How Much Should You Be Feeding a German Shepherd Puppy?

Pet Care


May 8, 2021

It would make sense that when you choose to adopt a dog, or any pet that requires active care, that you would want to research what you can to give your new pet the best life possible. There’s always a big level of difference in the care that you would give to a dog who is a young adult, healthy, and active, a senior dog who may need special care instructions, and puppies who need to be nursed and nurtured.

Arguably, it is the most resource intensive to raise a dog from the age of a puppy, especially when they are active and fast-growing breeds such as the German shepherd. Puppies grow fast, so not only will you be spending money on new toys and likely replacements and repairs for chewed-on objects, but you will also be spending a considerable amount of money on food for the puppy.

If you really want to make sure that your German shepherd is getting everything that it needs, you will want to look at the feeding guide for the dog. Naturally, as the dog ages and becomes more active and starts growing even faster, you are going to need to feed it different amounts of food at each stage of its life.

Why Are There So Many Stages?

When you first begin looking into how much to feed a German shepherd puppy, you may be shocked to realize how often you are going to have to increase the food and that you aren’t supposed to just leave a bowl of kibble for the dog to eat whenever it pleases. This is because dogs are much like toddlers in the sense of how they mature and how they act.

It makes sense that they need more food as they grow older. The reason why you increase this amount of food every few months is because the dog is growing at an exponential rate, just as human babies do. Instead of that growth happening over the course of a decade, all of the dog’s growth is compressed into the first year of its life, which is a considerable amount to grow in such a short time.

As such, they are going to need a lot of fuel and energy for that. The problem is, they still have small stomachs, so they won’t be able to eat as much as they need at once, or else they may overeat and end up vomiting the food it was supposed to be enjoying. You need to feed your German shepherd in small but frequent meals, gradually increasing the amount of food as it grows to its adult size.

What Should You Be Feeding the Dog?

Ideally, when you choose to adopt a puppy, the place you are adopting the dog from (whether it is a shelter or a breeder) will either instruct you on good brands of food to look at or will provide a small amount of food for the dog and allow you to extrapolate the type of food from there. However, there are times when you may want to choose a different food or you may want to understand more about what goes into the food.

German shepherds are an active breed of dog that have historically been bred to be working dogs. They work in fields, as protectors, and as service dogs. They are intelligent and active, which means that they use a lot of resources that will need to be replenished. You should consider looking at foods that are premium quality with good ingredients and a heavy focus on resources, and are also meant for “large dogs,” as the German shepherd qualifies as such.

Keep in mind that you shouldn’t try and feed a puppy kibble that is meant for adult dogs. Adult dog kibble has a different composition of nutrients that may not give a growing puppy all of the energy it needs to become a large, strong dog. Puppy kibble is not only formulated to be higher in protein and other nutrients, but the kibble pieces are better for a young dog’s mouth to prevent choking and other issues.

From Birth to 16 Weeks

The exact starting point of your German shepherd’s diet will depend on how old it is when you first adopt it. If you have a dog who has given birth to a litter and you are raising complete newborns, you should let them subsist on their mother’s milk until they are old enough to eat solid foods, though you can leave food out for them to try. You will want to offer four feedings per day for puppies under 16 weeks of age, starting at half a cup of food and moving toward a full cup of food at a time as the puppy grows older.

You will want to monitor the puppy for about half an hour after it finishes eating, as it will likely have to eliminate after, since puppies process their food much faster than adults dogs do and do not have the ability to hold it in yet. At eight weeks, you should decrease the feeding to three times a day and at 12 weeks, you should move the puppy to adult food and feed it twice a day.

From 16 Weeks to 9 Months

After your dog passes 16 weeks of age, you will want to change how much you feed your dog to be about one cup to one and three-quarter cups. You will want to gradually increase the amount of food you are offering at a time.

At this point, since 12 weeks have passed, your dog should not only be on adult-oriented kibble but it should naturally eat about twice a day. It should also be better at controlling its bladder at this age, although it may still be iffy. Ideally, your dog should be gaining weight steadily and be following the projected growth and weight patterns for German shepherds.

From Nine Months to Adulthood

Last, but most certainly not least, for the final three months, you will want to increase the amount of food you feed your German shepherd to be between two and two and a half cups of food, twice a day. This should be more than enough for your puppy to enjoy for its final growing stage as it transitions into adulthood. Once the one-year mark passes, you can start feeding  your dog two and a half to three and a half cups of food a day, twice a day, and this will be the final change you make with this being the amount of food a healthy adult German shepherd should eat.