Best Dog Food for German Shepherds (Review & Buying Guide) in 2021

Last Updated May 24, 2021

Brave, loyal, intelligent and steady, the German Shepherd is truly one of the best dog breeds in the world. But like any other breed, the Shepherd requires the right nutrition in the right amount to be fit and happy. Whether you’re thinking of bringing this gorgeous dog into your life or you already own one, this article will help you feed and care for them properly so they can live a long and healthy life. Here, we not only review some of the best dog foods for German Shepherds available today, but we also talk about this breed’s particular nutritional needs and how to find the right brand and recipe for your dog.

Best Dog Food for German Shepherds


Designed to mimic the diet of wild wolves – your dog’s ancestors – the Taste of the Wild High Prairie recipe is one of the best ones in the market for GSDs. This high protein formula boasts novel protein sources such as bison, venison and buffalo, plus the usual chicken, lamb and fish meal, providing a complete amino acid profile to support your dog’s muscle development and maintenance. Aside from delicious meat, the recipe also contains vegetables and fruits rich in antioxidants, including sweet potatoes, blueberries, raspberries and tomatoes, providing nutrients needed for a strong immune system and overall well-being. There are added vitamins and minerals too, as well as species-specific probiotics for gentle digestion. Undoubtedly one of the healthiest, most nourishing dog foods for German Shepherds! Taste of the Wild High Prairie is one of 7 recipes included in our review of Taste of The Wild Dog Food.

Amount of calories for every serving: 370 per cup

Minimum amount of proteins in %: 32

Minimum amount of fat in %: 18

Maximum amounts of moisture and fiber in %: 10 and 4

Top 3 ingredients: buffalo, lamb meal, chicken meal

Vitamins, essential fatty acids, glucosamine, chondroitin, minerals, and probiotics

  • Brand: Taste of the Wild
  • Model: 418581
  • Weight: 30 pounds


Specifically crafted to meet the needs of pure breed adult German Shepherds, this food is a no-brainer buy for GSD pets with sensitive digestions. The recipe contains fiber-rich grains to support fragile digestion and easily digestible proteins needed for strong muscles. And to boost skin and coat health that many GSDs struggle with, the formula contains a specific complex of nutrients, including fish oil and vegetable oil, plus an optimal level of vitamin E which is not only good for your dog’s skin health, but their immune system as well. There are also chondroitin and glucosamine for joint health, and balanced levels of DHA and EPA for overall health and well-being.

For a full list of our favorite options, see our round-up of Royal Canin Dog Food.

Amount of calories for every serving: 322 per cup

Minimum amount of proteins in %: 22

Minimum amount of fat in %: 17

Maximum amounts of moisture and fiber in %: 10 and 5

Top 3 ingredients: brewers rice, chicken by-product meal, brown rice

Chondroitin, glucosamine, DHA, EPA, vitamins, minerals

  • Brand: Royal Canin
  • Model: 520830
  • Weight: 30.3 pounds


VICTOR Purpose Grain Free Hero Canine Dry Dog Food

With its grain free formula, this tasty dry dog food is a good choice for GSDs that may suffer from allergies or food sensitivities. But that doesn’t mean your active pet will miss out on the energy and nutrition they need to live their best canine life! Carefully formulated to give your dog the right balance of nutrients for good health, and with a delicious beefy taste your GSD will love, this is a well-balanced adult dog food. With added glucosamine and chondroitin for joint health, it will also help keep your energetic dog on the go, and the calorie level will keep them happily fueled. Add in omega 3 & 6, vitamins and minerals for digestive and immune system health and with Hero Canine, you can sustain an active pooch without causing his gut any unnecessary irritation. VICTOR Purpose Hero Grain-Free Dry Dog Food is one of 5 dog food recipes mentioned in our review of the Victor Dog Food.

Amount of calories for every serving: 383 per cup

Minimum amount of proteins in %: 33

Minimum amount of fat n %: 16

Maximum amounts of moisture and fiber in %: 9 and 3.8

Top 3 ingredients: beef meal, peas, sweet potato

L-carnitine, glucosamine, Chondroitin, omega 3& 6, vitamins and minerals

  • Brand: Victor
  • Model: 2381
  • Weight: 30 pounds


Looking for the best food for German Shepherd puppies? Hill’s Science Diet has got you covered. Its Large Breed Puppy formulation features the right mix of proteins and fats to help your young pup grow and develop to its optimum. With chicken meal as the first ingredient, this recipe provides plenty of protein in an easily digestible form for your dog, paving the way for stronger muscles and a more efficient immune system.

