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The Best Diet For The German Shepherd: Nutrition And More!

diet for german shepherd

When I decided to choose a German Shepherd for my first dog, I asked myself, what do I feed my German Shepherd, and what do dogs like to eat?

So what is the best diet for German Shepherds? The best diet for the German Shepherd is a high-quality protein diet consisting of between 18-22% protein. Dogs can also get nutrients from grains, fruits, and vegetables, however they need to make sure they have the right mix of protein, fat, essential vitamins, minerals, and fiber for optimal health.

This post is outrageously long! You probably won’t get it done in one go, so be sure to bookmark this page for later.

Diet for the German Shepherd

German Shepherds need various types of nutrients to survive. These are proteins, fats and carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals, and water.

Best German Shepherd Diet: The Power of Nutrition

The nutritional content of all commercial pet foods has to follow the guidelines that have been developed by the AAFCO (Association of American Feed Control Officials).

I also found that the MSD Veterinary Manual publishes nutrient profiles for dogs. This goes into a lot of detail and even lists all the individual vitamins and minerals your German Shepherd needs (if you want to read it)! However, these are the main points:

The main nutritional requirement of dogs is protein. Protein has several functions, from providing energy, building and repairing muscles, building new skin, hair and nail cells, and keeping the immune and musculoskeletal systems strong. The amount required by puppies and adult German Shepherds is different:

Growing puppies require a minimum of 22% protein while adult dogs require a minimum of 18% protein.

Protein is measured on a dry matter basis, which means that what is left after all the moisture is removed from the food.

Fat is the second nutritional requirement in the diet for the German Shepherd. Fat comes from protein and provides energy. It is also necessary for the normal development and function of body cells, nerves, muscles, and tissues. Again, the amount required for puppies and adult German Shepherds differs:

The recommended fat content for growing puppies is 8% and 5% for an adult dog.

Your dog will also have different nutritional requirements depending on his life stage, size, breed, activity level, and general health. For example, an active and growing puppy may need twice as many calories as an adult dog of the same breed. Older dogs may need 20% fewer calories than middle-aged dogs.

As a further example, my well-exercised German Shepherd will require completely different nutrition than a lap dog who likes to laze around all day. Finally, a pregnant or nursing dog will require considerably more calories than the same lazy “couch” dog.

So what are the recognized life stages of dogs? The AAFCO defines them as:

  • gestation / lactation (pregnancy and lactation)
  • growth (includes puppies)
  • adult maintenance
  • all stages of life

That made me wonder, what exactly does “all stages of life” mean ?

I found that a German Shepherd diet designed for all life stages meets the nutritional requirements for growth and reproduction, as well as adult maintenance. This diet is therefore suitable for dogs of any age.

One thing to be careful of is that an all-life diet is generally higher in calories, so this diet would only be chosen depending on your dog’s circumstances.

For example, if your dog is an adult, inactive, or needs to lose weight, then you would choose an adult maintenance diet. If your dog is a working or extremely active dog, he may choose an “all life stages” diet because of the extra calories and nutrition.

Different amounts and proportions of nutrients, as well as different feeding rates, are ideal for different stages of life.

Are German shepherds omnivorous?

Some people like to think of dogs as pure carnivores, however, according to a study published in Nature Research, the domestication of dogs for thousands of years has resulted in dogs adapting to a diet rich in starch.

While protein makes up the majority of a dog’s diet, the domesticated dog now also gets nutrients not only from grains but also from some fruits and vegetables.

All of them are a valuable source of essential vitamins, minerals and fibers. Therefore, dogs have evolved to become omnivores and have shown that they can thrive on a variety of foods.

What they can eat

So now that we know what nutrients dogs need, let’s take a closer look at exactly what they can eat. These are the main foods German Shepherds can eat, however they do come with some caveats, so read on!


  • Meat
  • Pork
  • Venado
  • Chicken
  • Turkey
  • duck
  • Liver
  • Kidney
  • Heart
  • Fish
  • Salmon
  • Tuna
  • Eggs


  • Wheat
  • Corn
  • Avena
  • Rice
  • Corn
  • Barley
  • Quinoa
  • Alforfon
  • Rye
  • Amaranth


  • Artichoke
  • Asparagus
  • Beets
  • Peppers
  • Broccoli
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Cabbage
  • Carrot
  • Cauliflower
  • Celery and corn
  • Eggplant
  • Green beans
  • Lettuce
  • Parsnip Peach
  • Green peas
  • Potato (cooked)
  • Pumpkin
  • Spinach


