Updated: March 15th, 2022
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German shepherds! So many nice things have been said about this breed—they are highly intelligent, incredibly beautiful, a favorite working dog for many, smart, courageous, and you name it.
You probably have your own nice things to say about yours, too. But what not many of us know is that, without feeding her the best dog food for German Shepherd, she’ll end up being a shell of herself in the long run.
First because she has special dietary concerns (more about this later) that have to be met for the sake of her wellbeing. Second, GSDs, as they are popularly called, are also susceptible to specific health conditions like bloat, elbow and hip dysplasia, and stomach sensitivities, which can be minimized and managed with a diet containing the ingredients that address such problems.
What I have come to see over time is that you can have a healthy and happy German shepherd dog if you simply meet their dietary and other special needs. I found the high-quality dog foods below just perfect for that after vetting their nutritional composition and other qualities.
Check them out.
An Overview of the Best Dog Food For German Shepherd
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What Is The Best Food For German Shepherds? (+ Reviews)
1. Taste Of The Wild High Prairie Puppy Formula Grain-Free Dry Dog Food – Best Overall
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Your pup can feel as close to nature as possible with this recipe. It’s formulated with novelty meals and packed with essential minerals plus natural antioxidants that blend to provide complete and balanced nutrition.
- High-quality animal protein with real buffalo as the first ingredient
- 100% grain free
- Highly digestible
- Contains a prebiotic blend
- Rich in omega-3 and -6 fatty acids
In consumer reviews, most users love that the meal contains additional meats such as roasted venison, lamb, and bison to strengthen its protein profile. Sensitive pups can benefit from this formula as well, because it’s grain free. Also, it is laden with omega fatty acids for better immunity and for promotion of a healthier fur and skin.
- High protein content (28%) to maintain and build the extra muscle active breeds require
- Good for sensitive stomachs, as it’s grain-free
- Prebiotic blend helps with digestion and to maintain healthy bacteria in the gut
- Contains lamb meal, an excellent source of glucosamine and chondroitin for stronger bones, mobile joints, and proper skeletal development
- Some pooches may be allergic to beef or fish
As a puppy formula, the Taste of the Wild High Prairie recipe lives up to the requirements of dogs in this life stage. From the high protein content to supporting better digestive health, bone and joint health, and healthier skin, together with the other features it boasts, this formula stands out as the best recipe overall.
2. Royal Canin Giant Junior Dry Dog Food – Best Breed-Specific Food
Two common health issues German shepherds battle with a lot are bone-related complications and digestive problems. But this dog food formulation seeks to help you with part of that. First by helping her develop strong muscles and better joint health in her formative years thanks to the protein derived from chicken byproduct meal and the presence of calcium and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA)/eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA).
- Breed-specific diet
- Formulated for giant/large breed puppies (8-24 months old/over 100 pounds)
- Contains a special combination of nutrients that support digestive health
Chicken byproduct meal is rich in both chondroitin and glucosamine to help foster strong bones in your dog. It also promotes smoother joints. In the long run, these two nutrients play a huge role in reducing the chances of bone diseases such as elbow and hip dysplasia.
- Highly digestible proteins and carbs making it friendly to dogs with digestive problems
- Balanced absorption of minerals supports healthy bones and joints
- 29% minimum animal protein builds lean muscle for a highly active dog
- Contains probiotics such as dried beet pulp and psyllium for better digestion
- Presence of L-carnitine reinforces muscle development
- Fat content in the formulation ensures your buddy has plenty of energy to stay active and maintain healthy skin
- Contains wheat and corn, common allergy triggers for gluten-sensitive dogs
Besides helping your dog deal with issues like hip dysplasia, this formulation is also able to help your pooch maintain an optimal weight which is crucial in both management and prevention of elbow and hip dysplasia. This is part of what makes the company one of the best dog food brands for German shepherds.
3. Eukanuba Breed-Specific German Shepherd Adult Dry Dog Food – Best Budget Food
Eukanuba has garnered quite a following with doggie parents, and for good reason. Pet parents love the fact that this recipe is formulated with the special needs of the German shepherd in mind. It’s packed with ingredients that optimize the bodily function of this breed.
