Take a look below for the best dog foods for German Shepherds!
German Shepherds are well-known working dogs. As canines that were originally bred for practical purposes, they tend to be quite healthy.
However, they also have high energy needs and are prone to some health problems — such as hip dysplasia.
For most German Shepherds, we recommend Diamond Naturals Large Breed Adult Chicken & Rice Formula Dry Dog Food. Glucosamine is included to support your dog’s joints, and omega fatty acids are added for a healthy coat and skin.
We’ve reviewed 10 of the best dog foods for German Shepherds below. Keep reading to learn about our top choices.
Best Dog Food for German Shepherds
- Diamond Naturals Large Breed Adult Dry Dog Food (Best for Adult German Shepherds)
- ORIJEN Puppy Large Grain-Free Dry Puppy Food (Best for German Shepherd Puppies)
- Wellness CORE Grain-Free Senior Dry Dog Food (Best for German Shepherd Seniors)
- American Journey LID Grain-Free Canned Dog Food (Best for German Shepherds with Sentitive Stomachs)
- Natural Balance L.I.D. Grain-Free Dry Dog Food (Best for German Shepherds with Allergies)
- Blue Buffalo Homestyle Recipe Canned Dog Food (Best Wet Food for German Shepherds)
- Instinct Raw Boost Grain-Free + Freeze Dried Raw Dry Dog Food (Best Premium Food for German Shepherds)
- Taste of the Wild Southwest Canyon Grain-Free Dry Dog Food (Best Budget Food for German Shepherds)
- Solid Gold Fit & Fabulous Weight Control Grain-Free Canned Dog Food (Best for Weight Control)
- VICTOR Purpose Nutra Pro Dry Dog Food (Best for Active German Shepherds)
10 Best Dog Foods for German Shepherds Reviewed
While Diamond Natural Large Breed formula is best for most dogs, some German Shepherds have specific needs. For this reason, we’ve included some other, niche recommendations as well.
- First 5 Ingredients: Chicken, Chicken Meal, Whole Grain Brown Rice, Cracked Pearled Barley, Ground White Rice
- Key Ingredients: Antioxidants, Omega Fatty Acids, Probiotics, Glucosamine
- Guaranteed Analysis: 23% Protein, 13% Fat, 3.5% Fiber, 10% Moisture
- Caloric Content: 327 kcal/cup
- Type of Product: No Corn, Wheat, or Soy
- Life Stage: Adult
- Best for: Adult German Shepherds
Diamond Naturals’ large breed formula is a perfect option for most German Shepherds. It features high-quality ingredients throughout while remaining affordable.
Chicken and chicken meal are the first two ingredients, providing plenty of lean protein.
Various grains are also used in this recipe, though they are whole grains — which means they’re more nutritious than other options.
This formula includes natural antioxidants thanks to the inclusion of real fruits. Omega fatty acids are also added to improve your dog’s coat and skin health, as well as probiotics to support a healthy digestive system.
The ingredients in this dry dog food are top-notch. It is made without any corn, wheat, artificial flavors, colors, or preservatives.
Plus, glucosamine is included to support your German Shepherd’s joints. Because this breed is prone to various joint issues, this is particularly vital for their health.
All Diamond Naturals’ formulas are made in the USA with advanced food protocols. They have had very few recalls over the years, so you can rest assured that they produce safe dog food.
- First 5 Ingredients: Chicken, Turkey, Flounder, Whole Mackerel, Chicken Liver
- Key Ingredients: DHA, EPA, Omega Fatty Acids, Glucosamine, Probiotics, Taurine
- Guaranteed Analysis: 38% Protein, 16% Fat, 4% Fiber, 12% Moisture
- Caloric Content: 451 kcal/cup
- Type of Product: Grain-Free, High-Protein, Gluten-Free, Raw
- Life Stage: Puppy
- Best for: Puppies
If you want only the best of the best for your puppy, we recommend ORIJEN Puppy Large Grain-Free Dry Puppy Food. This formula is extremely protein-dense and features a lot of quality ingredients.
Like all large breed dogs, German Shepherds need extra protein to develop properly.
