The sheer number of dog food brands for your German Shepherd is overwhelming. Although you want to get at least three top choices, you have to scroll through long product lists. On top of that, you have to check the ingredients and read the feeding guidelines. You need a list of expert picks to save time.
Consequently, I’ve done thorough research to create this list of the best dog food for German Shepherds, encompassing dry and wet food choices. Whether addressing their high energy levels, supporting joint health, or considering common breed-specific health concerns, this guide aims to equip you with the knowledge to make informed decisions about your German Shepherd’s diet. Read on!
Bottomline Recommendation: Royal Canin Adult German Shepherd
When it comes to selecting the ideal dog food for German Shepherds, my top pick is the Royal Canin Breed Health Nutrition Adult German Shepherd. This choice is grounded in its breed-specific formulation, designed to meet the unique nutritional needs of German Shepherds. This product stands out for its focus on supporting the digestive system, which is essential for this breed, known for its sensitivity.
Additionally, it includes specific nutrients to maintain the health of their bones and joints, a crucial factor considering the common orthopedic issues in German Shepherds. Royal Canin’s commitment to quality and research in crafting this food makes it a reliable choice for ensuring your German Shepherd receives balanced and optimal nutrition for their well-being.
Would you like to know more about this product? There are more facts in the next section.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
- Bottomline Recommendation: Royal Canin Adult German Shepherd
- Overview of the Dog Best Foods for German Shepherds
- About German Shepherds
- Common Health Concerns for German Shepherds
- How Dog Food Can Help with Health Issues
- How to Feed Your German Shepherd
- FAQs on Food for German Shepherd
- Choose the Right Food for Your German Shepherds
Overview of the Dog Best Foods for German Shepherds
1. Royal Canin Adult German Shepherd Dog Food — Top Recommendation
- Specially formulated for adult German Shepherds
- Focuses on digestive and joint health
- Enriched with EPA and DHA for coat and skin health
- Aids in maintaining an ideal weight
- First 5 Ingredients: Brewers rice, chicken by-product meal, brown rice, oat groats, chicken fat
Observing German Shepherds at our kennel, it’s clear that Royal Canin’s breed-specific formula effectively meets their unique needs. The focus on digestive health is particularly beneficial for this breed, which often has a sensitive stomach. Additionally, the inclusion of nutrients for joint and bone health is a thoughtful addition, especially given the breed’s propensity for orthopedic issues. On top of that, this food’s impact on their coat and overall health is noticeable and commendable.
- Tailored to German Shepherds’ specific needs
- Supports joint and digestive health
- Promotes healthy skin and coat
- Helps maintain ideal weight and muscle tone
- Premium price point
- Contains chicken by-product meal, which may not be preferred by all owners
2. Dr. Gary’s Best Breed Holistic German Dry Dog Food — Best for Seniors
- Holistic formula suitable for all life stages
- Rich in antioxidants and omega fatty acids
- Contains probiotics for digestive health
- No corn, wheat, or artificial preservatives
- Includes glucosamine and chondroitin for joint health
- First 5 Ingredients: Chicken meal, oatmeal, brown rice, dried beet pulp, chicken fat
Dr. Gary’s Best Breed offers a holistic approach that’s not just limited to adult dogs but suitable for all life stages of German Shepherds, but I especially like it for seniors. The inclusion of antioxidants and omega fatty acids is excellent for maintaining a healthy immune system and vibrant coat. The absence of corn and wheat caters to dogs with sensitivities, and the addition of joint-supporting nutrients is a boon for this large, active breed.
- Suitable for all life stages, offering great versatility
- Promotes digestive health and immune system
- Supports joint health with glucosamine and chondroitin
- Free from common allergens like corn and wheat
- Contains no artificial preservatives
- May not be as readily available as other brands
- Some dogs may not prefer the taste or texture
3. Merrick Grain-Free Large Breed Dry Dog Food Real Chicken & Sweet Potato Recipe
- Grain-free formula with real deboned chicken
- Includes sweet potatoes for digestible energy
- Rich in omega fatty acids for skin and coat health
- Contains glucosamine and chondroitin for joint support
- First 5 Ingredients: Deboned chicken, chicken meal, sweet potatoes, potatoes, peas
In my time observing and caring for different dog breeds, I’ve noticed that German Shepherds thrive on grain-free diets like Merrick’s. This formula, with real deboned chicken, offers high-quality protein that’s essential for their muscular build. The inclusion of sweet potatoes provides easily digestible energy, vital for this energetic breed. The omega fatty acids in this food contribute significantly to maintaining a healthy coat, while the glucosamine and chondroitin support joint health, which is essential for large breeds like German Shepherds.
