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When there are so many varieties of dog food around, it's not easy to know which one is best for your German Shepherd.
In order to know which one to choose, you need to have a good idea of the specific needs of your German Shepherd, as how active she is and any health problems she may have will affect her nutritional requirements.
That's where I can come in to give you a helping hand. Read on to find out which brands of food are a good choice for your dog.
Here is a sneak peek of my top 4 recommendations of dog foods for German Shepherds:
I will go into more detail about why I have chosen these, but first let's look at what German Shepherds need in their diet, and why.
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How many calories does your German Shepherd need?
German Shepherds were bred to work all day herding livestock, which makes them high-energy dogs who are active both physically and mentally. This means that adult German Shepherds need a high-calorie diet (of at least 1,500 calories) to give them the energy to run as well as stay sharp.
For a large breed with an average weight of around 70 lb (32 kg) the calorie suggestions* are:
*These estimates are based on an average weight for this breed using Train Pet Dog Make sure you talk to your vet to get an accurate amount for your dog.
How many calories does your German Shepherd puppy need?
As your German Shepherd puppy grows (and seems to have an endless energy supply), she needs a calorie-rich diet. According to the National Research Council of the National Academies, a puppy needs twice as many calories per pound of body weight as an adult of the same breed.
Let’s work that out. So, an adult German Shepherd weighing 70 lb needs about 20 calories per lb per day. That would mean that a German Shepherd puppy who will reach 70 lb as an adult needs 40 calories per lb per day.*
*Theses are just guidelines. I advise you to discuss this with your vet and work out an accurate amount for your puppy.
How often should I feed my German Shepherd puppy?
As for a feeding schedule, once your pup is on solid food (at about 4 weeks old), you should be feeding her 4 meals a day.
At 4 months old, you can reduce this to 2 or 3 meals a day, and continue with this routine into adulthood.
Common health problems in German Shepherds - how diet can help them
Elbow and hip dysplasia
Unfortunately, the primary health concern for German Shepherds is hip dysplasia, which is a malformation of the joint. It is a condition that can get worse if your dog is overweight or obese, so keeping her at a healthy weight is imperative. If your dog is overweight*, you should choose a dog food that uses a weight management formula, which will be lower in fat.
Another thing that can help this condition (though, of course, will not cure it) is to look for dog foods that contain glucosamine and chondroitin (which are both natural substances), as they stimulate the body to repair damaged cartilage.
*Females can weigh up to 71 lb (32 kg), while males usually weigh up to 88 (40 kg).
Large dogs like German Shepherds can suffer from bloat, which is a serious and sometimes fatal condition. It occurs if your dog is very active just after eating, or if your dog eats a very large amount in one go.
For this reason, it is highly important that you feed your German Shepherd 2 or 3 small meals during the day instead of in one large sitting, and let her rest for at least half an hour after eating before letting her play or do any physical exercise.
Nutritional requirements for German Shepherds – a macronutrient breakdown
So how can we tell which is the best dog food for German Shepherds? Well, we need to look at a breakdown of what the nutritional requirement is for the breed regarding how much protein, carbohydrates, fat and vitamins and minerals she needs.
Here they are, in descending order:
Dogs that are large, muscular and active like the German Shepherd need especially high amounts of protein, as they use it to keep their muscles strong and can also burn it off as energy.
It is also essential for your German Shepherd's coat health. Her coat (which is double, and usually long) is mostly made up of proteins, so she needs a high amount for it to grow and stay healthy.
How much protein does she need?
It is recommended that your German Shepherd's diet consist of at least 18% protein. If she is a working dog who is active all day, she will do well with a high protein diet (between 30 – 40%)*. A German Shepherd puppy should get at least 22% protein, as her growing body needs all the extra she can get to develop.
Dog foods that have the AAFCO label (Association of American Feed Control Officials) will meet these basic nutritional requirements.
*This is just an estimate based on our expertise. You must check with your vet to get an exact figure for your dog.
German Shepherds needs at least 5% fat (8% for growing puppies), which is just the minimum. Many dog foods contain up to 12% fat, which is a better choice if your dog is very active (since fat provides twice the energy of proteins and carbohydrates).
German Shepherds also need the right amount of fat to keep its long coat shiny and skin well-moisturized. Not only this, but such an intelligent dog will benefit greatly from those omega fatty acids, which aid her cognitive function.
As already mentioned German Shepherds are active, so some carbs should be present in her dog food.
Many dogs, including the German Shepherd, can have allergies to grains like corn, soy, and wheat, however, so I would advise you to go for a dog food that sources their carbohydrates elsewhere.
You could try her on whole grains like brown rice, barley, and oats, which are all good quality carbs. If you find these don't agree with her either, go for a grain-free food that uses vegetables such as sweet potatoes as the source of carbohydrates.
Vitamins and minerals
Your German Shepherd needs vitamins and minerals to keep her coat and immune system healthy. Not only this, but the antioxidant properties found in Vitamin C and E also serve as good brain food for her.
