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Best Dog Foods For German Shepherds: Puppies, Adults & Seniors

Looking for the perfect dog food formula to feed your German Shepherd? In this review, we compare our favorite dog foods for the breed, at each life stage. Read on to find out which foods are our favorites for your German Shepherd puppy, adult, or senior dog.

Emma Braby Picture

Last Updated: January 30, 2023 | 13 min read

Best Dog Food For German Shepherds

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German Shepherds are the second most popular dog breed in America, but with so many of them about it is believed that less than 10% of dog owners are confident about their pup’s nutritional needs. And this is where we come in! We have compiled a guide full of important information about the German Shepherd’s nutritional needs, and how different foods are appropriate across all age ranges.

All of this research means that we can offer you several recommendations for natural dry dog food, and amongst our recommendations, that should offer a the perfect nutritional balance for your German Shepherd.

The Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) have put forward guidelines regarding nutritional content in dog food, and all reputable manufacturers produce dog food that follows this guideline, and all of our recommendations in this guide follow this as a minimum.

So, if you are about to welcome a German Shepherd puppy into your home, or you already have a German Shepherd who needs a change in diet, you have come to the right place! So, grab yourself a coffee and stick with us to learn all the important information you need to know about the nutritional needs of the German Shepherd.

At a Glance: Our Favorite Foods For German Shepherds

Taste of the Wild Puppy Formula High Prairie
Our Rating

Best For Puppies

Taste of the Wild

The Farmer's Dog Food Products (3 flavors)
Our Rating

Best For Adults

The Farmer’s Dog

Senior Purina Pro Food
Our Rating

Best For Seniors

Purina Pro Bright Minds

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German Shepherd Puppy Nutrients

All puppies need extra nutrients to help them grow, and they grow super quick within the first 8 months of their lives. They then continue to grow up until the age of 18 months, but at a much steadier rate. Your puppy needs the best quality nutrients to make sure he develops properly. But using high-quality food will also help reduce the chances of having predisposed health issues. Follow our feeding chart to see how you need to adjust as your puppy grows.

You also want to make sure your pup has the nutrients it needs to help keep their coats nice and shiny.  Regardless if you have a white German Shepherd, black coated GSD, or a GSD with a fluffy coat, you’ll need to make sure you are using a high-quality food to keep their coats soft and shiny.

He specifically needs high-quality kibble that is specifically aimed at large breed puppies, as they have a higher number of calories, carbohydrates and calcium levels which will provide his growing body and bones with everything that it needs. Standard puppy kibble which is aimed at dogs of all sizes may not contain enough nutrients. German Shepherds are active dogs, so it’s important to feed them food meant for large breeds.

Ideally, German Shepherd puppies should have 500 calories a day which gradually increases to around 1,600 once he reaches around 15 months old. The kibble should include a protein content anywhere between 18% and 22% and a fat content between 8% to 12%. Be sure not to feed your German Shepherd puppy any calcium supplements. Too much calcium can increase the chances of both Elbow and Hip Dysplasia in later life.

Adult German Shepherd Nutrients

Adult German Shepherds also need age-appropriate food, so it is important that when he reaches the age of 15 months or so, he should be transitioned from a large breed puppy formula to adult formula as his nutrient requirements change (see our transitional feeding table below). A high-quality adult kibble should include 18% to 24% protein and around 14% fat content.

Similar to the Siberian Husky’s food needs, an average adult German Shepherd should consume anywhere between 1,700 calories and 2,400 calories a day, dependent on his size and energy levels. If he is a less active pup or an elderly dog, then he will need much less energy, and he should only consume between 1,300 and 1,600 calories.

Both adult and puppy German Shepherds generally do better on grain-free kibble as they are commonly allergic, or intolerant to, grains and most Veterinarians would suggest putting your pup on this straight away to save any dietary upset or the need to change his diet in the future. However, not all owners and experts agree on a totally grain-free diet, so this is a personal choice as there are pros and cons to each argument, so therefore we have included a mix of grain-free and grain inclusive recommendations.

Senior German Shepherd Nutrients

As German Shepherds age, they start to lose mobility in certain areas of their body, most notably their rear legs and rear joints.  Hip dysplasia is very common in this breed due to their gait and how they are genetically built.  As your GSD ages, it will require different nutrients than as an adult or as a puppy.  Most GSD’s aren’t prone to getting overweight because the breed is so active, but this is still something that should be monitored.

As your dog ages, it’s also possible that your vet may advise you to put your pup on a high fiber dog food, or a food that’s specifically made for sensitive stomachs.  Things that your GSD used to eat may no longer be tolerable for your pup as they age, so you’ll want to monitor any potential health issues that may arise with their diet.

