9 Best Dog Foods for a German Shepherd Puppy: GSD Feeding Guide 

Do you own a German Shepherd puppy or are considering adopting one?

German Shepherds are one of America’s most loved dog breeds. Loyal, protective, and ready to take a bullet for you, these dogs prove time-and-time again why they are consistently ranked among the most popular breeds in the country.

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American Journey Lamb

  • Grain-free formula
  • Zero corn, wheat, or soy

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Human Grade

Tylee’s Human-Grade

  • Grain-free food
  • Zero wheat, soy, peas, or corn

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And their puppies are no different.

Adorable, cute, and just great fun to have around, German Shepherd puppies make excellent companions. As large dog breed puppies full of energy, these puppies have unique dietary requirements that require a carefully planned diet. We are going to discover which are the best dog food for a German Shepherd puppy.

Determine Which Type of Food to Feed your GSD Puppy

A happy pup makes a great companion. German Shepherd puppies are particularly vulnerable to growth abnormalities and certain conditions such as bloat. Many of these conditions can be avoided by good nutrition.  Here we present to you the different types of food options available to try. We recommend trying out each type of food to break up the monotony in your pup’s diet.

  • Dry Food – Dry food, more commonly known as kibble is one of the best options for your puppy because of its affordability, rich nutrient content, ability to remove plaque from puppy teeth all while preventing the formation of tartar. Kibble should be introduced to the pup’s diet well after wet food to enable the puppy to get used to eating solid foods. This introduction can happen around the 6 to 8-week mark. Don’t be in a rush to get your puppy to eat dry food. It is worth mentioning that dry food doesn’t contain a lot of water content, therefore it’s imperative that you give your German Shepherd puppy enough water at each meal.
  • Wet (Canned) Food – For the first 3 to 4 weeks of the German Shepherd puppy’s life, it should survive on mother’s milk. Mother’s milk contains the nutrients needed to sustain life and encourage growth. From the 4th week, however, you can begin to introduce what is known as wet food (usually in canned format) into your puppy’s life. These wet foods are usually meals that are high in protein, minerals, vitamins, carbs, and other much-needed nutrients such as probiotics. These wet foods are easy-to-digest especially for pups with sensitive stomachs. They are also great because they contain high quantities of water, at least 75% which is ideal for keeping your GSD pup hydrated.
  • Raw Food – Raw food diets have been on the increase in the last couple of years. But are they good for your GSD puppy? Raw food diets are those that are formulated using raw meat, fruits and veggies, and bones. The notion of raw food diets was commercially introduced in 1993. Arguments against raw food diets include the potential threat to puppy health from bacteria found in raw meat, the possibility of the puppy not getting enough nutrients, the danger of bones in the diets that can choke the puppy, break growing teeth or even cause internal punctures. Vets are divided about the overall soundness of raw food diets. Unless you have consulted with your vet about introducing raw food into your puppy’s life, we recommend simply sticking to wet or dry food.
  • Freeze-Dried Food – Many people might not be familiar with the term ‘freeze dried food’. When dog food manufacturers want to make puppy food that contains raw food but without preservatives, they go about freezing the raw food as soon as it’s made, meaning that the food is frozen and dried in its original state. Is this food good for your GSD puppy? These foods tend to have a very high-fat content and not every pup can digest a lot of fat easily. If you wish to introduce freeze-dried food to your puppy’s diet, do it around the 6-month mark when the puppy has a more developed digestive system and can handle a change in diet. To add on, freeze-dried food should not become a staple because of the high-fat content. It should be an occasional treat.
  • Human Grade Food – Dog food that is referred to as ‘human grade’ is that which contains products that are edible for human beings. However, there is a reason multiple dog food exists! Not everything we eat is good for our pets. In fact, a lot of the food we see as ordinary can be very toxic to dogs. There are very few brands that make human-grade food because it is very difficult to meet federal manufacturing and packaging stipulations. According to the AAFCO, simply because a formula has been labeled as human-grade does not guarantee that it is safe for your puppy.
  • Warnings and Cautions – German Shepherd puppies may develop food allergies to certain foods. If you think your pup has developed an allergy, tell-tale symptoms will most likely be the puppy scratching its ears, biting and or licking its paws, rubbing its face in the carpet, increased flatulence, ear inflammation, diarrhea, and sneezing.

