What is the Best Dog Food for my German Shepherd?
The majestic German Shepherd is a popular breed known commonly for their strength, intelligence and loyalty. They need lots of exercise to keep their active minds occupied and satisfy their energy needs as a working dog. It also essential that they receive a premium quality, protein-rich diet to satisfy their energy needs, nourish their luxurious coat, maintain a healthy weight and support their bone and joint health.
Why is choosing the right food for your German Shepherd important?
German Shepherds can be prone to a variety of health conditions, including Bloat and GDV, Hip Dysplasia, Sensitive Skin and Sensitive Stomach. All of these can be potentially prevented or managed with the use of the right diet. As a large breed dog, choosing the right food can ensure they grow at the correct rate to avoid joint problems developing, and support their joints in adulthood and their senior years. Large breeds especially need a balanced and complete diet that is tailored for the nutritional requirement of their size, particularly for ingredients like calcium and phosphorus. The German Sheperd also has a thick coat that benefits from a diet that offers nutritional supplements for their skin and coat.
- Health Conditions: When choosing a diet, it is essential to ensure you have considered any health conditions your pet may have been diagnosed with. If your German Shepherd does have a health condition, then your veterinarian should be your first point of call for dietary recommendations. In some cases, there may be a prescription diet that is most suited to manage your dog's condition. For health support, there are a range of non-prescription, therapeutic options designed to prevent certain conditions or accommodate your German Shepherd's specific needs.
- Complete and Balanced: After considering health conditions, the most important factor in deciding on the right diet is choosing an option that is nutritionally balanced and complete for your German Shepherd's age. Ensuring that it meets AAFCO or FEDIAF pet food control guidelines is crucial to ensure that your dog receives all the nutrients they require in the correct ratios.
- Age: Dogs of different ages have very different nutritional requirements. German Shepherd puppies require a high protein and energy diet with a carefully balanced calcium: phosphorus ratio to allow controlled growth and prevent joint development abnormalities. Senior German Shepherds are often less active, have a slower metabolism and are prone to joint disease, which means that they require fewer calories and less fat, but an easily digestible diet, to help them maintain good body condition alongside a good joint supplement.
- Quality: An essential factor to consider should be the quality of the ingredients and the digestibility of the nutrients provided by the diet. Premium diets are designed to be highly digestible (which means smaller, firmer stools) and do not change ingredients batch to batch like supermarket type brands, which means less tummy upsets. They also tend to contain higher levels of added beneficial nutrients, such as omega fatty acids for joint and coat health, and some are backed by testing to ensure they deliver the results they promise. Learning how to read pet food labels and knowing the ingredients in your dog's food is a crucial part of knowing what is the best food for them.
- Best Overall: Royal Canin German Shepherd
- Runner Up: Advance Adult Shepherds
- Best Premium Quality Adult Diet: Eukanuba Adult Large Breed
- Best Natural Diet: SavourLife Large Breed Grain Free Ocean Fish
- Best Puppy Food: Royal Canin German Shepherd Puppy
- Best Natural Puppy Food: Black Hawk Puppy Lamb and Rice
- Best Health Support Diet: Royal Canin Maxi Joint Care
How We Review Our Products
Our Pet Circle Vet Squad comprises 30 vets with over 120 years of collective, independent veterinary expertise. Our Vet team use their health and husbandry knowledge, along with their own personal and clinical experiences to evaluate each product and provide detailed, informative reviews, free of any commercial bias. We then collate this information into our 'best of' recommendations.
Top Foods For German Shepherds In Australia
- Uniquely tailored breed specific diet with added omega fatty acids for healthy skin and coat
- Includes glucosamine and chondroitin for healthy bones and joints
- Highly digestible ingredients and pre-biotics to support a sensitive digestion
- Poultry based diet that may not be suitable for food allergies or intolerances
- Designed for Pure-bred dogs and may not be the best option for crosses
- More expensive than all breed or large breed options
Royal Canin are the experts in breed specific diets designed to meet your dog's individual needs. They back this unique diets with a lot of research and tailor them to the health needs of that breed. In the case of German Shepherds, that is their sensitive digestion, sensitive skin and luscious coat, and notable joint problems, wrapped up in a uniquely shaped kibble to suit their long, slender jaw. Many reputable breeders and German Shepherd owners use this food and report improved health and vitality into their dogs' senior years.
What our customers say:"We have always had German Shepherds and for the last ten years we have been feeding our Shepherds on Royal Canin. Our ten year old girl started on RC as a pup, and she is very healthy and her coat is stunning. Never any problems with her digestive system and every day loves her biscuits. It is the BEST!"