Just as we do, she can get these from fruits and vegetables. A good choice of dog food will contain a variety of these.
Best dog food for German Shepherds
So, now I'm sure you want to know about my recommendations. I narrowed it down to 4 of what I think are great choices of high-quality for German Shepherds.
Here they are:
#1 NomNomNow - Premium Wet Dog Food
NomNomNow delivers healthy and nutritious dog meals made with fresh, restaurant-quality ingredients.
This dog food is formulated by a board-certified veterinary nutritionist, Justin Shmalberg DVM. The recipes are specifically formulated for the health and wellness of dogs in all life stages and are the best dog food that has shown positive benefits for health issues such as obesity, diarrhea, and allergies.
Human-Grade Ingredients: All of their food is prepared in human-grade kitchens (which meets all FDA requirements) that NomNomNow 100% owns and controls.
NomNomNow sources ingredients locally in the US and the team inspects all ingredients upon arrival, using only the ingredients that meet their high standards.
They have 4 fresh dog recipes (Pork, Chicken, Turkey, Beef and 2 flavors of treats (Beef & Chicken). All recipes meet AAFCO (Association of American Feed Control Officials) standards.
All meals are measured and individually portioned by hand to suit YOUR DOG’s caloric needs.
You can imagine, that such level of quality can’t be cheap and this is the only drawback of this food.
Price is calculated based on a dog's age, weight, activity level, and recipe selected. But I want to give you an estimation: one NomNomNow meal for a 32 lbs dog will cost you about $2.71 while feeding your dog high-quality kibble (like Taste of The Wild) will cost you about $0.83 per meal.
However, such natural and fresh food can pay off in long-term, as:
1. you won’t need to buy any additional supplements (such as vitamins) for your dog
2. your dog should have much less health issue, hence fewer veterinary bills
Btw, NomNomNow offers 20% off your first order. This will include samples of all of their 4 recipes which will help you to make sure it is the right fit. They also provide additional discounts for multi-dog families.
NomNomNow has free shipping on weekly, bi-weekly and monthly orders(depending on your location). They offer an auto-delivery option and you are in full control to pause, update, or cancel anytime. All meals are delivered fresh, not frozen and you are provided with emergency food, just in case!
#2 Taste of the Wild: High Prairie Canine Formula with Roasted Bison & Roasted Venison
This dog food is packed with a variety of high-quality protein sources (buffalo, lamb, chicken, bison, venison, beef and fish), making it a brilliant choice for active dogs like German Shepherds. In total, it contains 32% protein.
It is also grain-free, so no worries when it comes to grain allergies. The carbohydrates come in the form of potato, sweet potato, and yucca, and there is a variety of fruit and other vegetables including berries, tomatoes, and peas to provide high levels of vitamins and minerals.
Taste of the Wild uses only natural preservatives, and they steam dry their food with purified water to ensure it is free from chemicals. Pretty fancy, eh?
When it comes to price, it is more affordable than Orijen, which makes its overall rating just that bit higher.
High-quality, varied protein sources
Variety of fruits and vegetables
- Though it seems rare, some customers have complained about allergic reactions
#3 Whole Earth Farms Grain-Free Recipe With Pork, Beef & Lamb
Whole Earth Farms provides varied, high-quality protein sources, though it is lower in protein than the Taste of the Wild and Orijen, containing 26%. This makes it less suitable for highly active German Shepherds, but a good choice if your dog is less active. It is grain-free; the carbohydrates come from potatoes and sweet potatoes.
While the only fruit in the recipe is blueberries, it does contain lots of vitamin and mineral supplements. Something I love about this dog food is that they take the care to add herbs like rosemary, sage, and thyme for your dog to enjoy a more flavorsome meal.
Another factor that got this brand in the top four for the German Shepherd is that it contains chondroitin and glucosamine.
Whole Earth Farms is the most affordable option of the four.
- Contains ingredients that help with bone and joint health
- Contains herbs for flavor
- Lowest price
- Only contains one fruit ingredient
#4 Orijen Original Grain-free
What I love about this brand is that they focus on quality. Their meats are cage-free, their fish wild-caught, many ingredients are fresh and local, and they include infusions of freeze-dried meats for flavor enhancement. Plus, there isn't even a hint of preservatives.
Orijen is much more costly compared to the others on this list, but many customers rate it highly for dogs with sensitive stomachs, which is likely due to the high-quality ingredients, lack of fillers, and the fact that it's grain-free. It also has a reputation for enticing fussy eaters, which must mean it tastes good! If your German Shepherd falls under either category, Orijen is an excellent choice.
This is also a good choice for senior German Shepherds or those suffering from hip dysplasia, as it contains chondroitin and glucosamine, which, as I mentioned earlier, help maintain bone and joint health.
This brand also focuses on the importance of protein. It consists of 85% meat and contains the most protein of all four, at a respectable 38%.
Just to top it off, this food is also packed with vitamins and minerals from naturally sourced ingredients, and none of their ingredients are GMO (genetically modified).
