Dog Food For German Shepherds

The Best Dog Food For German Shepherds: Our Top Picks and Reviews

Katelyn Son
By Katelyn Son
Medically reviewed by Ivana Crnec, DVM
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Which Dog Food is Best for German Shepherds?

Royal Canin Breed Health Nutrition German Shepherd Puppy Dry Dog Food
  • Royal Canin German Shepherd Puppy Dry Dog Food is designed to meet the nutritional needs of purebred German Shepherd puppies 8 weeks to 15 months old
  • Unique kibble shape is designed for a German Shepherd’s long, strong muzzle to encourage chewing
  • An exclusive complex of antioxidants, including vitamin E, helps protect puppy development of the immune system

Why do German Shepherds Need Different Food?

German shepherds are large dogs that usually weigh 60 to 90 pounds. According to the National Research Council of the National Academies, if you have an inactive or older dog, they require between 1,272 and 1,540 calories per day.

Furthermore, active dogs need between 1,740 and 2,100 calories per day. This type of nutrition can only be provided by food specific to this breed.

Also, unlike other dog breeds, German Shepherd pups are given a puppy-specific diet for only six months (rather than one year). This is done so that rapid growth in the pup is limited as it can cause problems in their bones and joints.

Can German Shepherds Eat Regular Dog Food?

Yes, GSDs can eat a wide range of foods that are generic in nature.

However, because of their large size and their activity levels, they might require a special diet. For instance, they need 18%-22% protein in their meals, with their caloric levels ranging from 1,200 to 2,100 calories per day. This also depends on your dog’s activity levels and overall health.

Do German Shepherds Need High-Protein Food?

Yes, German Shepherds need a diet rich in protein.

Make sure that your brand has been AAFCO (Association of American Feed Control Officials) approved. Ideally, a GSD will require foods with a minimum of 18% protein and 5% fat for adult dogs and 22% protein and 8% fat for growing puppies or lactating mothers.

The Best German Shepherds Dog Food Reviewed

There are many dog food formulas for large breed dogs, such as German Shepherds. Here we will review the best dog food for German Shepherds so you can find the right match.

Royal Canin Breed Health Nutrition German Shepherd Puppy Dry Dog Food

Royal Canin Breed Health Nutrition German Shepherd Puppy Dry Dog Food

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Summary: This dog food offers a unique kibble that has been designed for your dog’s face, jaw structure, bite patterns, and eating habits. Thanks to a unique blend of antioxidants and fatty acids, this product helps build your dog’s natural defenses to fight off common infections. It also contains high-quality protein and prebiotics to support digestive health. Additionally, it also helps balance intestinal flora that makes your dog’s stools more manageable. It also contains essential carbohydrates and omega fatty acids in addition to animal protein to deliver targeted nutrition to feed every pet’s magnificence.

Type: Dry dog food

Best for: Adult dogs

Flavor Options: Chicken

Price: $3.67/pound

Pros

  • Improves digestive system health
  • A unique kibble shape is designed for GSD
  • Contains an exclusive complex of antioxidants
  • Promotes optimal stool quality
  • Contains glucosamine, chondroitin, and calcium supplements

Cons

  • This kibble might be difficult to chew for senior dogs
  • The product could lead to weight gain in some dogs

Ingredient Analysis

  • Chicken By-Product Meal: Chicken meal is an extremely rich source of protein, providing pets with supplemental energy and nutrients while aiding digestion.
  • Brown Rice: Brown rice is a natural whole grain that provides pets with essential B vitamins and minerals, and high-quality complex carbohydrates for energy, and fiber.
  • Corn Gluten Meal: This is a controversial ingredient that could lead to an allergic reaction in some dogs.
  • Fish Oil: Rich in omega-3 fatty acids and DHA, fish oil helps support natural skin and coat health, improves cognitive functions, and supports healthy weight and kidney health.