- High-quality, real chicken as the main ingredient
- Grain-free for easy digestion
- Supports joint health and muscle maintenance
- Promotes healthy skin and a lustrous coat
- Some dogs may be sensitive to chicken or peas
- Higher price point than some other grain-free options
4. Eukanuba Adult Large Breed Dry Dog Food
- Formulated for large breeds like German Shepherds
- Contains high-quality animal protein and natural fibers
- Enhanced with a unique DentaDefense system
- Supports healthy joints with added glucosamine and chondroitin
- First 5 Ingredients: Chicken, corn, chicken by-product, wheat, ground whole grain sorghum
Eukanuba’s formula is another excellent choice for German Shepherds, especially in a busy kennel environment like ours. It’s designed to support the size and energy levels of large breeds. The high-quality animal protein aids in building and maintaining lean muscle mass, which is crucial for active breeds. The natural fibers aid in digestion, and their DentaDefense system helps keep teeth clean and healthy. Additionally, the added joint supplements are vital for preventing issues common in large breeds.
- High-quality animal protein for muscle development
- Includes DentaDefense system for dental health
- Supports joint health with added supplements
- Natural fibers for digestive health
- Contains grains, which might not suit all German Shepherds
- Includes chicken by-product meal
5. Blue Buffalo Wilderness Adult High Protein Natural Salmon & Wholesome Grains Dry Dog Food
- High protein content with real salmon as the primary ingredient
- Wholesome grains included for sustained energy
- Rich in omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids for skin and coat health
- Free from poultry by-product meals, corn, wheat, and soy
- First 5 Ingredients: Deboned salmon, salmon meal, chicken meal, oatmeal, barley
Blue Buffalo Wilderness with real salmon offers an exceptional protein source, crucial for the muscle maintenance of active breeds like German Shepherds. The inclusion of wholesome grains provides the necessary carbohydrates for sustained energy, making it an excellent choice for this high-energy breed.
The formula’s richness in omega fatty acids is a boon for their coat and skin health, ensuring a shiny and healthy appearance. Importantly, it avoids common allergens, making it a safe option for German Shepherds with food sensitivities. The absence of poultry by-products and other fillers is a testament to its quality, catering to the holistic well-being of your dog.
- High-quality salmon as the main protein source
- Includes healthy grains for energy
- Beneficial for skin and coat health
- Avoids common allergens and fillers
- Some dogs might not prefer fish-based protein
- Higher price point compared to other brands
6. Royal Canin Breed Health Nutrition German Shepherd Puppy Dry Dog Food — Best for Puppies
- Tailored for the growth and development of German Shepherd puppies
- Supports digestive health and immune system
- Kibble size and shape designed for German Shepherd puppies
- Enriched with antioxidants and vitamins
- First 5 Ingredients: Chicken by-product meal, wheat gluten, corn, oat gloats, brewers rice
The Royal Canin German Shepherd Puppy formula is specifically designed to cater to the nutritional requirements of growing puppies of this breed. Its tailored kibble size makes it easier for puppies to pick up and chew, aiding in proper digestion. The formula is enriched with antioxidants and vitamins, crucial for developing a strong immune system during the early stages of life.
The focus on digestive health is particularly important, as puppies have more sensitive stomachs. This food is a great choice for setting the foundation for a healthy, active adult German Shepherd, providing the necessary nutrients for optimal growth and development.
- Specifically formulated for German Shepherd puppies
- Tailored kibble size for easier chewing
- Supports immune system and digestive health
- Rich in essential nutrients for growth
- Contains wheat gluten, which may not suit all puppies
- Premium price point
7. Holistic Select Large & Giant Breed Adult Health Chicken Meal & Oatmeal Recipe
- Formulated for large and giant breeds
- Chicken meal as a primary protein source
- Includes probiotics, prebiotics, digestive enzymes, and natural fibers
- Contains joint-supporting ingredients like glucosamine
- First 5 Ingredients: Chicken meal, rice, oatmeal, oats, chicken fat
Holistic Select’s Large & Giant Breed formula offers a balanced and comprehensive approach to nutrition, making it a suitable choice for German Shepherds. The primary ingredient, chicken meal, provides high-quality protein for muscle maintenance. The inclusion of probiotics, prebiotics, and digestive enzymes aids in efficient digestion, crucial for breeds with sensitive stomachs.
