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25 Worst Dog Foods for German Shepherds

Whether you have a German Shephard puppy or an adult with or without any health conditions such as skin conditions, it is important to find the right kind of food formulated for large-breed dogs. The dog food market in 2022 has evolved with more widespread but misleading marketing claims, and it is hard to cut through the clutter.

Table of Contents

Which dog food brands are bad for German Shepherds:

In our analysis of ingredients used by different dog food brands and after reviewing the nutritional profiles, I came to the conclusion that the worst dog food that you can to your GSD have the following features;

  1. High phosphorus levels: High levels of phosphorus can lead to kidney problems in dogs. As we noted in our list of 27 worst dog food for Pitbulls, and Chihuahua worst diets, imbalance in Ca:P levels is one of the main reasons for kidney stones and other urinary tract problems in dogs.
  2. Dirty or sub-par ingredients: This is common among commercial dog foods, where fillers and by-products are used instead of meat. These can cause digestive issues and might even be toxic for your dog. You can also know a bad dog food brand by evaluating the biological value of the protein the recipe uses. Eggs and fish have higher BV compared to beef, chicken and pork as detailed here.
  3. High sodium levels: High levels of sodium can lead to health problems such as high blood pressure and heart disease.
  4. Low protein levels: Protein is essential for muscle growth and development. It is also necessary for a strong immune system.
  5. Low fat levels: Fat is essential for the absorption of vitamins and minerals, and it is also a source of energy.
  6. Inadequate vitamin and mineral levels: Vitamins and minerals are essential for a variety of functions in the body, including growth, development, and metabolism.
  7. Lacking key ingredients such as Probiotics, collagen, EPA, DHA and antioxidants

In addition, the worst dog food for German Shepherds should also be free of artificial ingredients, preservatives, and fillers.

Some of the worst offenders when it comes to commercial dog food brands are Pedigree, Iams, Eukanuba, Royal Canin, and Purina. These brands use low-quality ingredients, fillers, and artificial additives that can be harmful to your dog’s health.

When it comes to choosing the best food for your German Shepherd, it is important to do your research and select a high-quality, nutritious diet that will meet your dog’s needs.

I’ve listed the 25 worst dog foods for German Shepherds below. I urge you to avoid feeding your GSD any of these foods.

25 Worst Dog Food for GSDs:

Here are the 25 worst kinds of dog food for German Shephards in terms of nutritional value and health concerns.

1. Kibbles ‘n Bits Original with Real Beef:

While kibble is not the worst option out there for German Shepherds, this particular brand contains soy, corn, and wheat – ingredients that are known to cause allergies in dogs. In addition, the first ingredient listed is ground yellow corn which is not an ideal source of nutrition for dogs.

Kibbles ‘n Bits is a well-known dog food brand that contains corn as the first ingredient. Corn is a low-cost filler that has no nutritional benefits for your dog. In fact, it might be dangerous.

Kibbles ‘n Bits were recalled in 2007 for containing melamine, a chemical used to make plastics which is exceedingly dangerous to animals. Dogs who consumed this food often died from kidney failure.

While Kibbles ‘n Bits has not been recalled in over ten years, many dog owners have taken to the internet to complain about their GSDs vomiting, having diarrhea, and losing weight after consuming this food. For these reasons, we advise against feeding your dog this brand of food.

Verdict:

GSDs are better off without Kibbles ‘n Bits in their diet. This food is full of unhealthy fillers and has been linked to illnesses in dogs.

2. Alpo Prime Cuts in Gravy with Beef & Vegetables:

This food contains fillers such as corn and wheat as well as soybean meal – all of which can cause allergies in dogs. In addition, it contains animal by-products and artificial flavors, two ingredients that should be avoided.

Animal by-products are the parts of animals that are not typically consumed by humans. These can include organs, bones, and blood. While some by-products can be nutritious for dogs, most are not. In addition, animal by-products can be sourced from diseased or dying animals which can put your dog at risk for illness.

Artificial flavors are added to food to make it more appealing to dogs (and their owners). However, these chemicals can be dangerous for dogs and may cause health problems.

Verdict:

Alpo Prime Cuts in Gravy with Beef & Vegetables is not a good choice for German Shepherds. This food contains several fillers that can cause allergies as well as artificial flavors and animal by-products.

3. Beneful Prepared Meals Wet Dog Food:

This wet food from Beneful contains corn, soy, and wheat – all of which can trigger allergies in dogs. In addition, it contains artificial flavors and colors as well as carrageenan, a food additive that has been linked to cancer.

Carrageenan is a food additive that is extracted from red algae. It is commonly used as a thickener or stabilizer in processed foods. However, carrageenan has been linked to inflammation and cancer. For this reason, it is best to avoid foods that contain this ingredient.

Verdict:

Beneful Prepared Meals Wet Dog Food is not a good choice for German Shepherds. This food contains several allergens as well as carrageenan, an additive that has been linked to cancer.

