German Shepherd dogs (also known as GSD's) are one of the most popular large dog breeds of today, and if you're looking for the best German Shepherd puppy food and adult food, then you're in just the right place!
The following list will tell you all about the top rated foods for German Shepherds that could get you and your canine started on the right path as of today, as well as why these brands were chosen among the best food for German Shepherds list.
Ready to give that precious little black & gold animal of yours exactly what it needs to live a healthy life? Let's go!
Our Top 5 Picks Of German Shepherd Dog Foods (Updated For 2018)
Top Pick: Orijen Adult Dog Grain-Free Dry Dog Food
Pick #2: Taste of the Wild Dry Dog Food, Hi Prairie Canine Formula
Pick #3: Merrick Classic Adult Dry Dog Food
Pick #4: Wellness Complete Health Natural Dry Large Breed Dog Food
Pick #5: Precise Holistic Complete Large/Giant Breed Adult Dog Food
*Note: The links in the table above, as well as several links in the remainder of the article below, will take you to over to Chewy.com where you can find out more information about the products, such as current prices and customer reviews.
Best Food For German Shepherds
We've gone over 10's and 10's of brands and came back with the following list of best dog food for German Shepherds.
This list takes into consideration everything from this breed's need for ultra-high protein levels so they can maintain their strong physique and lean muscle mass, all the way to their carbohydrate and dietary fat needs so they can stay energetic and upbeat throughout the day.
If you've ever come across our other reviews on this website, or the lists of best food for different dog breeds, you'll notice that Orijen gets very frequent recommendations from us and tops many of our lists.
Why is that? Is it because Orijen pays us to do so? Not at all, we don't receive a single penny from any pet food manufacturer. Orijen tops so many of our lists and gets frequent recommendations from us because it plain out simply deserves it.
Many people would argue that Orijen is straight out the best, highest quality and top rated dog food out there on the market. And, while we refrain from giving our opinion on such a broad subject, we will say that we firmly believe Orijen is indeed the best dog food for German Shepherds.
We say so because of the fact that the way Orijen was manufactured meets almost, if not all, of the nutritional requirements German Shepherds need in their diet.
German Shepherds need one of the highest amounts of quality protein in their diets, and Orijen is probably unmatched in the pet food industry when it comes to high levels of protein and their quality.
German Shepherds don't need as many carbohydrates in their diets as much as they do protein, and Orijen primarily focuses on high-quality and high amounts of protein at the expense of a lowered amount of carbohydrates, all while staying grain-free to avoid triggering any potential allergic reactions.
Pick #2 - Taste of the Wild, Canine Formula
A very popular dog food, arguably even the most popular brand today for many people, is Taste of the Wild.
Similar to Orijen, Taste Of The Wild has an excellent macronutrient breakdown to it, giving your German Shepherd adequate levels of protein, fat and carbohydrates that they need.
It's grain-free as well, meaning that you won't have to worry about your Shep getting any allergies from it.
Pick #3 - Merrick Classic Adult Real Beef
Number 3 on our list of best foods for German Shepherds is a product from the notorious Merrick, namely the Merrick Classic Adult Real Beef dry dog food.
When it comes to a canine as big as the German Shepherds, this (along with our Orijen, our #1 pick mentioned above) is one of the best options you could ever go with.
First off, this brand boasts a respectably high protein percentage of 35% (although not as high as Orijen), with its protein content coming from very high-quality sources such as deboned beef and pork meal.
Aside from the protein content, this food has lower-than-average amounts of carbohydrates (35%), and a bit higher-than-average percentage of fat (30%).
As you'll read in a few sections later in this article, the most important macronutrients in a German Shepherd's diet in descending order are protein, fat and carbohydrates, which is something Merrick gets spot on.
The carbohydrate sources of this dog food are also from high-quality, fibrous ingredients, such as barley, brown rice, carrots, peas, apples, and blueberries.
The only problem that we could see with this Merrick dog food is the presence of brown rice on the ingredient list, as this is known to cause some digestive issues in some pets that have sensitive digestive systems.
If your German Shepherd has a sensitive stomach and is known to negatively react to any form of rice, then you're going to have to reconsider.
