10 Best Dog Foods For German Shepherds (GSD’s) in 2019

Known for his intelligence and protective instinct, the German Shepherd is one of the most recognizable dogs breeds out there. These dogs have thick, double coats with pointed ears and bushy tails. They also have a fierce devotion to family while still being very child-friendly.

The German Shepherd is an active breed and not one to spend its days on the couch. In addition to being very active, these dogs require a significant amount of training. If you’re willing to put in the time and effort, however, they make wonderful family pets.

In this article, we’ll take a closer look at the German Shepherd breed and explore some of its unique dietary needs. We’ll also provide some tips for choosing the best food for German shepherd dogs and give you our top 10 picks.

What Do You Need to Know About German Shepherds?

First and foremost, you need to know that the German Shepherd is a large-breed dog. These dogs weigh anywhere from 50 to 90 pounds at maturity, and their needs for exercise are above average.

If you’re considering the German Shepherd breed, you should be prepared to put in a lot of time for training and socialization. These dogs are not aggressive by nature, but they are very protective, and their desire to protect their family can sometimes lead to dominant behavior toward other dogs and strangers. Because these dogs are highly intelligent, however, they respond very well to training, and they learn very quickly.

Another thing to consider about the German Shepherd is its thick double coat. The coat is medium-length and sheds constantly, so be prepared to do a lot of brushing and vacuuming. This breed doesn’t need to have its coat trimmed, but weekly brushing is necessary to keep shedding under control.

In terms of their personality and temperament, German Shepherds are fearless and confident. They need a firm hand in leadership from their owner along with early training and socialization. They get along with children very well and do best when they spend a lot of time with family. This breed can get along with other dogs when socialized from a young age but may not be the best choice for homes with cats. They do enjoy having a job to do and excel in a variety of dog sports.

Do They Have Any Special Dietary Needs?

All dogs require a healthy, balanced diet rich in protein and healthy fats. The German Shepherd is a large-breed dog, so protein is even more important to help him maintain lean muscle mass. As a puppy, you’ll need to control your German Shepherd’s fat and calorie intake to keep him from growing too fast because overgrowth in large breeds can lead to an increased risk for musculoskeletal problems.

Generally speaking, the German Shepherd is a fairly healthy breed. As is true for all dogs, however, poor breeding practices can increase the risk of genetic health problems. This, combined with the fact that the German Shepherd is a large breed, means that he is at risk for things like hip dysplasia, though responsible breeding can help keep that risk to a minimum.

Here are some of the other health problems to which the breed is prone:

  • Elbow dysplasia
  • Degenerative myelopathy
  • Exocrine pancreatic insufficiency
  • Allergies
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Eye problems

When it comes to dietary needs, most of the conditions on this list don’t have any special dietary implications. You do, however, need to be mindful of how much and how quickly your dog eats. Eating too quickly or too much at once puts your dog at risk for bloat, a life-threatening condition in which the stomach twists, cutting off blood flow to the organs.

Something else to be mindful of with the German Shepherd breed is the risk for allergies. The most common food allergens for dogs include beef, chicken, dairy, corn, and wheat. If you suspect that your dog has allergies, switch to a limited ingredient diet made with a novel source of protein and fat until all signs of the allergy dissipate. From there, you can introduce potential allergens one at a time until you find the problem or keep feeding your dog the LID.

What to Look for in a Good German Shepherd Dog Food

When it comes to choosing the best German Shepherd dog food, you need to make sure it is complete and balanced for your dog’s minimum nutritional requirements. Look for a recipe that is protein-rich with moderate fat and calorie content, unless your dog is highly active in which case, he may need more calories. Digestible carbohydrates provide fiber and essential nutrients with vitamin and mineral supplements to ensure nutritional balance.

Here are some things to look for in a good German Shepherd dog food:

  • Rich in animal protein. Protein provides the building blocks for strong muscles and lean mass and should be the foundation of your dog’s diet. Puppies need at least 22% protein and adults 18%, but more is better. Just make sure it comes from animal sources like poultry or meat.
  • Moderate fat content. Fat provides a concentrated source of calories as well as support for healthy skin and coat. Puppies need at least 8% and adults 5%, so look for a recipe that contains between 10% and 15%, ideally from animal sources with a blend of omega fatty acids.
  • Digestible carbohydrates. Whole grains, fruits, and vegetables provide fiber and essential nutrients but should not make up a significant portion of your dog’s diet. Look for digestible carbohydrates but make sure the focus is on animal proteins and fats.
  • Whole-food ingredients. The higher the quality of the ingredients in your dog’s food, the more nutritious and digestible it will be. Avoid artificial additives, fillers, and by-products at all costs.
  • Beneficial supplements. On top of protein, fat, and carbohydrates, you should make sure your dog’s food is nutritionally balanced through the use of vitamin and mineral supplements. Prebiotic fiber and probiotics are also beneficial supplements to see in dog food.