  • Apple
  • Damascus
  • Banana
  • You have to
  • Blueberries
  • Coco
  • Cucumber
  • dates
  • Kiwi
  • Mango
  • Cantaloupe
  • Nectarine
  • Orange
  • Anana
  • Raspberry
  • Plum

Dairy products:

  • Milk
  • Cream
  • Cheese
  • Ice creams
  • Yogurt


  • Peanuts
  • Anacardos
  • Almonds
  • Hazelnuts
  • Chestnuts

These are the warnings to be aware of:

  • If a fruit contains pits or seeds, these must be removed as they contain toxic cyanide.
  • Most vegetables need to be cooked first to aid digestion.
  • Fruits, vegetables, dairy, and nuts should be fed in small amounts – no more than 10% of your daily calories.
  • Although dogs can eat some nuts, they are not recommended due to their high fat content which can cause an upset stomach.
  • It is not advisable to feed dogs raw eggs or raw fish due to the risk of salmonella or listeria.
  • Some dogs are lactose intolerant and cannot eat certain dairy foods, depending on the amount of lactose they contain.

I wrote comprehensive guides to all the fruits and vegetables your German Shepherd can eat where you can find a ton of helpful information. These items also include the ones to watch out for.

What is it that German Shepherds cannot eat?

Many foods are toxic to German Shepherds and I have listed the top ones in this handy list for you. I found that the Pet Poison Helpline also lists tons of other poisonous things including plants, household items, and medications. It’s really helpful, but I hope you don’t need your help if your dog avoids this.

  • Alcohol
  • Avocado
  • Caffeine
  • Cherries
  • Chocolate
  • Cacao
  • it
  • Grapes
  • Hop
  • Horse chestnut
  • Macadamia nuts
  • Moldy food
  • Mushrooms
  • Nutmeg
  • Onions
  • Chalotes
  • Leeks
  • Chives
  • Raisins
  • Raw potato
  • Rhubarb leaves
  • Shall
  • Tomato
  • Yeast dough
  • Has

What Kind of Dog Food is Best for German Shepherds?

We all want the best for our German Shepherds and we want to feed them the best diet for their needs. Most people feed their dogs commercial dry food or wet canned food, however there are numerous different types and it is difficult to know where to start!

However, these are the main types of food that you can feed your dog:

  • Complete dry food
  • Canned wet food
  • A mix of dry and wet
  • Homemade diets
  • Complete raw diets

It is a requirement that all commercial dog food must be complete and balanced in accordance with strict AAFCO guidelines. Complete means “the food must contain all the required nutrients” and balanced means “the nutrients present must be in the correct proportions”.

If you decide to feed your dog commercial food (dry, wet or mixed), always check the packaging for what is known as a “Declaration of Nutritional Adequacy”. This statement is designed for veterinarians, nutritionists, and dog owners to evaluate the nutritional value of their pet.

This statement should say that the food meets the nutrient profiles established by the AAFCO according to the life stage of the dog, or that it has passed the feeding tests designed according to the AAFCO standards. It is the key to meeting all the nutritional needs of your German Shepherd.

Therefore, when choosing a dog food, you should not only check the ingredient list, but also the nutritional content of the food.

High-quality protein sources (beef, pork, chicken, lamb, etc.) should be at the top of the list, as well as quality sources of grains or vegetables and fats.

Vitamins and minerals should also be included. Better quality commercial dog food will also include additional sources of protein, such as fish, eggs, and also plant-based protein, such as vegetables, legumes, and grains.

You should choose the diet that best suits your German Shepherd and, in particular, his size and lifestyle. It is not only important to meet your dog’s needs, but yours as well. I’ll explain more what I mean by this when we take an individual look at the different types of food you can feed your dog (see below).

Many pet food companies have invested millions of dollars researching the ingredients that contain the maximum levels to achieve a healthy and balanced diet that supports not only essential growth of the puppy, but also mental and physical development.

Dry food

Dry dog ​​food is one of the most popular options. There are two main types of complete dry food, DOG FOOD , and COLD PULLED DOG FOOD , however the latter has yet to hit the streets of the US but has become very popular in the UK and Europe already. which is considered to be a higher quality kibble due to the way it is cooked.

So what exactly is dog food? Croquettes are dry dog ​​food made through an extrusion or cooking process in an oven.

Food is made under high pressure and high temperatures. All the croquettes are made in the same way and using the same type of machinery. Even high-quality dry foods that use “human-grade” ingredients are made with the same process.

