German Shepherds are a hard-working, intelligent, and inquisitive breed that need the right nutrients to maintain these characteristics.
If you are lucky enough to own one of these dogs, you may have asked yourself “what is the best food for a German Shepherd”?
A trip to the pet food store can be overwhelming as there are dozens of brands on the shelves to pick from.
We have come to the rescue and put together the ultimate guide for selecting the right food for your GSD.
In this article, we’re going to review the following foods for German Shepherd dog:
- Instinct Raw Boost Dry Dog Food
- Purina Pro Plan Weight Management Dry Dog Food
- Purina ONE SmartBlend True Instinct Wet Dog Food
- Wag Amazon Brand Dry Dog Food
- Natural Balance L.I.D. Dry Dog Food
- Purina Pro Plan SAVOR Adult Wet Dog Food
- Hill’s Science Diet Wet Dog Food
- DIAMOND NATURALS Pet Food
- Instinct Raw Boost Senior Grain Free Dry Dog Food
- Simply Perfection Super Premium Canned Dog Food
- Hill’s Science Diet Dry Dog Food
- Beneful® Healthy Puppy Dry Dog Food
- Hill’s Science Diet Puppy Large Breed
- Purina Puppy Chow Complete
Nutritional Food Requirements for German Shepherds
German Shepherds are active dogs that need protein to keep their muscles strong and healthy, whether that be from chicken, beef, lamb, or salmon.
Additionally, good sources of carbohydrates and fats ensure your GSD is maintaining its energy and fats keep a shiny coat.
With these three things in mind, you can begin to navigate the brands of dog food.
Other important ingredients to look for
- Clean ingredients with no fillers ensure your GSD is staying satisfied with nutritious ingredients
- Variety of vegetable and fruits in the mix provide antioxidants to keep immune system strong
What to Look for in High-Quality Foods for German Shepherds?
High-quality food means the ingredients are properly sourced and contain no unhealthy additives.
For German Shepherds, the better the ingredients the happier the dog.
Let’s take a look at some important aspects of high-quality foods.
A Calorie Balanced Food
Too little or too many calories can be a bad thing.
German Shepherds need enough calories to sustain their high energy levels, but not too many to cause them to gain weight and put pressure on their joints.
Food that is calorie balanced will have just enough protein, carbs, and fats to keep your GSD in his or her tip top health.
Food That Follows Healthy Weight Guidelines
Male German Shepherds sit at average weight at 66-88 pounds and female German Shepherds sit at 48-70 pounds.
When taking this into consideration with how much they need to consume per day, it is suggested that these dogs need between 3 ½ to 5 cups of food per day.
If you dog is extremely active (running or working for hours), they may need upwards of 5 cups compared to 3 ½.
As always, check with your vet to decide on the right amount of food your GSD requires.
Natural Protein From High-Quality Sources
You may have seen on the back of a bag of dog food fillers like chicken by-product or meal.
These sources of protein keep a dog full but they often cause stomach upset because they are not natural.
Natural protein from high-quality sources will be listed as fresh, de-boned, or even freeze/air dried.
The protein should not have any fillers added to it and be listed on its own.
Natural, high-quality protein is easy for your dog to digest and will provide only the best nutrients your GSD needs.
Healthy Sources of Fat
Although German Shepherds have short hair, it is important for the coat to be shiny and soft.
Healthy sources of fat from salmon and supplements of omega 3 and 6 oils not only keep the coat healthy, but maintain brain and heart health.
Dog food that contains omega-3’s is important.
Some great sources of omega-3’s to look for in dog food are fish, phytoplankton, coconut oil, hemp oil, flaxseed oil, plant oils, and whole fish.
These omega oils will keep your dog healthy inside and out.
DHA, or Docosahexaenoic acid, is essential in building a healthy brain and nervous system.
It is often added to foods and is so important in keeping their eye sight strong, which is necessary for those GSD who are working dogs.
A Carbohydrate Balanced Food
Typical dog food comes in the form of kibble, which are a starchy food that sustains a dog’s hunger and cleans his or her teeth at the same time.
A standard suggestion for how much percent of carbohydrates should make up your dog’s diet is 14%, but this number may adjust depending on your dog’s weight and activity level.
