In this German Shepherd feeding guide, you will find out a whole heap of important information related to dog food for German Shepherds.
In addition to finding out what the best dog for your your German Shepherd might be, we also go over feeding/nutritional guidelines, what to feed your German Shepherd puppy, feeding amount per day + more!
Whether you have just brought a puppy into your home, or you just want to brush up on your dog food knowledge, this is a good place to start.
*Please note that this is an informational guide only, and not professional advice. It is not a substitute for a feeding plan or feeding advice from your vet. Because every dog’s body is different, your vet is the only one who can provide professional advice on the best dog food/diet.
German Shepherd Feeding Guide: For Puppies, Adults & Seniors
Top Picks For Best Dog Foods For German Shepherds
- Taste Of The Wild Dry Food Canine Formula (on Amazon) – Grain Free, Real Meat Dry Food Formula With Vegetables and Fruits For Adult Dogs
- Wellness CORE Natural Grain Free Dog Food (on Amazon) – Natural, Grain Free D Dry Food Formula with no wheat, corn, soy, meat by-products, or artificial colors, flavors and preservatives.
- Taste Of The Wild Dry Food Puppy Formula (on Amazon) – Grain Free, Real Meant Dry Food Formula With Vegetables and Fruits For Puppies
- Wellness CORE Dry Dog Food Puppy Puppy Formula (on Amazon) – Natural, Grain free, protein rich (made with premium chicken, turkey & salmon), with the calories and DHA needed for healthy development in puppies. All natural and contains no wheat, corn, soy, meat by-products, or artificial colors, flavors and preservatives.
Summary: What Kind Of Dog Food Should I Feed My German Shepherd?
As a summary, some general information you might like to consider when feeding your GSD is:
- See a vet for a general food plan, and also specialised food plans for dogs with allergies, intolerances or negative reactions to foods > there are MANY factors which can determine the best foods for your dog. All dogs’ bodies are different, and so all dogs may need slightly different health requirements.
- Aim for a balanced diet of proteins, fats/oils, minerals, vitamins, carbohydrates and water
- Look for real meats listed first (not meat by products) on the food label
- Foods with a wide range of natural organic base ingredients are generally good – stay away from low quality fillers like grains and flours
- Foods high in grains or flours can cause weight issues, poor energy levels and general bad health
- Gluten in grain can cause allergies and inflammation
- Try to stay away from foods with artificial colors and preservatives
- Foods with a range of Vitamins and plant based vitamins are generally good
- Highly digestible foods are good
- Protein level should be at 30% or more
- Fat content should be at 18% or more (omega fatty acids are good compared to saturated fats)
- Puppies have different feeding guidelines to full grown dogs – be wary of solid foods early on. Puppies also need specific nutrients for energy and to help their bodies grow
- Wean your dog between different types of foods (e.g. semi solid to solid food, and puppy food to adult food) – transition gradually – follow food label instructions and instructions of your vet
- Senior dogs may need foods with less calories to keep weight off and more supplements for bone and hip health
- Premium and organic dry dog food (with meat listed first) is usually the best, most economical and most healthy type of food to feed your GSD for the average owner
- Specialised diets might include raw diets, organic diets, home made food diets, dietary diets etc.
- Dog food packets are usually labelled puppy, adult or senior for the different dog stages, and will usually give your directions for how much to feed different sized dogs on the packaging
- Rather than focussing on the type of diet or type of food, you might choose to ensure that your GSD is meeting their daily nutritional requirements, eating a balanced diet, while minimising bad and processed ingredients
- Although natural and well balanced dog foods can be fantastic, double check with your vet the level of mercury and other often overlooked aspects of a particular food or diet.
German Shepherd Feeding Guidelines
As stated above, no information is a substitute for the advice of your vet.
However, there are some guidelines you might use when picking dog food for your German Shepherd.
“General guidelines all come down to good nutrition in the ingredients used, and a balanced diet of proteins, fats/oils, minerals, vitamins, carbohydrates and water.
When it comes to the ingredients listed on a dog food product label, you should be aware that dogs and German Shepherds are omnivores. They can have both plant and animal based ingredients in their diets, but to be at their healthiest they need to have animal protein (meat by-products are secondary to whole meat).
It’s a good sign if the meat in the dog food contains more meat than by-products if it is listed first on the label as an ingredient.
Experienced vets have said that diets low in real animal meat, and high in grain-based products (usually cheap corn-based food), are the source of weight issues, poor energy levels and an array of other health problems in dogs they see.
Other ingredients you want to stay away from in high amounts in commercial foods that lead to an artificial diet are grains, bad meats (that doesn’t pass human inspection, and/or contains animal antibiotics and hormones), greasy fats and artificial preservatives.
In relation to preservatives, Petmd says you might choose to limit artificial preservatives like BHA, BHT and ethoxyquin, in favor of natural preservatives like Vitamin A, Vitamin C and plant based preservatives like rosemary in the dog food you buy. The trade off obviously is that natural preservatives don’t keep the dog food from going off for as long.