Review: This product contains brewers rice as the first ingredient making it a great source of carbs, much to the delight of dog owners. This gives your dog the energy they need to play all day. Pet owners give this food 4.7 out of 5 stars.

Royal Canin German Shepherd Adult Dry Dog Food

Royal Canin German Shepherd Adult Dry Dog Food

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Summary: Royal Canin German Shepherd Adult Dry Dog Food has been formulated to match the nutritional needs of purebred German Shepherds 15 months and older. It contains several easily digestible proteins and fibers that improve your dog’s digestion and stool quality. The kibble is shaped uniquely so that it fits well with your German Shepherd’s long, strong muzzle to encourage chewing. Additionally, it also gives your dog healthy skin and coat with EPA and DHA from fish oil and reinforces the skin barrier with essential nutrients. It contains glucosamine and chondroitin that improve joint health and helps counter problems like hip dysplasia.

Type: Dry dog food

Best for: Adult dogs

Flavor Options: Chicken

Price: $3.83/pound

Pros

  • Can be easily paired with wet food and food toppers
  • Contains limited fat content that keeps your dog fit
  • Protein in the meal helps build lean muscles
  • Contains real chicken as the main ingredient
  • Free from artificial flavors and artificial colors

Cons

  • The texture might not suit some dogs
  • The product might have an off-putting scent

Ingredient Analysis

  • Chicken By-Product Meal: Chicken meal is an extremely rich source of protein, providing pets with supplemental energy and nutrients while aiding in digestion.
  • Chicken Fat: Chicken fat enhances the flavor while supplying omega-6 fatty acids.
  • Pork Meal: Pork, a good source of protein and amino acids essential for muscle growth and energy, is also an excellent source of B vitamins to support a healthy nervous system.
  • Dried Plain Beet Pulp: This is a natural source of nutrients, including fiber, folate, and vitamin C.

Review: This product is at par with some of the more premium dog food brands such as Blue Buffalo Wilderness and Taste of the Wild. Pet owners give this food 4.7 out of 5 stars.

Dr. Gary’s Best Breed German Dog Diet Dry Dog Food

Dr. Gary's Best Breed German Dog Diet Dry Dog Food

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Summary: This German Dog Diet contains the perfect combination of fiber derived from quality sources. It is formulated with both prebiotic and probiotic characteristics that are soft on the digestive system. Additionally, it also promotes maximum nutrient absorption as it provides the critical mass that food needs to travel through the gut. As a result, your dog has an improved immune system, thus reducing the chances of diseases. It contains protein-rich, low ash Chicken sourced from the USA, which provides the essential amino acids (including taurine) that boost your dog’s heart health. It also contains New Zealand Green-lipped Sea Mussel, a super-food rich in minerals, amino acids, vitamins, antioxidants, and more.

Type: Dry dog food

Best for: Adult dogs

Flavor Options: Chicken

Price: $2.11/pound

Pros

  • Contains a synergistic blend of soluble and insoluble fiber
  • Enriched with taurine
  • Supports joint and connective tissue health
  • Enhanced with vitamins and minerals
  • Ensures optimum nutrient absorption

Cons

  • Suitable only for large breed puppies and dogs
  • Could cause your dog’s stomach to bloat in rare cases

Ingredient Analysis

  • Chicken Meal: Chicken meal is an extremely rich source of protein, providing pets with supplemental energy and nutrients while aiding in digestion.
  • Oatmeal: Oatmeal is a wholesome, high-quality grain rich in B vitamins that gives pets the energy they need.
  • Brown Rice: Brown rice is a natural whole grain that provides pets with essential B vitamins and minerals, and high-quality complex carbohydrates for energy, and fiber.
  • Dried Beet Pulp: This is a natural source of nutrients, including fiber, folate, and vitamin C.

Review: This dog food is produced using a unique slow-cooked, low-temperature extruding process ensuring that natural vitamins, minerals, and proteins are not compromised. Pet owners give this food 4.6 out of 5 stars.