Now that you know more about your German Shepherd’s nutritional needs, you’re ready to start shopping for the best food for German Shepherd dogs. Keep reading to see our top 10 picks.

best puppy food for german shepherd puppies

The 10 Best German Shepherd Dog Foods

The best German Shepherd food will be rich in protein from high-quality animal sources with moderate fat and calorie content for energy. Make sure it is highly digestible, featuring whole-food ingredients, and free from fillers, byproducts, and artificial additives. If your dog has allergies or a sensitive stomach, a limited ingredient diet may be best.

Here’s our top pick for the best German Shepherd dog food:

NomNomNow Fresh Food Delivery

Overall Best German Shepherd Dog Food: The best way to keep your German Shepherd healthy for the long term is to feed him a balanced diet made from quality ingredients. Most pet experts agree that fresh food is one of the best options, and NomNomNow is the company to trust. This company makes fresh pet food perfectly portioned according to your dog’s calorie requirements and sends it to your door in automatic monthly shipments. You simply provide some information about your dog’s age and breed, then NomNomNow does the work. Every recipe is made with wholesome, natural ingredients and prepared in small batches to preserve the nutritional integrity of those raw ingredients. Choose from several recipes with different protein and fat ratios according to your dog’s needs.

  • Pros: Fresh food delivered to your door, made with wholesome natural ingredients, prepared in small batches, pre-portioned for your dog’s needs, no artificial additives, complete and balanced
  • Cons: Expensive compared to traditional kibble, not breed size-specific

Taste of the Wild Sierra Mountain Grain-Free Dry Food

Most Popular German Shepherd Dog Food: Choosing a dog food can be tough with so many options, but you can always go with a popular brand like Taste of the Wild. This Taste of the Wild Sierra Mountain Grain-Free Dry Food is a great choice for your German Shepherd because it is made with a single source of animal protein and digestible grain-free carbohydrates to reduce the risk of triggering an allergy. It features fresh lamb and lamb meal as the top two ingredients, supplemented with roasted lamb. It is rich in omega fatty acids from salmon oil and canola oil, providing the support needed for healthy skin and coat. This recipe contains fresh fruits and vegetables to provide natural sources for key nutrients and is supplemented with vitamins and chelated minerals to ensure optimal nutrition. Plus, it contains dried fermentation products for probiotic support to ensure healthy and regular digestion.

  • Pros: Single-source protein recipe, digestible grain-free carbohydrates, rich in omega fatty acids, fresh fruits and vegetables, chelated minerals, probiotics, moderate calorie content
  • Cons: Main source of fat is plant-based (canola oil)

American Journey Large-Breed Salmon & Sweet Potato Dry Food Recipe

Most Affordable German Shepherd Dog Food: The German Shepherd is a large-breed dog that requires a diet high in protein with moderate fat and calorie content to prevent obesity. This American Journey Large Breed Salmon & Sweet Potato recipe is a great option because it is highly affordable but still delivers quality nutrition. With fresh salmon as the first ingredient, this recipe provides 30% crude protein with just 12% fat and 365 calories per cup. It contains fresh fruits and vegetables to provide natural sources of key nutrients but is still supplemented with vitamins and chelated minerals for nutritional balance. This formula is rich in omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids to support your dog’s thick double coat with vitamin E for added support. Overall, it is a high-quality source of balanced nutrition that is also full of natural flavor.

  • Pros: Real salmon first ingredient, large-breed specific, digestible grain-free carbohydrates, fresh fruits and vegetables, rich in omega fatty acids, chelated minerals, probiotics, 30% protein
  • Cons: Main source of fat is plant-based (canola oil), not a single-source protein recipe

Holistic Select Large & Giant Breed Puppy Health

Best German Shepherd Dog Food for Puppies: Puppies grow up fast, so the quality of their diet matters greatly. If you’re looking for the best food for German Shepherd puppy, we recommend Holistic Select Large & Giant Breed Puppy Health Lamb Meal & Oatmeal Recipe. As a German Shepherd puppy food, this formula provides the optimal balance of quality protein and healthy fats to support your puppy’s growth and development. It features both lamb meal and chicken meal as concentrated sources of protein, with digestible whole grains like brown rice and oatmeal for carbohydrate support. It is loaded with fresh fruits and vegetables to provide natural sources for key nutrients, with vitamins and chelated minerals to ensure optimal nutritional balance. It also contains probiotics for healthy digestion, antioxidants for immunity, and DHA fatty acids for brain and eye development. Overall, it’s a great choice for your puppy!

