All Pet's Life is reader-supported. When buying products through links on the site, we may earn a commission (at no extra cost to you).

9 best dog food for german shepherd [2023] choices

German Shepherds (GSD) are more than just companions because they are also known for being amazing guard dogs. Well, these dogs have a huge build so they definitely need enough nutrients in order to stay healthy and strong. As you want your pet to be healthy you should give them the best dog food for German Shepherd.

best dog food for german shepherds

Adult German Shepherds are really big, but they are known for their skin allergies and sensitive stomachs. This is the main reason why you need to pay close attention to the food that they are eating and create a special diet for them.

You don’t need to worry too much because we will guide you on how to create a balanced diet for your German shepherd and some of the best dog foods that you can give them.

When looking for the best dog food for German shepherds, consider one formulated for large and active dog breeds.

Whether you settle on dry, wet, or a mixture of both, ensure this dog food has a high protein percentage ranging between 18-22 % with added healthy carbohydrate sources.

All along, you need to choose a dog food that has high-quality proteins. Furthermore, avoid any German shepherd dog food that contains animal byproducts as its source of proteins. The reason being, these animal byproducts rarely fulfill your dog’s protein needs:

  1. Wellness Core Dry Dog Food for Puppies
  2. Wellness Complete Health Dog Food for Large Breed Dogs
  3. ORIJEN Dry Dog Food
  4. Taste of The Wild Dry Dog Food
  5. Royal Canin German shepherd Adult Breed-Specific Dry Dog Food
  6. Victor Purpose – Grain-Free Hero Canine, Dry Dog Food
  7. Eukanuba Senior Large Breed Dry Dog Food
  8. Purina ONE Smartblend Natural Adult Lamb & Rice Dry Dog Food
  9. Blue Buffalo Family Favorite Natural Adult Wet Food

German Sheperd standing

Best Dog food for German Shepherds: Nutrients for Puppies

Puppies can grow rapidly during their first eight months of age so they require a lot of nutrients in order to support the development of their bones and muscles. When it comes to food, make sure that you give them something that is made for their breed type.

You need to feed them large breed puppy formulas because they are made to support the calorie, carbohydrate, and calcium needs of your dogs.

Small breed formulas usually have low calorie and fat contents, which may leave your dogs malnourished. Adult formulas won’t be a good idea for your puppies as they would have a hard time digesting them.

Your large breed puppies need a total of 500 calories per day and it has to increase gradually as they grow. When the puppy reaches young adulthood, he should be able to consume about 1,500 to 1,700 calories a day.

Best Dog food for German Shepherd: Nutrients for Adults

If you don’t know yet, German Shepherds actually have a shorter colon compared to other large breed dogs. It means that they are always having a hard time digesting their food. This is the reason why your dog should have a balanced diet to prevent any problems in their stomach.

An adult German shepherd actually needs about 1,700 to 2,400 calories per day. This is because of their huge build and their active lifestyle. For a senior or less-active dog, they have to consume about 1,300 to 1,600 calories per day.

For their food, it should have 18 to 24 percent protein and about 14 percent fat level. The protein should come from meat sources like pork, beef, fish, chicken, lamb, and more. You should also look for food with healthy fat, especially from canola oil, flaxseed, or chicken.

Types of Dog Food for German Shepherds

Dogs eat a lot of food and they can almost eat anything. However, when it comes to the best dog food for German Shepherds, you need to be very specific on what to give them. Here are some of the dog foods that you can give them:

1. Dry Kibble

For puppies and adult and German shepherds, dry kibble dog food is a good choice since it comes in a large, it is very easy to store and you don’t have to put it inside the refrigerator. It contains all of the nutrients that your dog needs and it is extremely palatable. It comes in different flavors and formulas that they will surely love.

However, this type of dog food is not usually advisable for senior dogs as they might have a hard time biting it.

2. Wet Dog Food for German Shepherds

If you have a German shepherd that is only a few months old, getting wet canned dog food is a good choice. It is easier to chew and your puppy will not have a hard time digesting it.

Wet canned dog food contains about 80 percent water so your dog can easily absorb the nutrients. Since German Shepherds have problems with digestion, this is one of the best foods that you can give them.

