How Much to Feed a German Shepherd (Feeding Chart)

Woman feeding a bowl of dog food to German Shepherd

German Shepherd feeding, as with other active, working dog breeds, can be tricky. It can be overwhelming to figure out what to give them, what to avoid, and how much to feed them. Fortunately, this feeding guide has you covered.

For German Shepherd puppies, 1 ½ to 4 ½ cups of puppy food daily is ideal. Meanwhile, adults require around 3 ¼ to 4 ¼ cups of adult food per day. Lastly, senior German Shepherds do best with 3 ½ to 4 ½ cups of dog food per day.

Whether you’ve just gotten a new puppy or an adult dog, making sure you give your German Shepherd Dog (GSD) the proper quantity of food is essential to their health and happiness.

What Factors Impact How Much to Feed a German Shepherd?

Close up picture of German Shepherd enjoying dog food

There are several factors to consider when determining how much food to feed a German Shepherd, regardless of their type. Hence, it’s vital to understand how these things affect its nutrition before feeding it.

Here’s a list of factors that influence how much a German Shepherd should eat:

  • Age: GSDs have unique nutritional requirements at different life stages. A German Shepherd puppy usually consumes more food and requires more daily calories per pound of body weight than an adult dog. In addition, as they age, German Shepherds may become less energetic and require less food.
  • Weight: German Shepherds are large, muscular dogs. That said, they need more food to fill their large appetites. Usually, heavier dogs will need more food than dogs with lower body weights. Determining your dog’s weight is essential in determining how much to feed it.
  • Activity Level: German Shepherds are athletic and agile dogs. Normally, a GSD with a high activity level will need more food than a sedentary dog. With this in mind, you must always tailor your dog’s diet to its daily activities.
  • Health Status: The health status of a dog also affects the right amount of food it needs. For instance, a dog suffering from elbow and hip dysplasia may require a specialized diet, which may impact how much it eats. The same is also true for dogs who are underweight or overweight.

A friend of mine who breeds GSDs has mentioned that female dogs undergoing pregnancy also have specific requirements when it comes to their diet. They usually require higher protein content and nutrients that ensure a healthy gestation for the mother dog.

This type of specialized diet even stretches all the way up to the period of lactation, where my friend ensures that the mother German Shepherd supports the production of healthy milk for her babies.

These factors are only some of the things you need to consider when making a feeding plan for your German Shepherd. Other factors that may affect how much your dog eats include gender, environment, and even genetics.

How Much to Feed Your German Shepherd?

German Shepherd lying on floor with dog food

Here are the feeding charts that will assist you in planning how much to feed your German Shepherd dog. Use these charts as a basis, but do not forget that all dogs will have varying dietary needs.

German Shepherd Puppy Feeding Chart (2 to 12 months)

German Shepherd puppies develop quickly, so they require as many nutrients as possible to keep up with their growth spurts.

The GSD puppy receives its early nutrients from drinking its mother’s milk, which also serves as its first line of defense against illnesses.

In their 4th or 5th week of life, puppies get ready to wean off their mother’s milk and switch to soft puppy food.

You can use the guidelines below to help you determine how much to feed your German Shepherd puppy:

AgeDaily Feeding Amount (Cups)Caloric Intake (Per day)
2 – 3 months1 ½ – 3 ½702 – 1520
4 – 6 months2 ¼ – 3 ½1,013 – 1,612
7 – 9 months3 ¼ – 4 ¼1.422 – 1,884
10 – 12 months3 ½ – 4 ½1,612 – 1,971
*Use a standard 8-oz measuring cup 

Make sure to give your German Shepherd a kind of puppy food that is specifically made for large-breed puppies. These formulas will vary slightly from the standard puppy food on the market. 

This specially formulated dog food will help them grow into healthy adult dogs.

Adult German Shepherd Feeding Chart (1 to 6 years)

At 12 to 18 months of age, German Shepherds often reach their full size. A one-year-old German Shepherd is considered an adult and is now ready for a healthy adult diet.

The transition to adult dog food is a major step in your pet’s development. Hence, it is important that they have a balanced diet with all the nutrients they need at this age.

Here’s a table showing how much adult German Shepherds should eat:

AgeDaily Feeding Amount (Cups)Caloric Intake (Per day)
1 – 6 years3 ¼ – 4 ½ 1,327 – 1,781
*Use a standard 8-oz measuring cup 

These cup amounts should serve as a reference, but you should feed your German Shepherd dog according to its individual needs.

If you adjust the cups to meet your dog’s individual dietary and caloric requirements, you’ll see a positive impact on your pet’s health.

Senior German Shepherd Feeding Chart (7 years and above)

The German Shepherd, like most other large breed dogs, ages faster than smaller dogs. Health, joint flexibility, and energy levels rapidly diminish in large, senior dogs compared to smaller dog breeds of the same age.

Thus, a special diet designed for senior German Shepherds is recommended. Diets for senior dogs typically have fewer carbohydrates, less sodium, and higher protein than regular dog food.

The following feeding chart shows how much dog food a senior German Shepherd needs:

AgeDaily Feeding Amount (Cups)Caloric Intake (Per day)
7 years and above2 ¾ – 3 ½1,061 – 1,425
*Use a standard 8-oz measuring cup 

It is also worth noting that elderly dogs tend to slow down their digestion, so a diet higher in fiber may be beneficial for your senior German Shepherd. 

The joint health of senior dogs may benefit from glucosamine supplements. But, as always, it is best to consult a veterinarian first before giving any kind of supplements to your pooch.