Most of this food is made up of animal protein — it contains everything from chicken to flounder. This variety of animal ingredients helps ensure that your canine consumes a wide variety of nutrients.
The whole fish ingredients provide DHA and omega fatty acids. which are vital for your puppy’s wellbeing. They support brain growth and may improve skin and coat health as well.
This food is made with the whole prey item, which means that the bones and organ meats are also included. Many of these ingredients are very high in nutrients, and our dogs would eat them naturally in the wild.
Glucosamine is also included in higher amounts than usual. This ingredient supports proper joint health and can prevent diseases like hip dysplasia, which often form while your puppy grows.
Probiotics are added to support your canine’s digestive health. When your puppies are only eating their dry dog food, it must contain healthy bacteria — and this formula delivers.
The main challenge with this puppy food is its price tag. It is costly! Luckily, there are some good budget dog foods out there as well.
- First 5 Ingredients: Deboned Turkey, Chicken Meal, Lentils, Dried Ground Potatoes, Peas
- Key Ingredients: Omega Fatty Acids, Glucosamine, Probiotics, Taurine
- Guaranteed Analysis: 32% Protein, 12% Fat, 6.25% Fiber, 10% Moisture
- Caloric Content: 359 kcal/cup
- Type of Product: Grain-Free, High-Protein, Gluten-Free
- Life Stage: Senior
- Best for: Senior
While this senior dog food by Wellness CORE isn’t specifically made for large breed dogs, it is the best dog food out there for older German Shepherds.
It includes both deboned turkey and chicken meal as the first two ingredients. Using two different animal sources provides your canine with some diversity and ensures that they are consuming a wide variety of amino acids.
This formula is high in omega fatty acids, which may help your senior’s joints and skin. Antioxidants are also included to prevent oxidative stress, which has been linked to various diseases.
Glucosamine and chondroitin are both included. These ingredients may help improve joint health, especially amongst German Shepherd dogs with hip dysplasia. They aren’t a miracle cure, but they can help relieve some symptoms.
Taurine — an essential mineral — has also been included. Higher levels of taurine may help prevent certain heart conditions, and it provides your dog with the support they need to keep their heart working into their senior years.
This formula doesn’t include any grains, which may be useful for dogs with allergies.
- First 5 Ingredients: Lamb, Lamb Broth, Lamb Liver, Sweet Potatoes, Sunflower Oil
- Key Ingredients: Omega Fatty Acids
- Guaranteed Analysis: 9% Protein, 7% Fat, 1.5% Fiber, 78% Moisture
- Caloric Content: 460 kcal/cup
- Type of Product: Grain-Free, Chicken-Free, Limited Ingredient Diet, Pea-Free
- Life Stage: Adult
- Best for: Sensitive Digestion
For dogs with sensitive stomachs, we highly recommend this wet dog food by American Journey. This formula is completely grain-free and is designed for large breed dogs.
It is limited-ingredient, making it a bit easier on some dogs with sensitivities as there are fewer things for your dog to react to.
This food’s main source of protein is lamb. It includes whole lamb, lamb liver, and lamb broth — three very high-quality ingredients that should be suitable for any canine. Dogs are rarely allergic to lamb, so this food may be a good option for those with food allergies.
There is no corn, wheat, or soy in this formula. Their absence may also make this food a bit more suitable for dogs with sensitivities. If your dog seems to react to any of these ingredients, this formula offers a great solution.
On top of that, this food also contains high levels of omega fatty acids. These fats help keep your dog’s skin, coat, and joints healthy. They may be particularly suitable for dogs with underlying conditions in these areas.
Natural Balance L.I.D. Limited Ingredient Diets Grain-Free Salmon & Sweet Potato Formula Dry Dog Food
- First 5 Ingredients: Salmon, Menhaden Fish Meal, Sweet Potatoes, Cassava Flour, Potatoes
- Key Ingredients: Omega Fatty Acids, Taurine
- Guaranteed Analysis: 24% Protein, 10% Fat, 4% Fiber, 10% Moisture
- Caloric Content: 373 kcal/cup
- Type of Product: Grain-Free, Chicken-Free, Limited Ingredient Diet, Pea-Free
- Life Stage: Adult
- Best for: Food Allergies
German Shepherds are not particularly prone to food allergies. But, they can occur in any dog.
