Without elaborating on the several differing views from knowledgeable professionals about proper feeding quality and quantity, the following views do appeal to me: Most veterinarians would certainly argue that a high quality commercial dog food supplied once or twice a day will sufficiently support your adult dog’s nutritional needs; and some very reputable breeders abide by a 100% raw meat diet. Both schools have valid arguments to support their positions.
You may have noticed that normal sized dogs have teeth remarkably similar to a wolf’s. Physical evolution has not changed so great in the era of the domesticated dog that they have lost their meat eating teeth. I feel it would be safe to assume that the remainder of the dog’s digestive system has evolved at a similar pace. With those observations and assumptions, an easy presumption is that a diet similar to a wolf’s would promote your dog’s best health.
You may also have noticed that a dog eats a bowl of kibble much more slowly than a similar sized piece of meat. Typically a normal sized dog consumes a rather large chunk of meat in seconds. Again the assumption is that the gut was “designed” to work large pieces of protein and fat.
Cooked meat naturally seems a wiser choice to ensure elimination of bacteria and other toxins. Cooked bone however becomes brittle and easily shards into dangerous blades that can damage a dog’s digestive tract.
Kibble eliminates concerns for punctured organs and food poisoning is nearly a non-issue.
You may have noticed that dogs appear to survive well on a pure kibble diet. Based upon their labeling, nearly all commercial dog food seem to have a smartly designed balance of nutrients.
Kibble also helps support good dental hygiene.
With these major points in mind, I feed the adult dogs a predominately kibble diet with some fresh raw meat every other day or so.
I try to use whole pieces of venison, although I do use fresh store bought beef (including burger) and sometime chicken as well. Proportionally, the raw meat is a very small part of the overall diet.
I use two or three different types of kibble at each feeding. I feel a wider variety of nutrients will serve my dogs better. Plus, here on our island in Alaska, merchants sell out of stock from time to time. Weeks may pass before a particular brand of food becomes available again; so unplanned changes in diet are only in part. Additionally, I typically offer kibble with a meat product as the first ingredient.
I feed the adults once a day in the evening (except for Kora during her pregnancy and nursing). I am also very careful to not over-feed them. A dog that is not fixed, gets regular exercise, and is fed properly should look rather thin in the mid-section. Over feeding a dog so he will get big does not serve in his favor.
As a growing puppy, Kohl’s weight trailed behind the German shepherd growth chart that is easily found on the internet. For nearly a full year, his weight stayed at 77 lbs., but with his heavy East German bloodlines, he has continued to increase in weight. The heaviest he weighed was 92 lbs. just around the time Kora went into heat with no change to his diet or routine. He has dropped back down and maintains around 85 lbs., an excellent weight for a male GSD.
At feeding time, the adult dogs are fed together. We have never had aggression from any dog at feeding time because they must be calm and attentive to me before allowed to approach their bowls.
I offer fresh water at all times. Using water as a reward is useless in Ketchikan, Alaska (rain averages around 13 feet annually). Water is plentiful with every visit outdoors. Additionally, our German shepherds have a high demand for water.
The puppies should be down to two feedings a day shortly. I use a puppy kibble and one can of puppy food at each feeding, slowly phasing out the canned food. I have also offered very small portions of venison a couple of times in the last two weeks.
Using the feeding guidelines on the kibble packaging is a great starting point, then with small changes in quantity, dialing in an appropriate serving size is more controlled.
Puppy kibble may be offered up to a year of age, but I suggest a switch to adult food at around 6 months.