Royal Canin Large Breed Adult Dog Food

Royal Canin Large Breed Adult Dog Food

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Summary: Royal Canin Large Breed Adult Dry Dog Food has been specially designed to support your dog’s unique nutritional needs. Thanks to a unique kibble shape, you can also expect dental care and weight management as your dog is prompted to chew properly. This product has been tailored to suit your dog’s active lifestyle. Additionally, the product also contains an optimal balance of high-quality proteins and fiber for optimal energy and digestive health. Most large breed dogs have to endure a lot of stress on their bones and joints, it is important that their food is formulated with supportive nutrients. Omega-3 fatty acids, EPA and DHA, help promote your dog’s coat and skin health.

Type: Dry dog food

Best for: Adult dogs

Flavor Options: Chicken

Price: $2.86/pound

Pros

  • Specifically made for large dogs 15 months to 5 years old
  • Supports bones and joint health
  • Contains easy-to-digest, high-quality proteins
  • EPA and DHA nourish your dog’s skin
  • Kibble is specially designed for large adult dogs

Cons

  • The product might have large quantities of carbs
  • Cannot be used as puppy food

Ingredient Analysis

  • Chicken By-Product Meal: Chicken meal is an extremely rich source of protein, providing pets with supplemental energy and nutrients while aiding in digestion.
  • Brown Rice: Brown rice is a natural whole grain that provides pets with essential B vitamins and minerals, and high-quality complex carbohydrates for energy, and fiber.
  • Chicken Fat: Chicken fat enhances the flavor while supplying omega-fatty acids.
  • Dried Plain Beet Pulp: This is a natural source of nutrients, including fiber, folate, and vitamin C.

Review: This product is made up of precisely balanced nutrients that supply the most effective nutrition for dogs of different weights and life stages. Pet owners give this food 4.7 out of 5 stars.

Royal Canin Large Aging 8+ Senior Dry Dog Food

Royal Canin Large Aging 8+ Senior Dry Dog Food

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Summary: Royal Canin Large Aging 8+ Dry Dog Food has been specially designed to support your senior dog’s vitality and overall health. It contains a special blend of antioxidants that support cellular health. It also helps to reduce various signs of aging. Furthermore, the product also contains various nutrients that improve the health of your large breed’s bones and joints. This also helps keep your dog active and playful throughout the day. High-quality proteins and a balance of fibers help your dog digest food easily for digestive health. This dog food is also formulated to support a dog’s unique needs like joint support, optimal weight, and dental care.

Type: Dry dog food

Best for: Adult dogs

Flavor Options: Chicken

Price: $3.10/pound 

Pros

  • Helps support long-life vitality
  • Specifically made for large dogs 8 years and older
  • Helps support bones and joint health
  • Contains easy-to-digest proteins
  • Promotes your dog’s digestive health

Cons

  • Could cause minor digestive distress in some dogs
  • More expensive than some options on this list

Ingredient Analysis

  • Chicken Fat: Chicken fat enhances the flavor while supplying omega-fatty acids.
  • Brown Rice: Brown rice is a natural whole grain that provides pets with essential B vitamins and minerals, and high-quality complex carbohydrates for energy, and fiber.
  • Dried Plain Beet Pulp: This is a natural source of nutrients, including fiber, folate, and vitamin C.
  • Fish Oil: Rich in omega-3 fatty acids and DHA, fish oil helps support natural skin and coat health, improves cognitive functions, and supports healthy weight and kidney health.

Review: This senior dog large breed dry dog food helps support bones and joint health. It also gives your dog the energy to play all day. Pet owners give this food 4.8 out of 5 stars.

