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The Best Dog Foods For German Shepherds in 2017

One of the most popular large service dog breeds of today are the German Shepherd dogs which are also known as GSDs. Having wolf-like features, these dogs are known for being active, smart, with an urgent appetite for pleasing their owner.


Because of their size and trainability, many law enforcement agencies, and search & rescue organizations rely on them as service dogs.

However, no matter how devoted they are in doing their work and no matter how active and solidly muscular their bodies can be, they genuinely require a high-protein diet to maintain their energy requirements.

*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.

Which Nutrition Do German Shepherds Need?

Since GSDs are carnivores, they need a higher content of protein in their diet. This is to maintain their energy and to keep them strong and healthy.

Protein also plays an important role in your GSD’s growth. It is recommended that a GSD and other large breed dogs get at least 22% of the high-quality protein in its diet. When we say high-quality, it refers to the protein from actual meat based sources. It shouldn't be animal by-products or low quality expired meat from grocery stores that isn’t even fit for human consumption. We all know that they are extremely harmful to a dog, especially to your GSD.

Fat is another nutritional requirement for a GSD. It comes from protein and gives taste to a dog’s meal. It is recommended that your dog’s diet contains at least 15% of high-quality animal-based fats. The fats help your dog lubricate their internal systems and develop healthy joints and bones. Fats also give them the necessary fatty acids they need to help aid digestion.

Another nutrition your GSDs need to keep his energy up is carbohydrates. They need between 5% to 8% carbohydrates from their diet. Again, anything that contains “by-products” should go back on the shelf. The good sources of carbs are from barley, millet, brown rice, oats (all whole grains), peas, oatmeal, sweet potatoes, potatoes, corn. They are easy to digest and have other micronutrients in them to help supplement your dog’s diet.

Even though these take a smaller portion in your dog’s diet, vitamins and minerals are just as important as the protein, fat, and carbohydrates.

It is vital that you feed them to your GSD's as well. These essential vitamins and minerals will help your dog maintain their beautiful coat and build up their immune system. Take note that your German Shepherds are still vulnerable to illnesses and diseases. With the help of these vitamins and minerals, your GSD's can fight any illness and disease.

It is important to note and emphasize that your GSDs diet should come from excellent food sources. Avoid getting ordinary and low- quality ingredients so that your German shepherds can always keep up with their active lifestyle.

Which Ingredients To Avoid In German Shepherd Foods?

Finding the best dog food for a German Shepherd can be challenging. While there are ingredients which are highly considered for your GSD's health, there are also ingredients to avoid at all costs.

When you are on your quest in choosing a food for your dog, the best thing you can do is look through the ingredients included on the label. The label will let you know which ingredients make up the largest part of the recipe the companies used to manufacture the dog food.

Some dog foods contain substances which are harmful to your German Shepherd. For that matter, you should avoid these 12 ingredients at all costs:

1. Carrageenan -It can cause intestinal inflammation to your pet. 70% of pet foods contain this ingredient and with that, make sure to get the one with the least percentage.

2. Ethoxyquin -It is a preservative found in most dog foods. It is linked to kidney and liver damage.

3. Propylene Glycol - This could cause intestinal blockages and cancerous lesions.

4. BHT ( butylated hydroxytoluene )- These are linked to cancer in dogs and also humans.

5. BHA ( beta hydroxyl acid ) - A preservative linked to kidney damage.

6. Artificial preservatives, coloring or flavors. - These are linked to allergic reactions, cancer, and organ damage.

7. Corn syrup or soy based products - This causes weight gain, hyperactivity, and diabetes.

8. Animal By-Products like expired meat, proteins not fit for human consumption or animal innards. – They bring tissue and organ disease and tumors.

9. Xylitol - It is linked to vomiting and lethargy.

10. Sorbitol - It is linked to hyperactivity and exhaustion.

11. Wheat based products

12. Bone meal made up of crushed animal bones that are hard to digest

No matter how you feed your German Shepherd, keep an eye out for the common signs of toxicity and poisoning. If you act early and change their diet, you can help them recover. Most importantly, pick products with a good reputation and no history of any recall-free pet dog food production.

