What is the Best Diet for a German Shepherd Puppy?
See files for Dogs
When such an endearing pet like a German Shepherd puppy arrives home, it's hard not to fall in love immediately. As a particularly affectionate breed, the German Shepherd will reciprocate this love in abundance. Since they will grow up to be a medium to large dog breed and their diet is an essential way to ensure they develop properly. Common mistakes when feeding a German Shepherd puppy include giving too much or too little food and giving them food of inferior quality. For this reason, many dog guardians ask what is the best diet for a German Shepherd puppy?
AnimalWised answers this by providing information on how much to feed a German Shepherd puppy, what type of food is best and how does this change as they grow. To do this we also provide a helpful German shepherd puppy food chart for when and how to feed these puppies properly.
German Shepherd puppy diet: newborn
For a German Shepherd puppy to develop and grow properly, it is imperative that they first nurse on their mother's milk. The first milk they receive is a protein and antibody-rich type of milk known as colostrum. This gives the puppy's immune and central nervous systems a boost. They then progress on to regular breast milk.
Puppies will nurse for at least 6 to 8 weeks, gradually being weaned on to solid food at about 4 weeks. We cannot overemphasize the importance of a puppy’s first milk, as it provides them with 90% of its natural defenses. In addition, a puppy’s first feeding contributes to proper blood flow and helps oxygenate the puppy's organs.
If, for any reason, the puppy cannot suckle its mother, don't give them cow or goat milk. These milks are very poor quality in comparison to a puppy's mother's milk. If your German shepherd puppy has to be prematurely weaned, a veterinarian will be able to prescribe specific infant formula and establish the appropriate dosage for your puppy.
A dog’s breed type does however influence this feed. For example, a Chihuahua and a German Shepherd should not be fed the same food. This is because hese breeds have different nutritional needs. Take a look here to find out more about the diet for a prematurely weaned puppy.
German Shepherd puppy diet: 1 month old
From 3 to 4 weeks old, when it comes to feeding a German Shepherd puppy, we should start by letting them taste new foods and flavors. At this stage, the German Shepherd puppy's diet plan requires them to eat a special wet food for puppies. At around 6 to 8 weeks old, a German Shepherd puppy should be given a little dry dog food with water, or unseasoned chicken stock between nursing sessions.
From their eighth week onward, a German Shepherd should be weaned and start feeding on solid food with a special puppy feed. The best dog food for a German Shepherd puppy is breed specific, but this may not be available everywhere.
In these cases, your veterinarian can create a proper food plan for your German Shepherd puppy. A professional will take into consideration a puppy’s feeding pattern, size and health status. At this stage, milk must be removed from the puppy's diet as it could cause diarrhea. If by any chance your dog or puppy is suffering from a bad stomach, we recommend taking a look at our article on what to do if yourt dog has diarrhea.
In addition, it is vital that puppies have constant access to clean fresh water.
German Shepherd puppy diet: 2 months old
At two months of age, you can start to slowly decrease the moistening of your German Shepherd's dry food. Eventually, the puppy will be used to eating the food completely dry.
Following the German Shepherd puppy food chart, from 2 until 4 months old, a puppy will eat 4 or 5 times a day. This has to be carried out with one very important addition: discipline. A puppy needs to learn that it will not be fed constantly throughout the day, but at specific times. This is part of a puppy’s socialization and early education.
We start of by placing a bowl of food down for 10 minutes, this should give the puppy enough time to finish its meal. After 10 minutes, we suggest taking the bowl of food away, even if your puppy hasn't finished eating.
A puppy's food bowl must only be available to the dog for 10 minutes. This 10 minutes should be enough time for the puppy to eat all of its provided food. As already mentioned, after 10 minutes, you should take the food bowl away, even if the puppy hasn't finished eating. This pattern will introduce the puppy's food schedule and allow it an opportunity to become accustomed to particular feeding times.
