The German Shepherd is a beloved dog breed. Known as loving, loyal, intelligent, protective, and hard-working, these dogs are also beautiful with soft multicolor coats. German Shepherds have a well-established reputation for being protective dogs while also being very gentle and loving with their human families.
Historically German Shepherds have been bred as work dogs and are still used in work with police, therapy, and as service dogs. However, they soon became beloved human companions due to their intelligence and sweet nature.
There is a lot involved with raising a German Shepherd as they grow quickly into large dogs and need a lot of attention and care. That playful puppy will soon be a much larger, even more playful adult dog. Some German shepherds will grow faster than others, and no two dogs develop on precisely the same timeline. Because we know that this breed grows into a larger-sized dog, it is a great idea to keep track of growth and milestones to make sure they are on the right track for normal development.
This is a comprehensive guide to your German Shepherd’s growth from puppyhood to full growth. We start by looking at what to expect each month and looking at the statistics of an average full-grown German Shepherd. We provide a growth chart of the breed’s normal development to use as a quick reference point as your puppy ages. Then, we take a quick look at the varied factors that can impact your pup’s health as it grows. Finally, we address some of the most frequently asked questions about the German Shepherd’s expected growth. Let’s get started.
What To Expect
Puppyhood is the most critical stage of development for your puppy. This time is precious, and it is great to be as prepared as possible to ensure a long healthy life for your pup. Growth charts are great tools for reference, but they cannot tell everything about how to raise this specific breed. Learn all about caring for your dog to keep them happy, healthy, and on the right path to normal development. Before we start the puppy growth timeline, we should go over a few reminders.
This guide explores the average growth patterns of a typical German Shepherd. Remember that your puppy may not grow on the same exact timeline. As with many other large breeds, German Shepherds are not considered fully developed until they reach 18 months. Males and females will both continue to fill out after this time.
Growth will depend on several factors, including your dog’s nutrition. What foods you are feeding him, and how much will impact his overall health and weight, and development. Make sure your dog is not playing too rough or getting into things that can cause him injury.
Every dog is unique and will be its own size, regardless of what growth charts and guides say. If you are worried about your dog or feel that he is not developing normally, talk to your veterinarian.
Puppy Growth Timeline
We discuss some of the most important things to know about caring for your larger breed pup at each stage. Puppies will grow rapidly, so keep a close eye on them as they move through new growth each month.
Birth to 2 Weeks
When they first arrive, puppies are very vulnerable. These first three weeks after birth, puppies are blind and deaf and depend on their mother to survive. They will open their eyes, learn to eat, use the bathroom, crawl, and walk in the first three weeks of life. At birth, males and females will be roughly the same size.
Male puppies weigh around 4 to 8 pounds.
Female puppies weigh around 3 to 5 pounds.
Around three weeks to one month, puppies start to socialize with the other dogs, pets, and humans that they live with. They will still be with their mother most of the time but will learn to trust and interact with humans. This is especially important as they need to get comfortable with humans. Puppies will become steadier on their feet. They will also start to grow teeth, so be ready for some chewing!
- Male puppies weigh 5 to 9 pounds.
- Females weigh 4 to 10 pounds.
Puppies need to stick close to mom for the first eight weeks or so of life. She provides them with nutrition, keeps them clean, and gives them comfort. They will stay on mother’s milk until about eight weeks, when their stomachs can start to handle mushy and soft puppy food. Somewhere between one and two months, puppies will need to begin vaccinations.
Training can start even now, your puppy is learning appropriate behaviors as he learns to explore more of the world. Leash training and crate training are good to start now and will instill in him the recognition of human commands. Grooming should also begin. Your pup will need regular brushing, at least two or three times a week.
- Male puppies weigh 10 to 20 pounds.
- Females weigh 10 to 16 pounds.
By three months of age, puppies should be eating puppy chow and be weaned from milk. This is a perfect time to think about house training the little guy. Puppies may start nipping at human and canine playmates around this age. Put a stop to that as soon as you can. Obedience training starts now, and he needs to know what behaviors are not appropriate. He will be teething and will like to chew. Those teeth are sharp so provide plenty of chew toys.
