How To Make A German Shepherd Muscular (Slim To Strong)

  • By: Justin
  • Date: April 6, 2023
  • Time to read: 11 min.
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Hey there! 

German shepherds are the best! They are known to be powerful, loyal, and extremely intelligent. 

But did you know that building muscle for your german shepherd is vital for their overall health and fitness?

Not only that, but muscle growth can help them perform physically demanding tasks. 

In this guide, I will show you exactly how to make your german shepherd muscular. And I will also share some exercise tips so your furry friend can achieve their muscle-building goals. 

Let’s do this

How To Make A German Shepherd Muscular

How To Make A German Shepherd Muscular

1. Provide A High-Protein Diet

First things first, If you want your GSD to build muscle, it is essential to provide them with a high-protein diet. This is the foundation of building muscles for humans and also animals.

German Shepherds need tons of protein, so they must get the right balance of proteins, carbs, and fats. 

A good rule to follow is it  80/20 rule. 80% of building muscle comes from having a high Protein diet, such as the raw food diet, lean cuts of meat, eggs, or the barf diet. Raw meat for german shepherds can be beneficial.

The other 20%  is to have an effective exercise plan.

Also, when you’re picking out food, be sure to read the ingredients list while choosing food for your GSD. 

It would be best if you searched for animal-based proteins as the first ingredient, such as chicken, beef, or fish. 

Furthermore, avoid foods that include fillers like wheat or soy. When it comes to fillers, they don’t provide any significant nutritional value and are low in protein.

2. Engage In Regular Exercise

For adult GSD, regular exercises such as running, walking, running on the treadmill, throwing the ball, or frisbee are great ways to help your German shepherd build muscle. 

One important note, if your German shepherd is a puppy, the exercise needs are very different of a fully grown adult. With puppies, their bones, muscles, and joints are still developing. 

Overstrenuous walks for puppies could cause harm. The best exercise for puppies is free to play with toys.  

3. Incorporate Resistance Training

Strength training exercises such as running up hills, weight-pulling vests, squats, spring poles, sprints, and flirt poles are great ways to incorporate resistance training. 

They also help to build muscle quickly.

These exercises will be more engaging with their legs and muscles in a far more intense way than the regular exercises. 

4. Give Supplements

Nutrients, vitamins, and minerals supplements are essential for your dog to gain muscle. 

Supplements are especially important if your german shepherd is doing resistance training. They will help ensure your German Shepherd gets all the necessary vitamins to recover and build muscle. 

5. Hiring A Professional Trainer/ Talk To A Veterinarian 

If you want to get your dog to be in tip-top shape, you must commit to nutrition training, exercise, and a nutritious diet. And let me tell you, bringing in the pros – hiring a personal trainer and consulting with your veterinarian – is the key to success. 

Hiring a professional will hook you up with a solid action plan for meals and exercises to help your dog bulk up.

Building muscle in a dog takes time and effort, but you’ll see results faster with expert guidance.

Benefits of Building Muscles For German Shepherds

Benefits of building muscles for german shepherds

Building muscle in your GSD has tons of benefits. Below I list some of them. 

Number 1. It improves your dog’s overall fitness and health, which gives that a long, happy life. 

2. More muscle equals more strength, which means better defense for you and your family.

3. Building muscle in your German Shepherd means you’ll have one ripped canine on your hands. They’ll undoubtedly be the talk of the dog park.

4. Better equipped to handle physical activities like running, playing fetch, etc.

5. Muscle strength is known to help your dog’s joints and bones, lowering the risk of injury and chronic conditions like arthritis.

6. With more muscle comes more calorie-burning power. Because they are burning more calories, This will help them to maintain a healthy weight and reduce the risk of obesity and other issues. 

Other Exercises For German Shepherds To Gain Muscles

Other Exercises For German Shepherds To Gain Muscles

1. Using Flirt Poles

Many people like to jog with their dogs, but we are slower than them. Because we are not as fast, it doesn’t bring out the maximum exercise a dog can receive. So what you can do to tire them out is to use a flirt pole. 

What a flirt pole is, it is like a giant cat toy it is a pole with a toy attached to it, and you spend it around in circles and let your german shepherd run after it. Using a flirt pole can tire out your german shepherd in minutes. 

This exercise can bring out a lot of strength and muscle growth in your dog. If you do flirt poles or let your dog sprint this three times a week, it is really beneficial for them.

