Top 10 Best Dog Food for German Shepherds with skin allergies

Top 10 Best Dog Food for German Shepherds

German Shepherds are big, beautiful sweethearts that make the best companions a dog owner could ever ask for. Loyal and courageous, German Shepherds are highly intelligent and form deep bonds with their owners. They rank as one of the top 10 most popular breeds in the United States.

Such versatile dogs with bounding energy and strong muscles combined with smarts and loyalty make for excellent service dogs. However, being so big, strong, and beautiful comes at the cost of requiring lots of energy-providing foods to stay healthy and agile. While German Shepherds suffer from unique conditions such as sensitive stomachs and joint issues, your dear GSD deserves the best dog food to help them live a fun and fulfilled life. Find the best dog food for your German Shepherd!

Dog Nutrition for German Shepherds

While all dogs require a healthy diet that provides the right blend of protein, fat, calories, and essential nutrients, muscular large-breed dogs like German Shepherds have some special nutritional requirements.

German Shepherds generally grow to an adult size of 50 to 90 pounds. Though they’re fairly active, this breed has a slower metabolism than dogs that weigh under 20 pounds at maturity. That means you’ll want to control the amount of fat and calories they consume to prevent unhealthy weight gain. The same goes for puppies. If your German Shepherd puppy grows too quickly, they may have a higher risk of developing bone and joint problems in adulthood. When buying food for your German Shepherd puppy, select large-dog recipes specifically designed for slower, steadier growth.

Every German Shepherd is unique, and your dog’s age, body weight, and activity level will determine their calorie needs. But generally speaking, the active German Shepherd requires a more calorie-dense diet than many large-breed dogs. And protein is extremely important to help these dogs build and maintain lean muscle mass.

Here are some key elements to look for when selecting dog food for your German Shepherd:

  • A high percentage of animal proteins like meat, poultry, and fish (at least 22% for puppies and 18% for adults)
  • Omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids for healthy skin and coat
  • Up to 5% fiber, with digestible carbohydrates like whole grains and vegetables
  • A complete and nutritionally balanced formula in line with AAFCO nutrient profiles

As a rule of thumb, try to avoid dog foods that don’t list an animal source of protein as the first ingredient. It’s also a good idea to stay away from dog foods that contain fillers, byproducts, or artificial additives.

What About Grain-Free Dog Food?

  • Many dog owners mistakenly believe that because wolves are carnivores, dogs can’t digest grains. There’s also a common misconception that grain-free dog foods are somehow healthier than dog foods that include grains.
  • For most dogs, whole grains can be a highly nutritious source of energy, fiber, and essential nutrients. And even if your veterinarian diagnoses your dog with an allergy to grains, you can get around the allergy issue by choosing a limited-ingredient diet that contains a grain your dog can tolerate.
  • A 2018 investigation by the FDA, which has been subsequently updated, focused on a potential link between grain-free diets and dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) in dogs. DCM is an inherited heart problem that most commonly affects large breeds, including the German Shepherd. Regardless, it’s a good idea to consult your veterinarian before feeding your dog a grain-free diet.

The 10 Best Dog Foods for German Shepherds

The best diet for your German Shepherd is one that’s rich in high-quality animal protein with plenty of healthy fats and the optimal balance of essential nutrients. To help you choose the best dog food for your faithful companion, we’ve compiled a list of our top picks for puppies and adult dogs.


Iams ProActive Health Large Breed Dog Food — Best Value

Iams ProActive Health Adult Large Breed Dry Dog Food

This large breed adult dog food from Iams is the best German Shepherd dog food for the money, giving your dog real chicken for an affordable price. The food is specially designed for adult dogs to give them all the essential nutrients they need. It contains farm-raised chicken as the first ingredient to give your powerful German Shepherd the real protein they need to build and maintain muscle and bone strength. Iams makes their dog food with no artificial flavors or preservatives, using whole grains and antioxidant-rich vegetables for optimum nutrition without empty filler calories. It also contains prebiotics for good digestive health, omega fatty acids for healthy skin and coat, and a natural flavor that they are sure to love.

Several customers report that the food gave their dogs bloat and gas, likely due to the inclusion of grains in the recipe. Some also said the food gave their dogs loose stools, again likely due to the grains, which are an unnecessary addition. This keeps Iams from the top position.

  • No artificial flavors or preservatives
  • Contains essential fatty acids and prebiotics
  • Inexpensive
  • Contains real chicken
  • Suitable for all ages
  • May cause gas and bloating
  • Contains grains like corn, barley, and sorghum

Ollie Fresh Dog Food — Best Overall

Ollie Fresh Beef With Sweet Potatoes

Our favorite dog food for German Shepherds is Ollie Dog Food. Having an eager, active breed like the German Shepherd means finding an adequate diet that supports and satisfies their busy lifestyle. Ollie’s recipes do just that. Each fresh and baked recipe uses whole, locally sourced ingredients and lists hardy, real meat proteins like chicken, turkey, beef, and lamb, as the first. Whichever meal you decide on, you can be sure that your dog is getting the essential nutrients they need to grow up strong and stay in tip-top shape.

