5 Best Dog Foods for German Shepherds To Stay Healthy 2019

Your German Shepherd has a distinctive look that sets them apart from other dog breeds. But did you know that these shepherds also have very unique health concerns?

Many diseases common to the breed are found only in German shepherds and their closely related shepherd brethren. But that doesn’t mean your dog will suffer from them.

In many cases, a quality diet with the right amount of protein, fat, and nutrients can help keep your shepherd healthy throughout their lives. Keep reading to find out our recommended picks of the best dog foods for German shepherds.

Unique German Shepherd Health Issues

Like many larger breed dogs, your German shepherd is more likely to suffer from joint issues and bloat. But there are also a number of less common health problems that seem to affect GSDs more than other breeds.

Degenerative Myelopathy (DM) is a neurological disorder that only appears with relative frequency in German shepherds. While this disease appears to have a genetic component, treatment with certain nutrients can delay symptoms and a diet high in vitamin E, B, and C may be helpful.

Pancreatic Enzyme Insufficiency is a disease that is exclusive only to GSDs. This issue occurs when the dog does not create certain enzymes needed to break down food.

Dogs with this problem have symptoms like diarrhea and weight loss. This issue requires enzymes to be added to your dog’s food in order to reverse symptoms, according to magsr.org.

If your pooch has dry and brittle fur or red and itchy skin, they may be suffering from a food allergy or lacking important nutrients and adequate protein in their diet. Excessive shedding is another symptom of a poor diet.

Luckily, food allergies and poor coat health are issues that can be easily resolved by changing your dog to a better quality diet with the right ingredients for them. Some of the more serious GSD health issues can be avoided or delayed with a quality diet as well.

Choosing a Quality Diet for Your GSD

So how do you know if you’re feeding the best German shepherd food to your GSD? There are some things you can look for.

First, German shepherds are high energy dogs that require a high-protein diet to stay healthy. The average dog food contains around 20% protein, so look for a high-protein diet with closer to 30% protein.

How much fat the diet needs to include will depend on your dog’s activity level as well. Most shepherds will do fine on a diet with average fat (around 10-15%), while very active dogs need more and dogs with pancreatic problems need much less.

Reviews of The Best Dog Foods for German Shepherds

#1. ORIJEN Dry Dog Food, Original, Biologically Appropriate & Grain Free

Best Overall

Orijen Original Dry Food
Score: (5/5)

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High-protein, meat-packed diet with whole foods for German shepherds.
Pros

High protein

100% natural

USA sourced ingredients

Cons

Pricey

Some protein for lentils

Our first choice on the list of best dog foods for GSDs is packed with protein and 100% natural ingredients to keep your shepherd feeling their best. Orijen’s Original formula is perfect for the average, highly-active, slightly-sensitive GSD.

This food is packed with 38% protein that comes directly from fifteen quality animal-sourced ingredients like chicken, turkey, flounder, eggs, and organ meat. In fact, this food is 85% animal ingredients, which is exactly what your shepherd needs to thrive.

This food also contains a slightly higher than average 18% fat, which makes it one of the best foods for german shepherds to gain weight on.

In addition to all that meat, this food contains a long list of whole-food, nutrient-dense plant ingredients like pumpkin, collard greens, juniper berries, and rosehips. These superfoods are all packed with biologically available vitamins and minerals that easily make this recipe one of the best dry dog foods for German shepherds.

And because this food has no added synthetic ingredients, it is one of the best dog foods for German shepherds with sensitive stomachs.

This food is sourced and made in the USA and costs more than the average kibble, but it is well worth it to know your dog is getting a truly all natural diet, similar to what their ancestors ate.

#2. Instinct Limited Ingredient Diet Grain Free Recipe Natural Dog Food

Best Limited Ingredient

Instinct Limited Ingredient Dry
Score: (5/5)

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Limited ingredient diet with one protein and one plant ingredient for sensitive shepherds.
Pros

Limited ingredients

Multiple protein flavors

Easy to digest

Cons

Some protein from peas

High in synthetic nutrients

If your German shepherd suffers from frequent digestive upset or food allergies, then our next pick is for you. Instinct’s Limited Ingredient Diet is made for dogs with allergies and food sensitivities.

This food comes in four flavors: duck, lamb, turkey, and salmon. Each flavor only contains a single animal protein, peas, and vitamins, minerals, and oils.

The short list of ingredients makes this food the best dog food for German shepherds with skin allergies caused by food intolerance. There are no common allergens used in the recipe and the range of flavors makes it possible to find an option for your shepherd even if they are allergic to some animal proteins.

And because this is a natural diet with no added chemicals and easy to digest ingredients this is one of the best dog foods for German shepherds with diarrhea issues and other digestive problems.

Protein amounts vary by flavor, but all contain between 23% and 29% and around 17% fat. While these levels aren’t as high as our first choice pick, they are still high enough for average to moderately active dogs.

This food is also cheaper than our first choice of food and a steal for such a quality limited ingredient diet.

#3. ORIJEN Dry Dog Food, Puppy Large, Biologically Appropriate & Grain Free

Best Puppy

Orijen Large Breed Puppy Food
Score: (5/5)

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High-protein, quality diet with balanced nutrition for growing GSD puppies.
Pros

Balanced nutrition for puppies

100% natural

High protein

Cons

Pricey

Some protein from lentils

With its unmatched quality and whole-food ingredients, Orijen is one of the best dog food brands for German shepherds. And that’s why they appear twice on our list.

