Are you the proud owner of a German Shepherd? Well, congratulations!
German Shepherds are fun and loyal companions with the most unique appearance. They are very energetic and active which means they have a healthy appetite as well!
To keep up with their lifestyle, metabolism, and love for food, a German Shepherd’s diet must be top quality. But there are so many different types of dog food on the market, it can be quite confusing to decide which one to go for.
Don’t worry though! Having too many options is actually a good thing because that means you get to choose exactly the right food according to your dog’s specific age and activity level.
In this article, FeedFond hand-picked a selection of the right dog food for German Shepherds with product reviews from other customers, as well as other important information, such as how much and when to feed your dog.
So, let’s get started!
German Shepherd Dog Foods – Comparison
Last update on 2019-04-03 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
Contents & Quick Navigation
- The Best Dog Food for German Shepherds (Adults)
- The Best Dog Food for German Shepherd Puppies
- #1. Purina Pro Plan Focus
- #2. Iams Proactive (Large Breed Puppy)
- #3. Hill’s Science Diet (Large Breed Puppy)
- #4. Nutro Wholesome Essentials (Large Breed Puppy)
- #5. Diamond Naturals Premium (Large Breed Puppy)
- #6. Blue Buffalo Life Protection
- #7. Wellness Complete Health
- #8. Blue Buffalo Wilderness
- #9. Eukanuba Large Breed Puppy
- #10. Royal Canin German Shepherd
- Calorie Requirements for German Shepherds
- German Shepherd Nutritional Requirements
- Feeding Guidelines for German Shepherds
- Health Problems in German Shepherd Adults and Puppies
- Ingredients to Avoid in German Shepherd Food
- German Shepherd Dog Food – Buyer’s Guide
- Final Thoughts
The Best Dog Food for German Shepherds (Adults)
Dog foods for German Shepherds vary from adults to puppies. These dogs need different nutrients at different stages, so it’s very important to choose wisely.
Luckily for you, Feedfond has made a list of some really good dog food options for your German Shepherd, with detailed reviews!
#1. Iams Proactive German Shepherd
Iams Proactive Health German Shepherd dog food is another strong contender in the list. This recipe fulfills all the nutritional requirements of a German Shepherd. It is packed with protein, with its primary source being real chicken, along with eggs and peas.
The recipe was formulated specially for the sensitive stomachs of German Shepherds. It has absolutely no wheat, no fillers and no soy, which makes it ideal for dogs with allergies as well. It is in fact, the go to option for German Shepherds with skin issues.
What’s more, the formula also contains Rosemary extract, a natural preservative, instead of chemical ones. This ingredient also has special antioxidant properties which are ideal for the canine immune system.
What We Love About It
What makes Iams Proactive Health German Shepherd dog food unique is that it contains L-tryptophan. Although this is very important for dogs, it’s not usually found in all of their food. L-tryptophan is basically a neural amino acid that acts like serotonin in dogs. This is really good for your dog’s mental health as it helps relieve their anxiety.
#2. Purina Pro Plan Focus
The Purina Pro Plan Large Breed Adult Dog Food is a well know brand that German Shepherd owners rely on. It is a highly digestible formula that ensures optimal nutrition absorption. The recipe is a holistic one, containing essential vitamins and minerals that all large breed dogs need.
Every serving of this food has 26% protein and 12% fat, which keeps your dog lean, healthy and in the right shape. So, it’s a good option for dogs that need a little weight management. The primary ingredient is chicken, which is a flavor all dogs love. It is also the safest protein source for your dog.
But that’s not all! This special recipe contains natural prebiotic fiber as well. This helps to keep your dog’s digestive system functioning properly. Even the kibble sizes are perfect for your beloved German Shephard.
What We Love About It
This recipe by Purina Pro Plan for Large Breed dogs contains EPA, which is a source of omega 3 fatty acids. This is not something dogs can produce, but it’s very important for their brain and vision development.
#3. Blue Buffalo Life Protection
Here’s another Blue Buffalo product on the list which is perfect for German Shepherds. This formula uses real chicken meat as its first ingredient, which is a high-quality protein source. It also contains other wholesome ingredients like vegetables and fruits, fresh from the gardens.
Bigger dogs need lots of support for their mobility and joints. This is exactly what this recipe provides though the glucosamine and chondroitin in its ingredients list. It also contains a good blend of vitamins, antioxidants and minerals that provide a holistic nutrition for your dog.
The ingredients also contain brown rice, which is a good source of energy for your dog. It has absolutely no artificial flavors, chemicals or colors and promises all natural ingredients for your dog’s safety.
What We Love About it
This recipe is popular for its LifeSource Bits that ensures your dog is getting optimum nutrition in every bite. The kibble contains special ingredients with vitamins, antioxidants and minerals. These are processed at a lower temperature to preserve their potency.
