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November 11th

Best Dog Food for German Shepherds 2019: An Honest Review

Best Dog Food for German Shepherds 2019: An Honest Review

German Shepherds are beloved for their fierce devotion and trainability, and their hardworking attitudes make them cherished pets, service dogs, police dogs and more.

But the German Shepherd’s large frame and active lifestyle means you’ll want to feed your pooch the very best to keep them fit and healthy. If you’re looking for food for German Shepherds, we’ve got you covered.

Shepherds require highly nutritious and protein-rich food to stay at the top of their game. Read on for our top picks for best German Shepherd food or best German Shepherd puppy food.

5 Best Dog Food for German Shepherd Dogs

Before we get to our top dog food for German Shepherd, it’s worth noting that there ARE a handful of German Shepherd-specific brands out there, most of these include ingredients that we’re not fans of.

In many cases, the difference between a breed-specific food and a brand that’s great for all dogs is just marketing. We’ve selected five of the top dog food brands for German Shepherds based on ingredients, value, and the overall experience you’ll have when choosing their company.

Best of the Best: Ollie

Pros

  • Four unique recipes to pick from—something for every picky doggie
  • 3 pet food subscription plans for big time convenience
  • Fresh, all-natural ingredient lists, no fillers, no preservatives
  • Convenient automatic shipping that you can skip, cancel or pause anytime
  • 100% money-back guarantee
  • Free shipping!
  • Everything made here in the USA

Cons

  • While the dog profile takes into account your pooch’s German Shepherd food allergies, health issues are not considered
  • Food comes frozen—which is slightly inconvenient
  • You can’t manually customize portion sizes
  • Depending on your shipment options, you might have to make room in your freezer for all of those containers

First 5 ingredients (beef recipe):

  • Beef
  • Beef heart
  • Beef kidney
  • Sweet potato
  • Beef liver

Why we like Ollie

Our top rated dog food for German Shepherds. Ollie provides premium, fresh, human-grade food delivered straight to your doorstep. Ollie’s meals are totally customized based on your unique pooch, and all of Ollie’s ingredients are ultra-high quality (and meals are made in the US). On top of that, Ollie’s customer service is out of this world. Shipping is super convenient, and you can pause, cancel or skip orders at any time.

Best Raw Food: TruDog

Pros

  • Zero meal preparation time. Save time, provide awesome meals to your pooch while still getting to work on time and relaxing in the evening.
  • Easy shipping. TruDog provides next-day shipping for larger orders, which is the next-best thing to picking up food at the store.
  • Tons of variety. Lots of different food and treats to choose from.
  • Trusted. TruDog is family-owned, and they control all aspects of their company’s production.
  • Raw food diets could lead to better breath, smaller stools, longer life spans, better skin and shinier coats.

Cons

  • TruDog tends to be on the pricier side of things, especially if you’re trying to feed a large dog (or multiple dogs). However, you really do get what you pay for.
  • Raw food is easy for your dog to wolf down. If your dog is a fast eater and you’re concerned with bloat, you may want to opt for dry kibble that takes longer to chew.

First 5 ingredients (beef recipe)

  • Beef
  • Beef tripe
  • Beef lung
  • Ground beef bone
  • Beef liver

Why we like TruDog

We believe TruDog is the best choice out there if you want to feed your dog a raw food diet. Their meals truly look and smell like real meat, our dogs loved them, and TruDog also offers incredible customer support. TruDog’s ingredients are sourced here in the United States. TruDog is a complete meal source and is totally free of artificial and unnecessary additives. Our pick for raw dog food recipes for German Shepherds.

Best Dry Dog Food For German Shepherds: Ziwi Peak Air-Dried Lamb for Dogs

Pros

  • Air-dried instead of baked. No artificial preservatives or sugars
  • Nutrient-dense but easy to digest like a raw diet
  • Can store for nearly two years
  • Drying process claims to destroy disease-causing bacteria like salmonella
  • Food sourced completely in New Zealand
  • Top-quality protein sources (see below)

Cons

  • Ziwi is expensive compared to other dry dog food, but you definitely get what you pay for
  • Ziwi comes in relatively small bags compared to other dry dog food brands

First 5 ingredients (lamb recipe)

  • Lamb
  • Lamb heart
  • Lamb tripe
  • Lamb liver
  • Lamb kidney

Why we like Ziwi

Ziwi just popped up on our radar recently, but we’re really impressed with what the company has to offer. Our dogs absolutely loved the three recipes we tried (lamb, venison and beef). While Ziwi is expensive, we highly recommend their air-dried dog food to anyone who wants only the best-of-the-best for their dogs. It offers many of the benefits of a raw diet, but with the added convenience of dry food.