The addition of natural fibers further assists in digestive health. Moreover, the presence of glucosamine supports joint health, an important aspect for large breeds prone to joint issues. This food addresses the overall well-being of a German Shepherd, from digestive health to joint support.
- High-quality chicken meal for protein
- Supports digestive health with natural fibers and enzymes
- Contains joint-supporting ingredients
- Suitable for large and giant breeds
- May not be suitable for dogs with chicken sensitivities
- Some dogs might prefer fresh meat to chicken meal
8. Diamond Naturals Large Breed Adult Chicken & Rice Formula
- Formulated specifically for large breed adult dogs
- Real cage-free chicken as the primary ingredient
- Contains species-specific probiotics for digestive health
- Enriched with superfoods and antioxidants
- First 5 Ingredients: Chicken, chicken meal, whole grain brown rice, cracked pearled barley, ground white rice
Diamond Naturals’ formula is a great fit for German Shepherds, particularly with its use of real cage-free chicken as the main protein source, promoting strong muscles. The inclusion of species-specific probiotics is impressive, as it caters to the digestive health of German Shepherds, a common concern for the breed. Additionally, the formula is enriched with superfoods and antioxidants, supporting overall health, immune system, and a healthy coat. The focus on natural ingredients and the absence of fillers and artificial preservatives make it a wholesome choice for your dog.
- Real chicken as the main protein source
- Probiotics tailored for canine digestive health
- Includes superfoods and antioxidants
- Free from artificial preservatives and fillers
- Contains grains, which may not suit all dogs
- Some dogs may require a higher protein diet
9. Taste of the Wild Southwest Canyon Grain-Free Dry Dog Food
- Grain-free formula with unique protein blend
- Includes real beef, lamb, and wild boar
- Supplemented with fruits and vegetables for natural antioxidants
- Contains species-specific K9 Strain Probiotics
- First 5 Ingredients: Beef, peas, garbanzo beans, lamb meal, canola oil
Taste of the Wild offers a grain-free alternative with a unique blend of proteins including real beef, lamb, and wild boar, ideal for German Shepherds who thrive on a high-protein diet. This diversity in protein sources can be beneficial for muscle growth and maintenance. The inclusion of fruits and vegetables provides natural antioxidants for immune health.
Additionally, the K9 Strain Probiotics are specifically designed for dogs, aiding in digestive health. This product stands out for its novel protein sources and commitment to natural, grain-free ingredients.
- High-quality, diverse protein sources
- Grain-free for sensitive stomachs
- Natural antioxidants from fruits and vegetables
- Contains probiotics tailored for dogs
- Some dogs might be allergic to specific protein sources
- Higher price point than some other grain-free options
10. Iams Proactive Health Large Breed with Real Chicken Adult Dry Dog Food
- Designed for large breed adult dogs
- Real farm-raised chicken as the first ingredient
- Formulated to support healthy bones and joints
- Contains a blend of fibers and prebiotics for digestive health
- First 5 Ingredients: Chicken, ground barley, ground whole grain corn, ground whole grain sorghum, chicken by-product meal
Iams Proactive Health is a good choice for German Shepherds, with its emphasis on supporting bones and joints, crucial for large breeds. The primary ingredient, real farm-raised chicken, provides necessary protein for muscle maintenance. The inclusion of a blend of fibers and prebiotics is particularly beneficial for digestive health, a key consideration for German Shepherds. This food aims to provide a balanced diet, promoting overall health and well-being for your dog.
- Real chicken as the primary protein source
- Supports bone and joint health
- Digestive health support with fibers and prebiotics
- Balanced nutrition for large breeds
- Contains grains and chicken by-product meal
- Not as high in protein as some other options
11. Royal Canin German Shepherd Adult Loaf in Sauce — Best Wet Food for German Shepherds
- Specifically tailored for adult German Shepherds
- Loaf in sauce format for palatability and hydration
- Supports skin and coat health
- Aids in maintaining healthy digestion
- First 5 Ingredients: Water sufficient for processing, pork by-products, chicken, pork liver, corn flour
For German Shepherd owners looking for a wet food option, the Royal Canin Breed Health Nutrition in a loaf in sauce format is an excellent choice. This product is specifically formulated for the breed, ensuring that it meets their unique dietary requirements. The texture and sauce not only make it highly palatable but also provide additional hydration, which can be beneficial for dogs that might not drink enough water.