However, cold-pressed dog food is made using much lower temperatures. This unique method means that the food retains more nutritional value, flavor, aroma, and vitamins. Everything good is preserved in bite-size chunks.

Both types of dry dog ​​food provide more nutrients per bite than wet food because the kibble contains less moisture. That means you won’t have to feed as much to satisfy your German Shepherd’s appetite and nutritional needs. The dry food can be fed dry, or you can add water to make it a tasty ‘sauce’, depending on the manufacturer’s instructions.

If you want to compare dry food to canned wet food, dry food costs less per serving and there may be less waste as it can be left in your dog’s feeding bowl longer than canned food. Dogs with dental problems can benefit from dry food as it helps clean their teeth and gums.

It is the most practical option for a large dog, especially a German Shepherd, however dry food comes in all shapes and sizes and therefore a smaller size variety may be suitable for smaller breeds.

Canned wet food

What is the best diet for German Shepherds? Dip the dog’s food in a bowl.
Canned wet dog food contains a high moisture content, around 75%.

I found some things to be wary of is that not all commercially canned food brands provide the protein your German Shepherd needs.

Also, the higher the water content, the fewer nutrients, so your dog has to consume more food to get the nutritional value his body needs.

This can be more expensive, especially if you have a larger breed of dog, but it can be ideal if your dog enjoys eating a larger portion.

Beware of low-quality preserves, as manufacturers often add wheat flour as a thickener or add a lot of white rice or other grains. However, a good quality wet food may be a better option if you have a toy or small breed.

Other advantages of wet food are that it may be more suitable if your dog is a picky eater or if you have an older dog who may have lost their appetite and may find the wet food more palatable.

There are also semi-wet dog foods, but they are not as popular as they offer the least nutritional value and can also be quite expensive. Unfortunately, manufacturers add substances to preserve moisture and shelf life, such as sugar and salts.

This means that this particular diet may not be appropriate for your German Shepherd, especially if they are on the heavy side and need to lose weight. Many semi-moist foods are also loaded with artificial colors, chemical preservatives, and chemical flavor enhancers.

However, semi-humidity may be the best option if your dog has a hard time digesting all other types of food. Your dog may also enjoy the taste of meat and find this food tastier if he is an extremely picky eater.

Semi-wet dog food is also very convenient because you just have to open the bag (which can usually be resealed) and pour it into your dog’s bowl.

If I were considering this type of food, I would ask my veterinarian for advice in determining the calorie content of the food and an appropriate daily serving for my dog.

A mix of dry and wet

A third option is to choose a mixture of dry and wet foods. You can mix the foods in the same bowl or give them dry for the morning meal and wet for the afternoon meal (or vice versa). Some medium to large breed owners who generally feed dry dog ​​food like to use wet food as a cover or as a special treat.

Again, you will need to ensure that you do not increase your dog’s caloric intake when mixing these foods, and you may need to seek advice from your vet to ensure that you are feeding your dog the correct nutrition. If you choose this option, it is advisable to keep the same brand.

Homemade diet

Some German Shepherd owners choose to feed their dog a homemade diet. This made me wonder exactly why anyone would want to be a home feeder. These are the main reasons I found:

  • They looked for alternatives to commercial pet food, as they were concerned about the nutritional value of the ingredients used.
  • They simply enjoyed preparing food and bonding with their dog, or satisfying their opinions.
  • They believe that their pets will simply not like or reject commercial dog food.
  • A home-prepared diet may be necessary to help with the diagnosis (for example, for a food elimination test).
  • A home-prepared diet may be necessary if a dog has a combination of conditions for which there is no commercial diet.
  • They sought comfort as homemade food for dogs with a chronic or terminal illness.

There are several drawbacks to home dog food preparation. It can be done, but it takes a lot of dedication and hard work, and it can be more expensive than even the best quality dog ​​food on the market.

Homemade diets can provide complete nutrition, however you need to ensure that your German Shepherd gets the right mix of protein, fat, carbohydrates, minerals, and vitamins and this can be quite difficult to do.

If you are preparing a homemade diet, it is best to consult your veterinarian or a certified pet nutritionist who has the experience to customize a healthy diet for your pet.

You can find your directory of professional nutritionists here. This is a much better option than relying on an online dog recipe that may not be nutritionally correct.

Cooking all animal products is recommended to kill bacteria that could make your German Shepherd sick, however if you are a raw feeder then you probably disagree with this statement. Grains, beans, and starchy vegetables should also be cooked to make them easier for your dog to digest.