- Contains quality animal-based protein
- Utilizes the 3D DentaDefense System, a special nutritional mechanism for promoting better dental health
- Features essential and quality nutrients and ingredients such as probiotics, glucosamine, chondroitin, L-carnitine, and natural taurine
Other than being high in animal protein content and essential nutrients, this formula also uniquely works to clean the teeth of you pooch and helps remove tartar. It’s rich in calcium, phosphorus, glucosamine, and chondroitin, all of which contribute to better bone and joint health.
- Chicken is the first ingredient for lean muscle development
- The kibble helps in cleaning your dog’s teeth
- Includes beet pulp, a natural probiotic for easier digestion and better gut health
- Rich in omega fatty acids to promote a healthier immune system
- Recipe contains corn meal, which can be difficult to digest for some dogs
Eukanuba’s German shepherd breed-specific recipe is a flavorful meal that looks to enhance your canine friend’s general wellbeing in terms of healthy fur, strong bones, and even clean teeth. Looking at all it’s able to offer and the price at which it comes, it easily qualifies as the best budget food on this list.
4. Purina Beyond Chicken, Carrot, & Pea Recipe Ground Entrée Grain-Free Canned Dog Food – Best Wet Recipe
It’s only natural that you as a pet parent are concerned about the taste, nutrients, and digestibility of a dog food recipe before you buy it for your pupper.This wet food ticks all the boxes. It is a scrumptious meal that your dog will love.
The first ingredient is chicken which most pups find irresistible. In fact, if you pups are finicky eaters, their palates will appreciate the taste of chicken broth, liver, and carrots.
- 100% grain free
- Wet food
- Contains chicken as the first ingredient
- No common allergy triggers like grains and artificial ingredients
- Carrots and greens add taste and flavor even for picky eaters
Allergies can bring real discomfort to your canine, but the fact that this meal contains no corn, wheat, or soy or any artificial preservatives, colors, or flavors should be a welcome relief. The absence of such ingredients reduces the chances of skin allergies as well as stomach upsets for most pups.
For pet parents concerned about obesity, allergies, and digestibility, this option comes highly recommended.
- Meaty chicken chunks with savory broth and peas will have your dog asking for more
- A proportional combination of proteins, vitamins, and minerals makes it a complete and balanced diet
- Promotes lean muscle growth due to use of high-quality protein (chicken)
- Works best for German shepherds with food sensitivities
- Not suitable if your German shepherd is allergic to chicken
Gluten-sensitive dogs and those with a sensitive stomach can get much-needed relief from this diet. The Beyond Chicken formula is simplified in terms of ingredients without compromising on quality of taste and nutrients.
5. Wellness CORE Grain-Free Puppy Chicken & Turkey Recipe – Best For Active German Shepherd Puppies
Irresistible taste aside, the Wellness Core Puppy Recipe is nutrient packed and without grains. This means your German shepherd will not only enjoy a savory meal that takes into consideration her food sensitivities but also gain nutritional benefits that will contribute to her overall wellbeing.
- Easily digestible ingredients
- 100% grain free
- 36% animal protein (made with turkey and chicken as the first ingredients)
- Rich in phosphorus and calcium for bone development
- High energy levels from digestible carbs
Any active pup will require high protein content in order to maintain and build their muscles. At 36%, that’s enough protein to meet your active puppy’s needs. She is also assured of lean muscle growth as well as a strong and well-developed skeletal frame due to the generous levels of chondroitin and glucosamine.
This recipe contains salmon oil and flaxseed, both of which provide an abundance of omega fatty acids to boost your pup’s immunity while at the same time enriching her skin and fur.
- Contains DHA for proper cognitive development
- Lots of calories for optimal puppy growth
- Probiotics coated kibble (as well as veggies such as kale and spinach) for better digestion
- Not suitable if your German shepherd is allergic to poultry
Overall, this is a solid formulation for both taste and nutrient delivery. Your German shepherd puppy has a lot to gain from it, especially if she’s the highly active type.