Foods that often trigger allergic reactions include soy products, wheat, corn, pork, beef, milk, eggs, artificial flavorings, preservatives, additives, and sugar. This is why we always recommend grain-free and artificial-flavoring free diets for growing dogs.

If you do notice any of these symptoms, consult your vet immediately. You may have to change your pup’s diet.

5 Special Dietary and Nutritional Considerations of German Shepherd Puppies

German Shepherd puppies are considered as large breed puppies. They are dogs that naturally grow very fast in a short period of time.

As a result, they should not be overfed during this critical growth stage as this can lead to bone deformities.
These pups are thus quite vulnerable and rely on you to make the best dietary and nutritional choices for them to grow at a steady pace.

Major German Shepherd puppy food manufacturers are aware of these considerations and have specifically formulated well-balanced diets to cater to the unique needs of these pups.

So just what are some of the key elements your GSD pup needs for good growth?

  • Protein and Amino Acids – Protein should be the base and foundation of all food for any German Shepherd pup. This is because puppies need protein for cell and tissue development and building strong muscles.  Your pup’s protein needs need to be supplied by an animal source. Therefore, look for formulas that include real meat such as fish, beef, and chicken and not some synthesized proteins. A good rule of thumb is that at least 30% of your pup’s meals should be animal protein. If you see “meat meal” on puppy food they are worth considering for purchase as these foods are high in animal proteins.
  • Fats and Fatty Acids – If your puppy’s diet is low in fats this may result in a worn-down looking pup, with poor vision and brain development. Fats provide a variety of fatty acids including omega-3 and omega-6 which are responsible for healthy-looking puppy skin and hair.
  • Carbohydrates – Any well-balanced diet should also consist of carbohydrates to provide energy for your growing GSD pup. Additionally, carbs are needed to help maintain the puppy’s body temperature. As carbs are broken down in the body, they release heat energy.  We recommend choosing meals with grains as these provide both much-needed roughage and fiber for good gut functioning and gut health.
  • Vitamins and Minerals – Vitamins and minerals play an essential role in bone development, good immune functioning, cell growth, and function. The pup’s nervous system also needs vitamins and minerals for efficient functioning. Hormone production and regulation also require the right vitamin and mineral quantities. Vitamin and mineral deficiencies can lead to poor blood clotting, healing of injuries, teeth and bone development.
  • Water – Water is an essential and basic requirement for life. Its purposes are varied in a puppy’s life from transporting water-soluble nutrients to cushioning joints and preventing dehydration. Although canned puppy food boasts significant amounts of water (as much as 78%), you should still supply your pup with fresh, potable water at each meal.

Things to remember….

  • Puppy food needs aren’t the same as for adult dogs: A puppy’s nutritional needs differ considerably from those of adult dogs. And this could not be more obvious than with German Shepherd puppies.
  • Let the pup nurse from its mother: Allow your pup to nurse from its mother for the first month of life. You can begin to wean GSD puppies from weeks 3 and 4. The complete transition from mother’s milk to solid foods can take up to three weeks.
  • When to introduce adult diets: Within 12 months, German Shepherd puppies will have grown out and put on quite a significant amount of weight. You can now begin to introduce them to adult food while gradually reducing the amount of food they eat per day.

German Shepherd Feeding Chart

German Shepherd puppies grow quite quickly in the first 12 months of their lives. As the pup progresses from puppyhood into adulthood, its meal requirements will change. Here is a handy guide to help you figure things out.

  • 6 Week Old German Shepherd Puppy  – GSD puppy should be nursing from its mother.
  • 10 Week Old German Shepherd Puppy  – Around week 8, gradually introduce wet food to your puppy in a watered-down version. Ensure that this food meets the nutritional requirements of the puppy. Use this GSD calorie calculator to find out just how much your puppy should be eating at this age.
  • 12 Week Old German Shepherd Puppy  – Around week 12, you can start introducing dry food. Transition slowly to prevent vomiting and diarrhea. Each meal should be 90% wet food and 10% dry food at this stage.
  • 3 Month Old German Shepherd Puppy  – Your pup should be happy with a kibble diet at this age. Stay clear of dog foods labeled “all growth stages” or “for all ages” as these do not meet the dietary requirements of large breed GSD puppies.
  • 5 Month Old German Shepherd Puppy – It’s time to start cutting back on the number of cups you give your puppy at each meal to three at best.
  • 1 Year Old German Shepherd – At 12 months, your GSD puppy has reached 80-90% of its adult weight. Reduce meals per day to two. Because of a slowed-down metabolism, the dog will eat less anyway.
    We’ve taken the hassles out of finding a suitable puppy food for your GSD. Here are our top recommendations.

