Feeding Puppies and Adolescents
The German shepherd is considered a large breed and has been plagued with hip abnormalities. For these reasons, many breeders are quite particular as to how they feed their pups and young dogs, being careful not to instill obesity, which would put excess strain on the dogs' joints. Breeders of large breed dogs are also concerned about foods that are so rich in nutrients that they promote dangerously quick growth. German shepherds that grow too quickly can suffer from an assortment of bone and joint problems.
What is the correct way to feed your puppy or adolescent shepherd? Some breeders recommend feeding a premium puppy food until the dog reaches the age of six months, at which time they suggest switching to a premium-quality active adult dog food. This allows the puppy to receive a nutrient-rich food in his early stages of development and a leaner food later to prevent overgrowth.
Another method of feeding a puppy is to use premium large-breed puppy and large-breed adult formulas, which have been developed specifically to address the large-breed puppy and adult dog's needs. The pup would receive the large-breed puppy food up to one year of age and then switch over to the large-breed adult formula.
To figure out how much to feed your German shepherd puppy, use the thirty-minute method. Measure out three cups of dry dog food, and place this in the puppy's bowl. Allow your puppy to eat as much as he wants in a thirty-minute time period. Pick up the bowl after the time has elapsed, and measure how much food remains. Do this for two days to determine the correct amount.
Puppies rarely overeat if they are given dry food. Mixing dry food with canned dog food, scraps, or broth, however, can cause a puppy to overeat — just as humans often manage to make room for dessert, even after a filling meal.
It is equally critical that you feed your shepherd enough food. One of the leading causes of aggression in puppies is hunger. With today's increasing awareness and concern about canine obesity veterinarians are finding that puppy owners sometimes underfeed their pups. Many times, when puppy owners call the veterinarian to report behavior problems, in actuality they are describing feeding problems. Again, the proper amount to feed can be determined through the thirty-minute method.