The 8 Best Dog Foods for German Shepherds

By Kevin Myers | 2021 Update

This (updated) guide lists all of the best dog foods for German Shepherds.

German Shepherds are some of the most energetic and loving breeds you’ll come across. But without a proper diet, even the most playful dogs will feel low and fatigued.

Having a sensitive digestive system, German Shepherds are at an even higher risk of malnutrition.

But don’t worry, because we’ll guide you through the best dog foods for German Shepherds that will fulfill all of your dog’s nutritional needs. We’ve made a list of our top picks, as well as a special buyer’s guide to lead you through the entire process.

We spent weeks researching the best german shepherd foods, factoring in things like ingredient analysis, consumer reviews, and much more using my 40-point checklist.

Without further ado, let’s dive right in…

The 8 Best Dog Foods For German Shepherds

Top PicksRatingTop Ingredients
1. Taste of the Wild Southwest Canyon Grain-Free Dry Dog Food
(Editor’s Pick)
4.9Beef, Peas, Garbanzo Beans…
2. VICTOR Select Nutra Pro Active Dog & Puppy Formula Dry Dog Food4.9Chicken Meal, Blood Meal, Whole Grain Millet…
3. Instinct by Nature’s Variety Raw Boost Grain-Free Recipe with Real Duck Dry Dog Food4.8Duck, Chicken Meal, Peas…
4. Merrick Grain-Free Large Breed Real Chicken & Sweet Potato Recipe Dry Dog Food4.7Deboned Chicken, Chicken Meal, Peas…
5. Dr. Gary’s Best Breed Holistic German Dry Dog Food4.7Chicken Meal, Oatmeal, Brown Rice…
6. Eagle Pack — Power Adult Dry Dog Food4.6Chicken Meal, Pork Meal, Ground Brown Rice…
7. Wellness — Grain-Free Complete Health Large Breed Adult Deboned Chicken & Chicken Meal Recipe Dry Dog Food4.6Deboned Chicken, Chicken Meal, Peas…
8. Blue Buffalo — Wilderness Salmon Recipe Grain-Free Dry Dog Food4.6Deboned Salmon, Chicken Meal, Peas…

How to Switch Dog Food Without Getting Your Pup Sick


German Shepherds Dog Food Reviews

1. Taste of the Wild — Southwest Canyon Grain-Free Dry Dog Food

Top 5 Ingredients:  1. Beef, 2. Peas, 3. Garbanzo Beans, 4. Lamb Meal, 5. Canola Oil

Science proves that our beloved four-legged buddy shares DNA with wolves, and Taste of the Wild brand takes this fact very seriously when crafting the perfectly balanced recipe for your large breed dog. The nourishing, grain-free dinner is prepared using lamb, boar, and beef as primary protein sources work wonderfully even for the pickiest dogs. Give your German Shepherd an ancestral diet.


2. VICTOR — Select Nutra Pro Active Dog & Puppy Formula Dry Dog Food

Top 5 Ingredients:  1. Chicken Meal, 2. Blood Meal, 3. Whole Grain Millet, 4. Chicken Fat (preserved with mixed Tocopherols), 5. Yeast Culture

Made from gluten-free grains, this balanced diet by VICTOR is ideal for large breed dogs with moderate to high levels of daily activity. You will find all the high-quality nutrition for your German Shepherd’s diet while steering clear of unnecessary fillers like soy and corn. The impressive nutrient profile with chicken meal as a primary ingredient ensures a delicious blend for your Shepherd.


3. Instinct — by Nature’s Variety Raw Boost Grain-Free Recipe with Real Duck Dry Dog Food

Top 5 Ingredients:  1. Duck, 2. Chicken Meal, 3. Peas, 4. Egg Product, 5. Turkey Meal

Your German Shepherd needs a rich and balanced diet with nutrition made from high-quality, natural sources. And if you are looking to switch your Shepherd’s supper, this option by Nature’s Variety will not disappoint. The grain-free formula with real duck, chicken meal, and turkey meal is loaded with high-quality protein that’s great for your dog’s core strength and maintains optimal health.