Best Foods For German Shepherd Puppies

Best Foods For German Shepherd Puppies
German Shepherd puppies have very different nutrition requirements from adults and seniors.

Below are five of our natural dry dog kibble recommendations that are made from natural ingredients, and all have the best overall nutritional content as guided by the AAFCO.

We have also considered the overall product rating given by dog owners across the world, as well as the reputation of each brand, so that you know you are choosing the best products from expert companies.

Royal Canin GSD Puppy Formula

Royal Canin German Shepherd Puppy
  • Formulated for German Shepherd puppies.
  • Made to improve skin and coat health.
  • Vitamins support bone and joint development.
  • Easy to chew kibble size & consistency.
  • Helps maintain stool quality.
  • 331 Calories per cup.
  • 28% Protein, 14% Fat, 3.8% Fiber.

This kibble has been specifically designed with the German Shepherd puppy in mind. It has highly digestible proteins and specific fibers that maintains his digestive health, which will aid his soft stools.

Glucosamine and chondroitin also support healthy bones and joints as your puppy grows into a big boy. It has a variety of antioxidants and minerals, such as Vitamin E which help to develop his immune system, as well as Taurine which keeps his heart healthy.

We love that the biscuits are designed specifically for a German Shepherd pup, whose mouth is smaller than an adult, and the smaller shape encourages chewing and slows down his eating, and therefore he is less likely to experience bloat.

Eukanuba Puppy Formula

Eukanuba Puppy Dog Food Formula Large Breed
  • Balanced formula for large dogs.
  • Chicken is the first ingredient.
  • Natural fiber for digestion.
  • Prebiotics for gut health.
  • DHA for brain development.
  • 357 Calories per cup.
  • 26% Protein, 14% Fat, 3.7% Fiber.

While this brand may have a funnier name, the product is anything but. Eukanuba has been producing high quality dog food since 1969. for This kibble has been specifically designed for large breed puppies who will exceed 55 pounds on maturity. Which, most German Shepherds definitely will.

It has the optimal level of calcium and phosphorus to ensure that his joints and bones have the right balance of nutrients. This will help reduce the chances of developing Elbow and Hip Dysplasia in later life. It also boasts clinically proven DHA levels for their brain development, which will encourage smarter and more trainable puppies.

We love that the first ingredient is chicken, so you know that this high-quality kibble has the very best protein source.

Blue Buffalo Natural Puppy Formula

Blue Buffalo Large Breed Puppy Food Wilderness
  • Real chicken is the first ingredient.
  • Contains no by-product meals.
  • No corn, wheat, soy, or artificial flavors.
  • DHA supports brain development.
  • Specifically made for large breed puppies.
  • 411 Calories per cup.
  • 35% Protein, 14% Fat, 6% Fiber.

Blue Buffalo created this puppy food with the finest natural protein ingredients to promote strong muscle growth, and it is 100% grain-free for German Shepherd puppies who suffer with grain allergies.

This formula also includes fatty acids such as DHA and ARA, which are also found in his mothers’ milk, which supports cognitive development and eye health. It’s ingredients also include Taurine and L-carnitine, which support cardiac health.

We love that Blue Buffalo has infused this kibble with their own ‘Lifesource Bits’ that not only add extra vitamins, minerals and antioxidants which are great for your puppy’s health, but they are packed full of flavor too!

Taste of the Wild Puppy Formula

Taste of the Wild Puppy Food HP
  • Grain-free formula.
  • Smaller kibble size for puppies.
  • Probiotics for gut health.
  • Real fruits and veggies for antioxidants.
  • Made in the United States.
  • 364 Calories per cup.
  • 28% Protein, 17% Fat, 5% Fiber.

Taste of the Wild offers what it says on the package, as it really is a taste of the wild. With Bison being the first ingredient, it offers rich protein that is important for strong muscle growth as well as being high in amino acids. The kibble is designed to be smaller for puppies. It’s also one of the most popular dog foods in Taste of the Wild’s entire kibble lineup.

Despite the smaller kibble size, it’s still packed with antioxidants and DHA. Both of these ingredients are important for cognitive development and vision. It is 100% grain-free for those pups with allergies and it is full of canine probiotics which make it highly digestible.

We love that it is based on his wild ancestor’s diet that is high in natural and tasty protein that your German Shepherd puppy will love.

Science Diet Puppy Formula

Science Diet Giant Puppy Food
  • Veterinarian endorsed brand.
  • Made with all-natural ingredients.
  • No artificial flavors or preservatives.
  • Glucosamine for joint support.
  • Made in the United States.
  • 394 Calories per cup.
  • 24% Protein, 11% Fat, 3% Fiber.

