Congratulations! You’re the proud owner of a German Shepherd puppy, one of the most beautiful, intelligent, and loyal dog breeds out there. While you enjoy the puppy cuddles and kisses, keep in mind that what you feed your little one will make a big difference in their growth and development, both internally and externally.
Don’t worry; below are some of the top puppy formulas for German Shepherds, as well as tips and info on how best to support your pup through proper nutrition.
Top 8 Best Dog Foods for German Shepherd Puppy 2020
Below are eight puppy formulas worth checking out. Packed full of protein and other essential nutrients that your puppy needs, these formulas also receive high marks from vets and pet owners.
BLUE Wilderness Puppy
Great Energy Booster
Best Dry Formula for Large Breeds
Hill’s Science Diet
Best Recommended by Vets
Best for Digestive Support
Orijen Puppy Large
Best for Picky Puppies
Royal Canin Giant Junior
Best for the Second Phase of Puppyhood
Taste of the Wild High Prairie
Best High-End Food
1. BLUE Wilderness Puppy – Best Protein-Packed
This wet puppy food is a great choice for transitioning a just-weaned puppy to real food. It’s rich in animal-based protein, and the first four ingredients are turkey, chicken broth, chicken, and chicken liver. There is no grain to be found, which is great for German Shepherds since they’re prone to skin issues and grains may exacerbate the problems. The formula is free of artificial flavors and preservatives, as well as lesser-quality animal by-product meals. What is does include are omega fatty acids and DHA for eye, skin, and nail health.
- Omega fatty acids
- Packed with animal protein
2. Diamond Naturals – Great Energy Booster
This dry formula will provide the quality energy sources your growing puppy needs to live his best life. He’ll get a steady stream of energy from the fiber-rich whole grain brown rice and cracked pearled barley. The protein in this food comes primarily from lamb, but there is also fish meal and eggs in there. Flaxseed, chicken fat, and salmon oil are good sources of fat, which will also contribute to stable energy levels. Plus, there are probiotics for digestive support, and your pup will love the taste.
- Fiber-rich complex carbs
- Rich, meaty taste
3. Eukanuba Puppy – Best Dry Formula for Large Breeds
Eukanuba is a trusted brand, and their large breed puppy formula is chock-full of the nutrients your growing German Shepherd needs to flourish. This includes carefully-determined portions of calcium and phosphorous for muscle and bone growth, as well as DHA for brain development.
A great balance of carbs and fat will supply the energy sources that your pup requires, and there is a guaranteed minimum of 26% protein in each serving. The only potential downside here is that chicken is the primary protein in this formula, and it’s a common food allergen for dogs.
- Bone-supporting minerals
- Formulated for large breeds
- High protein content
- Chicken is the primary protein
4. Hill’s Science Diet – Best Recommended by Vets
Vets all over the country regularly count on Hill’s Science Diet to provide the top-grade nutrition their furry patients need. Their puppy large breed dry food doesn’t disappoint. It contains just the right amount of calcium to support nervous system development and muscle growth, but not too much since it’s easy to overdose German Shepherd puppies. Chicken is the first ingredient on the list, followed by whole grains, mineral supplements, and a variety of fruits and veggies. There’s also fish oil, which supplies DHA for eye and skin health.
- Appropriate portions of calcium
- First ingredient is a quality protein
- Trusted brand
- Contains artificial flavors
5. Holistic Select – Best for Digestive Support
For puppies that are struggling with digestive issues, this puppy formula from Holistic Select will do the trick. Full of digestive enzymes, prebiotics and probiotics, and live yogurt cultures, this dry food will get your puppy’s gut health back on track. Not only that, but it features lamb meal and chicken meal as the first two ingredients.
A balance of fiber, complex carbs, and healthy fats work to keep your pup feeling strong and energized throughout the day without having to worry about an upset tummy. The formula is rounded out with fruits, natural botanicals, and mineral supplements.
- Fiber-rich formula
- Full of prebiotics and probiotics
- Good balance of carbs and fats
6. Orijen Puppy Large – Best for Picky Puppies
This delicious, protein-packed dry formula will satisfy even the pickiest puppies. Made with fresh and flash-frozen raw meat, this food harkens back to a dog’s natural diet. The quality protein comes from free-range chicken and turkey, cage-free eggs, and wild-caught fish, making up 85% of the ingredients list. The remaining 15% comes from nutrient-packed fruits and veggies, which eliminates the need for added mineral supplements. The only one included in this formula is zinc for improved gut health.
- Packed with fruits and veggies
- Quality animal protein sources
- Sustainable ingredients
- Intended for ages 6 months and older
7. Royal Canin Giant Junior Dry Food – Best for the Second Phase of Puppyhood
When it’s time to transition your puppy to dry food, why not try this Royal Canin Giant Junior formula? It’s great for that second stage of puppyhood and includes all of the essential vitamins and nutrients your pup needs. Plus, it has a guaranteed 29% protein per serving, perfect for a large breed like a German Shepherd. It also supports your puppy’s immune system, bone development, and muscle growth, and it includes prebiotics for digestive health.
