It’s hard to figure out what the best German Shepherd diet is without some knowledge first. German Shepherd nutrition is vital for this working dog breed. With a body built for strength and agility it’s important that you feed your GSD the best dog food available. After many months of research I’ve come up with a great list of quality German Shepherd diets including raw dog food, homemade dog food, premium dog food brands and frozen dog food.
As a new GSD owner, I set out to find the best diet for German Shepherds. No surprise there are millions of opinions, few backed by substantial facts.
Not that I wanted to be bombarded with statistics and percentages. I’m just asking a simple question, ‘what is the best dog food for a German Shepherd’?
Sheba (my dog) is a three year old pure bred German Shepherd. She has a few food allergies that pronounce in a flaky dry coat and her excessive licking. I’ve worked in veterinary clinics and dog kennels for over 20 years so I was already familiar with the premium dog foods and the benefits most of them offer. I also know that GSDs are hard working dogs that need to maintain a healthy weight to be healthy. Here is what I learned, and what I decided to feed my GSD.
Never feed any dog the following foods: grapes, raisins or chocolate
Choosing a Diet for My German Shepherd
Why I chose premium dog food
After weighing the pros and cons of a raw diet and a homemade dog food diet, I chose to put Sheba on a premium dog food diet. There were far more cons in the cost of powering an extra freezer and even getting enough freezer safe containers to hold the cut raw meat for a month. Then with a bad back the labor of stocking the freezer, cutting the meat or even cooking a homemade meal daily was the tipping point. Feeding an 90lb German Shepherd would be far too physical for me.
The following premium dry dog foods were recommended by my veterinarian and the German Shepherd rescue. We only had to try a couple of brands before settling on what works best for her.
Why buy premium dog food for your GSD?
That’s right, your dog uses more of the premium dog food ingredients so there is less poop to clean up. If you own a German Shepherd Dog you know how much that can help!
Maintenance Premium Dog Food for German Shepherds
Premium Dog food for maintaining healthy weight
I make no bones about the fact that Taste of the Wild is my number one choice for German Shepherd dog food.
Taste of the Wild Dry Dog Food, Pacific Stream Canine Formula with Smoked Salmon
My top pick for the best German Shepherd maintenance diet is Taste of the Wild premium dog food. With human grade ingredients this dry kibble is the top of the line for digestibility. My 3-year-old German Shepherd, Sheba, has been on the Salmon dog food for several months with excellent results. Her coat is much softer and not flaky like it was with regular dog food. Thankfully my GSD never showed severe food allergy signs, but my Cocker Spaniel had terrible skin problems with regular dog food, so I was accustomed to using premium dog food.
Orijen Grain-Free Adult Dry Dog Food
By nature, all dogs are facultative carnivores, thriving on a varied diet of meats with smaller amounts of fruits, vegetables and grasses and biologically adapted to metabolize proteins and fats – not carbohydrates – as an energy source. High-protein and low-carbohydrate, ORIJEN ADULT grain-free formula replicates the same rich balance of meats, fruits, vegetables and grasses that dogs would encounter in a wilderness setting. Made with the highest inclusions of fresh grain-fed chicken meat, wild-caught northern whitefish and fresh whole eggs, ORIJEN is bursting with the protein-packed, veterinary-inspected meats (minimum 70%) that form a Biologically Appropriate diet,-and none of the grains or carbohydrates that are inappropriate for your dog.
Wellness CORE Original Formula Dry Dog
Talk about years of research, the makers of Wellness Core painstakingly did their homework on the quest for the best German Shepherd diet. Investing in top of the line ingredients for high protein and no fillers, grains or by-products. To show the company truly cares about the health of your pet they continue to research and post factual findings on their website Wellness FAQ
Blue Buffalo Wilderness Grain Free Dry Dog Food, Duck Recipe
Also on the list of best diets for a German Shepherd is Blue Buffalo Wilderness. This is another high protein gluten-free premium dog food made in the US. Real meat proteins are the first ingredient: de-boned chicken, lamb or fish. There is no corn, wheat or soy (glutens) in any of their premium dog foods. Blue Buffalo Wilderness dry dog food is a highly digestible dog food formulated by animal nutritionists. Blue Wilderness provides your dog with the optimal balance of protein, fats and healthy complex carbohydrates.
