The Best Dog Food for German Shepherds

Best Dog Food for German Shepherd Page Photo

When looking for the best dog food for a German shepherd… it’s important to choose a food that’s safe for your pet’s age.

That’s because German shepherds are considered large breed dogs.

Which is not a problem… for adult shepherds.

However…

German shepherd puppies have a higher risk of developing a crippling form of canine hip dysplasia… if they’re fed a dog food that contains too much calcium for their larger breed type.1

Canine Hip Disease
Large Breed with Bilateral Hip Disease

To help you make a safe choice…

The Dog Food Advisor has selected the 10 brands below because they meet safe calcium levels and other nutritional needs of adult German shepherds… and where noted… shepherd puppies, too.2

Keep in mind, German shepherd puppies don’t stop growing and aren’t ready to eat adult dog food… until they reach 12 to 24 months of age.3

The dog foods below are listed in random order. Each was chosen because it meets specific selection criteria. If you make a purchase through one of these links, we may earn a referral fee. This helps cover the cost of operation of our free blog. Thanks for your support.


Editors Choice Logo for Best Dog Food for German Shepherds Page

Best Dog Food for German Shepherds
November 2020

Here are The Dog Food Advisor’s best dog food brands for German shepherds for November 2020.


Dr Garys Best Breed German Dog Diet

Dr. Gary’s Best Breed German Dog Diet

Rating:

German Dog Diet is one of 13 dry recipes covered in our review of the Dr. Gary’s Best Breed product line.

  • First 5 ingredients: Chicken meal, oatmeal, brown rice, dried beet pulp, chicken fat
  • Type: Grain-inclusive (oatmeal, brown rice)
  • Profile: All life stages
  • Best for: Adult shepherds and puppies

Dr. Gary’s Best Breed German Dog Diet derives most of its animal protein from chicken meal. Our dry matter label analysis reveals the recipe contains 36% protein, 22% fat and 34% estimated carbs… yielding a fat-to-protein ratio of about 63%.

We like the fact the formula also includes zinc proteinate and other chelated minerals… which provides superior absorption and nutrition. Highly recommended.

Sample buyer review… “Our german shepherd has had a lot of itching problems since she was about 1 year old. We have tried different foods, supplements, sprays and shampoos. Nothing has seems to work as well as when we switched to this food. Scabs that were on her for months due to her itching them open all the time have finally healed over. She is still a little itchy, but significantly better than before. And she loves the food too! We used to leave her food bowl full all day because she would only pick throughout the day. With this food we are only doing 2-3 cups morning and night because she scarfs it all down in minutes! Glad we finally found something that she loves and works so well!”

Read more buyer reviews at Chewy.com

Check Current Online Price

Read Our Full Brand Review


Merrick Grain-Free Large Breed Chicken and Sweet Potato

Merrick Grain-Free Large Breed Real Chicken and Sweet Potato

Rating:

Real Chicken and Sweet Potato is one of 14 dry recipes included in our review of Merrick Large Grain-Free Dog Food product line.

  • First 5 ingredients: Deboned chicken, chicken meal, peas, sweet potatoes, potatoes
  • Type: Grain-free
  • Profile: All life stages
  • Best for: Adult shepherds and puppies

Merrick Grain-Free Large Breed Real Chicken and Sweet Potato gets the majority of its meat-based protein from fresh chicken and chicken meal. Dry matter label analysis reveals the recipe contains 35% protein, 17% fat and 40% estimated carbs… resulting in a fat-to-protein ratio of about 48%.

We also note the use of multiple probiotics for improved digestion… and salmon oil for healthy skin and coat. Highly recommended.

Sample buyer review… “I’ve been using Merrick for years. I like that the ingredients are all natural and that the company is USA based. The protein sources are whole and there isn’t any “filler” ingredients. My german shepherd has a sensitive stomach and this grain-free recipe doesn’t bother him at all. He loves this food and is always excited for mealtime.”

Read more buyer reviews at Chewy.com

Check Current Online Price

Read Our Full Brand Review


Instinct Raw Boost with Real Duck Dog Food

Instinct Raw Boost with Real Duck

Rating:

Real Duck is one of 15 dry recipes analyzed in our review of the Instinct Raw Boost product line.

