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Best Dog Food for German Shepherds in 2019

German Shepherd in the Park

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Imagine what would happen if you fed your German Shepherd with low-quality dog food from the time it was a small puppy. It would most certainly affect the body, such as its bones and even hair.

German Shepherd dog hungry for foodAlthough the food may not taste bad, it might not be considered healthy and beneficial for your pet overall.

German Shepherds are a very popular breed to own among dog owners because they are known to be loyal, protective, very active, and much more. So for this reason, you want to give the highest rated dog food for your German Shepherd.

I’ve taken the time and research to present you the most important things when choosing the right meal for your pup. Additionally, I’ve listed several options on the market that most customers prefer for their pup to eat.

Buyer’s Guide

German Shepherds need about 1740 to 2100 calories per day, depending on their activity level.  At least 22% of their diet needs to be filled with protein for growth, and about 18% for maintenance. Puppies usually need about 8% of the foods they eat to include fats, while adults need 5%.

German Shepherd dog from the sideHowever, make sure to switch from puppy to adult food after six months. This is because these types of breeds grow so quickly and can develop joint issues if fed incorrectly.

Fat and protein are the most important types of nutrition. However, these should only come from certain sources. The protein should come from whole meats like fish, poultry, beef, and organ meats.

To ensure your hound receives omega-3 acids, look for fish and vegetable oils since those are essential to keep your dog’s coat and skin healthy. A few other ingredients you should include in your pet’s diet are sweet potatoes, carrots, some rice, and oats.

Top German Shepherd Dog Food List and Reviews

Royal Canin Dry Food for German Shepherds

German Shepherds have strong jaws and teeth, so these larger kibbles are one of the top options for any dog older than 15 months. These are harder to chew due to their texture and size.

This meal supports their sensitive digestive system with L.I.P. proteins and fibers that maintain intestinal flora. The EPA and DHA in the food keep your dog’s coat and skin health.

Many owners claim this meal helped with their pet’s digestion problems after the very first serving. However, its primary ingredient is rice that doesn’t have as much protein but is great for your dog if it has stomach problems.

Pros:

  • Larger and harder kibbles
  • Enriched with EPA and DHA
  • Ideal for digestion problems

Cons:

    • Not as rich with protein

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Eukanuba Adult Dry Food for German Shepherds


This animal-based meal provides all your pup’s needs for strong bones, joints, lean muscles, and overall health. It’s ideal for those that are very active.

The Eukanuba has 3D Denta defense System that’s ideal for eliminating tartar build-up. The fibers in it promote healthy digestion and help your dog’s body absorb all the nutrients. This product has omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids that keep your dog’s skin and coat healthy.

Customers have seen great improvements in their pet’s coat and skin only after a few days of eating the Eukanuba dry dog food. However, reviewers have said that some German Shepherds may have experienced their stool that was too firm, in which case you can add some flax oil.

Pros:

  • Great for dental health
  • Rich in omega fatty acids
  • Suitable for healthy coat and skin

Cons:

  • Some breeds may experience too firm stool

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Taste of the Wild Natural Dry Food

This natural food is rich in nutrients and vitamins. It’s also great since it contains no corn, grain, wheat, no colors, artificial flavors, etc.

The first ingredient is roasted bison that’s rich in amino acids and proteins for strong and lean muscles. It also features minerals and vitamins from vegetables and fruits.

This product provides your hound with antioxidants and fatty acids for their coat and skin health. It’s easily digestible and suitable for pups with a sensitive digestive system. All its ingredients are trusted, high-quality and completely natural for this specific breed.

Owners say that their dogs love this meal and are always excited to eat it from the time they were a puppy. The Taste of the Wild Natural Dry Food helps provide energy and develop a healthy coat and skin. Still, some may experience loose bowel movements.

Pros:

  • Roasted Bison is the first ingredient
  • Easily digestible
  • Rich in vitamins, minerals, amino acids and protein

Cons:

  • Might be too much fiber for some

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Nulo Adult Grain-free Dry Dog Food

This meal helps your puppy maintain a healthy weight, balanced diet, and high-energy. It’s grain-free, so it’s safe to use on allergy prone dogs. This product doesn’t feature any corn, soy, gluten, wheat, colors, additives, flavors, etc.

