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7 Best Dog Foods for German Shepherds in 2022 – Reviews & Top Picks

a German shepherd eating dog food outdoors

If you have a German Shepherd, you know that these are very active dogs that require high-quality, protein-rich food in order to have their nutritional needs met. Because of the sheer number of options available on the market, selecting a dog food that will work for you and your German Shepherd can feel overwhelming. In the following reviews, we break down six of our picks for German Shepherds, including pros and cons for each one. We hope that our guide helps you learn more about these options so that you can decide what makes the most sense for your dog and your budget.

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A Quick Comparison of the Winners in 2022

Image Product Details
Best Overall
Winner
Nom Nom Turkey Fare Fresh Dog Food Nom Nom Turkey Fare Fresh Dog Food
  • Premium quality
  • Low fat
  • Flavorful
  • Best Value
    Second place
    Iams ProActive Health Adult Large Breed Dry Dog Food Iams ProActive Health Adult Large Breed Dry Dog Food
  • First ingredient is chicken
  • Formulated to provide bone and join support
  • Cheaper than other large-breed dog food brands
  • Third place
    Instinct Raw Boost Grain-Free Recipe with Real Duck & Freeze-Dried Raw Instinct Raw Boost Grain-Free Recipe with Real Duck & Freeze-Dried Raw
  • Suitable for both puppies and adults
  • Does not contain any preservatives
  • Includes a probiotic boost for digestive health
  • Taste of the Wild Southwest Canyon Grain-Free Dry Dog Food Taste of the Wild Southwest Canyon Grain-Free Dry Dog Food
  • No additives such as BHA or BHT
  • Made without artificial flavors or colors
  • Contains species-specific K9 Strain Proprietary Probiotics
  • Blue Buffalo Wilderness Salmon Recipe Grain-Free Dry Dog Food Blue Buffalo Wilderness Salmon Recipe Grain-Free Dry Dog Food
  • Features healthy carbs
  • Contains fresh fruits and vegetables
  • Primary protein source is fresh salmon
  • The 7 Best Dog Foods for German Shepherds

    1. Nom Nom Turkey Fare Human Grade Dog Food – Best Overall

    A black dog eating Nom Nom dog food

    Primary ingredients: Brown rice, spinach, egg, fish oil, carrots
    Type: Fresh, home cooked
    Good for: Adults & puppies

    Nom Nom is the 1st best overall food you can get for German Shepherds. Like all large dogs, they thrive well on high-quality diets with a good amount of protein. Nom Nom’s foods are made with natural, human-grade ingredients that pet parents could eat on their own plates if they desire!

    German Shepherds will do best on the Turkey Fare recipe since it has the highest protein content amongst their recipes. Nom Nom’s Turkey Fare recipe features 10% crude protein, 5% crude fat, 1% crude fiber, and 72% moisture. This recipe is excellent for dogs who need a higher-protein diet like German Shepherds.
    Additionally, Nom Nom’s foods are fortified with extra vitamins and minerals that German Shepherds need to thrive. The nutrition offered by Nom Nom is a nutritious, veterinarian-recommended choice for pet parents who want to give their dogs a fresh, human-grade diet.

    Since this food is of premium quality, the overall cost is higher. It might be too much for some pet parents; however, people have been happy to pay for this food because of the quality.

    Pros
    • Premium quality
    • Low in fat
    • Flavorful
    Cons
    • A little pricer than standard kibble

    2. Iams ProActive Health Adult Large Breed Dry Dog Food – Best Value

    Iams ProActive Health Adult Large Breed Dry Dog Food

     

    Primary ingredients: Chicken, ground whole grain barley, ground whole grain corn, ground whole grain sorghum, chicken by-product meal
    Type: Contains grains (barley)
    Good for: Adults

    Iams is one of the most popular and best brands of dry dog food for German Shepherds on the market, and for good reason. The primary protein source in this product is chicken, and also contains whole grains such as barley and sorghum. We think this product is the best German Shepherd dog food for your money. Not only is it substantially cheaper than most of the other options on our list, but the Iams ProActive Health Large Breed dog food is a highly-rated, nutritionally complete product that has been made for several years. Like the Blue Buffalo dog food, this particular formula is not suitable for puppies because the calcium levels are somewhat high for young dogs.

