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Do you know how much to feed a German Shepherd puppy for the best growth and health?
Or, maybe you just need a simple feeding chart by age or weight for your new puppy?
By the time you’re done reading this, you’ll learn the right amounts to feed your pup to grow strong and fit and keep you on the right track to a lifetime of health.
Let’s get started and find out how much, how often, and what foods your GSD puppy loves to eat.
German Shepherd Puppy Feeding Guide
Knowing how much to feed a German Shepherd puppy helps you to keep track of their growth and habits. It’s good to chart how much you’re feeding them so that you can monitor their weight gain, growth, and appetite changes.
Follow this chart as a guide for how much food a German Shepherd puppy usually eats.
German Shepherd Puppy Feeding Chart By Age
As a general guideline, here’s how much you should feed your German Shepherd puppy daily by their age and cups of food:
8 weeks old: 1 to 1 ½ cups of food spread over 4 meals daily
12 weeks old: 1 ½ to 2 cups of food spread over 4 meals daily
6 months to 9 months old: 2 cups to 3 cup of food spread over 3 meals daily
9 months to 12 months old: 3 cups to 3 ½ cups of food spread over 3 meals daily
12 months old and above: 3 ½ to 4 cups of food spread over 2 meals daily
Adjust the amounts based on your dog’s lifestyle. A more active puppy might need extra calories, while a lower energy puppy doesn’t need as much food per day. These are guidelines only.
So, feel free to adjust the amounts based on your German Shepherd’s energy needs.
Total Cups of Dry Kibble
Number of Meals Per Day
8 weeks old
1 – 1 ½ cups
12 weeks old
1 ½ – 2 cups
6 months to 9 months old
2 – 3 cups
9 months to 12 months old
3 – 3 ½ cups
12 months old and above
3 ½ – 4 cups
How Much Should a German Shepherd Puppy Eat (split the total up into multiple meals throughout the day)
Offer your dog their food around the same time each day. If they don’t eat their meal in 10 to 15 minutes remove their dish. Wait an hour and offer them the same meal to see if they’ve changed their mind about eating.
How Much Should A German Shepherd Puppy Eat?
On average, adult German Shepherds should eat at least 1,272 calories to 2,100 calories daily. This amount depends on their age, existing health conditions, and activity level. Older and less active German Shepherds eat around 1300 calories daily to maintain a healthy weight. Meanwhile, an active and energetic older GSD may eat at 1700 calories a day.
But what about a German Shepherd puppy?
How much should a German Shepherd puppy eat?
The answer will surprise you!
German Shepherd puppies eat twice the amount of calories per pound of weight when compared to adult German Shepherds. This means an 8-week-old German Shepherd puppy can eat double the food of an adult GSD! Puppies eat double their adult counterparts in order to maintain growth and development. Their caloric intake is crucial to keep their bodies strong and give them necessary energy to grow.
A German Shepherd puppy that is younger than four months old will need at least 80-90 calories per pound of body weight in order to grow and develop. Once a German Shepherd puppy reaches four months of age, then you can reduce his calorie requirements to around 40-60 calories per pound of body weight. Weigh your puppy routinely, check on their overall body condition, and adjust their calories to support their growth.
Young Shepherds are even busier than working adult dogs. After all, they’re growing into their large paws, running around with zoomies, chewing (things they should and shouldn’t), playing fetch, and learning allabout the world around them. All of this requires additional energy.
Remember, calories vary greatly between brands and manufacturers. Always read the feeding label and nutritional guidelines on the package of food you are feeding your GSD.
Here is a simple calorie chart by age and weight to help you find a good feeding amount for your puppy to start with.
German Shepherd Puppy Calories By Age
Number of Feedings
Puppies – Weaning to 12- weeks
4 per day
1200 – 2400 calories
Puppies – 3 to 6-months
3 per day
2000 – 2200 calories
Puppies – 6 to 12-months
3 per day
2700 – 3900 calories
Puppies – 12 to 18-months
2 per day
3300 – 4250 calories
This feeding guide chart is for general parameters of a German Shepherd puppy’s caloric requirements, based on weight. Dog food companies generally provide this information on their product packaging to assist you in feeding your puppy. Follow the manufacturer’s recommendations.
Many puppies need additional calories right before a growth spurt, then eat slightly less after the growth spurt. It’s difficult to tell when the growth spurt begins, but you might notice that your puppy always seems hungry.
