There has been a sharp increase in the number of overweight German Shepherds. If you are concerned that your dog falls into this category or are concerned about what this means for them, this is the post for you. Here you can learn everything you need to know about this issue.
What is Overweight for a German Shepherd?
According to the AKC, the average German Shepherd male is 24 – 26 inches tall and weighs between 65 and 90lbs. Female German Shepherds are 22 to 24 inches tall and weigh around 50 to 70lbs.
If your dog is well over this weight, it may be considered overweight. There is one factor to take into consideration here. You have to think about your German Shepherd’s physique. Some dogs may be smaller or larger than standard and their weight will need to be calculated accordingly.
In general, most vets will say that a German Shepherd is overweight if they are 15 percent over their ideal weight. For a proper diagnosis, it is best to speak with a vet about your dog’s weight.
How Can I Tell If My German Shepherd is Overweight?
Here are some signs that your German Shepherd may be overweight:
What are the Physical Symptoms?
The first thing you should do is to look at your dog from above. With the traditional healthy German Shepherd physique, the chest should be wider than the waist. This means that after the chest, the waist should dip in.
You can also crouch down to the same level as your dog. Look at their stomach. In a healthy German Shepherd, the chest juts out, with the stomach dipping inwards. If the stomach is at the same level as the dog’s chest or even lower, then your pup is probably overweight.
Finally, run your hands over your dog’s ribs. The ribs shouldn’t be visible, but you should feel them when you place your hands on your dog’s chest. If you notice a layer of fat, however, this is a sign that your pup is heavier than necessary.
What Behaviors Should You Watch Out For?
German Shepherds are an active breed and often run, jump, and play for a long time before tiring out. If you notice that your pup is beginning to pant after just a few minutes or is ready to lie down shortly after starting to play, this could be an indication that they are too heavy.
An overweight German Shepherd isn’t going to be very interested in exercise, either. It’s too much work for them and you may find them resisting when you take them out for a walk or try to engage them in playtime.
What Causes Weight Gain in German Shepherds?
Let’s take a look at some reasons your German Shepherd may be overweight:
Are They Being Overfed?
One of the main reasons that your German Shepherd could be gaining weight is due to overfeeding. This happens when you don’t follow the recommended feeding guidelines provided by the dog food manufacturer.
If you are giving your dog home-cooked meals, you may not be calculating how many calories it all adds up to. It is also possible that you are feeding your dog too many times a day.
Overfeeding also occurs when your dog is given various high-calorie treats throughout the day. Feeding your pup table scraps can also cause them to gain weight.
Do They Have a Poor Diet?
As you may know, not all dog foods are equally good. There are plenty of poorly prepared commercial dog foods on the market. These contain fillers contain a high amount of carbohydrates. The quality of the food sources may also be quite poor.
All this can add up to additional calories. Even if you are following the proper guidelines you may be accidentally giving your pup more carbohydrates than they need. This may cause them to become overweight with time.
Are They Getting Too Little Exercise?
German Shepherds aren’t just an active breed, they have been bred to get a certain amount of exercise each day. On average, these pups can need between one to two hours of exercise daily. This allows them to burn off any excess calories.
If your dog isn’t exercising every day or receives too little exercise, this can cause them to pack on the pounds. This is more likely to happen if their diet is high in calories as well.
Are They Suffering From a Health Issue?
There are some health conditions such as hypothyroidism. This disease causes your dog’s metabolism to slow down and for them to gain weight as a result.
There could be a health issue if your dog has a healthy diet, is getting enough exercise, and still gains weight. You should also be concerned by rapid weight gain or if your pup begins to pack on the pounds out of the blue.
Are They Getting Older?
As your pup gets older, they become slower. They may also develop various physical handicaps that can limit their movement. This lack of exercise can eventually cause your pup’s weight to go up. Switching to senior dog food or finding exercise that is better suited to your dog’s advanced years may be able to reverse the issue.
Do They Have a Genetic Predisposition to Weight Gain?
This is a rare occurrence, but some dogs gain weight more readily than others. Such pups may need lower calorie food or more exercise to compensate for this issue. Your vet may be able to come up with the best feeding and exercise regimen for such a dog.
Does an Overweight German Shepherd Need to Lose Weight?
There is something undeniably cute about a chubby German Shepherd. As such, you may be wondering if your pup even needs to lose weight.
Although your dog may look adorable, excess weight can lead to a whole host of health issues if left untreated for too long. This include, but aren’t limited to:
- Stress on joints and body
- Lung and heart diseases
- Ligament injuries
- Greater anesthesia risks
Remember that German Shepherds aren’t meant to be overweight. Carrying around too much weight can prevent them from engaging in fun activities, spending time with their family, and feeling comfortable. In short, this state can compromise their quality of life.
How Can I Get My German Shepherd to Lose Weight?
There are several tactics you can try out to help your German Shepherd lose weight. It is best to get the advice of a vet first, however. They will be able to evaluate your dog’s health and advice on the most suitable course of action for your pup.
What Kind of Diet Should Your German Shepherd Be Following?
Your focus should be on high-quality food sources for protein, fats, and carbohydrates. The protein content should be the highest, with fat content being lower, and carbs being the lowest of all.
Some brands cater to German Shepherds specifically. These may provide you with an easy way to provide your pup with the proper nutrients while managing their weight at the same time.
Once you have found the right dog food, you should calculate their daily caloric intake based on their age and activity level:
An adult German Shepherd with an active lifestyle needs around 1700 calories each day. A working dog can need as much as 2400 calories per day. A less active and senior dog requires between 1300 and 1700 calories per day.
You should bear in mind that each type of dog food has a particular calorie content per serving. Always follow the serving instructions provided by the individual manufacturer.
Also, be aware that the serving suggestion is typically for the whole day. As such, you will need to divide that number by how many meals you feed your dog throughout the day. Make it a point to only give your dog this amount at every meal.
What Other Diet Restrictions for Your German Shepherd Should You Follow?
Until your German Shepherd loses the appropriate amount of weight, avoid giving them treats. Even after reaching the appropriate weight goal, keep treats to a minimum.
You should take a closer look at the treats you give your dog to determine how healthy they are. Keep an eye on how many calories they contain as well. Look for high-quality treats that contain almost only protein and very little fat. Steer clear of any additives, fillers, and other unhealthy ingredients.
Your German Shepherd shouldn’t be given any human food either. In many cases, such food doesn’t agree with your pooch and can cause digestive issues. It is also an unnecessary source of calories.
How Can You Get Your German Shepherd to Exercise?
When exercising your overweight German Shepherd, it is important to start slow. For instance, don’t make them exercise for an hour or two all at once. Not only will your dog dislike the idea, but there may be a higher risk of injury if your pup is pushed too far.
Instead, try by taking them out for a 10-minute walk two or three times a day. In the beginning, it doesn’t even have to be brisk. Let your dog choose their pace – the important thing is that they are getting enough exercise.
As your dog gets used to this physical activity and begins to lose weight, you can speed things up or make the walks longer. When you feel like your German Shepherd is ready, start playing Frisbee and fetch – you can find interesting ways to keep them active.
This is a practice that should be continued even when your dog has reached their ideal weight to maintain a healthy weight.
If your dog is old or has joint issues, you may want to consider exercising them in the water. This is a great way for your dog to be active but it won’t put any pressure on their joints. As many dogs love water, this may be a more fun way for them to get in shape as well.
If your German Shepherd is overweight, this is something that needs to be tackled immediately. Through diet and exercise, you should be able to get your dog back to a healthy shape fairly quickly, improving its quality of life in the long run.