6. Whole Earth Farms Grain-Free Pork, Beef, & Lamb Recipe – Best Natural Dog Food
Not many natural dog foods have a reputation like the kind Whole Earth Farms enjoys. If not about the superior ingredients they use, you’ll find doggie parents praising the brand for their consistency in delivering quality dog food. This particular recipe doesn’t disappoint either, as it’s a natural, high-quality recipe able to deliver complete and balanced nutrition.
- Multiple protein sources including beef, pork, and lamb
- Contains no corn, wheat, soy, or poultry
- Grain free
- Alternative quality carbs have been used such as sweet potatoes
- Rich in omega fatty acids
With Whole Earth Farms’ recipes, digestibility for your pooch will be the least of your worries. The proteins and carbohydrates used in this recipe are highly digestible thanks to the dietary fiber contained in them. The fiber also supports smooth and regular bowel movement.
- Savory, meaty taste from multiple protein sources
- Salmon oil helps with skin enrichment and fur nourishment
- Rosemary, sage, and thyme provide powerful antioxidants to boost the immune system
- Not suitable for pooches that are allergic to pork and beef
Although your dog can be allergic to various meats, I loved the fact that for those whose canine buddies are allergic to chicken or poultry, this recipe will most likely work.
7. Wellness Grain-Free Complete Health Adult Whitefish & Menhaden Fish Meal Recipe – Best Grain-Free Recipe
Active adult German shepherds thrive on a high-protein diet that helps build, recuperate, and maintain their lean muscles as well as optimal body weight. A minimum protein content of 26%, combined with a special blend of minerals and vitamins, qualifies it as ideal for this breed.
- 100% grain free
- White fish as the first ingredient
- Special vitamin-mineral blend for immune system support
- Adequate levels of omega fatty acids
Because of its simplicity and being probably the best grain-free dog food for German shepherds, this recipe easily works with most GSDs that have food sensitivities. Also, dogs that are allergic to more mainstream proteins such as chicken, beef, pork, or turkey will most likely find the white fish friendly to their special needs and their taste buds.
- Savory, fishy taste most dogs love
- High animal protein content for lean muscle maintenance
- Flax seed pairs well with menhaden meal for a rich omega fatty acid profile that boosts immunity in addition to nourishing your dogs fur and skin
- Adequate dietary fiber from carbs as well as tomato pomace
- Works for sensitive stomachs and gluten-sensitive pooches
- Not suitable for doggies allergic to fish
In this recipe, you have a complete and balanced, tasty diet that your German shepherd will derive plenty of health benefits from for a longer and happier life.
8. Holistic Select Large & Giant Breed Puppy Health Lamb Meal & Oatmeal Recipe – Best For Large Breed
German shepherds will benefit from this formulation, because it addresses the unique muscle and skeletal needs of a large to giant breed dog. Among its top features is the inclusion of superfoods and antioxidant-rich ingredients such as blueberries and rosemary extract. Because of this, it’s able to deliver on taste and support cellular growth in your pup.
- Special diet for dogs with sensitive digestion
- Rich in quality protein and fat content
- No grains, artificial preservatives, or wheat
- Contains vital nutrients such as DHA, an essential fatty acid, and powerful antioxidants such as blueberries and pomegranate (for cellular support)
Thanks to chondroitin and glucosamine in this recipe, your large breed pup is guaranteed smoother joints and proper skeletal development. The issue of allergies is also taken proper care of through the absence of potential allergens such as grains, artificial preservatives, and wheat.
Oatmeal, brown rice, and quinoa (all quality sources of carbohydrates) will help to keep your German shepherd active all day. Also worth mentioning is the presence of probiotics which, in conjunction with natural fiber, improve bowel movement.
