Congratulations on receiving a German Shepherd puppy. They are intelligent, playful, and beautiful dogs. But they also have a ravenous appetite. If it’s your first, this guide will come in handy just as the one you used to prepare for welcoming the puppy.
If it’s not your first time (but it’s been a long time), this guide will refresh your memory. Read on and learn what to feed your puppy, how much and how often. But first, a word on the type of dog food to give your puppy.
Give your German Shepherd Puppy Plenty of TLC and High-Quality Feeds
Owning a dog comes with its joys and responsibilities. They need plenty of TLC as well as dedication. Of course, you will need to make a few adjustments in your life to accommodate the new family member. One of the adjustments to make will be your budget. You might want to keep costs low, but that would not be your pup’s best interest.
High-quality puppy food is often more expensive than the average dog feed. Unlike the low-budget ones, they are safer, more nutritious, and have stable ingredients. The manufacturers often go the extra mile to ensure every batch is consistent and meets AAFCO standards.
If you are a novice pet parent, checking trusted resources for ideas on high-quality dog food will help you decide. You can also ask the breeder or a vet for help. Feeding your German Shepherd puppy on high-quality feeds gives them an edge and helps them thrive.
Here’s more information on what you should feed your puppy.
What to Feed your German Shepherd Puppy
Like any other dog, German Shepherd puppies should not be separated from their mum until they are at least 7-8 weeks old.
Puppies also experience rapid growth at this age, and the diet should meet the nutritional demands of a growing pup. This is why Timberwolf Organics produces dog food packed with quality animal protein and a lot of calories to help puppies build their bones and muscles while fueling their growth.
Feeding your puppy adult dog food will deny it crucial nutrients.
Take notes from the breeder or a vet on the nutritional requirements and what feeds to give the pup. If possible, stick to the same products as the breeder for a few weeks to avoid upset stomachs and allergies.
You may opt for canned dog food, semi-moist dog food, or dry kibble. Each type has pros and cons, but some owners prefer dry kibble (which is also most economical) because they perceive it to aid teething. Nevertheless, let your pup be the judge of what they like. If they don’t like dry kibble very much (but you want to stick to it) you can moisten it slightly and make it more palatable.
Ensure your puppy gets a balanced diet and can access fresh water at any time. Avoid adding supplements like vitamins or minerals to a kibble meal without a vet’s recommendation. Also, avoid giving poultry or pork bones and be very conservative when giving treats. But you can add small quantities of plain yogurt, slightly cooked veggies, and eggs.
Now to the main issues: How much and how often to feed a German Shepherd puppy.
How Much Should You Give Your Puppy?
Many factors influence the quantity of food a puppy should consume. The factors include age, activity levels, health status, and many more. Also, it would be confusing and misleading to suggest a specific mass of feed because the nutritional quality of different brands varies. Instead, an approximate value of the energy requirements (calories per day), is better.
On average, an adult German Shepherd consumes 1,200 to 2,300 calories a day. Highly active dogs eat the higher quantity and less active dogs on the lower side.
German Shepherd puppies also follow the same trend. But their calorie requirements will surprise you. They consume double the amount of calories (per pound of weight) compared to adults. That means, your fresh 8-week-old German Shepherd puppy can consume twice as much food (per pound of weight) as an adult!
Calculating the energy requirements for your puppy is a little complicated. This calculator from Ohio State University can give you an idea of how to figure it out.
An average German Shepherd puppy, under 16 – 18 weeks old, should consume about 80 – 90 calories per pound of body weight. This is the Resting Energy Requirement (RER) and your puppy might require more or less depending on the activity level. The figure is not cast on stone!
Puppies require all these calories to satisfy their growth and energy (play)needs. After all, they are busy exploring the world around them and bonding with family members.
As you go shopping for puppy food, remember to pay attention to the ingredients and nutritional information printed on the packaging. The calories (per pound of puppy food) can vary between different brands and manufacturers.
