
Hip dysplasia is incredibly common with large dogs that have long legs and a long spine -- such as your GSD. It can be both a genetically influenced condition, as well as brought on by environmental factors -- such as diet and lag of exercise.
It’s a serious condition that causes joint pain and deterioration in large dogs. By feeding your dog a well-balanced diet, packed with vital nutrients, and keeping your dog’s heavy, bone jarring exercises to a minimum, you can dramatically reduce the chances they develop the condition.
Obesity is one of the leading causes of hip dysplasia, and can be prevented by limiting the amount of food you’re giving to your dog to the amounts we’ve outlined in this article.
Cherry eye is commonly found in small dogs, but German Shepherds have been known to develop it when they’re being fed a low-quality diet.
Cherry eye, in itself, refers to the corners of your dog’s eyes turning pink or red, like a cherry.
It’s caused when the third eyelid becomes swollen and inflamed, and can be remedied by a topical steroid cream.
Back problems affect dogs of all sizes but tend to affect larger dogs with longer spines more often than normal. It’s primarily caused by strenuous exercise and activities that put stress on your dog’s back, like jumping from high places, or landing hard on their paws.
It can be avoided by making sure their diet promotes healthy bone production and muscle growth, which can stabilize your dog’s bones.
While Epilepsy itself tends to be a genetic condition, it can actually become worse with a poor diet. When your dog’s internal systems begin lacking the nutrients to function properly, increased stress is placed on their brain.
As the brain begins to feel the stress from a lack of nutrients, the conditions for causing epileptic seizures begins, allowing the seizures to happen more frequently.
Most veterinarians will require your dog to stay on a certain set of prescriptions to help limit the amount of seizures they have, while also recommending that you take a good look at the food you’re giving them on a daily basis.
Listed below are
Choosing the best dog food brand for german shepherds took a lot of research, but the four main brands that we can recommend to you are included, along with links to help you read reviews from other customers.
Truly organic dog food is, hands down, the best that you can feed your dog. Manufacturers of organic labeled dog foods follow strict guidelines to how the animals are raised, and the fruits and vegetables are grown.
They follow a strict code to avoid using any types of herbicides, pesticides or insecticides on the fruits and vegetables, instead relying on natural methods of keeping pests at bay.
The livestock and animals are typically free range and are not pumped full of growth hormones or antibiotics that can be passed through to your pet when they eat the food.
These growth hormones are known for causing behavioral problems, such as aggressive, and could put your dog at risk of developing physical and mental health issues later in life.
Organic foods also do not contain any animal byproducts, such as innards or bones, and do not use artificial fillers, colors, flavorings, or preservatives. This formulation helps aids digestion.
Low-quality proteins and fillers are hard for your dog to digest, and GSDs already have problems digesting food due to their shorter colons. Lack of fillers means that you’ll actually spend less on food, because what your dog eats will be higher in their caloric needs, fulfilling them with smaller portions. They are higher in the caloric count, by volume than lower quality foods.
In short, high quality, organic food helps extends your pet’s life and reduces the chances of having expensive vet bills once they begin getting older.
Wet dog foods are a great choice for German Shepherds of all ages. They’re useful for weaning young puppies off of their mother’s milk, packed full of the nutritional ingredients young adults and adult dogs need to stay healthy and help older dogs get the nutrition they need when they may have soft teeth.
Wet foods are easy to digest. Being mixed with up to 80% water, the combination helps your dog quickly digest and withdraw the nutrients they need to keep going.
Canned food doesn’t run the risk of becoming rancid, like dry dog foods purchased in large amounts typically do. There are no preservatives inside of wet dog foods, which means that you’ll have to keep them refrigerated until you’re ready to serve them to your dog.
For picky eaters that tend to turn their noses up at dry kibble, you can also mix the wet food with half a serving of dry food,
Dry dog food is the perfect mix of convenient and affordable. It’s easy to store, allowing you to purchase it in bulk without having to make extra room in your refrigerator for the cans. It’s also the most common type of food being given to dogs today.
The biggest perk of dry dog food is that you can fill your dog’s bowl, and leave it out until they finish eating. You can get dry dog foods in a wide range of flavors and formulas, easily finding a mix that your dog will love.
Dry dog foods do not require refrigeration and are a great choice for both young dogs, adults, and older dogs that still have all of their teeth.
A lot of dogs have begun to develop allergies to the foods they’re eating over the last 10 to 15 years. This is mainly due to the fact that more, and more manufacturers are coming to the market with low quality, inferior products.
The low-quality manufacturers tend to utilize ingredients that can be passed off as legitimate but are actually using slick marketing tactics to dupe consumers into thinking they’re buying products with the same ingredients as their more expensive competitors.
These cheap foods contain animal byproducts, typically made from innards and waste not used in other products, along with wheat-based carbohydrates, artificial preservatives, flavorings, colors, and man-made vitamins and minerals that all lead to causing problems in dogs with sensitive stomachs and digestive issues -- like your German Shepherd.
If your dog has developed food allergies, you need to avoid giving them foods that contain these animal by-products, bone meal, wheat-based ingredients, or any artificial and man-made ingredients.