If there are leftovers, make sure that you put them inside the refrigerator and remove the food from the can. If you want to feed this to adult dogs, you can combine wet and dry dog foods.

3. Semi-Moist Dog Food

This is very close to wet-canned food and it is also a good choice for picky eaters. If they have a hard time chewing dry dog food and they don’t really like the taste of wet dog food, you can go for semi-moist food. It has a 60 percent water content so it is quite different from wet canned food.

However, you should know that this is not the best option for all dogs since it has high sugar and salt. You have to be careful about the brand that you will buy and make sure that you check the ingredients before buying.

4. Freeze-Dried Food

This is not really the best for your dogs, but German Shepherds love freeze-dried food. Basically, it is rich in protein becau8se it is made from real cooked meat and it is put through a process to remove the water content.

The best thing about this is that the dog food will last for many years inside an undamaged package. Since the water is removed from the food, there is no risk of spoiling and your dogs can eat it for a long time. For feeding, just open the package and add water to it.

What is Best Food to Feed German Shepherds?

German shepherd dog food with salmon and trout is recommended as it contains omega 6 fatty acids, great sources of EPA and DHA. These fatty acids will help your GSD have a smooth and shiny coat. Consequently, Omega 6 has a strong anti-inflammatory activity and immune-boosting ability, all critical for the health of your German shepherd.

Also, when choosing the best dog food for German shepherds, consider one with ingredients like glucosamine and chrondotoin. Both of these ingredients are helpful for big dogs like German shepherds susceptible to joint issues. These ingredients help in reducing the rate at which your dog’s joints wear out.

Though controversial, you should use grain-free dog food for German Shepherds as it won’t trigger any allergic reaction. Such grain-free dog foods lack grain like wheat, rye, oat, corn, and maize, which cause tummy issues. In return, the best dog food brands use other sources of carbohydrates like sweet potatoes and potatoes.

However, before you subject your German shepherd to grain-free dog food, first consult your veterinary.

Note the below highlights:

  • When you look for the best dog food for German shepherds, ensure it adheres to all guidelines from the association of American food control officials (AAFCO). An organization to set standards for dog food industry
  • Purchase dog foods manufactured in the USA, Canada, Western Europe’s Australia, and New Zealand- Food brands manufactured in these places undergo stringent measures before they are released to the market.

Top 9 Best Dog Food for German Shepherds

Looking for the right dog food for your German shepherd is not easy and even if you actually know what to look for, it is pretty hard to find the right one for your dog. You don’t need to worry because we will list our top choices in the best dog food for German Shepherds category that will provide the nutrients for your pet.

1. Wellness Core Dry Dog Food for Puppies

wellness core grain free original deboned turkey turkey meal chicken meal recipe dry dog food 1As the name suggests, this is a dog formula created for puppies and this is definitely the best choice for your German Shepherds.

This is high-protein dog food for puppies that contains chicken meal, turkey meal, deboned chicken, peas, potato, potato protein as well as chicken fat. These natural ingredients make it one of the best food for german shepherd puppies.

German Shepherd puppies need a lot of protein for their growth and development and this dog food formula is definitely the best in the market.

It is a grain-free formula that can help reduce the risk of allergies and it is the best one out there for dogs with sensitive stomachs like German Shepherds.

You have to remember that this dog formula is meant for large breed puppies and it doesn’t contain enough calories and high-quality protein to support the needs of an adult German Shepherd.

2. Wellness Complete Health Dog Food for Large Breed Dogs

wellness large breed complete health adult deboned chicken brown rice recipe dry dog foodIf you need complete dog food for your German Shepherd, this is the best choice that you have.

Wellness Complete Health Dog Food for Large Breed Dogs contains the right amount of nutrients that your dog needs in order to grow strong and healthy.

If you have a German Shepherd in your house, this dog food formula will surely be a good choice.

It has a chicken and salmon recipe that your dog will surely love. The key ingredients include chicken meal, deboned chicken, ground brown rice, salmon meal, and peas. Salmon oil is an important nutrient.

