Every German Shepherd dog owner wants the best for their pet. Quality food is one way to raise your pet right by giving it the nourishment it needs.
Good nutrition supports the immune system and overall health – exactly what an energetic large breed animal like the German Shepherd needs.
High-quality dog food can also help to prevent and reduce the incidence of unpleasant health issues like hip dysplasia.
The problem is that choosing the best dog food for German Shepherds is confusing.
There are so many dog food brands out there, all with different protein sources and probiotics, that it is tempting to choose the first one you see.
Few people have the time to read through all the nutritional advice on dog food and as a result feed their pet the wrong food for its age and nutritional requirements.
A simple buying guide goes a long way towards solving the problem of too much information or too little.
Discussing each product’s pros and cons takes you a little deeper into deciding on good dog food for German Shepherds.
Best Dog Food For German Shepherds – Reviews & Buying guide for 2021
Our Recommendations for the Best Dog Food For German Shepherds
These five mini-reviews offer a broad overview of the best dog food for German Shepherds listed in the comparison table.
Here are our top picks:
BEST OVERALL: Blue Buffalo High Protein Grain-FREE
- Size: 24 pounds
- Flavor: Chicken: Grain-Free
- Age: Adult
Blue Buffalo dry dog food is rated as the best dog food brand for German Shepherds for several reasons.
If you’re looking for a grain-free dog food made from high-quality protein, then this might be a good bet, particularly as the glucosamine content should help with joint health.
Blue Buffalo’s grain-free recipe has a high protein content, which will help to support a GSD with high activity levels and its digestible proteins should aid digestive health.
They also make a wet food for those looking for an alternative to dry food for their GSD.
- Contains a range of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that have been specifically formulated to promote muscle development, support strong teeth and bones, and the energy levels of active pets.
- Food replacement with no questions asked if customers experience a problem with this product.
- Contains real chicken protein at a high of 34% which is ideal for highly active dogs.
- Contains a good 6% fiber content to manage digestion and keep your pet regular and healthy. Digestion is particularly important for German Shepherds as they have a sensitive digestive system.
- The glucosamine content is beneficial for relieving pain caused by joint problems, which is something that German Shepherds suffer from, especially as they age.
- Customers have tried other dog food brands and switched back to this one.
- This is a grain-free product that is especially good for dogs with specific food allergies like a gluten intolerance. Grain-free feed also reduces the bulk caused by adding grains to the mixture, although this feature can also reduce the food’s fiber.
No artificial flavors, preservatives or artificial additives.
- Average customer ratings are analyzed to determine whether these have been purchased or are credible. You can therefore trust that the ratings provided truly reflect customer experiences.
- The protein content is above the recommended 18% to 22% for adult German Shepherd dogs.
- The fat content is also above the nutritional value suggested for adult German Shepherds at around 5%.
- Similarly, calcium levels should be around 0.6% but are stated as being at 1.4% of the overall content.
- Recent reviews indicate a hard bony substance in the feed that customers have not been able to identify or find a satisfactory response to. However, the brand has willingly replaced questionable products but has not yet responded to why it contains this strange element.
- Customer queries related to constantly changing food in terms of color.
- This is not the best dog food for German Shepherds with skin allergies if they are allergic to chicken as both chicken or chicken meal forms a large portion of the protein content.
RUNNER UP: Royal Canin Breed Specific
- Size: 30 pounds
- Flavor: Chicken
- Age: Adult
Pet owners leave different reviews for the dog food brands they have tried. Their pets have either taken to the food brand or not.
Some pets have suffered adverse symptoms on certain food brands and done well on others.
It is up to you as a pet owner to discover which brand best suits your pet as they are all individuals and react in different ways to their feed.
Another consideration is that a German Shepherd puppy may have been raised on one food type and the new owners transitioned it too quickly to another.
Alternatively, adult dog foods may be transitioned too quickly, leaving your pet’s digestive system struggling to keep up with the change if they have a sensitive stomach.
Despite different experiences, customers have left honest reviews about their experiences to guide others.
- This delicious chicken-flavored pet food contains 22% crude protein which is well within the recommended quantity for food maintenance in adult German Shepherds and makes it suitable puppy food.
- The fat content of this product has a high of 17% which is above the suggested levels of 10% but not exceptional, especially if your pet is active and can work off the additional quick energy that fat provides.
- The shape of the kibble in this food is designed to accommodate the German Shepherd’s long pointy snout, making it easier for your pet to retrieve and eat its food.
- Contains both chondroitin and glucosamine to support the development of strong bones and joints while helping to relieve joint pain.
- Customer reviews claim this brand is good for German Shepherds with digestive problems as it reduces gas buildup. These claims support the fact that the product contains a unique formulation for German Shepherds.
- Some customers claim that switching to this product relieved their pets of skin allergies caused by other food brands.
- The protein content is sourced from chicken meal as a by-product rather than containing real chicken protein.
- Some customers have complained that this product initially boosts weight gain but is followed by lackluster coats and skin problems. This is not the best dog food for German Shepherds with allergies.
- This is not the best choice for underweight dogs due to its low-fat content.