This German shepherd puppy food features a nice blend of DHA-rich fish oil, antioxidant-filled fruits, as well as perfectly-sized kibble, making it one of the best dog foods for all large breed puppies, including GSDs.

Read our full brand review.

Amount of calories for every serving: 353 per cup

Minimum amount of proteins in %: 26

Minimum amount of fat in %: 16

Maximum amounts of moisture and fiber in %: 10 and 3

Top 3 ingredients: chicken meal, whole grain wheat, whole grain oats

Omega fatty acids, biotin, taurine, vitamins, minerals

  • Brand: Hill’s Science Diet
  • Model: 9376
  • Weight: 15.8 pounds


With 85% of its ingredients consisting of animal proteins like chicken, turkey, yellowtail flounder, Atlantic mackerel and whole eggs, among others, this Orijen Original recipe could very well be the best dry food for active German Shepherds. Only 15% of the ingredients are vegetables and fruits and absolutely none from grains, plant proteins, and even high glycemic potatoes. Because of its unique ingredient composition, this food provides the highest protein content, making it a perfect choice for highly active GSDs.

However, if you’re not really training or thoroughly exercising your pet every single day, you may find that this formulation may be a bit too much for your GSD (and your budget!). In this case, you can opt for recipes that are lower in calories and protein, which are also typically more affordable as well. On the other hand, if your pup is quite active and you don’t mind spending a little extra on their food, this is a perfect pick. ORIJEN Original Grain-Free is one of 5 recipes mentioned in our review of Orijen Dog Food.

Amount of calories for every serving: 449 per 8 oz cup

Minimum amount of proteins in %: 38

Minimum amount of fat in %: 18

Maximum amounts of moisture and fiber in %: 12 and 4

Top 3 ingredients: deboned chicken, deboned turkey, flounder

DHA, EPA, glucosamine, chondroitin, vitamins, minerals, probiotics

  • Brand: Orijen
  • Model: DOR4410-4.5
  • Weight: 4.6 pounds


Made with quality ingredients such as chicken, wholesome veggies, fruits and legumes, the Blue Buffalo food provides plenty of energy and essential nutrients for the highly-active adult German Shepherd in your life. Empowering your dog to live to its fullest is a bevy of antioxidant-rich ingredients such as peas, sweet potatoes, flaxseed, blueberries, carrots and more. The kibble also takes care of your German Shepherd’s coat and skin, thanks to the inclusion of menhaden fish meal which provides optimal levels of EPA and DHA. Because there are no grains, soy, meat by-products or artificial additives, this formula is a good choice for dogs who suffer from various food allergies, although any adult GSD will thrive on it as well. Blue Buffalo Wilderness Chicken Recipe is one of 10 dog food recipes included in our overview of Blue Buffalo Dog Food

Amount of calories for every serving: 409 per cup

Minimum amount of proteins in %: 34

Minimum amount of fat in %: 15

Maximum amounts of moisture and fiber in %: 10 and 6

Top 3 ingredients: deboned chicken, chicken meal, peas

Glucosamine, vitamins and minerals, 5 strains of probiotic organisms

  • Brand: Blue Buffalo
  • Model: 840243105342
  • Weight: 25.4 pounds


Packed with antioxidant-rich fruits and veggies plus nourishing lean protein, the Superfood Plate by Nutro is an excellent choice for most German Shepherds. Like most of the contenders, this formula too is free from wheat, soy, and corn. Instead, your pup will get chicken, chicken meal and salmon meal for protein, and brown rice, oatmeal, coconut, chia seed, kale, pumpkin, blueberries and many more super-healthy fruits and veggies for carbohydrate content. Despite containing an array of nutritious ingredients, this is a low-calorie, moderate-protein formulation that is ideal for indoor German Shepherds.

Read the in-depth Nutro Dog Food review.

