Best Dog Food for German Shepherds: GSDs with Skin Allergies and Sensitive Stomachs take Solace!

best dog food for german shepherds with sensitive stomachsAlthough the best dog food for German Shepherds may be a biologically appropriate raw food diet, I have tried different dry kibble for my picky eater.

Find the best food for German Shepherds on Amazon or read my reviews.

My pooch sampled Blue Buffalo, Castor & Pollux, Fromm, Acana, Taste of the Wild, and Victor dog food.

He did well on all of them (despite a sensitive stomach), but I found a few brands cost prohibitive and a few lacking quality. My (and his) favorite now is Victor dog food.

Victor dog food reviews

Victor is a high quality, reasonably priced dry kibble made in Texas. They offers a purpose line of dry kibble. There are three versions I like:

Victor Grain Free Active Dog & Puppy has 33 percent protein and is what I feed my dog daily. The price-point is good, and the kibble quality is just as good as more expensive dog food. This is an All Life Stages food OK for large breed dogs.

VICTOR Dog Food Purpose - Grain Free Active Dog & Puppy, Dry Dog Food (2473)
  • Usa sourced Beef meal, chicken meal, pork meal
  • Guaranteed levels of omega 3 & 6, vitamin E
  • Made in the USA

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Victor Grain Free Ultra Pro, which has 42 percent protein, and is perfect for adult working line German Shepherds and Belgian Malinois with lots of energy and drive. Think K9.

Because the Ultra Pro is a high protein dog food with a lot of calories, your dog may get fat if he/she is extremely active. Also, Ultra Pro is an All Life Stages food, but is not for growing large breed puppies.

I mix the Ultra Pro and the Active Dog & Puppy to give my German Shepherd a little variety. Ninety percent of his food is the Active Dog & Puppy, though. The other 10 percent is the Ultra Pro and Hero Canine.

VICTOR Purpose - Grain Free Ultra Pro, Dry Dog Food, 30-Lb Bag
  • Grain Free for dogs with allergies or sensitivity to grain
  • Nutrient-dense recipe made with premium-quality beef, chicken, pork and fish meals
  • Our highest-protein, lowest carb grain free formula
  • Fortified with vitamins, minerals, essential fatty acids, protein and amino acids
  • Formulated with our scientifically advanced, proven VICTOR Core ingredients

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Victor Hero Canine, which is 33 percent protein and has glucosamine and chondroitin for joint health — an important addition for any adult German Shepherd who may be prone to hip or elbow dysplasia.

VICTOR Purpose - Grain Free Hero Canine, Dry Dog Food 30 lbs
  • One 30-pound bag of VICTOR Hero Canine Grain Free formula for Dogs.
  • COMPLETE AND BALANCED: VICTOR Grain Free Hero Canine for Dogs is formulated to meet the nutritional levels established by AAFCO Dog Food Nutrient Profiles for Adult Maintenance
  • HIGH MEAT INCLUSSION: With 33% Total Protein, 75% comes from a combination of USA sourced Beef, Chicken, Pork and Fish
  • HIGH QUALITY INGREDIENTS: Our Proven VICTOR Core Ingredients is a unique base of four essential ingredients that work together to provide superior nutrition for your pets. This strong foundation truly makes the difference.
  • NUTRITION IS OUR PASSION: VICTOR Super Premium Pet Food is made in our own Texas-based manufacturing facility with the highest standards. We understand every pet is built from the inside-out and we strive to help every pet reach their best potential. Call 1-888-428-7544 for product and feeding recommendations.

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A lot of folks like the Hero Canine. Hero Canine is an adult maintenance formula, not an All Life Stages, and is not for puppies.

Below is a German Shepherd dog food recommendation by German Shepherd Man.

Best large breed dog food considerations

All large breed dogs need to grow slowly when they are puppies. If they grow too quickly, they can have developmental orthopedic disease. Examples include hip and elbow dysplasia.

A dog food for large breed puppies is different than a regular puppy. It requires a different ratio for calcium, phosphorus, proteins, and fats.

According to Innovative Veterinary Care Journal, “dry matter content of about 30% protein, 9% fat, 1.5% calcium and 0.8% to 1% phosphorus. The calcium:phosphorus ratio should be between 1:1 to 1.3:1.”

A good German Shepherd dog food should have the right ratios and percentages. It does not hurt to check. I did.

What do I feed a German Shepherd puppy?

While my German Shepherd puppy grew, I fed him Blue Buffalo Freedom.

Was it the best dog food for a German Shepherd puppy? I am not sure. I know this:

The Large Breed Puppy formula has a calcium ratio of 1.2% and a phosphorus ratio of 0.95%. He ate this formula for about 3 months or so. This is what the breeder was feeding him, so I did the same for awhile during his growing phase. He grew like a weed during that time.

