The German Shepherd is an incredibly popular breed and a very versatile one as well. This breed has ranked consistently among the top three most popuplar dog breeds according to American Kennel Club registration statistics, and for good reason. Not only is the German Shepherd a loving and devoted companion, but it is also an incredibly intelligent breed. German Shepherds respond very quickly to training and they have natural protective instincts that make them a good guard dog. If you are considering the German Shepherd, or if you already have one, it is important that you think about more than just the breed’s temperament and physical characteristics – you also have to think about his nutritional needs. Below you will find valuable information about meeting your German Shepherd’s nutritional needs as well as some special considerations to make. You will also find recommendations for commercial dog foods for this wonderful breed.
Nutritional Needs for German Shepherds
The German Shepherd is a large-breed dog known for its intelligence and courage. These dogs grow up to 2 feet 2 inches tall at the shoulder and they typically weigh between 75 and 95 pounds at maturity. In addition to being a large-breed dog, the German Shepherd can also be fairly active, especially when used as a working breed. This being the case, you should consider a commercial dog food that is specially formulated for active or working breeds. It is also recommended that you select a formula specially formulated for large-breed dogs. Although the German Shepherd is an active breed it requires a less calorie-dense diet than small-breed dogs because it has a slower metabolism. Overfeeding your German Shepherd can result in obesity which can be very dangerous for dogs.
Protein is the most important nutritional consideration for any dog and it should come from high-quality, animal-based sources like fresh meat and meat meals. Meat meals are actually a more concentrated source of protein than fresh meat because they have already been cooked down to a moisture content around 10%. High-quality commercial dog food diets for large breeds like the German Shepherd should include at least one source of animal-based protein, either fresh or as a meal. Healthy fats from animal-based sources (like chicken fat and fish oil) are also important. Fat is the most concentrated form of energy for dogs and it is especially important in a diet formulated for active and working breeds. Carbohydrates provide dietary fiber as well as various vitamins and minerals. They are best derived from digestible whole grains like brown rice and oats.
Because the German Shepherd is a large-breed dog you need to be very careful with what you feed him as he grows from a puppy into an adult. It can be very dangerous for large-breed puppies to grow too quickly because it will put excess strain on their bones and joints which can lead to serious musculoskeletal issues when the dog grows up. For this reason you should feed your German Shepherd puppy a dedicated large-breed puppy diet and follow the feeding recommendations on the package rather than free-feeding your puppy. Switch to a large-breed adult formula once your puppy reaches about 80% of his adult size – that should happen sometime between 12 and 18 months of age.
Special Considerations for German Shepherds
As a large-breed dog, the German Shepherd is at risk for developing certain musculoskeletal issues like hip dysplasia. This disease typically develops while the dog is still young, often as early as four months of age, though it can develop later as a result of osteoarthritis. Maintaining a healthy weight is one of the most important factors for preventing musculoskeletal issues like hip dysplasia. You should also make sure that your dog’s commercial diet contains enough chondroitin and glucosamine to support healthy joints and bones, especially as your German Shepherd ages.
Another special consideration you need to make for German Shepherds is the risk of gastric dilation volvulus, or bloat. Large-breed dogs, especially deep-chested breeds like the German Shepherd, have an increased risk for developing this condition. This condition is extremely serious and life-threatening and it can result from something so simple as eating too fast. Gastric dilation volvulus is a condition in which the stomach fills with air, putting pressure on the organs which makes it hard for the dog to breathe. As the condition progresses it may become more difficult for your dog’s heart to pump blood to his vital organs and the stomach could actually twist, cutting off blood supply to the stomach. Once this happens, the dog’s condition will deteriorate rapidly and the risk of death is very high. To prevent your German Shepherd from developing this condition you should keep him from eating too fast, avoid feeding him large meals, and avoid strenuous exercise or too much water within 1 hour of a meal.
Top Recommended Dog Foods for German Shepherds
If you need some help in finding the right food for your German Shepherd, consider one of the commercial dog food brands discussed below. Be careful when considering a breed-specific formula for your dog – do not just assume that the formula will meet your dog’s needs without evaluating the product for yourself. Consider the ingredients list to make sure that the product is of high-quality before offering it to your dog.
Wellness Large Breed Complete Health Formula
The Wellness dog food company recognizes the fact that large-breed dogs like the German Shepherd have different nutritional needs than smaller dogs. The Wellness Large Breed Complete Health formula is made with four different animal-based sources of protein to support healthy lean muscle mass and to optimize caloric intake. Additionally, this formula is supplemented with a blend of chondroitin and glucosamine to support bone and joint health, especially as your dog ages. Wellness Large Breed Complete Health lists deboned chicken as the first ingredient followed by whitefish, chicken meal, and ground brown rice. This formula also contains a blend of fruits and vegetables for antioxidant support as well as a blend of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. Wellness Large Breed Complete Health also contains the ActiCoat supplement made with live microorganisms to support healthy digestion. Simply put, this formula is made with a variety of fresh, wholesome ingredients in a combination that promotes balanced nutrition for your large-breed dog.
Orijen Adult Dog Food Formula
The mission of Orijen is to provide biologically appropriate diets for dogs and cats, formulated from fresh and wholesome ingredients and based on the natural diet of wild wolves. Orijen offers several dry food formulas including the Adult Dog formula which is made from a blend of nourishing meats, cartilage and organs to ensure the maximum degree of wholesome nutrition for healthy weight maintenance. This Orijen Adult Dog Food formula is made with fresh deboned chicken as the first ingredient, followed by chicken meal, chicken liver, and whole herring. Other notable ingredients include red lentils, green peas, chickpeas, and butternut squash in addition to a selection of fresh fruits. This dry food formula is completely free from gluten and grains as well as artificial preservatives, dyes, and flavors. Orijen Dry Adult Food contains 80% lean meats to help your German Shepherd maintain lean muscle mass and it is supplemented with a precise blend of vitamins, minerals, and amino acids.
Dr. Gary’s Best Breed Large Breed Dog Diet
This commercial dog food formula is designed for dogs that weigh more than 50 pounds at maturity. This diet is made with nutrient-dense kibbles formulated from high-quality, highly digestible ingredients including whole sources of protein like chicken, fish and eggs. This formula is supplemented with probiotics and prebiotics to help support healthy digestion as well as a blend of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids for healthy skin and coat. All of Dr. Gary’s dog foods are formulated for wholesome and balanced nutrition and this formula is designed to maintain healthy weight in large-breed dogs. In addition to high-quality protein, this formula also contains a variety of natural, antioxidant-rich vegetables and fruits for dietary fiber as well as a blend of vitamins and minerals. Simply put, this formula is designed to provide for all of the nutritional needs of large-breed dogs like the German Shepherd.
If you treat your German Shepherd right you will have a loyal and devoted companion for life. Caring for your German Shepherd is about more than just walking him and feeding him – you also need to take the time to develop a bond with your dog through training, play, and time spent together. If you do these things you will find that the German Shepherd is one of the best breeds out there.