Acana Wild Prairie Grain-Free Dry Dog Food
Canada’s offering for the best German Shepherd diet is Acana grain-free dog food. Made from the best and freshest ingredients, this award winning dog food is sure to please even the pickiest dog owners. Acana is offered in Pacifica, Grasslands and Wild Prairie flavors.
Dog Food to Fatten a Skinny German Shepherd
Help, my GSD is too skinny!
Large breed dogs like German Shepherd go through growth spurts like every dog, but the big guys grow much larger much faster. A cheap dog food won’t likely be able to keep up with the growth rate of these puppies. Since my GSD is past her growth spurts and now on a maintenance diet, I asked at my veterinary office what they suggested. Lori Martindale, manager and veterinary tech at Village Veterinary Hospital in Des Moines, IA and an active agility trainer, explained that working and growing large breed dogs need a grain-free caloric-dense dog food. She highly recommends Science Diet puppy formula, Eukanuba puppy food, and Cannidae Pure kibble.
All of the above mentioned puppy foods should add on weight to a growing dog or puppy, but if you are still having trouble keeping weight on your dog Lori suggested adding some carbs to the dog food. Include a boiled potato or some pasta to your dog’s meal.
Why Buy Dog Food Online?
Save Your Back!
Why should you consider buying your German Shepherd dog food online? There are several good reasons for buying dog food online. German Shepherds eat a lot of food, so you pretty much have to buy the big bag of dog food. There is no reason to have to go to the store, usually a special trip for premium dog food buyers, then load a heavy bag in a cart and lug it in and out when you get home. Now you can let the UPS driver bring your dog food right to your door! What could be better? Get on a delivery schedule and never run out of dog food again!
It makes good economic sense to purchase premium dog food in the biggest bag available (once you’ve settled on a brand and flavor), due to the price breaks offered on the larger bags. When you buy dog food online you also have access to instant coupons and discounts that may not be available in pet stores. I pay far less for my dog food now that I switched to buying it online.
Buy Dog Food Bowls for Fast Eaters
Dog food bowls for fast eaters help if your dog is having digestion problems (like vomiting after eating). He may be just eating too fast. Of course you’ll want to visit your veterinarian to make sure there are no other issues causing the problems. Watch your dog when he eats. If the food is disappearing nearly faster than it hits the bowl you may just have a fast eater on your hands. Some dogs, especially those from large litters, learn to eat fast as puppies so they aren’t left out of the food completely when battling for it with the rest of the pups.
There is a fairly easy fix for fast eaters. Use a dog food bowl for fast eaters. These bowls have deep dividers that don’t allow the dog to get to the food all at once. They have to work at it a little. This forces the dog to slow down and hopefully chew and swallow food before they inhale it all too fast.
This slow eater bowl is perfect for German Shepherd puppies. The dog has to work around the pegs to get to the food. The convenient non-tip bottom keeps the food in the bowl too. This one is blue but other colors are available!
Buy Elevated Dog Food Bowls for Older Dogs
Easy on the Hips
If you’ve noticed your German Shepherd does not seem as interested in food as she gets older, or maybe she lays down while eating, it may be that the bowl is just too far down for her to eat comfortably while standing. Since GSDs are prone to hip dysplasia there is a chance that bending to reach the bowl on the floor is hurting her hips. It may actually get to the point where she stops eating all together. Before that happens (and after a trip to the vet to make sure all else is okay) purchase an elevated dog bowl for her. This will remove the stress and strain on her hips and may entice her to eat better.
Call this pet food storage and feeder the Mercedes Benz of dog food bowls. In beautiful ebony, HomeZone offers this large pet food storage combo for taller breeds.