On average your German Shepherd puppy under 4 months old needs about 80 – 90 calories per pound of their body weight. This figure is adjustable given how active your dog is during their day and as they grow – scientifically, this number is called their resting energy requirements, or RER. The RER is a mathematical formula to calculate the minimum requirements for a German Shepherd puppy’s growth.
But, it’s not set in stone!
So, don’t get stuck on the numbers exactly. Instead, use them as a guide.
Watch your puppy’s body condition and waist line. German Shepherd puppies should have an hourglass figure when seen from overhead. They aren’t bulky or heavily muscular as young puppies.
And bulking up a puppy is not healthy for their joints. Instead, you want them to steadily increase their growth.
If you think your puppy is trying to eat everything, including his food bowl, then offer a small bit more food. If he seems slightly chubby or fat, then decrease the food by a small bit.
How Much To Feed A German Shepherd Puppy By Weight
German Shepherd Puppy Calorie Chart: 0 – 4 months
Weight in Pounds
Remember, these are the MINIMUM calories for growing puppies. But German Shepherds are highly active and usually need more than the minimum amounts.
German Shepherd Puppy Calorie Chart: 4 months – 1 year
Weight in Pounds
Remember, these are the MINIMUM calorie needs! But your GSD puppy is growing and highly active, so they likely need more calories than the minimum to keep up with their active lifestyle.
If you look at the feeding recommendations on your dog’s food package, you’ll likely see the amounts to feed a German Shepherd puppy are written in cups rather than calories. Those guidelines are safe to follow because they calculate your puppy’s calorie requirements in the same way the above charts do. Plus, using a measuring cup is easier than figuring out caloric needs using a mathmatical formula.
Now, you need to choose the right number of feedings per day for your German Shepherd puppy.
How Often Should You Feed A German Shepherd Puppy?
Feedings Per Day
6 to 12 weeks old
Yes, often but healthy treats
12 weeks to 6 months old
Yes, often but healthy treats
6 months to 1 year old
1 year and older old
Break their total cups of food into multiple feedings spread throughout the day for easy digestion.
How often you should feed a German Shepherd puppy depends on their age and their activity level. This means:
A 6 to 12 week-old German Shepherd puppy eats 4 times a day
A 12-week to 6-month old German Shepherd puppy eats 3 times a day
A 6-month to 1-year old German Shepherd puppy eats 2 times a day
At 1-year and older you can keep feeding your German Shepherd puppy twice a day
Feeding smaller meals throughout the day also supports your puppy’s blood sugar and energy level which helps them grow steadily and behave better in your home.
When you know how many times to feed a German Shepherd puppy per day it’s easy to see the need for a regular feeding schedule to keep track of his meals!
Many owners also want to know when they can switch to adult food formulas for their German Shepherd puppies. So, let’s take a look at the answer.
When Should You Switch Your German Shepherd Puppy To Adult Food?
Puppies can begin adult kibble when they are approximately 80 percent of their adult weight. This usually occurs around 8 to 10 months of age, but you can safely feed puppy food up to 18 months old as long as they are not putting on excess weight too quickly. German Shepherds usually don’t reach their full growth until 18 months of age and tend to fill out later than smaller breed dogs.
It isn’t harmful to keep a German Shepherd on puppy formula until their growth plates have fused over, which is generally around 12 to 18 months of age (UCLA – Davis).
If you want to know what to feed a German Shepherd puppy, keep reading.
What Do You Feed A German Shepherd Puppy?
Your German Shepherd’s athletic body, as well as his energy, health, and condition, depend in part on what you choose to pour into his bowl and knowing how much to feed your German Shepherd puppy.
This means choosing what to feed a German Shepherd puppy is even more serious and intimidating!
Most dog foods on the market will adequately sustain your dog’s life.
But you don’t want adequate…
You want your dog to bloom with health!
Feed a German Shepherd puppy a dry kibble from a major, research-based and vet-backed dog food manufacturer. Dry kibble is the most convenient, economical choice for most puppies. Look for a food created especially for large breed puppies that states the formula is a complete and balanced meal.
The Best German Shepherd Puppy Food for Healthy Growth and Weight Gain
The following dog foods are all recommended for large breed puppies and meet and exceed regulated nutritional standards. Feeding a high-quality kibble from a name-brand company that uses feeding trials ensures the best quality and nutrition.
Here are some of the best German Shepherd puppy foods that are research-backed.
The better the food, the healthier your pup will be inside and out. Don’t feed your German Shepherd puppy the cheapest food you can buy. Cheaper GSD puppy food lacks quality proteins that are essential for your working breed dog.
