4 Best Foods to Feed Your Puppy or Adult German Shepherd

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German ShepherdGerman Shepherds are cool. They're amazing and loyal protectors who double as great couch cuddle-buddies. Hooking them up with healthy and delicious food is the least us humans can do to repay them for their awesomeness. We've picked the top foods to keep your hungry Shep happy. Let us know what they think!

Originally developed for herding sheep, the German Shepherd also became known for his work in search-and-rescue and as a talented police dog. Known as much for his intelligence as for his natural protective instincts, the German Shepherd makes a great watch dog.

Because these dogs are mild-mannered and gentle, however, they also make wonderful family pets – especially for families with children.

Also one of the most easily recognized dog breeds out there, German Shepherds have thick double coats, large pointed ears, and bushy tails.

Though their size and deep-throated bark can be intimidating, this breed has a gentle heart and a deep love for people. As long as his needs for mental and physical exercise are met, this breed is quite happy as a family pet.

  • Pedigree: Purebred
  • Size: 22 to 26 inches
  • Weight: 50 to 90 pounds
  • Energy Level: Moderate
  • Lifespan: 9 to 13 years

The German Shepherd Dog (GSD) is consistently ranked among the top three dog breeds in the country according to AKC registration statistics. Though this breed was originally developed as a working breed, German Shepherds are excellent family companions and they are adaptable to nearly any lifestyle. This breed is known for its intelligence and trainability as well as its large, muscular build and thick, double coat. German Shepherds are considered a large-breed dog, though their temperament is very gentle and loyal. These dogs are fairly active, though they only have moderate needs for physical size. Mental stimulation, however, is of the utmost importance for this breed. It is also essential that you provide your German Shepherd with a high-quality, properly balanced diet to ensure his long-term health and wellness. Keep reading to learn more about choosing the best dog food for this breed.

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Dietary Considerations for German Shepherd

Developed in the 1800s, the German Shepherd is one of three breeds that were bred from the continental shepherd dog – the other two are the Belgian Shepherd and the Dutch Shepherd. The modern German Shepherd is a large working breed that stands between 22 and 26 inches tall, weighing about 50 to 90 pounds at maturity. This breed is built to work, having strong muscles and a large build – they are also highly intelligent and adaptable to a variety of jobs and dog sports. These dogs are moderately active and they require a great deal of mental stimulation on a daily basis to prevent boredom as well as an owner who is firm and consistent in training.

The most important dietary consideration for German Shepherds is their size – this breed does best with a formula designed to meet the nutritional needs of large-breed dogs. While the average dog needs about 30 calories per pound of bodyweight daily, large-breed dogs sometimes need a little less because their metabolisms aren’t as fast as a small-breed dog’s. You have to remember, however, that German Shepherds are a working breed, so their calorie needs may be a little higher than the average large-breed dog. Perhaps more important than the number of calories your dog gets, however, is the macronutrient ratio – the amount of protein, fat, and carbohydrate. Protein is the most important nutrient for all dogs and your GSD needs at least 18% protein in his adult diet, ideally more. Fat provides a concentrated source of energy which is beneficial for this breed, but you need to moderate it to prevent obesity. The carbohydrate content of your dog’s diet should be limited because he has a limited ability to digest and absorb nutrition from plant foods.

Because the German Shepherd is a large-breed dog, he may take longer than a year to reach his full size. To ensure that your GSD puppy gets the nutrients he needs to grow and develop, feed him a high-quality large-breed puppy formula containing at least 22% protein – puppies also need a little more fat than adult dogs (8% vs 5% minimum). Be careful about overfeeding your puppy, however, because if large-breed puppies grow too fast it could put excess strain on their developing bones and joints, predisposing the dog to musculoskeletal issues in adulthood. Your best bet is to follow the feeding recommendations on the package according to your puppy’s weight and switch to a large-breed adult recipe once he reaches about 80% of his expected size. As an adult, you still need to monitor your dog’s intake to ensure that he doesn’t get too many calories.

In terms of nutrition, German Shepherds have the same general requirements that all dogs have. There are, however, some special dietary considerations to make for this breed. As a large-breed dog, for example, the GSD could benefit from added glucosamine and chondroitin supplements in his diet – these are two nutrients that help to support bone and joint health. These nutrients may also protect your dog against hip dysplasia and other musculoskeletal issues to which the breed is prone. This breed is also prone to bloat (also known as gastric torsion), a condition that is common in deep-chested breeds and which can become fatal. To protect your dog, keep him from eating too much at once and don’t feed him from an elevated bowl.

