The best dog food for a German Shepherd should deliver the right balance of proteins and fats, energy-giving carbohydrates and healthy supplements. This is to aid and maintain a healthy growth and prevent problems in later years. Below is a shortlist of our best-rated dry dog foods available today.
In addition if you want to give your German Shepherd puppy the best start in life, then skip here to check out our top recommendations.
German Shepherds are large, high-energy dogs with a big appetite so they need healthy protein as a main part of their diet to maintain their energy. Owners should feed them high quality dry dog food. Many owners supplement their diet with healthy fruits and vegetables to make sure they are getting the best nutrition possible.
It is also not good to stray too much from the dry food diet, since they are formulated specially to make sure dogs get all the vitamins and minerals that they need. Dogs should always have a bowl of fresh, clean water available to them as well.
How much to feed a German Shepherd?
Depending on your own German Shepherd's age, size and activity level, the recommended feed is between 280g and 530g of good quality dry food each day.
German Shepherds tend to rush their food causing them digestive problems. So, it is vital to manage their eating habits by dividing their food evenly into smaller and frequent meals.
One caveat German Shepherds, tend to grow very quickly so avoid having your puppy on puppy-specific diet for more than 6 months. Go ahead and make the switch to an adult brand after 6 months of age and this will help to prevent bone and joint issues often related to rapid growth.
If you are concerned about how much should a German Shepherd puppy eat in terms of the exact nutritional needs and caloric requirements it's best to talk to your veterinarian.
In general a German Shepherd puppy should eat a diet which consists of 22% protein and 8% fat while an adult should be fed on a diet consisting 5% fat and 18% protein.
Since they are a large breed, German Shepherds will need to eat more daily than smaller dog breeds. The best way for owners to figure out how much to feed their Alsatian is to go by the recommended feeding instructions on the chosen dog food packaging or to talk to a vet.
Nutrition Guidelines for German Shepherd puppies
Diet is very important in the growing months of a Shep’s young life. Your pup will eat a lot of food from birth right up to about six months old and will require as much as four times more than your average GSD adult. After six months, you can start reducing their food intake to about to about two meals a day.
Thus, it’s important that you stick to “puppy food” as this is higher in protein, vitamins, minerals and fats all essential for your pup’s health and growth. However regular food which is labelled “for all life stages” will also equally work.
Ensure all foods meet the required AAFCO (Association of American Feed Control Officials) nutrient standards.
For GSD puppies experts recommend a diet specifically designed for large-breeds in order to help prevent the development of hip dysplasia and other joint issues. With this in mind we recommend premium dry foods for your German Shepherd puppy that have a good history of recall-free and customer advocacy.
Best Dog Food for Adult German Shepherds
1. Blue Buffalo Life Protection Chicken & Brown Rice
First Five Ingredients: Deboned Chicken, Chicken Meal (source of Glucosamine and Chondroitin Sulfate), Brown Rice, Barley, Oatmeal.
Blue Buffalo Life Protection Chicken & Brown Rice is a holistic formula featuring deboned chicken, whole grains, and healthy fruits and vegetables for a balanced, healthy diet. BLUE’s exclusive LifeSource Bits are a great way to ensure your Shepherd is getting all the vitamins, mineral, and antioxidants he needs. BLUE works hard to provide owners the option to really feed their dogs like they would any other family member, meaning no fillers or harmful by-products. This recipe features 378 calories per cup, 24% protein and 14% fat.
"No digestion issues, weight is perfect and coat is healthy and soft due to the added omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids" is what one reviewer writes. This holistic kibble is also helpful for German Shepherds with skin allergies - since it helps improve skin and stomach issues. Switching to a holistic food like Blue Buffalo can make all the difference in keeping your German Shepherd active, happy, and healthy. If you’re looking for an all-around great dry food that fits the nutritional needs of your GSD - Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula Adult Chicken & Brown Rice Recipe Dry Dog Food is an excellent choice.
2. Taste of the Wild High Prairie Roasted Bison & Venison
First Five Ingredients: Buffalo (source of a high levels of protein and iron), Lamb Meal, Chicken Meal, Sweet Potatoes, Peas.
