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Those of you who are familiar with my posts know that I have a problem with fat German Shepherds, and that I’m not afraid to tell people that they need to take some weight off their dogs.

Not only does excess weight cause stress on the heart, lungs, joints, etc., but it shortens the lives of these dogs, and they already have short enough lives as it is.

The problem with excess weight is huge in modern society. We are fatter, and so are our dogs. We have been so accustomed to seeing overweight dogs, that we have lost our eye for what normal should look like.
Veterinarians, too! Because they run a business, and are aware that owners get insulted, they, sadly, do not tell clients the truth. Another cynical POV could be that fat dogs keep them in business.

Most German Shepherds should not weigh over 90 pounds. Let me repeat that: most German Shepherds should not weigh over 90 pounds!

Yet time and again, when I alert owners on this board, after sometimes consulting in private with other GSD owners, who agree with me, what I get is a lot of “the vet says he’s fine “ and many more pictures of the same dog, still looking fat. Oh, and silence from members here, who either also have chunky dogs, or are just unwilling to tell the owner of the truth.

This is frustrating to me because these dogs don’t choose their own diet, and certainly will eat if overfed. 100% of this is the owner’s doing. I am far more concerned about the health of the dogs than the owners’ delicate feelings.

A good rule of thumb is, if the head looks tiny and photoshopped on, your dog is fat!
Your dog will not suffer if he is fed less, in fact, the opposite is true.

I honestly believe you owe it to your dog to offer the best life possible, and part of it is to keep him slim and active.

Here are some vintage pictures. Most are from the 1930s. Even evil Hitler’s dog was slim, and you can bet that dog got fed only the very best.
Note that most of these dogs have some ribs showing. Remember, GSDs used to live longer, and I’m convinced that diet and exercise had a lot to do with it.

OK, I’m done. This has been bugging me for quite a long time.


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I agree the vintage photos look A+ great…. None of the humans looked like they ate out / fast food daily either back then?

The nutrition aspect for my gsd has been so stressful for me ( as a new owner ) because of my own lifestyle choices with diet and nutrition, I wanted the best for her too.

In the end I am using common sense, my own life experience, and research…
 

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@Sunflowers it’s not just GSD’s. I see so many fat dogs and feel just terrible for them. The worst part is if you can’t or won’t adequately exercise your dog you are still in control of the food! The bowl gets filled by the owner and not the dog. I always laugh that I’m way better at controlling the food intake of my dogs than my own.
 

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My first purebred was thin until she filled out around 24 months. For two years everyone we met told me I was starving her. I told them they were wrong. GSDS aren’t supposed to be fat Labs. Although I think people take English Labs to extremes by saying that breed is supposed to be fat. No dog should be fat! Even when she filled in, that dog was always slim, never over 65 lbs. Maybe because I’m not overweight either, but it’s natural for me to keep my dogs at the ideal weights for their builds. What’s good for us is good for them. This is a good thread.
 

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Charlie (DOB 11/24/20)
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Exactly! this has always been such a bother to me because even owning 5+ (8 currently) dogs at a time weve always kept them all thin and lean, its hard work but all of our dogs have lived such long lives and I truly believe that's why. It's so sad to see people calling obese dogs cute, when clearly their dog is struggling to even be a dog because they're so overweight.

Same goes for little dogs, even though they're small. Im a proud owner of an anklebiter, who is quite the little athlete😎
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Jazmine Auf Der Marquis, Reacher Auf Der Marquis
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Yep, here's my girl at 18 months 55#. I'm often told that dog is skinny, I think she is Ideal, so did the vet. I think vets only push as the dog approaches obese.

Embark panel says she'll get to 64#, not sure I want another 9 pounds on her, I'd be happy if she tops out at 60 by 3 years old

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while i agree with the points made… i don’t always agree with judging dogs from photos alone. age, coat length, weather, diet, conformation, muscle tone, health, can all make a difference. many dogs aren’t going to appear perfectly ideal because most dogs are going to have at least one of those factors that aren’t ideal. additionally, positioning, lighting, angle and photo quality make a difference too.

i’m not going to expect a well bred 3yr old intact male thats raw fed and competes in sports to look the same as an 8yr old byb pet line spayed female that eats dog chow gets long walks and is in the middle of blowing her coat while finishing up a round of prednisone.

i weigh my dog every other week and while he pretty much maintains a BCS of 4.5-5/9….. he can easily photograph as a 6/9 while weighing the exact same weight. i know my dogs history and am confident in his condition, so any comments wouldn’t bother me.

if a dog is truly overweight, chances are they aren’t getting exercised enough. and the right type of exercise. if people aren’t willing to adjust their lifestyle and increase their dogs exercise, they may be tempted to simply decrease their dogs food to achieve a lower weight. this does not come without risks…. dogs need a minimum about of nutrition to function both physically and mentally.
 

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I had people approach me on the street to accuse me of starving Luc. Umm, no. An old vet told me he needed 'insurance weight'.

Luc had hypothyroid and we noticed when he gained a few lbs and took him in for testing since activity and food were the same. He quickly lost it.

And look who lived to 15.5.

I always am arguing with Toby about keeping Neb (not a GSD, just a mutt, around 40lbs) slimmer (it's his body type, he's not actually fat) though he actually is quite slim, and he's 14 in two months.

I don't think that's a coincidence.
 

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Ilita and Rusty
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@Sunflowers You are preaching to the choir here. My husband and I got rid of refined and processed food for ourselves years ago. I am ashamed we kept feeding our dogs at that time kibble. I will say the vet always complimented them on their weight, which we did watch.
With Ilita we decided to bite the bullet and feed her raw, human grade as much as possible. It is in the food as much, or more, than the exercise. Yes, exercise is very important but it is not just 'calories in, calories out'. If you eat ultra-processed food, and too much of it on top of that, you will be unhealthy and likely overweight to obese. Check out the current overweight and obesity records of humans. Same goes for our pets.
The book, The Forever Dog, by Dr. Becker and Rodney Habib, preaches this philosophy and declares that how and what we feed our dogs has shortened their 'natural' lifespan tremendously.
Whereas I understand what Fodder is saying about using photos only as a gauge, you can certainly point out where there might be a problem and ask for more photos to confirm, as many have done. I believe tact has been used in the majority of posts I have read where people have pointed out the dog could lose some weight or increase exercise.
Keep it up!
 
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oh dear. Duke's vet says she isn't sure about his weight. She cannot tell what is dog and what is hair. He has a rather large 'caboose' but then what he's mixed with might have had the same caboose. He doesn't eat that much but he could use more exercise (are tissues fattening?) . What's a mother to do?
But I do agree with what Sunflowers says and love the photos. Unfortunately dogs tend to eat what their oversized people eat.
 

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Thank you Sunflowers I've had a few visitors tell me Meisha is thin. I tell them that she is a GSD and they are supposed to be lean. I get eye rolls, yet one of their dogs is obese and has mobility issues.

I also have two horses one is a Saddlebred and the other is a Gypsy Cob. My Saddlebred is a hard keeper who requires extra feed, the cob on the other hand is what is call an air fern. At one point last year she looked like she was in foal to triplets. Nope just fat. I had to limit her daily hay (which is all she gets with a mineral lick) and she was not happy. But she has lost at least 100 lbs so Spring riding will be fun.

Obesity in animals I feel is worse than them being to thin. So many issues arise.
 

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I think the main reason you see fatter dogs now is due to dog food. All that processed corn meal etc. Back in the day people would just feed their dog from the table, or fresh meat and eggs etc. Especially a dog like a German shepherd where it would've been a farmers dog
 
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