All the nutrients that your puppy needs can be found in this particular dog food formula. Vitamins and minerals will allow them to grow strong and healthy.

You don’t have to look elsewhere because this is the perfect dog food for your German Shepherd puppies. If you think that your puppies need more nutrition and high-quality protein, this dog food formula can guarantee that your dog will live healthy and strong.

3. ORIJEN Dry Dog Food

orijen dry dog food grain free high protein fresh and raw animal ingredients 2When it comes to adult German Shepherds, you need to be very meticulous about the dog food that you will buy.

It has to be made from high-quality meat sources and it should contain enough protein and calories for the daily needs of your dogs.

Orijen Dry Dog Food fits all the requirements needed for high-quality dog food for your adult German Shepherds. It is made from freeze-dried chicken and turkey, wild herring and flounder, and nest-laid eggs.

These ingredients provide a lot of protein for your large breed dog. It is the main reason why this dog food is one of the best for your large dogs.

It also contains low glycemic fresh fruits as well as vegetables that can make sure that the digestive health of the dogs will be maintained.

This recipe does not have any synthetic protein or additional fats so it is very healthy for your dogs. All of the ingredients are also safe and fresh.

check current price button orange


4. Taste of The Wild Dry Dog Food for German Shepherds

taste of the wild wetlands grain free dry dog foodTaste of The Wild Dry Dog Food is one of the top favorites in this list simply because it is very tasty for dogs and it can provide complete nutrition to large breeds.

If you have a German Shepherd in your house, you might want to try this extremely palatable dog food that contains wild game proteins on the recipe, which makes it a very popular choice for dog owners.

It has roasted quail, smoked turkey, and roasted duck that can provide the rich flavor of unique and rare protein sources and also has K9 strain probiotics that are made for dogs to help with the digestion process.

5. Royal Canin German shepherd Adult Breed-Specific Dry Dog Food

royal canin german shepherd adult breed specific dry dog foodThe Royal Canin German Shepherd Adult Breed-Specific Dry Dog Food is complete and balanced nutrition for purebred German shepherds above 15 months. It is one of the most widely recognized dog food brands on the market.

First, this dog food for German shepherds has tailor-made kibble designed for the German shepherd’s elongated and strong muzzle to encourage chewing.

This dry dog food has eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) sourced from fish oil. EPA and DHA support your dog’s coat and health.

Also, this kibble has digestible proteins sources like chicken by-product meal, chicken fat, and pork meal that ensure your dog’s muscles and heart are healthy.

Consequently, this Royal Canin German Shepherd Adult Breed-Specific Dry Food has specific fibers incorporated that ensure your dog has stable digestion and well-formed stool.

The included glucosamine and chondroitin in this dog food will help maintain the health of your dog’s joints. Such ingredients are crucial for German shepherds as they are susceptible to joint issues like Hip dysplasia and osteoarthritis.

Brewers rice, oat groats, brown rice, and wheat gluten are the key sources of carbs in this food for German shepherds.

Lastly, the natural flavor in this dry dog food from Royal Canin makes it irresistible to your picky eater.

When going through verified reviews, pet parents loved how their German shepherds now had excellent energy levels, unlike before. Others liked how their dogs now have shiny and beautiful fur.

However, other pet parents complained that their dogs didn’t like this food.

Verified review: This is a GSD number five for me. I have loved them my whole life! My dog loves this food! He would rather eat it than some canned food. It keeps him moving comfortably, and he has the most healthy coat! Like a black panther! So shiny, silky, and soft! German shepherds are known for hot spots due to the sensitive nature of their skin. He has never had a single one. I know that you are what you eat based on my own experience with my health. The same holds true for animals!


  • Well shaped kibble
  • Fortified with glucosamine and chondroitin
  • Included fiber for dog’s gut health


  • Low-quality ingredients like chicken by-product meal, brewers rice, and oat groats included

check current price button orange


6. Victor Purpose – Grain-Free Hero Canine, Dry Dog Food

victor purpose grain free hero canine dry dog foodThe Victor Purpose – Grain-Free Hero Canine, Dry Dog Food is a nutrient-dense dog food that will meet your large breed adult dog dietary needs.

