Sam Shephard is an experienced German Shepherd owner and has learned throughout the years how to optimize the breed's health and wellness.
German Shepherds are large, active dogs, which means they need to drink a lot of water on a daily basis. Insufficient water can contribute to a number of health issues, including kidney disease and diabetes. The most important thing you can do to help your German Shepherd is to make sure they always have fresh, clean water available. But the right tools—in this case, good bowls or water fountains—can encourage your dog to drink more and even make that water healthier.
Why Drinking Water Is So Important
Just like for humans, water is absolutely critical for your dog to stay healthy. It plays an important role in digestion and makes sure your dog can absorb all the nutrients from their food. Water also supports the body’s joints and organs. A lack of water can lead to dehydration, kidney disease, urinary issues, digestive problems, and can even contribute to cancer. In short, it’s exceedingly important to make sure that your dog is getting enough water every single day.
How Much Water Does a German Shepherd Need?
As a general rule, dogs should drink one ounce of water per pound of body weight. So for an adult German Shepherd that weighs, for example, 80 pounds, you’ll need 80 ounces, or about 9.5 cups of water per day. For a large dog, plan on a lot of water! This amount is a baseline.
Your dog may need to drink more in hot weather and when exercising a lot. Dogs who eat primarily a dry food diet may also need more water because dry food contains less moisture than wet or raw food. Senior dogs may also need to drink more water, although if you notice a sudden increase in their water intake, it could be a sign of a health problem.
Tips for Getting Your German Shepherd to Drink More
Some dogs just aren’t enthusiastic about drinking water. You can encourage them to drink more in order to keep them at their healthy best.
Because German Shepherds are so smart, you may be able to train them to drink. Give them a command to drink as you give them a water bowl, then reward them with praise or treats.
You can also try mixing a flavoring into their water. You can find water enhancers for dogs at your local pet store, or try mixing in chicken or beef broth. You can also try experimenting with different bowl or fountain setups. Keep reading for some suggestions!
What to Look for in a Drinking Bowl
A bowl seems simple, right? But there are some key differences between different kinds of water bowls that can lead to your dog drinking more or less. When choosing a dog bowl, consider the following:
- Material: Plastic bowls might be affordable, but they’re also harder to clean and easier to damage. Ceramic or stainless steel is the better choice.
- Size: You don’t want to be refilling your dog’s bowl every hour, so look for a larger bowl.
- Elevation: For a large dog like a German Shepherd, an elevated bowl stops them from having to stoop down to eat. This can improve their digestion and even their posture.
Top Water Bowls for German Shepherds
If you’re looking to buy a great water bowl for your dog, here are our top picks:
1. YETI Boomer
We won’t lie – this water bowl isn’t cheap. But it’s received hundreds of rave reviews praising it as worth the price. You might know YETI as a high-quality brand for coolers and thermoses, and this dog bowl lives up to the brand’s reputation for durability. It’s made out of legit stainless steel, which works to prevent dents and rust. It’s also built with double walls, great for keeping water nice and cool.
The other great feature about this bowl is the rubber ring on the bottom. If you have a German Shepherd, you know that an enthusiastic dog can easily push a bowl around the floor, or tip it right over. The rubber ring helps to keep the bowl in place. A final plus: this bowl is bigger than your average water bowl. It holds a full 8 cups, making it great for larger dogs. One last thing: It comes in a range of fun colors.
2. Iris USA Elevated Feeder
This is a relatively affordable elevated bowl set that’s packed with features. It includes two stainless steel bowls set into a large storage container where you can keep your dog food. The large size fits an entire 40-pound bag of food in it, and airtight seals keep it fresh. Reviewers love that the sides of the feeder are transparent, so you can easily see when you’re running low on dog food.
As always, stainless steel is a great choice for durability and keeping your dog’s bowls clean. These bowls are removable and dishwasher safe, so you can easily clean them and replace them between meals.
What to Look for in a Drinking Fountain
A drinking fountain can be a great way to get your dog to drink more water. Electric water fountains keep the water constantly flowing, making them more similar to a stream or river a dog might find in nature. This means the water is more interesting and, because of fountains’ filtration systems, cleaner. The combination can coax even reluctant drinkers into better hydration.
When you’re choosing a fountain for your German Shepherd, here are some features to look for in the product descriptions and reviews:
- Material: Although plastic is more affordable, metal, glass, and ceramic are better for minimizing grime.
- Ease of Cleaning: How many parts and difficult angles does it have? Can it go in the dishwasher?
- Size: For a large dog like a German Shepherd, you’ll want a fountain that can hold a lot of water.
- Noise: Check reviews for how noisy the sound of the water is, if that’s important to you.
- Pump longevity: Check the reviews to see if customers mention the pump dying. If the company offers a warranty, that’s a good sign you’ll be able to replace the pump if it breaks.
Great Drinking Fountains
Here are our top recommendations for the best water fountains for German Shepherds.
1. Drinkwell 360 Fountain
This fountain is a favorite among pet owners, and for good reason. It’s attractive, easy to clean, and loved by cats and dogs. This fountain is available in both plastic and stainless steel. We recommend stainless steel for its better cleanliness, but plastic is also a great, more affordable option. This fountain holds up to 128 ounces of water (about a gallon). Some of the reviews complain that it’s actually too big, but we’re guessing those reviewers don’t have German Shepherds.
The design of this fountain makes it attractive and versatile. It features multiple small streams of water falling in a circle, falling against a central ramp before hitting the bowl of water below, so it’s not too loud. If you have multiple pets, this is an especially good pick. The round shape makes it easy for multiple dogs (or cats) to drink from it at once.
2. Pioneer Pet Stainless Steel Fountain
This fountain earns its spot as our choice for its attractive design and material. Because it’s made out of stainless steel, it doesn’t accumulate as much bacteria as plastic and is healthier for your pet. Reviews also report that unlike plastic fountains, this stainless steel one doesn’t develop a slimy film. Plus it’s dishwasher-safe.
We like the design of this fountain. The water comes out in a small pool at the top then flows down a small water slide into the main bowl. So dogs can drink either out of the bowl or directly from the moving water.
Another plus for this fountain is the size. The largest size holds 96 ounces, making it a good size for a German Shepherd. Some reviews mention that lining up the parts during assembly is difficult, but many report that their dogs (and cats) enjoy it and seem to be drinking more water.
- Palika L. and Albert T. Your German Shepherd Puppy Month by Month, 2nd Edition: Everything You Need to Know at Each State to Ensure Your Cute and Playful Puppy. Alpha, 2016, 352 p.
- Reisen J. Warning signs of Dehydration in Dogs, American Kennel Clubs, https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/health/warning-signs-dehydration-dogs/, 2020.
- Monks of New Skete. The Art of Raising a Puppy. Little, Brown and Company, 2011, 352 p.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2021 Sam Shepards