  • First 5 ingredients: Duck, chicken meal, peas, egg product, turkey meal
  • Type: Grain-free
  • Profile: All life stages
  • Best for: Adult shepherds and puppies

Instinct Raw Boost with Real Duck obtains the bulk of its animal protein from fresh duck and chicken meal. Dry matter label analysis reveals the recipe contains 38% protein, 23% fat and 31% estimated carbs… creating a fat-to-protein ratio of about 61%.

This formula also gets its antioxidants from natural fruits and veggies for healthy immunity… and thus, greater resistance to disease. A top pick for German shepherds… and other large breeds.

Sample buyer review… “I recently switched from a dehydrated raw product (due to cost) to Instinct Raw Boost. This is a great quality grain- free food and my guys are loving it. I have a multi dog house hold and most of them have allergies of one kind or another. This food is working well for all..”

Read more buyer reviews at Chewy.com

Check Current Online Price

Read Our Full Brand Review


Victor Purpose Nutra Pro Dog Food

Victor Purpose Nutra Pro Dog Food

Rating:

Nutra Pro is one of 6 dry recipes evaluated in our review of the Victor Purpose product line.

  • First 5 ingredients: Chicken meal, blood meal, whole grain millet, chicken fat, yeast culture
  • Type: Grain-inclusive (millet)
  • Profile: All life stages
  • Best for: Adult shepherds and puppies

Victor Purpose Nutra Pro derives most of its animal protein from chicken meal and blood meal. Dry matter label analysis reveals the recipe contains 46% protein, 24% fat and 22% estimated carbs… producing a fat-to-protein ratio of about 52%.

Nutra Pro is also rich in low-glycemic carbohydrates for sustained energy… and omega fatty acids for healthy skin and coat. Highly recommended.

Sample buyer review… “This formulation is new to the rotation for my 2 Australian Shepherds. Magic happily gave it 4 paws up after her first bowl. Loki, my fussy eater, was a bit skeptical at first, til he had the experience of eating this food being dispensed by a moving toy. Now his review is also 4 paws up. // I was able to transition to this food with no GI upset or poop changes. If you regularly change food brands or formulations, consider adding this food for your energetic canine partners. Highly recommended!”

Read more buyer reviews at Chewy.com

Check Current Online Price

Read Our Full Brand Review


Iams Proactive Health Large Breed Adult Dry Dog Food

Iams ProActive Health Large Breed

Rating:

Large Breed Chicken and Whole Grains is one of 14 dry recipes covered in our review of the Iams ProActive Health product line.

  • First 5 ingredients: Chicken, ground whole grain barley, ground whole grain corn, ground whole grain sorghum, chicken by-product meal
  • Type: Grain-inclusive (barley, corn, sorghum)
  • Profile: Maintenance
  • Best for: Adult shepherds only

Iams ProActive Health Large Breed derives the majority of its meat protein from chicken and chicken meal. Dry matter label analysis reveals the recipe contains 25% protein, 14% fat and 53% estimated carbs… producing a fat-to-protein ratio of about 56%.

This classic, grain-inclusive large breed design has been made by Iams for years… and is a nutritious fit for adult German shepherds. Calcium levels are a bit high for shepherd puppies. Easily recommended.

Sample buyer review… “IAMS is a product that I have turned to for complete nutrition for my dog as well as my cats! In fact, I have been feeding IAMS to my cats for over 20 years! Sure there are higher priced pet foods, but why would you want to pay more when you get the proper nutrition and a quality product at a reasonable price!”

Read more buyer reviews at Chewy.com

Check Current Online Price

Read Our Full Brand Review


Taste of the Wild Dog Food Review

Taste of the Wild Southwest Canyon

Rating:

Southwest Canyon is one of 9 dry recipes included in our review of the Taste of the Wild product line.

  • First 5 ingredients: Beef, peas, garbanzo beans, lamb meal, canola oil
  • Type: Grain-free
  • Profile: All life stages
  • Best for: Adult shepherds and puppies

Taste of the Wild Southwest Canyon derives the majority of its animal protein from fresh beef and lamb meal. Dry matter label analysis reveals the recipe contains 32% protein, 17% fat and 43% estimated carbs… yielding a fat-to-protein ratio of about 52%.