Taste of the Wild High Prairie is another excellent brand that comes highly recommended made with real roasted Bison and Venison as two high quality protein sources that will help give a German Shepherd all the energy it needs as a large breed dog but without the added calories. This blend is supplemented with fruits and vegetables to make sure that dogs are getting the proper amounts of important vitamins and minerals, plus antioxidants for a healthy immune system. This brand is grain free so owners don’t have to worry about the food triggering avoidable allergies and sensitivities.
This blend also contains glucosamine for joint support and a balance of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids for healthy skin and coat. It features 370 calories per cup, 32% protein and 18% fat. Owners who switched to using Taste of the Wild have found that their dogs have stopped suffering from problems as wide and varied as seizures, skin conditions, and lack of energy. High Prairie is great for larger, active dogs like GSD's since it is high in protein but low in calories and fat and a cost-effective option for larger dogs who need to eat more.
3. Orijen Original Grain-Free Dry Dog Food (All life stages)
First Five Ingredients: Fresh chicken meat (13%), fresh turkey meat (7%), fresh whole eggs (7%), fresh chicken liver (6%), fresh whole herring (6%).
Orijen Adult Dry Dog Food is often a popular choice among dog owners despite the fact they only make two types of dog food: freeze dried food and dry food. However, within these two types there are at least 7 formulas of dry food catering puppies, adults and senior dogs. You have your regular dry kibble and the freeze dried food is basically rehydrated and used as wet food. This blend has high proteins levels - 38% richly nourishing protein and a limited 19% carbohydrates.
Is Orijen the best dog food for German shepherds? The answer lies in the composite of their meat content. Each Orijen formula contains around 75 and 80% meat protein of 50% of which is fresh meat. This recipe features 449 calories per cup, 38% protein and 18% fat. This all life stages formula is AAFCO approved and can be fed to your GSD puppy, senior or adult dog.
Orijen however isn’t the best affordable dog food for German Shepherds since it's pricier than our first few recommendations however it is a high-quality kibble if you can afford it. Owners should be aware that the different flavors and varieties of each Orijen dog formula will cause prices to vary. With that said a bag of Orijen weighing around 28.6 lb should last your German Shepherd a month as long as you stick to feeding your GSD around 2 cups of food a day (depending on weight).
4. Merrick Real Buffalo, Beef & Sweet Potato
First Five Ingredients: Deboned Buffalo, Chicken Meal, Turkey Meal, Deboned Beef, Sweet Potatoes.
Fourth on our list of the best German Shepherd food is a product from Merrick and out of their 11 dry dog foods blends we recommend Merrick Grain-Free Real Buffalo, Beef and Sweet Potato to feed your GSD.
This formula is primarily made from deboned buffalo and has a good balance of 70% meat protein and 30% fresh produce ingredient ratio and is rich in Omega 6, Omega 3, chondroitin, and glucosamine which makes up the required macronutrients in a German Shepherd’s diet. It too has high levels of protein with 38% proteins yet low fats of 16% and features 403 calories per cup.
Enthusiastically recommended by other pet parents especially those with dogs that are prone to skin issues and sensitive digestions wishing to swap to a low-carb yet high-protein diet. Merrick Real Buffalo, Beef & Sweet Potato is an excellent alternative of dry kibble for German Shepherds as it is a cheaper alternative to Orijen yet still high in quality proteins.
5. Wellness CORE Grain Free Large Breed Chicken & Turkey
First Five Ingredients: Deboned Chicken, Chicken Meal, Turkey Meal, Potatoes, Peas.
If you are looking for another great grain-free food for your German Shepherd, we recommend Wellness CORE Grain Free Large Breed Chicken & Turkey blend. It is 100% gluten- and grain-free, made in the USA and has raving reviews from owners alike. It comes in a larger kibble size and has added WellFlex system for joint support, crucial to a GSD for preventing hip dysplasia down the road.
This formula is high in protein 34% and low in fat 12% which will keep your German Shepherd slim if he is overweight coming in at only 346 kcal/cup.