This product would have made it to number 2 if it wasn’t for its high price. If you can afford it, I think it’s a fantastic dog food for your German Shepherd.
- Quality ingredients
- High protein content
- Good for fussy eaters
- Contains ingredients that help maintain bone and joint health
Orijen recently changed their recipe and some customers have reviewed it negatively
#5 Wellness Large Breed Complete Health Adult (Deboned Chicken & Brown Rice)
Coming in fourth is Wellness Large Breed dog food specifically designed to meet the needs of large breed dogs.
It contains four high-quality protein sources, but, like Whole Earth Farms, is lower in protein than the top two (26%). This makes it suitable for less active dogs.
Another plus is that Whole Earth Farms also includes glucosamine and chondroitin for your German Shepherd's bone and joint health.
This dog food also contains a range of fruits and vegetables, including, spinach, tomatoes, carrots, apples and sweet potatoes, which makes the formula very vitamin-rich.
Wellness products are also free from preservatives, chemicals, additives, and by-products, as well as common allergens like corn, soy, and wheat.
This product lacks most common allergens. However, it does contain rice, which may still cause allergic reactions in some German Shepherds.
Varied, high-quality protein content
Contains ingredients that help with bone and joint health
Free from preservatives and additives
Free from common allergens
- Contains rice, which may be an allergen for some German Shepherds
So, the clear winner: NomNomNow, which provides freshest dog food with restaurant-quality ingredients.
If you're looking at more affordable yet quality kibble food, then go for Taste of the Wild (which, may I just say off the record, is a fantastic brand name with a lot of positive reviews.)
The varied, high-quality protein content is what won it over for me, not to mention that it is grain-free and packed with vitamins and minerals.
I also highly recommend Whole Earth Farms and Wellness Large Breed dog food for less active or senior dogs. Finally, Orijen is another great choice for German Shepherds, especially if your dog is a picky eater.
Got any questions? Leave a comment below!
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10 replies on “Best Dog Food for German Shepherds 2021 Comparisons and Reviews”
Hi there! Thank you for the recent reviews. I’m curious, because my German Shephard sheds terrible and seems to have itchy skin with certain foods. Should I look into the salmon/fish based foods with these brands? She seems to be less itchy with Salmon oil on her food, so I was hoping to find a dog food that might help and eliminate the extra salmon oil. Thank so much!
What does Fromm dog food measure up ?
Just changed from a life time of Blue Buffalo. I have a 9-year old male 88LB and a 6-year old female 78LB. They have had on and off stomach problems with gas and diarrhea. We are going to try the Taste of the Wild.
Salmon is their favorite, plus it really helps with the skin and fur.
Very active dogs. Trained in Schutzhund living a very good life.
Thank you for your review.
Ozzy & Dia
At what age should I start feeding my Black German Shepard puppy adult feed vs. puppy food. He’s 15 months old and weighs 76 lbs.
Susan, you can start feeding your German Shepherd adult food at the age of 12 months. Smaller breed dogs become adults even earlier, at 7-9 months.
I was feeding my German Shepherd Taste of the Wild and discovered she had cobalt 60 radiation poisoning. Taste of the Wild is irradiated. So are the ingredients in Earthborne and many dry dog foods. I researched foods carefully and Wellness large breed is not. She was transitioned to SOJO’s raw dehydrated meal mixer with fresh cooked beef, lamb, eggs, turkey or fish added from Wellness when she reached age 10. She was 13 in April. Please be cautious with irradiated ingredients in dog foods.
Hi Jen, I see your post is almost a year old so I hope you see my response. I have a 5.5 year old GSD (Dax) and he has had some itchiness during the summer. Using a ‘rake’ brush, I have been able to gently remove most of his down which has helped with the itchiness immensely, but not totally. I have been feeding him Taste of the Wild (with Salmon). I am going to try Victor “Hero” dog food to see if it helps with the itchiness. On some of their reviews I read that itchiness and dry skin issues were help. It’s also a top rated dog food.
I have a 5 yr old male german sheppard. He eats the high prairie Taste of the Wild. In spring his eyes leak, is it possibly hay fever?
Hello I am a German Shepherd Dog Owner. As I was in the pet store looking for a brand of dog food today that would help reduce my girls shedding. I was told by one of the sales persons that Taste Of The Wild Salmon will help reduce the shedding. I have yet to try it out. I just bought the bag today 30lb bag. I will eventually switch back and forth with different flavors such as the High Prairie brand. I also take my GSD to Petsmart for a professional de-shedding bath. Every three months and it works great. I can’t wait to open Taste Of The and Try it out. As I was talking to the salesperson other people were just walking by picking up Taste Of The Wild Brand. I was like Wow!!! So I’m anxious for my dog to try it. And because it contains Probiotic ingredients it will definitely make the stools less messy and easier to pick up.
I would like to hear your view of “Victor Professional”. I understand it is made here in Texas.
Thank you for your response..