Never add food that is toxic to German Shepherds. These include chocolate, grapes, raisins, onions, garlic, avocados, macadamia nuts, to name a few. I wrote a full article on foods that are poisonous to German Shepherds that also includes one or two hidden dangers that are good to know!

Raw diet

From three to four weeks onwards, it is safe to start feeding a German Shepherd puppy raw food. Raw feeding is based on the principle of feeding dogs the food that they would have naturally consumed in nature.

Occasionally, there will be a tendency to feed dogs an entirely raw diet (raw meat, fish, and vegetables), rather than a specially formulated dog food, but it is important to ensure that your German Shepherd gets all the nutrients he needs and don’t run the risk of ill health or disease.

There are two important factors to consider when deciding to feed your dog a raw diet. The first concern about raw feeding is how to ensure that you are providing a complete and balanced diet, and this is especially important if you are feeding a growing puppy.

Like homemade diets, formulating raw diets can be difficult, especially or if your German Shepherd is also pregnant, nursing or ill and therefore has different nutritional requirements. It can be very difficult to make sure you’re not getting too much or too little of key nutrients.

Again, it is recommended to first consult your veterinarian or a pet nutritionist from the American College of Veterinary Nutrition before deciding to feed him raw.

The second major concern is that of food safety problems related to bacterial or parasitic contamination. Food poisoning is also of great concern to you and me, and the health aspects of feeding our pets raw food cannot be underestimated.

If you are considering feeding your German Shepherd a raw food diet, you must ensure that you are fully aware of the safety and proper handling of raw food and all associated food safety issues.

Many raw feeders will claim that feeding a raw diet has numerous benefits for your dog’s health, ranging from better digestion, a shinier coat, healthier skin, stronger teeth, fewer disease, and overall a longer and healthier life.

How often do I feed my puppy

You and I have already learned that a growing puppy has different nutritional needs than an adult dog. It also needs to be fed more frequently at different stages of its growth. These are the recommended guidelines for the number of meals per day:

[table id=4 /]Puppies receive all relevant nutrients from birth by feeding on their mother. However, after three to four weeks it is safe to start the weaning process on a new diet.

Growing German Shepherd puppies need to ingest enough calories, fat, protein, vitamins, and minerals to meet their needs for rapid growth and development to put them on the right path to a healthy life.

Puppies should continue on a puppy diet until adulthood, which is defined as 8-12 months of age for small and medium breeds and 10-16 months for large and giant breeds, according to the Veterinary Manual from MSD . An adult dog diet, or maintenance diet, contains nutrients suitable for pets that have passed their growth stage.

However, you may choose to feed your German Shepherds a puppy diet for the first 6 months only, as large dog breeds can be switched early to an adult food to help prevent too rapid growth. , which can cause bone and joint problems.

Many puppy foods specifically labeled for large breeds are formulated to address these problems.

My German Shepherd was transitioned from puppy food at just two months old, however I did give him a high quality food suitable for it.

Most pet owners prefer to feed an adult dog twice a day, although a dog may eat only once a day. Giving two meals a day can make food easier to digest, help control hunger and bloating, which is a life-threatening condition. My German Shepherd certainly prefers to eat twice a day.

Should Dogs Eat Bones?

Remember the saying “give a dog a bone”? But should dogs eat bones? This is the answer:

Dogs can eat bones and they are a good source of nutrients, especially calcium and phosphorous. However, you should never feed cooked bones as cooking causes them to soften and may splinter when chewed. This can cause suffocation or serious damage to the dog’s mouth, throat, or even lower down!

Bones can also help clean your dog’s teeth.

The best bone to give your dog is one that matches his size, as dogs will try to swallow them. The bones must be larger than the length of the muzzle, making it impossible to swallow them whole. For example, a large beef shank bone would be just what my German Shepherd needs and she certainly believes it!


You and I now know what is the best diet for the German Shepherd . There is certainly a lot to consider and I hope I have given you enough food to think!

The best advice I can give you is to first choose a type of food that suits your dog’s life stage and lifestyle.

Second, be sure to invest in the BEST QUALITY DOG FOOD YOU CAN ALLOW as I strongly believe that your dog will live a longer, healthier life if you do this. Good luck!

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I love the animals. Reading and writing about them, their customs, their peculiarities or the attention they require is exciting, and I also believe that it makes us better people. I share articles that solve the questions that dog caregivers face on a daily basis.

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