The Nulo is great for those that have digestion problems because it doesn’t have any chicken or egg proteins. The product is rich in proteins and BC30 Probiotic. This meal is rich in omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids that keep your dog’s hair and skin healthy at all times. You can choose different flavors between salmon, lamb, and turkey.

Dog owners mostly like that there are a few flavors to choose from since not all canine’s like the same kinds of kibble. In most cases, customer reviews show that lamb and turkey are two favorites.

Pros:

  • Rich in omega fatty acids
  • Great for coat and skin
  • Grain-free
  • Rich in proteins

Cons:

  • Kibble is too small for most adult dogs

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Natural Ultramix Adult Dry Dog Food

If you want something rich and healthy, then this might be one of the better choices. This is more suitable for active adult shepherds. Its first ingredient is chicken, which is its main source of protein.

It features no soy, wheat, or corn, but has round whole oats, whole ground flaxseed, and brown rice. Also, this meal has many other vegetables and fruits that provide fiber, vitamins, and antioxidants.

The Natural Ultramix has Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids for healthy skin and shiny coat. It also has phosphorous and calcium for bones and teeth health. I’d like to add that it doesn’t have any artificial coloring, fillers, soy, or wheat.

Many owners like this product because it’s made in the USA, and it provides 100% natural ingredients. However, some reviews suggest being careful at first because it contains high amounts of chicken, which may cause allergies or problems with your dog’s digestion.

Pros:

  • High in protein
  • Rich in fruits and vegetables
  • Has Omega 3 and Omega 6
  • Great for your dog’s bones and teeth

Cons:

  • Chicken can cause allergies

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How Much Should My German Shepherd Eat?

Calorie intake for German Shepherds

German Shepherd Dog with Edible Food ToyPuppies, juniors, and adults should all have different diets, daily calorie intake, as well as feeding regiments. German Shepherds usually weigh between 60 and 90 pounds. Active ones should consume about 1740-2100 calories per day, while inactive and older ones need about 1272-1540 calories. There are a ton of high-calorie dog food brands available, especially for active German Shepherds.

There’s a difference between how you feed an active dog as opposed to how you’d feed one that’s inactive. This is because various German Shepherds have different needs. For instance, an inactive dog usually needs to keep its weight down.

You need to be careful not to put too much pressure on their joints, which is why a reduced-calorie diet is more healthy. Puppies usually need about 40 calories per pound they weigh, per day.

However, keep in mind that all meals are different and serving sizes don’t always have to be the same. For this reason, I suggest you always read the back of the packaging on your dog food, where manufacturers usually have serving suggestions for puppies, juniors, and adult dogs.

Feeding Guidelines for German Shepherds

  • Food for Puppies:

    German Shepherd pup hungry for food

For puppies, wet food is the preferred choice. This type of meal is perfect for your hound since it has about 85% moisture, which will prepare your dog for the dry food you’d feed them later on.

Puppies should eat a few times a day. Make sure to mix wet and dry food at first, before switching your puppy to dry kibble completely. When your canine is older than 6-8 months, you’ll want to stop feeding it puppy food.

  • Food for Juniors:

By this time, you probably noticed that your German Shepherd eats less than before. This is because its metabolism is slowing down and for this reason, you should change your dog’s diet.

You can now feed him or her only once a day. Also, you’ll start to notice that they won’t eat all of the nutrients, so you can reduce the amount you feed over time.German Shepherd eating the best food

  • Food for Adults:

Once he or she is an adult, they only need to eat once a day. The amount you should feed depends on how active they are. If you’ve got one that’s more of a senior; it most certainly doesn’t need as many nutrients as an active adult dog would need.

Types of Dog Food

There is dry, wet, and organic dog food. The difference between these types of meals is the texture. Wet dog foods contain more moisture and are softer in texture.

This makes them suitable for puppies or very old dogs. Dry dog foods are suitable for juniors and adults. A quality kibble is ideal for your dog’s teeth because it’s large and harder in texture.

Blue bowl of dry dog foodOrganic dog food is always the best choice, for many reasons. It’s a matter of quality, and when you feed them organic food, you can be sure it’s getting the best nutrition possible. Since these are all different, some are ideal for puppies, while others are better for adult or seniors.

Choosing the right nutriments is important. Choosing the wrong one can cause many complications and problems with your pet’s teeth, bones, coat, and skin.