More than 220 canine nutrition professionals have created Hill’s Science Diet. The puppy kibble has the optimal level of calcium for controlled bone growth. This is important for the German Shepherd and Dysplasia issues.

This formula contains fish oil that provides your pup with the nutrients he needs for brain and eye development. It is made with 100% natural ingredients, it has no artificial colors, flavors or preservatives in it, but it does have added vitamins and amino acids for your pup’s development.

We love that this is voted as the Number 1 dry dog food by Veterinarian’s across America – so you know this kibble must be something special!

Best Foods For Adult German Shepherds

Dog Food For Adult German Shepherds
Adult German Shepherds should have less nutrient-dense food and will have different protein needs.

Just like our puppy food recommendations above, the below choices for your adult German Shepherd are based on natural dry food ingredients, with the best overall nutritional content that follows the AAFCO guidelines.

Your Adult German Shepherd will need a higher calorie count than they did as a puppy, but the food shouldn’t be as nutrient-dense.  If you continue the puppy formula as an adult, you’ll be likely to have an overweight pup on your hand.  As your Adult graduates, below are some of our favorite foods for your German Shepherd Adult.

The Farmer's Dog

The Farmer's Dog Food Products (3 flavors)
  • Cooked fresh, flash-frozen, and shipped to you.
  • Personalized meal plans.
  • 4 healthy, vet-designed options: beef, chicken, turkey, or pork.
  • Made with human-grade ingredients (no fillers or preservatives).
  • Manufactured in the United States.
  • Calories and nutritional values vary based on recipe.

All of the meat and veggies in The Farmer’s Dog’s recipe are fresh, human-grade ingredients, meaning that your German Shepherd will be getting his nutrients in the most nourishing form.

It is 100% grain-free and is packed with various vegetables to provide your German Shepherd with vitamins and minerals. But, if you aren’t looking for grain-free, you can mix in rice to stretch your shipment and budget a little further. The Farmer’s Dog is available in four different flavors: Chicken, Beef, Turkey, and Pork. So, if your pooch has a discriminating palate, there are several choices from which to choose.

We love that this is a healthy, whole food option made fresh and then flash frozen for shipping to your door. The Farmer’s Dog’s customized meal plan will keep your German Shepherd healthy and strong.

Science Diet Puppy Formula

Science Diet Giant Puppy Food
  • Veterinarian endorsed brand.
  • Made with all-natural ingredients.
  • No artificial flavors or preservatives.
  • Glucosamine for joint support.
  • Made in the United States.
  • 394 Calories per cup.
  • 24% Protein, 11% Fat, 3% Fiber.

Royal Canin, just like their puppy food, has developed this with the adult German Shepherd specifically in mind. It is designed for his digestive health with specific fibers that aid his unique digestive system and stool softness.

With fish oil and DHA, he will have a healthy and shiny coat, as well as maintaining his strong and healthy bones thanks to glucosamine and chondroitin. Taurine is on the ingredient list too which means his heart will receive the amino acids that it needs.

We love that the biscuits are designed specifically for the German Shepherd, whose muzzle is long and strong, and the shape encourages chewing and slows down his eating, and therefore he is less likely to experience bloat.

Diamond Naturals Adult Dog Food

Diamond Naturals Large Breed Dog Food
  • Budget-friendly formula.
  • Made with real fruits and vegetables.
  • No corn, wheat, filler, or artificial flavors.
  • Omega fatty acids for skin & coat health.
  • Made in the United States.
  • 320 Calories per cup.
  • 22% Protein, 12% Fat, 4% Fiber.

Diamond Naturals’ recipe is enhanced with nutrients and superfoods, such as kale, papaya and blueberries, for optimal nutrition. It is also boasts a guaranteed 80 million colony-forming units of live probiotic cultures, per pound of kibble.

This is great for the German Shepherd’s digestive system. Lamb meal is the first ingredient on the list, which supports his strong muscles for this working and energetic dog.

We love that it has active and live probiotics that aids the German Shepherds particularly sensitive digestive system.

Blue Buffalo Wilderness Formula

Blue Buffalo Wilderness Large Breed
  • Grain-free formula.
  • Made with real beef.
  • Made with real fruits and vegetables.
  • Formulated to simulate a raw diet.
  • Free of poultry, by-product meals, corn, soy or wheat.
  • 373 Calories per cup.
  • 28% Protein, 13% Fat, 6% Fiber.