4. Merrick — Grain-Free Large Breed Real Chicken & Sweet Potato Recipe Dry Dog Food

Top 5 Ingredients:  1. Deboned Chicken, 2. Chicken Meal, 3. Peas, 4. Sweet Potatoes, 5. Potatoes

Almost all large and giant breed dogs thrive on high-protein, grain-free diets, and that includes your German Shepherd. This offering from Merrick meets their special nutritional needs and keeps them healthy and active with food rich in protein and various other essential nutrients. The kibble is carefully crafted for large breed dogs with real chicken to offer your best friend complete and balanced nutrition.


5. Dr. Gary’s Best Breed — Holistic German Dry Dog Food

Top 5 Ingredients:  1. Chicken Meal, 2. Oatmeal, 3. Brown Rice, 4. Dried Beet Pulp, 5. Chicken Fat

This nutritionally dense kibble is specially crafted for your German Shepherd and include highly digestible ingredients that support maximum nutrient absorption. This wholesome diet is not only a delicious blend that your dog will crave, but includes high-quality proteins that come from eggs, chicken, and menhaden fish to promoted health maintenance and muscle development for maximum activity.


6. Eagle Pack — Power Adult Dry Dog Food

Top 5 Ingredients:  1. Chicken Meal, 2. Pork Meal, 3. Ground Brown Rice, 4. Peas, 5. Chicken Fat

The power-packed recipe is balanced with nutrition derived from an excellent combination of high-quality ingredients. The proportions of protein, fat, and carbs in this crunchy kibble not only helps your German Shepherd maintain a healthy weight but also helps in developing stamina and muscle tone for sustained endurance. The flavor-dense formula ensures excellent nutrition for active adult dogs.


7. Wellness — Grain-Free Complete Health Large Breed Adult Deboned Chicken & Chicken Meal Recipe Dry Dog Food

Top 5 Ingredients:  1. Deboned Chicken, 2. Chicken Meal, 3. Peas, 4. Potatoes, 5. Chickpeas

Supporting the optimal health of your tail-wagger, this particular recipe by Wellness is favored for all the nutritious ingredients it includes in the blend. The natural grain-free diet is perfect for large breed dogs, including German Shepherds, because of the protein it offers via deboned chicken with essential minerals and vitamins. The additional omega acids ensure healthy skin and manageable coat of your dog.


8. Blue Buffalo — Wilderness Salmon Recipe Grain-Free Dry Dog Food

Top 5 Ingredients:  1. Deboned Salmon, 2. Chicken Meal, 3. Peas, 4. Pea Protein, 5. Menhaden Fish Meal

Truly inspired by the natural diet of wolves, this recipe by Blue Buffalo Wilderness features grain-free ingredients and other protein-rich sources to balance the nutrition for large-breed dogs. Feed your German Shepherd dog a bowl filled with wholesome goodness and nourishment loaded with antioxidant-enriched ingredients for ultimate development and maintenance.


9. Taste of the Wild — Wetlands Grain-Free Dry Dog Food

Top 5 Ingredients:  1. Duck, 2. Duck Meal, 3. Chicken Meal, 4. Sweet Potatoes, 5. Peas

Give your big-breed German Shepherd a wholesome diet that combines the goodness of grain-free and a variety of other nutritional ingredients. The tempting flavors not only serve as a savory option for your big pooch, but the balanced nutrients ensure healthy overall development and a great level of activity. The recipe is free from by-products and fillers and features just the right amount of nutrition perfect for your German Shepherd dog.


10. Earthborn Holistic — Great Plains Feast Grain-Free Natural Dry Dog Food

Top 5 Ingredients:  1. Bison Meal, 2. Peas, 3. Pea Protein, 4. Tapioca, 5. Dried Egg

The holistic diet is a powerful blend of nutrition and great flavor. Earthborn’s recipe is formulated by animal nutrition experts to ensure your German Shepherd receives the best protein-rich food. The formula has an excellent flavor along with the perfect balance of nutrition your dog needs for weight maintenance and great health. Free from gluten and grains, the kibble is enriched with guaranteed levels of antioxidants for the optimal wellbeing of your dog.


11. Blackwood — 3000 Lamb Meal & Brown Rice Recipe Everyday Diet Dry Dog Food

Top 5 Ingredients:  1. Lamb Meal, 2. Brown Rice, 3. Oat Groats, 4. Millet, 5. Chicken Meal

Your shepherd needs much more than the regular nutrients. This Blackwood 3000 recipe is nutritionally balanced for adult, large-breed dogs and therefore, serves as a perfect diet for your German Shepherd. The supreme-quality protein is derived from animal-based sources, mainly lamb. So if your dog is fond of a special flavor diet, he’s surely going to fall for this one!