Wet Dog Food

Wet food is healthier than dry because it contains water that keeps your pet hydrated. Wet food is strongly recommended for puppies as it’s much easier to digest, and it’s high in protein and fat.

Bowl of wet dog food.Puppies are best to be fed wet foods because they need the extra moisture. It’s also soft, so it’s better for your pup’s teeth.

Wet and canned foods are usually more on the expensive side. Also, they don’t have a long shelf life and should be used within days of opening. If your German Shepherd doesn’t eat its wet food within two hours, you should throw it away. Due to its soft texture, it doesn’t benefit your dog’s teeth.

Pros:

  • Delicious
  • Moist
  • Soft

Cons:

  • Short shelf life
  • Doesn’t keep your dog’s teeth clean

Dry Food

This type is far more popular than wet dog food. There are tons of different flavors as well as kibble sizes and textures on the market. Dry food is convenient, and you get much more in quantity. As mentioned, this is more on the affordable side. This type of meal is good for their teeth as it keeps them clean of tartar and plaque buildup.dry dog food for German Shepherds

What’s interesting is that dogs that eat dry kibbles usually don’t chew on any furniture or shoes. Your German Shepherd can satisfy their chewing needs by eating the hard kibbles. It’s also much easier to store dry food as it doesn’t have to be refrigerated at all.

You can store dry food anywhere, which makes it convenient and easy to use. However, because it’s dry, this type can cause dehydration, so make sure to provide fresh water for your canine at all times. Kibbles can be different in size, and you should choose according to your dog’s age.

Pros:

  • Good for teeth
  • Easy to store
  • Lasts longer

Cons:

  • Contains only 10% moisture
  • Lacks protein

Organic

Black German Shepherd dog laying down.Organic dog food lacks insecticides, herbicides, and pesticides that you can maybe find in other meals. With this type, you can be certain that your hound only eats their meals that’s free of any harmful ingredients.

Canines that eat organic meals usually have beautiful and shiny coats, high levels of energy, better eyesight, and can even live a longer life.

Just like humans, the better-quality food they eat, the happier and healthier your pet will be. Organic meals doesn’t feature any bulking agents, but all-natural ingredients that can be easily digested by your dog.

What’s also important to mention is that it is impossible for your pup to overeat, since organic dog foods are dense with nutrients. However, organic types of meals are usually quite expensive.

Pros:

  • Ideal for overall health
  • Dense in nutrients
  • Has no bulking agents, pesticides, herbicides, etc.
  • It’s completely natural

Cons:

  • It’s quite expensive

Macro-nutrients for German Shepherds

Macro-nutrients should consist of fats, carbs, and proteins. Protein should always be the first ingredient, for all breeds.

Curious German Shepherd Dog Next thing you should pay attention to is fats. German Shepherds are a little prone to weight gain, but they are a breed that still needs healthy fat. Fats provide the energy, while fatty acids help your dog have a healthy and shiny coat.

Fatty acids are also crucial for the health of your dog’s heart. Look for 12% to 18% of fat in their meals. For carbs, pay more attention to the source of the carbohydrates rather than the quantity. As you probably know, carbohydrates or carbs can cause some allergies, even in the case of dogs that didn’t have any allergies prior.

Ingredients to look for

Sweet potato foodTry to avoid too much grain in meals. If that’s too difficult, then at least avoid soy, corn, and wheat. This is because these three ingredients are something a German Shepherd wouldn’t ever come across in nature. Grains are usually just added as fillers and don’t have any benefits.

grain brown rice foodInstead of grain, look for sweet potatoes, chickpeas, and brown rice in your pet’s meal. These ingredients promote healthy bowel movements and ideal weight for your German Shepherd. Look for fish, beef, or poultry as first ingredients when feeding your pet.

Ideally, your pet’s meal should also contain rolled oats, vegetables, fruits, healthy oils, etc. Ingredients that contain water or any kind of moisture is important since it keeps your pet hydrated at all times.

High protein

German shepherd dog playing frisbee on the grassProtein is crucial for growth, and it should be the number one ingredient in the type of food you choose. Dog foods that meet the Association of American Feed Control Official standards usually meet all your pet’s needs.

