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What Are The Nutritional Needs Of A German Shepherd?

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Jacquelyn Kennedy
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German Shepherds are arguably among the most active and athletic dog breeds of all time. It is almost impossible for them to sit around all day without physical activity. That being said, you must meet their dietary needs to help them remain energetic.

So, in this article, we will find out whether you are feeding your pet right or not. Regardless, our goal is for you to understand his or her nutritional requirements. As a result, you will be able to decide what is the best dog food for German Shepherds.

What Is The Best Dog Food for German Shepherds?

German shepherd lying next to food bowl

As carnivores, German Shepherds need to eat a protein-rich diet daily. This helps them grow well and get enough energy to sustain their daily activities. Accordingly, your pet must eat a diet with about 15% to 30% of protein. Of course, that still depends on several factors, such as the following:

  • A German Shepherd’s activity;
  • A German Shepherd’s age; and
  • A German Shepherd’s weight

Many dog food brands will claim to be protein-rich. However, manufacturers get around it by using cheap fillers to afford cheaper prices. So, as a wise consumer, always check product labels. Make sure you only buy those with real animal meat as their protein sources. Excellent sources of protein may include poultry and fish.

Of course, for maximum energy, carbohydrates are also important. The recommended amount of carbohydrates in your pet’s diet is 5% to 8%.

Now, when we say carbohydrates, the first thing in mind is usually rice and oats. While these ingredients are nutritious, they may not be the best sources of carbohydrates for German Shepherds. So, what can you opt for, then? I suggest that you avoid rice and oats because they contain gluten, which causes allergic reactions. As an alternative, you may pick dog food with potatoes and peas.

Then, we also have essential fatty acids. These help keep your pet’s coat and skin healthy. So, pick a dog food with ample source(s) of Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids, such as flaxseed. German Shepherds shed a lot, so they must eat a diet that prevents skin problems.

Other essential nutrients you have to consider include the following:

  • Antioxidants
  • Minerals
  • Probiotics
  • Vitamins

On top of everything, hydration is extremely significant. Even if you feed your pet a balanced and complete diet, your efforts are useless if he or she is dehydrated. German Shepherds need access to fresh, clean, potable water at all times. Clean your pet’s water bowl regularly and never leave it empty.

What Are The Calorie Requirements of German Shepherds?

German Shepherd puppies need at least 500 calories a day. Then, the amount increases gradually as they gain weight. Meanwhile, young adult German Shepherds need about 1,500 to 1,700 calories a day. On the other hand, adult German Shepherds require roughly 2,000 to 2,250 calories a day. As they become seniors, their calorie requirements begin to drop. Senior German Shepherds only need about 1,200 to 1,400 calories a day.

What You Should NOT Feed German Shepherds

If food items must go into your pet’s diet, there are also those that must never make it into his or her food bowl.

Pop culture taught us that dogs are fond of eating bones. While it is true that they have strong jaws capable of chewing bones, it is just risky and far from practical. First of all, eating bones can lead to choking. Secondly, it may harm your pet’s gastrointestinal system. To ensure that German Shepherds are not exposed to these vulnerabilities, you need to opt for dry and/or wet food.

Then, some ingredients are toxic for dogs. These include the following:

  • Chocolates
  • Garlic
  • Grapes
  • Nuts
  • Onions
  • Raisins
  • Salt
  • Among others

Extremely spicy and/or extremely salty food only upsets your pet’s stomach. Worse, it can be fatal. So, instead, feed him or her snacks with high nutritional values. Fruits and vegetables must surely be on top of your list.

How Often Do German Shepherds Eat?

The frequency of their meals and the division of their dietary needs throughout the day depending on the activity, life stage, metabolism, and weight of German Shepherds. Of course, dog food brands have feeding guidelines that you may follow. However, you may also need to consult your pet’s vet to establish a more apt feeding schedule for your four-legged best friend. After all, every German Shepherd is different.

Ideally, a puppy that is still weaning requires as much solid food as he or she desires. Since they are growing and transitioning into adulthood, it is important to provide them with all the nutrition needed. Do not be surprised if your German Shepherd’s puppy eats as much as four times a day.

When he or she turns one year old, he or she will likely be able to eat purely solid food. When that happens, it is about time that you regulate his or her diet. At this point, your German Shepherds need a fixed feeding schedule, eating two to three times a day.


When looking for the best dog food for German Shepherds, the first thing you need to look at are the product labels. In these labels, you need to find the following before anything else:

  • Protein sources
  • Carbohydrate sources
  • Essential fatty acid sources
  • Antioxidants
  • Minerals
  • Probiotics
  • Vitamins

These things are what make up balanced and complete nutrition. German Shepherds have intense daily activities, which is why it is only fitting to provide them with a highly nutritious diet every day.

Aside from the best dog food, clean drinking water is also necessary. It keeps your pet hydrated, so ensure their water bowl is filled 24/7.

Be mindful of toxic ingredients as well. Anything that may cause allergic reactions, upset stomachs, and other health issues must not be included in the diet of German Shepherds.

When it comes to food quantity, you may either:

  • Rely on the feeding guidelines recommended by the dog food brand of your choice; or
  • Consult your pet’s vet

Anyway, you may always do both to ensure that your German Shepherd only gets the best care he or she deserves.

That is all for today’s discussion, folks! I hope that you have learned something useful today. Do not forget to let us know what you think!

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About the author

Jacquelyn Kennedy

PetDT was founded by Jacquelyn Kennedy, a dog lover and pet admirer. She built the website to provide pet owners with information, experiences, and opinions on breeds, temperament, personalities, health, nutrition, products, and care.