    Pros
    • Cheaper than other large-breed dog food brands
    • First ingredient is chicken
    Cons
    • Not suitable for German Shepherd puppies
    • May give your dog gas

    3. Instinct Raw Boost Grain-Free Recipe with Real Duck & Freeze-Dried Raw Pieces Dry Dog Food

    Instinct Raw Boost Grain-Free Recipe with Real Duck & Freeze-Dried Raw Pieces Dry Dog Food

    Primary ingredients: Duck, chicken meal, peas, egg product, turkey meal
    Type: Grain-free
    Good for: Adults and puppies

    If money is no object, you should consider this raw, grain-free food from Instinct. The main sources of protein for this product are duck and chicken meal. In addition to kibble, this product contains tiny pellets of freeze-dried, all-natural, raw duck. It also contains a probiotic to promote healthy digestion as well as fresh fruits and vegetables, which provide your dog with important antioxidants. The largest size bag this dry dog food comes in is 20 pounds, which means you should be prepared to buy it frequently since a German Shepherd can eat up to 5 cups of food per day.

    Pros
    • Suitable for both puppies and adults
    • Contains fresh fruits and vegetables
    Cons
    • Few raw pieces compared to kibble
    • More expensive than other options

    4. Taste of the Wild Southwest Canyon Grain-Free Dry Dog Food

    Taste of the Wild Southwest Canyon Grain-Free Dry Dog Food

    Primary ingredients: Beef, peas, garbanzo beans, lamb meal, canola oil
    Type: Grain-free
    Good for: Adults and puppies

    The animal protein in this Taste of the Wild Southwest Canyon grain-free dog food comes from beef and lamb. This dog food is great for both adults and puppies, making it convenient if you have both young and adult dogs in the house. Taste of the Wild Southwest Canyon contains fresh fruits and vegetables such as raspberries, blueberries, and tomatoes, providing your dog with essential vitamins such as vitamin C, vitamin E, manganese, potassium, and iron. One of the best benefits of this brand is that it does not contain potentially toxic preservatives such as BHT or BHA. Watch out though, customers have mentioned it smells a bit funny.

    Pros
    • Suitable for both puppies and adults
    • No additives such as BHA or BHT
    • Contains fresh fruits and vegetables.
    Cons
    • Foul smell
    • Some dogs get loose stools with this food

    5. Blue Buffalo Wilderness Salmon Recipe Grain-Free Dry Dog Food

    Blue Buffalo Wilderness Salmon Recipe Grain-Free Dry Dog Food

    Primary ingredients: Salmon, chicken meal, peas, pea protein, menhaden fish meal
    Type: Grain-free
    Good for: Adults

    We think the Blue Buffalo Wilderness Salmon Recipe is a great choice for German Shepherds. This product is rich in protein, which comes directly from chicken meal and, of course, fresh salmon. It also contains fresh fruits and vegetables such as blueberries, cranberries, and carrots, providing your dog with dietary fiber and necessary nutrients. This product from Blue Buffalo is our top pick because not only is it nutritionally complete, but it is sold for a fair price. The primary downside of this product is that it is not suitable for puppies, so you will need to go with a different option if you have young dogs.

    Pros
    • Primary protein source is fresh salmon
    • Contains fresh fruits and vegetables
    Cons
    • Not suitable for German Shepherd puppies

    6. VICTOR Purpose Nutra Pro Dry Dog Food

    VICTOR Purpose Nutra Pro Dry Dog Food

    Primary ingredients: Chicken meal, blood meal conventionally dried, whole grain millet, chicken fat, yeast culture
    Type: Contains grains (millet)
    Good for: Adults and puppies

    Dog owners who feed their pets the VICTOR Purpose Nutra Pro dry food note that their dogs’ coats look healthy and shiny after eating this food, which is full of omega fatty acids that can help contribute to healthy skin and fur. The primary sources of protein in this food are chicken meal and blood meal, which is a high-protein, low-fat ingredient that also contains amino acids and other important nutrients. Blood meal is typically sourced from either hogs or cattle. While the small size of the kibble is ideal for puppies, you may find that it is too small for your adult German Shepherd. Some pet parents also note that the smell of this food is unpleasant.

    Pros
    • Suitable for both puppies and adults
    • Helps promote a healthy-looking coat
    • Low-glycemic carbs provide energy levels
    Cons
    • Foul smell
    • Kibble is small for adults

    7. Dr. Gary’s Best Breed Holistic German Dry Dog Food

    Dr. Gary's Best Breed Holistic German Dry Dog Food

    Primary ingredients: Chicken meal, oatmeal, brown rice, dried beet pulp, chicken fat
    Type: Contains grains (rice, oats)
    Good for: Adults and puppies

    Dr. Gary’s Best Breed Holistic German Dry Dog Food is the only dog food on our list that was made specifically for German Shepherds. The protein in this food, sourced primarily from chicken meal and menhaden fish, is intended to help promote muscle development. This formula includes chelated minerals such as zinc proteinate, which helps promote nutrient absorption. New Zealand sea mussels, which are rich in chondroitin and glucosamine, are included in the formula with the purpose of supporting your dog’s joint health. Some German Shepherd owners have noted that the kibble pieces are too small for their adult German Shepherds, but one benefit is that the smaller size of the kibble makes it easier for puppies to consume.