Amount of calories for every serving: 341 per cup

Minimum amount of proteins in %: 25

Minimum amount of fat in %: 14

Top 3 ingredients: chicken, chicken meal, whole brown rice

Antioxidants, minerals, vitamins, natural prebiotics

  • Brand: Nutro
  • Model: 10162670
  • Weight: 31 pounds


Made with simple and natural ingredients, including lamb and salmon meal as the first two, plus whole grains like brown rice, barley and quinoa, Merric Classic recipe contains everything your adult German Shepherd needs to thrive. Other ingredients include apples, carrots, and chia seed, all packed with vitamins and antioxidants needed for a strong immune system. The formula may not have a huge amount of protein in it, but it makes up for it by the inclusion of omega-3s and omega-6s as well as a handful of prebiotic ingredients to provide your German Shepherd with an interesting mix of anti-inflammatory, immune-boosting, and cardio-enhancing nutrients and supplements. It is free from soy, wheat, and corn, too.

See our round-up of the Merrick Dog Food.

Amount of calories for every serving: 359 per cup

Minimum amount of proteins in %: 25

Minimum amount of fat in %: 15

Top 3 ingredients: deboned lamb, salmon meal, brown rice

Chondroitin, glucosamine, vitamins, minerals, natural prebiotics

  • Brand: Merrick
  • Model: 35306
  • Weight: 4 pounds


Designed for large breeds like the German Shepherd, Tuffy’s NutriSource offers a different take on what the best food for German Shepherd should look like. Its high-calorie, moderate-protein, and reduced-fat recipe should appeal more to pet parents whose dogs are highly active. The food is completely free of soy, corn, and wheat, too; instead opting for wholesome barley and rice to give GSDs more readily available energy without spiking their blood sugar. Further supporting their digestive health are probiotics and prebiotics that also help improve nutrient absorption and overall health and well-being.

Read here our detailed Review of NutriSource Dog Food.

Amount of calories for every serving: 448 per cup

Minimum amount of proteins in %: 23

Minimum amount of fat in %: 14

Maximum amounts of moisture and fiber in %: 10 and 5

Top 3 ingredients: chicken, chicken meal, brown rice

Taurine, glucosamine, chondroitin, minerals, vitamins, 100 million CFUs probiotics

  • Brand: Tuffy’s Pet Food
  • Model: 131105
  • Weight: 30.3 pounds


Specifically crafted for large breed puppies including German Shepherd puppies, Diamond Naturals Lamb & Rice formula is guaranteed to help your pup grow into a strong, healthy adult dog. Vying for the position of the best food for the German Shepherd puppy, this recipe contains high-quality ingredients only, including lamb and fish meal for protein content, and whole grains and fresh fruits and veggies as carbohydrate sources. Aside from lamb, the recipe contains fish meal, brown rice, kale, chia seed, pumpkin, blueberries, coconut, spinach and many more antioxidant-packed ingredients that help boost immunity. 

Read here our guide on the Best Lamb Dog Food.

Amount of calories for every serving: 342 per cup

Minimum amount of proteins in %: 27

Minimum amount of fat in %: 15

Maximum amounts of moisture and fiber in %: 10 and 4.5

Top 3 ingredients: lamb, lamb meal, whole grain brown rice

L-carnitine, DHA, prebiotics, antioxidants, minerals, 80 million CFUs probiotics

  • Model: 418117
  • Weight: 40.7 pounds

Best Food for German Shepherds Buying Guide & FAQ

The German Shepherd is a highly intelligent, loyal, and courageous breed that makes for a wonderful and faithful companion. But like any other breed, the Shepherd also needs healthy, quality food to enjoy a long and happy life. To help you create an ideal diet for your pup, we’ve not only reviewed some of the best dog foods in the market but have also put together this comprehensive buying guide. Here, we cover everything you need to know about the German Shepherd diet, including tips on how to pick the best recipe for your pet, which ingredients to avoid feeding and so much more.

What to Consider When Buying Food for Your German Shepherds

To pick the best, healthiest food for your Shepherd, pay attention to the following things:

  • The life stage of your dog

Adults, puppies, seniors, pregnant, and lactating dogs have different nutritional requirements owing to the unique differences in their physiological functions. A puppy will require more calories, fat, and protein to develop properly, while an adult German Shepherd will typically need lower-calorie food that’s high to moderately rich in protein. Senior dogs will benefit more from a moderate protein, low-calorie diet that is supplemented with glucosamine, while pregnant and nursing German Shepherds may benefit more from eating a high-calorie diet that resembles that of puppies.