5 Recommended Dog Food For German Shepherds:

*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.

Every dog is different. Knowing so, you need to buy a food that will provide for your GSD’s individual needs. Some of the brands that are most highly recommended for German Shepherds, in particular, are the following:

A high-quality dog food in the market, Orijen Adult dog food is highly recommended for German Shepherds. It is considered as above-average dry product rich in the protein, fat, and carbs. Based on a calorie weighted basis, it has 35% protein content, 40% fat and 25% Carbs. It is a grain-free meat-based dry dog food using an abundance of meats and organs as its main sources of animal protein. It also has lots of essential vitamins and minerals for optimum health.

However, because of its quality, it is one of the most expensive dog foods in the market. The price could be so high it comes close to matching the cost per pound ratio of most wet foods. Depending on weight, your German Shepherd could eat about 2 cups of food per day. This is equivalent to about a pound of food. That means one bag of Orijen dog food would last for about a month for your GSD. Now, should you have the budget for Orijen, then you shouldn't be looking for something else.


  • High quality
  • Contain lots of meat protein
  • Grain-free
  • Supplement zinc
  • Fresh ingredients


  • Pea fiber might lead to loose stools
  • Quite expensive

Precise Holistic Complete is one of the healthiest dog food in the market. Everything in it is designed to promote health, harmony, and happiness for a lifetime, especially for your GSD. Ingredients like real meat proteins, wholesome carbohydrates, and balanced fatty acids were thoughtfully chosen to provide optimum health for your pet. The protein source is tripled which is essentially helpful in building good solid muscle for your dog. It also has slightly fewer calories so that puppies will not gain too much weight before their bodies are ready to support it.

​Moreover, Precise Holistic Complete is a plant-based dry dog food. It uses a moderate amount of duck, turkey or chicken meals as its main sources of animal protein. It contains 23% protein, 35% fat and 42% carbs according to its calorie weighted chart.


  • Suitable for large breed puppies
  • Appropriate serving sizes
  • Good for energy levels
  • Healthy
  • Source of protein


  • Potential indigestion or irritable bowels

Taste of the Wild Dog Food is also an above-average dry product. It is a plant-based dry dog food using a moderate amount of meats, beef being the first ingredient, as its main sources of animal protein. It contains 28% protein, 35% fat and 37% carbs.

Aside from that, it is the dog food that hits the sweet spot where quality and price come together.This is a very affordable dog food for your German Shepherd while not sacrificing much the quality of food your dog needs.


  • Have probiotics
  • Contain fatty acids and antioxidants
  • Moderate fat content
  • High in protein
  • Grain free


  • Contain chicken

Merrick Classic is a plant-based kibble. It uses a notable amount of chicken, pork or lamb meals as its main sources of animal protein. It contains 29% protein, 35% fat and 36% of carbs. It also provides dogs with natural nutrition from a wholesome balance of protein, whole grains and fruits, and vegetables.

However, in a minority setting, some customer reviews state that dogs have been sick or had loose stools after switching to this food. It is still important to note that not every dog food brand is right for every dog and there are some dogs that Merrick might not suit.


  • Good source of protein
  • Contain quality carbohydrates
  • Have fatty acids
  • Provide natural nutrition


  • Contain potatoes protein

Wellness Complete Health offers a complete and balanced everyday nutrition for your large breed dog. It has a larger kibble size, made with delicious deboned chicken. It contains all natural ingredients with no wheat, corn, soy, meat by-products, artificial flavors, colors or preservatives.

It has 26% protein, 27% fat and 47% carbs. Because it is a plant-based dry dog food, it uses a moderate amount of meats as its main sources of animal protein.

However, like some of the dog foods, its price may be too much for some GSD parents.

In general and whenever possible, go grain-free. This is to avoid common allergens and irritants. Look out for foods listing named meats such as beef, bison, and chicken as the first ingredients. Stay away from dog foods that use “by-products” in their initial offerings and ingredient list.

Also, pick brands that have a solid history of recall-free pet food production and consumer advocacy.


