Looking for the best dog food for a German Shepherd puppy? Great! Because we’ve compiled a list of good options here.
A German Shepherd puppy is highly active, energetic puppies that extremely curious and like to explore their environment most of the time. To support their active lifestyle, this puppy requires different nutritional requirements that are different from other breeds. As a large breed dog, German Shepherd is prone to several health issues when they reach adulthood such as hip dysplasia.
And many of those health problems can be prevented and mitigated early by feeding your GSD the best dog food for a German Shepherd puppy that meets their nutritional requirements profile.
And in this article, you will learn everything that you need to know to find the best dog food for your German Shepherd puppy. Some of the things that you will learn include:
- What are the nutritional requirements of your GSD puppy?
- How fast your GSD puppy can grow?
- What to look for before buying food for German Shepherd puppy?
- What are the ingredients that your GSD puppy needs and which ones you must avoid?
- How much do you feed your puppy?
- What are different types of GSD foods available in the market?
- Stages of feeding a German Shepherd puppy.
- Different types of health problems for German Shepherds.
- And our review of the best dog foods for a German Shepherd puppy.
Best Dog Food for a German Shepherd Puppy – A Quick List
|Dog Food Name||Our Rank|
|1||Purina Beyond Natural Grain Free Ground Wet Dog Food||Best Canned/Wet Dog Food for German Shepherd Puppy|
|2||Nature’s Variety Instinct Original Canned Dog Food||Runner Up for Best Canned/Wet Puppy Food|
|3||Royal Canin German Shepherd Puppy Dry Dog Food||Best Dry Dog Food for German Shepherd Puppy|
|4||Orijen Large Puppy Formula Dog Food||Runner Up for The Best Dry Dog Food|
|5||Taste of The Wild Grain-Free High Praire Puppy Food||Optional Choice|
**Below, you’ll find our more detailed reviews, but you can also click the links above to see current prices or read customer reviews on Amazon.
- 1 Best Dog Food for a German Shepherd Puppy – A Quick List
- 2 What are a GSD Puppy’s Nutritional Requirements?
- 3 Protein
- 4 Fat
- 5 Carb
- 6 An Extra Nutrition – Vitamins and Minerals
- 7 Finding the Best Dog Food for a German Shepherd Puppy
- 8 Are you going to feed your puppy wet, dry, or raw dog food?
- 9 Canned vs Dry Dog Food
- 10 German Shepherd Puppy Feeding Stages
- 11 Look into the reputation of the brand you are considering
- 12 Pay attention to calories and macronutrient content
- 13 Top 5 Best Dog Foods for a German Shepherd Puppy
- 14 1. Best Wet Dog Food for German Shepherd Puppies – Purina Beyond Natural Grain Free Ground Wet Dog Food
- 15 2. Runner-Up for Best Wet Dog Food for German Shepherd Puppies – Nature’s Variety Instinct Original Grain Free Recipe Natural Wet Canned Dog Food
- 16 3. The Best Dry Dog Food for a German Shepherd Puppy – Royal Canin Breed Health Nutrition German Shepherd Puppy Dry Dog Food
- 17 4. Orijen Large Puppy Formula Dog Food
- 18 5. Taste of the Wild Grain-Free High Praire Puppy Food
- 19 How Much Do You Feed a German Shepherd Puppy?
- 20 Common Health Problems for German Shepherd
- 21 Conclusion
What are a GSD Puppy’s Nutritional Requirements?
Unlike other puppies, German Shepherd puppy grows so fast. Starting out at 1 lb at birth, they can grow by 50 times in just 6 months, and reach full growth at 1 or 2 years.
At 1 or 2 years old, a full grown male German Shepherds will reach a weight between 66 lbs and 88 lbs, while the female ones will grow up to be between 49 lbs and 71 lbs.
Because of such quick rate of growth, GSD puppy will need a healthy, balanced diet with a quality source of ingredients consisting a healthy blend of protein, fat, fiber, carb, vitamin and mineral. Not only they need to eat a high-quality dog food, they also need to eat a lot more than their adult counterpart — as much as two times more.
