Believe it or not, all dog food is not created equal. If you want your German Shepherd to be healthy and strong, providing them with quality dog food is essential. Knowing the eating habits of a German Shepherd, what kind of nutrients your dog needs, and common health problems of the breed can go a long way in choosing the right food to give them a long and happy life.
German Shepherd Eating Habits
German Shepherds love to eat – and for good reason. They are typically very muscular and have a very active lifestyle, meaning they need food to fuel their bodies. Because of this, their ideal diet is high in protein to help keep their muscles strong. Additionally, they need quality carbohydrates and fat to use for energy. The Association of American Feed Control Officials recommends that the diet of a growing pup is comprised of at least 22 percent protein and eight percent fat. For adult dogs, this range lowers to 18 percent and five percent respectively.
Most German Shepherds weigh between 60 and 80 pounds, depending on their sex or age. For a typical adult dog who weighs 70 pounds, their estimated caloric intake should be around 1600 calories. For more active dogs, this can go up to 2100 calories, while older dogs only need 1200 calories. However, the best way to know exactly how much your dog should be eating is to take a visit to the veterinarian. Every dog’s eating habits can vary depending on their metabolism, exercise levels, and age.
Best German Shepherd Dog Food
Buying your German Shepherd quality food can ensure they get the proper nutrients they need to stay healthy. Here are our top five dog food choices.
With a formula that boasts 60 percent meat, 20 percent produce, and 20 percent whole grains, Merrick Classic Adult Real Beef is a great choice for your dog. Each serving of food equals out to about 30 percent pure protein, which is just the right amount for a healthy German Shepherd.
The main ingredient is deboned beef, meaning your dog isn’t at risk of eating mystery protein. As for the produce, it includes apples, carrots, alfalfa, and blueberries to give your dog a variety of nutrients.
The grains are composed of brown rice and barley, adding in plenty of carbohydrates to the mix. To prevent quality issues, Merrick uses only farm fresh ingredients in this recipe and cooks it all in its five star kitchen and manufacturing facilities.
Another key benefit of this food is the addition of omega 3 and 6 fatty acids which help keep your dog’s coat beautiful and shiny. Finally, glucosamine and chondroitin work to keep your dog’s joints healthy so they can run and play without stopping.
Your German Shepherd is naturally a carnivore, and Orijen Grain-Free Adult Dry Dog Feed does its best to mimic that natural diet. It is composed of 85 percent premium animal ingredients and 15 percent vegetables, fruits, and botanicals to give your dog exactly what it needs.
This food includes a wide variety of meats including free-run chicken, whole eggs, turkey, and wild-caught saltwater and freshwater fish. All of these meats are human-grade and include the organs and cartilage your dog needs to stay strong and healthy.
As for the vegetables and fruits, all of them are quality carbohydrates that your dog might naturally encounter in the wild, such as russet potatoes, black currants, peas, cranberries, and apples.
With this biologically appropriate Orijen food, your dog will benefit from a boosted metabolism and a stronger body overall. Specific ingredients in this mix have been shown to help cleanse the body of toxins, support urinary and digestive health, boost the immune system, reduce insulin levels, and defend against kidney damage.
Many dog foods use grains as a filler, but not this Taste of the Wild Wetlands Dry Dog Food. It includes a minimum of 32 percent crude protein, 18 percent crude fat, and four percent crude fiber to give your German Shepherd what it needs to stay active and healthy. In the wild, your dog wouldn’t need any grains, so this formula embraces your dog’s biology.
This particular flavor of dog food features real roasted and smoked fowl for a delicious taste your dog will love.
Other ingredients include sweet potatoes, peas, blueberries, raspberries, tomatoes, and other natural foods your dog might encounter in the wild. Each tender morsel is the perfect size for your dog to comfortably eat.
Additional benefits of this food include added probiotics and antioxidants to promote a healthy immune and digestive system, an amino acid profile that makes it easy to digest, and dried chicory root to help your dog absorb the nutrients better. It even includes omega fatty acids for a healthy skin and coat.
A German Shepherd’s body is designed to eat its prey raw – and Nature’s Variety Instinct Raw uses that philosophy in this unique recipe. It combines a mix of grain-free kibble with freeze-dried raw meat pellets that are never cooked to give your dog one of the most authentic and natural formulas on the market.
Each recipe is made in a small batch to ensure quality control. Additionally, the freeze-drying protects the meat from bacteria and decay so that it still tastes great and is packed with nutrition. Overall, the formula is 95 percent meat, bones, and organs and five percent fruits and vegetables.
The chicken recipe uses meat and bone from chicken as well as turkey heart, liver, and bones. It also includes butternut squash, apples, broccoli, and pumpkin seeds to give your dog extra nutrients.
The kibble size is great for an active German Shepherd to munch on, and it also works well for dogs in all stages of life. With added omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids, it gives your dog’s coat a healthy shine.
If your German Shepherd has any sort of food allergy or sensitive stomach, then this is the perfect food for them. It comes in a number of varieties, meaning you can specify the exact source of protein and carbohydrates your dog receives.
Additionally, it does not have corn, wheat, soy, or grain as added fillers, meaning your dog is really receiving the nutrition it needs.
The only downfall of this food is that it has a lower protein content than the others at just 20 percent. While this should still be enough for most German Shepherds, you might have to supplement your dog with other protein if they are very active. It also includes 10 percent fat and four percent fiber, both of which are adequate for a typical German Shepherd.
Delicious and tasty to dogs, many have also complimented it for its ability to add shine and softness to a dog’s coat as well as stop loose stools. It is also loaded with taurine to prevent heart disease and tocopherols to boost the immune system.
