Its elegant look, watchful and confident poise, unquestionable courage and loyalty, remarkable athleticism, and a highly intelligent mind make the German shepherd one of the best breeds in the world. The GSD requires the right nutrition in the right amounts to make sure that it grows healthy and be able to carry out its true essence in this world. And if you happen to have a GSD at home or are entertaining the idea of bringing one home, here’s a list of the best dog food for German shepherds you may want to start with.
Best Dog Food for German Shepherds Buying Guide & FAQ
What to Consider When Buying Dog Food for German Shepherds
When buying the best dog food for German shepherds, there are a few things you need to keep in mind.
- Life stage of your GSD
Adults, puppies, seniors, pregnant, and lactating dogs have very different nutrient requirements owing to the unique differences in their physiologic functions. Puppies require more calories and proteins while adults will require lesser of these. Seniors will benefit more from a high-protein, low-calorie, and low-fat diet, while pregnant and nursing GSDs may benefit more on a diet that closely resembles that of puppies.
- Activity level
On the average, an adult GSW will require about 1,700 to 2,100 calories per day. This is your average active adult. But if your GSD works or engages in very strenuous exercises, this may have to be bumped up to 2,500 or 2,800 calories. GSDs with sedentary lifestyles will require about 1,200 to 1,500 calories. You need to consider your dog’s activity levels so you can check the most appropriate dog food in terms of calories for it.
- Presence of health problems
German shepherds may look formidable, but they’re actually prone to a host of health problems such as hip dysplasia, bloat, obesity, degenerative myelopathy, spondylosis deformans, lupus, and pancreatic insufficiency, just to name a handful. As such these should always be taken into consideration whether in terms of its management or prevention. For instance, if you need to prevent hip dysplasia, glucosamine and chondroitin may be considered. Preventing bloat can be managed with probiotics. Immune-related diseases can be addressed with essential fatty acids, antioxidants, and even probiotics.
German Shepherd Nutritional Needs
All dogs require complete and well-balanced nutrition. This includes the German shepherd. Ideally, it has the following nutrient requirements.
- High protein
A GSD is highly valued for its athletic, muscular appearance. This can only be achieved if you give it dog food that is rich in animal proteins. Plant proteins may also be given; however, as these don’t contain some essential amino acids, they should be given as backup sources of proteins. Animal proteins provide the most complete essential amino acids which are the building blocks of almost everything inside your GSD’s body. When plant proteins are given, you may have to supplement it with other amino acids.
- Low to moderate fats
Fats are important for the maintenance of the integrity of the cells and tissues, the production of hormones, and the promotion of optimum skin and coat health. Of particular importance are omega-3 fatty acids, especially DHA and EPA. Omega-6 fatty acids like linolenic acid are also important. However, the ratio between omega-6s and omega-3s should be as close to the ideal ratio of 4:1 if not 1:1. If there are more omega-6 fatty acids there’s a tendency that inflammatory changes may be triggered instead of prevented.
- Below average to moderate carbs
GSDs require energy especially if they lead a very active lifestyle. Carbs are the principal source of readily available energy in food. However, this should not comprise more than 40% of the dog food composition. Carbs can provide fiber which can aid in normal digestion.
While AAFCO doesn’t recognize these as essential micronutrients, your GSD can surely benefit from omega-3 fatty acids, glucosamine, chondroitin, and probiotic organisms. These work well with other mainstay nutrients like calcium, phosphorus, zinc, selenium, vitamin B-complex, vitamins A, D, and E, and ascorbic acid.
Ingredients to Avoid Feeding Your German Shepherd
Here’s a list of the ingredients that you should really avoid feeding to your German shepherd.
- Garlic and onions
- Raisins and grapes
- Macadamia nuts or walnuts
- Apple seeds
- Cherry and apricot pits
- Dairy products, especially milk
Q: How many calories does my German shepherd need?
A: Since German shepherds are classified as large dogs that can weigh from 60 to 90 pounds the NRC recommends feeding the adult GSD with 1,740 to 2,100 calories every day, divided into two meals. This recommendation is based on a physically active GSD. If your German shepherd is already in its senior years or leads a sedentary lifestyle, its daily calorie requirement can be reduced to 1,272 to 1,540 calories. German shepherds with joint problems like hip dysplasia are best placed on a low-calorie diet to help reduce its weight and lessen its impact on the already-compromised joints.
Q: How often should I feed my German shepherd puppy?
A: Puppies, in general, should be fed three to four times a day, depending on its age. For GSD puppies 12 to 16 weeks, they can be fed 4 times a day. Once they reach the 17th week, their daily feedings can be reduced to 3 times a day. By the 6th month of age, a German shepherd puppy can already be fed twice a day like an ordinary adult.
Q: Does a certain type of food help with gastric bloat?
A: Gastric bloat is a benign condition that can turn into a deadly complication without any warning signs. Several theories have been forwarded regarding the development of bloat. The rapid ingestion of food, feeding pets on elevated food bowls, drinking too much water right after eating, and getting a really strenuous exercise right after eating are some of the most common risk factors for bloating. When it comes to dog food that can help with gastric bloat those dog foods that come with probiotics offer the best chance of preventing and managing this gastric issue. Foods that contain gas-forming ingredients like cabbage, broccoli, kale, peas, lentils, and soy may predispose your pet to bloat.
Our Top Pick
Earning the top spot in our list of the best dog food for German shepherds is Taste of the Wild’s High Prairie Canine Recipe that features buffalo, lamb, bison, venison, ocean fish, chicken, and beef as its sources of animal proteins. It has just the right amounts of calories so your GSD won’t be at risk for becoming overweight. It’s got chondroitin and glucosamine for joint health, probiotics for digestive and immune health, and essential fatty acids for skin, coat, heart, and brain health. These are the things that all German Shepherds need to grow healthy and reach their full canine potential.
Caring for your German shepherd means giving it the best possible nutrition. While our choice of the best dog food for German shepherds may be on the pricier side of things, it nevertheless offers the best nutrition for a large wonderful breed like a GSD.