Raw Diet Vs. B.A.R.F Diets for a German Shepherd
Is raw meat good for a dog?
The battle lines are fairly deep on the subject of feeding dogs a raw diet. Dogs are carnivores by nature, we have slowly changed them to omnivores or even vegetarians in some cases. Dogs still need an abundance of protein in their daily diet to thrive. The answer for+ many pet owners is to give their dog a diet of fresh raw meat daily.
What is a raw diet?
Just what it sounds like, raw meat (or mixture of meats and sometimes vegetables). Usually a mix of beef, chicken, lamb, and venison is used for a balanced meal twice a day.
What is a B.A.R.F. diet?
The B.A.R.F. dog food diet, though gross sounding, is basically a raw dog food diet supplemented with vegetables, fruits, supplements (like fish oil capsules) and bones. Some choose a combination of all of these ingredients. As with any diet, once you find the combination that works for your dog, stick with it without variation, unless you notice a change in your GSD that needs to be addressed with a change in diets (too skinny or gaining weight).
*Large raw knuckle bones are excellent for helping a German Shepherd puppy’s ears stand up straight and tall. The chewing action give those back jaw muscles at the base of the ear a workout, and the calcium will help form the necessary cartilage.
While both diets are similar, I think the pure raw diet is easier to get started if you are new. If you prefer the B.A.R.F diet, talk to your veterinarian to see what they suggest for your specific dog. It’s important to give your dog the supplements they need, but use care since over supplementing can cause just as many problems for pet owners.
The “wolf-y” breeds seem to do best on a raw diet (German Shepherd, Alaskan Malamute, Siberian Husky, etc), their long pointed snout and sharp front teeth are perfect for tearing meat. The added calcium in bone marrow helps a German Shepherd’s ears stand up straight.
The actual process of moving a pet to a raw diet is basically the same as any change in diet. Check with your veterinarian first, and ask for suggestions.
I only bring up that final point (about bacteria) after considering that salmonella could remain on the dog’s muzzle after a meal. Toddlers may also get a hand or two in the empty dog food bowl if not watched closely.
As long as your veterinarian is on board with you plans to move to a raw diet, and you can afford it, go for it!
*Note: Do not mix kibble with a raw diet. They have different digestion rates and may cause a bacterial build up in your dog causing illness. Choose one diet or the other and stick with the one that works.
Buy a Mini Freezer for Raw Dog Food Storage
Keep your dog’s dinner separate from yours!
Tired of not having enough space in your freezer for your own food once you’ve put away the raw dog food? A mini freezer solves that problem! Just enough room to store a month’s worth of raw dog food for a GSD (or a couple of small dogs), these small upright freezers save you in utility costs compared to a large deep freezer. Small enough to sit on a counter top or sturdy kitchen rack unit, you’ll save your back from having to bend. Covered in easy to clean stainless steel or white, these small freezers blend into any kitchen decor.
Haier HUM013EA 1-2/7-Cubic-Foot Compact Space-Saver Upright Freezer
Save space and the dog’s dinner in this Haier counter top freezer. You’ll also save your back from having to bend over when you set this freezer on a stand or the counter!
Danby DCF700W1 7.0 cu.ft. Chest Freezer
This Danby chest freezer is perfect for storing larger portions or monthly allotments of food for you and your dog. Energy efficient and set on wheels for easy moving, this chest freezer is more than enough for your family and pets!
Homemade Dog Food Diet for a German Shepherd
Homemade is not the same as a raw diet
A step away from the raw dog food diet is the homemade dog food diet. That is, the food is cooked. At least to some degree. The USDA suggests a homemade diet for those pet owners not wanting to feed over the counter pet foods to their dogs. By at least slightly cooking the meat used in a homemade diet most of the bacteria should be killed (along with some of the nutrients, is the complaint of raw food advocates).
Many pet owners mix vegetables into a homemade diet. Check with your veterinarian before changing your dog’s diet, and to see if your dog is lacking in any vitamins or minerals. Supplement the homemade diet with food that supplement any deficiencies.
