6 of the Best Dog Food For German Shepherds (Reviews) in 2021

Mike PowellEdited by: Mike Powell
Abby TexasReviewed by: Abby Texas

Last Update:

The Rundown

Best Overall for German Shepherds: Acana Singles Dry Dog Food
“This is a nutrient-dense diet that is rich in protein, essential fatty acids, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. It keeps your German Shepherd strong, healthy, and well-protected from diseases like hip dysplasia and other issues that are common to large breed dogs.”

Best For German Shepherd Puppies: ORIJEN Puppy Dry Dog Food
“This puppy-specific dog food is ideal for energetic German Shepherd puppies. It is loaded with healthy ingredients including protein and DHA for eye and brain development.”

Best for Dogs with Allergies: Canidae Pure Limited Ingredient Dry Dog Food
“This limited ingredient dog food gives you more flexibility when it comes to properly nourishing your pup while also giving him a meal that he will surely enjoy. It uses as few ingredients as necessary so it is easy to avoid allergens especially for extra sensitive German Shepherds.”

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German Shepherds are one of the most popular breeds around. They’re a wonderful companion and a reliable guard dog.

But just like most large dog breeds, German Shepherds are prone to certain health problems like hip dysplasia which affects 15-20% of their population. And as they grow older, they are more susceptible to diseases like Degenerative myelopathy which affects their spinal cord.

In order to protect your beloved pooch from these diseases, you need to provide him the best dog food for German Shepherds that meet his specific dietary needs. It’s also important that they’re eating appropriately for their size, age, and activity level.

Product Name
Best Overall for German Shepherds
Best For German Shepherd Puppies
Best For Dogs With Allergies
Rank
Ranked #1
Ranked #2
Ranked #3
Thumbnail
Acana Singles Limited Ingredient Dry Dog Food, Grain Free, High Protein, Beef & Pumpkin, 25lb
ORIJEN Puppy Dry Dog Food for Large Breeds, Grain Free, High Protein, Fresh & Raw Animal Ingredients, 25lb
Canidae PURE Grain Free, Limited Ingredient Dry Dog Food, Lamb and Pea, 24lbs
Rating
Our Rating 93 / 100
Our Rating 93 / 100
Our Rating 92 / 100
Pro 1
Contains DHA, EPA, and glucosamine for a well-rounded meal
Contains glucosamine and chondroitin to strengthen your puppy’s joints from the start
Variety of recipes to choose from, allowing for flexibility around food allergies
Pro 2
Grain-free and packed with nutritious vegetables and fruit
High in protein and with a decent fat count for bouncy German Shepherd puppies
High levels of glucosamine and chondroitin in all recipes
Best Overall for German Shepherds
Rank
Ranked #1
Thumbnail
Acana Singles Limited Ingredient Dry Dog Food, Grain Free, High Protein, Beef & Pumpkin, 25lb
Rating
Our Rating 93 / 100
Pro 1
Contains DHA, EPA, and glucosamine for a well-rounded meal
Pro 2
Grain-free and packed with nutritious vegetables and fruit
Custom Button
Best For German Shepherd Puppies
Rank
Ranked #2
Thumbnail
ORIJEN Puppy Dry Dog Food for Large Breeds, Grain Free, High Protein, Fresh & Raw Animal Ingredients, 25lb
Rating
Our Rating 93 / 100
Pro 1
Contains glucosamine and chondroitin to strengthen your puppy’s joints from the start
Pro 2
High in protein and with a decent fat count for bouncy German Shepherd puppies
Custom Button
Best For Dogs With Allergies
Rank
Ranked #3
Thumbnail
Canidae PURE Grain Free, Limited Ingredient Dry Dog Food, Lamb and Pea, 24lbs
Rating
Our Rating 92 / 100
Pro 1
Variety of recipes to choose from, allowing for flexibility around food allergies
Pro 2
High levels of glucosamine and chondroitin in all recipes
Custom Button
Sources researched
19
Sources researched
Customer reviews
18,000
Customer reviews
Hours spent testing
15
Hours spent testing
Products tested
6
Products tested

