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Royal Canin’s pawfect diet for a truly noble-the German Shepherd

Powerful, liverly, intelligent, loyal..the German Shepherd has many impressive qualities. An excellent guard dog, he is also a perfect rescue dog due to his exceptionally refined sense of smell. He is appreciated not just for his physical aptitude and flexible character, but also for the beauty of his black and tan coat… a perfect blend of looks and character!

Caring for a dog who gives his all:
Blessed with outstanding physical abilities, He is a remarkably robust dog. Marrying power and watchfulness, he sets himself no limits, an element which needs to be considered to keep him in ideal shape throughout his life. The diet which he takes need to address the following:

Ensuring digestive safety:

The German Shepherd has a sensitive digestive system due to a proportionally smaller digestive tract, major intestinal permeability, and increased risk of gastric fermentation.

A sensitive immune system:

His natural immune defences are not always very effective in protecting the skin and mucosa, hence it is essential to reinforce his immune system to help him fi ght oxidative stress, which is responsible for ageing.

Watching over an alkaline skin:

Increased cutaneous pH levels predispose him to bacterial infections.

The joints of an athlete:

From growth onwards, his food needs to protect the cartilages to help fi ght against the development of arthritis.

Growth…a key phase in puppy’s life
Growth is a key phase for the puppy, because it sets the pattern for his future health. Over the period of a few months, the German Shepherd puppy goes through some major upheavals: weaning and transition to solid food, very rapid physical development, lifestyle changes, separation from his mother.

From weaning to 5 months – Intense and rapid development:

The skeleton requires considerable protein and mineral amounts, with exactly the right amount of calcium – neither too little nor too much. Also, the transition to solid food demands great care, because the puppy is incapable of assimilating large quantities of food or digesting starch. Weight gain needs to continue, but must be controlled so that the puppy does not gain too much too young, which will weaken a still fragile bone structure. During the fi rst weeks of life, the puppy benefi ts from maternally transmitted antibodies, but this protection is lost between the 4th and 12th weeks. With his own immune system still immature, he is then exposed to risk of infection, particularly as he has not yet been vaccinated. Only a specially developed food can help him through this immunity gap in total safety.

From 5 months to the end of growth – Consolidating his assets:

During this period, weight gain slows down while the bone structure achieves to consolidate itself. The food must be less rich, although the puppy still needs 50% as many calories as an adult dog. From 5 months onwards, the puppy can digest larger amounts of food, but it is important to watch his weight gain carefully as being overweight at this stage can lead to joint problems in later age. The milk teeth, which came through at around 3 weeks, are replaced by the adult dentition at around 7 months old. From now on, it is important to encourage the puppy to crunch his food before swallowing, not only to slow down his speed of ingestion but also to encourage good oral-hygiene.
A pawfect diet for juniors < 15 months… Royal Canin’s German Shepherd 30
The diet ensures maximum digestive security which meets the needs of the German Shepherd’s puppy’s sensitive digestion, thanks to a selection of highly digestible proteins (L.I.P.), an energy concentration and Acti-Flora complex (probiotics and Psyllium) adapted to avoid overloading the stomach. Besides, its osteoarticular reinforcement ensures harmonious growth of the skeleton and of its mineralization, which helps to support the joints. It also supports the skin’s “barrier” role (pH>7) and maintains the natural beauty of the puppy’s coat. The diet also helps support the young puppy’s natural defences.

A pawfect diet for adults > 15 months … Royal Canin’s German Shepherd 24

It ensures maximum digestive well-being, aimed at the German Shepherd’s digestive sensitivity, thanks to highly digestible L.I.P. proteins, with copra oil and rice as the sole source of carbohydrates. A selection of fi bres specifi cally limits intestinal fermentation while maintaining intestinal fl ora. Besides supporting the skin’s barrier role and his natural defences, it helps maintain vitality in the older dog. Not only this, they support joints of active dogs.

Glory of the German Shepherd

Which breeds come to your mind when you hear the words ‘king of dogs’? Undoubtedly, the name that flashes in our minds is ‘German Shepherd’ or ‘GSD.’ People all over the world prefer to be owned by a GSD because of his royal look and an equally loyal and passionate attitude.

If you have never owned a GSD, you have missed one of life’s greatest pleasures.

If you are looking for a superb companion dog, then GSD is for you. For here’s one dog who will be devoted to you at all times. I still remember the time when I got married into a dog-loving family. I knew that they have a GSD at home but I never had a chance to meet him before marriage. Once I stepped into the house, I was welcomed by a strong and handsome GSD, who conveyed a sense of strength and intelligence. He did not bark at me but gave me a warm welcome. Very soon, I developed a strong bond with him.

German Shepherd or GSD, also known as Alsatian, is one of the most versatile dogs, who has excelled as a sentry and guard dog, police and army dog, tracker, drug detection dog, guide dog for the blind as well as a search and rescue dog. Apart from these utilities, he is an excellent show and companion dog.