Best Puppy Food for German Shepherds
Even though they are pint-sized, German Shepherd pups need nearly the same nutritional intake as their parents because they are growing and developing quickly.
While a German Shepherd pup should stay on its mother’s milk until four weeks of age, they can begin transitioning to solid wet food after this. Finally, around eight weeks old, they can start eating solid dry food. Once they hit the six month plateau, they can begin receiving normal adult food.
Made from high quality ingredients, this Chicken Soup for the Puppy Lovers Soul is intended to nourish and comfort your puppy as it grows into an adult.
With 27 percent protein and 13 percent fat, it has just the right amount of the necessary ingredients to help your pup grow lean muscle and get bigger.
Additionally, it includes several ingredients that are essential for a growing pup, such as antioxidants and DHA to ensure the brain and eye develop properly. It’s made with real turkey, chicken, duck, and salmon for a good mix of quality meats.
It’s also made using no corn, soy, wheat, or animal by-products, so you can rest assured that it’s all ingredients your dog can use.
Because it’s intended specifically for larger breeds, the kibble size is bigger, making it easier for your pup to eat. Plus, the omega 3 and 6 fatty acids are a great bonus for keeping your pup’s skin and coat healthy and shiny.
This Wellness Complete Health Puppy food is packed with high quality meats to get your growing German Shepherd the protein it needs. Comprised of 29 percent protein and 18 percent fat from a mixture of deboned chicken and salmon meal, this food offers complete nutritional support for your pup.
Everything in this formula is all natural and there is no corn, wheat, soy, artificial flavors, colors, preservatives or meat by-products used. Added DHA helps your pup’s brain and eyes develop properly, while calcium and phosphorus help their bones and teeth become stronger.
Plenty of carbohydrates in the form of barley, oatmeal, and brown rice give your pup the energy they need to run, play, and grow.
Pups will love the taste of this food and the kibble size is easy for them to chew and swallow even as they get bigger. Many pups experience a decrease in loose stools and diarrhea because this food is more like what they would naturally eat in the wild.
Since Merrick makes a great food for your adult German Shepherd, it should come as no surprise that they also dominate the puppy food market with their high quality.
It’s made from 55 percent poultry and fish and 45 percent produce, vitamins, and minerals to give your pup the nutrients it craves. Overall, it packs a powerful 28 percent crude protein and 12 percent crude fat, making it a great choice for active puppies.
Just like the adult version, this recipe doesn’t include ingredients from China and is also prepared in an FDA-regulated five-star kitchen. It also leads the industry in levels of glucosamine and chondroitin, ensuring that your pup has healthy joints as they get bigger and bigger.
Pups love the taste and usually will have more solid stools and less diarrhea when compared with ordinary puppy foods. The kibble size is small so that it can be chewed and digested with ease.
Ingredients to Know
Not all dogs have the same nutritional requirements. Because German Shepherds are a highly active dog, they require more high-quality proteins and fats than their smaller counterparts.
Having a high protein diet of between 30 to 40 percent can reduce physical injuries and keep your dog strong. The best sources of protein come from lean meats, such as poultry, fish, beef, or organs. Animal by-products or bone meal are not a good source of protein and should be avoided if possible.
Additionally, avoid soy as this is primarily filler and not a quality protein for a dog.
With adults needing five percent of fat and puppies needing eight percent of fat in their diets, it’s important to choose a food that includes enough. This shouldn’t be a problem, as many foods use fat to increase flavor and taste.
Generally, foods composed of 15 to 30 percent of fat are a great choice for German Shepherds. The healthiest sources of fat come from vegetable or fish oils because these provide omega 3 and 6 fatty acids.
Fruits and Vegetables
Even though your dog primarily runs on protein, they still need some fruits and veggies to provide essential minerals and vitamins. Leafy greens like alfalfa and cabbage are a great choice, as well as carrots, pumpkin, sweet potatoes, and green beans.
Carbohydrates give your dog the energy it needs to run and play without using up muscle. The best kinds of carbs for a German Shepherd to eat are barley, sweet potatoes, rice, and oats because these are easy to digest.
Additionally, you should avoid foods that use corn, corn syrup, wheat, or soy because these are not easy for your dog to digest.
Common Health Problems
Unfortunately, if your German Shepherd is suffering from an existing health condition, they may have special dietary needs. There are many common health problems for German Shepherds.
Hip problems are a very common problem in larger dogs, and German Shepherds are no exception. This problem with the hip joint can cause pain and make it hard for your dog to walk or run.
In order to try and combat the effects of hip dysplasia, you should give your dog a food that is high in glucosamine and chondroitin. These work to keep joints and cartilage healthy, which will help your dog feel better. Additionally, being overweight can exacerbate the condition, so it’s important to choose a food that is nutritionally balanced and potentially low in calories.
Bloat is another problem common in large-chested dogs such as the German Shepherd. Unlike the innocent stomach disorder found in humans, bloat is a potentially life-threatening problem where gases fill up your dog’s stomach, causing it to twist or rotate. If left untreated, it is usually fatal.
Luckily, there are some easy ways to help prevent this scary problem from happening. Simply provide your dog with smaller, more frequent meals so that there is always something solid in their stomach. Additionally, let them rest for at least an hour after eating.
With a little knowledge, you can provide your German Shepherd with a quality food that will improve their health and well being for years to come. Maintaining a healthy and nutritional diet will keep them strong, energetic, and in good spirits so you can both live a happier life together.