Best Dog Food For German Shepherds

  1. Best Overall for German Shepherds: Acana Singles Dry Dog Food
  2. Best for German Shepherd Puppies: ORIJEN Puppy Dry Dog Food
  3. Best for Dogs with Allergies: Canidae Pure Limited Ingredient Dry Dog Food
  4. Best Value for Money: Diamond Naturals Dry Dog Food
  5. Best for Highly Active German Shepherds: Nature’s Variety Natural Dry Dog Food 
  6. Best for Skin and Coat Health: Stella & Chewy’s Raw Dog Food Toppers

1. Acana Singles Dry Dog Food

Best Overall for German Shepherds: A well-rounded dog food with an incredible flavor range your pooch will love

Overall Rating93%
Protein Count & Quality95%
Fat Count & Quality95%
Joint-Strengthening Supplements95%
Omega Fatty Acids95%
Affordability85%

PROS

  • Five different flavors to suit every taste and to help avoid any problem ingredients 
  • Contains DHA, EPA, and glucosamine for a well-rounded meal
  • Suitable for German Shepherds of all life stages 
  • Grain-free and packed with nutritious vegetables and fruit 

CONS

  • Slightly pricey 
  • Slightly high in fat for less active dogs 

This dog food is a well-rounded meal that provides your German shepherd proper nourishment while steering clear from common allergens found in regular dog food. It’s got an amazing flavor variety so it doesn’t matter which protein your pup is allergic to, there’s an amazing alternative for him to enjoy.

The protein content in this dog food is spot-on for both puppies and fairly active adults. It has a good amount of fat which provides growing pups the energy they need. It also contains glucosamine and chondroitin which is much needed for large breed dogs like your German Shepherd.

Every flavor contains DHA and EPA, making this a supremely well-rounded limited ingredient food range. 

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Why Limited Ingredient Works 

The most common items that cause allergic reactions in dog foods are chicken, beef, lamb, and potatoes. In a limited ingredient food, there is just a single protein source and a few carefully chosen fruits and vegetables, making sure that all your pup’s nutritional needs are met in as few ingredients as possible. 

The best dog food for German Shepherds allows you to avoid ingredients that you know may trigger some allergic reactions in your dog. If your pup struggles with chicken, you can choose a recipe that contains only beef. If beef is an issue, you can choose one that is made from duck or turkey. 

2. ORIJEN Puppy Dry Dog Food

 Best For German Shepherd Puppies: Contains puppy-specific nutrients essential for growth and proper development

Overall Rating93%
Protein Count & Quality95%
Fat Count & Quality95%
Joint-Strengthening Supplements95%
Omega Fatty Acids95%
Affordability85%

PROS

  • High in protein and with a decent fat count for bouncy GSD puppies 
  • Contains DHA for healthy brain and eye development 
  • Contains glucosamine and chondroitin to strengthen your puppy’s joints from the start 
  • Loaded with all-natural, biologically appropriate ingredients 

CONS

  • Not suitable for puppies who show sensitivities to poultry ingredients 
  • Slightly on the expensive side 

This puppy formula from Orijen is biologically appropriate dog food made with ingredients that replicates a dog’s typical diet in the wild. It’s packed with health-promoting supplements that will help your German Shepherd grow at a healthy and proper pace. 

You’ll find a perfect calcium/phosphorus ratio for optimal bone growth, which is essential for large breed puppies. A great dose of glucosamine and chondroitin is also present, so your German Shepherd’s joints will be as well supported as their bones.

It includes DHA which is an important amino acid that helps the brain tissue and eyes to develop the way they should. EPA is another amino acid you’ll find in this dog food, which boosts the immune system and helps your German Shepherd puppy stay healthy while growing up.

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Healthy Development For Large Breed Puppies 

Large breed puppies need the right calcium/phosphorus ratio so that their bones don’t grow too rapidly and become brittle. This dog food has the ideal ratio with combined joint supplements to promote proper bone growth and support joint health. It’s also rich in protein (38%) which helps your German Shepherd develop strong and lean muscles.

High-Quality Ingredient List 

This biologically appropriate dog food only contains healthy, all-natural stuff in it. You won’t find artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives in this dog food, exactly how your dog’s food is supposed to be.