Accepting and adapting to a diet plan is very important for a puppy's intellectual development. It also facilitates more complex and demanding training sessions. Food for German shepherd puppies should be higher in calories, fats, proteins and calcium than adult German Shepherd dog food. This is because puppies are still growing and developing and therefore need better nutrition.
German Shepherd puppy diet: food plan after 4 months
Between 4 and 6 months of age, the number of meals (which we have detailed in our German Shepherd puppy food chart) should be reduced to 3 a day. The food quantity should be increased and an extra margin of 2 minutes to eat should be provided. The packaging of quality commercial dog food will detail the appropriate suggested amount of food for the puppy, depending on its age and weight. If you have any doubts, consult your veterinarian.
You should eventually start mixing fresh food, such as meat, fish or vegetables, with the commercial dry feed. Beware of forbidden foods for dogs. Some people ask about a raw diet for a German shepherd puppy, but we recommend these such foods should always be cooked and never given to a dog raw. Avoid chicken, rabbit and fish bones, as they can shatter and harm a dog’s teeth.
Wet food should be given in moderation because given in excess, it can cause the development of plaque and cause the dog’s feces to smell. Meanwhile, treats for dogs should only be used as positive reinforcement during their training and learning period, never as a food supplement.
Under no circumstances should you give your German Shepherd, or any dog, human food leftovers. Human food contains salt, sugar and seasoning contents which are very harmful to a dog's health. In addition, if you do offer your dog your food, it will pester you during meals. For more, take a look at some of the harmful effects of treating a dog like a human.
German Shepherd puppy diet: after 6 months
When your German Shepherd puppy reaches 6 months of age, its daily food intake should be reduced to twice a day. When we do this we can increase the food portions and eating time accordingly. A vet can provide you with a correct and tailored diet and/or food plan for your German Shepherd puppy. Our German Shepherd diet chart below should be taken into account depending on the age, lifestyle and size of your German Shepherd puppy.
After 6 months, you should give your German Shepherd puppy shatterproof bones, such as beef, to gnaw on. This should be done in order to strengthen the puppy’s teeth and gums. For more, take a look here for more about; Bones For Puppies.
German shepherd puppy: Dog food and water bowl hygiene
Your puppy's food and drink containers should always be clean. Hygiene is very important in order to prevent the appearance of insects. If there are insects in your dog’s water, it could cause your German Shepherd puppy to suffer from intestinal parasites.
If you notice that your puppy has not eaten for three consecutive meals, consult your veterinarian immediately. This lack of appetite in a puppy could be caused by bowel obstruction and stomach pain; due to the ingestion of toxic food etc. Don't forget that puppies are very sensitive and fragile and if you ignoring any symptoms of disease, it can result in severe issues or even puppy fatality.
German Shepherd care
German Shepherd puppies should be socialized and trained to live with you from day one. These dogs are incredibly capable and have the ability, if trained properly, to learn tricks and perform activities. It is essential that there is a harmony among a puppy’s exercise regimen, a puppy’s diet and affection.
In addition to the diet of a German Shepherd, don't forget the importance of preventative medicines, following the appropriate vaccination schedules and general German Shepherd dog care.
For more information about your German shepherd, take a look at...
- The origin of the German Shepherd
- Tips to train a German Shepherd
- Differences between German Shepherd and Belgian Shepherd dogs
- Common diseases of German Shepherds
If you have a German Shepherd dog and found this article helpful, take a look at our YouTube video below all about German Shepherds.
If you want to read similar articles to What is the Best Diet for a German Shepherd Puppy?, we recommend you visit our Healthy diets category.
1. Schlesinger, D. P., & Joffe, D. (2011). Raw food diets in companion animals: A critical review. The Canine Veterinary Journal, 52(1), 50-54.
2. Ruefenacht, S., et al. (2002). A behaviour test on German Shepherd dogs: heritability of seven different traits. Applied Animal Behavior, 79(2), 113-132.