These contain about 18% protein and 5% fat for adult dogs. For puppies or lactating mothers, meals should have about 22% protein and 8% fat.

Protein intake should be carefully monitored, especially when it comes to puppies. German Shepherds grow up quickly, so don’t feed it puppy foods once it’s older than six months.

If you don’t switch your pooch to adult dog food, then he or she may develop several serious problems due to increased protein intake.

Puppies certainly need a lot of protein in order to grow up to be strong and healthy in the future. However, too much protein in adults can cause too-rapid growth, joint, and bone problems.

Food for Weight Gain

If your German Shepherd doesn’t eat quality type of meals or absorbs nutrients properly, then he or she may start to lose weight. Sometimes, dogs can still have an appetite but continue to lose weight for no apparent reason. To treat this condition, you have to feed your canine a special diet.pile of potatoes

For weight gain, the best thing to do is go with a diet that’s low in fat and fiber, but has high-levels of lamb or venison protein.

You can even opt for dog food with high levels of carbs, such as rice or potato to increase your canine’s weight. However, make sure to consult your vet that will monitor how your canine behaves and reacts to the diet of choice.

Overall, protein is the best ingredient to go for, but it’s even better if it comes from unusual sources. Since poultry is usually the number one ingredient in most dog foods, you can start feeding it to your canine to achieve weight gain.

Vegetarians for German Shepherds

Vegan diets first became available when canines started developing allergies caused by meats. Some breeds can’t stand lamb, beef, or chicken in which case these ingredients can cause digestion problems. A plant-based diet can help your puppy live a longer and healthier life.

This type of diet can help with many skin conditions, behavioral, and GI problems, and much more. Since our pets require much more protein than we do, you need to feed them with protein-rich plant-based dog food.

lentilsMany people think that this diet is expensive to feed, but it’s not. Most of the ingredients you’d use, you can buy in bulk. For this diet, you need lentils, grains, beans, rice, pulses, and other similar food items.

A plant-based diet might be the best choice for German Shepherds prone to allergies or skin conditions, while it also helps your dog achieve longevity.

Effects of Poor Nutrition

Feeding poor-quality food (such as human food ) can cause many severe health problems. Some of these issues are treatable, while others are not.

Poor quality meals can also cause bloating, weight loss, obesity, hip dysplasia, disk disease, cherry eye, epilepsy, and many more serious problems.

Checking the teeth of a German Shepherd dogAlso, you have to be careful about how you feed your German Shepherd. For example, dry foods aren’t necessarily unhealthy but can cause dehydration if they don’t have access to fresh water.

Make sure to keep an eye on your pup, especially when you switch to any new types of meals. This way, you can have them be treated immediately if something were to happen.

Hip Dysplasia on German Shepherds

Hip dysplasia often happens with large breeds such as German Shepherds, but all breeds that have long spine and legs can get hip dysplasia.

However, this condition can also be genetically influenced, though it’s more often a result of poor dieting and heavy exercise.

This condition is quite serious and can cause a lot of severe pain in their joints. To prevent it, it’s important you feed your pup a well-balanced diet that contains vital nutrients.

German Shepherd Dog laying on its side.

Make sure your canine isn’t obese since that can also cause hip dysplasia. Pay attention to how much you’re feeding and make sure to limit the servings size accordingly.

By doing this, you can prevent your pup from eventually being in a lot of pain, but you can also save yourself from paying large vet bills. Keep your dog’s exercise to a minimum and try not to force it.

Epilepsy

Senior German Shepherd DogEpilepsy is a genetic condition among German Shepherds, but a poor diet can make it that much worse. If your pooch already has epilepsy or genetic predisposition, lack of nutrients will cause more stress to their brain.

Your pet’s internal system needs vital nutrients to function properly, and if you don’t provide that, epilepsy can become worse. Your dog’s brain will feel the stress, which will cause those epileptic seizures to begin and happen more often.

In most cases, vets prescribe different meds to help your hound with its epilepsy. However, a healthy diet is crucial in this case, because your pooch needs quality food to feed its brain and body. You have to be careful about the food you feed to help prevent epilepsy.

Gastric Bloat

Bloat may not sound as serious, but it is. It’s painful and can even kill your pup within a few hours. German Shepherds have a large chest which puts them at higher risk. Bloating usually happens when your dog swallows air, through fluids and foods it eats can also cause it. Of course, stress can also cause bloating.

