If you are in a hurry and just want to find out what the best dog food for German Shepherds is, then we recommend the Holistic Select Natural Dry Food as the best one as for German Shepherd puppies we recommend the Royal Canin German Shepherd Puppy Dry Food.
With so many different dog foods out there, it can sometimes feel overwhelming trying to decide which one is best suited for your German shepherd.
And to further complicate things, you need to decide whether you want to feed your German shepherd wet or dry food. Not forget to mention there are dozens of dog food recalls each year, which only added to the confusion.
But fear not! In this article, I reviewed dozens of dog food brands to find the best one for your German shepherds based on the quality of ingredients, customer reviews, costs, and other considerations. Read on to see my top picks.
Our Picks for The Best Dog Foods for German Shepherds
- Holistic Select Natural Dry Dog Food — Best Overall
- Royal Canin German Shepherd Puppy Dry Dog Food — Best for German Shepherd Puppies
- Purina Pro Plan Sensitive Skin and Sensitive Stomach Dry Dog Food
- Wellness Complete Health Natural Dry Dog Food, Whitefish & Sweet Potato
- Taste of the Wild Wet Canned Stew Dog Food
Best OverallHolistic Select Natural Dry Dog Food
Best for GSD PuppiesRoyal Canin German Shepherd Puppy Dry Dog Food
|Purina Pro Plan Sensitive Skin and Sensitive Stomach Dry Dog Food|
|Wellness Complete Health Natural Dry Dog Food, Whitefish & Sweet Potato|
|Taste of the Wild High Prairie Canned Dog Food|
Important FDA Alert: some dog food brands such as Taste of The Wild are under FDA investigation for a potential link between a grain-free diet and canine heart disease known as taurine-deficient dilated cardiomyopathy.
The FDA hasn’t advised dog owners to change their dogs’ diets, but if you feel unsure whether or not you should switch to non grain-free food, we advise you to consult with licensed veterinarians. Click here for more details.
Best Dog Food for German Shepherds Reviews
1. Best Overall: Holistic Select Natural Dry Dog Food
The Holistic Select pet company has been in existence for ten years. Their product line includes a wide variety of dry foods and canned foods, and The Holistic Select Natural Adult Dry Food was selected to represent the other products in the line for these German Shepherd food reviews.
The formula is grain-free and made with real chicken without any by-product meals, wheat, gluten, artificial ingredients or preservatives, which makes it a good option for large breed dogs with food allergies or sensitivities.
In addition to being loaded with wholesome ingredients, it includes the Holistic Select’s unique Digestive Health Support System that supplements a unique blend of healthy fibers, active probiotics, and digestive systems.
- Although pricey, many dog owners of dogs with digestive problems have reported a significant health improvement after switching their dog’s food to Holistic Select.
- Additionally, at a time of writing, the Holistic Select hasn’t had any recall yet.
- A few owners feel that the kibble is relatively small for their German shepherds, which causes the dogs to gulp their foods rather than chew them.
2. Best for GSD Puppies: Royal Canin German Shepherd Puppy Dry Dog Food
There are not many dog foods on the market tailored specifically for German Shepherd puppies like the 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 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.
- The Royal Canin German Shepherd Puppy contain the correct balance of nutrients, vitamins and minerals that your German Shepherd puppy needs to grow.
- 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 high-quality dog food that your pup would love to chew right away.
3. Purina Pro Plan Sensitive Skin and Sensitive Stomach Dry Dog Food
The Purina company has been around for more than 85 years and produces a number of products. With over 2,500 positive reviews, The Purina Pro Plan FOCUS Sensitive Skin & Stomach is one of their best selling products.
You can choose either dry or wet food options, and your dog can try two different flavors: a lamb with oatmeal and salmon with rice. This formula is packed with high-quality protein sources and contains in total 26% minimum protein content, primarily from real meats with no poultry by-product meal.
It contains no allergenic grains like wheat, corn, and soy, so there is less risk of your dog getting an upset stomach. Plus, it is also rich in omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, which help to promote skin, coat, and joint health.
- This dog food is affordable and packets with high-quality ingredients.
- The recipe includes glucosamine (which is good for joint health) and extra vitamins.
- A few owners complained that the food does not contain any probiotics.
4. Wellness Complete Health Natural Dry Dog Food, Whitefish & Sweet Potato
If you’re looking for the best food to feed your senior German shepherd, this Wellness Complete Health Chicken and Oatmeal dog food can be a great choice.
This dog food formula relies on a chicken as its main source of protein and wholesome brown rice for carbohydrate support. Blueberries, flaxseeds, and peas are mixed in with the recipe to stimulate healthy digestion and bolster the immune system.