Wellness has done a great job with their Wellness Large Breed Complete Health Formula when it comes to designing a dog food that meets the nutritional needs of relatively larger canines like German Shepherds.
Not only does this formula consists of more than 4 meat-based, very high-quality protein sources for your German Shepherd to benefit from, but it comes packed with chondroitin and glucosamine, both of which are notorious for their abilities to improve the condition of your German Shepherd's bones and joints.
The presence of chondroitin and glucosamine in this food is very important because, and as we'll discuss in a separate section down below in this article, dogs that are as large as German Shepherds are much more prone to suffering from problems such as hip & elbow dysplasia and arthritis, both of which will greatly hinder their abilities to move around and get adequate amounts of physical activity.
The chondroitin and glucosamine will greatly help in promoting your German Shepherd's bone and joint health, thus greatly decreasing the chances of them getting hip & elbow dysplasia and arthritis, or decreasing their side effects and intensity if your GSD already suffers from either/both.
What Makes The Best German Shepherd Dog Food? GSD's Nutritional Requirements
German Shepherds are especially popular working canines, being put to use in areas such as law enforcement because of their very good reception to training, large size and amazing loyalty to their owners.
However, with a large animal comes the need for a special and unique diet that doesn't cut it for other smaller sized pets.
When we're talking about a dog as large, muscular, athletic and active as the German Shepherd, then we're talking about one of the most demanding diets among dog breeds ever.
Generally speaking, a German Shepherd will usually weigh around 60-80 lbs, sometimes even 90 lbs. Of course, female German Shepherds will tend to weight on the lighter side of that spectrum, while male German Shepherds will tend to weigh on the heavier side of that spectrum.
Mind you, this weight isn't one of those situations were the canine is overweight/obese and sits around all day long doing nothing because it can't get itself to move around from all the extra fat bogging it down - no, no, no. This is one of those situations were this sheer amount of weight translates to lean muscle mass and one heck of a strong physique to go along with it!
Very similar to Pitbulls, when we talk about such strong physiques and a decent amount of strong, lean muscle mass, the need for higher-than-average amounts of protein in a diet arises to be able to maintain these unique characteristics.
On average, a German Shepherd will need among the lines of 1,600 to 2,100 calories each and every day. Now that's a lot of calories!
Please keep in mind that these are just average numbers for the sake of giving out a ballpark figure, the actual amount of calories YOUR German Shepherd needs each and every day may be much less or much more than that.
So, ideally, you should talk to your veterinarian about this to be able to determine YOUR German Shepherd's exact nutritional needs and caloric requirements.
Factors such as daily energy expenditure, age, metabolism levels and physical injuries play a big role in determining the ideal number of calories your German Shepherd needs to be getting in a day's time, so giving out a one-size-fits-all answer for this isn't exactly the most responsible thing to do.
For example, German Shepherds are known to be more prone than other breeds to suffer from Hip Dysplasia and arthritis. German Shepherds that can't get nearly the daily amount of activity as other German Shepherds that are completely healthy and injury-free will need much less calories during the day than those that are active for hours on end.
Similar to just about every other dog breed out there, protein is the most important macro-nutrient in a German Shepherd's diet.
Protein is the most important macronutrient for just about all breeds, but is even more so for dogs that are larger than others in size, more muscular and more active, all of which are categories the German Shepherd falls under.
On average, an adult German Shepherd needs to be fed a diet that consists of around 18% protein, while a German Shepherd puppy needs to be fed a diet that consists of around 22% protein.
With that being said, you should know that not all protein is created equally. Some dog foods have some of the lowest-quality sources of protein, such as unspecified meat sources (which could be anything really, like roadkill), and meat by-products.
In a perfect situation, the food you feed your German Shepherd will contain high-quality protein sources, such as whole meats like beef, chicken and lamb.
We generally always recommend feeding dog breeds dog food that contains prominent sources of protein from fish, however that's not the case for German Shepherds, as it appears that fish is not good for them.
Just like protein, fat is also a very important macronutrient in your German Shepherd's diet, because of the energy boost it gives them and all the world of good it does to improve their coat's condition.