- Male puppies weigh 20 to 30 pounds.
- Females weigh 18 to 25 pounds.
Your pup will now be a fast-moving ball of energy and add in size quickly. He will be ready for trips in the car and more time spent walking and socializing with others and their humans. He may act like a human child, curious, constantly learning new things, hiding places, and finding mischief.
House training should be started by now, and if you haven’t, this is the perfect time to get your puppy used to other dogs and humans. If you are not experienced in training a big dog or feel like you need more guidance, now is an excellent time to find professional training options. He needs to learn how to behave around other dogs and humans, and while some behavior may be cute on a puppy, they can be destructive and even threatening in an adult dog.
- Male puppies weigh 30 to 40 pounds.
- Females weigh 25 to 30 pounds.
Your puppy will be growing quickly now, with a lot more weight on him than just a few weeks ago. He will still be learning how to behave and is always picking up new things. Patience is key here. He will need lots of positive reinforcement and direction to understand what is ok and what is not.
Puppies are full of energy and love at this age and will want a lot of your attention. He will be eating three or more full meals a day and needs high-quality fuel to keep that growth on track. German Shepherds shed their baby fur right around this time, so that you may notice more hair around the house.
- Male puppies weigh 40 to 49 pounds.
- Females weigh 30 to 40 pounds.
Your puppy will no longer look like a little fluffy ball. He will start looking more like a big dog but is still growing physically and mentally. He will want to play all day and all night. However, he is still growing and developing, so he will need adequate rest time.
Even if he wants to keep going, make sure he gets downtime. Too much exercise while growing so fast can result in issues like hip dysplasia. While his internal organs may be fully developed, he is still growing in body size. He should have a complete set of adult teeth around this time.
This is about when you will need to consider spaying and neutering if you do not plan to breed. Your puppy will reach sexual maturity between now and 16 months. Talk to your vet about the best time to take this next step. If you have an intact female dog that has reached sexual maturity, be wary of pregnancy. It is not healthy for a puppy to be pregnant, as she is not yet done growing herself.
- Male puppies weigh 50 to 55 pounds.
- Females weigh 40 to 48 pounds.
Your puppy will be well set in his routine and behaviors by this age. He can take long walks and will be very energetic. He will need a lot of activity and will want a lot of your attention. You may start seeing some separation anxiety if you haven’t already. He will begin to look less like a puppy and more like an adult dog, though his maturity level will not be that of a full-grown dog. Reinforce training at this time. German Shepherds can be stubborn adolescents and may try to test limits.
- Male puppies weigh on average 50 to 62 pounds.
- Females weigh anywhere from 45 – 53 or more pounds.
Your puppy will continue to grow and should be well accustomed to proper behavior and routine. Ensure he has ample room and entertainment, especially if leaving him for long periods. Because he may get rambunctious if left alone for too long, try to have someone check on him regularly.
- Male puppies weigh in the range of 62 to 68 pounds.
- Females weigh around 53 – 58 pounds.
Your dog will be more mature; however, they are still growing and will not act like an adult dog most of the time. He will need regular exercise, at least 45 minutes a day. Playtime and human attention are essential. Keep up those positive behavior rewards. Puppies are still growing at this stage and should still be eating puppy formulated food to make sure they get proper nutrition.
- Male puppies weigh about 65 to 70 pounds.
- Females weigh in the range of 55 to 60 pounds.
You will see less and less apparent physical growth now, as your pup is reaching closer to full grown. He will still fill out and put on weight at a much slower pace than when he was a baby. Response to verbal commands should be good. If obedience is an issue, ask your veterinarian about different training options. Your dog will need regular exercise and plenty of playtime at home. Keep a wide variety of chewing options and toys to keep him out of trouble. Outside time is great for big dogs like German Shepherds. They get bored and destructive inside, so make outdoor access a priority.