The Best Dog Food Brands for German Shepherd Adults and Puppies

After reading the information above, you should have a better understanding of your German Shepherd’s unique nutritional requirements, but you may be wondering how to choose the best dog food for this breed. Below you will find three reviews for recommended brands of dog food for German Shepherd adults as well as one recommendation for German Shepherd puppies:

Ziwi Peak Air-Dried Lamb Formula Buy It

Our Pick : Best Overall German Shepherd Dog Food

First 5 Ingredients : Lamb – Meat (Includes Up to 3% Finely Ground Bone), Lamb – Liver, Lung, Tripe, Heart and Kidney

Ziwi Peak Air-Dried Lamb Formula

The Ziwi Peak company is based in New Zealand and it is their mission to create hand-crafted, high-quality pet foods that mimic the whole-prey diet that dogs and cats evolved to follow. This company produces their pet foods in small batches using only the highest quality locally-sourced ingredients. Rather than cooking their products, Ziwi Peak uses a unique air-drying process that gently removes moisture from the food to preserve it without compromising its nutritional integrity. This Ziwi Peak Air-Dried Lamb Formula would be an excellent choice for your German Shepherd because it is loaded with animal protein and healthy fats – it is also supplemented with New Zealand green-lipped mussels for supplementary glucosamine and chondroitin. It isn’t specifically a large-breed formula, but it provides all the nutrients your GSD needs and they come from excellent sources.

Merrick Backcountry Great Plains Red Recipe Buy It

Our Pick : Best Grain-Free Dog Food For German Shepherds

First 5 Ingredients : Deboned Beef, Lamb Meal, Salmon Meal, Sweet Potatoes, Potatoes

Merrick Backcountry Great Plains Red Recipe

The Merrick Pet Care company understands that dogs are more than just pets – they are members of the family and they deserve to be treated as such. This company makes every effort to create real, wholesome recipes using USDA-inspected meats and fresh produce in formulas that are highly nutritious and full of flavor. They offer an assortment of dry and wet dog food products as well as a line of freeze-dried foods and mixers. This company offers their customers a five-star promise which guarantees locally sourced ingredients, real whole foods, balanced nutrition, company-owned kitchens, and health you can see. Simply put, this is one of the top pet food brands on the market and you can trust them to nourish your dog’s body from the inside out. This Merrick Backcountry Raw Infused Great Plains Recipe is an excellent choice for your German Shepherd dog because it is loaded with animal protein (38%) and healthy animal fats (17%). It also contains probiotics for healthy digestion and chelated minerals for maximum nutrient absorption. Like all of Merrick’s products, this recipe also contains industry-leading levels of glucosamine and chondroitin for bone and joint support.

Nature’s Variety Instinct Ultimate Protein Duck Formula Buy It

Our Pick : Best High Protein German Shepherd Dog Food

First 5 Ingredients : Duck, Chicken, Chicken Eggs, Tapioca, Ground Flaxseed

Nature’s Variety Instinct Ultimate Protein Duck Formula

The Nature’s Variety company may be one of the top pet food brands in the industry. This company makes it their mission to produce high-quality, nutritionally complete recipes for cats and dogs that mimic the nutritional value of raw food with the convenience of dry food. They offer a wide range of products including original, grain-free, high-protein, and freeze-dried formulas as well as traditional canned food options. For your German Shepherd, the Nature’s Variety Instinct Ultimate Protein Duck Recipe would be a great choice. Not only does it contain 47% crude protein and 17% crude fat, but it is made from 90% animal proteins with no gluten, grains, or artificial additives. Simply put, this formula contains all of the nutrients a large-breed dog like your GSD needs without any fillers or low-quality additives. It also contains probiotics for digestive health and plenty of omega fats to keep your GSD’s skin and coat healthy.

Orijen Puppy Large Dry Food Buy It

Our Pick : Best German Shepherd Puppy Food

First 5 Ingredients : Deboned Chicken, Deboned Turkey, Yellowtail Flounder, Whole Eggs, Whole Atlantic Mackerel

Orijen Puppy Large Dry Food

Though the Orijen pet food company is based in Canada, there is no reason to question the quality or safety of their products. Simply put, this is one of the top pet food brands on the market and would be an excellent choice for your GSD puppy. This company makes it their goal to create “biologically appropriate” diets for dogs which means that their formulas are rich in animal ingredients and limited in carbohydrates. The Orijen Puppy Large formula in particular is a great choice for your German Shepherd puppy because it is formulated to meet the nutritional needs of large-breed puppies without going overboard on calories. It features 85% poultry, fish, and egg ingredients with no gluten, grains, or potatoes. This formula offers 38% crude protein and 16% crude fat, both of which are well above the recommended minimum for puppies. You’ll also be glad to know that it is supplemented with probiotics for healthy digestion and fresh fruits and vegetables for nutritional balance.

Choosing the right diet for your German Shepherd is extremely important and you need to start him on a healthy diet as early as possible. If you’re looking for a product that suits your GSD’s unique nutritional needs, consider one of the four wonderful recipes reviewed above. Any of them would be an excellent choice for your dog!

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