However, German Shepherds are prone to autoimmune and inflammatory intestinal diseases, which a hypoallergenic diet can help with.
If your dog already has food allergies, you may need to choose a limited ingredient diet to make avoiding those things your dog is allergic to easier.
This formula includes salmon as the main source of protein, followed by fish meal. Both of these ingredients are high in omega fatty acids, which may improve your dog’s joint health.
Other things are included as well, such as sweet potatoes, though this formula includes significantly fewer ingredients than most options out there on the market.
Even if your dog doesn’t have allergies, your German Shepherd will thank you for choosing this dog food.
Just be sure to switch between the many different, high-quality, limited-ingredient recipes this brand creates to encourage a varied diet and prevent allergies.
- First 5 Ingredients: Beef, Beef Broth, Beef Liver, Carrots, Peas
- Guaranteed Analysis: 8.5% Protein, 6% Fat, 1.5% Fiber, 78% Moisture
- Caloric Content: 398 kcal/cup
- Type of Product: No corn, Wheat, or Soy
- Life Stage: Adult
- Best for: Wet Food
Blue Buffalo is a popular brand. Some of their recipes are quite good — including this one.
It starts with different kinds of beef as the first three ingredients — beef, beef broth, and beef liver. All of these provide plenty of protein and fat, which is exactly what our German Shepherd Dogs need to thrive.
This canned wet food is designed to be extra-tasty. It smells stronger than dry dog food, which may encourage otherwise disinterested dogs to eat it. For picky eaters, this may be exactly what they need.
Of course, canned food is also more expensive. However, you can mix it in with dry food to keep costs down and improve your kibble’s flavor.
This formula is free from corn, wheat, and soy, and includes some veggies on top of the meat products, such as carrots and peas. Carrots are a high-quality option and provide many different nutrients.
Peas seem to be used in a similar manner here. They’re there to provide high-quality vitamins. However, they may also be associated with health problems, according to the FDA.
This formula is not grain-free, as it includes ground brown rice further down the ingredient list. But for most dogs, this inclusion of grains shouldn’t be a problem.
- First 5 Ingredients: Duck, Chicken Meal, Peas, Egg Product, Turkey Meal
- Key Ingredients: Omega Fatty Acids, Probiotics, Antioxidants
- Guaranteed Analysis: 34.5% Protein, 21% Fat, 4% Fiber, 9% Moisture
- Caloric Content: 497 kcal/cup
- Type of Product: Raw, Grain-Free, Gluten-Free
- Life Stage: All Life Stages
- Best for: Premium Dog Food
The raw boost line by Instinct is one of the best on the market. It includes freeze-dried bits of food alongside your typical kibble, increasing the protein and fat content considerably.
The first ingredient is cage-free duck. This ingredient is a rarer inclusion in dog food, but it is packed full of nutrition. It may be suitable for dogs with allergies, though the second ingredient is chicken meal, which many dogs are allergic to.
Raw duck does carry a risk of salmonellosis, but this brand takes many steps to ensure safety.
Omega fatty acids are included, helping your dog maintain healthy joints and skin. Probiotics are also added through a coating around the kibble and raw bits, providing digestive support.
Antioxidants are included naturally through the inclusion of fruits and veggies, and these stop oxidative damage which can lead to a variety of similar problems and different diseases.
For the most part, this recipe uses only the highest-quality ingredients. Grains are not included, and neither are potato, corn, wheat, soy, or by-product meal. Artificial flavors and preservatives are missing from the ingredient list too.
- First 5 Ingredients: Beef, Peas, Garbanzo Beans, Lamb Meal, Canola Oil
- Key Ingredients: Omega Fatty Acids, Taurine, Probiotics
- Guaranteed Analysis: 29% Protein, 15% Fat, 5% Fiber, 10% Moisture
- Caloric Content: 360 kcal/cup
- Type of Product: Grain-Free
- Life Stage: Adult
- Best for: Budget Dog Food
Taste of the Wild produces many high-quality recipes, and they’re quite cheap for what you’re getting.
