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Hello all, first post so forgive me if this has been addressed. I looked through search results but did not find any that covered the entirety of my question. As an introduction, we have a 16 week old German Shepherd. He is from good West German bloodlines and we have not heard off any of his relatives having similar issues, or maybe non issues. We had his great uncle (if that is even proper or how you say it) and he had no similar issues and had strong hips until the day he passed on. We had to put him down this past November (worst day of our lives...so far.) We also had access to many of his other adult relatives and didn't notice anything. The new puppy was also examined by two reputable vets with a good knowledge of GSD's and said he was a normal healthy puppy.

What started the conversation was a comment made by one of his trainers. We had him in a couple puppy training and socialization classes since he was about 9 weeks old. The trainer in particular is also a trainer for show and service dogs and seems very knowledgeable. She asked what we feed our dog because she noticed that he has slightly down pasterns. We never even heard of such a thing before, we just had GSD's as pets and never for show. But trusting her experience, we started looking into this further and we read that we should have him on a low protein diet (<22%). Right now we have him on Victor Active Dog and Puppy food, supplementing with Zuke's Hip Action treats once per day. His current food is 33% protein with 16% and 31.5% carbs. That doesn't seem very high to me. We wanted to keep him on a grain free formula and heard great things about Victor foods. We also wanted to try raw, but we were told that the place where we board him on occasion will not feed raw, and that it would be difficult to feed raw when we had to be out of town and he was with other family members. Right now, other than his pasterns, he is doing great on the food and gobbles it up as fast as he can.

Is there any validity to the high protein and weak pasterns suggestion? Or, is there some truth to that, but it depends on the source of the protein? I am just wondering if anyone had similar experiences. The only low protein food Victor has is not grain free. We used to feed Wellness Core to our other dog and he did well on it, so we may consider a switch to Wellness if it would help.

Our vet tech, who has been extremely helpful and is knowledgeable about the breed thinks that he will grow out of it and to switch him to adult food. We were also told to exercise him on soft surfaces like grass and sand. We thought of an adult food with joint and hip support if we did switch early. They said we could also supplement with Cosequin Maximum Strength DS with MSM if we were concerned. But since we have been getting conflicting information from so many reputable sources we figured we would check this forum too. Any input would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you.
 

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Why low protein? I don't believe protein has a single thing to do with it. What is the calcium/phos. ratio of the food you are feeding? It's Victor so I would find it hard to believe it's not appropriate but it's possible that ratio is off.

Second, "grain free" is the best marketing gimmick ever. I think Victor is the only company that posts the protein content of the veges in their foods. You can replace corn/wheat with peas/sweet potatoes but carbs are carbs are carbs. Plus, the grains Victor uses are good ones. We've been feeding the blue and purple bags for years.
@carmspack - I think weak pasterns are your department! supplements? exercises?
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Why low protein? I don't believe protein has a single thing to do with it. What is the calcium/phos. ratio of the food you are feeding? It's Victor so I would find it hard to believe it's not appropriate but it's possible that ratio is off.

Second, "grain free" is the best marketing gimmick ever. I think Victor is the only company that posts the protein content of the veges in their foods. You can replace corn/wheat with peas/sweet potatoes but carbs are carbs are carbs. Plus, the grains Victor uses are good ones. We've been feeding the blue and purple bags for years.
@carmspack - I think weak pasterns are your department! supplements? exercises?
Thank you very much for the info. I just checked the food profile and the following is the calcium/phosphorous percentages of the food he is on:

Calcium: 1.2%
Phosphorous: 1.1%

33% Protein
75% Meat protein
25% Plant protein

We considered switching him to the Green bag, Performance, because of the added Glucosamine. Info is as follows:

Calcium: 1.65%
Phosphorous: 1.1%

26% Protein
78% Meat protein
7% Plant Protein
15% Grain protein

We really liked the Green bag, Hero Canine also with Glucosamine, but the protein was 33%, 75% meat, 25% plant.
 

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I would not put him on a food with 1.65% calcium. I would leave him on the lower calcium. 1.2% is the maximum per AAFCO standards. I believe NRC is the same.

Just add the glucosamine separately if you feel he needs it. Wait for carmspack. She has a lot of knowledge on this.

I see nothing except websites saying high protein causes this. Do you have any information stating that from actual studies? Orthopedic vet websites? University websites? I would really like to see something concrete on that.
 

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yes - why low protein?

high quality , appropriate amounts for stage of life .

protein is the basis of collagen .

notice how many times dogs with loose ligaments, soft pasterns also have faults in their feet , flat , lacking
padding and wide open toes.

there is a genetic component. breeders need to acknowledge this .
 

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This is the nearest thing I can find to a reputable source for lowering protein. It was not a study but survey done by the GSDCA. I guess I would dispute a possible correlation, since I"m NOT a vet!, but I would like to see concrete evidence.

Here is a book on horse nutrition that relates protein, calcium and phosphorus to bone growth.
https://books.google.com/books?id=0Ts0dwjv1o4C&pg=PA389&lpg=PA389&dq=protein+weak+pasterns+study&source=bl&ots=9n_s_8XC67&sig=arzmMqOUBpyGK9RWaiFJnoKuQpc&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwj08N_xu8fZAhVELKwKHUeqDVQQ6AEINjAB#v=onepage&q=protein weak pasterns study&f=false
 

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I used Fromm Large Breed Puppy Food, 26% protein, 14% fat. Then mine developed an allergy and I switched to another Fromm with less fat and protein around 7 months. There are other foods you can try. Is the dog crated a lot? I think they can outgrow it.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Thanks everyone, I have not read any actual studies linking high protein to weak or down pasterns. Just our trainer, online articles and some forums. Given that our trainer mentioned it, then I saw it on the forums, I figured there were studies or evidence based articles stating that there was a link and I was just not finding them.