Also Consider: Diamond Naturals Large Breed Adult

Pros

  • Diamond Naturals is a big step up from your typical big box store brand, but without the high costs of more premium brands
  • Less fat than standard food, better for bigger appetites
  • Additives for bone, joint, skin and coat health
  • Great ingredients like coconut, blueberries, spinach, kale and carrots
  • Varied nutrient sources

Cons

  • Unfortunately, this brand does feature a small amount of added salt
  • Also contains “natural flavor”

First 5 ingredients

  • Chicken
  • Chicken meal
  • Whole grain brown rice
  • Cracked pearled barley
  • Ground white rice

Why we like Diamond Naturals

Diamond Naturals is one of the most ordered and most reviewed dog food brands online, and we’re a fan of most of their products. For German Shepherds, we recommend their Large Breed Adult Formula for its added bone and joint health supplements and it’s protein/fat ratio that better suits big, heavy dogs like the German Shepherd. Pound for pound, Diamond Naturals is an affordable, great choice for your dog.

Also Consider: Taste of the Wild High Prairie Formula

Pros

  • Contains probiotics AND dried chicory root, a prebiotic fiber that aids beneficial gut bacteria
  • Provides complete nutrition for adult dogs
  • Contains a blend of omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids
  • Pasture-raised bison and venison (highly digestible protein sources)
  • Zero grains

Cons

  • While it contains both roasted bison and venison, these ingredients are not among the first 5 ingredients listed on the label
  • Contains a somewhat-high amount of plant-based protein

First 5 ingredients

  • Buffalo
  • Lamb meal
  • Chicken meal
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Peas

Why we like Taste of the Wild

Another affordable dog food option, Taste of the Wild is one of our preferred dry food brands for our own dogs. Their High Prairie formula is totally grain-free, and contains roasted bison and venison. These meat sources are easy for dogs to digest, and from our personal experience, our dogs wolf it down.

Common Health Concerns for German Shepherds

German Shepherds are, for the most part, pretty healthy dogs. However, like all breeds, Shepherds are susceptible to a variety of health problems.

Please note that some of the most common issues that might affect your GSD are congenital, meaning they are totally out of your control.

However, many other health problems can be controlled, and develop as a result of your dog’s lifestyle, environment, and diet.

Food Allergies

German Shepherds suffer from food allergies at a higher rate than average. Some signs of food allergies are dry skin and itchiness, especially around the paws and ears. Some Shepherds may also show signs of gastrointestinal problems due to food sensitivities.

As with humans, canine food allergies happen when your dog’s immune system thinks that harmless proteins from your dog’s food are actually dangerous, which triggers an immune response.

Food Intolerances: Best Dog Food for German Shepherds with Sensitive Stomach

While allergies usually cause skin issues, intolerances to certain food means that your Shepherd can’t digest certain proteins normally. Food intolerances can cause both diarrhea and vomiting.

Perianal Fistulas

These are small tunnels that form around your dog’s anus, leading from his or her anal glands to the surface of the skin. Perianal fistulas can easily become infected, are very painful for your dog, and can develop pus. Compared to other breeds, German Shepherds are one of the most likely—if not THE most—to develop this condition.

Osteoarthritis

As with many large breeds, German Shepards are prone to arthritis as they age. Osteoarthritis can cause joint pain, which can eventually limit your canine’s mobility.

Hip Dysplasia

Another condition common to large breeds, hip dysplasia can put your pup in quite a bit of pain and make it hard for him to get around like he used to.

Bloat

Like other large-chested dog breeds, German Shepherds can sometimes develop bloat—which is a twisting of your dog’s stomach or intestines. Bloat causes gas to be trapped inside, and can be fatal.

The causes of bloat are not fully understood, although some suggest that eating too quickly can contribute to the condition. Asking what is the best dry dog food for German Shepherds may be better than a soft food diet.