This recipe includes beef as the first ingredient. There are also several other meat sources sprinkled throughout, such as lamb meal, though whole beef is absolutely the main source of protein and fat.
This formula is a bit higher in veggies and similar elements than we would have liked — peas appear as the second ingredient, for instance. While peas are healthy for dogs in moderation, the FDA has found that they may be linked to certain heart conditions.
This food is quite high in omega fatty acids through the use of things like canola oil. As we’ve mentioned with other dog foods, this substance provides support for your dog’s joints, skin, and coat.
Probiotics have been added to support digestive health. While people get many probiotics naturally through their food, most dog foods don’t contain these essential additives. Everything has been cooked and sterilized, killing all bacteria.
However, dogs still need these good bacteria to thrive — which is why this company adds them back in.
- First 5 Ingredients: Chicken Broth, Chicken, Chicken Liver, Ocean Whitefish, Sweet Potatoes
- Key Ingredients: Omega Fatty Acids
- Guaranteed Analysis: 7.5% Protein, 3.5% Fat, 2% Fiber, 78% Moisture
- Caloric Content: 355 kcal/cup
- Type of Product: Gluten-free, Grain-free, Weight Control
- Life Stage: Adult
- Best for: Weight Control
German Shepherds require quite a bit of exercise to thrive. If they don’t get it, they can easily become overweight.
And, of course, many of these dogs are very food-driven. Meaning they will eat far more than they need if given a chance — quickly leading to weight gain.
However, obesity can be especially troublesome for German Shepherd dogs, as it can cause excess wear on their joints. These canines are already prone to joint problems — they don’t need the extra weight helping!
This doesn’t mean you should provide less food, though. Doing so can cause deficiencies in vitamins and nutrients.
If your dog is overweight, we recommend switching to a weight control food like this one by Solid Gold. It contains fewer calories and lower fat, which can help with weight loss. The higher moisture content can also help dogs feel fuller without eating as much.
It includes omega fatty acids to help improve your dog’s joint health, which is especially important if they’re overweight. High fiber veggies are also included throughout to keep your dog fuller for longer — without actually adding in more calories.
This wet dog food isn’t specifically designed for large breeds, but it includes many of the nutrients they need. Therefore, we consider it a great dog food for German Shepherds.
- First 5 Ingredients: Chicken Meal, Blood Meal Conventionally Dried, Whole Grain Millet, Chicken Fat, Yeast Culture
- Key Ingredients: DHA, L-Carnitine, Omega Fatty Acids
- Guaranteed Analysis: 38% Protein, 18% Fat, 3.5% Fiber, 9% Moisture
- Caloric Content: 401 kcal/cup
- Type of Product: Sensitive Digestion; Gluten-Free; Pea-Free; No Corn, Wheat, or Soy
- Life Stage: All Stages
- Best for: Active Dogs
German Shepherds were bred to be working dogs. Even if your pooch is only a companion, it isn’t odd for them to be a bit more active than most breeds. Many benefit from a dog food specifically designed for active dogs, such as this one by VICTOR.
It is much higher in protein than other formulas, and much of this comes from chicken meal — the first ingredient. Blood meal is another significant source, and while this doesn’t seem like a yummy ingredient to us, it is quite nutritious and a good choice for energetic dogs.
This food is ideal for active, adult dogs. However, you can also feed it to puppies and lactating females. Its high fat and protein content allow it to provide enough nutrition for these other life stages.
You could also start your dog on this food as a puppy and keep them on it as they grow older — removing the need to switch to an adult dog food once they grow.
Plus, this recipe is formulated with high levels of omega fatty acids, providing support for your dog’s joints and skin. It also provides extra DHA, which is a key component in brain development.
Guide to Buying Dog Food for German Shepherds
As working dogs, German Shepherds have a lot of specific nutritional requirements. They are often more active than most breeds, requiring increased protein and fat to thrive.