- Contains flaxseed and salmon oil for a rich omega fatty acid profile which enhances skin and fur health
- DHA is key in your pup’s cognitive growth
- Formulated with high-quality proteins to ensure lean muscle growth
- Beet pulp and pumpkin seeds are excellent for smooth digestion
- Lamb and chicken meal form the basis of a healthy yet tasty meal that your pooch will love
- Some dogs seem to dislike the taste of the food to the point of not wanting to eat it
German shepherds are known to be a highly active and energetic breed. The nutritional composition of this recipe enables it to match that profile, from being rich in protein and carbs to having plenty of essential nutrients, thus making it ideal for this breed.
Factors To Consider When Buying The Best Dog Food For German Shepherds
Before buying dog food for GSDs, you want to make sure that the ingredient ratios in the formula will meet the nutritional requirements of your canine pal. To start you off, the best food for a German shepherd should have the following:
If your dog is highly active, fat levels of up to 12% are most recommended. Growing puppies will need a minimum of 5% fat to grow strong and healthy. Ingredients such as omega fatty acids aid in your dog’s cognitive development as well as keeping her skin nourished and fur shiny.
Since German shepherds are fairly big dogs and are used for shepherding work or as guard dogs which are athletic and highly energetic, it is imperative that you feed your pooch a high protein diet.
For adult dogs, depending on their level of daily activity, their diet should contain no less than 18% protein. If you buddy is a working dog, a diet with 30-40% is recommended.
German shepherd puppies should have a diet that contains 22% protein in order to gain adequate muscles that are lean and strong. It is good to check with your vet in order to make the best determination that suits your dog.
German shepherds can be sensitive to some carb sources such as corn, wheat, soy, and other grains. However, most dogs seem to have no digestion issues with whole grains such as rice, barley, and oats. Sweet potatoes also work well because of their ability to provide high energy as well as their ease of digestibility.
A well-rounded diet will contain nutritious veggies and fruits that supply vital vitamins such as C and E which are vital to building a healthy immune system and antioxidants which also serve as brain food.
Ensuring that the food you are about to buy for your German shepherd has some glucosamine and chondroitin is equally important, as this natural ingredient helps in developing stronger bones and smoother joints.
Special Dietary Concerns For German Shepherds And Health Concerns
If you are a pet parent to a GSD, then you know they are full of energy, incredibly smart, and very trainable. You can learn more about this breed by watching the video below:
Now, part of ensuring that he remains healthy and performs at his optimal best is in knowing some of the health concerns that German shepherds might be prone to.
One of these concerns is of a dietary nature, while the other is a physiological impairment likely to occur as your furry friend grows older.
Fortunately, this can be prevented in most cases, and if your dog does have issues, it can be managed in a way that keeps you dog comfortable and active.
Two common health conditions you should take note of include:
Every breed has their own unique physiological peculiarities. For the German shepherd, it is having a deep chest. Deep chested dogs are highly active but also prone to suffer from bloat.
Bloat is an unpleasant condition that often leads to death. It occurs when deep chested dogs, such as a German shepherd, eat a large meal and immediately get back to active work or play. As a result, the stomach fills with gas, flips over, and cuts off digestion.
Bloat can be prevented by feeding your pooch small meals every day. Two to three meals every day in smaller quantities, as opposed to one large meal, will keep you pooch active and bloat free. Also, ensure that your buddy takes a 30-minute rest after a meal.
A leading health concern in German shepherds is hip dysplasia. Hip dysplasia is a malformation of the hip joint. This health issue is further exacerbated when your pooch becomes overweight. Although no diet can cure this condition, a good diet that helps in the weight management of your pooch will certainly go a long way in managing hip dysplasia.
Feeding your German shepherd food containing glucosamine and chondroitin will help encourage the repair and maintenance of cartilage and connective tissue, thus reducing the chances of your pooch suffering from this condition.
In addition, a healthy quality food that is formulated with the right levels of protein, fat, and carbohydrates will ensure that your pooch stays active and develops lean muscle and optimal body mass. This also helps prevent or manage hip dysplasia in your GSD.
Other conditions German shepherds are prone to include:
- Stomach and skin sensitivities
- Degenerative myelopathy
Food & Ingredients To Avoid (& And How Much To Feed Your German Shepherd)
You’ve probably noticed that there’s a whole sea of dog foods out there. If you are not picky and keen on what sets them apart from each other, your German shepherd could end up battling specific conditions like abrupt allergies and digestive problems.