- One customer review claims that this product is not always easy to source in stores and is only available via online orders.
ALTERNATIVE: Hill’s Science Diet Dry Dog Food
- Size: 33 pounds
- Flavor: Chicken and Barley
- Age: Senior
As with all foods, dogs have their preferences. Some dogs react well to certain food brands, and others do not. This particular product is designed for adult GSDs, so it’s not suitable puppy food.
Certain brands might just hit the spot as the best dog food for German Shepherds with diarrhea.
Pet owners may be after something else, such as the best cheap dog food for German Shepherds.
The truth is that pet owners need to test food brands to see which one suits their German Shepherd’s health the best.
If the current brand seems unhealthy for your pet–maybe you need to try another better for the sensitive German Shepherd’s digestive tract.
Ultimately, testing dog food brands is a matter of trial and error. Here are some of the pros and cons of this brand.
- The fat content of this formula is spot on at 10.5%, especially for German Shepherds where the fat portion of the food should be around half of the protein content.
- A good source of Omega-6 fatty acids and Omega-9 fatty acids which promote healthy skin, coat, nails, and brain health. This food also contains vitamin E to nourish your pet’s health.
- Ingredients are easy to digest, and the company promotes the use of natural ingredients in this formula.
- This product also contains chondroitin and glucosamine for joints and muscles.
- A list of vitamins and mineral supplements adds to your pet’s kidney functioning, which is vital for large pets.
- Made in the U.S.A. and recommended by vets.
- Customers complain that the new formula is smelly compared to the previous one, which smelled good.
- Mixed customer reviews relating to skin allergies after trying this brand, accompanied by weight losses or weight gains for individual pets.
- Complaints from customers of lower-quality ingredients replacing higher-quality ingredients and resultant problems. Certain dogs avoid eating the new formula, develop bloat or diarrhea, skin problems, or became sick in other ways such as vomiting.
ALTERNATIVE: Royal Canin Large Breed Dry Dog Food
- Size: 35 pounds
- Flavor: Chicken
- Age: Adult
The best natural dog food for German Shepherds contains high-quality ingredients.
High-quality ingredients are typically seen as direct proteins from animal sources rather than by-products.
An absence of grains as a filler is often viewed as contributing to a food brand’s quality. While many dogs and people benefit from the fiber in whole grains, some develop allergies to grain products.
While some people think a low grain diet can contribute to a taurine deficiency in some breeds, GSDs are at low risk of this.
- The protein to fat content is at a ratio of 24:15, both of which are higher than the suggested 20:10 formulation but both ingredients are well-balanced to support pet health.
- Contains EPA and DHA for skin and coat care among other benefits.
- Suitable for pets ranging from 15 months to 5 years, that weigh between 56 and 100 lbs.
- The kibble shape helps to eat and the food composition promotes healthy digestion although the fiber content sits at a low of 3.3%.
- Lower quantities of this food can be given to your dog, which negates the higher price you pay for the original food.
- This product also does not contain grains which many customers find suitable for the sensitive German Shepherd digestive tract.
- Some customer reviews note that chicken meal is used instead of real chicken protein, which is disappointing. Most GSD owners prefer to serve ‘true’ chicken protein over a by-product meal.
- Some customers have also complained that the subscription dog food has arrived with a broken seal. Their dogs have become sick from eating this food, raising serious concerns.
- Customers have also noted that food received from Amazon has made their dog sick in certain cases, but food purchased from stores has been fine.
ALTERNATIVE: Iams Proactive Health High Protein
- Size: 22 pounds
- Flavor: Turkey, Chicken
- Age: Adult
IAMS is a well-known product that has been on the market for years. However, as with many other dog food brands, this one also attracts mixed reviews.
One owner says that it isn’t good for the dog’s health, while many others claim that it is the best German Shepherd food on the market.
Pet owners will need to go through each dog food brand’s pros and cons and test these foods. It seems that it takes a while for German Shepherds to become used to new foods.
If one brand does not work for your pet, you should gradually transition to a new food.
Check the pros and cons below if your pet is not happy with its current pet food. Perhaps this brand will be the best food for your dog, or the top brand will be a better bet.
- IAMS contains a high 32% of protein and 18% of fat, contributing to good lean muscle. As mentioned in earlier reviews, the basic balance between protein and fat should be around 20:10. These dog brands are said to be scientifically formulated though, with many claiming the backing of science and various associations so always check the labels to find out what you are purchasing for your pet.
- High protein and fat levels are suitable for German Shepherds that are active.
- Pet owners report that this food is easily digestible for German Shepherds with sensitive digestive systems.
- Contains supplements such as vitamins and minerals for bone and muscle maintenance, heart, and other organ functioning.
- This product does contain grains to support digestion and energy for active pets.
- One negative review is that the product was damaged when the customer received it.
- Certain pet owners note that this brand is quite expensive, but they are prepared to pay a higher price if their pets are happy with the flavor.
- Choose an alternative product if your pet suffers from grain allergies.