The ingredients support skin and coat health, a vital aspect considering the breed’s dense fur. Moreover, its formulation helps in maintaining healthy digestion, a common concern for German Shepherds. This wet food can be a great addition to a German Shepherd’s diet, either as a complete meal or mixed with dry food for added variety and hydration.
- Breed-specific formula for German Shepherds
- Palatable loaf in sauce texture
- Supports skin and coat health
- Aids in healthy digestion
- Contains by-products which might not appeal to all owners
- Limited to one primary protein source (chicken)
About German Shepherds
In my years of working closely with various dog breeds, German Shepherds have always stood out for their distinctive characteristics. These dogs are not just popular for their striking appearance but also for their intelligence, loyalty, and versatility. German Shepherds are a large breed, known for their strength and agility, which makes them excellent working dogs in various fields such as law enforcement, search and rescue, and as service dogs.
Their intelligence and trainability are among the top reasons they are so revered. German Shepherds are quick learners and eager to please, which makes them relatively easy to train. This intelligence, however, means they require mental stimulation to prevent boredom and destructive behavior. Their energy levels are high, necessitating regular exercise to keep them physically and mentally fit.
From a health perspective, German Shepherds are generally robust but are prone to certain breed-specific health issues. Let’s discuss them below.
Common Health Concerns for German Shepherds
German Shepherds, like any breed, have their share of breed-specific health concerns that owners should be aware of. These include the following:
This is a common genetic condition in larger breeds, including German Shepherds. It occurs when the hip joint fails to develop properly, leading to arthritis and pain. This condition can be exacerbated by factors like improper diet, obesity, or inadequate exercise. Regular check-ups and maintaining a healthy weight are key to managing this condition.
German Shepherds can be prone to various allergies, ranging from food allergies to environmental ones. Symptoms often manifest as skin irritations, itching, or digestive issues. Identifying and eliminating the allergen is crucial, and in some cases, a hypoallergenic diet might be necessary.
Bloat (Gastric Dilatation-Volvulus)
Bloat is a serious and potentially life-threatening condition where the stomach fills with gas and sometimes twists. It’s more common in large, deep-chested breeds like German Shepherds. Preventive measures include feeding smaller, more frequent meals and avoiding vigorous exercise around feeding times.
Similar to hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia is a genetic condition causing malformed or weakened elbow joints. This can lead to pain, lameness, and arthritis.
This is a progressive disease of the spinal cord, typically seen in older German Shepherds. It can lead to paralysis and is unfortunately incurable, though physical therapy and supportive care can manage the symptoms.
Panosteitis (Growing Pains)
Common in young, rapidly growing large breed dogs, this condition causes inflammation of the long bones in the legs, leading to lameness and pain. It usually resolves as the dog matures.
German Shepherds can be prone to epilepsy, a neurological condition that causes seizures. While it can be managed with medication, it requires lifelong treatment and monitoring.
Apart from allergies, German Shepherds may suffer from other skin conditions like hot spots and seborrhea, often requiring veterinary care and specific grooming practices.
They can also be prone to certain eye conditions, including cataracts and progressive retinal atrophy.
How Dog Food Can Help with Health Issues
The right diet plays a crucial role in managing and sometimes preventing health issues in German Shepherds. My experience with various dog breeds has taught me that tailored nutrition can significantly impact a dog’s health.
For Hip and Elbow Dysplasia
Foods rich in Omega-3 fatty acids, glucosamine, and chondroitin can help manage inflammation and support joint health. Keeping your German Shepherd at an optimal weight is also crucial to lessen the strain on their joints.
In Case of Allergies
Identifying and eliminating allergens is key. Hypoallergenic dog foods or diets with limited ingredients can help reduce allergic reactions. Ingredients like novel proteins (those your dog hasn’t been exposed to) and single carbohydrate sources are often used in such diets.
To Prevent Bloat
Feeding smaller, more frequent meals can help, along with avoiding foods that are high in fat and ensuring your dog doesn’t eat too quickly. Some dog foods are specifically designed to promote slower eating and better digestion.
Skin and Coat Health
Diets rich in essential fatty acids, like Omega-3 and Omega-6, can improve skin health and enhance the coat’s shine and strength. Vitamins E and A, along with specific minerals, also contribute to skin and coat health.
Overall Immune System Support
Antioxidant-rich foods help in boosting the immune system. Ingredients like fruits and vegetables, rich in vitamins C and E, can be beneficial.
Probiotics, prebiotics, and dietary fibers in dog food help maintain a healthy gut. Easily digestible proteins and carbohydrates can also reduce the strain on the digestive system.