With Ollie, you customize your dog’s meal plans according to their weight, age, and dietary needs. You can also choose how frequent shipments are sent so you never run out of food.

Although some dog owners may be reluctant to sign up for a subscription, we highly recommend it for the convenience and knowing we’re feeding our dogs top-of-the-line dog food.

  • Delivered straight to your door
  • Customizable
  • Human grade
  • Limited ingredients
  • May be more expensive than store bought options

Royal Canin German Shepherd Dry Dog Food

Royal Canin German Shepherd Adult Dry Dog Food

Royal Canin has developed this dry dog food specifically for German Shepherds over 15 months, making it the top choice overall for food for your German Shepherd. The food is designed to cater for the German Shepherd’s notably sensitive digestive system, which is prone to bloating and frequent digestive issues. It contains highly digestible proteins and fibers that limit the intestinal fermentation that can lead to bloat. The formula also contains E.P.A. and D.H.A. (essential fatty acids) for a healthy coat and skin, and the size, shape, and texture of the kibble is specifically designed for the German Shepherd’s strong teeth and jaws.

While this food is ideal for German Shepherds, it is comparatively expensive food. The kibble also has a high-fat content, around 17%, so be sure to not overfeed this food to your Shepherd.

  • Contains D.H.A. and E.P.A.
  • Specifically designed kibble size, shape, and texture
  • Specifically designed for adult German Shepherds
  • Contains highly digestible fibers and proteins
  • Expensive
  • Contains a high amount of fat content
  • Not formulated for puppies

Taste of the Wild High Prairie Grain-Free Dry Dog Food

Taste of the Wild High Prairie Grain-Free Dry Dog Food

Taste of the Wild High Prairie Grain-Free dog food includes protein sourced from buffalo and bison and has pea and sweet potato for added energy. It also includes natural antioxidants from fruits like blueberries and dried chicory root for prebiotic support and a healthy digestive tract, as well as chelated minerals with amino acids to enhance their absorption. The food will take care of your dog’s skin and coat with the included omega-3 and -6 fatty acids, and the recipe contains zero grains or fillers and no artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives.

Several customers report that the food gave their dogs bloat and gas, with some even vomiting. Some dogs would simply not eat the food, and customers state that there may have been a change in the recipe causing this. The food also has a high-fat content, so beware of overfeeding.

  • Includes omega-3 and -6 fatty acids
  • No artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives
  • Contains high-quality protein
  • Contains natural antioxidants
  • Includes chelated minerals
  • May cause bloating and gas
  • Some dogs refuse to eat it
  • High-fat content

Royal Canin German Shepherd Puppy Dog Food — Best for Puppies

Royal Canin German Shepherd Puppy Dry Dog Food

This food from Royal Canin is designed exclusively for growing German Shepherd puppies, to give their developing bodies all the essential nutrients that they need. The food is suitable for puppies from 8 weeks to 15 months old and will help with the digestive issues that young Shepherds can sometimes suffer from. The developing digestive system of growing puppies cannot absorb nutrients the same way that an adult’s can, and Royal Canin has included L.I.P. (low indigestible proteins) to ensure high quality, highly digestible protein sources. The food is fortified with calcium and phosphorus for healthy bone development and an exclusive complex of antioxidants that include vitamin E and C, lutein, and taurine for a well-functioning immune system.

The food, despite its high price and “high quality” claims, contains grains, including corn, wheat, and oats. These ingredients are not easy for adult dogs to digest, much less growing puppies. The first ingredient listed is a chicken by-product, not an ideal source of meat and protein.

  • Fortified with calcium and phosphorus
  • Contains vitamins C and E
  • Specially designed for growing German Shepherd puppies
  • Contains L.I.P.
  • Expensive
  • Contains grains
  • Suitable for puppies only

Blue Buffalo Wilderness Grain-Free Dry Dog Food

Blue Buffalo Wilderness Chicken Recipe Grain-Free Dry Dog Food

Blue Buffalo Wilderness grain-free dry dog food is packed with protein from real chicken, which will give your German Shepherd the food they need to build and maintain lean muscle mass. The food is grain-free but contains a healthy balance of carbohydrates in the form of peas, potatoes, and carrots to give your dog a boost in energy. It is also free from poultry by-products, artificial flavors and colors, and preservatives. The recipe contains essential fatty acids omega-3 and -6 for a healthy coat and skin and is formulated with “LifeSource Bits,” a special blend of antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals to support your Shepherd’s immune system.