#4. Diamond Naturals Premium
The Diamond Naturals Recipe for large breed dogs is wonderful option for German Shepherds. The recipe is ideal for keeping this breed’s muscles strong and lean because it is filled with premium quality protein.
The ingredients list contains a whole bunch of superfoods which adds to the nutritional value, along with all the right vitamins and minerals. The formula also contains omega 3 and 6 fatty acids, which is essential for keeping your dog’s coat glossy, smooth and healthy.
The primary ingredient in this formula is chicken, which has been reared cage free. And recipe even contains rice as a main ingredient, which serves as a good source of energy. So, it is basically a complete and balanced dog food formula, guaranteed to keep your German Shepherd in the best shape.
What We Love About It
Diamond Natural’s Recipe for large breed dogs is special because contains highly digestible proprietary probiotics. These are amazing for the canine GI tract and are guaranteed to keep their intestines healthy. They are also well known for maintaining a healthy immune system.
#5. Wellness Complete Health
Wellness is a renowned brand and luckily, it has a large breed formula for your German Shepherd as well. This dog food has the ‘complete and balanced’ seal, which is a guarantee that it has all the essential nutrients your large dog needs.
This recipe is made of the very best, premium ingredients. Its primary ingredient is deboned chicken and it doesn’t contain any by products whatsoever. It also contains blueberries and spinach, which are high in antioxidants and strengthen the immune system.
The formula has been especially designed to give your active dog a good source of energy. It also contains the recommended amounts of glucosamine and chondroitin, which is guaranteed to keep your German Shepherd’s hips, joints and bones super healthy.
What We Love About it
The Wellness formula for large breed dogs contains flaxseed oil which is a good source of omega 3 and 6 acids. This is will keep your German Shepherd’s coat shiny and smooth.
#6. Royal Canin German Shepherd
Royal Canin has come up with a formula that provides adult German Shepherds the perfect balanced diet. It has the right blend of nutrients that your large dog needs, including the essential vitamins A, B, C, D and E and important minerals like zinc, phosphorus and calcium.
The primary ingredient is brewer’s rice, which is a good source of energy for active German Shepherds. It also contains glucosamine and chondroitin, which makes the recipe ideal for maintaining a healthy skeletal system.
The formula is rich in fiber like dried plain beet pulp and consists of easily digestible proteins as well. This ensures efficient absorption of nutrients, despite your GSD’s short colon.
What We Love About It
Royal Canin’s German Shepherd food really does cater specifically to the breed. This can be seen in its unique kibble design that is tailor made for the German Shepherd’s muzzle. The kibble has the right shape and size for your German Shepherd to grab and chew easily. It also has a unique texture that makes it appealing to your dog.
#7. Eukanuba Large Breed Adult
The Eukanuba Large Breed Dog Food has the perfect balance of nutrients, vitamins and minerals for German Shepherds. It is highly protein rich, which ensures the development of lean muscles. But it also has all the other nutrients in just the right amount to keep your dog healthy and fit.
The recipe has glucosamine and chondroitin from natural sources. These are ingredients you should be on the lookout for because German Shepherd need them for keeping their joints healthy. It is also packed with optimal amounts of omega 6 and 3 fatty acids.
The ingredients are all natural, with no artificial flavors, color or preservatives. recipe also contains probiotics and natural beet pulp to help your dog’s digestion. What’s more, there are absolutely no fillers, which tells you that it’s a high-quality dog food.
What We Love About it
Eukanoba’s dry dog food formula for large breeds has been designed to take special care of your German Shepherd’s teeth. Infact, the brand actually guarantees to reduce tartar buildup in 28 days!
#8. Hill’s Science Diet Large Breed
Hill’s Science Diet Large Breed Dry Dog food is made up of completely natural ingredients, with no chemical preservatives, colors or even flavors. It also has all the vitamins, minerals and nutrients in the exact proportions that large breed dogs like German Shepherds need
The recipe’s primary ingredients are real chicken and barley. Along with these and the added pork fat and chicken liver flavor, this dog food is an absolute delight for your German Shepherd’s palette. It even has glucosamine and chondroitin, keeping your dog’s bones and joints healthy.
Hill’s Science is a popular brand which is well known for its biology-based recipes, developed by vets, scientists and pet nutritionists. What’s more, they even promise a 100% Satisfaction Guarantee. So, you know for sure your dog is in good hands.
What We Love About It
Hill’s special formula for large breed dogs contains the rare premium ingredient, dried beet pulp. This is a rich in fiber ingredient with all traces of sugar removed. Dried beet pulp is perfect for keeping your dog’s gastrointestinal health in check.
#9. Eagle Pack Natural
The Eagle Pack Natural Dry Dog food will help your German Shepherd maintain its right body weight, without compromising on its nutrition. It is formulated by experts specially to meet the unique needs of larger breed dogs.