If you are still unsure of the best food for German Shepherds, consider this summary by qualified vet TJ Dunn:
“[Dog food should be] high quality/nutrition and highly digestible…Meat such as chicken should be listed as the first ingredient…protein level [should be]at 30% or more…fat content should be at 18% or more…and if there is a rather wide spectrum of ingredients such as omega fatty acids and vitamin E [or C], that’s good too…there should be no food colouring [and few artificial preservatives]”.
You might not need to eliminate grains from your German Shepherd’s diet altogether, but note that the gluten present in grains can be an allergen for itchy skin and ear inflammation in some German Shepherds and dogs.”
You’d certainly want to take into consideration if your dog has any allergies (such as allergies to grains for example), abnormal body functions (maybe they are lactose intolerant) or just reacts negatively to any foods in particular.
See a vet for a specialised food plan in the above scenarios.
German Shepherd Puppy Feeding Guidelines
As we wrote in our guide on the best food for German Shepherd puppies:
“Puppies are growing bone, muscle, organs and their bodies in general.
GSD puppies have special nutrients and calorie needs to assist this growth (which is generally found in puppy formulas and puppy food).
Adult dogs on the other hand are in a stage of maintenance with their bodies and need a more balanced diet.
At some stages, the type and texture of dog food a puppy can ingest might be limited – based on what they can physically eat and swallow, and what their bodies can process properly.
In terms of knowing what to feed your puppy, it’s always best to ask your vet and to make sure you ask the breeder or rescue shelter/adoption centre (that you got your puppy from) what they were feeding the puppy beforehand (pass this info onto your vet as well).
Dog food suitable for puppies is usually labeled as ‘puppy formula/food’ or ‘all stages dog food’ by dog food manufacturers and is higher in calories and nutrients.
Dog food that is specifically for puppies can include puppy milk, dry puppy food and moist food/canned puppy food (most experts agree premium dry food is better than supermarket dog food).
Veterinarian Race Foster rarely recommends semi moist dog foods (wet foods can be mostly water and lower on meats and other nutrients). In his opinion, premium quality dry food kibble is better for your German Shepherd. Dry dog food is:
- Usually more economical for feeding on a per serving basis
- Lower in salt and sugar – better for tooth, gum and dental health
- Easy to transport, store and prepare
Foster also says he recommends premium quality canned dog food, but people with large dogs usually choose dry food because it’s more economical per serving.”
If you would like to read more about the stages of a GSD puppies feeding life cycle – you can read more about it here.
German Shepherd Senior Dog Feeding Guidelines
Senior dogs are usually considered senior at around 6 to 7 years of age.
A senior dog may develop joint issues and not be able to exercise as much, their metabolism might slow down, their bodies might change their ability to process food – plus a whole range of things.
Senior dogs are best off being fed the senior labelled dog foods + plus any extras your vet recommends.
These senior formulations might contain supplements for bone and hip health for example, or lower calorie foods to help older dogs keep weight off and away from obesity.
Weaning A German Shepherd Between Different Types Of Food
Whether you have a full grown dog, or a puppy, it’s important to wean your GSD between foods.
This essentially involves gradually decreasing the proportion of old food, and increasing the proportion of new food in your dog’s bowl – so their stomach can get used to the new food.
Follow the instructions on the new food label for proportions.
This is particularly important for puppies transitioning from say liquid and soft foods to solid adult dog food.
If you are unsure about weaning – ask your vet.
How Much To Feed A German Shepherd Per Day – Feeding Amount
Generally, foods are made for dogs at different stages of life – puppy, adult, senior.
The food label should tell you how much to feed your GSD per day based on their weight/size.
If you have to feed your dog 4 cups a day, and you are feeding them twice a day, you would give them 2 cups per meal.
Per the best treats for German Shepherds guide, treats should only comprise of 10% of a German Shepherd’s daily intake – and should replace the portion of food you were going to give them.
As a rough guide, puppies, adults and senior dogs might be fed:
Generally a puppy of 10 lb to 30 lb (4.5kg to 14 kg) you will feed 1-2 cups of food daily (3.5 to 7 oz, OR 100 g to 200 g).
German Shepherd puppies will require more regular feeding of three to four times a day spaced throughout the day.
An adult GSD of between 60 lb to 90 lb (27kg to 40kg) you will feed 3-5 cups of dog food daily (10.5 to 17.5 oz, OR 300 g to 500 g).
Generally, you should feed an adult (at 1-2 years of age onwards) German Shepherd twice a day – morning and evening.
Consult your vet at when your dog is about 6-7 years of age to discuss how much you should be feeding your GSD.
It depends on a range of factors.
What Are The Best Brands Of Dog Food To Feed German Shepherd Puppies, Adult Dogs and Seniors
You can check out reviews and buyers guides here:
- Best Dog Food Brands And Food For Germans Shepherd Adults & Seniors
- Best Dog Food Brands & Food For Germans Shepherd Puppies
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