Overall Best German Shepherd Puppy Food

Taste Wild High Prairie Puppy Formula

Key Features

  • High in much-needed proteins for growth and development
  • Natural grain-free feed with antioxidants, vitamins, fatty acids and other nutrients needed for growing pups
  • Ideal for puppies with sensitive stomachs as food is easy-to-digest

Best Overall – This Taste The Wild High Prairie Puppy Formula does not disappoint. It’s made with real buffalo as the foremost ingredient and features other meat such as beef, roasted venison, and bison. Additional nutrients are derived from wholesome vegetables such as peas and sweet potatoes.

Boost puppy immune system thanks to the prebiotic support that’s found in the meal such as K9 strain probiotic. Ingredients are sourced from trusted and sustainable sources. Feed your pup real food made by local manufacturers.

Pros:

  • Formula specifically designed with large breed puppies in mind
  • This kibble is nutrient-rich featuring immune-system boosting probiotics
  • Made locally in the USA with real products from sustainable sources

Cons:

  • Only available in selected stores nationwide

American Journey Lamb Sweet Potato

Key Features

  • Grain-free puppy food that contains no corn, soy, or wheat products, and no fillers making it perfect for pups with food allergies
  • Features real food: deboned lamb, veggies such as carrots, dried kelp, and blueberries
  • Fats needed to promote healthy skin and coat are derived from good sources like salmon oil and flaxseed

Most Inexpensive (Cheap) – If you’re looking for a kibble meal to introduce your pup to try the American Journey Lamb & Sweet Potato Dry Dog food. This nutrient-rich meal is made from real, deboned lamb which means chances of your pup choking are significantly reduced. It is filled with the nutrients required for growth and development. Fruits and vegetables that feature in this meal include blueberries, dried kelp, and carrots.

Brain and eye development are promoted thanks to the omega fatty acids provided by sources like salmon oil and flaxseed. This recipe is an all-around winner, and thanks to its grain-free nature, even pups prone to allergies can enjoy a wholesome meal.

Pros:

  • Dry food that’s designed for young pups and features fiber rick chickpeas to aid in digestion
  • Well-loved sweet potatoes included to give growing pups the energy they need to get through the day

Cons:

  • Contains lamb as the leading protein source, inclusion of other meat would have been preferable.

Tylee’s Human-Grade Beef Recipe Frozen Dog Food

Key Features

  • Real meat, real ingredients, nothing but good old fashioned food for your GSD puppy
  • Well-balanced diets that provide energy, aid in digestion, promote good gut health, healthy skin, and coat
  • This feed formula contains no fillers, corn, and wheat or soy products

Best Human Grade GSD Puppy Food – Tylee’s Beef Recipe Human-Grade Dog Food boasts all of life’s good things – high-quality beef, sweet potatoes, broccoli, spinach, mango, zucchini, chia seeds, and sunflower oil. This tasty meal combo does not contain any fillers, soy, by-products, wheat or artificial flavorings making it a great frozen food option for your growing GSD pup.

The food is simple to prepare as it’s already cooked so all you need to do is defrost it and place it in a bowl for the puppy to enjoy. Additionally, this meal can be used as a topper to give variety to your pup’s meals.

Pros:

  • Easy-to-serve meals that simply require a defrost and serve approach
  • Nutrient-rich meal that promotes healthy puppy growth and development.
  • Made locally in the USA with quality ingredients
  • Grain-free product that’s great for pups with sensitive stomachs

Cons:

  • Human-grade meals have been known to upset the stomachs of certain pups.

Blue Buffalo Homestyle Recipe Puppy Food

Key Features

  • Made of real food – chicken and whole grains such as barley and brown rice
  • Contains no artificial preservatives, flavors, and fillers
  • Wet food with an easy-to-digest pate texture

Best Canned Puppy Food for German Shepherds – Homestyle puppy meals don’t get any better than the BLUE Homestyle Recipe Puppy canned dog food. Boasting a pate texture that’s easy for young pups to digest, this is the meal to help them when weaning them off mother’s milk.

This wet food is made using only the finest natural ingredients rich in nutrients to boost muscle growth and encourage cognitive development. Additionally, this product is corn, wheat, and soy-free. The protein source is deboned real chicken with furnishes the puppy with vital proteins.