Not only that, but this formula also contains glucosamine and chondroitin that support healthy joints and help improve mobility, so that you can still take your senior German shepherd to play at the parks.
As many senior German shepherds are prone to grain allergies, it’s another good thing that there are no wheat, corn, or soy, as well as zero artificial flavors, colors, or preservatives.
- So far, most dog owners seem to agree that this product represents good value for money. Unlike many other foods at this price point, this formula comes with many high-quality ingredients.
- A few owners reported a number of issues with the packaging.
5. Taste of the Wild Grain Free Real Meat Recipe Premium Wet Canned Stew Dog Food
Taste of the Wild canned food is a great choice if your dog prefers wet food over dry dog food.
This dog food comes packed full of real meat, and a selection of palatable fruits and vegetables, including sweet potatoes, blueberries, and peas. This mixture is combined with a rich, savory gravy, which makes a lot of German shepherds drooling at the sight or smell of the food.
As a group, they offer a variety of flavors such as bison, salmon, lamb, wild boar, and roasted duck, all of which contain no artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives.
Based on its ingredient panel, Taste of The Wild wet food has high protein, below-average fat, and below-average carbs when compared to other canned dog foods.
- Taste of The Wild Canned Food packs an impressive protein punch, with the main ingredients composed of meat or meat meal.
- Additionally, several owners also reported that this formula helped improve their dog’s stools.
- A few owners noticed that the texture is not consistent from can to can, other than that their dogs seem to love it.
6. Wag Dry Dog Food
The Wag Brand is Amazon’s private label brand. All recipes are formulated with the help of veterinarians and come in a bunch of different flavors that your German shepherd will love, including beef, lamb, and turkey.
This recipe contains 35% protein from real meat. All of the meats are sourced from the U.S., and only the lamb is sourced from Australia. It also grain-free, so you don’t have to worry about grain allergies.
The carbohydrates come in the form of potatoes, and there is a variety of nutritious vegetables and superfoods like lentils, peas, salmon oil, and flaxseed.
- Overall, it’s good food for the price. The ingredient lists look good, and it’s cheaper than other canine foods of similar quality.
- Some owners reported that their dogs did not digest it so well.
7. Purina Beyond Grain-Free Ground Entrees Adult Wet Dog Food Variety Pack
This wet dog 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 a 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.
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 by-products, artificial flavorings, colors, or preservatives to make your puppy growing up healthy.
8. Instinct Original Wet Canned Dog Food
Nature’s Variety Instinct Original Canned Dog Food 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 a puppy’s development. And the food is grain-free and contains no low-quality form of carbohydrates such as potato, corn, wheat, and soy.
9. ORIJEN Dry Dog Food, Puppy Large
The Orijen Large Puppy Formula Dog Food is one of the best foods for 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 a 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 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.
10. Taste of the Wild High Prairie Puppy Formula
The Taste of The Wild High Prairie Puppy Formula 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 dog food that mimics your GSD’s ancestral diet. To support that idea they use 100% real roasted meat flavor, roasted bison & Venison, which 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.
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.
German Shepherd’s Nutritional Requirements
Large breed dogs like German shepherds have different nutritional needs than smaller dogs. Adult German shepherds are fairly active, but they have a slower metabolism than small dogs, and therefore, you need to limit your dog’s intake of fat and calories to keep them from gaining too much weight.
As a puppy, you want to feed your German shepherd food that is rich in protein with limited fat and calorie content to make sure your German shepherd puppy doesn’t grow too fast. This is because a German shepherd puppy who grows too fast is at a much higher risk of developing bone and joint problems as they get older.
Let’s take a look further at a breakdown of the nutritional requirement of German shepherds and why they need it.
Protein is a very important part of your German shepherd’s diet. It is used by the body to do all the things that your dog’s body needs to function properly, such as building and repairing muscles, forming new skin cells, providing energy, and more.
In terms of protein, GSD puppies need to have at least 22% of their diet from protein sources, and adult GSDs need at least 18%. The more active your German shepherd, the higher the protein content they need (between 30%-40%).
Fats are used by the body as a primary source of energy. Not only do they provide energy, but fats are also necessary for the development and maintenance of muscles, nerves, body cells, and tissues.
Fats are also the reason as to why the foods taste and smell good (at least to your dog). Together with oils in the diet, they keep your German shepherd’s coat shiny and healthy.
Adult GSDs need at least 5% fat, while puppies need 8% fat at a minimum.
Carbohydrates are turned into glucose during digestion and used as an energy source for the dog’s body cells, including the brain. Also, carbohydrates are used as a source of heat to maintain your dog’s body temperature.