You will find plenty of high-quality protein sources, with a mixture of muscle meat, organ meat, and bone and cartilage. There are no grains in this ingredient list, just a value-packed bunch of fruits and vegetables that contribute a host of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. 

There are also a few chelated minerals, which assist with digestion, although the quality of this ingredient list is so high that it should be quite well digested by any healthy German Shepherd puppy.

3. Canidae Pure Limited Ingredient Dry Dog Food

Best for Dogs with Allergies: Limited ingredient formulation that avoids common allergens in your dog’s food

Overall Rating92%
Protein Count & Quality95%
Fat Count & Quality95%
Joint-Strengthening Supplements95%
Omega Fatty Acids90%
Affordability85%

PROS

  • Variety of recipes to choose from, allowing for flexibility around food allergies 
  • Range of protein and fat counts makes this range suitable for all adult dogs 
  • High levels of glucosamine and chondroitin in all recipes 
  • Puppy and senior recipes available 

CONS

  • Somewhat pricey (although not unusual for a limited ingredient food) 

This limited ingredient dog food is loaded with all the necessary nutrients for a German Shepherd to thrive, including joint supplements, great Omega fatty acids, and DHA.  This limited ingredient dog food has 11 different recipes, making it incredibly easy to avoid allergy-inducing ingredients while still giving your dog a nutrient-rich, tasty meal. 

There’s something for every German Shepherd at any life stage here. The protein ranges from 25% to 32%, and fat from 14% to 19% (for adult recipes – 12% for puppies, and 10% for seniors). 

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10 Or Fewer Ingredients 

Limited ingredient dog foods aim to provide your dog proper, complete nutrition with as few ingredients as needed to avoid any food that may cause allergic reactions. With this dog food’s amazing flavor range, it’s easy to find a recipe that avoids chicken, beef, lamb, potatoes, or any other ingredient your fluff may have trouble with. 

The things that you will find in each of these foods are real food, all-natural ingredients that are packed with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and probiotics.

4. Diamond Naturals Dry Dog Food

 Best Value For Money: Complete and balanced nutrition from high quality ingredients in an affordable dog food

Overall Rating90%
Protein Count & Quality85%
Fat Count & Quality90%
Joint-Strengthening Supplements90%
Omega Fatty Acids90%
Affordability95%

PROS

  • Incredibly affordable dog food at less than a dollar per pound
  • Contains no chicken or potato or other food fillers with no nutritional value
  • Good amount of Omega fatty acids and glucosamine 
  • Includes superfood fruit and veggie ingredients 

CONS

  • Protein count may be too little for very active pups 

For German Shepherd parents who are looking for a premium quality but affordable food, this dog food from Diamond Naturals is the perfect choice for you and your pooch. At less than a dollar per pound (and 40 pounds is a nice sized bag), this is the best budget option you can find which provides your dog the nourishment he needs without you going out of budget.

There’s no hint of chicken or potato, which is great for German Shepherds who are sensitive to those ingredients. It’s filled with antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and decent Omega fatty acid levels, as well as supplements to keep joints tough.

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Nutritional Values 

25% protein is a decent amount for German Shepherds who are moderately active. The 15% fat content is a good number for both moderately active and very energetic pups. It comes from chicken fat, which is a good source and you don’t need to worry about allergies when it comes to fat – the problem part of chicken comes from the meat. 

The Omegas are moderate, but they’ll be good to help keep that coat sleek and skin moisturized. It has a significant amount of glucosamine, which is enough for moderately active German Shepherds.

5. Nature’s Variety Natural Dry Dog Food 

 Best For Highly Active German Shepherds: High fat content to support your energetic pup’s active lifestyle

Overall Rating88%
Protein Count & Quality95%
Fat Count & Quality95%
Joint-Strengthening Supplements75%
Omega Fatty Acids90%
Affordability85%

PROS

  • Contains dry kibble and freeze-dried raw meat 
  • No grain, gluten, potato, corn, wheat, or soy 
  • Variety of flavors, some excluding chicken (salmon & venison) 
  • High in protein and fat, great for dogs who are very bouncy 

CONS

  • Most flavours contain chicken in the list, which may not be apparent at first 
  • Pricey option 
  • No joint supplements – you will need to get separately

This dog food is scattered with bits of minimally-processed, freeze-dried raw meat, which packs an amazing protein punch. It’s a great introduction to proper raw feeding if you’re keen to go that way, but even if you aren’t, it offers an easily-digestible, high-protein, amino-acid packed addition to their normal dry food. 

