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Taking Care of a German Shepherd

Loyal companions, and highly intelligent ones at that, German shepherds are a very active large dog breed. In order to live long and happy lives, they need consistent training and a high quality of care. In addition to requiring regular health care and exercise, a German shepherd needs access to proper housing and nutrition. If you can provide this, your German shepherd will be a steady companion to you for years to come, and will live a happy and fulfilled life with just a little care and consideration.

What Do German Shepherds Eat?

Proper nutrition is vital when you’re caring for a German shepherd. It’s important to make sure they have good nutrition throughout their lives, as this breed is known to be a very active, large dog and prone to hip complaints due to breeding. Filler ingredients are very common in cheaper pet foods and offer no nutritional value, so make sure you’re buying a good, healthy dog food.

Be sure to watch out for protein sources: corn is used for protein in some dog foods, but is not the type of protein dogs need. Make sure you’re feeding your dog a quality food that contains animal protein.

  • German shepherds will happily eat wet food, dry food, or a mixture of the two.
  • No matter how much they beg, try to resist giving your dog table scraps. Scraps can impact a dog’s interest in their own healthy food, and you may accidentally give them something that’s poisonous to dogs.
  • It’s important to talk to your veterinarian about what nutrients need to be included if you choose to feed your German shepherd homemade meals. This will help ensure that the dog will get a balanced diet.

Age-Appropriate Food

Your German shepherd will have different nutritional needs depending on what age it is. When your dog is in old age, for example, feed them senior food. You can find dog food for each age group, so feed your dog a puppy food when they are very young, and move on to adult food when it gets a little older.

  • If your dog is overweight, you can buy weight control food with specific formulas designed to bring them back to a healthy weight. Similarly, large breeds like the German shepherd may benefit from eating food designed for large breed dogs.
  • Do not suddenly change your German shepherd’s food when it comes time to switch from one type to another – for example, when you take your dog off puppy food. Make the change over the course of several weeks, mixing the two foods together and gradually increasing the new food while decreasing the old.
  • Talk to your vet about what food will work best for your dog. They may want it to get specific nutritional needs met as they will have a unique understanding of your specific dog’s health issues.

Portion Sizes

To determine the suggested serving size of a certain food, just check the packaging. Most packets will provide information based on your dog’s age and size. If not, your vet will be able to give you an idea of how much your dog should be eating – just ask!

Rather than giving your German shepherd their food all in one go, it’s generally best to divide it into two or more smaller meals over the course of the day. Many dogs are prone to a life-threatening swelling of the abdomen known as bloat, and your dog’s risk of developing this condition can be greatly reduced if you give them smaller meals.


  • To lessen the risk of bloating, never exercise your German shepherd right after they eat.
  • Keep in mind that your dog will need to go potty shortly after each meal if you’re feeding them several times a day.

To Treat or Not To Treat?

The snacks you feed your German shepherd can have an impact on their health, and should be taken into consideration when figuring out meal sizes. A feeding toy can be a great way to slow down your dog’s treat consumption, and picking low calorie treats that are satisfying for dogs – such as kibble or pieces of dog-safe vegetables – can keep treats healthy and fun.

  • Control how many treats you give your dog – snacks and rewards should make up no more than 5-10% of your German shepherd’s calorie intake.

Water, Water Everywhere

In order to prevent dehydration, it’s important that your German shepherd drinks a lot of water every day. Make sure your dog has access to a bowl of clean water at all times, and fill this bowl with fresh water every day (or whenever it is empty). Make sure there is plenty of water available, checking on the amount of water in the bowl throughout the day.

  • Dehydration can be a threat to your dog’s health. Signs that it might be dehydrated and needs more water include excessive panting, loss of appetite, and dry nose or gums. Give your dog water immediately if they begin to exhibit any of these symptoms.
  • Rather than drinking a large amount at one time, German shepherds should drink small amounts of water at regular intervals. If you want to avoid bloat, gradual hydration is the way to go.

For more information about taking home your own German shepherd, check out German Shepherds: The Essential Guide from Perfect-Pets, which walks the owner through ‘essential things to know’ including: microchips; vaccinations; insurance; weight etc. All aspects of care are covered including: the German Shepherd as a puppy; the German Shepherd as a ‘teen-ager’; feeding and exercising and dangerous foods to be avoided.

Perfect-Pets have books about all 10 of the UK’s most popular dogs, including Bulldogs and Cocker Spaniels, as well as a special guide to First Aid for Dogs. Becoming a doggy guru has never been easier!

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