Blue Buffalo have created this recipe inspired by the German Shepherd’s ancestor, the wolf, and his protein rich diet which promotes strong muscle growth. It is 100% grain-free for dogs who suffer with grain allergies. This dog food also contains healthy carbohydrates such as sweet potato and peas that will keep his energy up throughout the day.

Blue Buffalo’s Wilderness recipe also includes omega 3 and 6 fatty acids which promote a healthy and shiny coat. Also included is their exclusive ‘Lifesource Bits’ that provide your dog with a precise blend of antioxidants and minerals to provide a healthy oxidative balance.

We love that the Bison, Rabbit and Red Meat recipes are chicken and poultry free, and grain free, as some German Shepherds can be intolerant of chicken which is regularly found in dog food.

Orijen Adult Dog Food

Orijen Original Adult Food
  • Made with sustainable meats & fish.
  • Made with cage-free egs.
  • 85% meat ingredients.
  • Made with Freeze-dried liver for taste.
  • First 5 ingredients are wholeprey proteins.
  • 449 calories per cup.
  • 38% Protein, 18% Fat, 4% Fiber.

This protein rich recipe is one of the richest around, with 85% of the ingredients being poultry, fish or egg products. Approximately two thirds of the meat content in this recipe are all fresh or raw, meaning that your German Shepherd will be getting his nutrients in the most nourishing form.

It is 100% grain and gluten free and it is packed with a variety of fruit and vegetables to provide your German Shepherd with his vitamins and minerals. It also comes in three different flavors; the Original, Regional Red and Six Fish, so if you have a fussy pooch then there a few choices for him to choose from, and all of their recipes have whole fish in which helps to maintain a healthy heart.

We love that this is biologically appropriate, in that the recipe is based on a ‘whole prey’ diet that mirrors the ratio of a wild diet. It incorporates a balance of meat, organs, bones, and cartilage. While that might not sound too appealing to you, your German Shepherd will love it!

Taste of the Wild Pacific Stream

Taste of the Wild Ancient Stream
  • Grain-free formula.
  • Proprietary probiotic blend for gut health.
  • Made with real fruits and vegetables.
  • No corn, wheat, or artificial fillers.
  • Made in the United States.
  • 360 Calories per cup.
  • 25% Protein, 15% Fat, 3% Fiber.

This recipe is made without grain, potatoes, by-product meals, corn, wheat, soy, artificial colors or preservatives. Only 100% natural ingredients are used in this formula. It’s made with smoked salmon, which is a taste that many dogs love as much if not more than chicken or red meat. Salmon is also the first ingredient.

This dog food recipe is also packed with extra nutrients and antioxidants. These will help boost your pup’s immune system. They will also help keep your German Shepherd’s digestive system in tip top condition.

We love that this recipe contains Taste of the Wild’s proprietary probiotics. This will ensure your German Shepherd’s gut health is a priority during their adult years.

Best Foods For Senior German Shepherds

Senior German Shepherd Food Needs
Senior German Shepherd pups have different food needs than adults or puppies.

Is your Senior German Shepherd Overweight? Has your pup started to get a sensitive stomach as they have gotten older? As your best friend continues to age, their nutritional needs are going to change.  German Shepherd dogs aren’t typically prone to being overweight. But, any breed can put on extra pounds without the right amount of exercise as they age.

It’s also possible that your pup develops a more sensitive stomach as they age. This means your vet may recommend a dog food designed to aid your pup in proper digestion. Or, if they have a problem staying regular, a higher fiber dog food may be the right call. In no particular order, let’s look at our favorite dog foods for senior German Shepherds.

Blue Buffalo Life Protection

Blue Buffalo Senior Large Breed Formula
  • Glucosamine boost for joint health.
  • Made with L-Carnitine for muscle retention.
  • Antioxidants for immune health.
  • No corn, wheat, or soy.
  • No By-product meals.
  • 344 Calories per cup.
  • 20% Protein, 10% Fat, 7% Fiber.

In order for your German Shepherd to lose weight, or simply maintain it if he is less active, then feeding him a natural dry dog kibble with less fat content than normal kibbles is your best bet, and Blue Buffalo offers the perfect solution. Follow the package guidelines closely and be sure to continue his exercise as directed by the Veterinarian, as he still needs to be active to lose that extra fat.

Weight control will not only help to reduce the risk of heart disease, but it will also decrease the pressure on his hip and elbow joints. So, if he is a bit on the chunky side feeding him a less calorific diet will benefit his health significantly.

We love most of Blue Buffalo’s offerings. They are synonymous with high quality, while not taking up half your paycheck.