These premium foods cost more initially, but because they’re calorie and nutrient dense they feed your puppy for longer than cheaper foods. They can also help your German Shepherd puppy gain weight in a healthy way, so they don’t bulk-up too quickly.
Adding too much weight to your German Shepherd too soon can cause lifelong joint issues that are painful to your pet and expensive on your wallet.
Name Brand Puppy Food Versus Boutique Formulas
Don’t buy boutique formulas, as these companies don’t always quality check or feed test their formulas, and many have been found linked to causing deadly heart conditions in dogs.
Don’t believe me?
You can read for yourself the American Kennel Club’s statement on the matter (AKC.org).
The brands recommended meet the World Small Animal Veterinary Association (WSAVA) criteria and have no reported cases of DCM. Purina and Hill’s all have boarded Diplomates of ACVN on staff and Ph.D. Animal Scientists and Nutritionists work to ensure quality control and exceed nutritional standards (WSAVA.org).
Most GSDs are healthy and fit on commercial dog foods that are high quality.
These balanced formulas keep their bones and muscles strong throughout their growing periods and can ward off later joint issues, a common breed problem, as they mature. There is a greater demand for quality nutrition during the early growth stage. For these reasons, you must feed high-quality food.
They’ll eat eagerly and have a shiny coat and bright eyes with a scientifically based commercial diet that meets their needs.
Now, consider what to feed a German Shepherd puppy based on their age.
Week-By-Week German Shepherd Puppy Feeding Guide
These feeding charts and guides will help keep your new companion growing strong and athletic. Find your puppy’s age and follow the guidelines to help them grow athletic and strong.
Your pup should be with its mother nursing during this stage.
Tiny portions of canned, wet foods are introduced. But they still derive the bulk of the nutrients from their mother’s milk. The mother’s milk contains colostrum, antibiotic milk that protects the young pup during the first 8 to 10-weeks of their lives.
Meals per day: 4 or more (Puppies should stay with their mom for to keep them healthy.)
At 8-weeks-old, your GSD pup should be fed hard kibble moistened with warm goat’s milk left to sit for 10 minutes. This goat’s milk is highly digestibleand provides your growing GSD pup with plenty of healthy vitamins and minerals that are essential to their bodies during this critical stage of their lives.
Do not use cow’s milk as this will cause stomach upset and sickness!
Goat’s milk can be used throughout their lives, even as adults, to make their meals more enticing and encourage healthy eating habits.
At 8-weeks-old a GSD pup is eating more solid foods and develops a better appetite for kibble and other foods. Add in only a couple of small spoonfuls of canned plain pumpkin, unsweetened Greek yogurt, or cooked oatmeal to entice your pup to eat.
As you’ve most likely started to train your German Shepherd puppy, they’ll need energy to keep up with the new skills they’re learning so they stay sharp and alert.
Meals per day: 4
Continue feeding the same as the 8-week-old diet. Don’t change kibble brands if you find one your dog eats, enjoys, and shows positive, healthy results.
Don’t change your dog’s diet as long as they are enjoying their food, have plenty of energy for daily activities, and a beautiful, full, shiny coat.
Treats are not only enjoyable for your German Shepherd, but help you to eneterain and build a positive relationship with him. Just watch the calories and weight gain to ensure treats aren’t overdone.
You’re most likely noticing your puppy is a non-stop motion blur around your house! Be sure to keep their zoomies under control by playing plenty of fun German Shepherd games for puppies.
Meals per day: 4
Continue to feed the kibble. You can still offer goat’s milk as long as they enjoy it.
Watch for excessive weight gain during this growth time as their bones cannot take extra weight!
Too much weight gain too quickly can cause joint issues as an adult and prevent healthy development. If your high-energy German Shepherd still seems like they can’t rest or calm down, then try a different training technique.
Use their mental energy to help keep them more relaxed throughout the day by playing brain-boosting mind games for German Shepherd puppies. You’ll not only love the games to bond with your new puppy, but your dog will love learning how to put their brilliant minds to great use!
Meals per day: 3 to 4
Keep your puppy trim and athletic by monitoring how much you feed your puppy and their body condition. You can write how much they eat and track this over time, and adjust how much your feed your German Shepherd puppy to keep them at a healthy weight.
Try using fresh, raw, cut-up pieces of carrots as healthy treats or small, deseeded cubes of fresh apple as part of their training treats.