Although it is hard for us to keep up with dogs, if you flirt poles, it is an excellent way for them to run and sprint. But it will also be a great way to wear them while having fun. 

2. Spring Poles

Spring poles are an excellent way for your dog to play tug of war with themselves, and they can have countless hours of fun with it.  

If you don’t know what Spring poles are, they are a beam up in the air on a rope. And there is a spring attached to it with a dog toy at the end of it. 

This exercise is really beneficial if you are training your dog to be a guard dog because it really brings out the bite force of your German Shepherd. And it really helps to work out the jaw, neck, lower back, and back hip muscles. 

3. Weight Pulling 

Did you know that A fully mature and healthy german shepherd can typically pull 2-3 times their body weight?

However, weight pulling is a very beneficial exercise for GSDS. This is literally lifting weights for your dog.  

It is essential to know that you must be careful when you start weight-pulling. You want to give your dog a bit of weight when your german shepherd is first starting. 

This will help your dog develop the muscles rather than starting them with a heavy weight load and hurting them. 

It is essential to keep in mind their joints and make sure that they don’t have arthritis or anything before like that before they do this type of exercise.  

This exercise is perfect for your german shepherd to gain a lot of muscle growth, and it really brings the drive out of the dogs. 

To see the best results, it is essential that you also give your dog the proper diet and supplements to recover from this exercise. 

Doing your research before starting this workout is always best, but this exercise will benefit them if done properly. 

4. Long Walks 

This is an obvious exercise, but this is definitely overlooked, like sprint and run.  Giving long walks to your GSD can help achieve a shredded, lean appearance. 

You will not see many benefits from walking right away, but you will see some long-term benefits from it. 

However, Your german shepherd will definitely get a lot leaner and start losing weight from doing daily walks. If you are not doing this already, daily walks can bring out the muscles and really make them pop. 

You want to walk them 30-45 minutes daily for best results. However, for puppies, you only want to walk them for up to 5 minutes every month they are old. And make sure that it is a slow pace.

5. Swimming 

Swimming is excellent for dogs. It gets their leg muscles to pop out. And it also helps to build the back muscles. Swimming is a cardio workout, and it is really beneficial for dogs. 

Are German Shepherds Muscular?

If you ever went swimming and felt exhausted after swimming, it is the same for dogs. They may be having fun in the water, but they are really building muscle in their bodies. 

6. Doggy Squats

It seems like a weird exercise, but it is known to keep the hips healthy and helps them build muscle and strength in their legs. 

Here is how to do doggie squats for your german shepherd:

  1. Give your GSD the sit command so that it sits down.
  2. Then give the command to stand.
  3. Do this a few times so that your GSD performs a repetitive motion of sitting and standing.

You can use treats to reward them each time they do a series of squats. 

If done this way, they will stay engaged and eager. You can start with five squats and increase the number of squats over time. 

7. Playing With A Balancing Disk

This is a trendy exercise that your dog can do anywhere. Plus, if you are living in a small space, it will only take up a little room.

 Playing with a balancing disk will help your GSD strength and body awareness so that it has more control over every movement.

Another benefit of this exercise is that your dog will be more agile, less prone to injuries, and have better muscle reflexes.

8. Sprints Using A Tennis Ball Launcher

As mentioned previously, sprints help increase your dog’s strength and joints and help build muscles. A simple way to have them sprint is to use a tennis ball launcher. 

The tennis ball launcher helps to encourage the dog to run and fetch the ball. It is essential not to over-exercise puppies whose joints and muscles are still developing. It is essential to find one that is high quality and does not break easily. 

9. Use A Parachute 

A parachute added to your dog’s harness, or vest is another weight-pulling exercise you can use without using extreme weights. The parachute adds resistance when they run. You can also add a weighted vest. 

Beginners can start with a parachute and then work up to a weighted vest. 

Also Read: How To Make German Shepherd’s Back Legs Stronger 

Are German Shepherds Muscular?

German Shepherds are muscular because they are known for having a powerful physique, solid muscles, and impressive presence. These canines are also significant in size and possess remarkable agility thanks to their well-toned muscle-toned frames. 

However, because of their highly energetic nature, they need regular physical exercise to preserve the strength and vitality of their muscles.

How To Build Chest Muscles On A German Shepherd?

Although this is true, one thing to consider is that other breeds are known to develop muscle mass much faster than German Shepherds. (1.)(2.)