Pros:

  • Specially formulated for large dog breeds, therefore, contains all the needed nutrients that growing puppies need
  • Formula made using real food not by-product meals
  • Tasty formula that is guaranteed to be a winner

Cons:

  • Not all puppies enjoy the pate texture. Try it out as a topper first and if the puppy doesn’t seem to enjoy it, you can stop it.

Natural Balance L.I.D. Limited Puppy Formula

Key Features

  • Grain-free recipe that’s ideal for sensitive digestion and stomachs
  • Contains no corn, wheat, or soy products
  • Kibble size is small making it easier for puppies to eat

Best Limited Ingredient Foods for German Shepherd Puppies – Nature Balance Limited Ingredient Diet Puppy Formula is the feed to buy if you’re worried about your puppy’s health. If the pup has developed food allergies or has become obese, this lean formula low in carbs will help you keep the pup within its ideal weight range while still providing all the other nutrients.

The dry food is also easy-on-the-jaws because of its miniature nature. The single protein source means that your puppy will get all the protein needed while reducing the chances of developing a food allergy. To add on, this formula has no corn, wheat, or soy products in it.

Pros:

  • Limited formula with lower carbs reduces the chances of your pup becoming obese
  • Contains duck protein which minimizes chances of your puppy developing an allergy
  • Wholesome food containing carbs, proteins, fats, and vitamins required for growth and development.

Cons:

  • Not available in wet (canned) format

4 More Top Rated Puppy Foods for German Shepherds

You can never have enough of a good thing! Here are additional puppy food options to consider.

Purina Pro Plan Focus Puppy Large

This Purina Pro Plan Focus Puppy Food contains lean chicken, fish oil and complex carbs that are all in demand for a growing puppy. The protein aids in muscle development, the oil in neuro-development and the carbs give energy. This is a dry food that’s easily digestible and rich in prebiotic fibers that encourage good gut health.

Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula

Real meat, real fruits, and veggies, LifeSource Bits and probiotics anyone? This Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula complete with vitamins, antioxidants, and chelated minerals has one goal in mind – the holistic development and growth of your large breed GSD puppy. Boasting a great taste, no corn, wheat, or soy product, this meal is set to be a favorite with your puppy.

Wellness Complete Health Puppy

If you’re looking for dry food that your puppy can enjoy in his first year of life, then look no further than this Wellness Complete Health Puppy Recipe Dry Dog Food. This kibble has deboned chicken, salmon, and oatmeal that promote development, the formation of strong bones and muscles. Vitamins such as taurine boost heart health and Yucca Schidigera extract helps mask stool odor. To top it all off, the kibble is petite making it suitable for young jaws.

Merrick Grain Free Puppy Real Chicken

For hearty dog meals, the Merrick Grain-Free Puppy Meals made from real, deboned chicken mixed with sweet potatoes and peas is a favorable option. Taking nutritious to a whole new level, this formula proudly manufactured in Texas from locally-sourced ingredients will encourage and support brain development, good skin and coat, eye and heart development. The grain-free nature of the formula means there are fewer chances of your GSD puppy developing allergies.

Our 2019 German Shepherd Puppy Feeding Guide

German Shepherd puppies should eat at least four small meals at the onset. This is the recommended frequency. The number of meals will decrease as the puppy grows and their metabolism slows down.

Mealtimes should be 10 to 15 minutes long. If the puppy doesn’t finish the set meal, it might be because the puppy is fully. If the pup shows signs of hunger after the meal, you might want to discuss with your vet about increasing the portion servings.

This guideline can be tailored based on certain criteria and with the help of your vet. For example, if your pup is underweight and needs to put on more weight, an additional meal a day might be recommended. The same holds true if the pup is injured or sick and needs a custom diet. Your vet will be the best person to advise on feeding needs.

Serving Suggestions for a German Shepherd Puppy

AGE

(Months)

FOOD

(Cups)

MEALS PER DAY
1½ – 14
2½ – 13
3-81 – 1 ¾3
9-122 – 2 ½2
12+2 ½ – 3 ½2

 

To see if your puppy is on track with growth, here are the ideal weight ranges for male and female German Shepherd puppies.