It’s always essential to consult a veterinarian before making any significant changes to your dog’s diet, especially if they have specific health issues. A vet can provide guidance on the best dietary choices for your German Shepherd’s individual needs. Remember, each dog is unique, and what works for one might not work for another.
How to Feed Your German Shepherd
Feeding a German Shepherd correctly is as crucial as choosing the right food. In my role as a kennel attendant, I’ve learned that how and when you feed your dog can significantly impact their health and behavior. Here are some tips on feeding your German Shepherd:
Determine the Right Portion Size
Overfeeding can lead to obesity, especially in breeds prone to joint issues like German Shepherds. Use the feeding guidelines on your dog food’s packaging as a starting point, but adjust based on your dog’s age, weight, activity level, and health condition. Consulting with a veterinarian can provide more personalized guidance.
Maintain a Regular Feeding Schedule
Consistency is key. Feed your German Shepherd at the same times every day. Adult German Shepherds typically do well with two meals per day, while puppies may require more frequent feedings.
Monitor Your Dog’s Weight
Regularly weigh your German Shepherd and adjust food portions accordingly. This is particularly important for this breed, as excess weight can exacerbate health issues like hip dysplasia.
Be Mindful of Exercise Times
Avoid feeding your German Shepherd immediately before or after intense exercise. This practice helps prevent issues like bloat, which can be triggered by eating too quickly or exercising on a full stomach.
Consider Your Dog’s Life Stage and Health
Puppies, adults, and senior dogs have different nutritional needs. For example, puppies need more calories and nutrients to support their growth, while senior dogs may require fewer calories but more joint support.
Use Slow Feeder Bowls for Fast Eaters
If your German Shepherd eats too quickly, consider using a slow feeder bowl. These bowls are designed to make dogs eat more slowly, reducing the risk of bloat and improving digestion.
Hydration Is Important
Always ensure your German Shepherd has access to fresh water, especially after meals and exercise.
Offer Treats Moderately
Treats should be given sparingly and not exceed 10% of your dog’s daily calorie intake. Opt for healthy options that complement their diet.
FAQs on Food for German Shepherd
What is the ideal diet for a German Shepherd puppy?
German Shepherd puppies require a diet high in protein and fat to support their rapid growth and development. Look for puppy-specific formulas that cater to large breeds. These formulas are designed to promote healthy bone and muscle development and often include DHA for brain and eye development.
How often should I feed my German Shepherd?
Adult German Shepherds typically do well with two meals per day. Puppies, however, may require more frequent feedings—usually three to four times daily—to support their growth. The exact frequency can vary based on the dog’s age, size, and activity level.
Can German Shepherds eat a grain-free diet?
Yes, German Shepherds can eat a grain-free diet, especially if they have grain sensitivities or allergies. However, it’s important to ensure that their grain-free diet is well-balanced and meets all their nutritional needs. Always consult with a veterinarian before switching to a grain-free diet.
Are there specific ingredients I should avoid in German Shepherd dog food?
It’s wise to avoid ingredients that commonly cause allergies in dogs, such as corn, soy, and wheat, especially if your German Shepherd has shown sensitivities. Additionally, artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives are best avoided.
How do I switch my German Shepherd to a new dog food?
Transition your German Shepherd to new food gradually over a period of 7-10 days. Start by mixing a small amount of the new food with the old food, gradually increasing the proportion of the new food while decreasing the old food. This gradual transition helps prevent digestive upset.
Is it okay to give human food to my German Shepherd?
While some human foods are safe for dogs in small quantities, others can be harmful. Foods like chocolate, grapes, onions, and garlic should be avoided. If you choose to give your German Shepherd human food, do so sparingly and ensure it’s safe for canine consumption.
Choose the Right Food for Your German Shepherds
Choosing the right food for your German Shepherd is a critical decision that impacts their health and quality of life. Based on my experience and observations, I highly recommend the Royal Canin Breed Health Nutrition Adult German Shepherd Dog Food for adult Shepherds and their Puppy formula for the younger ones. For those preferring grain-free options, Merrick’s Grain-Free Large Breed and Blue Buffalo Wilderness are excellent choices. When selecting a wet food, the Royal Canin Loaf in Sauce provides tailored nutrition in a palatable format.
Remember, the key is to consider your dog’s individual needs, including age, activity level, and any specific health concerns. Regular veterinary check-ups and monitoring your dog’s reaction to their diet are essential.