These breeds are:

  • American Staffordshire Terrier
  • Doberman Pinscher
  • Rottweilers
  • Boxers
  • American Pit Bull Terrier
  • Dogo Argentino
  • American Bully

How To Build Chest Muscles On A German Shepherd?

If you want to build the chest muscles on your German Shepherds, use activities like weight pulling walking uphills, and flirt poles. These exercises work great to build up the chest muscles.  

Also, putting on a harness on your GSD and letting them pull before you is another great for building up the chest muscles. Fur savers or flat collars are also known to help build the chest.  

But using a harness can be safer without risking any damage.

Additionally, feeding your dog a high-protein diet is essential. 

Can A German Shepherd Lose Muscle Mass?

German Shepherds can lose muscle mass. Their ability to process protein can deteriorate with age, resulting in muscle mass loss. 

Not to mention muscle atrophy, which occurs when muscle tissue wastes away. But don’t worry; there are warning signs, such as body parts becoming weaker and thinner, difficulty standing or walking, and even hind leg weakness. 

So it is important to pay attention to your dog; if you notice any of these symptoms, it’s time to act, call in the experts, and devise a plan to help your furry friend maintain muscle mass and strength. 

Remember, age is just a number, and with the right approach, your German Shepherd can keep their muscles in peak condition. (1.)(2.)(3.)

Common Mistakes To Avoid When Building Muscle Mass For German Shepherds

Not Consultation With A Veterinarian 

When starting on your muscle-building journey, most people need to remember to have a consultation with their vet. 

The best thing about going to a veterinarian is that they can examine your dog’s health and make recommendations based on their needs. 

In addition, if your dog has pre-existing conditions, such as hip dysplasia or arthritis, the vet may recommend a diet low in certain nutrients to help your dog to avoid aggravating the condition. 

They will also assist you in ensuring that your dog’s body condition is optimal and will estimate how many calories they require to support muscle growth while remaining healthy. 

And don’t forget about the supplements; a vet can advise you on which are safe and beneficial for mass muscle gain. The bottom line is that consulting with a veterinarian is critical to ensuring your dog’s diet is balanced and nutritious and promotes overall health and well-being.

Overall, A Vet is experienced in helping you choose the proper diet plan for your german shepherd. 


When building muscles, you should start slowly. Do not start with an extreme or difficult workout. Overtraining and too much exercise can cause problems like muscle strains and injuries for your GSD.

Additionally, when doing intense strength training, it is important to do these exercises on a cool day. And bring water along with you. 

Another tip is not to start these exercises with a really heavy weight. 

Imagine going to the gym, and you start off by putting 400 pounds on the squat rack. You don’t want to do that to your dog. Start with something simple, and don’t use any heavy weights. 

It is important to build up the weight slowly.

Also, some think a dog is like a machine; you can run them all day. They can’t. Dogs can get overheated, get their pads all torn up, and get injured. 

So, avoiding overtraining and giving them enough rest and recovery time after workouts is important. 

Using The Wrong Diet

When building muscle, it is important to get the diet right. Don’t just start working your dog out and expect to see results. Nutrients are the key to muscle growth. Remember, it is 80% nutrient and 20% exercise. 

Another important thing to remember is that you must have a recovery plan after you’re done with your dog’s exercise. Maybe that is supplements, protein, a good quality meal, or a raw diet. 


Age is an essential factor when building muscle. When you have a puppy, it can’t do the same exercises as an adult. And also, elderly dogs can’t do the same exercises as younger dogs.

German Shepherds age, they may develop health issues limiting their exercise ability. That is why it is always a good idea to consult your veterinarian before beginning any exercise routine for your dog.

Final Thoughts- German Shepherd Muscle Growth

To Make A German Shepherd Muscular, Provide a high-protein diet,  have them Engage in regular exercise, Give supplements, Add resistance training, and most importantly, consult with a veterinarian. 

Building muscle mass for your GSD is essential for overall health and fitness. 

And don’t forget, with added muscles comes more strength. This creates a dog that can better protect you and your family and handle physical activities much better than a dog that does not exercise.  

One last thing to remember is that building muscle takes a lot of time and effort, so it is essential to be patient and work with your german shepherd to achieve the best results. 

I hope this post was helpful, and if you want more information about German shepherds, check out our other articles. A popular article is about the best dog door for German Shepherds. It has the top picks of dog doors on the market.

Justin- Writer & Chief Editor of


Justin is a protection dog enthusiast. He has years of experience teaching and training dogs. He enjoys sharing what he’s learned. Read More

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