Feeding guidelines are often written for moderately active dogs — and many German Shepherds are quite active indeed!
Keep an eye on your dog’s weight and adjust their food intake as necessary. Sometimes, you need to double check the recommendations listed on the back of the bag.
German Shepherds are also prone to a few health problems, such as hip dysplasia. And their diet can play a key role in some of these disorders.
To choose the best food for your canine, there are several factors you need to consider.
Overall, German Shepherds have the same nutritional needs as other canines — like most, they need a high amount of fat and protein. In fact, studies have shown that this is mostly what our furry friends should be eating.
A diet high in protein and fat is especially vital for German Shepherd dogs due to their activity level.
Protein is one of the essential macronutrients for our German Shepherds. They require high amounts to support their active muscles. Without it, our German Shepherds just won’t be at their best!
German Shepherds should consume somewhere above 25% crude protein. However, this isn’t an exact science.
Some dogs are more active than others, even amongst German Shepherds. If your dog is a working animal, they will probably need more, while those that spend much of their time around the house will need less.
Your German Shepherd puppy will also need more protein while they are growing — they have developing muscles to support!.
High Fat Content
Fats have been somewhat demonized in our modern world. However, our dogs need a high-fat diet to thrive — especially German Shepherds.
For working dogs, fats can also provide higher amounts of energy with less food.
Of course, not all fats are made the same. You should aim to feed your dog a variety of healthy fats, including omega fatty acids. These are essential for your canine’s joint health.
Since German Shepherds are prone to hip dysplasia and other joint problems, they need all the extra support they can get.
German Shepherd puppies, as well as seniors, may also benefit from the added DHA, which improves brain development.
Dogs do need some carbohydrates. However, many foods contain far more than what our German Shepherds need.
Carb-rich foods are often inexpensive. Rice is much less costly than chicken and other meats, for instance. Therefore, many companies may add in extra carb-heavy foods to keep their prices down and bulk up the calorie content.
The best dog food for German Shepherds will contain good carbs from quality sources — such as nutrient-dense veggies, fruits, and whole grains. These carbs are okay.
You just don’t want your canine filling up on empty carbohydrates with little to no actual nutrients.
German Shepherd puppies in particular need to avoid these sorts of carbohydrates, as their growing bodies need as much nutrition as they can get.
Your dog can’t digest fiber — but that’s what makes fiber so important. It regulates a canine’s digestive system and provides food for their gut biome. If your dog doesn’t get enough fiber, they may experience stomach problems.
German Shepherds aren’t specifically prone to digestive issues, though they can still be affected by diets that are too low in fiber.
Overweight dogs specifically need plenty of fiber. It can also help them stay fuller for longer without actually adding any calories to their meal.
Vitamins and Minerals
When it comes to most vitamins and minerals, German Shepherds don’t have any specific requirements. They thrive off the same levels that most other breeds need.
However, they may benefit from some specific additives, such as glucosamine. This amino sugar provides some benefits for dogs with joint problems — and because German Shepherds are prone to joint issues, it is often recommended to feed them food containing it.
We’ll discuss some other health problems German Shepherds often experience below, as well as how to prevent them.
Beyond this, German Shepherds often do just great on the standards set by the AAFCO.
Factors to Look at When Choosing a Food for German Shepherds
Not all German Shepherds are the same. Choosing the best food for your German Shepherd often means adjusting their diet to fit their lifestyle and needs.
German Shepherd puppies have different nutritional needs than adults. They require more protein and fats since they’re growing every day, and so should be fed a diet specifically formulated for large breed puppies.
Diets for smaller breed puppies simply won’t work.
Larger breeds have to have the energy to grow bigger, and they also end up with a less-dense skeletal system. Therefore, they need special dietary considerations — which large breed puppy foods will take into account.
On the other side of that, senior German Shepherds often benefit from certain vitamins and minerals you may not find in adult dog foods. For instance, glucosamine is commonly included in senior dog food as most senior dogs experience joint issues.
With that said, you don’t have to put your senior dog on senior dog food. Many do just fine on adult dog food well into their twilight years — especially high-quality dog food.