What our vets say:"Knowing that a German Shepherd is particularly prone to digestive sensitivities and joint issues, I love being able to recommend a diet specifically tailored for them, even down to the specific kibble shape and size to suit their jaw. Royal Canin German Shepherd is a super premium, consistently formulated diet that I am happy to recommend over and over again." - Dr. Gillian
- Turkey based, novel protein diet with prebiotics and inulin for healthy digestion
- Green Lipped Mussel included to help manage joint disease
- Ziplock bag closure for easy storage and slightly more cost effective breed specific choice
- Suitable for all Shepherd breeds, not just the German Shepherds
- Contains chicken fat, which some dogs with food allergies may still be sensitive to
- One, large sized bag available (13kg)
This is another highly digestible breed specific diet backed by science and designed to manage the health conditions typically seen in Shepherd breeds. It can be more diversely used in all Shepherd breeds and crosses. Alongside digestive health, joint support and skin nourishment, it also has a shape designed for dental care, and Colostrum to strengthen the immune system. Advance packs the quality of the big name brands and often at a reduced price.
What our customers say: "A biscuit my GSD actually eats! She is so fussy with everything but loves these. I have been feeding my dogs on Advance Turkey and Rice and I noticed a huge improvement in wellbeing and coat."
What our vets say:"I like to recommend Advance Shepherds Dry Dog Food for German shepherds as it contains Green Lipped Mussel which has been clinically proven to help manage joint disease, a condition that German shepherds are particularly prone to. The enhanced levels of zinc and linoleic acid in this food make their skin and coat look beautiful. It is also Australian made and is complete and balanced meaning it meets all of your dogs nutritional needs." - Dr. Jenny
- Utilises glucosamine and chondroitin to support healthy joints and mobility
- Reduce fat levels to prevent excess weight gain and support an active lifestyle
- Cheaper option than breed specific diets
- Poultry based diet that may not be suitable for dogs with sensitive digestion or food intolerances
- No Ziplock bag closure
- Only available in one size (15kg)
Eukanuba invests research into every ingredient used in their diets, which are aimed at supporting dogs with a healthy lifestyle. They focus heavily on weight management, with obesity being a growing problem in pets and overall health with highly digestible ingredients, omega fatty acids and antioxidants. Another great feature of these diets is their 3D Dentadefence kibble design and the addition of sodium tripolyphosphate which binds salivary calcium and has earned this maintenance diet approval from the Veterinary Oral Health Council for tartar prevention.
What our customers say: "Terrific product for a happy healthy dog with a shiny coat. It keeps my dogs coat healthy and shiny and she has energy when she needs it. My dog always had problems with his tummy until we put him on Eukanuba. My German Shepherds are very happy with these biscuits. My dog is such a stunner on Eukanuba, no excess weight, sparkling eyes and beautiful coat!"
What our vets say:"I trust Eukanuba knowing they back every ingredient with science to ensure their diets are beneficial and cater to the individual needs of each breed size. It's a great reassurance knowing that it's a maintenance diet and has Veterinary Oral Health Council approval given dental health is a major concern in all pets. I've recently switched my own dogs (one a GSD cross) on to Eukanuba with notable improvements in their coat quality and energy levels. A friend's fussy German Shepherd also took to this food straight away." - Dr. Brittany
- Fish based diet utilising ocean fish and salmon as protein source
- High in omega fatty acids which support skin, brain function, joint, kidney and heart health
- Contains pre-biotics to support dogs with sensitive digestion
- Contains glucosamine and chondroitin for joint support
- Use of poultry oil means it may not be suitable for dogs with food allergies
- Flat shape of kibble may mean it is easy to eat quickly
SavourLife is a family-owned, Australian made brand decidicated to providing high quality nutrition that is sourced locally. They also support 50% of their profits to pet rescue. This diet has a tailored nutritional profile to meet the needs of active large breed dogs and therapeutic ingredients to support their health like omega fatty acids, glucosamine/chondoitin and pre-biotics. The diet is gluten and grain free and contains no artificial colours, flavours or preservatives, making it a wholesome, superfood packed option for your German Shepherd.
What our customers say: "We order food for our dogs always through PetCircle. Why? Because you can trust this company to deliver. We change food every time for our dogs, PetCircle always has the best price, great food quality and outstanding delivery service that you can count on. Like I wrote the dogs love Savourlife ocean fish, they are large size kibble both our GSD and Mini Dachshund love it." - Carlo Wisse
- Rich in antioxidants and prebiotics for a healthy immune system and digestion
- Carefully adapted calcium and phosphorus content to support healthy joint growth
- Designed for puppies up to 15 months of age
- Only available in 12kg bags
- Designed for Pure-bred dogs and may not be the best option for crosses
- More expensive than all breed or large breed options
This breed specific diet is formulated to meet the unique nutritional requirements of the German Shepherd breed and is suitable for extended feeding throughout the growth period. It also allows for easy transition on to the corresponding adult food. The kibble has a unique shape to suit German Shepherd puppies and it addresses the common health concerns in the breed with its ingredients. It's a trusted product by many reputable breeders and vets alike.