Dog owners need not stress over ensuring their dog’s diet is packed full of carbs, as protein, fat, and fiber are much more important.
Proper Calcium to Phosphorus Ratio
Dogs need calcium and phosphorus to maintain healthy teeth, bones, and energy levels.
The ideal ratio of calcium to phosphorus should be 1:1, with a little more calcium than phosphorus.
Always read the nutritional analysis on the back of a food bag to see what the ratio is.
Grain-free food is becoming widely popular, as most dogs digest it better.
Grain-free food can easily be found at any pet food store, and always contains a label on the bag that says “grain-free”.
Other important factors
If possible, it is great to purchase dog food that is made with locally sourced protein.
Additionally, dog food that has minimal added fillers is key to ensuring your dog is getting only the best of nutrients.
Best Dog Food For German Shepherds
Instinct Raw Boost has combined high-protein kibble and freeze-dried raw to create a wholesome and hearty meal.
GSD need high quality protein that is free of any additives, and Instinct Raw Boost offers just that.
It is made with cage-free chicken, zero grain, corn, wheat, soy, potato, and any artificial colors, so you can feel good about feeding your dog every meal.
It is packed full of probiotics, omega oils, and antioxidants, to keep the coat, brain, eyes and heart healthy.
Owners can buy a trial size bag to see if their dogs like it, and if they do, there are 4-pound, 10-pound, and 21-pound bags to purchase.
All the bags of food are prepared in the USA using ethically sourced ingredients around the world.
The ingredients are all easy to digest and provide a meaty taste to please your dog’s pallet.
Instinct Raw Boost is affordable and delicious, which will satisfy both dogs and their owners.
- Contains zero additives or fillers
- Delicious chicken flavor
- Made with cage-free chicken
- Grain-free for sensitive stomachs
- Ingredients other than chicken are not locally sourced from the USA
- 21-pounds is the largest bag size
Described as morsels in gravy, this recipe from Purina Pro Plan Focus meal incorporates turkey and rice to create a delicious entrée.
The cans are available in 13 oz. cans, and contain 25% less fat than other Purina Pro Plan dinners on the market.
This means, your dog is getting adequate protein but less fat, so it can stay lean.
The meat is easy to digest and the rice satisfies hunger and sustains fullness.
Purina Pro Plan Focus proudly makes their food to promote a bright mind, savory meal, good focus, and natural ingredients.
There are 306 calories per can, which is optimal to serve up to 3 per day to your GSD.
Additionally, each can offers 23 essential vitamins and minerals. This turkey and rice meal is tasty, wholesome, and nutritious in every bite.
It is also easy for adult teeth to chew thanks to the morsel texture and size.
Purina Pro Plan Focus takes into account your adult dog and its aging mind and body, and that is why this meal offers many important vitamins, nutrients, and appropriate calories per serving to support the active GSD.
- Soft morsels are easy to chew and digest
- Delicious turkey flavor
- Full of 23 essential vitamins and minerals
- Doesn’t clean teeth like kibble texture
- The texture is a little watery which some dogs may not enjoy
Real turkey and venison are used to create this grain-free formula your dog will love.
There are absolutely no poultry by-products or fillers, so your dog is getting only the very best ingredients.
The grain-free recipe is the perfect option for every stomach.
Because the meat is 100% natural, it is easy to digest and will not cause any sensitives.
Purina One Smart Blend Grain-Free Formula offers four antioxidant sources that keep the immune system strong and organ health supported.
The guaranteed analysis for this recipe is Crude Protein (Min)…9.0%, Crude Fat (Min)…8.0%, Crude Fiber (Max)…1.5%, Moisture (Max)…78.0.
From these statistics, you can see there is quite a bit of protein and moisture, making this a hearty and juicy meat dish.
- Packed full of antioxidants
- No fillers or additives
- Grain-free to keep stomachs happy
- Fiber levels are low
- Protein is low compared to other brands on the market
Salmon and lentil mix to offer omega oils and protein in this delicious meal.
Wag is a brand of dog food created by Amazon, but lots of care has gone into creating this recipe.
The first ingredient is salmon and each serving provides 35% protein.
Dogs who have a sensitivity to grain can enjoy this meal because there is absolutely zero grain in the recipe.
