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Eager to please and family friendly, the German Shepherd is one of the most popular breeds in America. In fact, the AKC ranks this dog as the second most popular breed! Owners of German Shepherds know that this breed can be bouncy and fun while also maintaining a calm and loving demeanor, making them perfect for many families and individuals. When you bring home a German Shepherd you’ll probably have a lot of questions, one of the most prominent will likely be, what should I feed my new German Shepherd puppy? Fear not, today we’re dedicating our entire blog to helping you understand your new puppy’s needs when it comes to mealtime.
Did you know that German Shepherds gained the popular GSD acronym for two reasons? One, that’s the actual acronym of the breed, but two, they would refer to German Shepherds as GSD so that people wouldn’t confuse them with actual human German shepherds that tended sheep or other animals. The distinction was particularly important if a German shepherd used a German Shepherd to tend his herd.
Now onto our really important topic, food! Your German Shepherd puppy will have transitioned to solid food before you bring it home either by its breeder or caretakers at the shelter. You’ll need to determine what food your German Shepherd puppy was eating before they came home with you, so make sure to ask the breeder or shelter before you head home. If you decide to switch your puppy to a new food, you should do it slowly. It’s not recommend to switch up a dog’s food overnight. You’ll want to conduct the change gradually over the course of a few days.
The first question you’ll need to ask yourself in regard to your new German Shepherd puppy’s diet is frequency. More specifically, how frequently do you plan on feeding your German Shepherd puppy? Most vets recommend starting with three meals a day, by doing this you’ll be doing a number of favors for your pup. Not only will your German Shepherd puppy feel more satisfied after finishing his meal, but he’ll also be on the right track as far as weight control goes. Some new German Shepherd puppy owners are tempted by the concept of “free feeding.” In this feeding practice, an owner will leave a large serving of food available to their puppy at all times, but there are a few troubling concerns that accompany this practice. For example, a puppy not eating is a common sign of some puppy diseases, so when you free feed you won’t be able to tell as easily when your puppy starts eating less. We encourage owners to stick to the three times per day schedule, or a schedule that your vet has provided, as opposed to free feeding.
An ideal feeding schedule for a German Shepherd would be:
- Breakfast between 6-7am
- Lunch at noon
- And dinner between 5-6pm
Most vets also recommend switching to two meals a day when your puppy is around 12 weeks old. But, each German Shepherd is different. You should always make sure that you are consulting with your vet before making any changes to your puppy’s diet or feeding schedule.
Some owners find that their German Shepherd gets too excited around feeding time and inhales his food. If your puppy gets too excited and eats his food quickly then he may suffer from some scary side effects such as choking or gagging. One easy solution to this problem is using a slow bowl feeder. These bowls have obstacles inlaid in their design that limit how much food your German Shepherd puppy can eat at once.
So why can’t you just feed your puppy adult formula food? Well, like human baby food, puppy food has been specially formulated to support a puppy’s specific needs. Although puppies have strong baby teeth, so they get to eat crunchy or wet food and not mashed peas and carrots. Puppy food actually has twice the daily nutrient requirements of adult food. This formula will help your puppy as he develops his bones, muscles, joints, internal organs, and immune system. That’s a lot of work! An ideal puppy food will contain at least 30% protein, as well as vitamins, minerals, and a high-fat content.
German Shepherds are prone to hip dysplasia, like most large breed dogs, so finding a food that has a high protein percentage will help your pup in the long run. Some companies now make large breed puppy formulas with these needs in mind.
Speaking of large breed formulas, when it comes time to switch your German Shepherd puppy from puppy food to an adult formula you will need to do it slowly. Just like when you were introducing a new puppy food. And remember, you may not get it right on the first try. You might want to buy the smaller bags of your new food at first so that you don’t end up with wasted product. If you do decide to go with a larger bag and your dog doesn’t like it, some stores will let you return it, or you could always donate it to your local shelter.
The best way to find the right puppy food for your puppy is to talk to your vet. They will able to provide an educated opinion as to which dog food will be best for your German Shepherd puppy.
German Shepherd Breed Profile Overview
Here’s a brief breed profile of the German Shepherd to get you started. For more in-depth information, such as ideal vaccination schedules or potty training tips, visit our online archive of over 10,000 vet approved articles.
Prior to the late 1800s, sheep herding dogs were randomly bred, and only those that worked well were selected. As the 20th century approached, a strict breeding program was undertaken in Germany to develop the current randomly bred shepherd dog into a more uniform herding dog with versatility and intelligence. Thus began the German Shepherd.
Appearance and Size:
The German shepherd dog is medium to large size with erect pointed ears, a long body, and a weather resistant coat. A thick, stiff outer coat covered by a softer inner one makes the German shepherd readily able to withstand extreme climates.
The German shepherd dog is very intelligent, easy to train, powerful and elegant. Though not overly affectionate, shepherds are loyal and faithful.
Training should begin early in life. Untrained shepherds have a tendency to be difficult to handle and control. Since shepherds are intelligent and eager to learn, they can be trained to do a variety of tasks and perform a plethora of jobs.
For more details on this breed, including info on home and family relations, special care, and common diseases and disorders visit our German Shepherd breed profile.