The Best Dog Food for German Shepherds in 2020 – Dry or wet (Top 5 Picks, Reviews, and buying guide)

best dog food for German shepherds

With so many different dog foods out there, it can sometimes feel overwhelming trying to decide which one is best dog food 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 dog food for German shepherds based on the quality of ingredients, customer reviews, costs, and other considerations. Read on to see my top picks.

Best Dog Foods for German Shepherds Table Comparison

Previews
My Top Pick
Holistic Select Natural Dry Dog Food, Large & Giant Breed Adult Recipe, 30-Pound Bag
Runner up
Purina Pro Plan Sensitive Stomach Dry Dog Food, FOCUS Sensitive Skin & Stomach Salmon & Rice Formula - 30 lb. Bag
Wellness Natural Pet Food 8909 Complete Health Natural Dry Dog Food, Whitefish & Sweet Potato, 30-Pound Bag
Taste Of The Wild Grain Free Real Meat Recipe Premium Wet Canned Stew Dog Food (12) 13.2 oz. Cans
Amazon Brand - Wag Dry Dog Food Beef & Lentil Recipe with Wild Boar (5 lb. Bag) Trial
Product names
Holistic Select Natural Dry Food
Purina Pro Plan FOCUS Sensitive Skin & Stomach
Wellness Complete Health Chicken and Oatmeal
Taste of the Wild Wet Food
Wag Dog Food
Our ratings
Pros
made with real chicken
High-quality protein sources
Real chicken and brown rice
Packet full of real meat
Affordable
grain-free
No allergenic grains
Includes flaxseeds and peas
A variety of flavors available
Real meat
contain healthy fibers and probiotics
Rich in Omega-3 and Omega-6
Includes glucosamine and chondroitin
No artificial ingredients or preservatives
Sourced from the U.S. and Australia
My Top Pick
Previews
Holistic Select Natural Dry Dog Food, Large & Giant Breed Adult Recipe, 30-Pound Bag
Product names
Holistic Select Natural Dry Food
Our ratings
Pros
made with real chicken
grain-free
contain healthy fibers and probiotics
Details
Runner up
Previews
Purina Pro Plan Sensitive Stomach Dry Dog Food, FOCUS Sensitive Skin & Stomach Salmon & Rice Formula - 30 lb. Bag
Product names
Purina Pro Plan FOCUS Sensitive Skin & Stomach
Our ratings
Pros
High-quality protein sources
No allergenic grains
Rich in Omega-3 and Omega-6
Details
Previews
Wellness Natural Pet Food 8909 Complete Health Natural Dry Dog Food, Whitefish & Sweet Potato, 30-Pound Bag
Product names
Wellness Complete Health Chicken and Oatmeal
Our ratings
Pros
Real chicken and brown rice
Includes flaxseeds and peas
Includes glucosamine and chondroitin
Details
Previews
Taste Of The Wild Grain Free Real Meat Recipe Premium Wet Canned Stew Dog Food (12) 13.2 oz. Cans
Product names
Taste of the Wild Wet Food
Our ratings
Pros
Packet full of real meat
A variety of flavors available
No artificial ingredients or preservatives
Details
Previews
Amazon Brand - Wag Dry Dog Food Beef & Lentil Recipe with Wild Boar (5 lb. Bag) Trial
Product names
Wag Dog Food
Our ratings
Pros
Affordable
Real meat
Sourced from the U.S. and Australia
Details

Reviews of The Best Dog Food for German Shepherds in 2020

1. My Top Pick: Holistic Select Natural Dry Dog Food (for Large Breed)

Holistic Select Natural Dog Food
  • Unique Digestive Health Support: Formulated With A Unique Digestive Health Support System, Focused Around Prebiotics, Probiotics, Natural Fibers, Digestive Enzymes & Botanicals

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 best dog foods for German shepherds 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.

Pros: 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 a recall yet.

Cons: 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.

2. Runner Up: Purina Pro Plan FOCUS Sensitive Skin & Stomach 

Purina Pro Plan FOCUS Sensitive Skin & Stomach
  • One (1) 30 pounds Bag Purina Pro Plan FOCUS Sensitive Skin & Stomach Salmon & Rice Formula Adult 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, one of their best selling products, “The Purina Pro Plan FOCUS Sensitive Skin & Stomach” is my runner up pick for the best dog food for German shepherds.

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.

Pros: This dog food is affordable and packets with high-quality ingredients. The recipe includes glucosamine (which is good for joint health) and extra vitamins.

Cons: A few owners complained that the food does not contain any probiotics. 

3. Best Dog Food for Senior German Shepherd: Wellness Complete Health Chicken and Oatmeal

Sale
Wellness Complete Health Chicken and Oatmal
  • Complete health: Complete and balanced everyday nutrition for your small breed dog

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.

Pros: 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.

Cons: A few owners reported a number of issues with the packaging.

4. Best Wet Dog Food for German Shepherd: Taste of the Wild Wet Dog Food

Taste of the Wild Canned Dog Food
  • A taste of the wild with REAL BISON; REAL MEAT is the #1 ingredient; optimal amino acid profile, PROTEIN rich for LEAN, STRONG MUSCLES

The Taste of the Wild canned food is one of the best dog foods for German shepherds and is a great choice if your dog prefers wet 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.

Pros: 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.

Cons: A few owners noticed that the texture is not consistent from can to can, other than that their dogs seem to love it.

5. Best Budget Pick: Wag Dog Food

Wag Dog Food
  • Real American beef is the #1 ingredient to give your pup a delicious blend

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.

Pros: Overall, it’s good food for the price. The ingredient lists look good, and it’s cheaper than other canine foods of similar quality.

Cons: Some owners reported that their dogs did not digest it so well.

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

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

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

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.

What to Look For in German Shepherd Dog Foods

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.

FAQs

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.

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