German shepherd dogs, or GSDs as they’re often called, are some of the most popular and beloved dogs in the world, and it is easy to see why: They are incredibly intelligent, loyal, loving and beautiful, and many consider them to be among the most desirable of all breeds.

But to ensure your GSD lives a long, healthy life and lives up to his considerable potential, you must be sure to provide him with the best German shepherd diet possible. Fortunately, this isn’t hard to accomplish if you embrace the following recommendations.

1. Joint Supporting Supplements

Like many other large breeds, GSDs are susceptible to hip and elbow dysplasia, as well as osteoarthritis. Getting your dog enough low-impact exercise and keeping him at a healthy body weight will help avoid these problems, but you can also reduce the chances he’ll develop joint problems by selecting foods fortified with chondroitin and glucosamine. These naturally occurring compounds help to reduce the rate at which your dog loses cartilage, and they may even help him produce new cartilage to keep his joints cushioned.   

Omega-3 fatty acids are also important components of any good German shepherd food, as they help to reduce joint inflammation and improve mobility. Omega-3 fatty acids are often provided in the form of salmon, various fish oils or flaxseed, and they also provide a wealth of health benefits for your dog’s skin, coat, heart, and brain.

2. Probiotic Supplements

German shepherd dogs are sometimes plagued by a few different digestive problems, and they have a shorter colon than most other dogs of similar size. While different medical conditions require different treatment strategies, almost every dog will benefit from food that contains probiotic supplements. Probiotics are beneficial bacteria, which help your dog digest his food more efficiently and they help to keep problematic bacterial populations in check. Most of the best dog foods are fortified with many probiotic strains, but you can also purchase stand-alone supplements if your preferred food lacks them.

It is also important to nourish these beneficial bacteria once ingested by your dog so that they can adequately colonize his colon. One of the best ways to do this is by providing food that contains both probiotics (the bacteria themselves), as well as prebiotics — fiber-rich substances that serve as food for the bacteria — too. These fiber-rich ingredients will not only help promote healthy gut flora, but they’ll also help slow the passage of food through your dog’s digestive tract, which is especially important for GSDs, thanks to their truncated digestive systems.

3. Balanced Food

German shepherds are fairly high-energy dogs, who require a lot of nutritious, well-balanced food to feel their best. However, they can become overweight if fed too much food or provided with food that contains too much fat, so you’ll want to pay special attention to the nutritional information on the bag.

Typically, you’ll want to look for food that is roughly 18 to 20 percent protein and 12 to 18 percent fat (GSD puppies require more protein than this – feed your pup food with 25 to 30 percent protein content for the first six to twelve months of his life).

The rest of the calories should come from healthy carbohydrates, such as brown rice, sweet potatoes or whole grains. However, working and very active GSDs often require even more protein; such dogs may require protein levels as high as 40 percent. Consult with your vet if you aren’t sure whether your GSD qualifies as a “very active” dog.   


You’ve probably gone to quite a bit of trouble to welcome a new GSD to your home, and you are probably already deep into the bonding process, so you’ll certainly want to do everything you can to ensure your pooch enjoys the highest quality of life possible. While you’ll need to do a variety of things to ensure your dog stays healthy, the single most important aspect of day-to-day maintenance is undoubtedly providing a nutritious diet.

There are some different foods on the market that are well suited for GSDs, so this isn’t difficult to do – just be sure that any food you select helps you employ the tips detailed above.

For more information about German Shepherds or if you’re looking into a German Shepherd puppy, please contact us here. In addition, Misty Ridge boards all dogs & cats at their animal resort in Maryland.