The crunchy kibble texture is easy to chew but simultaneously cleans teeth, keeping them fresh and plaque free.
The guaranteed analysis for this recipe is crude protein 35% minimum, crude fat 15% minimum, crude fiber 5.5% maximum, moisture 10% maximum, with an array of vitamins, glucosamine, chondroitin sulfate and other omega fatty acids.
With each bite, your GSD’s coat will be soothed and their hips and joints will be supported.
The incorporation of glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate is important especially for GSD’s who are susceptible to developing hip and joint pain.
- High protein recipe
- Lentils offer a quality protein source that is easy to digest
- Kibble cleans teeth
- Quite affordable for all owners
- Supports hips and joints
- Zero-grain in the recipe
- Compared to other protein choices, salmon might not be the most favorited by all dogs
- There are not many bag sizes available
This unique recipe uses only one protein source: venison.
Other tasty ingredients used are sweet potato, pea protein, potato protein, and salmon oil.
The single protein source offers dogs a clean food choice that will keep them full hours after eating.
Venison is a hearty but easy to digest meat, and likely one your dog is not allergic too.
Moreover, Natural Balance has proved that one meat source is sometimes better!
Owners can feel confident feeding their dogs this Natural Balance recipe because each batch is tested carefully to ensure quality.
The guaranteed analysis for this recipe is crude protein 20% minimum, crude fat 10% minimum, crude fiber 5% maximum, moisture 10% maximum, and omega fatty acids between 0.5%-1.5%.
With each bite, dogs are receiving adequate protein, fat, and fiber.
The kibble is not overly dry either with a 10% moisture maximum, so it will clean teeth but still have a great meaty flavor to it.
Natural Balance LID recipe is a great option for dogs who have other meat sensitivities, such as to chicken or beef.
Plus, it is crafted with care and regularly tested.
- Limited ingredients mean a cleaner recipe
- High protein levels
- Doesn’t come in a large variety of bag sizes
- Venison may not be a favorite flavor for most dogs
Savory morsels are to be found in a can of chicken and rice entrée from Purina Pro Plan Savor.
Purina has combined not only chicken and rice, but also 23 essential vitamins and nutrients to nourish dogs from the inside out.
Purina tosses barley and vegetables into the mix to provide stomachs with a boost of fiber and feeling of fullness.
The wet texture of the entrée is easy for adult dogs to chew and is a satisfying texture to enjoy each meal.
Moreover, the pieces of wet food are not like a traditional square soft food.
In fact, the appearance takes on more of a ground beef look, which dogs will love.
Cans come in a pack of 12 to make cost effective, and the first real ingredient is chicken.
- Delicious meat flavor
- Chicken is the number one ingredient
- Essential vitamins are packed in the entrée.
- Cost effective to purchase 12 cans at once
- Meat size is ideal for adult dogs
- Can sizes are limited
- Pate type is only available, not gravy
Adult dogs have the tendency to gain weight if they become inactive or develop sore hips and joints.
Luckily, the Science Diet has created a delicious recipe to keep your dog at the perfect weight.
With delicious, hearty vegetables, rice, chicken, fish oil, chicken liver flavor, and pork liver, your dog will not be missing out on good food.
When you open the can, you will see real vegetables and meat mixed with a gravy-like stew.
Science Diet has made some improvements to their recipe to provide their consumers a better flavor and texture.
According to research done, over 70% of dogs lost weight within 10 weeks eating this recipe, so if your dog is struggling to ditch some extra pounds, then this could be an ideal choice of food.
The Perfect Weight recipe is easy to digest and quick to scarf down.
All products including Perfect Weight are crafted in the USA and made with safe, quality-tested ingredients.
- Delicious and hearty
- Great texture
- Keeps weight at bay and has proven to!
- Veterinarian recommended
- Supports muscle development and maintenance
- Contains some fillers which may be sensitivities for some dogs
- 12.5 oz. can sizes are the largest currently available
In this delicious recipe, you will find pasture-raised beef and superfoods that come together to create a mouth-watering recipe from Diamond Naturals called Adult Dog Beef and Rice Meal Formula.
This recipe contains no additives, fillers or chemicals so owners can feed their dogs it with peace of mind and dogs can eat with ease.