Keep your eyes open for a growth spurt about to begin! They’ll gulp down their meals and you might even wonder if they’ll ever stop eating.
Meals per day: 3
Around this time, you might notice your puppy finish their meal quickly and look for more food. It’s OK to start giving them a small handful more of kibble since they’re most likely going through a growth spurt.
Be sure to watch how many treats you give them throughout the day. Many puppy treats are high in calories so monitor these additions to your dog’s feeding routine.
As your puppy keeps growing it’s a good idea to weigh them on a scale. You can do this by holding them safely in your arms and weighing them with you on the scale. Then, place them on the floor and step onto the scale without them to weigh yourself.
Subtract the difference between the weights and you’ve got your puppy’s weight.
Remember, around 16 to 20-weeks old your German Shepherd puppy begins to rapidly grow. This means it’s essential to not overfeed them because extra weight can cause damage to their joints and bones.
Meals per day: 3
Around 5-months old you might notice your puppy’s height increase, along with their bodies starting to plump up and fill out. While it’s healthy for a German Shepherd puppy to begin filling out around this time, they shouldn’t have a round belly.
Instead, when looking overhead at your puppy their waist should look trim and not rounded outwards. German Shepherd puppies should appear sleek in their waistline.
Meals per day: 3
22-Week And Older Puppy
Continue to feed your German Shepherd puppy dry kibble with a small amount of healthy foods mixed in. You can lessen the healthy food you mix in gradually if you prefer. But, even as adults, German Shepherds love a bit of tasty toppers on their kibble.
Around a year old, begin feeding your German Shepherd puppy 2 meals a day. Don’t ever feed your German Shepherd only 1 large meal a day as this could cause bloat, a deadly medical issue in their stomachs.
Two meals, one in the morning and evening, are not only safer but also provide your German Shepherd with sustained energy to fuel their high-energy lifestyle.
Create A Positive Meal Time Experience
If you have a new puppy that you’ve just brought home they might feel scared, anxious, or stressed. You can create a positive meal time by using the following tips:
Always offer fresh water during their meal times.
Keep the area where they eat their food in calm and out of the way of the family hustle and bustle.
Don’t pester them while they eat, reach into their food bowl to remove food, or try to play with them.
I found sitting with a book reading, just keeping my GSD puppy company, encouraged my dog to eat their meals while giving us time to quietly bond. If your new German Shepherd puppy still isn’t eating, try feeding them by hand.
What’s The Best Time To Feed A German Shepherd?
The best time to feed a German Shepherd puppy is in the morning, before you leave for the day, and in the evening, about 2 hours before you put your dog to bed. Allow them to potty after eating to ensure their comfort. Your dog also needs to eat at other times of the day for their health and growth. If it’s easier for your schedule you can feed 3 smaller meals around the same time that you eat at breakfast, lunch, and dinnertime.
German Shepherd puppies who are on 4 daily feedings are best fed:
In the mornings
Around noon (mid-day)
The afternoon (when you return home from school or work and after they go potty)
In the evening for their last meal
If you’re feeding your dog 3 times a day, the best times are:
In the morning before you leave for the day
Around noon (or early afternoon)
In the evening
German Shepherd puppies 12 months and older are best fed twice a day:
In the morning before you leave home
In the evening, before their last walk of the day
Each family will have different schedules, so adjust your feeding times accordingly. Aim for equally spaced out meals at the same time each day so your German Shepherd’s routine stays regular.
German Shepherd Puppy Feeding Amount
How much you should feed a German Shepherd puppy really depends on a number of factors. Your GSD pup should eat enough to maintain their growth and energy, while not carrying any extra fat.
Consider the following factors for how much to feed German Shepherd puppies:
Activity – the daily energy expenditure of your pup
Age – puppies tend to need more food and calories than senior dogs
Health – any medical conditions that might affect not only the type of food, but the amount
Here’s a brief look at how much to feed a German Shepherd puppy based on their lifestyle.
What Affects How Much Your German Shepherd Should Eat?
You might find your German Shepherd puppy eats more or less than what’s listed in these feeding charts. That’s totally normal. Every dog is different.
Keep in mind the number of calories in the kibble, which varies from manufacturer to manufacturer. Each puppy food company has a different amount of calories and size of the kibble.
Here are a few things that might affect how much your German Shepherd puppy should eat.
Your German Shepherd’s food intake depends on his activity level during the day. The more active a German Shepherd puppy is, the more calories he needs to eat to replace lost energy.