- Male puppies weigh 66 to 75 pounds or more.
- Females weigh anywhere from 55 to 60 or more pounds.
By now, your pup should be a well-behaved, almost full-sized dog. You can explore walks, the dog park, hiking, and more. This is a suitable time to learn more about adult dog food. Talk to your vet or trainer for first-hand knowledge about your dog’s needs in adult dog food.
- Male puppies weigh 66 to 75 pounds on average.
- Females weigh 60 to 65 or more pounds.
Happy Birthday, Champ! By one year of age, puppies have stopped growing so rapidly. There will be slower, less obvious growth over the next six months to a year, in some cases more. Continue to keep your dog on a routine with plenty of physical activity. Your dog should have well-established behaviors and be socialized around humans, other pets in the home, and other dogs. As they transition into adulthood, your dog will refrain from more unpredictable puppy-like behaviors.
Large breeds like the German Shepherd will continue to be playful for many years and thrive with proper care and attention. Make sure they receive proper medical care and nutrition. Regular vaccinations and checkups should continue to ensure a healthy dog at every phase of life.
- Male puppies weigh 71 – 75 or more pounds.
- Females weigh 60 to 65 or more pounds.
Like other larger breeds of dog, A German Shepherd is not considered fully grown until 18 months of age. Some types will grow until they reach age two or even 3, though many reach maturity around 18 months. A female German Shepherd will gradually grow until they reach age 2, and a male will fill out until about two and a half years old.
- Male puppies weigh 71 to 80 or more pounds on average.
- Females weigh 60 to 65, even 70 pounds.
Full Grown German Shepherd
Known for high energy, a German Shepherd will be continually active for several years. As a large breed, they will require walking and access to outdoor physical activity throughout their lifetime. They are a friendly, intelligent, loyal breed that will develop close bonds with their human counterparts. Males will be slightly larger than females on average.
- Male: A fully-grown male German Shepherd will weigh 70 to 90 pounds and stand 24 to 26 inches high.
- Female: A fully-grown female German Shepherd will weigh between 60 to 70 pounds and stand 22 to 24 inches high.
We researched and produced a chart of expected growth by weight for male and female German Shepherds. Keep in mind this is simply an estimate, not an exact measure of what every German Shepherd should weigh. Check with your veterinarian or trainer if you are concerned about your dog’s weight.
|Age||Male Weight (lbs.)||Female Weight (lbs.)|
|Birth||4 – 8||3 – 5|
|1 month||8 – 10||4 – 10|
|2 months||10 – 20||10 – 16|
|3 months||20 -30||18 – 25|
|4 months||30 -40||25 – 30|
|5 months||40 – 49||30 – 40|
|6 months||50 – 55||40 – 48|
|7 months||55 – 62||48 – 53|
|8 months||62 – 68||53 – 58|
|9 months||65 – 70||55 – 60|
|10 months||66 – 75||55 – 60|
|11 months||66 – 75||60 – 65|
|1 year||71 – 75||60 – 65|
|18 months||71 – 80||60 – 65|
|2 years||70 – 80||60 – 65|
|3 years||70 – 90||65 – 70|
Factors To Consider
Every dog is unique, and things like proper care and nutrition throughout their lifetime play a role in how they develop.
While we can cover the basics of what to expect when it comes to the growth and development of your dog, there are some factors out of our control. Genetics is one of those areas. German Shepherds are larger dogs, however, there is no guarantee every dog will be a specific size. Some dogs are smaller or larger due to their genetic makeup. If your dog is healthy and you have ruled out any underlying disease, relax. Your dog will grow into its full size in due time.
Looking at the size of a dog’s parents can give you some idea of how big he might be, but ultimately, there is no way to predict exactly how big he will grow until reaching full maturity. As long as he is happy and healthy, nature will take care of the rest, and your dog will grow into the perfect size for his body. Of course, you can check with your veterinarian if you have any concerns about your dog’s growth or genetics.