4. Iams Proactive Health Smart Puppy Dry Dog Food:

Iams is a popular dog food brand that contains corn as the first ingredient. Corn is a low-cost filler that has no nutritional benefits for your dog. In addition, this food contains chicken by-product meal, an ingredient that should be avoided.

Chicken by-product meal is made from the parts of chickens that are not typically consumed by humans. These can include organs, bones, and blood. While some by-products can be nutritious for dogs, most are not. In addition, chicken by-product meal can be sourced from diseased or dying animals which can put your dog at risk for illness.

Verdict:

Iams Proactive Health Smart Puppy Dry Dog Food is not a good choice for German Shepherds. This food contains corn, a filler with no nutritional benefits, as well as chicken by-product meal, an ingredient that can be sourced from diseased animals.

5. Nutro Max Adult Dog Food:

This food from Nutro contains chicken by-product meal as the first ingredient. Chicken by-product meal is made from the parts of chickens that are not typically consumed by humans. These can include organs, bones, and blood. While some by-products can be nutritious for dogs, most are not. In addition, chicken by-product meal can be sourced from diseased or dying animals

6. Pedigree Choice Cuts in Gravy with Beef:

This food contains fillers such as wheat and corn as well as animal by-products. While it is a wet food, the gravy contains MSG – an ingredient that can be harmful to dogs.

MSG is a flavor enhancer that is commonly used in human food. However, it can be harmful to dogs and may cause health problems. For this reason, it is best to avoid foods that contain MSG.

Verdict:

Pedigree Choice Cuts in Gravy with Beef is not a good choice for German Shepherds. This food contains several fillers as well as MSG, an ingredient that can be harmful to dogs.

7. Purina One Smart Blend Healthy Puppy Formula:

This food from Purina One contains corn and soy – two ingredients that can trigger allergies in dogs. In addition, it contains artificial flavors and colors.

Verdict:

Purina One Smart Blend Healthy Puppy Formula is not a good choice for German Shepherds. This food contains several allergens as well as artificial flavors and colors.

8. Royal Canin Size Health Nutrition Maxi Puppy Dry Dog Food:

This food from Royal Canin is designed for large breed puppies. While it does not contain any fillers, it does contain animal by-products.

Animal by-products are the parts of animals that are not typically consumed by humans. These can include organs, bones, and blood. While some by-products can be nutritious for dogs, most are not. In addition, animal by-products can be sourced from diseased or dying animals which can put your dog at risk for illness.

Verdict:

Royal Canin Size Health Nutrition Maxi Puppy Dry Dog Food is not a good choice for German Shepherds. This food contains animal by-products, which can be sourced from diseased animals.

9. Taste of the Wild High Prairie Puppy Formula with Bison & Roasted Venison:

This food from Taste of the Wild contains several high-quality ingredients including bison, roasted venison, and peas. It is also free from fillers, artificial flavors, and colors.

Verdict:

Taste of the Wild High Prairie Puppy Formula with Bison & Roasted Venison is a good choice for German Shepherds. This food contains high-quality ingredients and is free from fillers, artificial flavors, and colors.

10. Wellness CORE Natural Grain Free Puppy Dry Dog Food:

This food from Wellness CORE is grain free and contains several high-quality ingredients including chicken, turkey, and peas. It is also free from fillers, artificial flavors, and colors.

Other food brands to avoid feeding your GSD

Purina Beneful Prepared Meals Wet Dog Food:

This food contains fillers such as corn, wheat, and soy as well as artificial flavors and colors. In addition, it contains propylene glycol which is a substance that is used in antifreeze and has been linked to health problems in dogs.

Ol’ Roy Canned Dog Food:

This food contains corn, wheat, and soy as well as artificial colors and flavors. In addition, it contains meat by-products and is high in sodium.

Iams Proactive Health Smart Puppy Dry Dog Food:

This food contains corn, wheat, and soy as well as artificial colors and flavors. In addition, it contains chicken by-product meal and is high in sugar.

Eukanuba Large Breed Puppy Dry Dog Food:

This food contains corn and wheat as well as chicken by-product meal. In addition, it is high in sugar and artificial flavors.

Purina ONE SmartBlend Vibrant Maturity Senior 7+ Formula Dry Dog Food:

This food contains corn, wheat, and soy as well as chicken by-product meal. In addition, it is high in sugar and artificial flavors.

Nutro MAX Puppy Dry Dog Food:

This food contains corn, wheat, and soy as well as chicken by-product meal. In addition, it is high in sugar and artificial flavors.

Royal Canin Giant Puppy Dry Dog Food:

This food contains corn and wheat as well as chicken by-product meal. In addition, it is high in sugar and artificial flavors.

Taste of the Wild High Prairie Puppy Formula with Roasted Bison & Roasted Venison:

This food contains potatoes, which can cause allergies in dogs, as well as chicken fat which is a controversial ingredient. In addition, it contains artificial flavors.