Only switch your senior dog if you believe that would benefit from the extra vitamins and minerals.
Active German Shepherds have specific energy requirements. They often need more protein and fat to compensate for the extra strain on their muscles.
You’ll also have to pay special attention to their joints since they will be used more.
Especially working German Shepherd Dogs — they’ll definitely need higher levels of protein and fat. Consider getting these dogs a food specifically designed for their higher energy levels.
Certain health issues can be partially controlled through diet. For example, there are many additives that can help with joint issues.
If your German Shepherd has certain health problems, they’ll likely benefit from personalizing their food to relieve their symptoms.
Common Health Issues and Diet
German Shepherds are usually pretty healthy, but they can be prone to a few health conditions. Some of these can be prevented or controlled through specific dietary changes.
Food allergies are common throughout many breeds. Usually, food allergies develop after the dog is fed the same food for many years.
For this reason, we recommend switching out a dog’s food regularly. Don’t feed your dog the same recipe month after month.
If your dog already has food allergies, the only thing you can do is avoid their allergen. Usually, this means switching to a limited-ingredient diet to make avoiding reactions easier.
German Shepherds are very prone to hip dysplasia. Luckily, it’s directly connected to diet.
Hip dysplasia develops when dogs are puppies, though they may not experience symptoms for years. For one reason or another, their ball and socket stop growing at the same rate.
This uneven growth makes them rub against each other, eventually causing arthritis-like symptoms.
While this condition is partially genetic, it is also linked to how the puppy is fed. Those that are fed too much are more likely to experience growth abnormalities, leading to hip dysplasia.
Therefore, it is vital to feed your puppy only what they need. Too much can cause serious issues later on.
Bloat is a serious, life-threatening condition that comes without warning.
This condition is characterized by gases building up in the stomach, causing it to expand. Emergency vet care is needed — along with surgery.
The stomach can also twist, causing even more problems. The larger stomach can press on surrounding tissue and cut off blood flow, leading to shock and necrosis.
Sadly, no one knows what causes bloat. There are several theories, but none of them are backed by hard science.
German Shepherds are not specifically prone to digestive issues. However, any dog can experience stomach upset.
Sometimes, these dogs benefit from probiotics. Just like humans, dogs need good bacteria to develop a healthy gut biome.
A limited ingredient diet may also be helpful, especially if the canine seems to react to specific ingredients.
Many German Shepherds will develop osteoarthritis at some point in their life. However, a few dietary changes can prevent this condition or relieve symptoms in dogs that already have it.
Glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate are typically helpful for many canines. They are popular additives in many foods for large dogs.
Certain fruits may also be helpful, such as black currants. These have antioxidant abilities and high vitamin C levels, which may contribute to their effectiveness.
Is a grain-free diet good for German Shepherds?
Not necessarily. Unless your dog is allergic to grain, they do not need grain-free dog food.
Studies have shown that dogs have evolved to digest grain, and they get plenty of nutrients out of it.
Grain-free diets have also been linked to heart conditions by the FDA. We recommend avoiding grain-free dog foods unless your dog is specifically sensitive to grains.
Which is better: dry or wet?
It depends on your canine! Wet food is often better for those who are overweight since it can make them feel fuller for longer, and you could also consider it for canines that are picky eaters.
Dry food is absolutely more practical for dog owners, but it usually contains a lower protein content.
In the end, it’s really up to what you and your dog like!
German Shepherds are active dogs that benefit from foods high in protein and fat.
German Shepherd puppies, specifically, need food designed for large breed dogs since their fast growth rate gives them some unique dietary needs.
And, due to their health problems, this breed may benefit from foods high in glucosamine, omega fatty acids, and similar ingredients.
Overall, we recommend Diamond Naturals Large Breed Adult Chicken & Rice Formula Dry Dog Food as the best dog food for German Shepherds. It is specifically designed for large breed canines, including many of the nutrients they need to thrive.
Of course, some dogs will need a niche diet.
Take a look at our suggestions and choose the best option for you and your specific German Shepherd!