As Sasikala Giri of Ginzberg, Bangalore, a reputed breeder of GSDs, puts, “A GSD is probably an international favourite of all breeds. He differs from other breeds as he fills in many different jobs. Since the earliest dates of history, he has been employed by armies to aid in fighting, as sentries, guards of prisoners, defend camps from enemies, detecting mines, working with rescue units, to find wounded soldiers and carry medicine.”

General appearance

A GSD is a handsome and well-proportioned dog. He is strong with a sturdy, muscular and slightly elongated body with a light but solid bone structure. He has a harmonious development of forequarter and hindquarter. “Position and setting of limbs harmonise in such a manner that a far-reaching endurant trot is assured. The gait is supple, smooth and long-reaching, carrying the body along. His croup is long and gradually sloping,” adds Giri.

His head is proportionate to his body with average size ears, which are wide at the base and high on the head. His almond-shaped eyes are slightly slanted and their colour matches that of their coat. His eyes radiate intelligence and confidence, full of life. His tail is bushy and his coat is thick and dense, comprising of straight, rigid hairs, tightly layered on the body. There are different colours of coat found in GSDs, which include black with tan, all black and steel grey.

According to Giri, he has a beauty which is undisputed. “He is stamped with a look of quality and nobility, which is difficult to define, but unmistakable. He gives an impression of perpetual vigilance, liveliness and watchfulness, alert to every sight and sound, with nothing escaping attention,” she adds proudly.

The average height of dogs is 24-26 inches while that for female dogs is 22-24 inches. Their weight ranges between 35 to 40 kg. They have a life expectancy of around 13 years.

Temperament

GSD is an intelligent dog and his intelligence should be utilised in a positive way. You can teach obedience training or else keep him involved in the family activities. GSDs are often used as working dogs as they are alert and fearless. They are bold and cheerful and are easy to train. A GSD is full of loyalty, courage and confidence. They love to please and demand companionship of their families. You should never isolate a GSD for long period of time. Their protective nature towards their family makes them wary of strangers but proper training and early socialisation prevents this problem to surface. They possess highly developed senses, mentally and temperamentally. Besides, he is strongly individualistic. They are good with children and other pets in the family. “A GSD loves and craves for human companionship and thrives on love and affection, without which he is a miserable and neurotic dog. When you have a GSD as a companion, he is a guardian, protector and your children’s playmate,” adds Giri.

GSD puppy

Giri tells that the best age to acquire a pup is about 8 weeks, as by then the pup would have been dewormed, vaccinated and weaned. She advises to follow the feed chart given by the breeder. Also, the pup should be kept in a dry, clean place with lots of ventilation. It is not advisable to isolate him. He should be kept on a rough surface so that he will get a firm grip. “The bones of a pup are very supple, if they are on smooth surface, their movement gets affected,” explains Giri. Give him good nutritious food at regular intervals. “He needs a lot of calcium, Vitamin B and multivitamins,” tells Giri.

A GSD puppy should be socialised from an early age to avoid behavioural problems at later stage. They should be trained lovingly but firmly.

Upkeep

GSDs are easy to maintain and you can keep them in your apartment if they are sufficiently exercised. They are relatively inactive indoors but a large yard to run around is an excellent option. “He is not a cage or kennel dog and requires freedom for his mental and physical development. In turn, you get protection and companionship. He will share your joys and sorrows and will never ask for anything in return except to be at your side,” says Giri.

Giri also tells that GSD make wonderful pets in city apartments as well as country homes or farms, because they are so easily trained.

Exercise

A GSD needs regular exercise. Physical activity benefits mental and emotional health. He loves strenuous activity, combined with moderate training. They love challenges and perform well. According to Giri, “Exercise is as important as food. To keep him fit, healthy and happy, he needs at least 8 km brisk walk or trot daily. A game of fetch, swimming, Frisbee disc, etc will be equally welcome by a GSD.”

Grooming

A GSD sheds hair constantly and is seasonally a heavy shedder. A quick daily brushing is an excellent idea. But, they should not be bathed frequently. “Start grooming when he is a pup and he will enjoy it for the rest of his life. Daily brushing will give the coat a healthy appearance and sheen,” adds Giri.

Health

A GSD is prone to hereditary diseases such as hip dysplasia, dermatitis and ear infections.

GSD shows

Sieger Show in Germany is an exclusive event for German Shepherd dogs and their breeders and handlers. Here, more than 3,000 dogs compete and are watched by over 70,000 spectators. The dogs are put to real test not only for confirmation but also for their working abilities, since GSD is a shepherd dog.

(With inputs from Sasikala Giri, a reputed breeder of German Shepherd dogs for nearly 30 years. She can be contacted at: Ginzberg, 710 Shyama Kamal, 47th Cross, 5th Block, Jayanagar, Bangalore -560041, Tel: 26632671, 26647648.)