This dog food for German shepherds has premium sources of proteins like beef, pork, and fish meal which support your dog’s muscles.

Moreover, this dog food has a remarkable quantity of glucosamine and chondroitin that support healthy joints. The glucosamine prevents wearing out of the joints. Whereas chondroitin ensures your dog’s synovial fluid is replenished as he ages.

Besides that, this dry dog food for German shepherds is grain-free, thus perfect for German shepherd dogs with sensitive stomachs.  Sweet potato is the source of the carbs that provides the needful energy for your ever-energetic, playful German shepherd.

The menhaden fish meal in this well-formulated dog food is the key source of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). This docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) ensures your dog has great eyesight as well as improved cognitive function.

This menhaden fish meal is also an important source of omega fatty acids, like omega 3, which support healthy skin and coat on your adult German shepherd

Additionally, this dog food for German shepherds has pre and probiotics which support your dog’s digestion and immunity system. With improved immunity and gut health, visits to the vet will be minimal.

When going through most reviews, parents can appreciate that they have seen a great change in their dogs who were not doing well on other dog food.

Verified review: Great product! I used to buy my GSD the best dog food brand I could find at Tractor Supply or Walmart, but she would never eat it if she could help it. This food is awesome! She eats it by itself. (I usually mix her food with canned) I am amazed at how good this stuff is. Will purchase again.


  • With docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) from menhaden fish meal which supports your dog’s cognitive function
  • With added glucosamine for joint health
  • Made in the USA


  • Pricy

check current price button orange


7. Eukanuba Senior Large Breed Dry Dog Food

eukanuba senior large breed dry dog foodIf your German shepherd is aging, and you are looking for the best dog food for senior German shepherds, you should choose the Eukanuba Senior Large Breed Dry Dog Food as it won’t disappoint.

While at that, all the ingredients in this food for German shepherds are of high quality with no artificial preservatives or flavors that can be harsh on your dog’s sensitive stomach.

The first ingredient in this dog food is chicken, a meat protein. With high-quality animal protein, your German shepherd will have lean muscle mass.

This recipe has 50 % more glucosamine than other Eukanuba recipes as dog food for senior German shepherds. The glucosamine combined with chondroitin ensures your dog has strong joints— more crucial if your German shepherd has osteoarthritis or hip dysplasia.

Additionally, this senior or adult dry dog food is a rich source of antioxidants that support your dog’s natural defense.

Also, the docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) plus the antioxidants in this dog food for German shepherds ensure your dog has a healthy brain function.

Furthermore, this dry dog food has optical levels of fats and carbs to provide your senior GSD with the needful energy. Now, your lackluster aging dog will be lively and playful like a puppy.

A key ingredient included in this food for German shepherds is fish oil. This fish oil preserved with Tocopherol is a key source of vitamin E. This vitamin E supports the health of your dog’s skin.

Again, this fish oil is a great source of omega 3, ensuring your dog has healthy skin, bones, and eyes.

Lastly, this high-quality diet with meat protein as the first ingredient has EUKANUBA 3d dental defense, reducing tartar buildup on your senior German shepherd’s teeth.

Dog Parents like the ingredients in this dog food as even picky dogs are finding it irresistible. However, some dog owners don’t like how their dogs have poorly formed poop.

Highlight: This dog food is best suited for German shepherds above 7 years and weighing above 55 pounds.


  • Meat protein is the first ingredient
  • High levels of glucosamine for your senior GSD
  • Rich in vitamins like vitamin E, B2, B12, B6 and D3


  • Quite a pricy dog food

check current price button orange


8. Purina ONE Smartblend Natural Adult Lamb & Rice Dry Dog Food

purina one smartblend natural adult lamb rice dry dog foodPurina ONE Smartblend Natural Adult Lamb & Rice Dry Dog Food is a grain-inclusive dry dog food tailored to meet the nutritional requirements of your German shepherd dog. As a grain-inclusive diet, this large breed adult dog recipe has rice flour, whole grains, and wheat, excellent carbs sources.