This food is comparatively expensive, and it will cost a fair amount to keep your dog on it for long periods. Some customers report that their dogs did not enjoy the food, likely due to the pungent fish smell. The proportions of “LifeSource Bits” are large, and there seems to be too much added compared to actual food.

  • Free from artificial flavors, colors, and preservatives
  • Contains omega-3 and -6
  • Contains real chicken
  • Grain-free
  • Expensive
  • Your dog may not enjoy it
  • LifeSource Bits are out of proportion

Hill’s Science Diet Adult Large Breed Dry Dog Food

Hill's Science Diet Adult Large Breed Light With Chicken Meal & Barley Dry Dog Food

Science Diet dry dog food from Hills is designed to provide your pooch with the complete nutrition they need. It contains chicken meal for protein and antioxidants for a healthy immune system. The food also contains a vitamin-E-and-C blend for further immune support and is free from artificial colorants, preservatives, and flavors. The recipe contains glucosamine and chondroitin, which is essential for dogs as they get older, and has 18% fewer calories than other brands, making it great for large breed dogs that are prone to gaining excess weight.

The food contains grains like wheat, corn, and soya, which can present a problem for dogs with digestive sensitivities. Consequently, several users report their dogs having gas, bloating, and loose stools, and some say that their dog always seems hungry after switching to this food. This is likely due to the fillers of wheat and corn, which are empty calories. Even the least picky of dogs may not eat the food.

  • Free from artificial flavors, colors, and preservatives
  • Contains glucosamine and chondroitin
  • Contains chicken as the first ingredient
  • Includes antioxidants and vitamins A and C for immune health
  • Contains grain “fillers”
  • May cause gas and bloating
  • May not satisfy your dog’s appetite

CANIDAE Grain-Free PURE Dry German Shepherd Dog Food

CANIDAE Grain-Free PURE Dry German Shepherd Dog Food

This dry dog food from CANIDAE is completely grain-free and contains real lamb as the first ingredient, followed by turkey and chicken, ensuring a healthy dose of protein for your canine companion. The recipe is formulated for both healthy dogs and dogs with sensitivities and will give your dog a healthy balanced meal using just 10 ingredients. There is no wheat, corn, soy, or artificial flavorings or colorants, but the food is packed with healthy protein, fat, probiotics, antioxidants, vitamins, omega-3 and -6 fatty acids, and minerals.

Several customers report that the food made their dogs gassy and bloated, pointing to digestive issues, and many said that their dogs would just not eat the food. Some customers who have dogs with allergy issues said that the food made their dogs have flare-ups, contrary to the claims of the manufacturer.

  • Contains just 10 ingredients
  • No artificial flavors, colors, or preservatives
  • Packed with vitamins, minerals, and omega-3 and -6 fatty acids
  • Grain-free
  • Contains real lamb
  • May cause gas and bloating
  • Some dogs will not touch it
  • Can cause issues in dogs with allergies

Eukanuba Breed Specific German Shepherd Adult Dry Dog Food

Eukanuba Breed Specific German Shepherd Adult Dry Dog Food, 30-lb bag

This adult dry dog food from Eukanuba is formulated specifically for German Shepherds, and the ethic of the company is that dogs are best fed as carnivores, so you can be sure that the food is packed with high-quality animal protein.  The food features a specialized 3D DentaDefence system, which cleans your dog’s teeth while they eat and claims to prevent tartar build-up for up to 28 days. The included proteins are sourced from chicken, egg, lamb, and fish, not from vegetables, as many other commercial dry foods are. The food contains glucosamine and chondroitin and is suitable for dogs 1 year and older.

While this food contains a great deal of protein, it also contains many grains, including wheat, corn, and sorghum. Some customers report that the food dried their dog’s skin out and caused itchiness and excessive shedding. Some customers’ dogs would not eat it.

  • Contains glucosamine and chondroitin
  • Inexpensive
  • Unique DentaDefence system for dental health
  • High amounts of animal-sourced protein
  • Contains grains
  • May dry your dog’s skin out
  • Some dogs do not enjoy it

Dr. Gary’s Best Breed German Dry Dog Food

Dr. Gary's Best Breed Holistic German Dry Dog Food

This dry dog food from Dr. Gary’s Best Breed is specially formulated for German Shepherds and other large dog breeds. The formula provides premium protein obtained from animal sources, including chicken, fish, and eggs, as well as sea mussels, which are a great source of glucosamine and chondroitin. It also contains essential fatty acids omega-3 and -6 for healthy skin and vibrant coat and vitamins C and E to support a healthy immune system. The inclusion of garlic powder will help support your dog’s immune system and liver and reduce cholesterol build-up.

A handful of customers report that their dogs would not touch this food and that it had a pungent fishy smell. Some said the food caused loose stool and even diarrhea in their dog. The kibble is much too small for large breeds like German Shepherds, only around the size of a pea, so they are likely to not chew the food properly.