Every recipe is loaded with protein from various sources, and it is possible to find one without chicken for GSDs who can’t stomach it. The fat count is high (20%+ in every recipe), so active dogs will benefit greatly from that. 

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Benefits of Raw Feeding

Aside from providing your pooch an exciting and tasty addition to their usual dog food, feeding them raw food offers them some relief from certain food sensitivities. It also helps improve digestion and gives them increased energy and vitality.

6. Stella & Chewy’s Raw Dog Food Toppers

 Best For Skin & Coat Health: Added flavor and texture to your dog’s typical dog food with high Omega levels for better skin and coat health

Overall Rating85%
Protein Count & Quality95%
Fat Count & Quality80%
Joint-Strengthening Supplements75%
Omega Fatty Acids90%
Affordability85%

PROS

  • High in protein, fat, and Omega fatty acids 
  • Contains biotin, which also helps nourish skin 
  • Also has Hip & Joint Boost formula, Immune Boost formula, and Digestive Boost formula 
  • Fairly limited ingredient, but all-natural and high-quality 

CONS

  • May be too high in fat for less active dogs, leading to weight gain 
  • Somewhat pricey option 

German Shepherds have a beautiful, double-thick coat that tends to shed. Although they’re likely to shed year-round, fur loss and dry skin can be reduced quite significantly by feeding them a food that is high in Omega fatty acids to nourish their skin and coat.

If your German Shepherd suffers from food allergies that affect their skin and coat, Stella’s Solutions Raw Dog Food Toppers is for them.

It’s a limited ingredient, high protein, super quality food, which not only contains a top level of fat (32%, making it best for Shepherds who get plenty of exercise), but also contains leading levels of Omega fatty acids. You’ll see a difference in your pup’s skin and coat just a few weeks after switching them to this healthy option. 

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Stella’s Solutions Variety 

The Stella & Chewy range came about specifically to revive the health of an unhealthy pup, so you can be sure they have some good evidence behind their products. Whatever your pooch is suffering from, Stella’s Solutions has an option for them. 

The Lamb & Salmon flavour is what they call their Skin & Coat Boost, and is geared towards high fat levels to nourish and shine the skin and fur. 

The Lamb flavour is their Immune Boost, which has added beta-carotene and vitamin E. Chicken is their Hip & Joint Boost, which would also be highly useful for German Shepherds who need some extra joint support. Beef is known as the Digestive Boost, which contains extra fiber, probiotics, and digestive enzymes. 


Nutritional Requirements of German Shepherds

An adult German Shepherd will generally be super lively. Remember, these dogs are working dogs, so they are built to be active. A bouncy adult will require around 2200 calories per day, while a less active pooch will be all good with between 1500 and 2000. 

Nutrients you should be aiming for when it comes to an energetic adult GSD is 30% or more protein, around 15% fat, and high levels of Omega fatty acids, as well as a nice dose of glucosamine and chondroitin. Pups that expend less energy can make do with between 24% and 30% protein and between 10% and 15% fat. 

Puppies will need in the region of 500 calories a day, but this should be increased as the months go by. A GSD puppy only matures between 18 and 24 months, so it’s essential to keep feeding them puppy-specific food until this time, while slowly increasing the amount of calories to accommodate his or her growing needs. A high protein content is good for puppies, and you can stick to a food around 30%. Contrary to popular belief, this won’t make your puppy grow too fast. A lower fat count is a better idea, between 8 and 12%. You’ll need to look for a calcium/phosphorus ratio of 1:1 to 1:3. It’s imperative not to go over this amount, as your puppy’s bones will become too brittle to support his or her frame.


Common Health Conditions German Shepherds Suffer From

These lovely pups are susceptible to certain health conditions, and it’s important to be aware of these so that you can make an effort to prevent them from the start. 

