10 Best Dog Foods for German Shepherds in 2023 – Reviews & Buyer’s Guide

Categorized as Buyer's Guide & Reviews

Did you know that German shepherds also require a special diet in order to stay healthy and active?

That’s right – these dogs need more than just the occasional treat to stay in top condition. In fact, feeding your German shepherd the wrong kind of food can lead to a host of health problems, including obesity, joint problems, and even heart disease.

But the problem is, with so many brands and formulas to choose from, it can be hard to know which kind is best for your furry friend. That’s where our review comes in. We’ll help you sort through the options and find the best food for your German shepherd.

We’ll also give you some tips on how to keep your dog healthy and happy. So if you’re looking for the perfect food for your German shepherd, be sure to check out our review. It’ll help you make the best decision for your German shepherd.

Our Picks for The Best Dog Foods for German Shepherds

Important FDA Alert: some 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.

10 Best Dog Foods for German Shepherds Reviewed

1. Holistic Select Natural

  • Suitable for: Adult
  • Caloric content (per kg): 453 kcal/cup
  • Form: Dry food
  • Type: Grain free
  • Top 5 Ingredients: Chicken Meal, Potatoes, Lentils, Peas, Dried Ground Potatoes, Chicken Fat
  • Label analysis: 27% protein, 16% fat, 53% carbs

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 was selected to represent the other products in the line for these German Shepherd food reviews.

This 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 medium to large sized breeds 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. Royal Canin German Shepherd Puppy

  • Suitable for: Puppy
  • Caloric content (per kg): 453 kcal/cup
  • Form: Dry food
  • Type: Grain inclusive
  • Top 5 Ingredients: Chicken Meal, Wheat Gluten, Corn, Oat Groats, Brewers Rice
  • Label analysis: 31% protein, 16% fat, 49% carbs

There are not many dog foods on the market tailored specifically for German Shepherd puppies like the Royal Canin German Shepherd Puppy. The manufacturer has done a great job to make this recipe 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 that is common among large 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 food that your pup would love to chew right away.

3. Purina Pro Plan Sensitive Skin and Sensitive Stomach

  • Suitable for: Adult
  • Caloric content (per kg): 467 kcal/cup
  • Form: Dry food
  • Type: Grain inclusive
  • Top 5 Ingredients: Salmon, Barley, Rice, Oat Meal, Canola Meal, Fish Meal 
  • Label analysis: 30% protein, 18% fat, 48% carbs

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 30% dry basis 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

  • Suitable for: Adult
  • Caloric content (per kg): 435 kcal/cup
  • Form: Dry food
  • Type: Grain inclusive
  • Top 5 Ingredients: Whitefish, Ground Barley, Peas, Menhaden Fish Meal, Oatmeal
  • Label analysis: 24% protein, 13% fat, 57% carbs

If you’re looking for the best food to feed your senior German shepherd, this Wellness Complete Health Chicken and Oatmeal recipe 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. Blue Buffalo Wilderness High Protein, Natural Adult Wet Dog Food

  • Suitable for: Adult
  • Caloric content (per kg): 471 kcal/can
  • Form: Wet food
  • Type: Grain free
  • Top 5 Ingredients: Beef, Chicken, Chicken Broth, Chicken Liver, Potatoes
  • Label analysis: 10% protein, 9% fat, 1.5% moisture

If you’re looking for high-quality, all-natural wet dog food, Blue Buffalo Wilderness is a great option.

This food is packed with real beef and chicken, and it can be fed three ways: as a delicious treat, mixed in with your dog’s favorite dry food, or fed as a meal on its own.

Blue Buffalo wet dog food contains no chicken by-product meals, corn, wheat, soy, or artificial flavors or preservatives, making it a wholesome option for your furry friend.

Plus, this food comes in a variety of tempting flavors that your dog is sure to love. We’re big fans of the Blue Buffalo Wilderness Natural Adult Wet Dog Food,


  • This dog food is grain-free and made with real beef and chicken.
  • It is a healthy option for your furry friend and can be fed as a meal or a treat.
  • There are no artificial flavors or preservatives in this food, making it a wholesome option for your dog.


  • The food is generally high quality, but the past few deliveries have been beyond dented. This makes it difficult to store and can cause the food to go bad prematurely.

6. Wag Dog Food

  • Suitable for: Adult
  • Caloric content (per kg): 346 kcal/cup
  • Form: Dry food
  • Type: Grain inclusive
  • Top 5 Ingredients: Beef, Lamb Broth, Beef Broth, Vegetable Broth, Lamb Liver
  • Label analysis: 39% protein, 17% fat, 36% carbs

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 39% protein on a dry matter basis 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 Natural Grain Free Ground Wet Dog Food

  • Suitable for: Adult
  • Caloric content (per kg): 434 kcal/can
  • Form: Canned food
  • Type: Grain inclusive
  • Top 5 Ingredients: Chicken, carrot & pea recipe: chicken, water, liver, carrots
  • Label analysis: 36% protein, 27% fat, 66% carbs

This canned dog food has 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 requirements.