Despite there being many similarities and differences in these brands, and despite positive and negative customer responses, Blue Buffalo Wilderness High Protein Grain Free Natural Adult Dry Dog Food is the winner in this buying guide.
This product’s overall ratings are higher, supporting customer confidence in this brand.
Ultimately, pet owners must match the food to their dog’s palates and health status. If one food brand causes digestive discomfort or poor skin condition–they must transition their pet to a different one.
Your pet’s digestive tract can take up to three months to get used to a new food, so don’t be too hasty in making dietary changes.
Also, make food changeovers slowly as a rapid change is often also upsetting for sensitive animals.
Best Dog Food For German Shepherds FAQ
Breeders and pet owners want to know the best dog food for German Shepherds, especially as this breed is sensitive.
Learn more about what to feed your German Shepherd and what foods are bad for this dog.
Other FAQs include whether it is okay to give them rice and at what age a German Shepherd reaches adulthood.
What should you feed a German shepherd?
You should feed your German Shepherd the best quality food available. Feed these dogs according to their age and life stages, which is easy as the age range information is typically indicated on manufactured food brands.
In other words, a puppy of three months has specific nutritional needs that are present in brands for this age group. For example, GSD puppy food should be between 40 and 50% carbs, with a low calcium and phosphorus content, to keep their bones from growing too fast.
Nutrition is particularly important for large breed dogs, as poor diet as a puppy can cause serious health issues later in life.
Likewise, much science has gone into developing quality food for older puppies, adult dogs, and senior animals.
Always purchase age-appropriate food for your German Shepherd to give them the best nutrition possible.
Branded dog food that has the backing of science also focuses on balanced nutrition to promote your pet’s health.
As you can see from this guide, pet owners have discovered that even some high-quality food brands don’t always work well for their pets. The reason for this may be due to genetics.
Other reasons may be the food originally given to the puppy by the breeder or simply because your dog is sensitive to some ingredients and not others.
What foods are bad for German Shepherds?
German Shepherds can eat certain human foods, but others are unsafe. Avoid foods with high sugar content and certain dairy products that can be unhealthy for any lactose intolerant dog.
Generally, German Shepherds’ best natural dog food is animal protein such as a lamb meal, beef or chicken, though some GSD owners have been known to feed their pets venison!
Animal protein is used because it’s a great source of essential amino acids, which are important for muscle development.
Experts strongly recommend that if you give pork to your pet that it be well-cooked. If serving a fish meal, like salmon, be sure to cook it as as certain fish also contain parasites, although salmon oil is fine as it’s already been prepared.
Foods that are not only bad for German Shepherds but can also be deadly include:
- Fruit pits
- Grapes and raisins
- Ice cream
- Macadamia nuts
But GSDs can eat fruits like apples, bananas, blueberries, kiwis, mangos and strawberries. While it may be tempting to give human snacks to your pet, always check that they are safe. Certain human foods can cause your pet extreme distress or even kill them.
If in doubt, stick to known food brands like Blue Buffalo Wilderness High Protein Grain Free Natural Adult Dry Dog Food.
There are also so many tasty treats available for your pet that are also safe for them to eat, so stick with what has been tested before giving human food to your German Shepherd.
Is rice bad for German shepherds?
Rice is one of the best natural dog foods for German Shepherds. You can safely mix cooked rice with other vegetables such as sweet potatoes, butternut, and carrots to add variety to your pet’s diet.
Cooked rice and chicken are perfect for giving your pet if they have diarrhea or recovering from illness. Rice is a carbohydrate which has a binding function in the bowel which quickly helps solidify the animal’s stool.
Try not to serve the fatty part of the chicken though, as chicken fat may have the opposite effect!
Grains like brown rice are also filling and tasty for your pet. Another benefit of this human food is that you can mix leftover rice and gravy with your pet’s usual kibbles as a tasty treat.
Rice is also one of the many common ingredients found in branded dog foods because of its bulking nature.
The only reason that rice (both white and brown rice) might disagree with your pet is if it has a gluten-intolerance.
At what age is a German Shepherd dog full grown?
A German Shepherd is full-grown by the time they reach two years. At this stage, it is an adult dog that must be fed food that has been scientifically formulated for older dogs.
The best dry dog food for German Shepherds is Blue Buffalo Wilderness High Protein Grain Free Natural Adult Dry Dog Food.
If this brand doesn’t agree with your pet’s constitution, many other high-quality foods will.
High-quality branded foods contain the best nutritional value for German Shepherds. If your dog is gluten-intolerant, there are grain-free options on the market.
Always check to see how your pet reacts to some of the top-rated dog food for German Shepherds because what works for one may not work for another.
Keep in mind that your German Shepherd reaches maturity at two years, at which stage it must go onto a maintenance diet.
Up to this age, appropriate foods for puppy growth stages are key to their health and wellness, but a maintenance diet should follow for adulthood.
Likewise, when your German Shepherd becomes a senior at ages six to seven–their food must change to accommodate their mature years.
We trust that our buyer’s guide has given you a better indication of German Shepherds’ best dog food brands.
Armed with this information, we believe that you can take the right steps to support your pet’s dietary needs throughout its lifespan.