What our customers say: "My 11 week old puppy had an upset tummy - switched to Royal Canin not only does she look forward to eating it she no longer has tummy issue or smells! His stools are solid and he eats every morsel we give him with gusto. His coat is shiny and healthy as well. He loves it,so we love it. My GSD loves his tucker. He has been fed this product from the get go and absolutely loves it. Wouldn't change to any other product."
What our vets say:"This is a diet I would definitely recommend to German Shepherd puppies for a number of reasons. Firstly, Royal canin is a premium brand producing a high quality, nutrient dense kibble with the puppy formula designed to support the growth and development of puppies. I like how this diet is specifically suited to German Shepardâs requirements with a unique shaped kibble designed for their specific jaw, the addition of antioxidants and prebiotics to support their digestion and adapted calcium and phosphorus to support bone and joint health. In addition to all these benefits, it is highly palatable kibble that your puppy will love." - Dr. Angie
- Includes Green Lipped Mussel, Glucosamine and Chondroitin for joint support
- Natural antioxidants, pre-biotics and Yucca Schidigera extract included for healthy digestion
- 100% Australian sourced and manufactured
- Main ingredient is lamb, but also contains chicken and pork
- Not a grain free natural option: contains rice and oats
This is an excellent Australian-made, natural diet targeting common large breed puppy health concerns such as digestive upset and joint support. It comes in a variety of sizes to suit your individual needs with an easily resealable bag for convenient storage. It uses fish oil and emu oil to supply omega fatty acids for healthy skin and coat as well as brain development.
What our customers say: "My German Shepherd Puppies and their mother love the food. My puppy has been raised on Black Hawk since birth and she loves it plus it is Australian made!"
What our vets say:"It's great being able to select a natural, premium quality dry food that is Australian made and still addresses the common health concerns of the target breed. Plus, it's great that they have flavour variation from the typical chicken. The inclusion of Green Lipped Mussel, Glucosamine and Chondroitin for joint support was very valuable for me when I chose this food for my German Shepherd cross puppy and he was always happy to eat it."
- Uses a variety of ingredients for joint support include green tea polyphenols, collagen and chondroitin
- Clinically proven improvement in mobility
- Easy to use, re-sealable zip lock bag closure
- Highly digestible ingredients, but no specific digestive support
- Only available in 10kg bags
- More expensive than maintenance diets
This well reviewed joint support diet is perfect for adult and senior dogs struggling with joint problems. It is designed to support mobility with multiple beneficial ingredients which may vary from other products and controlled energy levels to prevent excess weight gain. It is great for use on its own or alongside a joint supplement. This diet uses high quality, highly digestible ingredients to produce a healthy, nourishing, joint support diet that is balanced for everyday use as well.
What our customers say:"My rescue GSD has been diagnosed with spondylosis and he needed to lose weight. This food has assisted with his mobility and has helped him drop almost 5kg.My old dog was having difficulty walking with his back legs, some days couldn't walk at all. After 1 month of feeding this product to him daily he started to walk around more. After 2 months he now runs around and plays. Very grateful for this product. "
What our vets say:"This is a fantastic food for GSD's that are showing early signs of joint sensitivity or for those owners that want to support the joint health of their pups. I like that it also helps to prevent weight gain which can further perpetuate joint issues and pain." - Dr. Tiffany
What to look for in a German Shepherd Food
When looking for a diet for your German Shepherd, you want to make sure you are meeting their nutritional requirements and energy needs while also providing prevention from their common health problems.
Nutritional Requirements of the German Shepherd
German Shepherds require a diet with at least 18% protein, but ranging between 22-25% is ideal. The diet's fat percentage needs to be more than 5% with around 10-15% being ideal. Due to their propensity to digestive upset, they can also benefit from a diet that is high in fibre with the ideal amount being around 3-7%.
Ingredients For Common Health Conditions
German Shepherds are prone to a number of health conditions, as such, the ideal diet should reflect this and include ingredients to prevent these health problems. Some examples are:
- Joint Support: Green lipped mussel, glucosamine, chondroitin, cartilage, green tea extract, omega fatty acids.
- Sensitive Digestion: Fibre (pumpkin, beet pulp, psyllium husk, elm bark, etc), probiotics, pre-biotics, Inulin.
- Skin Sensitivities and Coat Maintenance: Omega fatty acids, zinc, vitamin E, linoleic acid.
How Much Do German Shepherds Need To Eat?
It is recommended to feed German Shepherds twice daily. As a large breed dog with high energy requirements, the average german shepherd requires around 1300-2100 calories per day. This equates to around 2.5-3.5 cups of food per day depending on the exercise level of your individual dog and energy content of the food they are eating. Make sure you adjust according to their needs.