Generally speaking, an average adult German Shepherd should eat a diet that consists of around 5% fat levels, while a German Shepherd puppy should eat a diet that consists of around 8% fat levels for proper growth.
Some of the best sources of fat that you can find in food for your German Shepherd are sources such as vegetable oil, animal fat and flaxseed, all of which will provide your German Shepherd with all the essential fatty acids (Omega-3 fatty acids and Omega-6 fatty acids) they need to stay energetic and maintain their coat and skin's quality.
Similar to what we stated in the section on Proteins above, you'll want to stay from dog foods that contain fish oil because these fat sources that come from fish could potentially be harmful to German Shepherds. Fish oil is an amazing source of essential fatty acids to other dog breeds, but for German Shepherds, there are some theories that say it could be harmful.
Not exactly as important as protein and fat in a German Shepherd's diet, but nonetheless important to a certain degree, are carbohydrates.
Protein is much more important for German Shepherds than carbohydrates, because remember, German Shepherds are large, muscular canines that need those levels of protein to maintain their muscle mass and preserve their strength, but carbohydrates are also important macro-nutrients in their diet because of the high level of activities German Shepherds have.
Ideally, the carbohydrate sources that are in the food you want to feed your German Shepherd are complex, slow-burning carbohydrates such as fruits and vegetables. For example, you're going to want to look for ingredients such as sweet potatoes, oatmeal, green beans and carrots.
Common German Shepherd Health Problems
German Shepherds are more prone than other breeds to suffer from certain health problems, most important of which are listed in the following list below.
Unjustified Weight Loss: In some cases, and because German Shepherds are typically born with a shorter colon than that of other dog breeds, they tend to have a more difficult time absorbing all the nutrients and minerals they get from the high-quality dog food and diet you're feeding them.
This can eventually lead to unexpected weight loss, where your German Shepherd will drop pounds even when you know for a fact that you're feeding them plenty of food.
If you notice that your German Shepherd is losing weight even though you're feeding them all they need to be eating, then talk to your veterinarian about it so they can run a few tests and determine if your German Shepherd is suffering from something like exocrine pancreatic insufficiency (EPI) or small intestine disease.
Your veterinarian will then tell you what kind of diet you will need to feed your German Shepherd, most often one that contains low amounts of fiber and fat and easily digestible carbohydrates.
Only your veterinarian will be able to determine the best thing to do in this situation, determine the best kind of diet to go with and see what changes need to take place according to the results and progress that happens with time. Please don't attempt to do this on your own.
Bloat: Bloat is a very serious problem among dogs that could sometimes prove to be fatal, and one much more common than we could imagine.
Bloat happens in pets for many reasons, most common of which are extensive physical activity right after eating, eating way too much food all in one sitting and/or eating way too fast.
This is why it's always advised that you feed your German Shepherd multiple, small meals during a day as opposed to one gigantic meal, and ensure that they don't get any physical activity for a good 30-60 minutes right after they eat.
Hip & Elbow Dysplasia: Hip & Elbow Dysplasia is a very common problem among large breeds that tend to get higher amounts of activity than average.
Even though this problem can't be completely solved by the most appropriate of diets, a proper diet can help to a certain extent.
As a general rule of thumb, foods that contain glucosamine and chondroitin go a long way in promoting joint and cartilage health in your dogs and keeping the likes of arthritis at bay.
Weight Gain: Not really a "health issue" per se, but the German Shepherd is a relatively large breed that can easily put on weight as if they aren't even trying.
So, you must make sure not to overfeed your German Shepherd and make sure that they're getting the exact amount of calories they need in a day's time, nothing more and nothing less.
Check out this video to learn helpful ways to help your canine lose weight!
This goes hand in hand with the Hip Dysplasia issue we talked about in above, where the more your German Shepherd is overweight, the higher their chances are of suffering from Hip Dysplasia, and the more those that already do suffer from this will have this condition worsen.
The more your German Shepherd weighs, the higher stress is put on their joints. Not to mention that an overweight German Shepherd is just a pup waiting to be affected by a deadly condition called Pancreatitis.
Again, not all of these health problems can be completely solved with the most perfect of diets, but they indeed can be curbed to a great extent.