Do German Shepherds Eat A Lot? 7 Most Common Reasons

A German Shepherd is an impressive dog, his physicality is backed by intelligence and there are few complaints from owners of this dog. But, do German Shepherds eat a lot?

No, a German Shepherd eats as much as a large dog should eat. He should eat approximately 2 cups of food a day depending on his age, weight, and activity level.

For a German Shepherd to always constantly feel hungry is odd and unwanted. There must be an underlying reason for this anomaly.

German Shepherds can eat a lot of food! Excessive hunger can be caused by excessive exercise, health issues, feeding habits, age, anxiety, poor food quality, etc. 

Common Reasons why German shepherds may eat more

1) Excessive Exercise 

If you are training hard or keeping highly active, expect your German Shepherd to eat a lot.

Being active requires a lot of energy and the only way to get this energy is through food. Food supplies the body with nutrients and gets the metabolisms going. 

So, an active dog will require much more food than an inactive one that spends more time sleeping.

But, even for a dog that loves exercise, be sure to not make him over-exercise as this could cause problems.

For an adult German Shepherd to be happy and relaxed, around 1 to 2 hours of exercise is essential and adequate. 

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2) Poor Dog Food Quality

Not every dog food has the best composition and you have to carefully select one. Cheaper ones usually cut corners while expensive ones are held to a high standard. 

Low-quality dog foods are full of grain, starch, and fiber. Although they may fill your dog up straight after he has eaten, it won’t be long before he gets hungry again!

Food of this quality does nothing nutritionally for your German Shepherd and his health. 

High-quality dog food would contain all of the required components like protein, fats, nutrients, and carbohydrates. All of which are present in the necessary amounts. 

Therefore, good quality food is essential if you don’t want your dog feeling hungry all the time. 

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3) Health Issues 

A range of health issues can cause your German Shepherd to eat more than his regular ration of food.

If you notice your dog suddenly increasing its food requirements, it is likely that disease is the reason behind it.

Most often than not, these health issues/diseases are serious and can affect your dog’s livelihood if left without treatment. 

These are some health issues that have increased appetite as a symptom.

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– Hyperthyroidism

Hyperthyroidism is created by malfunctioning the thyroid glands.

Instead of producing the correct amount of thyroid hormone (Thyroxine), they release too much. The hormone Thyroxine is crucial, it basically controls the metabolism of the body. 

This excessive hormone amount affects the entire body and can cause havoc in a German Shepherd.

Excess Thyroxine will increase the metabolism and this uses up more energy. As a result, his hunger will increase and remain constantly high. 

Unfortunately, there is an even more tragic link to this condition. An increase in levels of this hormone can be linked to tumors and a prognosis like this is usually terminal!

The tumors could be a result of aggressive cancer that could even spread to the rest of the body. 

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– SIBO (Small Intestine Bacterial Overgrowth) 

Small Intestine Bacterial Overgrowth, commonly known as just SIBO is a condition affecting a dog’s intestine.

Sometimes a dog will experience excessive growth of this bacteria along the small intestine. This is unfavorable since it inhibits the ability of the digestive system to break down items.

As a result, nutrients cannot be properly absorbed to benefit the dog. 

While having certain types and amounts of bacteria in the small intestine is essential.

However, a rapid overgrowth of these bacteria can be detrimental to your German Shepherd’s digestive and gut health. 

You can start suspecting SIBO in your dog if you start to notice that your dog has a lot of flatulence and diarrhea. As a result, dogs will appear ready to eat all day long.

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– Diabetes

No, dogs are not immune to diabetes. It is actually one of the most common diseases that can affect dogs. At just 18 months old, a German Shepherd may develop diabetes. 

In diabetes, the body is unable to utilize sugars present in the blood efficiently. High amounts of sugar pass out of the body without being used.

As a result, the body forces the dog to eat more by telling him he has no energy.

This disease causes an increase in your German Shepherd’s appetite. Other symptoms of diabetes in dogs are increased thirst, more frequent urination, and loss of weight. 

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– Cushing’s Disease

Also known as hyperadrenocorticism, Cushing’s syndrome is one that primarily affects the endocrine system.

The endocrine system is responsible for the production of the hormone cortisol.

So what exactly is cortisol and why is it important? This hormone is very important and helps to keep the dog’s health intact. It regulates weight, tissue, and skin conditions. 

But, when too much cortisol is produced, the dog’s immune system becomes compromised.

In effect, your German Shepherd will be more vulnerable to disease and infections because of a weak immune system. 

If your dog has Cushing’s syndrome, symptoms include excessive thirst and hunger, hair loss, fragile skin, and less activity.

If you suspect your dog’s excessive hunger is due to this condition, a vet can diagnose it. 

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4) Irregular Feeding Plan

Another reason why your German Shepherd might be eating a lot is because of you! Yes, owners are partially responsible for their dog’s eating habits. 

What feeding plan you enforce from their puppyhood days should be stuck to throughout their lives. 

There are a few dog feeding plans, choose the best one based on what character your dog has. 

– Free Feeding

As the name suggests, there is a little restriction when it comes to free feeding. A full bowl of food (usually dry kibble) is placed out allowing your dog to eat whenever they want to.