12. Holistic Select — Large & Giant Breed Adult Health Chicken Meal & Oatmeal Recipe Dry Dog Food

Top 5 Ingredients:  1. Chicken Meal, Rice, 2. Oatmeal, 3. Oats, 4. Chicken Fat, 5. Pork Meal

This extraordinary chicken meal and oatmeal recipe for your German Shepherd dog is special for a number of reasons. First, it’s made by Holistic Select, a brand known for offering one of the best ranges of high-quality dog foods, and second, it includes natural L-Carnitine and taurine, nutrients that are rarely present in the variety available in the market. The high-quality protein does not only guarantee great flavors but supports the maintenance of your active dog’s muscle mass.


13. Purina Beyond — Grain-Free Ground Entree Variety Pack Adult Canned Dog Food

Top 5 Ingredients:

Ocean Whitefish, Salmon & Sweet Potato Recipe: 1. Ocean Whitefish, 2. Chicken, 3. Fish Broth, 4. Liver, 5. Turkey

Chicken, Carrot & Pea Recipe: 1. Chicken, 2. Water Sufficient for Processing, 3. Liver, 4. Carrots, 5. Peas

Beef, Potato & Green Bean Recipe: 1. Beef, 2. Chicken, 3. Water Sufficient for Processing, 4. Liver, 5. Potatoes

If you want to pick a wet-form variety for your German Shepherd, look nowhere else! This canned trio by Purina has every variety your dog needs for great health. The three different recipes packed here features a variety of wholesome, highly-nutritional ingredients you can trust for the nourishment of your big-breed dog. Every blend is a premium choice made from trusted sources to ensure a complete, delicious selection. Give your dog flavors he can’t resist!


14. Royal Canin — German Shepherd Adult Dry Dog Food

Top 5 Ingredients:  1. Brewers Rice, 2. Chicken By-Product Meal, 3. Brown Rice, 4. Chicken flavor, 5. Fish Meal

A diet that’s designed for a specific breed is much more fulfilling than a regular one. Keeping that in mind, Royal Canin has created a special formula especially for German Shepherds and their dietary needs. Some noteworthy features of the breed-specific diet include special dietary fibers that cater to the sensitive digestive system of German Shepherds and a mix of nutrients that nourish and support their skin and coat.

The recipe is designed with highly-digestible proteins to encourage muscle growth and nourishment. Moreover, it contains both EPA and DHA to support bone and joint health, which is a common issue with most adult and senior German Shepherds.


15. Eukanuba — Breed Specific German Shepherd Adult Dry Dog Food

Top 5 Ingredients:  1. Chicken, 2. Corn Meal, 3. Brewers Rice, 4. Dried Beet Pulp, 5. Fish Oil

Building on the belief that dogs thrive on a carnivorous diet, Eukanuba has made a breed-specific dog food for German Shepherds to fulfill their nutritional needs in all ways possible. Their recipe uses high-quality animal proteins to provide essential amino acids for muscle nourishment and contains both taurine and L-carnitine to support heart health.

Apart from that, the special diet also includes beet pulp and FOS to encourage better digestion. Another unique feature of this dog food is that it uses a DentaDefense System that prevents tartar buildup for up to 28 days, significantly improving your German Shepherds dental hygiene.


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FAQs

Do German Shepherd puppies need special nutrients?

To keep up with the rapid growth of German Shepherd puppies, it is important to offer them a diet that is specifically designed with large-breed puppies in mind. German Shepherd pups require an appropriate combination of calories, calcium, carbohydrates, fats, and proteins to ensure maximum nourishment.

Do adult German Shepherd dogs need special nutrients?

German Shepherds often develop digestive problems due to a shorter colon. This can lead to a sensitive stomach. Therefore, it is important to give a very precise diet to avoid triggering the sensitivities and also contribute to optimal health maintenance. Provide your adult German Shepherd a balance of meat protein, fiber, carbohydrates, fat, minerals, and vitamins.

How many calories do I need to feed my German Shepherd?