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 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 of nutritional value like 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 grow up healthy.


  • Purina Beyond Natural is grain-free and gluten-free, making it a great choice for dogs with sensitive stomachs.
  • The food is made with real beef, chicken, and salmon, which are great sources of protein for dogs.
  • Purina Beyond Natural does not use any animal by-products, artificial flavorings, colors, or preservatives in their formula, ensuring that your dog only gets the highest quality ingredients.


  • A few dog owners found that 25% of their received bags contained dust and crumbs.

8. Instinct Original Canned Dog Food

  • Suitable for: Adult
  • Caloric content (per kg): 434 kcal/can
  • Form: Canned food
  • Type: Grain inclusive
  • Top 5 Ingredients: Chicken, carrot & pea recipe: chicken, water, liver, carrots
  • Label analysis: 36% protein, 27% fat, 66% carbs

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 USA-raised beef and the 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.


  • Instinct Original Canned Dog Food is a great choice for those looking for a quality diet for their pup, as it uses real meat as the #1 ingredient. Additionally, the food is grain-free, which is a plus for many pet parents.


  • The main con of Instinct Original Canned Dog Food is that it has seen a decline in quality in recent years. Additionally, some pet parents have reported that the cans of food are often dented or damaged.

9. ORIJEN Dog Food, Puppy Large

  • Suitable for: Puppy
  • Caloric content (per kg): 429 kcal/cup
  • Form: Dry food
  • Type: Grain free
  • Top 5 Ingredients: Deboned chicken, deboned turkey, flounder, whole eggs, whole atlantic mackerel
  • Label analysis: 43% protein, 18% fat, 32% carbs

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 function, 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 the extra benefit of keeping your pup’s digestive tract stay healthy.


  • Orijen puppy food is made with 85% meat, which is ideal for large breed puppies. The high protein content helps support their growing muscles and bones, while the zinc supplement promotes healthy skin and a strong immune system. The complex carbs in the food provide energy and help keep the digestive system healthy.


  • While some pet parents found no difference in quality between bags, others found that there was a significant difference in quality between bags. This could be due to the fact that Orijen sources their ingredients from different places, which can result in inconsistency in quality.

10. Taste of the Wild High Prairie Puppy Formula

  • Suitable for: Puppy
  • Caloric content (per kg): 370 kcal/cup
  • Form: Dry food
  • Type: Grain free
  • Top 5 Ingredients: Buffalo, Lamb Meal, Sweet Potatoes, Egg Product, Pea Protein
  • Label analysis: 31% protein, 19% fat, 44% carbs

The Taste of The Wild High Prairie Puppy Formula is another popular dog food that we have 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, a 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, 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 expired, and became rancid. Make sure to check the expiration date when the food arrives at your home.


  • The Taste of The Wild High Prairie Puppy Formula is a popular dog food that has many pros. The 100% real roasted meat flavor is appealing to dogs, and the grain-free formula is easy on their stomachs. The food is also supplemented with fruits and vegetables to give your pups the necessary vitamins and minerals that they need.


  • The food went through a recall period a few years ago because many of their products had expired, and became rancid.

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 GSD’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 recipe 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 function, 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.

What To Look For When Buying a Dog Food for German Shepherd?

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 breeds 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 GSD’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.


When it comes to choosing the best food for adult German shepherds, the Holistic Select Natural is our recommended choice.

It is grain-free, made with real chicken, and does not contain any by-product meals, artificial ingredients or preservatives.

For German Shepherd puppies, we recommend the Royal Canin German Shepherd Puppy as it is tailored specifically for GSD pups and contains the correct balance of nutrients, vitamins and minerals that your pup needs to grow.

Regardless of which food you choose, it would be wise to talk to your veterinarian first to ensure that it’s the best option for your German shepherd.

Related Questions

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.

Canned 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 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 breeds 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 German shepherd a diet that suits their needs.

Read also: German Shepherd feeding guide: how much and how often to feed a German shepherd puppy

Why Trust Us?

Our team of experts has a lot of experience with German shepherds and understands the dietary needs of this breed.

We have carefully selected the best dog foods for German shepherds based on factors such as ingredients, nutrient content, and reviews from other pet parents.

You can be sure that the products on our list are of high quality and will provide your dog with the nutrients they need.

Reference and Resources:

By Andrew Garf

Andrew Garf has loved dogs, especially German Shepherds, since he was 10 years old. Though he also loves burgers, training dogs is his real passion. That's why he created the website TrainYourGSD.com - to help dog owners learn how to properly train, care for, and bond with their German Shepherd dogs.

1 comment

  1. My dogs love Holistic Select, I have 2 German shepherds and they love it

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