Protein is an essential nutrient for your German Shepherd. The essential amino acids found in protein is needed to build strong muscles, joints and bones and also provides your GSD with energy. However, like many things too much of a good thing is not always good for them.
It is often assumed that German Shepherds are exclusively meat eaters. Mostly because they are descendants of wolves, which are primarily meat eaters. However, in actual fact both dogs and wolves can and will eat a wide variety of plant-based ingredients including vegetables, fruits, grains and herbs. The reason wolves don’t consume many plant-based products is due to their limited availability in their natural habitat. For an extensive list on what German Shepherds can and can’t eat please see our guide on can German Shepherds eat.
This misconception often leads some owners to believe their German Shepherd need a raw meat, protein rich diet to thrive. How much protein your German Shepherd requires will depend upon what stage in their life they are (puppy, adolescent, adult or senior).
So, how much protein does a German Shepherd need? With some exceptions The average German Shepherd puppy or nursing mother will need approximately 22-32% of their diet to be made up from protein, the average adolescent German Shepherd will need 20%, the average adult 18% and the average senior German Shepherd will require approximately 25%.
German Shepherds only use a certain amount of the protein they absorb from their food for repairs. Any excess then gets broken down to be used for energy. If that energy isn’t burnt it gets stored as fat.
This is one of the reasons you won’t want to give your German Shepherd too much protein as it can lead to obesity. Wolves cope fine with a protein rich diet as they are very active, often having to travel between 10 and 30 miles each day to locate their prey.
Too much protein puts a lot of pressure on the kidneys which remove any byproducts produced when breaking protein down into energy. For this reason, veterinarians will often advise against giving too much protein to dogs with kidney disease.
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German Shepherd Puppies
How much protein your puppy needs will depend upon how old they are and how quickly they are growing. Younger puppies who have just started the weaning process will require the highest levels of protein. However, their protein need will drop steadily as they continue to grow into the next stages.
The amount of protein in your puppies diet should make up between 22% and 32% (on a dry matter basis) of the entire nutrients consumed by your German Shepherds puppy for a healthy, steady growth
Adolescent German Shepherds
Adolescent German shepherds are those aged between 6 – 18 months. Once your German Shepherd becomes an adolescent their need for protein will drop slightly compared to needs of their younger selves which have been growing rapidly.
Adolescent German Shepherds require their diet to made up of approximately 20% protein.
Adult German Shepherds
Adult German shepherds fall between the ages of 1.5 and 6 years. Similarly, adult shepherds have a lower protein requirement than their growing younger counterparts (adolescent shepherds).
With that said, the amount of protein they need for healthy growth should constitute 18% of the total nutrients consumed.
Senior German Shepherds
German Shepherds are classed as seniors once they are 6 years +. As long as there are no underlying health conditions senior German Shepherds require a slightly higher level of protein in their diet. This is to help maintain proper immune function, organ function, and muscle mass.
The amount of protein an average senior German Shepherd requires is equivalent to 25%.
We hope this article has helped you to understand how much protein is needed for your German Shepherd at different stages of their lives.
Protein is one of the most vital nutrients for all dogs. The nutrients provided from protein enables your German Shepherds body to function well by contributing to tissue growth as well as muscle repair and development. On top of that protein also contributes to healthy skin and fur.
Knowing how much protein your dog needs will enable you to ensure that he or she gets adequate amounts of this vital nutrient, thereby avoiding complications related to a deficiency or over consumption.
If you have any questions, please leave a comment below or fill in our form here. If you have any concerns, please contact your veterinarian or your GSD trainer