Nevertheless, the first ingredient you will find in this dog food for German shepherds is real lamb. This lamb meal provides essential proteins that give your dog healthy muscles.

Other than that, this dog food has chicken by-product meal, a key source of glucosamine. This glucosamine is important as it supports the joints of your German shepherd with hip dysplasia.

Moreover, Purina ONE Smartblend Natural Adult Lamb & Rice Dry Dog Food has omega fatty acids, vitamins, and minerals to support the health of your GSD’S skin and coat. After consuming this meal for a while, your dog will develop a beautiful coat that will feel good to touch.

The included prebiotic fiber ensures your dog has a healthy gut and immune system.

Dog parents like how this dog food has a great price. Others like how their dogs have generally improved. However, some dog parents complain that this dog food has an awful smell— all though their dogs seem not to mind it.


  • Animal protein as the first ingredient (lamb meal)
  • Rich in omega 3 and omega 6
  • Has a blend of antioxidants to support dog’s immunity


  • Not that great for dogs sensitive to grains

check current price button orange


9. Blue Buffalo Family Favorite Natural Adult Wet Food

blue buffalo family favorites natural adult wet dog food backyard bbqBlue Buffalo Family Favorite Natural Adult Wet Food is a premium wet dog food with wholesome ingredients to promote a long and healthy life for your German shepherd.

This formula has real beef as the first ingredient making sure your dog has healthy and strong muscles. Furthermore, this delicious canned dog food has no chicken by-product meal, corns, or wheat, which can cause havoc on your dogs’ sensitive tummy. All you find in this food for German shepherds are healthy sources of carbs to provide your dog with the needful energy.

This delicious canned food from Blue Buffalo has healthy garden veggies that provide your dog with the needful nourishing vitamins like vitamin E, B1, B6, and B12.

You can use this recipe as a delicious treat for your dog, mix into dry dog food or use it as your dog’s main food— it’s you to choose.

Starting your dog on this food will see you save money as well as care for your pup’s general well-being.

Pet parents like how their dogs have generally improved after taking this Blue Buffalo Family Favorite Natural Adult Wet Food. However, others say their dog’s poop has changed in color.


  • No chicken by-product meals
  • No corn, wheat, or artificial flavors
  • Rich in high-quality protein


  • Most clients complained that the packaging cans had dents- often because of mishandling during shipping.

check current price button orange


What Foods Are Bad For German Shepherds?

Like their cousin in the wild German shepherds will tend to eat whatever they get in their way. Sometimes they may not know what is beneficial or harmful. You are the one to choose for them. Always remember, anything offered to your German shepherd may have beneficial or detrimental effects.

With that, you need to monitor everything your German shepherd consumes. Let’s check what foods are bad for German shepherds.

Dairy products – the tummy of the German shepherd is not well set to digest dairy products like milk. Dairy products will cause diarrhea and bloat on your German shepherd.

Chocolate – chocolate has a component known as theobromine which is bad if given to German shepherds.

Candy and gum – candy and gum contain xylitol, a sweetener that is harmful to German shepherds.

Onions and garlic – Onions and garlic given to German shepherds may destroy the red blood cells.

Tomatoes – raw or cooked tomatoes can cause cardiovascular problems to your German shepherd.

Carbonated drinks – carbonated drinks will destroy your dog’s liver and kidneys.

Alcoholic drinks – German shepherds should never consume alcohol as it can destroy their livers.

Grapes and raisins – grapes and raisins are toxic for German shepherds. Loss of appetite, lethargy, and vomiting are some of the signs that your German shepherd has consumed Grapes and raisins. You also should avoid dog foods with artificial preservatives, and flavors-these artificial preservatives and flavors will trigger allergic reactions.

What Is the Best Dry Dog Food for German Shepherd Puppy?

Before choosing the best dry dog food for your German shepherd puppy, you need to consider whether it’s capable of fulfilling your puppy’s dietary requirements.

You will need the best dry food for a German shepherd puppy to formulate for large dog breeds.

If you choose dog food for small dogs, you will not fulfill your German shepherd puppy needs in its diet.