The first two ingredients are chicken and pork meal, which add great flavor to the food. It also contains fat and carbohydrates in the right amounts to ensure that your dog gets the energy it needs and develops lean muscles.
The recipe is fortified with minerals, vitamins and antioxidants which will support your dog’s immune system. It also contains healthy supplements like glucosamine for joint health and nutritional oils for radiant coats.
What We Love About it
Eagle Pack has designed it’s dog food specifically for large breed dogs. This is quite evident once you look at their large kibble sizes. These kibbles are are perfect for your German Shepherd’s mouth, making meal times a much more fulfilling experience.
#10. Blue Buffalo Wilderness
Blue Buffalo is a well reputed brand for German Shepherds. This formula is packed with premium quality ingredients that support the growing needs of larger dogs. The recipe has absolutely no artificial flavors or preservatives, making it a safe choice to rely on.
The main source of protein for this recipe is real meat such as deboned chicken, chicken meal and fish meal. These high-quality proteins as well as the L-carnitine in the ingredients ensures that your dog develops lean and healthy muscles. Even better, there are no by product ingredients either.
The ingredients list contains a lot of wholesome fruits and vegetables. It also has the perfect mix of chelated vitamins, minerals and antioxidants that will keep your dog in perfectly health by strengthening its immune system.
What We Love About it
This formula by Blue Buffalo is completely grain free and has no corn, wheat or soy either. These are common causes of allergies and stomach issues. So it is a good option if your German Shepherd has allergies or a sensitive stomach.
The Best Dog Food for German Shepherd Puppies
#1. Purina Pro Plan Focus
Large breed puppies need a very special kind of diet and Purina has got all those needs covered. Every ingredient in this food has a specific function. It has all the vitamins, nutrients, minerals and antioxidants your German Shepherd puppy requires, that too in the perfect proportions.
The main ingredients are chicken and rice, which add a delicious flavor to your puppy’s meals. These are high quality ingredients which are guaranteed to give your hyperactive puppy lots of energy. It also contains calcium and phosphorus which keeps promotes healthy bone development.
What We Love About It
You want your puppy to grow up smart right? Well Purina Pro Plan dry dog food ensures this as it contains fish oil. Fish oil has DHA which is essential for puppies to develop their brain. It even makes sure your pup’s eyes are healthy and functioning.
#2. Iams Proactive (Large Breed Puppy)
Iams is popular for its large breed food recipes and now it has an option for large breed puppies as well. This formula provides a good diet plan for you German Shepherd puppy and is recommended by vets as well. So you know your pup is in the right hands!
The first ingredient on the list is real chicken, that has actually been raised on a farm. It also has a whole bunch of wholesome fruits and vegetables in the mix. This ensures that your puppy is getting all the right nutrients needed for its development.
What We Love About It
Iams has checked all the important boxes in their recipe by including the 22 key essential nutrients found in the mothers dog’s milk. It even contains Omega 3 DHA which makes helps your pup’s brain development. And that’s another advantage for you. because this will make it easier to train!
#3. Hill’s Science Diet (Large Breed Puppy)
The Hill Science Diet for Large breed puppies can be fed to your German Shepherd puppy until it is a year old. This chicken flavored formula is made up of all-natural ingredients. You can rest assured that every bite your puppy takes will be filled with flavor and essential nutrients.
This recipe is perfect for puppies because it really keeps their development in mind. It has optimum levels of calcium for their bones. It also has glucosamine and chondroitin to keep their muscles and joints healthy. All the ingredients are also super easy to digest for your tiny puppy.
What We Love About It
A puppy needs to be able to fend off diseases and germs, and become resistant to illnesses. The Hill Science Diet knows this, which is why the recipe is packed with antioxidants, along with Vitamin C and E, that have been clinically proven to strengthen the immune system.
#4. Nutro Wholesome Essentials (Large Breed Puppy)
If you’re on the lookout for some quality dog food for your German Shepherd, then this is a good option. This recipe by Nutro is made with Non GMO, premium grade ingredients. So it is guaranteed to provide your puppy with a safe, balanced and nutrition filled diet!
The primary ingredients are farm raised chicken, brown rice and sweet potato. The chicken is a good source of protein for developing your pup’s muscles. The rice and potato provides energy which your active pup will need to grow.
What We Love About It
Nutro’s formula for large breed puppies has everything needed for the healthy development of their skeletal system. It has glucosamine, chondroitin, calcium and even Vitamin D to ensure your pup’s bones and joints are in top condition.
#5. Diamond Naturals Premium (Large Breed Puppy)
Diamond’s formula for large breed puppies is a dog food worth considering for your German Shepherd puppy. The ingredients are all sustainably sourced and natural. What’s more, the formula is made with strict standards and scientific protocol, making it a trusted food choice for your puppy.
The recipe contains an impressive list of ingredients such as prebiotics which will help your puppy’s digestive system. It also contains DHA, which is essential for the development of the brain and vision at a young age. But that’s not all! The food is packed with antioxidants that strengthen the immune system as well.