Inflammatory Bowel Disease

IBD is another common disease among German Shepherds, which appears with similar conditions to Crohn’s disease in humans. Some evidence suggests that IBD may be connected to perianal fistulas in some way.

Can the best dog food for German Shepherds help treat or prevent these conditions?

If you think your dog is suffering from any of these health problems, talk to your vet right away.

Feeding your dog a healthy, nutritious diet can influence their overall health and wellbeing, and there are even therapeutic meal options out there for dogs who suffer from all types of diseases and health conditions.

What Makes High Quality Dog Food? Best Dog Food German Shepherd

Before we get into the specifics of German Shepherd food, how much do you feed a German Shepherd, best dog food for German Shepherds with skin allergies, etc., let’s recap what makes great dog food for any breed.

Pick food that’s sourced and made in the US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand or Western Europe.

More often than not, food produced in “western” countries is subjected to tougher quality control and standards, meaning your dog’s food is less likely to show up in the next big pet food recall.

Avoid unnecessary additives when looking for the best dog food to feed German Shepherds.

You always want to avoid artificial colors and flavors when possible, but these artificial additives are an even bigger issue when feeding your allergy-prone German Shepherd. Remember, GSDs commonly suffer from both intolerances and allergies.

Look for quality protein sources in the first five ingredients (and especially as the first ingredient) and not just the best cheap dog food for German Shepherds.

There are a handful of great dog food brands that list a carbohydrate as their first ingredient, but from our experience, the best dog food will have some sort of whole-protein source as the top ingredient.

Look for healthy fat sources.

Some healthy fat sources include canola oil, flaxseed, chicken fat and more.

Meat-meal isn’t necessarily bad.

Even though meat-meals sound gross to you and I, depending on the type of meat-meal they can be healthy and nutritious for your dog. However, stay clear of foods that don’t make it very clear which animal the meal is coming from.

The same goes for byproducts.

While byproducts aren’t always a dealbreaker, the dog food brand should clearly indicate where the byproduct comes from. For example, something labeled “animal byproduct” is a red flag.

Specific Factors for German Shepherd Food: Whats a Good Dog Food for German Shepherd

Wondering what to feed a German Shepherd? We’ve gone over the basics for selecting dog food, but there are a few things you should be aware of when selecting dog food for your German Shepherd.

All breeds have unique health problems, and GSDs are no different. These tips should help you identify great food for your Shepherd!

Look out for the most common allergens.

German Shepherds are easy to develop food allergies, so try to avoid food that contains some of the most common allergy triggers—soy, corn, wheat, chicken, and beef.

Many of the top dog food companies offer multiple options to address these common allergies. For example, Ollie offers turkey and lamb recipes in addition to their more-popular chicken and beef meals.

Keep your dog’s joint health in mind.

As a large breed, German Shepherds are prone to joint conditions like osteoarthritis. Products that contain glucosamine and chondroitin may help prevent or treat these conditions.

Where are the carbs coming from?

German Shepherds may benefit from low-glycemic carb sources such as sweet potatoes.

Does the food provide a proper calcium to phosphorus ratio?

Puppy food should have a calcium-to-phosphate ratio of about 1.2 to 1, and proper balance is key to healthy growth (and avoiding conditions like bone spurs).

What do German Shepherds eat? Look for Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids.

Many veterinarians believe that these fatty acids can promote joint health, improve coat condition, and reduce the body’s inflammatory response.

In addition, specifically look for DHA. This Omega-3 is shown to support eye development and brain function. Taste of the Wild German Shepherd has exactly the balance that we’re talking about.

Probiotics are another plus, but don’t overlook the importance of ingredient choice.

With finicky stomachs, choosing a food that contains probiotics may be wise. Probiotics can help soothe your pooch’s tummy and improve digestive system function.

However, remember that the most common meat sources in dog food—chicken and beef—can cause gastrointestinal distress in many dogs. If your pup has an easily upset stomach, consider food that MOST dogs can digest—like lamb.

German Shepherd food recommendations for bloat prevention?

One of the biggest questions in German Shepherd dog food recommendations is about bloat prevention.

If your dog just can’t seem to slow down when eating, you may want to choose a brand that offers larger chunks of food that encourage chewing over gulping down meals.