- Contains prebiotics
- High protein content
- Supports bone and muscle health
- Contains corn
8. Taste of the Wild High Prairie – Best High-End Food
Roasted bison and venison – what’s not to love? These meaty delights are easy to digest, and the inclusion of probiotics in this High Prairie formula makes it a great choice for German Shepherds who are prone to bloat. It has got everything you want and nothing you don’t. That means no grains, but lots of fruits and veggies, omega fatty acids, and quality meat as the first ingredient.
This may be a more expensive puppy food, but it’s worth it. The balance of protein (28%), along with essential minerals like selenium and zinc, the growth of a healthy, happy, and big dog. Your puppy is sure to notice the difference in quality, too!
- Easy to digest
- Rich, meaty bison and venison
How to Choose Dog Food for a German Shepherd Puppy
Your puppy may be small and cuddly now, but she’ll grow up to be a big, strong dog. German Shepherds are an especially active dog breed, so they need plenty of high-quality food to sustain their energy levels.
As you might’ve guessed, they need lots of protein to develop those strong muscles they’re known for. Moreover, ample protein will boost their overall health and energy levels as well as support organ and tissue development. Look for a protein that comes from animal sources, which will suit your dog’s naturally carnivorous appetite. Animal-based protein is easiest for them to digest and should account for a little over 25% of their diet.
2. Fats & Carbs
Of course, protein isn’t the only nutrient you need to think about. Fat is another essential element to your puppy’s food, and it’s particularly good for coat health. German Shepherds are often admired for their luscious, thick fur, so it’s important that they get enough healthy fats to support a shiny, healthy coat.
In addition, fat serves as a source of energy for puppies, as their little bodies convert it to glucose. They’ll get lots of glucose from carbs, too. Be sure to look for carbohydrate sources that are higher in fiber, as this will not only give your pup energy but will also support gut health and keep them satiated.
3. Vitamins & Minerals
Besides those three macronutrients, puppies need enough vitamins and minerals, also known as micronutrients. While it is possible to have too much of a good thing, you want to make sure your pup gets essential vitamins and minerals:
- Vitamin A: fights disease, supports eye and skin health
- Sodium and Vitamin B: helps cell growth and balance
- Vitamin C: boosts immunity
- Copper and Vitamins D & K: supports bone health
- Selenium and Vitamin E: antioxidant, good for eye and skin health
- Calcium, Magnesium, and Phosphorous: work together to support the nervous system and muscle development
- Chloride and Zinc: aids gut health
- Iodine: healthy thyroid function
- Iron: boosts immunity, provides oxygen to red blood cells
- Potassium: heart and muscle health
- Sulfur: hair, nail, and skin health
4. Canned & Dry Formulas
Dry or Canned? – the big question! While pet owners may have their preference, most vets would agree that a puppy should start with wet food. They’re still getting used to being weaned off of their mother’s milk, so wet food makes for a smoother transition for their digestive system.
You can start introducing dry food around 12 weeks of age. Your puppy may take to the dry food very well, or he may be a bit fussy. Either way, be sure that he always has access to fresh, clean water.
Special Considerations When Feeding a German Shepherd Puppy
This breed is prone to certain health conditions that can be managed or prevented through proper nutrition. Just as you wouldn’t feed your child just anything, your puppy deserves that kind of attention, too. German Shepherds are most prone to bloating, hip dysplasia, and skin conditions. That’s why it’s crucial that they get the vitamins and minerals they need to support bone growth and skin health.
Also, eager puppies can end up wolfing down a big meal in record time, only to throw it up, and that’s no good. For the first six months of his life, your puppy should be eating three or four meals throughout the day to help with proper digestion and nutrient absorption. After that, you can transition to two larger meals per day.
To minimize the chances of bloating, space out your puppy’s meals into smaller, more manageable portions. If he’s still eating his food rapidly, you may want to get a bowl specially designed to discourage fast eating and overeating.
These bowls are shaped in a way that makes the food harder to get to, which will cause him to slow down and properly eat his meal.
2. Hip Dysplasia
Some vets believe that a grain-free diet is optimal in preventing or treating hip dysplasia in dogs. Also, you may want to keep a lookout for calcium and omega fatty acids like fish oil, which supports bone and joint health. Vitamin D will help your dog’s body absorb Vitamin C. Other nutrients that may help include chondroitin and glucosamine, as they strengthen cartilage.
3. Skin Issues
German Shepherds are likely to suffer from hot spots, which are itchy, red spots on the skin. They’re quite easy to notice since your dog will be biting or scratching at them, often to the point of hair loss. In addition to a hot spot spray, be sure you’re feeding your dog foods that are rich in skin-healthy nutrients like Selenium, Vitamin E, and Sulfur.
4. Other Considerations
Keep in mind that puppies have very particular nutrition needs, and as your pup grows into an adult, those needs will change. Not only that, but your dog’s nutrition requirements will depend on their sex, age, and activity level. As a puppy, your little German Shepherd will eat a lot, usually more than an adult dog. They need all of that food energy to sustain their romping, playing, and development.
Look for a dog food that is formulated for large breeds. These days, many dog food brands design specific formulas that cater to different breed sizes, activity levels, and health conditions, which is great.
Now that you know more about your beloved little puppy, you can support her growth and development even better. Before you know it, she’ll be a strong, healthy, full-grown German Shepherd, so enjoy the puppy days while they last!