You already know the health problems this breed is prone to, from allergies and bloat to hip and elbow dysplasia. Avoiding the following ingredients is a great step towards minimizing the possibility of some of these issues:
- Animal byproducts
- Bone meal
- Corn syrup
- Expired meat
The general rule of thumb when it comes to your German shepherd is to avoid feeding him any ingredient that is not fit for human consumption.
Where feeding is concerned, German shepherds should be fed with a well-balanced diet that contains the right ingredient ratios that correspond to your dog’s life stage. It is also imperative that you feed your buddy with the correct portions of food.
As mentioned earlier, German shepherds are susceptible to bloat, so the best way to feed them is with smaller portions staggered throughout the day. For weaned puppies, this can be as much as four times a day, while for adults this can range between two to three times a day.
With such a feeding schedule of high-quality food and ensuring your dog takes a 30-minute break after eating before resuming intense activities, you can rest assured that your pooch will have little to no issues with bloat.
By avoiding all the above listed ingredients, you will drastically reduce the chances of your German shepherd developing allergies or stomach sensitivities.
How Much To Feed Your German Shepherd
Portions that you feed to your canine buddy are very much dependent on his age as well as the quality of dog food you are using. You can expect that pups will grow rapidly in the first 12 months, so it is imperative that they get adequate portions of high quality formulations.
Puppies Up To Six Weeks
Ideally, six-week-old puppies should still be nursing in order to continue receiving nourishment from mineral-rich mother’s milk. You would be hard pressed to find a dog food that can replicate or match the micro- and macro-nutrients as well as anti-bodies provided by a mother’s milk at this stage.
Eight to 10 Weeks
At this stage, you can start weaning your pup off mother’s milk and gradually introduce them to puppy food. An ideal puppy food is one that is 85% moisture as it prepares the puppies gut for the transition to solid food.
Puppies do not know how to regulate their food intake. For this reason, you should feed them up to four times a day with small portions of food.
When your German shepherd puppies hit the 12-week mark, you slowly transition them from wet food to dry food. This process should also be gradual in order to avoid diarrhea and vomiting. Start with incorporating 10% dry food mixed with the wet food and gradually increase the percentage of dry food by 5% after every week. Continue to feed small portions four times a day.
By this time, your puppy should be well accustomed to dry food. I recommend that you buy a puppy-specific food that will have the proper and vital ingredients that your dog needs for healthy muscle and skeletal growth. It is prudent to avoid all-life-stage dog food in favor of puppy food at this point. Continue to feed four times a day in small portions.
At this stage, you can introduce animal products into their diet. This could range from raw egg to actual bone and liver. This should be done in moderation to supplement their dry food to make up for any lacking nutrients. Feeding should be in small portions three to four times a day.
At this point, you can begin weaning your pooch off puppy food and help her gradually transition to adult dry dog food. Feed her small portions two to three times a day.
Whey your GSD gets to this milestone, their metabolism usually starts to slow down, and you will notice that they are eating less. Depending on how active your pooch is, feed her once to twice a day. If your pooch is leaving food in her bowl, reduce the portions slightly.
Now that you have the right knowledge on nutritional requirements as well as their potential health concerns, you’ll have an easy time figuring out the best food to feed German shepherds.
As outlined above, most of their health concerns can be approached and prevented from a dietary angle, while issues such as bloat can be minimized by feeding your dog several smaller portions multiple times a day. However, when in doubt, it is always recommended to seek the help of your vet to shed more light on your canine buddy’s situation.
With all the dog food recipes above, you have a solid foundation to start taking even better care of your pal.
Taste of the Wild High Prairie Puppy Formula Grain-Free Dry Dog Food, which is the best product overall on the list, promises to supply your young German shepherd with all the nutrients she requires to be fully healthy and happy. But if you want to be more specific in your selection, the rest of the foods in this review have you covered.