Nutrition needs of your German Shepherd

German Shepherd is perhaps the world’s most popular utility dog. Their robustness, rusticity and intelligence, steals everyone’s hearts. They convey a sense of strength, intelligence and litheness. They radiate a harmonious sense of nobility and self-confidence that commands respect. Nevertheless while rearing a German Shepherd, their specific characteristics should be kept in mind and accordingly a well-balanced nutritious diet should be given to them.

GSDs have an established digestive sensitivity:

A higher intestinal permeability, a lower digestive capacity and a greater fermentative activity among large dogs are many factors that may explain their lower digestive tolerance. Hence, it is important to ensure maximum digestive security among German Shepherds through nutrition. Proper diet ensures digestion and absorption of nutrients and fermentation of undigested matter. It also helps in protecting and nourishing the intestinal and colonic mucosa, limiting fermentative activity and improving the consistency of stools.

GSD’s immune system put to test everyday:

German Shepherd is a utility dog par excellence, as a guide dog, rescue dog, police dog or defence dog. These varied chores put his immune system under severe pressure every day. The German Shepherd is among the breeds showing a weak plasmatic concentration of immunoglobulin A (IgA), which increases the risk of infection. IgA are antibodies specialised in the defence of mucosae and the skin against infectious agents and are essential ingredients of secretions such as saliva, tears and intestinal juices.

Sensitive skin of a GSD:

The dog’s skin pH is one of the highest among mammals (an average of 7.4). Among the canine species, the skin pH appears to vary according to breed.

An alkaline skin is more conducive to bacterial proliferation than an acidic skin. A German Shepherd’s relative deficiency in IgA (Immunoglobin A) and the high alkalinity of his skin can explain his sensitivity to bacterial skin diseases, such as pyoderma. So, it is essential to reinforce the integrity of the skin barrier, while preserving natural beauty of his coat, through nutrition.

The epidermis forms a barrier that limits water loss by the body and prevents its penetration by allergens. This barrier role is made possible by ceramides, which are lipids that form ‘cement’ that bonds the epidermis cells. The synergic action of a supply of various vitamins (choline, nicotinamide, inositol, pyridoxine and panthotenic acid) and amino acids (proline and histidine) augments the synthesis of ceramides, which helps limit water loss and prevent the penetration by bacteria or any allergens (pollen, dust mites).

GSD’s bone structure is under great daily stress:

The German Shepherd’s exceptional morphology enables him to perform as well in his work or walking with his master, as in the most diverse and most demanding of sporting disciplines: ring, mondioring, protection, campagne, and not forgetting search & rescue of course. This means that the joints of this versatile dog are put under great stress. Hip, elbow and knee dysplasia, cauda equina and articular osteochondroses are unfortunately not rare in this sporting dog. With time, his cartilages will be damaged and this wear and tear may gradually give way to osteoarthritis when the dog grows older. This means that it is essential to help prevent joint complaints and associated inflammatory mechanisms through nutrition.

Royal Canin’s made to measure kibble:

Royal Canin offers a nutritional programme for a German Shepherd of all ages. For 2-15 month old puppies, there is MAXIjunior, which offers a very high digestive security which ensures equilibrium of intestinal flora and regular digestive transit. German Shepherd 24 is for the adult dog, which is exclusively formulated taking into account his digestive sensitivity, reinforcement of natural defences, protection of the skin and the coat and articular capital. The advantages of feeding this food includes:

  • Guaranteeing optimal palatability : Born with an exceptional olfactory acuity, a German Shepherd is able to detect up to 5,00,000 different odours, compared with the mere 4,000 that humans can distinguish. His exceptional nose makes guaranteed optimal appetence of the food essential to satisfy his very high demands. The food is formulated with premium quality ingredients and exclusive aromas, based on a secret recipe.
  • Improving oral hygiene: The dog’s teeth are brushed mechanically as he chews, which helps limit the accumulation of tartar. This effect is reinforced by the presence of chelating agents of calcium, which render calcium unavailable for the mineralisation of dental plaque and so the formation of tartar.
  • Helping to prevent gastric dilatation-volvulus: After a meal, the stomach can achieve a volume of 3-4 litres in a 15 kg dog and up to 7 litres in a large dog. This predisposition to distension, associated to a relative laxity of the stomach’s means of attachment to the abdomen, means that the dog is predisposed to the gastric dilatation-volvulus. This complaint is fatal in 30% of cases. So, it is essential to feed the German Shepherd very digestible food that can be digested fast and efficiently.
  • Protecting joints: The food also protects joints and prevents or slows down osteoarthritis. It has an extra source of chondroitin sulphate and glucosamine, the combined action of which helps stimulate the regeneration of articular cartilage and slows down cartilage degeneration.