What is the Best Dry Food for German Shepherds

by Lisa

German Shepherds are a breed that stands out for their intelligence, agility, and loyalty. Known for their roles in law enforcement, search and rescue, and as service dogs, they require a diet that supports their high activity levels and unique physiological needs. When choosing the best dry food for German Shepherds, it’s crucial to consider several factors, including their age, activity level, and any specific health concerns.

Essential Nutrients for German Shepherds


Proteins are vital for German Shepherds, supporting muscle development and repair, as well as overall growth. High-quality animal proteins such as chicken, beef, lamb, and fish should be primary ingredients in their diet.



Healthy fats are another essential component, providing a concentrated energy source and aiding in the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins. Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids are particularly beneficial for their skin and coat health.



While dogs do not have a strict requirement for carbohydrates, they can provide a good energy source and fiber. Whole grains like brown rice and oats, as well as vegetables like sweet potatoes and peas, are preferable over fillers such as corn and wheat.


Vitamins and Minerals

A balanced diet for German Shepherds should include essential vitamins and minerals, such as calcium, phosphorus, zinc, and vitamins A, D, and E. These nutrients support various bodily functions, from bone health to immune support.


Common Health Issues in German Shepherds and Dietary Solutions

Hip and Elbow Dysplasia

German Shepherds are prone to hip and elbow dysplasia, a genetic condition that affects the joints. Diets rich in glucosamine and chondroitin can help maintain joint health and reduce the risk of arthritis.

Digestive Issues

German Shepherds can also be prone to digestive issues, including bloat and sensitive stomachs. A diet with easily digestible proteins and a proper balance of fiber can help mitigate these problems.


Food allergies are another concern, often manifesting as skin issues or gastrointestinal upset. Common allergens include grains, chicken, and beef. Hypoallergenic diets with novel proteins and limited ingredients can be beneficial.

Key Ingredients to Look for in Dry Food for German Shepherds

High-Quality Animal Protein

The primary ingredient should be a high-quality animal protein source. Look for specific meat sources listed as the first ingredient, such as deboned chicken, beef, or fish.

Whole Grains and Vegetables

Whole grains and vegetables provide essential nutrients and fiber. Ingredients like brown rice, sweet potatoes, and peas are excellent choices.

Healthy Fats

Sources of healthy fats, such as fish oil and flaxseed, provide essential fatty acids that support skin, coat, and brain health.

Joint Support Supplements

Foods that include glucosamine and chondroitin can help maintain joint health, which is crucial for this breed.

Probiotics and Prebiotics

Probiotics and prebiotics support digestive health, which can be particularly beneficial for German Shepherds with sensitive stomachs.

Top Dry Food Brands for German Shepherds

Royal Canin German Shepherd Adult Dry Dog Food

Ingredients and Benefits:

  • Tailored Nutrition: Specifically formulated for German Shepherds over 15 months old.
  • Digestive Health: Includes highly digestible proteins and specific fibers to promote digestive health.
  • Skin and Coat: Enriched with Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids for skin and coat health.
  • Joint Support: Contains glucosamine and chondroitin for joint health.


  • Breed-specific formula.
  • Supports digestive health.
  • Enhances skin and coat condition.


  • More expensive than general dog foods.
  • Contains some fillers like corn.

Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula Large Breed

Ingredients and Benefits:

  • High-Quality Protein: Deboned chicken is the first ingredient.
  • Joint Health: Contains glucosamine and chondroitin.
  • Antioxidant-Rich: Blueberries, cranberries, and other fruits provide antioxidants.
  • No Artificial Preservatives: Free from artificial flavors and preservatives.


  • High-quality ingredients.
  • Supports immune and joint health.
  • No artificial additives.


  • Can be pricey.
  • Some dogs may be allergic to chicken.

Wellness CORE Grain-Free Large Breed

Ingredients and Benefits:

  • Grain-Free: Suitable for dogs with grain allergies or sensitivities.
  • High Protein: High protein content from turkey and chicken.
  • Probiotics: Includes probiotics for digestive health.
  • Nutrient-Rich: Fortified with vitamins and minerals.


  • Grain-free formula.
  • High in protein.
  • Supports digestive and overall health.


  • Grain-free diets are not necessary for all dogs.
  • Higher price point.

Orijen Original Dry Dog Food

Ingredients and Benefits:

  • Biologically Appropriate: Mimics a dog’s natural diet with a high proportion of animal ingredients.
  • Diverse Proteins: Includes chicken, turkey, fish, and eggs.
  • WholePrey Ratios: Incorporates organs, cartilage, and bone for complete nutrition.
  • Freeze-Dried Liver: Enhances flavor naturally.


  • High-quality, varied protein sources.
  • Nutrient-dense and biologically appropriate.
  • Excellent taste.


  • Very expensive.
  • Can be too rich for some dogs.

Evaluating Your German Shepherd’s Diet

Monitoring Health and Weight

Regularly monitoring your German Shepherd’s weight and overall health is crucial. An ideal body condition score should be maintained, avoiding both underweight and overweight conditions. Regular veterinary check-ups can help assess their health and make dietary adjustments as needed.

Behavioral Signs of Nutritional Issues

Behavioral changes can indicate dietary deficiencies or issues. Signs such as excessive scratching, lethargy, digestive disturbances, or a dull coat can suggest that their current diet may not be meeting their needs.

Transitioning to New Foods

When switching to a new dry food, do so gradually to avoid digestive upset. Start by mixing a small amount of the new food with their current food, gradually increasing the proportion of the new food over a week.

Homemade vs. Commercial Diets

While some owners opt for homemade diets, it’s important to ensure they meet all nutritional requirements. Commercial diets are typically balanced and convenient, but homemade diets can be tailored to specific needs with the guidance of a veterinary nutritionist.

See also: What Is the life expectancy of an Australian shepherd?


Choosing the best dry food for your German Shepherd involves understanding their unique nutritional needs and considering factors such as age, activity level, and health conditions. Brands like Royal Canin, Blue Buffalo, Wellness CORE, and Orijen offer high-quality options tailored to large breeds and specific health concerns. Regular monitoring and consultation with a veterinarian will ensure that your German Shepherd remains healthy and active, thriving on a diet that supports their well-being.


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