German Shepherds are carnivores, which mean they need more protein in their diet. Protein plays an important role in your GSD’s growth, it is used to support muscle strength, supply the necessary energy, and keep them strong and healthy.
It is recommended that GSD puppy should get at least of 22% protein in its diet. Some examples of healthy protein sources are Buffalo, Beef, Chicken, Turkey, Duck, Salmon, and Pork. When you read the list of ingredient in some dog food labels, you would often see “meal” and “deboned”, these are also a healthy protein source.
Protein sources that you would want to avoid include Meat, Poultry, and Animal. What about the “by-product”? Not all by-products are bad. In the hands of trustworthy brands, the phrase “by-product” can mean neck, tongue, and liver, which are good for your puppy.
Another important nutritional requirement for your GSD puppy is fat. Fat gives taste to your dog’s meal and becomes an important nutrition that keeps your dog’s coat healthy and shiny. The inclusion of fat in your dog’s diet becomes even more important especially when you consider German Shepherd is a breed which sheds a lot of fur throughout the year.
However, you should not overfeed your dog with fat. Pick dog foods that have just enough fat content to prevent so your puppy won’t become overgrowth. According to AAFCO, you should feed the dog food which contains 8% fat content for GSD puppy and 5% fat content for adult GSD.
Some healthy sources of fats that you would want to see in the ingredient list include chicken fat, coconut oil, salmon oil, flaxseed oil, canola oil, and herring oil. At some dog foods label, you would see the phrase “preserved by mixed tocopherols”, don’t get confused, it still a good fat that comes from vitamin E.
Bad sources of fats that you want to avoid include animal fat, fish oil, poultry fat, vegetable oil, and mineral oil.
Carb is a great source of fiber, which is useful to promote a healthy weight and keep your dog’s digestion system healthy. When we talk about carbs, the source of carbs is important. Ideally, you want to pick grain-free dog foods since German Shepherd can still suffer from allergies, and it is better to go with the safe side by picking the grain-free ones.
To keep your GSD’s blood sugar level low, you should pick low-carbs dog foods which use an alternate, low-glycemic carbs such as Barley, Oatmeal, Oats, Sweet Potatoes, Peas, Potatoes, Corn, Brown Rice, and Millets.
Avoid cheap fragments and fillers such as Cereal Fines, Potato Product, Mill Run, Fermentation Solubles, and Brewers Rice. They are all do nothing and only used to lower the cost of production.
An Extra Nutrition – Vitamins and Minerals
Aside from getting high-quality sources of protein, fat, and carb, your dog also needs a variety of vitamins and minerals. The most important ones are glucosamine and chondroitin that support strong joints. They are essential for preventing hip dysplasia which is the musculoskeletal problem often experienced by a German Shepherd.
L-carnitine and calcium are essential since they support bone health.
You would like to see the inclusion of Omega-3 and 6 in your puppy’s diet. These fatty acids support brain and eyes development, promote heart health, and keep the GSD’s skin and coat healthy.
Prebiotics and probiotics are also essential to include in your dog’s diet since they aid in your dog’s digestion.
Finally, fruits and vegetables which are essential to aid your dog’s immune system. Some healthy fruits and vegetables you want to feed your puppy with include raspberries, blueberries, spinach, pumpkin, carrots, blackberries, squash, broccoli, etc.)
Finding the Best Dog Food for a German Shepherd Puppy
There’s no such thing as a “one-size-fits-all” puppy food, especially when you’re dealing with a breed like the German Shepherd.
These puppies are going to grow very quickly and are going to need the nutrients to support that growth. Without the right puppy food helping them develop normally and naturally, these German Shepherds are inevitably going to have to deal with a lot more health problems than they might have had to otherwise.
Combine that with the fact that the sheer volume of puppy food options out there on the market today is overwhelming in of itself and you’ll soon see why it can be so challenging to find the best dog food for a German Shepherd puppy.
That’s where this quick guide to comes into play!
Below we highlight all of the things you want to look for any quality puppy food for your new German Shepherd. Use these tips and tricks while you research different options and you’ll have nothing to worry about!