The best way to cook any meat for homemade pet food is to boil it for several minutes. No need to cook completely through, or to human standards. By boiling the meat, most of the fat is eliminated in the water and can be scooped away.
*Remember to remove any cooked bones as they are more likely to splinter.
Homemade Dog Food Recipe
This dog owner goes above and beyond the call to show us in detail how to make a healthy homemade diet for your dog. There seem to be more bad homemade dog food recipes on the web than good, and many by chefs, so be careful when looking for a new recipe. I checked with my veterinarian and he highly suggested this diet and the preparation methods.
*Always check with your own veterinarian for each pet before switching to a new diet.
Safe and Not So Safe Foods for Your GSD
Foods for all dogs and foods for no dogs
Here is a list of foods and items to never feed any dog, according to Pets WebMD. Stay away from these items when making homemade dog food or giving your pet a snack.
- alcohol (in any form)
- onions (in any form)
- garlic (in any form)
- grapes and raisins
- milk and dairy products
- macadamia nuts
- candy or gum
- meat fat
- raw eggs
- sugary foods and drinks
- yeast dough
- human medicine
- baking powder or baking soda
- raw potatoes
Some foods that are safe for your puppy include:
- green beans
- baked potatoes
- apples (without seeds)
- oranges (without seeds)
- watermelon (without seeds)
Buy Freeze Dried Dog Food
An alternative to raw and homemade dog food
Can’t decide if you should attempt a raw diet or homemade dog food? Maybe you’re not sure if your dog will even like or tolerate a raw diet. Some dogs don’t. You can ease your way into a new way of preparing your pet’s food by trying frozen prepared dog food. Usually sold in tubes or patties that you serve in increments, the frozen food is easier to handle than raw and far less work than a homemade diet. This food seems to fatten up working dogs too. A lot of hunters take frozen food along to serve their dog a treat throughout a long day of field work.
Stella & Chewy’s Freeze Dried Dog Food for Adult Dogs, Lamb Patties, 16 Ounce Bag
The lamb diet includes everything you’d want in a raw lamb diet, just freeze dried for freshness and long term stability.
Ingredients are: Lamb, lamb spleen, lamb liver, ground lamb bone, lamb heart, lamb kidney, organic cranberries, organic spinach, organic broccoli, organic beets and organic beet fiber, organic carrots, organic squash, organic apples, organic blueberries, calcium carbonate, potassium chloride, direct-fed microorganisms (Pediococcus acidilaticici, Lactobacillus acidophilus, Bifidobacterium longum, Entercoccus faecium), magnesium oxide, vitamin E supplement, vitamin D3 supplement, biotin, potassium iodide.
Stella & Chewy’s Freeze Dried Dog Food for Adult Dogs, Beef Patties, 16 Ounce Bag
These beef patties are made from real hormone-free human grade beef.
Ingredients are: Beef, beef liver, beef heart, beef kidney, beef tripe, ground beef bone, organic cranberries, organic spinach, organic broccoli, organic beets and organic beet fiber, organic carrots, organic squash, organic apples, organic blueberries, calcium carbonate, potassium chloride, direct-fed microorganisms (Pediococcus acidilaticici, Lactobacillus acidophilus, Bifidobacterium longum, Entercoccus faecium), magnesium oxide, vitamin E supplement, vitamin D3 supplement, biotin, potassium iodide.
Stella & Chewy’s Freeze Dried Dog Food for Adult Dogs, Chicken Patties, 16 Ounce Bag
This freeze dried chicken diet is the same as the raw chicken diet. It allows the ease of a dry kibble without giving up on the freshness of a raw diet.
Ingredients are: Chicken (ground with bone), chicken liver, chicken gizzard, organic cranberries, organic spinach, organic broccoli, organic beets and organic beet fiber, organic carrots, organic squash, organic apples, organic blueberries, calcium carbonate, potassium chloride, direct-fed microorganisms (Pediococcus acidilaticici, Lactobacillus acidophilus, Bifidobacterium longum, Entercoccus faecium), magnesium oxide, vitamin E supplement, vitamin D3 supplement, biotin, potassium iodide.