German Shepherd puppies should be fed 500 calories a day, with an increase in the calorie levels as they grow. For adult dogs, calorie consumption should be between 1700 and 2400 calories per day, keeping their activity level in mind.

How often should I feed my german shepherd puppy?

Serve puppies younger than 4 months four small meals every day. Reduce the meals to three between 4 and 9 months. From the 9th month onwards, your puppy can eat two to three large meals during the day. Consult your vet or read the labels for calorie content to ensure you are serving the right amount.

What types of food are appropriate for german shepherd dogs?

The most popular type of food for your German Shepherds is dry kibble. However, for puppies and senior dogs, you should consider a variety of wet food options too. Other varieties you can serve include semi-moist form and freeze-dried food. For owners who don’t mind preparation and handling, frozen-then-thawed food is a viable option too.

What types of food should never be given to german shepherd dogs?

Avoid foods with animal by-products, preservatives, artificial coloring, fillers, soy, and wheat in them. Always check the labels before buying the best dog food for German shepherds.

What’s the best form of protein for your German Shepherd?

German shepherds require a diet dense in protein content at all stages of their lifecycle. This breed can eat almost every type of protein. Meat from birds is considered a healthier option. Foods with eggs as one of the primary ingredients is a good option too.

Is salmon good for feeding a German shepherd?

Salmon is great for German shepherd dogs. Foods that contain salmon as a primary ingredient are often recommended by veterinarians.

What are the best food choices for German shepherds?

To pick the best option from the variety available in the market, learn to read the labels. The best food choices for German shepherds include rich animal protein, moderate fat content, wholefood ingredients, digestible carbohydrates, and beneficial supplements.

What fruits can I feed my German shepherds?

The fruits allowed include coconut, blueberries, mango, papaya, melon, bananas, watermelon, strawberries, raspberries, and pineapple. Apples (avoid apple seeds), apricots, and oranges can be given in moderation. Completely avoid plums, persimmons, grapes, and avocados.

Can I give all types of vegetables to my German Shepherd dog?

Almost all the common vegetables can be fed to your German shepherd. However, it is best to avoid onions, chives, garlic, and leeks.

Are nuts healthy for German shepherds?

Nuts are often used as treats that dogs love. They are also nutritious in terms of protein content. However, nuts are extremely high in calories and not recommended for dogs in the weight maintenance stage. Also, they pose a risk of choking and should only be given in strict moderation.

How long should I wait to switch my puppy to adult food?

The recommended time to switch your puppy to adult food is around 12 weeks. Keep the transition smooth by keeping the process slow and gradual. It is okay to stick to dry food and avoid canned food during the transition.

Can I give milk to my German Shepherd?

Milk shouldn’t be given to any dog, let alone a German Shepherd. Most dogs have sensitive digestive systems and are unable to digest milk with lactose as they grow. Drinking milk can cause GI issues like vomiting and diarrhea in dogs.

Do German Shepherds have food allergies?

It is very common for German shepherds to have allergies to grains. Also, dogs with a sensitive digestive system can be intolerable to a number of foods. It is best to always pick a grain-free food option and visit a vet to have comprehensive detail about what you can feed your German shepherd.


Best Dog Foods For German Shepherd Puppies Only


16. Royal Canin — Giant Junior Dry Dog Food

Top 5 Ingredients:  1. Chicken By-Product Meal, 2. Brewers Rice Flour, 3. Brewers Rice, 4. Corn, 5. Wheat Gluten

Offer only the best to your German Shepherd right from his first meal! This Royal Canin option is specially designed for your large-breed puppy with all the essential nutrients they need for excellent growth and development. The formula includes DHA and EPA for great joint health for you growing darling as well as digestible protein to ease digestive issues that are very common in pups. Your little baby will turn into a large dog soon. Make sure you provide him with the nutrition he requires!


17. Holistic Select — Large & Giant Breed Puppy Health Lamb Meal & Oatmeal Recipe Dry Dog Food

This dry food option by Holistic Select is a popular choice amongst German Shepherds pup owners – thanks to the vital nutrients present in the blend specially crafted for large breed puppies. The formula isn’t just great for pups with sensitive digestion, but also contains quality sources of nutrients to nourish little puppies right from the start so that they grow into big, beautiful shepherds!