Thanks for the tip on avoiding the higher calcium food, we were warned by the vet to stay away from additional calcium whether in food or supplements. I just wasn't sure what was considered high. Great AAFCO article by the way, thank you for posting.

So it seems like the high protein link to weak pasterns may not be evidence based? That would be great since he is doing really well on Victor food. I wouldn't mind switching him to the 26% protein food even with the added grains, I just wanted to see if there was some downside to too much protein and what was too much. I would think that a working line dog would need protein, but again, I am just going by forums.

Also, yes, he is crated, I am not sure that I would say a lot. If we can't monitor him 100%, he is in the crate. That being said, we usually tether him to us so we can keep him close. The crate is much taller than him and he has plenty of room. He has been very good with the housebreaking so I opened up the crate quite a bit to give him plenty of room. When my wife and I both work on the same days, he is crated for a few hours at a time. I go home to let him out and let him run in the yard. My wife works 3 days per week. Since she has days off during the week and I do the weekends he is out of the crate quite a bit. I always have him out for at least a couple hours before bed. But, he does sleep in the crate and again, when we just can't keep an eye on him or he is getting a bit too rambunctious or bitey, he is in the crate. He doesn't seem to view it as a negative, he usually hops right in when I grab the kong knowing a reward will soon follow.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Working LINES don't need extra protein. Working DOGS do. Any athlete needs high quality protein for muscle. But you have a growing pup. That is a different requirement.
That makes sense, thanks. So, it sounds like we may need to switch him to something with less protein. Is there any source to determine what a growing GS puppy may need based on his activity level? He is not a working dog by any means, he is a family pet. We wouldn't want to feed him a diet than that would cause issues or harm him in any way. He will be moderately active since my wife and I like to hike and will be taking him with us, but nothing like an actual working dog. We are hoping that he will grow out of it, but if there is anything we can do to help, we would like to try.
 

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Did you read the link to the AAFCO requirements I posted above?
Yes, unless I misread, it stated 22.5% as a minimum but no maximum ratios, stating insufficient data as for the possible detrimental effects of higher protein. He is doing really well on Victor outside of the possible weak pasterns, but we may just supplement with Cosequin.

If we did switch, we did come across quite a few other good formulas with lower protein levels that still provided quality ingredients. I am not sure of the brand, but we came across a couple Blue Buffalo formulas that seemed to have a nice nutritional profile with protein levels in the 24-26% range. So, we may look into their food too. Thanks again!
 

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You could contact Monica Segel for a home cooked or raw diet formulation.

There are many threads on here about downed pasterns. I know carmspack posted in many of them. Or ask her directly about supplements and food.
 

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You could contact Monica Segel for a home cooked or raw diet formulation.

There are many threads on here about downed pasterns. I know carmspack posted in many of them. Or ask her directly about supplements and food.
Thank you. If high protein is an actual cause we may have found the culprit. Aside from the 33% protein Victor puppy food we have him on, he chewed Bully Rings like they were skittles. He would actually finish one off in a day if we let him. I happened to look at the nutritional profile on the bag yesterday and they are pretty much all protein, I believe 80%.

So, we limited him to maybe 10 minutes per day with one. Maybe that will be enough? Not sure, but I did find a few more threads on downed or weak pasterns and I will start to do more experimenting with supplements and exercises as was suggested in a few of the threads I read. We like to hike at a local state park that has a lot dunes so we can get him walking on sand which I read is very good for weak pasterns. Hopefully within the next few months we will notice improvement. Thanks again!
 

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How are you making out? What food did you decide on? Has your pup improved or stayed the same?
Can we get an update, he's a handsome pup, I'd love to see how he's grown.
 

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a [edogree . a photo of the pup , the parents would be helpful

there is a genetic compnent - determine if this is a factor

then take appropriate nutritional action to do the best with what you have

collagen is protein .

there are collagen initiators -- there are collagen protective foods which you can
add to the diet

fooling around with protein , trying to skim at the lowest levels of acceptable (existance level)
of protein creates other problems .

good clean , appropriate levels of protein in balance with other things such as vitamins and mineral
is critical to development , ligament and cartilage, organic and metabolic function , immune competency
and if all of that doesn't worry you , then the obviously evident beauty of the dog , the pigment,
lustrous thick coat , and the engaged energy should .

there are many breeders on the forum who have been raising young puppies for generations over decades.

ask them .

but again you do need to examine the genetic component.

over my involvement in the breed and nutrition I have seen some kennels consistently
produce dogs that are very loose and sloppy as pups -- some had pasterns totally collapsed the
the dog was iunable to walk for any distance -- walking on the wrist , not foot .

there were dogs that were able to be cared for with custom made support braces - improvement
had its limits

the American show line dog breeders tend to have a higher acceptance of softer and longer pasterns .

If I were to go through my archival material - The German Shepherd Dog Club of America's REVIEW
magazines starting in the late 70's to the early 2000's which covers my getting this breed-club magazine
you can see the gradual changes to the point where it is the norm.

it would be interesting if some savvy person could take an image from a randomly chosen Review issue from the "early days" and then superimposed images to the current dogs
Evolution or devolution over decades seen in minutes

the same could be done with the WGSL's
 
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