Science Diet Sensitive Stomach Formula

Science Diet Sensitive Stomach
  • Made specifically for sensitive stomachs.
  • Veterinarian endorsed brand.
  • Prebiotic fiber for gut health.
  • Made with all-natural ingredients.
  • Highly digestible formula for stool consistency.
  • 382 Calories per cup.
  • 21% Protein, 12% Fat, 4% Fiber.

Does your German Shepherd suffer from sensitive skin or a sensitive stomach? Hill’s kibble for sensitive skin and sensitive stomachs is the perfect recipe for both problems. As the German Shepherd has a sensitive gut and digestive system this offers a gentle recipe of probiotic fibers.

It is also grain free which often is the best recipe for dogs with allergies, and it is packed full of omega-6 fatty acids and vitamins that nourish his skin and fur for a healthy coat. It is voted by Veterinarians across America as the best kibble for dogs with specific needs, as the recipe really is based on science. When you start feeding your pup food formulas specifically for sensitive skin, you’ll have a quick fix for many skin-related issues.

We love that Science Diet’s sensitive stomach formulas are well-liked by dog owners of many different breeds. If your pup has a sensitive stomach, it’s hard to go wrong with this formula in their golden years.

Diamond Naturals Senior

Diamond Naturals Senior
  • Budget-friendly dog food.
  • No corn, wheat, or fillers.
  • No artificial colors or flavors.
  • Antioxidants for immune support.
  • Made in the United States.
  • 318 Calories per cup.
  • 25% Protein, 11% Fat, 3% Fiber.

This senior recipe made by Diamond Naturals is an excellent choice for senior German Shepherd owners on a budget. Diamond Naturals holds its own against other higher-priced brands when it comes to balancing both quality and budget. This formula is one of the better quality foods you can by for an older pup in the “budget” tier of dog food. It’s made with real chicken, as well as real fruits and vegetables.

This formula contains no corn, wheat, fillers, or any artificial flavors. It also has an antioxidant boost, and is enhanced with probiotics to help your senior’s gut health. It also has an increased level of glucosamine and chondroitin, which is critical for an aging German Shepherd’s joints.

We love that this formula meets the nutritional needs of a senior dog, all while staying on a budget.

Purina Pro Bright Mind

Purina Pro Bright Mind Senior Large Breed Dog Food
  • Botanical oils boost brain function.
  • Real chicken is the first ingredient.
  • Glucosamine for joint support.
  • Probioitics for gut health.
  • Omega fatty acids for skin & coat health.
  • 423 Calories per cup.
  • 29% Protein, 14% Fat, 3% Fiber.

Purina Pro is well known for their higher quality grain-inclusive kibbles. This pro formula is in the “Bright Minds” line of dog foods. It includes botanical oils which can improve mental clarity and sharpness for older pups. As mentioned, this formula includes grain, so it’s best to avoid if your aging German Shepherd has a sensitive stomach that’s intolerant to grains.

This senior-appropriate dog food also contains additional glucosamine support to help prevent joint deterioration. The additional probiotics do support gut health, which is also important for aging dogs. Purina pro rounds out this formal with additional fatty acids to keep your senior’s coat and skin soft and nourished.

We love most of Purina Pro’s recipes, despite their higher price tag. The added botanical oils in this formula will keep your aging pup’s mind bright and agile for the long term.

American Journey Senior Formula

Grain Free Senior Dog Food American Journey
  • Budget-friendly formula.
  • Grain-free formula.
  • MCTs assist with brain function.
  • Antioxidants for immune health.
  • Glucosamine for joint support.
  • 355 Calories per cup.
  • 30% Protein, 11% Fat, 7% Fiber.

For senior dog parents on a budget, American Journey offers a grain-free formula that’s great for older dogs with sensitive stomachs. This formula includes Medium Chain Triglycerides derived from coconut oil, which are great for brain health and alertness.

This American Journey formula also includes an antioxidant blend that helps boost immune health in older dogs. The added Glucosamine and Chondroitin levels also help support aging joints and tendons. This formula is not only grain-free, but it it’s free of wheat, corn, soy, and all by-products and fillers.

We love that this American Journey formula has all the ingredients your senior needs. It’s also available at a price point that won’t empty your bank account.

Final Thoughts

The German Shepherd is prone to certain health conditions, but this can all be alleviated by the right nutrition, so it is important to get it right. Puppy and adult German Shepherds have different nutritional requirements. So, you’ll need to choose one dry kibble from each of our lists.

However, once you do get the combination right you will see that your German Shepherd is a happy and healthy dog, all thanks to the nutritional decisions you make for him.

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