18. Purina Pro Plan — Focus Puppy Large Breed Formula Dry Dog Food

Don’t worry about your little one’s first meal when you have Purina to save your day. This Pro Plan Focus Puppy recipe is created to keep your German Shepherd puppy fully nourished without any digestive complications. The high-level of proteins extracted from the best and most natural sources ensure a high level of activity in your little pup. Keep their tummy safe and offer nutrients for great optimal growth.


19. Wellness — CORE Grain-Free Puppy Chicken & Turkey Recipe Dry Dog Food

Fill your German shepherd pup’s bowl with an incredible mix of great ingredients to guarantee cognitive growth and great physical health as they grow. The grain-free recipe includes deboned chicken, chicken meal, and turkey meal as the primary ingredients to ensure your pup gets high-quality protein nutrition to grow up into a healthy, active big dog!


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Buyer’s Guide

German Shepherds are some of the toughest and most courageous breeds in the world. To maintain their energy levels and constant growth, you need to provide them with a premium-quality diet that fulfills all of their nutritional requirements. And the best way to do so is to invest in the right dog food.

So what are the dietary requirements of German Shepherds? And which dog food would suit yours best?

Basic Dietary Requirements For German Shepherds

Like every other dog, German Shepherds also need a complete and balanced diet to stay healthy and active. Here are some of the basic nutritional needs of this breed:

  • Proteins: German Shepherds have a very muscular physique and are quite energetic. Because of their high muscle composition, they need lots of high-quality proteins so they can maintain their muscle mass.

    The best proteins for German Shepherds are the ones that are derived from real meat such as chicken, beef, fish, and lamb. These contain all the essential amino acids to aid muscle nourishment and support other bodily functions dependent on protein.

  • Carbohydrates: Carbs are mainly responsible for fueling your dog’s energy levels. Since German Shepherds are very active, they need about 40-50% carbohydrates in their dog food. Make sure that the carbohydrates are obtained from non-grain sources such as potatoes, peas, and other vegetables, as grains can irritate their digestive system.

  • Fat: Some common types of fats that German Shepherds require include Omega-3, Omega-6, DHA, and EPA. These aid in cell repair and tissue development, and provide nourishment to your German Shepherd’s skin and fur. Adults need only around 5% fat of their total diet, while puppies need around 8%.

  • Other nutrients: While proteins, carbs, and fats do fulfill the basic nutritional needs of a German Shepherd, they also require a variety of micronutrients to support other organs and body functions. These micronutrients include vitamins, minerals, probiotics, and antioxidants, as well as glucosamine and chondroitin.

Choosing the right dog food

Each dog is different, so they also need different amounts of calories and nutrients. In order to buy the right dog food for your German Shepherd, consider the following factors:

  • Age: At each stage of life, a German Shepherd will have different dietary requirements. A growing puppy will need more of each nutrient such as proteins, carbs, and fats to have steady muscle growth and organ development. An adult will need fewer fats and carbs than a puppy to maintain a healthy weight and receive adequate muscle nourishment.

    Similarly, an aging senior German Shepherd will need a protein surplus to counter wasting muscle mass and more glucosamine to support bone and joint health. And a nursing or pregnant German Shepherd will require more of each nutrient to support her baby and her own body.

  • Energy level: Most German Shepherds are highly active dogs that train and play several hours each day. Because they’re burning so many calories, they need a calorie-rich diet too. A highly-active German Shepherd will need around 2500 to 2800 calories a day on average to maintain a healthy weight, compared to a moderately active Shepherd that only needs 1700 to 2100 calories.

    Also, make sure that the calories are being derived from natural and possibly non-grain sources. Most dog food manufacturers use fillers such as grain by-products to spike up the calorie count, but these calories barely do any good. Look for grain-free dog foods that source carbs from vegetables such as sweet potatoes and peas for a more wholesome and nutritious diet.

  • Health Problems: Many German Shepherds have one or two health issues that require them to take supplements. Most common of all these health problems are allergies, bone and joint problems, and digestive issues such as bloating or gas.

    The best way to figure out which supplements your dog needs is to talk to your vet. A vet will determine which health problem your dog suffers from and which supplements they need to control that problem. German Shepherds with allergies and digestive issues are usually advised to be put on a low ingredient diet. Similarly, those that suffer from bone and joint problems are recommended dog foods with high glucosamine content.

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