Also, if you have many dogs, they can access the food from the same bowl. 

Advantages include not having to be home 24/7 and not having to rush back to feed your dog. They can eat whenever they are hungry and not have to wait for feeding.

This feeding plan gives owners more flexibility and freedom. But, on the other hand, there are disadvantages.

A greedy dog can easily eat beyond his fill, making him overweight and prone to obesity! Plus, in particular, one dog could bully the other dogs and stop them from eating their fair share of food. 

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– Scheduled and Portion Controlled Feeding 

This is the healthier schedule in which a bowl is filled and left out for your dog for a specified amount of time (10 to 20 minutes).

After this, it is taken away. An alternative option is to put out a measured amount of food This portion is based on the dog’s breed, age, activity level, and general diet. 

So while scheduled feeding may make your dog eat fast as he is afraid you will take his food away, overeating is not a possibility.

But, if your dog is a slow eater he could end up feeling hungry all day long. People even mention this as a cruel method of feeding. 

Portion feeding is especially good if your dog is on a diet plan. He will stay within eating limits.

On the other end, portions allocated in portion feeding could be inadequate for your dog if you miscalculate!

Also, this type of feeding requires you to feed your dog multiple times. 

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5) Anxiety

Just as humans are prone to overeating due to anxiety, dogs are the same. An anxious German Shepherd can easily eat too much or eat too frequently.

As his owner, it is your responsibility to observe these eating changes. But first, you must get down to the source of the problem.

Why is your German Shepherd anxious?

Dogs can get anxious for a number of reasons. The most common ones are insecurity and loneliness. If a person or animal has moved in, your dog could be feeling uncomfortable or unsafe.

If someone your dog cares about has moved out, your dog could miss him, making him feel anxious.

This is called ‘separation anxiety’. All these emotions can affect your German Shepherd’s feeding habits, making him always look like he is hungry! 

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6) Age

You will notice your German Shepherd’s food requirement will change based on his age.

His peak appetite will be when he is an adult as his metabolism and energy expenditure are both high in adulthood. 

But, as your dog enters his senior years his body is not what it used to be. He will be unable to digest food the same way he could.

This actually leads to vital nutrients and minerals not being properly absorbed by the intestine. A condition called malabsorption. 

As a result, your senior German Shepherd is prone to feeling hungry all the time. Fortunately, you as an owner can help to deal with this.

You must re-adjust your dog’s diet plan after he reaches his senior or also known as ‘golden years’.

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7) Insecurity 

Ever noticed how a starved animal will eat?

If you have recently adopted a German Shepherd from a shelter, he is likely to feel hungry all the time.

This is because of the insecurity that he feels. Perhaps he feels he may not get food again for a long time. 

Eventually, after he settles down this may not be his fear anymore. But, not all dogs learn to let go of this instinct.

All you can do is offer up support and love and hope he feels safe and loved by you. 

If your dog has a dog sibling that has just joined the family recently, this instinctive eating could be seen.

This is because they feel that the other dog might eat all the food and he will remain hungry. So, to assure he is fed and fit, he will definitely eat a lot! 

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What Can A German Shepherd Eat?

  • A German Shepherd can eat most meats like beef, pork, chicken, lamb, and duck. You can give your dog raw meat to provide all the required nutrients. These meats can be eaten cooked but nutrients may be lost in the process of cooking.  
  • Fruits and vegetables are essential for dogs as they are for humans. Carrots act as a crunchy snack besides being high in vitamins and a nice way to incorporate fiber into their diet.
  • Nuts are a great energy-boosting snack but only give your German Shepherd hazelnuts or peanuts. That too, in moderation. 
  • Other foods safe for your German Shepherd are whole grains, honey, peanut butter, and quinoa. 

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What Can’t A German Shepherd Eat?

  • Meats like shrimp and fish are not advisable and require monitoring. Some fish can have parasites that can affect your dog. 
  • Dogs cannot eat some fruits. This includes avocados, grapes, pears, grapes, raisins, and persimmons. 
  • Nuts have high calories and influence weight gain in your dog. Macadamia, pecans, walnuts, and pistachios are the main nuts your dog cannot eat. 
  • Other foods you should never feed your dog are chocolate (cacao), caffeine, xylitol, salt, and potatoes. All human junk and fast food are not good for your pet dog. These items usually taste good but increase weight and cholesterol and sugar levels.  

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How much will it cost to feed a German Shepherd?

The monthly cost of feeding a full-grown German Shepherd fluctuates. The cost of feeding a German Shepherd depends on the age of your German Shepherd, its appetite, and the food brand chosen.  Expect it to cost around $100 to $150 maximum for food and edible supplements alone. The total monthly cost of owning a German Shepherd is more because of other costs pertaining to vet bills, toys, and other bills. 

Why is my German Shepherd not eating in summer? 

It is very common for a German Shepherd to eat less during summer. Reasons for this include it’s too hot and they are less active. Hence, requiring less energy. But, it is not common for them to stop eating completely! Take them to a vet as there is probably an underlying reason for this.