The best sources of carbs are grains like wheat, corn, and soy. However, if your German shepherd has allergies to grains, you may want to go for a grain-free dog food that uses vegetables such as sweet potatoes as an alternative source of carbohydrates.
Vitamins and Minerals
Vitamins and minerals should be included in your dog’s diet. They help to strengthen the immune system, keep the coat healthy, and provide antioxidant support to the body’s cells.
How Many Calories Does German Shepherd Need?
German shepherds are extremely active, high energy dogs. Depending on their levels of activity, whether they are used as guard dogs for your home or police dogs in the field, they need between 1,272 and 2,100 calories per day to maintain their weight and fuel their activity level.
How Often Should You Feed Your GSD?
German shepherd puppies under five months of age should be fed three to four times per day, while adult GSDs should be fed twice a day—once in the morning and once in the evening. If you’re not sure, it’s best to consult with your vet first.
German Shepherds Food Buying Guide
Here’re some important qualities to consider when selecting dog food for your German shepherd:
- Look for a dog food that is high in animal protein and list an animal source protein as the first listed ingredient. The foods should contain at least 18% protein and are designed to conform to AAFCO nutrient profiles.
- Avoid any dog food that uses by-products or do not specify the species from which they were obtained.
- Avoid any dog food that contains fillers, artificial flavors, colors, or preservatives.
- Because German shepherd often develops food allergies, you may also want to avoid foods that include common allergens such as corn or wheat.
- The foods should include glucosamine and chondroitin. They are useful to treat and prevent joint disorders, such as osteoarthritis, which are common in large breed dogs like German shepherds.
- Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids should be present in the food as well. They are an excellent joint supplement for dogs and help promote healthy skin and coat.
- Probiotics are a nice addition to your German shepherd’s diet since they can aid your dog’s digestion. This is important as German shepherds are known to have gastrointestinal issues.
- Like most other deep-chested breeds, German shepherds often suffer from bloat. To minimize this condition, you can pick a dog food with large kibble pieces so that your dog is more likely to chew it, instead of gulping their food down.
- You should prioritize buying foods that are made in the USA, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand, as dog foods coming from these countries are made with stricter food protocols.
1. What should I feed my German shepherd?
You can feed your dog dry or wet food or a combination of both. And if you don’t like the idea of giving commercial foods, you can also opt to put your dog on a raw diet. Each has its own pros and cons.
Dry food is convenient and affordable, but it contains very little quantity of water. If you choose to feed your dog only dry food, make sure to provide plenty of water.
Wet dog food is delicious (to the dogs) and healthier. It also contains more water than their dry counterpart, so your dog won’t get dehydrated. But it is expensive and can only be used within a short time.
Homemade raw diets offer many benefits, but you have to be careful with how they’re cooked, stored, given to your German shepherds. Some of the benefits of a raw food diet are cleaner teeth and fresh breath, better weight control, improved digestion, more energy and stamina, and strengthened immune system.
However, preparing a raw diet is tricky. One of the main concerns when feeding a raw diet is the lack of appropriate nutrition and incorrect feeding practice. If you’re not sure, it’s wise to consult with your vet first before feeding your dog a raw diet.
2. What is the best dry dog food for German Shepherds?
I pick the Holistic Select Natural Dry Food as the best dry food for German shepherds. Take a look at my review above for more details.
3. Do German shepherds need special food?
German shepherds are at high risk of developing a number of health concerns:
- Food allergies can be serious and cause not only digestive problems but also skin issues like dry and itchy skin.
- Food intolerance can cause symptoms such as vomit, diarrhea, and bloating.
- Bloat happens when a dog’s stomach fills with gas, food, or fluid. This condition can become life-threatening if left untreated.
- Hip dysplasia is a common canine hip problems in large breed dogs like German shepherds, Labrador Retrievers, Great Danes, and other larger dogs.
- Osteoarthritis is another common problem in large breed dogs. It can cause pain, inflammation, and impaired mobility.
- Inflammatory bowel disease can cause chronic vomiting or diarrhea.
You can reduce the impact of these diseases by feeding your dog a diet that suits their needs.
Reference and Resources:
- American Kennel Club: German Shepherd Dog Breed Information
- U.S. Food and Drug Administration: FDA’s Regulation of Pet Food
- U.S. Food and Drug Administration: Pet Food
- The National Academies Press: Your Dog’s Nutritional Needs
- The Everything German Shepherd Book: A Complete Guide to Raising, Training, and Caring for Your German Shepherd; Joan Hustace Walker
- German Shepherd Dog: Your Happy Healthy Pet; Liz Palika