What We Love About it
Diamond’s recipe is unique because it has a very different kind of flavor. Its primary ingredient is lamb, which is an excellent source of protein. It may not be a common meat source, but it provides a good amino acid profile to your pup’s diet.
#6. Blue Buffalo Life Protection
Blue Buffalo prides itself in using the very best, premium quality ingredients. It has appeared on this list before, and luckily, it’s got a large breed puppy formula for your German Shepherd puppy as well. This recipe is designed specially to provide a holistic and balanced diet for your pup.
While the main ingredient is deboned chicken, the recipe also contains a lot of wholesome vegetables and fruits. Each bite has a carefully selected, expert approved mix of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and nutrients that will keep your puppy healthy and fit. The food is also free of corn, wheat, soy and by products meals.
What We Love About it
Blue Buffalo really does have your puppy’s development in mind, and this is evident in its ingredients list. It contains the very special DHA and ARA, which are actually fatty acids found in the mother’s milk. These are extremely important for your pup’s brain and eyes, so this is definitely a winning brand!
#7. Wellness Complete Health
Hill’s diet for large breed puppies is ideal for the first year of its life. The recipe has the complete and balanced seal, which guarantees that your pup is in safe hands. The main ingredients are deboned chicken, brown rice and salmon meal, which gives the food a unique flavor.
The premium selection of veggies and fruits ensure a stronger immune system for your pup. It also provides just the right amount of energy your pup needs for controlled growth. The recipe is also packed with ideal levels of calcium, phosphorus and Vitamin A, which keeps their eyes, teeth and gum healthy.
What We Love About it
Good digestion leads to a healthy puppy and Hill’s recipe understands this perfectly. It contains prebiotics, probiotics, and chicory root extract and lots of healthy fiber that ensures a healthy digestive system for your pup.
#8. Blue Buffalo Wilderness
Blue Buffalo has come up with a good food option for your German Shepherd puppy. It is a protein rich recipe with all-natural ingredients. There are no artificial preservatives, flavors or even any by product meals either. It also contains the right proportions of nutrients that provides a perfect holistic diet.
The protein comes from high quality sources like deboned chicken, chicken meal, fish meal and egg. The added L-Carnitine, along with all these ingredients ensures that your puppy develops lean muscles as it grows. It also contains lots of wholesome vegetables and fruits that are guaranteed to provide your puppy with the nutrients and energy it needs.
What We Love About it
Blue Buffalo’s recipe is perfect for your German Shepherd. They really care about your puppy and it is quite evident in the way they process the ingredients.
For instance, the ingredients containing the vitamins, antioxidants and minerals are processed at a lower temperature. This is to ensure each kibble has the optimum amount of nutrients.
#9. Eukanuba Large Breed Puppy
Eukanuba is a well know brand that you can rely on. So rest assured that its puppy formula for large breed puppies is a healthy option for your German Shepherd. This is because the recipe contains all the nutrients, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants in the right proportions that your puppy needs.
The recipe contains fish oil which provides the Dha needed for brain and retinal development in your puppy. This will make your puppy more trainable as well. Its primary ingredients are animal based, high quality proteins like chicken. This ensures strong muscle growth for your pup.
What We Love About it
What makes this recipe special is that it contains optimal levels of omega 3 and 6 fatty acids. This does wonders in keep your puppy’s skin healthy, and it’s coat shiny, radiant and smooth.
#10. Royal Canin German Shepherd
Royal Canin has come up with a diet specifically for German Shepherd puppies aged 8 weeks to 15 months old. It’s made up of only high-quality ingredients that provide all the nutrients your puppy will need as it grows. Infact, they’re so sure of their promise that they’ve offered a 100% Satisfaction Guarantee.
The recipe has a special blend of antioxidants and Vitamin E which builds up your puppy’s immune system. The ingredients are highly digestible and packed with fiber so that your pup can have healthy digestion. The formula also contains chicken fat and pork fat which adds a lot of flavor to the food.
What We Love About It
This special dry dog food by Royal Canin is an absolute delight for your puppy, and not just because of the flavor. The kibble is designed specifically for a German Shepherd’s muzzle. It is also the perfect size and texture for your German Shepherd puppy to grasp and munch on.
Calorie Requirements for German Shepherds
The calorie requirements of German Shepherds vary according to different factors, such as their lifestyle, age, sex, and overall health conditions. For example, if your adult dog is very active, then they will typically need around 2,100 calories per day. If your dog has a more sedentary lifestyle, then they will need much less – around 1,200 calories per day. Lactating mothers and puppies will need to eat more, while senior dogs with conditions like hip dysplasia will benefit from low calorie diets.
If there are no other medical conditions or external factors at play, you should feed your German Shepherd based on their age and weight. Make sure you visit your vet for regular checkups so you can get a better idea of your dog’s nutritional requirements.