Best dog food for German Shepherd puppies

What about the best dog food for German Shepherd puppy food?

German Shepherds grow fast, and feeding puppy food for too long can cause their bones and joints to grow too quickly—leading to orthopedic issues.

Puppies usually get between 3 and 4 meals per day, depending on the food source.

Adult food specifics: best dog food for a German Shepherd, best wet dog food for German Shepherd?

Transitioning to adult dog food may be the time to consider going grain-free (or grain-minimal) as GSDs can easily suffer from allergies. Naturally, you’ll want to work with your vet to make the best decision.

What’s the best dog food for German Shepherds and how often to feed them? Fully grown Shepherds will typically be eating 2-3 times per day.

Senior food specifics: how much to feed a German Shepherd?

Large breeds age faster than you might expect, and may start to show symptoms of old age at just 5 years old. If your pooch is losing muscle mass or experiencing joint issues, switching to a senior dog food formula can help keep your aging GSD going strong, well into old age.

More Information: What Is the Best Dog Food for My German Shepherd?

Still wondering what is the best dog food for a German Shepherd? Finding good dog food for German Shepherds is tough! Read on for more info.

Does breed size affect dog food choice? How does size affect the best food for German Shepherd puppy food?

Absolutely. Your dog’s breed and size will affect how much, how often and what kind of food you feed them.

Small breeds will have an easier time with soft food or bite-sized dry food, while large breeds will want meals with supplements geared towards bone and joint health.

Does activity level have anything to do with the best dog food brands for German Shepherds?

If your dog is a workaholic or gets lots of exercise, she’ll need to eat more often than a couch potato who only goes for quick walks around the neighborhood. Food for active dogs tends to be more nutrient-dense, while food for less active dogs may be geared more towards weight management.

What’s the difference between puppy food and regular dog food for German Shepherd?

Food for puppies will contain a higher proportion of protein, since puppies are growing rapidly. Adult food is less focused on growth and more on maintenance. Meanwhile, senior dog food will tend to have fewer calories and more fiber.

What’s the difference between a therapeutic diet and a regular diet of best German Shepherd dog food?

As dog nutrition is better and better understood, companies are able to manufacture diets that are intended to treat and manage specific health conditions. You’ll find these therapeutic diets for issues as diverse as arthritis, stomach problems, kidney health and more.

What if my dog is overweight? Is there a best dog food for 1 year old German Shepherd? What about best puppy food for German Shepherd?

Unfortunately, obesity is a lot more common in our canine friends than you might think. You can manage your dog’s weight by setting strict food availability and feeding times, decreasing the amount of treats you give him, increasing your pet’s exercise level, and picking dog food aimed at weight management.

Best dry dog food for German Shepherd puppy, canned, freeze-dried, fresh, raw…which one is best for my dog?

When in doubt, consult with your vet. Your dog may have specific conditions (and even taste preferences) that make some types of German Shepherd food a better choice than others.

How do I know if my dog is allergic to his food? What’s the best dog food for German Shepherds with allergies?

Some of the most common dog food allergy symptoms are skin infections, itching, vomiting, diarrhea and gas.

What does the food label really mean?

When we review the top adult and top dog food for German Shepherd puppies, we typically pay more attention to the first five ingredients on the label. That’s because dog food ingredients are listed by dry weight—meaning the first five ingredients also make up a majority of the food.

I’m still not sure which food to pick for a German Shepherd diet.

If you’re still not sure (or your vet doesn’t have one single recommendation) you can always take advantage of some of the discounts we’ve talked about earlier in our review. Give your pet a trial of each of your top choices, see which ones have the biggest impact on your dog’s health, and which one your dog prefers the most.

What’s the best way to introduce new food to my dog?

After you’ve found the best puppy food for German Shepherds, the next step is transitioning your dog to his new meal. Over the course of a week or two, gradually start replacing a portion of your pet’s old food with new food. Increase the amount of new food and decrease the amount of old food every day until you’re just feeding new food. This way, you can minimize digestive issues.

What else should I consider when buying food?

Reviews, recalls, research, you name it. These details might seem tedious, but your pet will thank you for it later!

About Uptown Staff

Hey there! We're here to help dog owners keep their puppies happy and healthy throughout the dog's entire life by sourcing and creating the best products, services, and learning materials on the planet.