Victor Super Premium Dog Food Purpose – Grain Free Hero Canine

Victor Super Premium Dog Food Purpose - Grain Free Hero Canine

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Summary: VICTOR Grain Free Hero Canine is a multi-protein and nutrient-dense high-energy dog food that has been specially made for dogs who get allergic reactions to grains or certain proteins. It also contains glucosamine and chondroitin to promote long-term joint health. Formulated with premium-quality beef, fish, and pork meals, this nutrient-dense dry dog food is also fortified with vitamins, minerals, essential fatty acids, and amino acids that offer numerous health benefits. It also helps your dog have a healthy immune and digestive system in addition to healthier skin and a shiny coat.

Type: Dry dog food

Best for: Adult dogs

Flavor Options: Beef

Price: N/A

Pros

  • Suitable for active dogs with allergies or sensitivity to grain
  • Ideal for dogs susceptible to joint issues
  • Provides glucosamine and chondroitin for joint health
  • Contains a mix of supplements, vitamins, and minerals
  • Grain-free, gluten-free dry dog food

Cons

  • Contains a few controversial ingredients
  • Could lead to a build-up of plaque on your dog’s teeth

Ingredient Analysis

  • Beef Meal: Beef meal is a protein source that supports muscle development and energy.
  • Chicken Fat: Chicken fat enhances the flavor while supplying omega-fatty acids.
  • Fish Meal: Menhaden fish meal is a protein source that supports muscle development and energy.
  • Carrot Powder: Carrots are an excellent source of beta carotene, fiber, Vitamin K1, potassium, and antioxidants.

Review: VICTOR Grain Free Hero Canine is an excellent gluten-free and high-protein dog food for highly active adult dogs that are susceptible to joint issues later in life. Pet owners give this food 4.6 out of 5 stars.

Purina Pro Plan Sensitive Stomach and Stomach Large Breed Dog Food

Purina Pro Plan Sensitive Stomach and Stomach Large Breed Dog Food

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Summary: Pro Plan Sensitive Skin and Stomach dry formulas have been specially designed to keep your dog’s sensitive systems in mind. It provides gentle nutrition and is made with real salmon, turkey, or lamb as the first ingredient. Additionally, it also contains Omega-6 fatty acids for healthy skin and coat. The product is available in a wide range of options suitable for adults, small breeds, large breeds, seniors, and puppies. It also comes in a wet formula for dogs who are picky eaters or prefer a soft texture. The product is delicious overall and offers high-quality nutrition that helps support your sensitive dog’s overall health and well-being.

Type: Dry dog food

Best for: Adult dogs

Flavor Options: Salmon

Price: $2.40/pound

Pros

  • Salmon is the first ingredient
  • Easily digestible and gentle on the digestive system
  • Rich in omega-6 fatty acids for healthy skin and coat
  • Supports joint health and digestive health
  • Promotes muscle conditioning

Cons

  • Often out of stock on online retailers
  • Only one flavor option is available

Ingredient Analysis

  • Salmon: Salmon is a great source of protein and omega-3 fatty acids.
  • Barley: Barley includes the whole grain with the hull and bran and is an excellent source of soluble fiber, plus carbohydrates and B vitamins for digestive health in pets.
  • Oatmeal: Oatmeal is a wholesome, high-quality grain rich in B vitamins that gives pets the energy they need.
  • Fish Meal: Fish meal is a protein source that supports muscle development and energy.

Review: This dog food is fortified with guaranteed live probiotics for digestive and immune health. It also offers 100% complete and balanced nutrition for large adult dogs. Pet owners give this food 4.7 out of 5 stars.

Hill’s Science Diet Dry Dog Food, Large Breed Adult 6+

Hill's Science Diet Dry Dog Food, Large Breed Adult 6+

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Summary: Hill’s Science Diet Large Breed Adult 6+ dry dog food is formulated for the specific aging needs of a large breed dog. It is made using natural ingredients that are easy to digest and offer beneficial nutrition. Additionally, the product also contains natural sources of glucosamine & chondroitin, which improve your dog’s joint health. It also uses a balanced set of minerals to promote heart and kidney health in large dogs. Thanks to omega-6 fatty acids and vitamin E, it also nourishes your big dog’s skin and supports a shiny coat. Overall, the product offers a balanced set of minerals that help support a healthy heart, healthy kidneys, and a healthy bladder in larger breed dogs.