Here’s a general breakdown of the daily calorie requirements for a German Shepherd at the different stages of their lives:
- Puppies: 400 – 500 calories
- Young German Shepherds: 1,500 – 1,700 calories
- Adults: 2,000 – 2,250 calories
- Seniors: 1,200 – 1,400 calories
German Shepherd Nutritional Requirements
German Shepherds have very specific nutritional requirements. As they are carnivores, they need a diet that’s rich in protein and fat. They also need carbohydrates, minerals and vitamins.
The perfect food for german shepherds will have all of these essential nutrients in the right proportions. If you want to know a bit more about what sort of vitamins and nutrients your German Shepherd should be getting, here’s a summary:
Like most dogs, German Shepherds also need a diet that’s high in protein. According to The Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO), the recommended protein content for a large breed dog is between 30 and 40 percent.
Specifically, an adult German Shepherd needs a diet that contains at least 18 percent protein, derived from high quality sources. A German Shepherd puppy, on the other hand, requires much more. Their diet should contain at least 22 percent protein.
Protein is extremely important for your dog’s development, all the way from puppyhood to old age. Protein builds the muscles and tissues and keeps your dog looking lean and fit. It’s also a dog’s main source of energy.
Meat Vs. Plant Protein
Protein can be derived from both meat and plant sources. High quality protein comes from real animal meat sources such as chicken, beef, lamb, turkey, salmon, etc. Sometimes this protein can be listed as “meat meal”. This is just meat that has no moisture in it.
Plant protein sources are usually lentils and peas. These are very easy to digest. While they do add to the overall protein content of your dog’s diet, they shouldn’t be the primary source of protein.
The right dog food for German Shepherds will always list premium quality meat protein as one of the first three ingredients. There should also be more meat protein than plant protein.
Fat is a significant part of a German Shepherd’s diet. But only in recommended portions. The AFFCO states that a large breed dog should have 15 to 30 percent fat in their daily meals.
As for German Shepherds, the minimum amount of crude fat in an adult’s diet is between five and six percent. A puppy should be getting even more than this, with a minimum requirement of eight percent fat content.
What Kind of Fat is Good for Your German Shepherd?
The top food for German Shepherds will contain healthy fats, consisting of Omega 6 and Omega 3 fatty acids. This is usually sourced from ingredients like chicken fat, fish fat and vegetable oils like canola and flaxseed oil.
Fat adds a lot more flavor to your dog’s food. It’s also necessary for the development of your dog’s bones and the lubrication of their joints. Fats are also essential for the digestive system and for keeping their coat and skin healthy. What’s more, an acid known as DHA, found in Omega 3, is crucial for proper brain and eye development.
A German Shepherd’s diet needs around five to eight percent carbohydrates. Carbs are a great source of energy as they keep your dog’s sugar levels steady. But be careful about what form you feed these carbohydrates in as some are more difficult for your German Shepherd to digest than others.
In the ideal food for German Shepherds, carbohydrates come from ingredients like sweet potatoes, barley, rice, and oats. These are simple and can be easily digested. They also contain useful micronutrients that your dog needs to stay healthy.
Vitamins and Minerals
Vitamins and minerals don’t make up a large part of your dog’s diet, but they’re extremely important. A lack of essential vitamins and minerals can actually be harmful.
Fruits and vegetables like berries, peas and lentils and other leafy greens are a good source of the vitamins and minerals your dog needs. Some can also be found in meat sources like liver.
The right food for german shepherds will always have these ingredients and the right blend of vitamins and minerals.
Vitamin A, D, E, K, C, and B are the most important vitamins that should be included in your dog’s diet.
Vitamins ensure that your German Shepherd’s coat is healthy, glossy and smooth. They also contain antioxidants which strengthen their immune system and keeps their bones and teeth healthy.
This is extremely important for growing pups, as it is the peak period of their physical development. It is also the time when your German shepherd puppy is building a healthy and strong immune system.
Vitamins also play a huge role in hormone regulation and how your dog behaves. So, ensuring your dog gets the right vitamins can actually have an impact on how well they listen to and take instructions.
The three most important minerals in your dog’s diet are calcium, phosphorus, and zinc.
Zinc is an antioxidant that is vital for a healthy immune system. It is also responsible for keeping your dog’s nails, skin and coat looking healthy. It’s wise to take care of these things from a young age, so keep a lookout for zinc in your German Shepherd puppy’s food.
Calcium and phosphorus ensure strong bone development, especially for puppies. These two minerals should be present in the ratio of one: two to be effective.
Most bone complications in canines arise because their diet doesn’t contain enough of these minerals. Puppies and adults alike need these nutrients to remain healthy and keep their bones strong.