It’s nice to find a recipe containing natural source preservatives… which means Southwest Canyon contains no BHA, BHT or other toxic additives. A super-popular, grain-free brand and a healthy, all life stages option for any German shepherd. Easily recommended.

Sample buyer review… “My dog loves this food! He eats it enthusiastically and it has really helped him thrive! He is energetic, has a gorgeous coat, and devours his meals!”

Read more buyer reviews at Chewy.com

Check Current Online Price

Read Our Full Brand Review


Blue Buffalo Wilderness Salmon Adult Recipe Dog Food

Blue Buffalo Wilderness Salmon Recipe

Rating:

Wilderness Salmon is one of 18 dry recipes analyzed in our review of the Blue Buffalo Wilderness product line.

  • First 5 ingredients: Deboned salmon, chicken meal, peas, pea protein, menhaden fish meal
  • Type: Grain-free
  • Profile: Maintenance
  • Best for: Adult shepherds only

Blue Buffalo Wilderness Salmon derives the bulk of its animal protein from fresh salmon and chicken meal. Dry matter label analysis reveals the recipe contains 33% protein, 17% fat and 38% estimated carbs… producing a fat-to-protein ratio of about 44%.

A grain-free, protein-rich formula available in over a dozen flavors and recipes… which makes Wilderness ideal for those who appreciate the benefits of diet rotation. Fairly priced and highly recommended.

Sample buyer review… “I have a 3 year old husky and ever since she was a puppy i had her on blue wilderness. Ive got her every flavor if not almost every flavor, and this salmon one is the one she has loved the most! Ieave her food bowl full at all times she so can eat whenever she wants. And she eats this salmon one more than every other flavor. Now i know salmon is her favorite protein (:”

Read more buyer reviews at Chewy

Check Current Online Price

Read Our Full Brand Review


Holistic Select Large and Giant Breed Adult Health Dry Dog Food

Holistic Select Large and Giant Breed Adult Health Dog Food

Rating:

Large and Giant Breed Adult Health is one of 5 dry kibbles included in our review of the Holistic Select product line.

  • First 5 ingredients: Chicken meal, rice, oatmeal, oats, chicken fat
  • Type: Grain-inclusive (oatmeal, oats)
  • Profile: Maintenance
  • Best for: Adult shepherds only

Holistic Select Large and Giant Breed Adult Health derives the bulk of of its animal protein from chicken meal. Dry matter label analysis reveals the recipe contains 27% protein, 16% fat and 50% estimated carbs… which yields a fat-to-protein ratio of about 58%.

This grain-inclusive, large breed formula boasts above-average protein content… yet still free of any plant-based protein “boosters”. Reasonably priced. Highly recommended.

Sample buyer review… “My 4 Great Danes absolutely love this food. They are all very healthy, coats are wonderful, and it helps with their teeth. I would recommend this to anyone with Giant Breed dogs. The nutrition information is comparable to what the needs are for Giant Breed (Proteins to Fats). Nothing in this that’s bad for your dog. If you decide to get this, your dog will enjoy it!”

Read more buyer reviews at Chewy.com

Check Current Online Price

Read Our Full Brand Review


Diamond Naturals Large Breed Adult Chicken and Rice Dog Food

Diamond Naturals Large Breed Adult Chicken and Rice

Rating:

Large Breed Chicken and Rice is one of 13 dry recipes analyzed in our review of the Diamond Naturals product line.

  • First 5 ingredients: Chicken, chicken meal, whole grain brown rice, cracked pearled barley, ground white rice
  • Type: Grain-inclusive (rice, barley)
  • Profile: Maintenance
  • Best for: Adult shepherds only

Diamond Naturals Large Breed Adult Chicken and Rice derives most of its animal protein from fresh chicken and chicken meal. Dry matter label analysis reveals the recipe contains 26% protein, 14% fat and 52% estimated carbs… which yields a fat-to-protein ratio of about 57%.

The recipe contains multiple probiotics for better digestion… and chelated minerals for improved absorption and healthy nutrition. Affordably priced and easy to recommend.