How Often Should You Feed Your German Shepherd?

Man is feeding young German Shepherd

The age of a German Shepherd is a primary factor in determining how often it eats. For instance, an eight-week-old GSD should be fed three to four times a day, while those aged 3 to 12 months old can eat thrice daily. Meanwhile, adults may eat twice daily, while seniors do fine with just one meal.

The chart below breaks down the suggested German Shepherd feeding frequencies according to age:

AgeFeeding Frequency
0 – 8 weeksThree or four times a day
3 – 12 monthsThree times a day
1 – 6 yearsTwo times a day
7 years and aboveOnce or twice a day

Most dog food manufacturers provide instructions on how frequently and how many cups of dog food to give dogs based on age. Even then, you should still consider tailoring your dog’s feeding frequency to its needs.

How to Transition Your German Shepherd to a New Food 

Feeding German Shepherd puppies puppy food

It may take up to two years for a large dog to reach full maturity. During this process, you will have to switch your dog’s diet many times to accommodate its changing nutritional needs. 

Mixing the old and new dog food together for a week is the best method to ease your dog into the switch. This will give your dog’s digestive system time to adjust without any discomfort.

You may use the AKC-recommended feeding plan below to transition your German Shepherd Dog from an old diet to a new diet:

DayOld FoodNew Food
1 – 275%25% 
3 – 450%50%
5 – 625%75%

Keep a close eye on your dog at all times throughout this period of adjustment. Even if you introduce the new food slowly, if the transition to the new food isn’t working, you might want to slowly switch back to the old dog food.

If more severe problems occur during this transition, speak with your veterinarian for further advice.

Tips on Feeding an Overweight German Shepherd

German Shepherds are known for their high level of physical fitness and activity. But, like other dogs, they are not immune to obesity. 

Here are some tips for feeding an overweight German Shepherd in order to keep them healthy:

  • Track your dog’s food intake. Keep an eye on how much your dog is eating. For many reasons, it’s best that dog owners feed their dogs periodically. Feeding German Shepherds the same amount of food at regular intervals will help them regain their ideal weight.
  • Avoid high-calorie dog treats. A German Shepherd’s life wouldn’t be complete without dog treats. But not all dog treats are created equal, and some have far more calories than others. Always read the nutritional guidelines on dog food packages; choose snacks that have low calories and steer away from calorie-dense treats.
  • Adding vegetables and high-fiber foods. Foods high in protein and fiber but low in fat tend to be the greatest options for many dog owners in helping their German Shepherds lose weight. Vegetables have fewer calories and more fiber than other dog foods, so they help the dog feel fuller for a longer period.
  • Provide enough exercise. German Shepherds need regular exercise to maintain a healthy body. It will gain weight if its caloric intake exceeds its energy expenditure. Depending on your dog’s current fitness level, a daily exercise routine of at least an hour is recommended for your German Shepherd.

I grew up with a pair of German Shepherds. Both male and female dogs are voracious eaters and have almost uncontrollable appetites. It was a good thing that my dad had a habit of running them around the neighborhood every afternoon.

This steady routine kept both of our GSDs physically fit and healthy, even through their senior years.

Helping your overweight German Shepherd puppy attain a healthy weight and live a long, happy life is possible with patience, dedication, and the appropriate approach.

Frequently Asked Questions

German Shepherd eating dog food

How Do I Know If I’m Feeding My German Shepherd Enough?

One way to tell if your German Shepherd is getting enough food is by observing its overall disposition, activity level, and physique. 

German Shepherds that eat enough will be in good shape, have enough energy to play, and not feel lethargic all the time. Likewise, GSDs that are fed with the right food portions will also be within their ideal weight range.

Why Is My German Shepherd Not Eating?

A German Shepherd may refuse food for a variety of reasons, such as being sick, having dental problems, experiencing a change in routine or surroundings, being sensitive to the ingredients in its diet, or simply being picky.

If your dog has not been eating for two or more days already, it is recommended that you consult a veterinarian right away.

Can I Feed My German Shepherd With Human Food?

German Shepherds can safely consume many different types of human foods.

Some owners actually prefer this feeding method, especially when their dogs don’t like eating dry food, wet food, canned food, or any other commercial dog food.

However, you must learn about what is and isn’t safe to feed your dog, as many common human foods that seem harmless to us can be really dangerous to dogs.

Do German Shepherds Eat a Lot?

German Shepherds, being a larger breed, need a lot of dog food to keep them going strong and help them continue to grow and mature. They are always ready to eat, whether it’s canned food, dry food, or raw meat.

Hence, you won’t have to worry about these dogs not eating, but you should be mindful of their weight. Make sure they receive enough exercise and follow the recommended meal plans to keep them at a healthy weight.

Can German Shepherds Eat Bones?

Eating bones is a great way for German Shepherds to maintain good dental hygiene, absorb essential nutrients like calcium and phosphorus, and stimulate their brains.

Make sure the bone you give your German Shepherd is raw and larger than its muzzle; avoid feeding it crushed animal bones to prevent it from choking.

Don’t give your dog any cooked bones because they’re softer and more likely to shatter, potentially injuring your dog’s mouth, throat, or digestive tract. You must also supervise your dog whenever it is chewing on bones.

As always, consulting a vet or pet nutritionist is always the best option when it comes to your German Shepherd Dog’s diet. If you have any more tips about feeding these loyal dogs, please leave them in the comments section below!

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