Type: Dry dog food

Best for: Adult dogs

Flavor Options: Chicken and Barley

Price: $2.24/pound

Pros

  • Easily digestible and gentle on the digestive system
  • Rich in omega-6 fatty acids for healthy skin and coat
  • Helps support bones and joint health
  • Contains easy-to-digest proteins
  • Promotes your dog’s digestive health

Cons

  • The packaging could have been better
  • Often out of stock on online retailers

Ingredient Analysis

  • Chicken Meal: Chicken meal is an extremely rich source of protein, providing pets with supplemental energy and nutrients while aiding in digestion.
  • Brown Rice: Brown rice is a natural whole grain that provides pets with essential B vitamins and minerals, and high-quality complex carbohydrates for energy, and fiber.
  • Dried Beet Pulp: Beet is a natural source of nutrients, including fiber, folate, and vitamin C.
  • Flaxseed: Flaxseed is a rich source of essential omega-3 fatty acids and is a great source of fiber that aids in digestion and promotes healthy skin and coat.

Review: This dog food contains a synergistic blend of easily digestible ingredients to support energy levels in large-breed dogs like German Shepherds. Pet owners give this food 4.8 out of 5 stars.

What Should I Look for in a German Shepherd Dog Food?

When looking for the best dog food for German Shepherds, you should consider several factors:

  • Ingredients. Make sure that the constituent ingredients are obtained from a reliable source. Additionally, there should not be any fillers, additives, dyes, and flavors that have been added artificially. The food can also contain beneficial ingredients, including sweet potatoes, blueberries, and carrots, among others.
  • Nutritional Needs. German Shepherds are large dogs that have specific nutritional needs. Make sure that the food you opt for offers these dietary supplements. You can also consult a vet for the best results.
  • Shelf Life. Make sure that the brand you opt for has a decent shelf life. Otherwise, your food might expire early, and you will be left buying it over and over again. It should, however, be kept in mind that too much of a shelf life could indicate the presence of preservatives that are not considered healthy.
  • Cost. Since food is a lifelong commitment, make sure that the product is cost-effective and easy on your pocket. Most premium brands will have cheaper counterparts that you can opt for.

What Food Should German Shepherds Avoid?

There are certain ingredients that should not be in the best food for German Shepherds:

  • Grapes and Raisins. These contain toxic compounds that can cause health problems in your dog. In extreme cases, they can lead to kidney failure and even death.
  • Salt. Salt is a flavoring agent that is often added to dog food. However, excessive usage of salt can lead to salt poisoning and prevent water deprivation.
  • Chocolate. This is among the most toxic compounds that a dog can eat. It can lead to an upset stomach and, if not treated, death.
  • Macadamia Nut. These nuts can cause vomiting, muscle weakness, tremors, hyperthermia, and depression in your dog. As a result, they should be avoided at all costs.
  • Onion. A key ingredient in onion is N-propyl disulfide which is highly toxic to dogs. Not only does it damage your dog’s red blood cells, but it also can lead to anemia.
  • Avocado. Avocados contain a toxin called person, which is considered toxic to dogs. It can lead to fluid buildup in their lungs, which can be fatal.

How Much Food Should a German Shepherd Dog Eat Per Day?

Adult German Shepherds need between 2.5 and 3.5 cups of dry kibble per day.

If you have an active male, they should be eating at the upper end of this scale (3.5 cups). On the other hand, inactive and older dogs, who need less food, can manage 2.5 cups.

How Many Times a Day Should German Shepherd Dog Eat?

Ideally, your GSD should be fed twice a day, once in the morning and once in the evening.

It is preferred that they eat their meals at the same time every day. Make sure you provide them with enough water and exercise so that they can digest the food easily.