Ensuring your German Shepherd has the proper nutrition from puppyhood to adulthood is one of the most important responsibilities of pet ownership. Poor nutrition can result in stunted growth and poor overall physical development. Puppies will need specially formulated food to give them the necessary nutrients to thrive. This breed needs high protein and higher calorie count than some smaller breeds. Younger dogs should have a diet with 22% protein, and older dogs need less, around 18%.
This breed can develop allergies to some ingredients in common dog foods like dairy, wheat, corn, beef, and chicken. Other foods like grapes and raisins are toxic to dogs and should always be avoided. German Shepherd’s food needs will change as they age. For example, older dogs will need fewer calories than growing puppies or younger, more active dogs. Talk to your veterinarian about proper nutrition and any special dietary needs your dog may have.
Growth Spurts And Plateaus
Every dog is going to grow and mature in its own time. There will be periods of rapid growth and times when the puppy seems to pause growing. These growth spurts and plateaus can happen unexpectedly and during puppyhood. This is a normal part of growth and development, and there is not a lot that one can do to prevent or manage when these happen.
As a responsible pet owner making sure your pup has the absolute best care is the most important thing. If you feel that he is lagging behind, putting on excessive weight, or having other concerns about his growth changes, connect with your trusted veterinarian. They can help determine if this is normal growth fluctuation and steer you in the best direction of care.
Many different factors will play a role in your German Shepherd’s growth and development, and physical health is one of the biggest. If your dog has gotten injured or sick, it may affect its outcome. In some cases, this can restrict activity and impact growth.
This is a particularly active breed, and your pup will need a lot of exercise and entertainment to keep themselves out of trouble. German Shepherds can get destructive or anxious if they get bored or do not get enough physical activity. They will need multiple activity sessions every day and will have a ton of energy as puppies.
Spay And Neutering
While many dogs can be spayed or neutered as early as eight weeks, German Shepherds need to wait longer. Performing this procedure early will not stop them from growing. However, it can have lifelong health impacts.
Studies done by UC Davis reveal that neutering before age one can triple the risk of some canine joint diseases and the risk of cranial cruciate ligament (CCL) tears. Female German Shepherds spayed before one year of age are at elevated risk for urinary incontinence. Work with your veterinarian to determine the best time to spay or neuter your dog.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do German Shepherds continue to grow after spay/neutering?
Yes, German Shepherds will continue to grow after spaying and neutering. This does not stop growth. Talk with your veterinarian about when is an appropriate time. There are risks to taking this step too soon, including the risk of arthritis or hip dysplasia later in life. Other care will be required if you plan to keep your pet intact.
When do German Shepherds stop growing?
German Shepherds can grow until they are 18 months to about two and a half years. Some types will grow longer. Females will continue to fill out until about age 2, males until about 2.5. Males will be bigger than females when fully grown.
What to do if my German Shepherd is over or underweight?
Ensure your pet is getting regular exercise and speak with your vet about what food to feed him. Rule out any underlying health conditions, and work with your pet to keep him healthy.
Do big paws mean a big dog?
German Shepherds, like other large breeds, have big paws. While this is not always the case, a general rule is that your dog will grow into his paws. So, if he looks like his paws are bigger than his body, there is likely a little more growing to do. However, big paws do not indicate anything about the size a dog will be fully grown. That is a bit of an old wives’ tale.
Your German Shepherd puppy will develop into a beautiful, friendly, and loyal dog. From the moment you bring them home, ensuring the best care and nutrition becomes your responsibility. Knowing what to expect for dog growth and development is part of being a responsible pet owner. Having the correct information to rely on is essential. Because this is such a big breed of dog that requires grooming, it is good to learn all about German Shepherds before bringing your new fur baby home.
German Shepherds are large dogs full of energy and will need lots of recreation and physical activity. They are intelligent, loyal, and make great family companions. Make sure to check with your veterinarian about your dog’s health and keep up with your dog’s regular medical care to keep him in the best health possible.