The guaranteed analysis in each bowl are crude protein 25%, crude fat 15%, crude fiber 4.5%, and moisture 10%.
The moisture levels are optimal, except the fiber is a little low compared to other brands on the market.
The beef and rice meal formula is crafted with many antioxidants, such as oranges, blueberries, dried kelp, coconut, and papaya.
Antioxidants are imperative to keeping dogs’ organs healthy and giving the body energy.
DHA is also added to the food from salmon oil, and this fosters healthy brain and eye development, especially in the adult dog.
Added glucosamine and chondroitin keeps bones and joints lubricated, and the omegas from the salmon oil keep the coat shiny and healthy.
With each meal being Diamond Naturals Adult Dog Beef and Rice Meal Formula, your GSD will be nourished and satisfied.
- Pasture-raised beef is ethically sourced and raised
- Delicious taste and texture
- Clean ingredients
- Crude fiber levels are slightly low
- Ground white rice can be hard for some dogs to digest
Tasty, balanced, and grain-free are just some of the important words that describe Instinct Raw Boost.
Crafted with healthy and beneficial ingredients like cage-free chicken, peas, carrots, and apples, your dog will be pleased about the meaty taste of the kibble and freeze-dried chicken.
The blend of nutrients found in Instinct’s Raw Boost help aid in eye health, formation of strong teeth, and promotion of healthy joints.
Your GSD will get the perfect blend of textures: crunchy and soft.
The crunchy kibble cleans your dog’s chompers while the freeze-dried provides a delicious and hearty savory dinner texture.
As your GSD ages, it is important to eat food that supports the entire body, and this recipe does just that!
There are two bag sizes available: 4-lb. and 21-lb.
Omega oils are also added into the recipe mix to keep the coat soft and shiny, as well as the heart strong.
Owners can confidently feed their dog this recipe that is made with USA sourced ingredients.
Why not give your beloved dog the best of both worlds: raw and kibble?
- Great meat flavor
- Made with omega oils that keep coat healthy
- Delicious blend of kibble and freeze-dried food
- Available in a small and large size
- Not a large variety of bag sizes
- May be pricey depending on how active your GSD is
Simply Perfection’s Turkey Recipe is a delicious blend of quality ingredients like turkey broth, poultry liver, cracked barley, whole brown rice, peas, sweet potatoes, carrots, vitamins, potatoes and ground brown rice.
There is absolutely zero artificial colors, wheat, corn, soy, artificial preservatives, or artificial flavors, and turkey is always the first ingredient.
As adult dogs grow older, kibble may become difficult to chew, so that is why this wet recipe is ideal for older teeth. It is easy to chew and has a true meat flavor.
This canned food can be bought in a case of 6 cans, which are a total 79.20 oz. For active or low-active dogs, this is a great deal.
Simply Perfect has perfected this turkey recipe and made it delicious and wholesome for your GSD.
- Crafted with quality ingredients
- Contains no fillers, wheat, soy, additives, or artificial flavors are used
- Affordable for most owners
- Can be purchased in a case of 6 cans
- The cans are all recyclable to keep the Earth green
- Wet food may be eaten up quicker than kibble
- Wet food does not clean teeth as effectively as kibble
Best Dog Food for German Shepherd Puppies
The growth and development of your puppy is so important, and that is why this choice of food is ideal for concerned puppy parents.
Created with chicken meal and barley, it is clinically proven to provide puppies with adequate amounts of antioxidants and a hearty source of protein.
Puppies will love the crunchy kibble texture and the meaty taste.
This recipe is infused with vitamins C and E to support immune health.
Additionally, there is also fish oil and other minerals to ensure the development of eye, brain, and skeletal health is supported.
Your puppy is not only getting a delicious meal each time he or she eats, but a meal that is establishing a healthy foundation for them to build off of.
- Scientifically proven to support puppy health
- Delicious taste and texture
- Contains no fillers or artificial flavors
- Chicken meal is used instead of fresh chicken
Loaded with 23 essential vitamins and crafted with hearty chicken, puppies will love the meaty taste.
The analysis in a bowl of Purina Beneful Healthy Puppy is crude protein 28%, crude fat 14%, crude fiber 4%, and moisture 14%.
Therefore, the kibble is a bit more hydrating than others on the market.