Your German Shepherd’s food intake is also affected by their age. For example, puppies need nearly twice the amount of calories as compared to adults.
And older or senior German Shepherds who are less active need less food.
Maintaining a healthy weight is essential to feeding your German Shepherd.
Keeping a slim waist and athletic body helps ensure your German Shepherd’s health. Simply put, you can prevent some medical conditions and health problems by monitoring their waistlines.
To see if your German Shepherd is at the right weight you can find the average weight depending on their age.
Average Weight By Age For Male German Shepherds
5.5 – 9 lbs
2.5 – 4 kg
16 – 20 lbs
6 – 9 kg
22 – 30 lbs
10 – 14 kg
35 – 40 lbs
16 – 18 kg
40 – 49 lbs
18 – 22 kg
49 – 57 lbs
22 – 26 kg
57 – 62 lbs
26 – 28 kg
62 – 66 lbs
28 – 30 kg
64 – 71 lbs
29 – 32 kg
66 – 73 lbs
30 – 33 kg
66 – 75 lbs
30 – 34 kg
71 – 75 lbs
32 – 34 kg
71 – 84 lbs
32 – 38 kg
79 – 88 lbs
36 – 40 kg
Average Weight And Height By Age For Male German Shepherds
Average Weight By Age For Female German Shepherds
4.5 – 8 lbs
2 – 3.5 kg
11 – 17 lbs
5 – 7.5 kg
17 – 26 lbs
8 – 12 kg
31 – 35 lbs
14 – 16 kg
35 – 44 lbs
16 – 20 kg
44 – 49 lbs
20 – 22 kg
49 – 53 lbs
22 – 24 kg
53 – 57 lbs
24 – 26 kg
55 – 60 lbs
25 – 27 kg
57 – 62 lbs
26 – 28 kg
60 – 64 lbs
27 – 29 kg
60 – 64 lbs
27 – 29 kg
62 – 66 lbs
28 – 30 kg
66 – 70 lbs
28 – 32 kg
Average Weight And Height By Age For Female German Shepherds
If your German Shepherd isn’t within these numbers don’t panic. These numbers are averages. Therefore, a German Shepherd can be smaller or larger than listed and still be perfectly healthy and happy.
Feeding Treats To A German Shepherd
You can include small portions of fresh components to your puppy’s dry kibble for taste and flavor. But don’t add more than a spoonful or two so your dog doesn’t eat only the fresh ingredients and ignore the healthy kibble!
These components shouldn’t make up over 10% of their daily calories to avoid them gaining excess weight.
GSD puppies enjoy eating:
cooked and raw carrot pieces
small dollops of unsweetened Greek yogurt
scrambled and cooked eggs
canned pumpkin, without spices
cooked, plain oatmeal without sweeteners
fresh or frozen blueberries
goat’s milk (it’s easier on GSDs sensitive digestion than cow’s milk)
Give your dog the time to digest its food after he’s had a meal. Never let your pup play hard (running, fetching, jumping) right after you feed them.
Wait 2 hours before and after feeding your dog its meal before heaving exercise or playing hard with them to avoid any gastric problems. A light, slow walk is fine after eating if it’s not long and your puppy doesn’t run.
These gentle exercises keep your puppy’s joints healthy and help them learn confidence skills while getting to bond with their favorite person…
Feeding Your German Shepherd Puppy The Right Way
Knowing how much to feed a German Shepherd puppy requires a bit of math and understanding your puppy’s energy levels.
Simply dumping kibble into your dog’s bowl doesn’t mean your job is done.
You still need to keep close watch over your dog’s response to the food by:
Watching their weight gain or loss closely
Monitoring their body condition for optimal health
Understanding how much to feed a German Shepherd puppy to maintain steady growth
Follow the German Shepherd feeding charts to keep your pup healthy and to know the right amount to feed your puppy. It’s essential you understand how to not overfeed your dog to avoid joint damage and lifelong problems.
A healthy German Shepherd puppy will give you lots of fun to enjoy, while you help him have a great start to adulthood.
Catherine Krasavin owns Shepherd Sense, a dog website aimed at German Shepherd owners and lovers. She has a Bachelor of Science degree, with Honors, and has been training dogs for over a decade. Catherine’s currently attending continuing education courses to keep up with the latest in animal science, as well as earning her diploma in dog training. She owns a plush coat German Shepherd who was awarded Kennel Club Good Citizen Dog Scheme Gold Award - the highest level of achievement.
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