Important Read: Apple Cider Vinegar For Dogs- Benefits, and Usage
Feeding Guidelines for German Shepherds
German Shepherds are large breed dogs with muscular bodies and healthy appetites. They usually weigh between 60 and 90 pounds. Because of their size and active metabolism, they need a lot more food than other breeds.
How Often Should You Feed a German Shepherd?
German Shepherd puppies should be fed regular small meals. If they eat too much in one go, they might struggle with indigestion and vomiting. Ideally, you should be giving your puppy three or four smaller meals every day.
At six months old, your puppy will become a young adult. At this point, you can switch to two meals a day. Once your dog is over a year old, and considered an adult, you can then transition to feeding them just once a day. However, if your German Shepherd has digestive problems, you can also serve them two small meals each day if you’d prefer.
It’s very important not to overfeed your dog. Normally, German Shepherds will eat less as they age. However, you should also be careful about the portion sizes and feeding times to ensure they don’t overeat.
The First Year German Shepherd Food Guide
The first year is when your German Shepherd will experience the most growth. Their bones, muscles, eyes, coat and brain will develop, so it is important to feed them what they need for each stage of their growth period.
1-3 Months Old
Your puppy is going to be nursing up until they are seven weeks old. During this stage, their mother’s milk is the best source of food. It contains macro and micronutrients along with special antibodies that puppies need for healthy development.
At the end of the second month, your puppy can be weaned off their mother’s milk. This is usually when your German Shepherd is about eight weeks old. During this time, you should be introducing more puppy food to their diet.
But make sure to initiate this transition period with wet food – as wet food is 85% water, it’s easier to digest. Starting off this way will prepare your puppy’s digestive system for dry food.
3-6 Months Old
At 12 weeks old, your German Shepherd can finally start having dry food. But remember, the transition has to be gradual. Or else, your dog may suffer from stomach problems.
When you first start introducing dry food to their diet, mix 10 percent dry food with 90 percent wet food. As each week passes, increase the dry food content up by 10 or 15 percent until they are eating dry food entirely.
By the beginning of the fourth month, your German Shepherd is supposed to be able to handle dry food. You can now start adding animal products like bones, liver pieces and raw eggs to their food.
By the six month mark, your puppy will be used to all kinds of food. You can now start feeding them two meals a day.
8-12 Months Old
At eight months old, your puppy can be introduced to adult dog food. Again, make sure the diet change is slow and steady. Like before, start off by adding 10 percent of the new food to 90 percent of the puppy food. Every week, keep increasing the adult food by 10 percent.
When your dog turns a year old, they are now considered an adult. They will eat a lot less than when they were puppies because their metabolism is slowing down. This is when you should reduce the number of meals they eat to just one a day.
You can start this new routine earlier on if your dog leaves food behind in their bowl. At this point your German Shepherd will be on an adult large breed dog’s diet.
Health Problems in German Shepherd Adults and Puppies
German Shepherds are an active breed with lots of energy. However, they suffer from certain medical conditions which are greatly impacted by their diet.
We’ve explained a few of these common health problems German Shepherds face, and what you can do about them below:
Nutrient Absorption Problems
Both German Shepherd adults and puppies tend to have problems absorbing nutrients. This is because they have significantly shorter colons, compared to other dogs. As a result, it becomes difficult for your German Shepherd to get the nutrients they need.
That’s why you have to be very careful about what you feed your German Shepherd from a very young age. Without the right nutrition, their development will suffer.
Your dog’s diet should have lots fiber – but not just any kind of fiber. It should be sourced from high quality ingredients like oats, barley, fruits and leafy green vegetables. This will ensure your German Shepherd will be able to absorb the nutrients and avoid any digestive problems.
Gastric bloat is when the stomach is filled with too much gas, food and liquids, causing it to expand and become uncomfortable. Unfortunately, for dogs with deep chests like the German Shepherd, gastric bloat is a pretty common occurrence.
While bloating isn’t as serious a condition for humans, it’s a big deal for dogs. If the built-up gas isn’t released as soon as possible, your dog’s stomach may start to twist and rotate which could be fatal. Gastric bloat is actually one of the most common causes behind the death of large breed dogs, apart from cancer.
So, if you do suspect your German Shepherd may be suffering from gastric bloat, take them to the vet immediately. Always portion control your dog’s meals and don’t give them too much to eat at once.
Hip dysplasia is a genetic condition where the ball and socket joint doesn’t develop normally. It may also be influenced by environmental factors such as diet and a sedentary lifestyle.
Hip dysplasia is a very common health issue for large dogs, especially ones that have long legs and spines. So German Shepherds, unfortunately, are particularly susceptible to it.
If your dog suffers from hip dysplasia, it can be quite painful and difficult to move around. Being overweight makes this worse, as it adds pressure to the joints. So taking care of your puppy’s diet early on will make a big difference.
The right dog food for German Shepherds have enough protein, fat and calcium for their bones and muscles to develop healthily. The diet should be perfectly balanced, containing all the essential nutrients. Overfeeding and heavy exercise should be avoided.