Other ingredients in this recipe are water, rice flour, chicken, whole wheat flour, dried peas and carrots, and vitamin-d supplement.
The kibble pieces are small enough for puppy teeth but also work to clean them with each crunch.
Purina Beneful Healthy Puppy is affordable and is currently available in a 7-kg bag size.
Each cup of food you serve your hungry puppy offers 27 grams of protein, which will support its growing bones.
- Affordable for most dog owners
- Kibble pieces are easy for puppies to chew and digest with their small teeth
- Hearty chicken flavor
- Crafted with real chicken
- Contains chicken by-product meal which some puppies may not tolerate well
- Contains some added dyes which could be harmful in the long run, if consumed in large quantities
Hill’s Science Diet has redesigned and improved their kibble texture and shape with the Large Breed Puppy recipe.
GSD’s grow up to be beautiful, large dogs that need a proper diet as a puppy – and this recipe gets that!
Crafted with a mixture of lamb meal, brewers rice, pork liver flavor, brown rice, and tons of vitamins, your German Shepherd puppy will be nourished with each bite.
This company prides itself in creating food for puppies and dogs that is balanced in minerals to support strong bones and teeth, DHA from fish oil to promote brain and eye development, and vitamin C and E to build and maintain a strong immune system.
The kibble texture will keep your active puppy full while keeping his or her teeth clean and plaque free.
- New and improved recipe is delicious and easier to chew
- Natural glucosamine and chondroitin ensures joints are lubricated and can grow big and strong
- Affordable for most dog owners
- Contains wheat gluten which may be hard for some dogs to digest
- Contains corn gluten meal which may be an allergen for some dogs
Created with real wholesome chicken, important vitamins and minerals, whole grain corn, chicken by-product meal, and egg and chicken flavor, Purina Puppy Chow Complete is delicious and balanced.
The crunchy kibble keeps teeth plaque free and the protein source keeps tummies happy and full.
The guaranteed analysis of a bowl of this food is Crude Protein (Min) 27.0%, Crude Fat (Min) 12.0%, Crude Fibre (Max) 5.0%, Moisture (Max) 12.0%, Linoleic Acid (Min) 1.6%, Docosahexaenoic Acid (DHA) (Min) 0.05%, Calcium (Ca) (Min) 1.1%, Phosphorus (P) (Min) 0.9%, Iron (Fe) (Min) 150 mg/kg, Vitamin A (Min) 10,000 IU/kg.
The high moisture content of the kibble means puppies are not going to find it overly dry or hard to chew.
- Tasty chicken flavor
- Kibble keeps teeth clean
- Kibble size is easy for puppies to chew
- Contains chicken by-product meal
- Fruit and vegetables are not in this recipe, so antioxidant levels are not optimal
Frequently Asked Questions About German Shepherds
What are Common Food Allergies of
Common food allergies of GSD are beef, dairy, corn, chicken, and wheat.
Keep in mind that not every GSD is going to be allergic to these foods, but it is something to keep an eye out for.
How Many Calories do German Shepherd Puppies Need?
German Shepherd puppies should eat at least 3 times per day.
Depending on the brand of food you feed your puppy, the amounts will vary.
Always read the back of the bag to check with the company’s feeding guides.
On a side note, a bowl of fresh drinking water should always be kept beside the food bowl!
How Much Food Should My German Shepherd Puppy Eat?
Between 2-3 cups of food per day.
You may find your puppy not hungry when it first arrives at home because he or she may be nervous.
Always encourage your puppy to eat and praise when they do.
How Often Should I feed my German Shepherd Puppy?
At least 3 times a day is required. Never force your puppy to eat, but do encourage it.
It is helpful to establish proper eating times rather than leaving an endless bowl of food out for it to graze on
We looked at a number of different foods for German Shepherd dogs and puppies.
The winner that stands out among the rest for quality and taste is the Wag – Salmon and Lentil Recipe.
The lentils and salmon are the perfect mix that offer enough protein and delicious flavor.
It is also affordable and comes in great sizes. German Shepherds are active dogs that need enough calories to maintain their high energy levels.
Additionally, they also need food that supports organ health and bone/joint health, which all of these foods do.
The next time you wander down that long dog food aisle, look out for some of these products!
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