  • Includes omega-3 and -6
  • Contains garlic powder
  • Contains chicken, fish, and eggs
  • May cause digestive issues
  • Kibble is too small for large breeds
  • Some dogs will not eat it
  • Fishy smell

Royal Canin German Shepherd Loaf in Sauce Canned Dog Food

Royal Canin German Shepherd Loaf in Sauce Canned Dog Food

This canned dog food from Royal Canin is specially formulated for German Shepherds in order to provide the essential nutrients needed by the breed. The food contains D.H.A. and E.P.A. for healthy skin and a smooth, shiny coat, as well as chicken and pork to provide essential animal-sourced protein. It also contains fish oil for essential fatty acids and vitamin C and E for immune support. There are no artificial flavorings, colorants, or preservatives in the food.

Tinned dog food typically contains a great deal of water content, and the total weight is largely moisture. Added to this is the fact that this food contains corn flour to “bind” the ingredients and bulk it up. Therefore, the food is not as rich in nutritional calories as you’d like. It also contains powdered cellulose, produced from pulp fibers from wood and plants, which has no nutritional benefits at all.

  • Contains chicken and pork
  • No artificial flavors, colors, or preservatives
  • Specially formulated for German Shepherds
  • Contains D.H.A. and E.P.A.
  • High water content
  • Contains corn flour
  • Contains filler ingredients like powdered cellulose
  • Not as nutrient-dense as dry dog food

Buyer’s Guide: Selecting the Best Dog Food for German Shepherds

German Shepherds are big, powerful dogs and will benefit greatly from a diet that consists of a high amount of good-quality, animal-based protein. German Shepherds should have a caloric intake of around 2,000 calories a day, depending on their activity levels and age. It is important to remember that German Shepherds have different dietary needs at different growth stages — puppy’s nutritional needs are different to senior dogs. With that in mind, there are a few important points to consider when buying food for your Shepherd.


The ingredients of the dog food that you choose are naturally the most important aspect. A diet consisting of mostly protein and fat is highly recommended for these powerful animals.

The food should ideally be free from grains, or they should at least be kept to a minimum. Grains can cause gas and bloat and other digestive issues in large dogs. They are most often used as fillers and other than dietary fiber, have little beneficial nutrition for your dog. The most commonly found grains in dry dog foods are wheat, corn, and soy. There is controversy around whether to feed dogs grains, as they have evolved to eat an omnivorous diet and are not strictly carnivores. Each breed and each dog is different, and the best thing to do is to assess how your pooch reacts to different food and go from there.

Meat should be listed as the first ingredient on the package, and ideally, the first three ingredients should be some form of animal protein. This usually includes chicken, beef, and fish, as these are the best source of protein for a healthy dog. Protein is essential to both the building and maintenance of lean muscle mass and to give your dog the energy they need.

Fat is also important and is best sourced from animals. Of course, too much is not good, but the food should contain around 10-15% fat. You’ll also want the food to be free from any artificial ingredients like flavoring, preservatives, and coloring.

By-products from pork, chicken, and fish often get a bad rap, and consumers will often shy away from pet foods that list these in their ingredients. By-products from animals come from the non-rendered, clean parts that do not include the meat typically consumed by humans. These include organ meat like liver, lungs, kidney, blood, and bone and actually can provide important nutrients for your dog.

Other than puppies and seniors, dry food is the best bet for your German Shepherd. Dry kibble is more affordable, has dental benefits, and is more nutrient-dense than wet food. Wet food is made up of mostly water, and dogs will generally need to consume more to get adequate nutrition. Wet food has its place, though. Puppies cannot easily break down the hard chunks of kibble, so wet food may be better for their developing teeth and jaws. The same goes for seniors, who often have trouble with hard kibble in old age.


The best German Shepherd food according to our tests is Ollie Fresh Dog Food. This food is specifically for German Shepherds, contains highly digestible proteins and fibers that limit gas and bloating, and has essential vitamins for a healthy coat and skin.

The best German Shepherd food for the money is the large breed adult dog food from Iams. It contains farm-raised chicken as the first ingredient, contains no artificial flavors or preservatives, and has antioxidant-rich vegetables and prebiotics for good digestive and immune health, all for a highly affordable price.

Good nutrition is essential to the health and well-being of your German Shepherd, and finding the right food for your beloved pooch can be a stressful process. Hopefully, our in-depth reviews have helped narrow down the options so you can make the best choice for your canine companion.

Edward Hollon is an avid dog lover and writer, knowing all there is to know about our furry friends. Edward has been writing for petdii for three years now, wanting to use her knowledge for good and share everything she can with new dog owners. Edward has two dogs herself - a German shepherd called Banjo and a chocolate labrador called Buttons. Edward knows more than anyone how adjusting to new life with a puppy can turn your life upside down, and she wants to ease some of the burdens through her articles.