Are you going to feed your puppy wet, dry, or raw dog food?
Right out of the gate, you’ll have to decide whether or not you’re going to feed your new German Shepherd puppy wet dog food (from the can, for example), dry dog food (the kibble most of us are familiar with), or raw dog food (the kind of dog food that they would have eaten if they were born before commercial dog food was even thought of).
For a couple of different reasons, you’ll want to consider eliminating raw dog food right out of the gate – at least initially.
Raw dog food can be a smart move for you to feed adult German Shepherds, particularly if your German Shepherd has begun to show signs of dealing with food allergies, but developing puppies need ALL of the nutrients and minerals that commercial dog foods make effortlessly available.
Trying to match commercial dog food in this department is going to require a lot of work on your end and a lot of money.
Choosing between wet and dry dog food is really going to come down to your personal choice, the options that you are considering as far as brands are concerned, and the overall nutritional value that these choices present.
Wet dog food can be especially useful for very young puppies, particularly when you are trying to transition from mushed up puppy chow to adult food, but most people end up with dry dog food.
Canned vs Dry Dog Food
So which one is better canned or dry dog food? Wet or canned dog food is healthier than dry dog food but it is more expensive and can’t be stored for too long. It is made up of 80% water which means your dog won’t be dehydrated so your dog can quickly digest and withdrew the nutrients. It also contains a higher content of protein and fat and a lower amount of carbs so you will minimize the risk of your puppy getting overgrowth.
What about dry dog food?
Dry dog food is the most popular type of dog food among dog owners. It is convenient, cheaper, and has more quantity in one bag than wet food. However, the more quantity of dog food that you get is because it has a very little quantity of water in it. As a result, in the long run, this type of food can cause dehydration and liver problems.
Experts around the world agree to feed your dog with both types of foods.
German Shepherd Puppy Feeding Stages
In the following section, we give you the best practice on how to feed your dog with both types of food.
At 6 weeks old, your puppy should still be nursing from their mother. We don’t recommend to bring 6 weeks old puppy home. They still need all the nutrients and the natural antibodies that can only be provided by the mother’s milk.
As the puppy grows, at 10 weeks old, you can begin weaning them off of their mother. You want to start feeding them with canned/wet dog food.
At 12 weeks old, you can slowly transition from canned food to dry food. Start by mixing 10% dry food into wet food then slowly increase the proportion by 10% – 15% each week after. This slow transition helps to prepare your puppy’s digestion system and prevent your puppy from getting excessive diarrhea.
At 3 months old, your GSD puppy should be able to eat dry food mostly.
At 4 months old, you can begin to feed your puppy with additional sources of healthy ingredients such as actual bones, liver, and raw eggs to supplement extra nutrients that may not be found in dry food.
By 5 months old, your puppy should be able to fully consume dry food along with the extra ingredients that you’ve begun feeding them.
At 8 months old, you can begin transitioning them from puppy dog food to adult dog food. Remember once again, you want the transition to be as smoothly as possible. You can start mixing 10% of their new food with 90% of their old food and increase the proportion by 10% – 15% each week after.
At 1 year old, your puppy should have adjusted to their new adult food.
Look into the reputation of the brand you are considering
Different dog food companies are considered to be better (or worse) than others, and you’ll definitely want to do your fair share of research and due diligence before you pull the trigger on a specific brand of puppy food.
Some dog food companies are made with filler ingredients that will tear up your puppies sensitive stomach, and others might have ingredients or chemicals that keep the natural food allergies many German Shepherds have into high gear.
You also have to worry about dog food companies with quality control issues. Companies manufacturing food in China, for example, have been slapped with numerous penalties and sanctions because of the dangerous ingredients they were adding to dog and puppy food – and some of these companies have been linked to puppy and dog deaths from the food they ate, too.
It’s always a good idea to look into getting puppy food from a company that has undergone AAFCO feeding trials.
This certification guarantees that the diet is perfect for dogs, that there are no deficiencies discovered, and that there aren’t any specific ingredients in these dog foods that should cause trouble for your dog’s health and wellness.