  • Activity level

On average, an adult active German Shepherd will require about 1,700 to 2,100 calories per day, however, a GSD that works or engages in very strenuous exercise may have to be bumped to 2,500 calories or even 2,800 calories. GSDs with sedentary lifestyles will require about 1,200 to 1,500 calories per day. How active your pet is is an important factor to consider when buying dog foods because you want your pup’s diet to support their needs, not work against them.

  • Potential health problems

German shepherds may look formidable, but like any other breed, they’re prone to certain health problems, including hip dysplasia, bloat, obesity, degenerative myelopathy, spondylosis deformans, lupus, and pancreatic insufficiency. These health problems should always be taken into consideration whether in terms of management or prevention. For instance, if you know your dog is susceptible to hip dysplasia, consider foods enriched with glucosamine and chondroitin. Preventing bloat can be managed with recipes enhanced with probiotics and prebiotics, while immune-related diseases can be addressed with essential fatty acids, antioxidants, and probiotics. Dogs that suffer from various food allergies, on the other hand, will do best on simple recipes that contain a limited number of ingredients.

Four dogs

German Shepherd Nutritional Needs

To be healthy, fit, and happy, all dogs require a complete and well-balanced diet, including of course the German Shepherd. Here is what to look for in healthy dog foods for GSDs:

  • High protein

GSDs are highly valued for their athletic, muscular appearance. So, to support your dog’s energy levels and athletic build, it’s important to feed them a diet that is rich in animal protein. Plant proteins are also welcome in well-balanced recipes, but as they don’t contain some essential amino acids, they should be given as backup sources of proteins. Animal proteins such as meat, poultry, and fish provide the most complete essential amino acids which are the building blocks of your GSD’s body.

Check out our detailed review of High Protein Dog Food.

  • Low to moderate fats

Fats are important for maintaining the integrity of your dog’s cells and tissues, as well as 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, but the balance 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 than necessary, there’s a tendency that inflammatory changes may be triggered instead of prevented.

  • Below average to moderate carbs

Because Shepherds are agile and active by nature, they need plenty of energy especially if they exercise a lot every day. Carbs are the principal source of readily available energy in food, and they’re also a good source of fiber which aids in digestion. However, they shouldn’t comprise more than 40% to 50% of the recipe composition, depending on the activity levels of your pup. In any case, you want quality ingredients in your dog’s kibble or canned food: antioxidant and fiber-rich fruits, vegetables, legumes, as well as whole grains if your dog doesn’t suffer from grain sensitivities or food allergies in general.

  • Micronutrients

When buying food for your Shepherd, look only at brands and recipes that are complete and balanced, in other words, supplemented with all essential micronutrients. Aside from standard vitamins and minerals, it’s good if your dog’s food also contains added 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

The main ingredients to avoid feeding your German Shepherd include:

  • Chocolate
  • Garlic and onions
  • Raisins and grapes
  • Coffee and other caffeine products
  • Macadamia nuts or walnuts
  • Apple seeds
  • Cherry and apricot pits
  • Plums
  • Dairy products, especially milk
  • Chives
  • Rhubarb

German Shepherds Dog Food FAQs:

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 1,740 to 2,100 calories every day, divided into two meals. This recommendation is based on a physically active GSD, of course. But if your 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 their weight and lessen its impact on their already-compromised joints.

Read here our article on Large Breed Dog Food.

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 their age. GSD puppies 12 to 16 weeks old can be fed 4 times a day, but once they reach the 17th week, their daily feedings can be reduced to 3 times a day. And by the 6th month of age, a German Shepherd puppy can 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 quickly turn into a deadly complication without any warning signs. Several theories have been forwarded regarding the development of bloat, including 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 a meal. If your Shepherd is prone to bloating, consider feeding them foods that are enhanced with probiotics. At the same time, avoid recipes that contain gas-forming ingredients like cabbage, broccoli, kale, lentils, and soy.

Police Dog

Our Top Pick – Taste of the Wild High Prairie

Made with high-quality ingredients, including a host of nutritious animal protein sources and antioxidant-packed veggies and fruits, the Taste of the Wild’s High Prairie Canine Recipe has got to be our top pick. With a whopping seven different animal proteins, this recipe contains all essential amino acids your Shepherd needs to remain strong, agile, and healthy. The formula also contains chondroitin and glucosamine for joint health, probiotics for digestive and immune health, and essential fatty acids for skin, coat, heart, and brain health. One of the best foods for GSDs, hands down!


  1. German Shepherd Dog, PetMD
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