Our third choice pick is the best dog food for German shepherd puppies that you are likely to find. Orijen’s Large Breed Puppy formula contains the same long list of animal ingredients as their original recipe, but with the right balance of nutrients and calories to keep your shepherd puppy growing at the right rate.

Like the adult diet, this food contains 38% protein. But, it contains slightly less fat, which is important to keep your growing puppy from gaining too much weight too fast.

This is the best large breed puppy food for German shepherds, but if you know your shepherd comes from a smaller line, you could feed Orijen’s normal puppy food instead and still get great results.

This food is slightly higher priced than the original recipe but more than worth it to feed you shepherd the best food for German shepherd puppies.

#4. Solid Gold – Wolf King with Real Natural Bison & Brown Rice – Whole Grain Rich – Large Breed Holistic Dry Adult Dog Food

Best Low Calorie

Solid Gold Holistic Wolf King
Score: (4.5/5)

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Low-fat, holistic dog food for less active and older German shepherds.
Pros

Lower fat

Lower calorie

Holistic ingredients

Cons

Lower protein

More plant-sourced ingredients

Some protein from peas

If you have an older shepherd, one that is less active, or one that struggles to stay trim, our fourth choice food is for you. Solid Gold’s Wolf King formula is packed with quality ingredients but fewer calories than the other food on our list.

This food contains only 9% fat, which qualifies it as a low-fat dog food. This food is also a great choice for GSD’s who suffer from pancreatic issues.

And with only 22% protein, the overall calorie amount is lower than your typical quality dog food.

However, this food still contains a long list of great ingredients including bison, ocean fish meal, and salmon oil. It also contains plenty of holistic ingredients like parsley, cranberries, beets, and watercress.

This recipe was created specifically for medium and large breed dogs, which makes it perfect for shepherds and one of the best dog foods for shepherd mixes that may be slightly bigger or smaller than a purebred GSD.

If you’re looking for a more budget-friendly option, this food is moderately priced and a great option.

#5. VICTOR Purpose – Grain Free Hero Canine, Dry Dog Food

Most Affordable

Victor Purpose Hero Canine
Score: (4/5)

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High-protein diet with quality ingredients at an affordable price for German shepherds.
Pros

Affordable

High protein

Quality ingredients

Cons

High in plant ingredients

Moderate protein from legumes

The last food on our list was included not just for its high protein and quality ingredients, but for its affordability. Victor’s Purpose dry dog food is the best cheap dog food for German shepherds your likely to find.

This food has the third highest protein percentage on our list at 33% and has 16% fat. This calorie-dense food is perfect for active shepherds and can even be used for working dogs and those involved in competitions.

This food includes quality animal ingredients like beef meal, fish meal, and pork meal. These ingredients along with superfoods like alfalfa, yeast, and green tea extract provide a nutrient boost that your active dog needs to thrive.

This food does contain more plant ingredients than other foods listed here, but with a price point much lower than most and a decent amount of protein, this is still a great choice for the average shepherd.

What is the Best Dog Food for a German Shepherd?

After considering the high-protein needs and unique health issues of the German shepherd dog, we have named Orijen’s Original Dry Dog Food as the best dog food for German shepherds. This food contains unrivaled whole-food and animal-sourced ingredients and an incredible 38% protein.

This brand also contributed our pick for the best puppy food for German shepherds, making it possible to keep your shepherd on Orijen foods for their whole life. A choice we don’t doubt your GSD would be pleased with.

If you’re looking for a food that fits easier with your budget or that will work for your allergy prone dog, we’ve included great options for those on our list as well.

Frequently Asked Questions

Does my GSD puppy need a large breed puppy food?
German shepherds have an adult weight between 50 and 90 pounds, putting them just on the cusp of medium and large breed. The best food to feed German shepherd puppies is large breed puppy food that will protect your dog from growth abnormalities if they do end up being larger than 70 pounds and won’t hurt them if they end up on the smaller side.
Does my adult GSD need a large breed specific food?
Because GSD’s walk the line between large and medium breed, an all-breed formula is probably your best bet. But, if your shepherd is on the larger side and struggles with weight gain, we suggest you check out our list of the best large breed dog foods.
How do I know if my GSD’s diarrhea is caused by a food allergy?
Shepherds are prone to having sensitive stomachs and food allergies, but they also suffer from more serious digestive issues that can cause diarrhea. It is best to work with your vet to determine your dog’s problem before making any diet changes.

Summed Up: The Best Dog Food for German Shepherds

NameOrijen Original Dry FoodInstinct Limited Ingredient DryOrijen Large Breed Puppy FoodSolid Gold Holistic Wolf KingVictor Purpose Hero Canine
Features for German ShepherdsHigh protein, calorie dense, whole-food ingredientsLimited ingredient, easy to digestHigh protein, balanced nutrition for puppies, whole-food ingredientsLower calorie, holistic ingredientsHigh protein, affordable
Ingredient Quality5/54.5/55/54.5/54/5
Price$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$

Sources

  1. R.M. Clemmons. “Degenerative Myelopathy of German Shepherd” siriusdog.com, 1996.
  2. Various. “GSD Health Issues” magsr.org.
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