Companies that have AAFCO certifications usually invest significantly in scientific research and even consult with a veterinarian nutritionists when they cook up their dog food formulation, making them a very smart choice for those that want to feed their puppies the very best available.
Pay attention to calories and macronutrient content
Puppy food should obviously be higher in calories per serving, simply because these dogs need a lot more fuel and a lot more energy as they go through their growth spurt.
About half the calories consumed by German Shepherd puppies are going to be spent on tissue growth and development, and you’ll want to make sure that your dog is getting plenty of calories to support the naturally sped up development of the German Shepherd breed.
You’ll also want to look into protein, carbohydrate, and fat ratios. These are the macronutrient content details included on every bag of dog food. Puppies should have a slightly higher level of protein than adult dogs, again to help them build their bodies while they go through their adolescent growth spurt.
As a general rule, it’s a good idea to stay away from puppy food for German Shepherds that include filler agents like potatoes and grains. Grain-free puppy food options are some of the best available, as this is where the overwhelming majority of German Shepherd allergies from food are going to come from.
You should also pay attention carefully to calcium to phosphorus ratio contained inside the puppy food. Calcium and phosphorus are essential minerals for your puppy and having phosphorus and calcium deficiency and excess can lead to serious orthopedic problems. According to study, GSD puppy foods should have a calcium to phosphorus ratio of about 1.2 parts calcium to 1 part phosphorus.
Use the inside information we highlighted above and you shouldn’t have any trouble at all finding the best dog food for your new furry little family member!
Top 5 Best Dog Foods for a German Shepherd Puppy
1. Best Wet Dog Food for German Shepherd Puppies – Purina Beyond Natural Grain Free Ground Wet Dog Food
Purina Beyond Natural Grain Free Ground Wet Dog Food is our top pick for the best food for German Shepherd Puppies. This wet food has been gained rave reviews from many dog owners for years. It is all natural wet dog food with extra vitamins and minerals to support your puppy’s nutritional requirement.
It is made using real beef, chicken, and salmon as the #1 ingredients to support healthy muscle and supply the necessary energy to maintain your puppy’s daily activities.
The food is also grain free and gluten free. More and more dog food companies today are using grains in their formula to make the dog food cheaper. But it is not healthy and should be avoided as grains are bad for dogs with sensitive stomach and they don’t provide the same level nutritional value as other forms of carbohydrates. Therefore, it is best to stick with grain free dog food though the price may be higher.
Not only grains, Purina has also made a decision to exclude other low-quality forms of carbohydrates such as corn, wheat, and soy. And it utilizes no animal byproducts, artificial flavorings, colors, or preservatives to make your puppy growing up healthy.
2. Runner-Up for Best Wet Dog Food for German Shepherd Puppies – Nature’s Variety Instinct Original Grain Free Recipe Natural Wet Canned Dog Food
Nature’s Variety Instinct Original Canned Dog Food comes in second in our Best Wet Dog Food list. However, in the future, we may move the dog food to no 1 spot since we have heard so many good reviews and experienced good things about this one.
It is a high animal protein, grain-free recipe dog food offering 7 different available flavors at the time of writing — small breed beef, small breed chicken, beef, chicken, duck, rabbit, venison. Each flavor uses real meat as the #1 ingredient, for example, the Beef flavor uses the USA raised beef and chicken flavor uses cage-free chicken as the first ingredient.
Other ingredients include fruits and vegetables and other finest ingredients from around the world necessary for puppy’s development. And the food is grain free and contains no low-quality form of carbohydrates such as potato, corn, wheat, and soy.
3. The Best Dry Dog Food for a German Shepherd Puppy – Royal Canin Breed Health Nutrition German Shepherd Puppy Dry Dog Food
There are not many dog foods on the market tailored specifically for German Shepherd puppies such as Royal Canin German Shepherd Puppy Dry Dog Food. The manufacturer has done a great job to make the dog food that supports all of the puppies’ nutritional requirements and taking into account all the puppies’ possible health problems.