Cherry eye is when the corners of your dog’s eyes change to a pinkish or reddish color. This usually happens when the tissue holding the tear gland in your dog’s third eyelid is damaged.
Cherry eye is a congenital disease. If left untreated, it can lead to Dry Eye Syndrome. Although this condition is more common in smaller dogs, both German Shepherd puppies and adults are at risk as well.
The treatment for cherry eye is a topical steroid cream and, in more severe cases, surgery. But a good quality diet with the right nutrients can play an important role in prevention.
Look out for ingredients that contain DHA, especially in your puppy’s food. This is excellent for your dog’s eye development. Make sure your puppy is getting the proper minerals and vitamins to build up their immune system. This will make your pup less susceptible to these health conditions in the future.
Epilepsy is a genetic condition where your dog has repeated seizures, convulsions or fits. Although this is hereditary, German Shepherds are a breed more likely to suffer from epilepsy than other dogs. It usually develops in dogs between the ages of one to four years old.
A poor diet and bad nutritional absorption can actually make the condition worse. When there aren’t enough nutrients reaching the brain, it will go into stress mode and cause frequent epileptic fits.
Epilepsy is usually treated with medication. A high quality, balance diet also goes a long way by providing your dog with the nutrients required for healthy brain function.
Epilepsy can be triggered by a high sodium diet, food allergies or overly processed low quality food.. So make sure you keep your dog’s diet in check and try to find out what your German Shepherd puppy might be allergic to from an early age.
Ingredients to Avoid in German Shepherd Food
When picking German Shepherd food, you need to be well informed about what to avoid. There are certain ingredients that can be harmful to your dog.
Sometimes these ingredients are masked as good things, but they can actually do more harm than good.
Here are a few common ingredients you should avoid feeding your German Shepherd:
Chemicals, Artificial Preservatives and Dyes
The right food for german shepherds will always be chemical free. Unfortunately, a lot of manufacturers use chemicals as artificial preservatives and dyes. These can be very harmful for your dog as they might be toxic and carcinogenic.
Some common preservatives you should keep an eye out for are BHA (Butylated Hydroxyanisole), BHT (Butylated Hydroxytoluene) and Ethoxyquin. And you know those kibbles that advertise their soft texture? They probably have an added chemical moistening agent called PG (Propylene Glycol) that you should avoid too.
There is usually no need for preservatives in dog food. Vitamin C and E can do the same thing too. If you find these under added preservatives, that’s fine. Fancy colored dog food and treats are not healthy either. So, if you see words like Blue 2, Red 40, Yellow 5 and 6, and 4-MIE, stay away!
Soy, Corn and Corn Syrup
Soy, corn and corn syrup are ingredients that high quality German Shepherd food will never contain. Although soy and corn do add amino acids to dog food, they’re not really necessary. Corn syrup is only added for flavor.
Soy and corn are difficult to digest and can cause bloating. A lot of dogs are also allergic to these ingredients. Corn syrup is made of addictive sugar which is harmful for your dog too. So, you can see that their cons far outweigh the positives.
Unnamed Meat, Animal by Products and Rendered Fat
When the ingredients list on your German Shepherd’s food packaging has unspecified meat sources or animal byproducts, it’s a big warning sign. If it says “meat meal” or “meat and bone meal” with no mention of where it’s from, you can tell it’s not good quality dog food.
For all you know, this unspecified meat might be derived from expired meat or animals that are already dead. Although this is also protein, it’s not healthy for your dog. This serves as a filler for cheap brands so they can increase the protein content mentioned on their boxes.
As for rendered fat, this is usually added to give flavor to your dog’s kibble. But it is not necessary. Fat should come from good healthy sources, like chicken, fish or vegetable oils. Rendered fat can have toxins and microorganisms like salmonella, which may make your dog ill.
German Shepherd Dog Food – Buyer’s Guide
What you feed your German Shepherd can have a big impact on their health, happiness and quality of life. So, choosing the right food is very important.
But before you buy food for your dog, you need to be informed about what to look out for. So, here’s a guide that will help you buy the perfect food for your German Shepherd:
Wet Vs. Dry Food
Wet food comes in cans. It is what you should start feeding your German Shepherd puppy after they’ve been weaned. Wet food is easy to digest and much tastier than dry food. It also has more protein and fat content than dry food, which is the kind of diet German Shepherds need. However, it’s not ideal for their teeth and it’s not easily stored.
Dry food, on the other hand, comes in kibble form. It is the more convenient and affordable option between the two. Dry food is good for removing plaque from canine teeth. What’s more, it also helps curb your dog’s habit of chewing your shoes.
However, feeding your dog only dry food might cause dehydration. It’s also quite difficult to swallow and has more carbohydrates than wet food. So, an ideal diet should have a mixture of both wet and dry food.