Join Dysplasia

Joint dysplasia is one of the most common conditions in large breed, working dogs, and your German Shepherd is no exception. Arthritis is also common, and can cause a lot of pain. It’s recommended to dose your pup with glucosamine from a young age to reduce chances of this happening. 

Food Allergies

Food allergies and intolerances are another thing that can wreak havoc on your Shepherd’s health. They can show themselves in the form of an upset tummy, itchy ears or paws, or dry, scaly, itchy skin and a dull, lifeless coat. 

Bloat

Another common affliction, and the most potentially dangerous one on this list, is bloat. While this may just sound like the human condition of feeling too full or having a bit too much gas, it’s a life-threatening condition for a pup. It can be caused by eating too fast, and basically means that the stomach fills with gas and twists, cutting off blood flow to the area and the movement of food through the digestive system. 

Bloat needs to be dealt with by the vet, and surgery is a definite possibility. This isn’t something you can deal with at home – if your GSD displays symptoms of this, get them to a vet immediately.Other things that German Shepherds can struggle with include degenerative bone and nerve diseases, pancreatitis, bleeding disorders, and perianal fistulas.


Ingredients to Avoid

German Shepherds are unfortunately prone to allergies, and one of the causes of these allergies can be the food they’re eating. It’s a very individual thing, though – one GSD could react badly to chicken, while another is great with chicken but doesn’t deal well with grains. 

You’ll need to actually observe your pooch and see how they react to their food. If they show any signs of allergies (reluctance to eat their food, excessive scratching or licking, dry skin and dull fur), you may need to experiment a bit to try and eliminate the ingredient they’re reacting to. 

Common allergens are chicken, beef, and potato, although there can be more. Some dogs don’t deal well with grains, although gluten-free grains are usually very healthy. 

You definitely want to avoid corn, wheat, and soy, as these are hard for dogs to digest. Artificial or chemical ingredients need to be avoided too, as do any “by-products” and ingredients that are vaguely described, such as “animal fat”. 

Apart from that, it’s really up to you to do some figuring out if your own Shepherd is allergic to any specific ingredients and stay away from those. You should know within a couple of weeks of removing an ingredient from your dog’s diet if there’s a noticeable difference or not. 


Questions and Answers

How much should I feed a German Shepherd puppy, and when can I transition my GSD puppy to adult dog food? 

Many pet parents make the innocent mistake of basing their puppy’s nutritional needs on his size rather than on his age, and boy, can GSDs grow fast. 

No matter how big your German Shepherd puppy gets, you’ll need to keep them on their puppy kibble until they’re at least 18 months old, just increasing the amount you feed them as they get older. It’s best to err on the side of caution and only switch to an adult food at the age of 2 years if you aren’t sure. 

With regards to how much to feed, a puppy will start off needing about 500 calories a day (once they’re onto solid food, which will be from about 4 weeks of age). This should be split between 3 or 4 small meals – never leave your puppy to free-feed. This calorie count should be upped slightly every week or so, until it reaches around 2000 in adulthood (this will require some mathematics on your part). 

What are some good ways to exercise my German Shepherd? 

German Shepherds are both highly active and super intelligent, so it’s a great idea to make sure they get enough exercise, not only physically but mentally too.

They were bred as working dogs, so it’s in their nature to be full of energy. A daily walk (even if it is just around the back yard) is essential to burn off some excess energy, and this should be the absolute minimum for a healthy adult German Shepherd. 

It’s a super idea to take your Shepherd to some training classes, and this is a great mix between mental stimulation and physical exercise Learning new things is a good brain exercise for your pup, and they are quick learners. 

Puzzle toys and scenting or tracking games are wonderful for these fluffs, again providing the balance of physical fun and mental work.

They also love some good bonding time with their owners, so games like fetch, tug-of-war, or a good wrestle (if you’re up for it with a large, heavy, fluffy canine) work wonders for exercise as well as affection.

Mike Powell

Mike is an avid dog lover and writer. He’s based in Los Angeles, CA where he grew up in a household surrounded by pets. He’s been a dog owner all his life and he uses this extensive experience of having dogs as part of his family to share valuable, practical tips to improve other people’s dog parenting experience.