Some of the ingredients include a chicken-by-product meal, brewers rice, brown rice, wheat gluten, fish oil and other important ingredients for GSD such as glucosamine, and chondroitin. Glucosamine and chondroitin are important to strengthen bone and joint.
Providing the right nutrition for their bones and joints from a young age is important for German Shepherd puppies to avoid possible musculoskeletal problems such as Hip Dysplasia later in life, which is common among large breed dogs such as German Shepherd.
Another thing that we like about this food is the addition of a blend of chelated minerals and vitamin B complex which are essential ingredients to keep your GSD pup’s skin and fur stay healthy and shiny. There is also a mixture of antioxidants and vitamins that can boost your pup’s immune system to fight off sickness and immunity disorders.
However, the price is not cheap but rather than competing on the price by lowering their quality, Royal Canin has decided to set themselves apart by providing a high-quality dog food that your pup would love to chew right away.
4. Orijen Large Puppy Formula Dog Food
Orijen Large Puppy Formula Dog Food is one of the best dog foods in the market geared toward the needs of large breed puppies. It is made with Orijen’s proven formula composed of 85% meat and 15% fruits and vegetables, which makes it a perfect choice for carnivores such as German Shepherd.
Aligned with its own formula, the first 10 ingredients in this grain-free food are composed of meat or meat-based foods which include deboned chicken, deboned turkey, yellowtail flounder, whole eggs, whole Atlantic mackerel, chicken liver, turkey liver, chicken heart, turkey heart, and whole Atlantic herring.
There is also zinc supplement added to the food. Zinc is known to have so many benefits such as supporting the immune system, promoting skin health, and keeping the pup’s digestive tract healthy. Aside from zinc, Orijen also provides superior complex carbs in this formula such as squash, pumpkin, and beetroot which provide an energy for your pup and maintain energy levels after each meal. Not forget to mention this superior complex carb also has an extra benefit of keeping your pup’s digestive tract stay healthy.
5. Taste of the Wild Grain-Free High Praire Puppy Food
Taste of The Wild Grain-Free High Praire Puppy Food is another popular dog food that we have been personally used for several years. The manufacturer’s idea is quite appealing actually, they try to make a dog food that mimics your GSD’s ancestral diet. To support that idea they use 100% real roasted meat flavor, roasted bison & Venison, that will make your dog salivate over and over again whenever they see the food in their bowl.
It is grain-free and contains high-quality fiber sources such as peas and sweet potatoes that help to keep your dog’s stomach running smoothly. And if you remember from our guidelines above, high-quality fiber source is also a high-quality carb, and the carb is useful to maintain your pup’s energy levels and activity between meals.
The food is also supplemented with fruits and vegetables to give your pups the necessary vitamins and minerals that they need. Not forget to mention the inclusion of other important ingredients such as antioxidants, Omega-3, and Omega-6 fatty acids, and probiotics are enough to make this dog food as one of the best dog food for GSD puppies with a sensitive stomach in the market.
But to be fair and honest, we have to remind you the product went through a recall period a few years ago because many of their products had been expired, and became rancid. Make sure to check the expiration date when the food arrives at your home.
How Much Do You Feed a German Shepherd Puppy?
A good rule of thumb is to read the instruction on the dog food label. However, we will give you a general guideline here on how much do you feed your puppy.
German Shepherd puppy eats a lot more than adult or senior GSD. They usually require a regular feeding schedule of about three to four times a day spaced throughout the day. As a rough estimate, a GSD puppy that weighs about 10 lb. to 30 lb. should be fed 1-2 cups of food daily that means half a cup during each meal if you feed your puppy 4 times a day.
Common Health Problems for German Shepherd
Knowing some common health problems for German Shepherd is important. This website provides a complete list of common health problems for GSD that you should know. And we can tell you by feeding your puppy the right diet in the right way combined with doing regular exercises you can minimize their risk of getting one of those health problems.
Getting the right diet for your puppy since a young age is important for their development. Before feeding your puppy with any dog food we reviewed above, we strongly encourage you to consult with the vet first since different puppies may have different needs and requirements.