  • Pros: Formulated for large breeds, concentrated source of animal protein, antioxidant-rich superfoods, digestible whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables, chelated minerals, probiotics
  • Cons: Not a grain-free recipe (some dogs may be sensitive)

Now Fresh Grain-Free Large Breed Senior Weight Management Recipe Dry Food

Best German Shepherd Dog Food for Seniors: As your German Shepherd gets older, his metabolism will slow down, and his risk for obesity increases. It is essential to provide him with a nutritious diet rich in protein but lower in fat and calories to help him maintain a healthy body weight. Our top pick is Now Fresh Grain-Free Large Breed Senior Weight Management Recipe Dry Food. This formula features a wide variety of fresh, natural ingredients to deliver a powerful punch of quality nutrition. It starts with fresh turkey as a lean source of animal protein with digestible carbohydrates like peas and potatoes. This recipe is rich in omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids to support your Shepherd’s skin and coat, plus it contains supplemental glucosamine and chondroitin for joint support. It is rich in antioxidants and contains plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables to provide natural sources for key nutrients, but it still supplemented for balance.

  • Pros: Rich in lean protein (25%), real turkey first ingredient, digestible grain-free carbohydrates, glucosamine and chondroitin for joint support, probiotics, chelated minerals, moderate fat/calories
  • Cons: Not a single-source protein recipe, may be too high in starch for some dogs

FirstMate Pacific Ocean Fish Meal Large Breed Formula

Best Food German Shepherd with Sensitive Stomach: Whether your dog has a sensitive stomach or food allergies, you need to be careful what you feed him. Our top pick for the best food for German Shepherd with sensitive stomach is FirstMate Pacific Ocean Fish Meal Large Breed Formula. This recipe is a single-source, novel-protein diet featuring Pacific Ocean fish meal. It contains grain-free carbohydrates like potato for maximum digestibility with vitamins and chelated minerals to ensure complete and balanced nutrition. It provides a blend of omega fatty acids for healthy skin and coat support and contains a very limited list of main ingredients. This recipe also comes in a larger kibble size, which helps control how much your German Shepherd can eat at once, and the nutrition is specifically formulated for large breeds. Plus, it contains glucosamine and chondroitin for bone and joint support.

  • Pros: Single source of novel protein, digestible grain-free carbohydrates, chelated minerals, blend of omega fatty acids, larger kibble size, glucosamine for joint support
  • Cons: Expensive compared to most dry foods

4 More Top-Rated German Shepherd Dog Foods

If the dog foods reviewed above don’t seem like the perfect fit for your German Shepherd, there’s no need to worry – there are plenty of other options! Here are four more top-rated German Shepherd dog foods we recommend:

Wellness Large Breed Complete Health Adult Deboned Chicken & Brown Rice Recipe

High protein content with moderate fat and calories is a recipe for balanced nutrition for your German Shepherd. We like this Wellness Large Breed Complete Health Adult Deboned Chicken & Brown Rice Recipe because it provides 26% protein with just 12% fat and 340 calories per cup. With fresh chicken as the first ingredient, it is a lean source of protein to support your dog’s lean muscle mass but not so high in fat or calories that your dog will gain too much weight. It contains digestible whole-grain carbohydrates like brown rice, barley, and oats with fresh fruits and vegetables to provide antioxidants as well as key nutrients. This recipe features probiotic supplements for healthy and regular digestion with chelated minerals for optimal nutrient absorption. Plus, it comes in a larger kibble size and contains the unique nutrient ratios large breeds need for optimal health.

  • Pros: Formulated for large breeds, rich in lean protein, moderate fat and calories, digestible whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables, chelated minerals, probiotics
  • Cons: Not a grain-free recipe (some dogs may be sensitive)

Merrick Backcountry Raw Infused Large Breed Recipe Dry Food

When it comes to quality nutrition, raw food is at the top of the spectrum with fresh food close behind. Unfortunately, raw food can be very expensive, and it is more difficult to store than dry food. That’s why we love this Merrick Backcountry Raw Infused Large Breed Recipe Dry Food – it provides the ideal blend of high-protein kibble and freeze-dried raw bites to give your dog a boost of nutrition without compromising on convenience. This recipe features fresh chicken as the first ingredient with freeze-dried chicken bites for taste, texture, and nutrition. It contains digestible grain-free carbohydrates like peas and potatoes with fresh fruits and vegetables for supplemental fiber as well as natural sources for key nutrients. This recipe provides a full 38% protein with 17% fat and 389 calories per cup. It is balanced with vitamins and chelated mineral supplements as well.