Ideal Weight for a German Shepherd Puppy

AGE (Months)Male Puppy Weight (lbs.)Female Puppy Weight (lbs.)
325.1 – 31.519 – 26.3*
646.8 – 58.935.2 – 49.1
1263.9 – 83.247 – 67.9

*German Shepherd Puppy Growth Chart

FAQ

  • How much food should I feed a German Shepherd puppy? 3 to 4 cups of food every day are recommended for German Shepherd puppies right until they turn 6 months. Keep the meals small and even to train the pup to eat regular meals. You also want to make sure that you’re not overfeeding the puppy as this is detrimental to their health. After 6 months, reduce the number of meals to two per day. Serving sizes and portion allocations can be found on the packaging.
  • What is the best type of food for a German Shepherd puppy? Dog food comes in a variety of forms with the two most common being dry food (kibble) and wet food (canned). Both foods are beneficial for GSD pups. Our only caution would be that you introduce your pup to wet food first as it is easier to digest. Remember that for the first four weeks of your pup’s life, the only food that the puppy will have is milk. So, you’ll want to gently introduce solid foods to avoid shocking the system and development of potential allergies. Once the puppy is 12 weeks old, you can start incorporating kibble into the diet. As you do this, reduce the wet food portions.
  • When should I stop feeding my German Shepherd puppy food? German Shepherd puppies will reach 80 to 90% of their estimated adult weight within the first 8 to 9 months of life. At this age, German Shepherd puppies no longer require four square meals a day. The meals can be reduced as the pup transitions from puppy food to an adult diet. Transition from puppy food to adult food can take two to three weeks and can be done from the 8th month going forward.
  • How many times a day should I feed my German Shepherd puppy? German Shepherd puppies are voracious eaters. The feeding schedule of a GSD pup is typically four small meals a day. The meals should be split up into four parts to prevent overeating and bloat. Unlike other dog breeds that can have large meals at once, GSD puppy meals should not be large to avoid the dog getting bloated.
  • How can I fatten up my German Shepherd puppy? Unless the German Shepherd puppy is underweight (check these charts to see if your GSD puppy is underweight), you should never look to fatten a GSD puppy for health reasons. These dogs by nature are already at risk of developing heart disease, diabetes, and hip dysplasia. An increase in weight can significantly aggravate and promote the onset of these illnesses. Use this GSD calorie calculate to determine how many calories your own pup should be eating per day. If your pup is underweight, you can fatten them up by adding an extra meal each day until they reach the standard weight for their age, then eliminate the extra daily meal.
  • At what age can I wean my GSD puppy? German Shepherd puppies should be nursed by their mothers for the first 3 to 4 weeks of life. Mother’s milk is ideal for their sensitive stomachs. Do not attempt to introduce solid food too soon as this may result in the pup developing allergies. Around the third week, you can begin to introduce puppy diets that are watered down to get the pup used to eating something other than milk. During this transitioning stage, your pup may need lots of encouragement to eat. Watch him and help him eat if need be.
  • How do I know a certain ‘puppy formula’ is good for my GSD puppy? Finding the right puppy food for your German Shepherd pup doesn’t need to be a nightmare. Words to look out for when selecting foods include “complete and balanced nutrition”, “meets the nutritional requirements of puppies as established by the AAFCO – the Association of American Feed Control Officials”, and “complete and balanced nutrition for puppies based on AAFCO feeding trials.”
  • Is it okay to feed my GSD puppy table scraps? The occasional treat is fine. Feeding table scraps and treats only becomes a problem if these scraps are now at least 10% of your GSD pup’s daily calorie intake. As mentioned already, GSD pups are large breed dogs that grow extremely quickly and should not be overfed as this will lead to health problems.
  • What foods are dangerous for my German Shepherd puppy? A lot of food we deem normal for human beings can be quite toxic and even fatal for young puppies. Avoid feeding your puppy food laden with alcohol (Christmas cakes, puddings, etc.), bread, chocolate, avocados, caffeinated drinks, garlic and onions, xylitol, grapes, and raisins.

Conclusion

The role of a well-balanced diet can never be underestimated for German Shepherd puppies. Such a diet encourages healthy growth, provides energy, and keeps the puppy in tip-top shape. So which are the best foods for GSD puppies? It’s worth trying out a couple of the options on this list to see which ones your pup likes best because no two puppies are the same. Just keep in mind that you should introduce the new food gradually so your pup’s digestive system has enough time to adjust to the new diet. This will also help to fight off bloat. If your puppy is sick or injured, they may require a specialized diet. Don’t hesitate to seek the advice of your local veterinarian on how to best feed such a vulnerable puppy.

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