Sample buyer review… “We have had our dogs on this food for some time and the vet is constantly saying how healthy they are (weight, energy, coat, etc.). We searched for some time to find a quality food at an affordable price as we have 4 dogs (including a Siberian Husky and a Great Dane). Have never had any issues with them or their digestive systems while on Diamond!”

Read more buyer reviews at Chewy.com

Check Current Online Price

Read Our Full Brand Review



Eagle Pack Power Adult Dog Food

Eagle Pack Power Adult Dog Food

Rating:

Eagle Pack Power is one of 7 dry recipes included in our review of the Eagle Pack product line.

  • First 5 ingredients: Chicken meal, pork meal, ground brown rice, peas, chicken fat
  • Type: Grain-inclusive (brown rice)
  • Profile: Maintenance
  • Best for: Adult shepherds only

Power Adult derives the majority of its animal protein from fresh chicken and pork meal. Dry matter label analysis reveals the recipe contains 33% protein, 21% fat and 38% estimated carbs… which results in a fat-to-protein ratio of about 63%.

A time-proven, grain-inclusive design free of any legume concentrates. Contains safe, natural antioxidant preservatives. No BHT or ethoxyquin. Highly recommended.

Sample buyer review… “If you have a dog that is extremely active this is a GREAT dog food. My Shepherd and Retrievers were skinny because they are highly active dogs. I switched to this food because of the nutrition and calories that it intails. My dogs are bulked backed up (muscle not fat) and love the taste!”

Read more buyer reviews at Chewy.com

Check Current Online Price

Read Our Full Brand Review


More Top Picks

To view more top recipes for your German shepherd… click the link below that best meets your personal feeding needs.


How to switch to a new food… without making your dog sick

In this video

Dr. Gary Richter shares a simple feeding tip that can help lower your dog’s risk of getting sick when you switch to a new food.


Do German shepherds need special dog food?

That depends on the age of your dog. Adult German shepherds can eat just about ANY brand of quality dog food. But to help lower the risk of crippling hip disease, shepherd puppies should eat a diet that’s safe for large breed puppies. View our best large breed puppy foods here.


What causes hip disease in German shepherds?

Hip dysplasia in German shepherds is caused by up to 3 factors:

  1. Genetics4
  2. Overfeeding5
  3. Too much calcium in the diet6

How can I lower my German shepherd’s risk of hip disease?

There are 2 things you CAN do to help lower your dog’s risk of hip disease. First, don’t overfeed your puppy. Too many calories in the diet can be a contributing factor in canine hip disease. Next, choose dog foods that contain a safe amount of calcium for large breed puppies. View our best large breed puppy foods here.


When can I safely switch my German shepherd puppy to adult food?

German shepherd puppies don’t stop growing and aren’t ready to eat adult food until they reach 12 to 24 months of age.3 Switching your puppy to adult food too soon may increase your dog’s risk of permanent hip and joint damage.


A Final Word

The Dog Food Advisor is privately owned. We do not accept money, gifts, samples or other incentives in exchange for special consideration in preparing our reviews.

However, we do receive a referral fee from online retailers (like Chewy or Amazon) when readers click over to their website from ours. This helps cover the cost of operation of our free blog. Thanks for your support.

For more information, please visit our Disclaimer and Disclosure page.

Important FDA Alert

The FDA is investigating a potential link between diet and heart disease in dogs. Click here for details.

References

  1. Lauten SD, Nutritional Risks to Large Breed Dogs: From Weaning to the Geriatric Years, Vet Clin Small Anim 36 (2006) 1345–1359.
  2. AAFCO Dog Food Nutrient Profiles, Association of American Feed Control Officials, 2018 Official Publication, pages 155-159.
  3. IAMS: How to Transition Your Puppy to Adult Food, IAMS
  4. Hedhammar A, Canine hip dysplasia as influenced by genetic and environmental factors, EJCAP, Oct 2007, 17:2 (pp 141-143)
  5. Kealy RD et al, Effects of limited food consumption on the incidence of hip dysplasia in growing dogs, JAVMA, Sep 1992, 201:6 (pp 857-863)
  6. Richardson, Skeletal diseases of the growing dog: Nutritional influences and the role of diet, Canine Hip Dysplasia: A Symposium Held at Western Veterinary Conference, 1995
  7. IAMS: How to Transition Your Puppy to Adult Food, IAMS