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.
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.
First 5 ingredients (beef recipe):
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.
First 5 ingredients (beef recipe)
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.
First 5 ingredients (lamb recipe)
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.
First 5 ingredients
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.
First 5 ingredients
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Some healthy fat sources include canola oil, flaxseed, chicken fat and more.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
German Shepherds may benefit from low-glycemic carb sources such as sweet potatoes.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Some of the most common dog food allergy symptoms are skin infections, itching, vomiting, diarrhea and gas.
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.
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.
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.
Reviews, recalls, research, you name it. These details might seem tedious, but your pet will thank you for it later!
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