Premium Vs. Cheap Ingredients
There is a variety of dog food brands with a wide range of prices. Usually the more expensive ones tend to use better quality ingredients.
Low priced dog food usually uses cheap, low quality ingredients like fillers. Their protein content is also lower than the premium quality food. Expensive brands, however, tend to source their protein from the real meat of farm raised animals.
However, this does not mean that the premium-quality dog food brands are the most expensive ones. There are plenty of affordable options that are healthy for your dog as well. Just make sure you check the ingredients properly and buy from trusted sources.
Age Appropriate Food
German Shepherds’ dietary requirements change as they age. This is because there’s bound to be changes in their bodies, health and lifestyle over the years.
Many brands have formulated different recipes based on your dog’s age. And yes, it does actually make a difference! For example, the best dog food for German Shepherd puppies will always be high in protein and rich in fat. These foods are also supposed to be packed with calcium, phosphorus, Vitamin D, and DHA as well.
There are also special all-in-one food formulas for dogs of all ages. This is okay for most dogs, as long as they get all the nutrients they need. But as German Shepherds have different nutritional requirements as they grow up, it’s best to look for age specific food.
German Shepherds can gain weight very easily. Since this breed is also prone to conditions like hip dysplasia, it’s especially important to keep their weight in check.
Thankfully, there are special formulas for German Shepherds that are suited for weight management. The instructions on the packaging usually give feeding guidelines that are set specifically for this purpose.
Sometimes your German Shepherd can also suffer from excessive weight loss due to nutrient absorption issues. In this case, a diet that’s low in fiber and fat, but high in protein is ideal. But the protein sources should be lamb or venison, rather than chicken.
If your dog has small intestine disease, you might also have to include easily digestible carbs like rice and potato in their meals. Always discuss this with your vet first and choose the food that contains the ingredients they have suggested, and stay away from the ones they recommend avoiding.
Allergies and Sensitive Stomachs
Your German Shepherd might be allergic to certain ingredients. It’s very important to identify these allergens and choose their food accordingly. Your dog might also just have an overly sensitive stomach. In such cases, it’s best to stick with limited ingredient food.
There are also special grain-free, wheat-free and gluten-free options available. For dogs with allergies and sensitivities you should avoid ingredients such as wheat, grain and gluten as they tend to be problematic.
As for flavor, chicken is the safest option for dogs with sensitive stomachs as it’s the easiest to digest. But some dogs may also be allergic to common proteins, so try out other flavours as well.
The ideal dog food for german shepherds usually contain flaxseed and fish oil. These ingredients contain Omega 3 which helps to relieve itching and inflammation.
Digestion starts in the mouth, and kibble size has a huge impact on this. One size of kibble isn’t suitable for all dogs. Generally speaking, there are three main sizes;
- Small: 7 – 8 mm
- Medium: 11 – 12mm
- Large: 15 – 16 mm
Large breed dogs like German Shepherds need larger sizeD kibble. This is because they have larger mouths. German Shepherd puppies, however, might need the smaller sized kibble as their mouths and teeth haven’t developed yet.
Flavor, Shape and Texture
Your German Shepherd will definitely want to eat something that tastes good. But different dogs find different things delicious, so you’ll need to use trial and error to find out what they like.
There are plenty of different flavored foods on the market. Usually the flavor is determined by the main source of protein. Common flavors include chicken, beef, turkey, lamb as well as fish like salmon.
How the meat is prepared also adds to the flavor. Roasted meat is a lot tastier than standard meat. Sometimes there might even be bits of apple, rice or blueberries, which make the food taste better.
Food texture and kibble shape is also significant. German shepherds might prefer rectangular kibble compared to round ones. Having a mix of crunchy texture combined with soft meaty morsels might also be more appealing.
Safety and Choice of German Shepherd Food
It’s important to do your research and look at reviews before buying commercial German Shepherd food. But keep in mind that what works for other dogs, might not necessarily work for yours.
Your dog’s nutritional needs and preferences might change over the years. So even the brand you’ve been using for the last two years might not be right forever. Just make sure that you make an informed choice and pick trustworthy brands, with strict safety standards.
Food packaging is also an issue when it comes to dog food. Don’t ever feed your dog any food that arrived in an open package. It may have been contaminated and might make your dog ill. Sometimes your dog’s food may come in resealable bags which helps keep it fresh.
Related Read: Foods You Can and Can’t Share With Your Dog
A healthy diet is key to a healthy dog. And when you have a large breed dog like a German Shepherd, you can avoid many health problems simply by giving them the right kind of food.
Once you’ve read through this article, you’ll have a basic idea of what to look out for in your German Shepherd’s food. By making informed decisions, you could be saving yourself and your dog a lot of hassle in the long run. And once you’ve found the right brand of dog food, you’ll see how much happier your German Shepherd will be.
So, go on and use your newfound knowledge and check out the food lists we’ve recommended above.
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