But how can you tell if your puppy is receiving sufficient nutrition?
Chart Your Puppy’s Weight and Growth
The best way to tell if your puppy is receiving proper and sufficient nutrition is to chart their weight and growth. Routinely check their weight and growth parameters, and check against a breed-appropriate growth-and-weight chart from a reputable source. If there is a significant deviation from the standard measures, reach out to a vet and get advice on adjusting the calorie intake.
Remember, a puppy carrying too much weight also has an increased risk of developing orthopedic ailments due to the stress exerted on its young joints. Excess weight can also lead to other health issues like diabetes, diseases of the cardiovascular system, and general lethargy.
Below is a suggested daily feeding chart for German Shepherd puppies at different growth stages.
Suggested Amounts to Feed Per Meal – According to Weight
Below is the typical amount of kibble to give a German Shepherd puppy at different growth stages.
- At 8-12 weeks, give your puppy one to one-and-a-half cups of kibble per meal.
- From 13 weeks to 6 months, give your puppy one-and-a-half to two cups of kibble per meal.
- At 6-9 months of age, give your puppy two to three cups of kibble per meal.
- From 9-12 months, give your puppy three to three-and-a-half cups of kibble per meal.
- Above 12 months, give three-and-a-half to four cups of kibble per meal.
Remember, the size of the cup and nutritional quality will vary with the brand. Look out for the calories per feed and adjust according to your puppy’s needs.
How Often Should You Feed Your German Shepherd Puppy?
Now that you know how much to feed your puppy every day, the next question is, how do you distribute the meals? Do you just lump it at once and leave it for the pup to eat at their convenience, or do you set up mealtimes and apportion? Of course, the latter makes more sense. It is also an excellent way to start training your dog.
Most puppies start with small quantities and few meals. Therefore, provide feeds specially formulated for puppies. It will help you not to compromise the nutritional quality. The following guide will help you understand the feeding frequency according to the puppy’s age.
- At 8 – 12 weeks, a German Shepherd puppy eats four times a day.
- At 13 weeks to 6-months, a German Shepherd puppy eats three times a day.
- At 7 – 12 months, a German Shepherd puppy eats twice a day
- At one year or older, a German Shepherd can eat once a day
Not all dogs clear out their meals within minutes. Some are slow eaters and could take longer to finish a meal. This especially happens when the puppies are young and not accustomed to pet food. It is also the stage when your pup can develop picky eating habits. But you can avoid it by following these steps:
- Serve the recommended quantity
- Leave the food down for about 10 – 20 minutes.
- Discard the remaining food after feeding time is over.
- Do not feed the puppy until the next session.
- At the next feeding session, reduce the quantity by the amount that the puppy left.
If you travel a lot or are not home most of the time, it would be more convenient to use a smart feeder like Petlibro Automatic Pet Feeder. You can track your puppy’s meals anytime and anywhere. You can instantly adjust the quantity and timing of feeds, and even leave a voice message for your puppy.
What if Your Puppy Begs Later. Should You Give Extra Food or Some Kitchen Scraps?
You may feel guilty for denying your puppy some food and want to give it treats or kitchen scraps. Resist this urge because one bite will lead to another, and before long, you will be dealing with an obese pup. Also, kitchen scraps can cause an upset stomach.
If your puppy, on the other hand, is a poor feeder (refuses to feed or takes significantly less than the recommended quantity for two or more consecutive meals), reach out to a vet for help.
Feeding Your German Shepherd Puppy, A Final Word
The above guide will help you give your German Shepherd puppy the correct quantity of food at the appropriate frequency. But remember that no two puppies are alike. If your puppy behaves differently, they are not odd or unwell. They could be fine and healthy. But you should get a second opinion from a qualified professional like a vet or the breeder and clarify.
Reach out to professionals when you have questions and concerns about the quality and quantity of puppy feed and feeding schedule.