    Pros
    • Suitable for both puppies and adults
    • Contains chelated minerals such as zinc proteinate
    • Specifically designed for German Shepherds
    Cons
    • Very small kibble pieces

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    Buyer’s Guide: How to Choose the Best Dog Food for a German Shepherd

    What To Look For in Dog Food for German Shepherds

    All dog food brands claim to be the best option for your dog. If you know what to look for, you can see past marketing tactics and focus on the most important elements to pick the dog food that’s right for your German Shepherd.

    Protein

    Make sure to select foods that contain a high percentage of protein from fish, meat, or poultry ingredients. Puppies need at least 22 percent protein in their diets, while you can cut back the amount for adults to 18 percent.

    While protein is a requirement for your dog, you should be wary of “high protein” dog food products. Protein is calorie-dense and can cause your dog to gain weight more easily. As you probably know, putting on too much excess weight can lead to health problems for your dog down the line.

    Fatty Acids

    Choose a dog food that contains fatty acids such as omega-6 and omega-3. These contribute to a healthy coat and healthy skin.

    Fiber

    Look for products with fiber from natural, easily digestible carbohydrates such as vegetables and whole grains.

    AAFCO Guidelines

    The AAFCO is the Association of American Feed Control Officials. While this organization does not have the authority to regulate or approve dog food, it does set the standard for the quality of pet food. The AAFCO has created nutrition profiles that tend to serve as guidelines for pet food companies. A pet food brand can only claim that it is nutritionally complete and balanced if it meets the standards set forth by the AAFCO. Check your dog’s food label to see whether it is considered to meet the AAFCO Nutrient Profile standards.

    german shepherd eating out of a dog bowl
    Image Credit: annabelle l, Shutterstock

    Grain-Free or Not: Why to Choose?

    While low-carb diets may be popular with humans looking to eat more healthfully, your dog does not necessarily need to go grain-free. There is a misconception among some dog owners that their pets cannot eat grains or that grain-free foods are healthier for their dogs than foods with grains.

    In reality, grains—especially whole grains—can play a very healthy part in your dog’s diet. They provide your dog with the nutrients he needs, as well as fiber and energy. Besides, grain-free does not mean carbohydrate-free; in fact, grain-free food brands tend to substitute grains for other types of carbs such as lentils or sweet potatoes. If anything, your dog could end up eating just as many or more carbohydrates than he would if he were eating a grain-inclusive diet.

    So, when should you consider switching to grain-free food? Grain-free foods are great for dogs who may have an allergy to at least one type of grain. Your veterinarian may suggest that you give your dog grain-free food for other health-related reasons.

    Grain-free foods such as the foods on our list can be healthy for your dog, but don’t assume that all of the ingredients are good for your pet just because the product is grain-free; you should check the label to ensure that it can provide your German Shepherd with the balanced and complete nutrition he needs as a large breed. Ultimately, you should always talk to your vet before changing your dog’s diet.

    How Much Food Should My German Shepherd Eat?

    Understanding what to feed your German Shepherd is one thing; understanding how much and how often you should feed your dog is another. The amount of food you give your dog depends on several factors: your dog’s age, activity level, and ideal weight.

    Puppies need to eat three times per day between the ages of eight and 12 weeks old. After this period, you can begin feeding it twice per day, which is how often you should plan to feed an adult. When you’ve just brought your puppy home, you should plan to give it whatever the breeder fed it to prevent any stomach problems. You can gradually mix new food into the old food over the course of about a week until your dog is eating all new food. Make sure not to overfeed your puppy, as growing too fast or becoming overweight can lead to problems like hip dysplasia, which is common in large breeds like German Shepherds.

    In order to determine how much you should be feeding your dog, you can utilize feeding guides such as this one. According to the chart, if your German Shepherd is 70 pounds, you should feed him 3.5 cups of food per day. However, if your dog is very active, he may need more. If he is old, he may need less. Talk to your veterinarian to create an eating plan that will work for your dog.

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    Conclusion

    While there are many different dog food brands out there, only a handful are high-quality options that are formulated with your dog in mind. We feel that the best overall food for German Shepherds is Nom Nom turkey fare fresh dog food because it offers a high-quality and nutritious diet for a fair price. For the best value, we’d recommend  Iams ProActive Health Adult Large Breed as the best dry dog food for German Shepherds.


    Featured Image Credit: Victoria Antonova, Shutterstock

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