As earlier discussed, German shepherd puppies will require 500 calories in a day. With that, you need to ensure any dry dog food for a German shepherd puppy will have the capacity of supplying such calories.

Best Dog Food for German Shepherds: they would need a lot of care and support to grow strong and healthy

Also, check the best dry dog food for German shepherd puppies has a protein concentration of 18 to 22% of proteins – such is crucial as you want your puppy to grow with strong and healthy muscles. However, monitor the concentration of proteins this puppy takes in a day as too much of it will cause tummy issues.

Fats on your German shepherd puppy food should scoop 8% to 12%, and Omega 6 fatty acid is one of the best sources of fats for your German shepherd.

While you give your German shepherd puppy dry food, you need to ensure the puppy is well hydrated since dry dog food has low moisture content.

If you subject your puppy to dry food for long, he risks becoming dehydrated and can develop kidney or liver issues.

When Can I Switch My German shepherd Puppy to Adult Food?

As your German shepherd puppy grows, you will be enthusiastic about introducing adult food to it. Right?

However, what’s the best time to start them on adult food?

As a rule of thumb, you should start German shepherd puppies to adult food when they attain 80% to 90 % of their adult size. By this time, their tummies and teeth are challenging and well developed.

However, the pace at which your puppy grows will be a crucial factor when your start adult dog food. Some puppies may start when they turn eight months, whereas, for others, you may have to start when they hit 12 months.

Worth noting, when introducing adult food, you need to do it in phases. First, use 1/4 of the new food to the original puppy food, do it for 4-7 days.

Next, use 1/2 of the new adult food and 1/2 of the original puppy food and follow so for 4-7 days.

Next, use 3/4 of the adult food and 1/4 of the puppy food while monitoring the progress. While doing that, your veterinarian should be on board. The veterinarian will advise you appropriately and also help you in case your dog develops food allergies.

Key highlights

  • This transition from German shepherd puppy food to German shepherd adult food can take 2-6 weeks.
  • Changing the dog food all at once may cause gastric intolerance that comes with symptoms like bloat, dog flatulence, and even diarrhea.

Best Dog Food for German Shepherds: companions and amazing guard dogs

Is Raw Meat Good Dog Food for German Shepherds?

You can feed your German shepherd raw meat, but it all depends on your preference. If you decide to feed your German shepherd on an entire raw meat diet, ensure it’s from the best sources.

If you pick this direction, you should be aware of the risks involved in it.

Your German shepherd risks not getting enough nutrients from an entirely raw meat diet. It would be best if you understood that your German shepherd might become malnourished as it’s not getting other essential nutrients like carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals.

The higher the risk of contracting diseases- undercooked or raw meat will have a high concentration of salmonellae and E coli.

Choking hazard- meaty weight-bearing bones like lamb thighs which are hard to crack, risks choking your German shepherd.

If you decide to settle on an entire raw meat diet for your GSD, it would be best if you considered talking to your veterinarian and discussing whether it’s the right path to take.

german sheperd running

Now you know what you need for your German Shepherd

As you can see, German Shepherds might be giant, but they are very delicate dogs. They would need a lot of care and support to grow strong and healthy. This nature is also the reason why you need to be very picky about what they eat. Don’t be afraid to try something new, especially if the dog food you have been giving them is lacking. You can try different dog foods as long as you gradually change the dog formula.

PS. All these brands of dog food also match the needs of a Golden Retriever.

This Post Has 3 Comments

  1. Lucas

    Our Max has been on TOTW for 10+ years and he’s fit as a bull. No health issues and impeccable teeth. Good quality and it’s so easy to digest – which is essential if you have an older dog.

  2. Ryan

    Orijen is hands down the best brand we’ve tried, the doggo loves it. He goes though it like he’s been on a hunger strike ha! His coat is shiny and there’s definitely less shedding compared to other brands. No more stomach rumbles as well, it used to keep us awake at night in the past #horrorshow

  3. Gabriel

    I have to say I am super impressed with the Wellness brand. Never heard of it before so I had to google it. Will check our local stores and see if they carry this brand, my dog needs a change from Taste of the Wild, it’s doing nothing for her.

Leave a Reply