  • Pros: High-protein kibble with freeze-dried raw bites, real chicken first ingredient, digestible grain-free carbohydrates, fresh fruits and vegetables, probiotics for digestion, chelated minerals
  • Cons: Contains some plant protein (potato protein), not grain-free (some dogs may be sensitive)

Nutro Wholesome Essentials Large Breed Adult Farm-Raised Chicken Recipe

Lean protein and essential nutrients are the keys to optimal health for your German Shepherd and this Nutro Wholesome Essentials Large Breed Adult Farm-Raised Chicken Recipe has both. Featuring fresh farm-raised chicken as the first ingredient, this recipe is rich in lean protein to support your dog’s lean muscle mass. It also contains digestible whole-grain carbohydrates like whole brown rice and whole-grain sorghum for supplemental energy and fiber. This recipe contains natural sources of joint-supporting nutrients like glucosamine and chondroitin with plenty of fiber for healthy digestion. Dried fruits and vegetables provide natural sources of key nutrients while vitamins and chelated mineral supplements are included for balanced nutrition. Overall, this recipe provides 21% protein with 13% fat and 330 calories per cup and it is full of real chicken flavor your dog will love.

  • Pros: Real farm-raised chicken first ingredient, digestible whole-grain carbohydrates, dried fruits and vegetables, joint-supporting nutrients, chelated minerals
  • Cons: Not a grain-free recipe (some dogs may be sensitive)

Solid Gold Barking at the Moon High Protein Duck, Peas & Egg Recipe

If your German Shepherd is a working dog, both protein and fat are of the utmost importance. We like this Solid Gold Barking at the Moon High Protein Duck, Peas & Egg Recipe because it is specifically formulated to be loaded with these nutrients. It contains multiple sources of quality animal protein to provide a full 41% crude protein with 20% crude fat for energy. You’ll also be glad to know that it is a holistic recipe made with all-natural ingredients to maximize nutrition and digestibility. It contains grain-free carbohydrates like peas and chickpeas with fresh fruits and vegetables to provide natural sources for key nutrients. It also contains probiotic supplements for digestion with chelated minerals to ensure optimal nutrient absorption. Simply put, if you want to provide your dog with a high-quality, digestible source of balanced nutrition with a focus on protein and energy, this is a great option.

  • Pros: High in animal protein (41%), holistic natural recipe, digestible grain-free carbohydrates, rich in omega fatty acids, fresh fruits and vegetables, chelated minerals, probiotics
  • Cons: Contains some plant protein (pea protein), not a large-breed recipe

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. How much should I feed my German Shepherd? – The amount you feed your dog depends on his age and weight, but for the most part, you’ll be feeding your German Shepherd between 2.5 and 3.5 cups of food per day. The best thing to do is choose a high-quality dog food formulated for large breeds and to follow the feeding recommendations on the package. Keep an eye on your dog’s body weight and condition, making adjustments as needed so he doesn’t gain or lose too much weight.
  2. How often should I feed my German Shepherd? – Most dogs do well with two meals per day, one in the morning and one in the evening. When your German Shepherd is a puppy, he may need three smaller meals spaced throughout the day to support his growth and development. As his growth starts to slow, however, you should reduce to two meals a day to keep him from growing too fast.
  3. Do German Shepherds have food allergies? – Though all dogs have the potential to develop food allergies, German Shepherds have a slightly higher risk than is typical. These dogs can be allergic to just about any food ingredient, but common proteins and low-quality grains are the most common culprits. If you suspect that your dog has a food allergy, stop feeding what you’re feeding him and switch to a new food made with a novel source of protein and carbohydrate – a limited ingredient diet is best. Once your dog’s symptoms go away you can either take steps to identify the allergen and choose a new food or keep feeding him the LID.
  4. When should I switch my German Shepherd puppy to adult food? – Recommendations vary, especially for large breeds that may take more than 12 months to reach their full size. You should feed your German Shepherd large-breed puppy food for at least the first 6 to 18 months. From there, you can start paying attention to your dog’s weight and when his growth slows down, consider making the switch. Some veterinarians recommend waiting until your dog reaches about 80% of his expected adult size to transition onto adult dog food.
  5. Is a grain-free diet good for German Shepherds? – There is a great deal of controversy surrounding the use of grain-free diets for dogs due to a link with heart problems like dilated cardiomyopathy. The fact is that grain-free diets are not inherently healthier for your dog unless he is allergic or sensitive to grains. If you suspect that your dog might be, talk to your veterinarian about trying grain-free food and see if it solves his problems.

The German Shepherd is a large-breed dog with high intelligence and a great deal of energy. These dogs respond very well to training and love having a job to do, but they also love spending time with their family. If you want to enjoy your German Shepherd’s company for as long as possible, make sure you feed him a high-quality diet that provides for his nutritional needs.

Choosing a dog food can be tricky, but a large-breed dog food is a good place to start. If you’re still not sure what to look for, try one of our top-rated picks for the best German Shepherd dog food that we’ve reviewed above.

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