German Shepherd Dog looking boredAs it swells, the stomach twists between its fixed attachments trapping the air, water, and food inside. When it’s bloated, your canine can suffer from low blood pressure, obstruct abdomen veins, and damage to internal organs. All of this combined can kill your pet in a matter of hours.

To prevent bloat, split your canine’s meal intake into two meals. It’s also important to limit the amount of water your canine can drink right after eating. Bowls with high center can help prevent your German Shepherd from eating too quickly, reducing the risk of bloating. Also, make sure to not let your pooch exercise before or after its meal.

Disk Disease

German Shepherd hunting for foodAs I said, most breeds with long legs and spine are prone to back issues. Exercise and activities that put stress on their back are usually the cause of these back problems. Jumping from high places can cause back pain because dogs usually land hard on their paws in this case.

Your canine may have difficulties when trying to get up or lay down. In some cases, your dog’s back legs can become very weak, which can result in your dog requiring assistance to get up or hold a position. This is a serious problem that weakens their rear legs and can lead to paralysis.

To prevent this, it’s important that their meals promote healthy bones and muscles that can endure physical activity. Also, feeding puppy foods to adult dogs can cause rapid growth and disk disease.

Foods and Ingredients to Avoid

Avoiding certain foods and ingredients that are bad for your dog is crucial and can help prevent many serious health problems. Always look at the first five ingredients that are listed on the label. This isn’t always easy to figure out because some companies break the ingredients down into groups. For this reason, I suggest choosing only the most trusted manufacturers and companies.

German Shepherd dog sleepingIf you don’t know about the quality, then skip it. Avoid any wheat and soy-based products as well as corn syrup. Finely crushed animal bones are also something to avoid because they have no value and are hard to digest.

Avoid coloring, flavors, and preservatives. If you notice that your canine is losing hair, has digestive issues, or is constantly scratching, it may just be reacting to its diet. Remember to look at the first five ingredients, and you’ll find all the answers.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Food Should My German Shepherd Eat if it Has Allergies (i.e., skin allergies)?

Brown German Shepherd looking for good foodOmega-3 and other healthy fats are best for treating skin allergies. I suggest you use fish oil in your pet’s diet or flax seed that’s freshly milled.

If you can provide meals that include one of those items, you should quickly see improvements. You want to feed it fresh food and healthy oils that promote healthy skin and prevent allergies. Some foods have vitamins added that can quickly help with allergies.

Watch how he or she behaves and slowly change its diet. Add healthy food items to its meals and make sure to keep track of how they behave. Of course, using only the healthiest ingredients, you can prevent skin and many other allergies.

What if My German Shepherd Has a Sensitive Stomach?

Close-up of German ShepherdGerman Shepherds are known to have a sensitive stomach, and a healthy diet is proven to be of great significance. Luckily, there are many foods to choose from to prevent this problem.

However, some of these meals are more expensive and can cause several other issues if you don’t pay attention to their ingredients. Dry foods are harder to digest and can cause stomach problems. Also, You can try feeding organic meals that are all-natural and light. Still, I strongly suggest you consult with your pet’s vet about which meal would be the right choice.

Can I Give Them Peanut Butter?

Peanut ButterThe short answer is yes. But if you want the long answer, then you want to take things all into consideration.

Remember, the goal here is to have your best friend to live a long and healthy life. Feeding them peanut butter is probably doing them more harm than good.

Conclusion

Overall, the diet you choose for your canine is crucial and can affect all aspects of health to the happiness of your pet. Choosing the right meal is one of the most important steps in caring for your German Shepherd.

German Shepherds are a special breed that develops certain health issues if you feed them poor-quality food. They need all the extra attention and care their owner can give them. Not only that, but a quality diet can ease some genetic diseases that are common among German Shepherds.

The bottom line is that your dog is a part of your family, so your dog deserves the same attention and care like everyone else in your family. The best thing you can do for pup is to provide it with healthy dog foods that promote health and will help it have a long and happy life.

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About the author

John Myers

When I'm not working, you can find me spending all my time with my dogs.My dogs mean the world to me, and I do my best to give them the world. I'll do anything for them. I hope that my love for dogs can spread with everyone else that visits my site.

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