How Much Do I Feed My German Shepherd?
An Important Detail!
The amount of dog food of any kind is going to vary from dog to dog. Read the back of the dog food package and feed exactly that amount. Keep in mind that amount listed is by the weight of your dog and is for the entire day unless otherwise listed. If you feed your dog more than once a day then divided the amount on the food package by the number of feedings per day. For raw and homemade dog food diets you should consult with your veterinarian or a food nutritionist and come up with meal plans for your dog.
Amco Basic Ingredients Stainless Steel Measuring Cups, Set of 4
These measuring cups are the perfect start for new dog owners or any dog owner. This will help you scoop exactly the right amount of dog food for your dog every day.
Airtight Dog Food Storage
No matter what diet you decide to feed your dog, you’ll need airtight containers to store it. Most dry dog foods come in plastic type bags and are not resealable. There’s no sense spending the money on a premium diet if you can’t store it properly. These containers work great for all of your dog food storage needs. Stop letting good dog food go bad. Give your dog fresh food every day and keep it fresh to the very last nugget.
Purchase the multiple piece plastic containers to store raw and homemade diet foods. All are freezer safe and can go from freezer to microwave for fast and easy thawing.
IRIS Airtight Pet Food Storage Container Combo, 12 Quart, 33 Quart, Navy
Does your German Shepherd have housemates? Feed a large dog from the bottom of this handy wheeled airtight storage container and a smaller pet from the top. Perfect for the home with more than one pet!
Deni 1331 Freshlock Vacuum Sealer
You’ll love this airtight storage system for storing raw dog food and some homemade parcels of food. Throw away less food by keeping it fresh in the freezer for longer periods. It’s also easy to see what you need to grab out of the freezer for thawing.
Canned Dog Food
Is there a healthy brand of canned dog food?
You may have noticed the lack of promotion of canned dog food on this page. That’s because canned dog food is really only for debilitated or rehabilitating dogs as a rule. Cheap canned dog food is full of sugar and preservatives, worse than human canned food by far, for the most part. Feeding your German Shepherd Dog a diet of canned food on a regular basis will lead to obesity and dental problems.
There are, thankfully, a few exceptions. Hill’s Science Diet makes one of the most bland canned dog foods on the market and I’ve served it to dogs in every veterinary clinic and dog kennel that I’ve worked in for over 15 years. Look for canned i/d by Hills when you have a sick dog of any age that needs a very bland diet before getting back to regular dog food. This food also seems to settle a nervous stomach caused by excitement.
If you have an older dog with dental issues, or you need to coax them into eating, my choice is Merrick Premium canned dog food. I fed it to my 10 year old Cocker Spaniel after he had dental surgery and he loved it. Any dog would! Once you open the can you will wonder if it’s really even dog food. Actually it’s real food…cooked without seasonings, of course. This is a good food for putting weight on an older GSD when she is refusing other dog food.
Merrick Grammy’s Pot Pie Dog Food 13.2 oz (Pack of 12)
This canned dog food is a stew made with real food ingredients. All human grade (and it looks better than most of my dinners!) Ingredients: chicken, fresh red jack new potatoes, carrots, snow peas and red delicious apples.
Merrick Turducken Dog Food 13.2 oz (12 Count Case)
This stew will have you envying your dog’s dinner! Ingredients: turkey, duck, chicken, fresh carrots, green beans, sweet potatoes and granny smith apples.
Dog Food Recall News
- Feed has no items.
Questions about German Shepherd Dog Food?
Ask them here!
Hello and thanks so much for stopping by and reading! I have been taking care of dogs for many years and am glad you are interested in feeding your pet the best German Shepherd diet available. Please let me know if you have any favorite premium dog foods designed for the German Shepherd dog. The foods listed above have passed all of my home tests with different breeds throughout the years.
Please leave a comment or ask a question if you have one!