  • Include variety of veg and fruit
  • Made with herb blend
  • Exact calcium and phosphorus ratio
  • Good source of protein
  • Grain-free


  • Contain garlic powder

Feeding Guidelines For German Shepherds

If you want your German shepherds to be healthy, it is not enough that you just know the right food to give them. You have to make sure that you are totally fulfilling their dietary needs.

Aside from the power-packed diet, you have to be aware of how much you feed your dog, how often and at what age range. By this, you can ensure that you are not overfeeding the puppies or underfeeding the adult ones. Note that as your German Shepherds grow older, their daily feeding schedule will vary.

Generally, newborn puppies and puppies up to 4-6 weeks in age need to be feeding off of their mother. The essential micronutrients are found in their mother’s body. These are not available in dog foods to help them build up their immune system during their first few weeks of life.

For young German Shepherds, they need to eat 3-4 smaller meals each day. Be careful you are not feeding them so much that they’re starting to vomit. You will the one to regulate their feeding since they won't be able to do it themselves.

You should only feed your puppies food specifically created for them because most of the dog food manufacturers put more emphasis on the different nutrients puppies need while they’re developing their internal, muscular, and skeletal systems.

As German Shepherd owners, it is important that you know the amount of food that your dog requires on a daily basis. Because feeding too much or too little can cause health problems.

To help ensure they properly develop their internal systems, and maintain their energy levels, follow these recommendations when feeding your GSDs.

6 Week Old German Shepherd
At 6 weeks old, make sure that your puppy is receiving the same amount of nutrition that they were getting from their mother’s milk.
10 Week Old German Shepherd
At 8 to 10 weeks, you can start increasing the amount of puppy food you’re giving. It’s best to start with a diet of wet food in order to adjust to the transition. Wet food contains around 85% moisture. This will prepare your dog’s digestive system for the whole food coming in the next few weeks.
12 Week Old German Shepherd
At 12 weeks old, you can start transitioning your German Shepherd from wet food to dry food. Make the transition in small steps in order to avoid excessive diarrhea or vomiting. To start, mix 10% dry food into the wet food. Then increase it by 10-15% each week after.
3 Month Old German Shepherd
Your puppy should be almost fully transitioned into eating dry food only by this time. Avoid buying foods that are listed “for all ages” or “all growth stages” as these recipes do not have the nutrition your puppy needs to be healthy.
4 Month Old German Shepherd
You can now start introducing more live animal products into your dog’s diet. You may give an actual bone, pieces of liver, and raw eggs. They are great to help your dog pick up the nutrients that may be lacking in their dry dog food. But be careful to give them a moderate amount only.
5 Month Old German Shepherd
Your puppy should have adjusted to their new dry food. By this time, you want to cut back how often you’re feeding them. You can set a schedule for their meal time.
6-8 Month Old German Shepherd
At this time, you can begin introducing live ingredients into your puppy’s diet such as crushed animal bones, pieces of chopped liver, and raw eggs. Again, you’ll want to avoid abrupt changes in their diet as well. Provide them this food increasing the proportions by 10% each week until they’ve adjusted.
1 Year Old German Shepherd
This is the time when your GSD’s metabolism is beginning to slow down. You will notice that they eat less food than they did when they were younger. You can now start to limit the number of times you feed them to once a day.

Last Thoughts

In conclusion, maintain quality over quantity. Feed your dog the food that is of quality and meets his dietary needs.

German Shepherds are carnivores and they need a diet that is rich in protein. If you think your dog is not getting enough protein from dry food, switch to canned food.

Likewise, if your dogs drink water after every meal and do not have a dehydration issue then feeding them dry kibble wouldn’t be a problem.

Your German Shepherds require high-quality nutrition. And after learning the basics about your dog’s nutritional needs, you should be well-equipped to choose a dog food that will fulfill his needs.


Hello, friends! I am Jennifer, a 30-year-old adventure-seeking dog lover. If you are a dog lover, puppy owner or a person who want to read interesting stories about pets, then is definitely a perfect choice.

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