The formula also contains glucosamine and chondroitin to help keep your German Shepherd’s joints and bones healthy reduce their likelihood of developing canine hip dysplasia and arthritis.
In addition this dog food contains antioxidants, omega fatty acids, probiotics and is gluten-free. We think Wellness is a very good grain free dog food for your German Shepherd.
Best Dog Food for a German Shepherd Puppy
If you are looking for a great all-around puppy food, Orijen is a great choice. This chicken, turkey, fish and eggs recipe is highly appealing and palatable to dogs (which is key when it comes to hyperactive GSD puppies who get easily distracted) and is easy to digest.
This Chicken & Brown Rice recipe contains Omega 3 & 6 fatty acids for healthy skin and coat, along with added calcium to help your puppy build strong bones and joints- it contains NO chicken (or poultry) by-product meals, corn, wheat, soy, artificial flavors or preservatives - none of the nasties we want to avoid for growing puppies.
This grain free puppy food with freeze dried raw cage-free chicken is loaded with calcium & phosphorus to help your puppy build strong bones and joints and includes probiotics and omegas offering a complete and balanced diet for German Shepherd puppies.
A quick look at the German Shepherd breed
Here are some German Shepherd facts that may help you to understand why this working dog is one of my favorite of the big dog breeds. The Alsatian as it is also commonly known is very versatile because they can be very dedicated to their work and still be a great companion.
The German Shepherd was the first dog breed to be used as a guide for the blind. They are one of the most popular dog breeds in the world today. Part of that has to be because they are such cute puppies when they are young. I know that all puppies are cute, but German Shepherd puppies are right up there at the top of the list.
The German Shepherd is highly intelligent, very adaptable, energetic, strong and dependable. They demonstrate great agility with tremendous stamina. If you notice any signs of aggression in your pup, it is important to address it as soon as you can. Read more about controlling aggression in German Shepherds here.
They are obedient and quick to learn, making them a rather easy dog to train. They are especially talented at tracking, agility, fly-ball, and ring sport. They are commonly and effectively used in Police and Military work, Search and Rescue, and as a seeing eye dog.
An important fact is that German Shepherds require strenuous exercise and enjoy going for walks, family play sessions, and having a large area to run freely in. German Shepherds grow from cute puppies to big, strong, loyal dogs that can be a beloved member of your family.
German Shepherd health issues and dietary fixes
Arthritis is a very common problem in dogs, but also one that often isn’t diagnosed until some irreversible damage is done. Once there is damage to the joints, they can’t be fixed without surgery. The best way for owners to treat arthritis is by giving their dogs supplements or buying foods with Glucosamine, Chondroitin, Sulphate and MSM which are natural sugars and help preserve joints. These ingredients help reduce painful inflammation and assist in tissue repair and strengthening.
Bloating in German Shepherds is quite common and is a problem that occurs when a dog’s stomach dilates and then twists, causing issues like damage to the cardiovascular system and decreased absorption of nutrients in the blood stream.
This problem is more common in large dogs. Owners can work to prevent bloating by not overfeeding their dogs or exercising them too soon after eating.
Choose foods without common allergens such as wheat, beef, lamb and soya as these may contribute to digestive problems as well as skin problems.
Von Willebrand’s disease
Von Willebrand’s disease is a common inherited bleeding disorder in dogs that is like hemophilia in humans. Dogs with this disease are deficient in vWF, which helps with blood clotting when an injury occurs.
Some symptoms of Von Willebrand’s disease include nose bleeds, bleeding from the gums, excessive bruising, and prolonged bleeding after surgery or injury. Although more severe cases may need transfusions, most dogs can live normal lives with this disease as long as their owners monitor them for any problem signs.
It can be quite overwhelming to find the best German Shepherd dog food with so many choices to select from.
However, to keep your GSD, be it a puppy or adult, alert and active and their coats have a noticeable shine and to keep their stools nice and firm we recommend that you look for dog foods that contain natural high quality ingredients along with the following:
Are you a proud mom or dad to a GSD? What food have you found suits your pup best? Let us know in the comments below.
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