Blue Buffalo Large Breed Freedom Grain Free Chicken Recipe Dry Dog Food, 24-Pound
  • STARTS WITH REAL CHICKEN: A recipe that starts with real chicken as the first ingredient, this dry dog food features the high quality ingredients you’ll feel good about feeding your best friend without the grains that contain gluten
  • GRAIN FREE LARGE BREED DOG FOOD: BLUE Freedom grain free dog food for large breed dogs contains glucosamine and chondroitin to support healthy joint function and mobility
  • ANTIOXIDANT-RICH LIFESOURCE BITS: A precise blend of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals carefully selected by holistic veterinarians and animal nutritionists to support immune system health, life stage needs and a healthy oxidative balance
  • A NATURAL DOG FOOD: BLUE dry dog food is made with the finest natural ingredients enhanced with vitamins and minerals; BLUE contains NO chicken (or poultry) by-product meals, corn, wheat, soy, artificial flavors or preservatives
  • Contains one (1) 24lb bag of BLUE Freedom Grain Free Natural Adult Large Breed Dry Dog Food, Chicken

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Although the ratios were right, I was not impressed with the stools or the recall history for the company.

I went searching for dog food at boutique pet shops rather than box stores. I found Fromm.


My dog ate Fromm food for a year. He grew to about 75 lbs by 9 months and has been hovering around 79-80 lbs for the 7 months. (He is 16 months old now.)

Most of the 4 Star variety foods are All Life Stages and appropriate for large breed dogs and have the right calcium to phosphorus levels.

Fromm makes great dog food. It is a bit pricey for my tastes, though. Also, my GSD had dry, itchy skin when eating Fromm. I think he may have been allergic to one of the ingredients.

Fromm FourStar Dog Food Beef Frittata Veg (4 lb)
  • Beef Frittata Veg, dog food, dry dog food, four star, from, grain free

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Guide To buying dry dog food for GSDs

Read the ingredient list

When it comes to the list of ingredients in your dog’s food, the list in order of how much of each ingredient comprises the food as a whole. For example, great dog food will have meat or protein listed as the first and possibly second ingredient.

When you buy dog food that is chicken flavored, expect to read chicken as the first ingredient.

Avoid wheat-based dog food

Dogs are the most wheat and gluten-sensitive pets you can own. Most dogs aren’t able to fully digest wheat and dog food with wheat as the main ingredient can lead to malabsorption of food in your pup.

Wheat also has been known to lead to recurring conditions with your dog’s stomach and overall digestion process. It also contributes to skin conditions such as dryness and itching.

A grain-free and wheat-free dog food is the ideal choice if you want to make sure your food is getting the protein and quality ingredients it needs. If you end up purchasing a dog food with grains, rice and/or barley meal are better for your dog’s health and digestion than corn or wheat grain.

Analyze the protein content

Most dog foods also have a crude protein analysis on the label. A growing puppy should be eating dry dog food that contains at least 29% crude protein content. This level of crude protein will give them about 20-25% off their daily caloric intake from protein alone.

Whole meat should be one of the first two ingredients listed on the dog food’s ingredient list. Meat is the most natural and beneficial source of protein for your pooch. The protein in real meat will contribute to a well-rounded amino acid profile. If possible, purchase dog food that has two separate sources of meat listed in the first three ingredients on the label.

Be wary of “meat meal”

Remember, “meat meal” isn’t meat. You don’t know what kind of “meat” it is.

When dog food bags list meat meal as an ingredient, there is literally no way to determine what exactly the meat is.

Meat meal is formed in a rendering plant and consists of parts of the animal that isn’t up to snuff to be considered meat or animal by-products.

Meat meal is made by boiling these by-products up until the fat and any protein scraps sink to the bottom. It is then scraped up, used in the dog food mix and labeled as “meat meal.”

That said, meal with a protein type in front of it can be an dense source of protein and is not bad. Chicken meal is a great example. It is protein rich and tells you the type of “meat” — not just “meat meal.”

Look for veggies

While your dog may beg you for treats most consistently, vegetables are actually a great source of nutrition for your pup. Vegetables in dry dog food provide dogs with healthy vitamins and antioxidants.

Additionally, vegetables like pumpkin, carrots and apples help your dog to have a healthy gut and a great digestion process.

Dry kibble color

Many people are attracted to certain types of dog food because of the fun colors or shape of the kibble.

Remember, your dog doesn’t care about the color, only you do.

Colors mean that dry dog food contains unnecessary chemicals that have been added to make the “fun” colors. Most colored foods also contain additives of sweeteners like sucrose or corn syrup to entice dogs with a sweeter taste. This is common only in lower-quality dry dog food and used with the goal of making them more appealing.

Why is AAFCO important?

The Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) sets standards for pet and animal foods in the states. They have guidelines for nutrient profiles. These profiles correspond to a dog’s life stage.

AAFCO profiles include All Life Stages, Adult Maintenance, Growth and Reproduction, and a few more.

All Life Stages food has one of two statements on the package:

[This dog food brand] is formulated to meet the nutritional levels established by the AAFCO Dog Food Nutrient Profiles for growth/all life stages including growth of large-size dogs (70 lbs or more as an adult).

[This dog food brand] is formulated to meet the nutritional levels established by the AAFCO Dog Food Nutrient Profiles for growth/all life stages except for growth of large-size dogs (70 lbs or more as an adult).

An All Life Stages German Shepherd puppy food needs the first AAFCO statement printed on the bag.

Find the best dog food for German Shepherds with skin allergies and sensitive stomachs on Amazon.

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