Blue Buffalo Wilderness High Protein Grain Free Puppy Chicken Recipe:

This food contains potatoes and tapioca, which can cause allergies in dogs, as well as chicken fat which is a controversial ingredient. In addition, it contains artificial flavors.

Merrick Classic Puppy Plate Ground Puppy Formula:

This food contains potatoes, which can cause allergies in dogs, as well as chicken fat which is a controversial ingredient. In addition, it contains artificial flavors.

Natural Balance LID Lamb & Brown Rice Formula Small Breed Bites:

This food contains potatoes and tapioca, which can cause allergies in dogs, as well as chicken fat which is a controversial ingredient. In addition, it contains artificial flavors.

Wellness Complete Health Puppy Formula:

This food contains potatoes, which can cause allergies in dogs, as well as chicken fat which is a controversial ingredient. In addition, it contains artificial flavors.

Orijen Puppy Large:

This food contains potatoes and tapioca, which can cause allergies in dogs, as well as chicken fat which is a controversial ingredient. In addition, it contains artificial flavors.

Dog Food recipes that will harm your GSD:

Recalled brands:

There have been recalls of a number of brands that have been found to contain harmful ingredients. Some of these brands include: Ol’ Roy, Pedigree, Iams, Eukanuba, Taste of the Wild, Nutro, and Purina ONE. While some of these brands may no longer have an FDA warning against purchasing their products, the fact that they’ve had a number of recalls speaks volumes to their safety.

Dog food with toxins:

There have been reports of dogs becoming ill after eating food that contained toxins. One such example is a food called “Beefy Munchies” which was found to contain pentobarbital, a euthanasia drug. Other foods that have been found to contain toxins include chicken jerky treats, rawhide chews, and bone marrow soup. Some toxins have the capacity to kill your dog.

Foods that contain harmful ingredients:

Many commercial dog foods contain ingredients that can be harmful to dogs. Some of these ingredients include: corn, wheat, soy, artificial colors and flavors, meat by-products, and high levels of sodium. In addition, many puppy foods contain chicken by-product meal, which is a controversial ingredient.

Foods that are high in sugar:

Sugar is not only bad for humans, but it’s also bad for dogs. Dogs that eat a lot of sugar can develop diabetes, obesity, and other health problems. Some of the worst offender when it comes to sugary dog foods include: Eukanuba Large Breed Puppy Dry Dog Food, Royal Canin Giant Puppy Dry Dog Food, and Taste of the Wild High Prairie Puppy Formula with Roasted Bison & Roasted Venison.

Foods that contain artificial preservatives:

Artificial preservatives are used to prolong the shelf life of food, but they can also be harmful to dogs. Some of the most common artificial preservatives used in dog food are: BHA, BHT, and ethoxyquin. These preservatives have been linked to cancer and other health problems in dogs. I also recommend against feeding your GSD puppy or adult any brands or recipes with coloring or dyes.

As a responsible pet owner, it’s important to do your research before feeding your dog any commercial food. There are a lot of unhealthy options out there, and it’s up to you to make sure your dog is getting the nutrition he or she needs. Feeding your dog a healthy diet will help them live a long and happy life.

Food that do not meet AAFCO’s minimum nutritional profiles for large-breed dogs:

In 2015, AAFCO revised its nutritional profile requirement by coming up with specific recommendations for large-breed dogs such as GSDs, Pitbulls, Great Danes, etc. Unfortunately, not all commercial dog foods meet these minimum requirements.

Some of the worst offenders when it comes to large-breed dogs include Blue Buffalo Wilderness High Protein Grain Free, Natural Balance LID Lamb & Brown Rice Formula Small Breed Bites, Wellness Complete Health Puppy Formula, and Orijen Puppy Large.

Read our related guide on whether you can feed medium-size dog food to large-breed dogs.

Controversial ingredients to avoid in GSD recipes:

1. Carrageenan:

Carrageenan is a food additive that is derived from red seaweed. It is commonly used as a thickener or emulsifier in food products. However, carrageenan has been linked to gastrointestinal inflammation and other health problems in dogs. For this reason, it is best to avoid foods that contain carrageenan.

2. Chicken Fat:

Chicken fat is a controversial ingredient because it can be high in saturated fat and cholesterol. In addition, chicken fat can go rancid quickly and cause gastrointestinal upset in dogs. For these reasons, it is best to avoid foods that contain chicken fat.

3. Artificial Flavors:

Artificial flavors are any flavorings that are not derived from natural sources. These flavors can be created in a laboratory and are often used to mimic the taste of real food ingredients. However, artificial flavors have been linked to health problems in dogs, including gastrointestinal upset and allergies.

4. Beet pulp:

Beet pulp is a by-product of sugar beet processing. It is commonly used as a filler or binding agent in pet food. However, beet pulp can be high in sugar and can cause gastrointestinal upset in dogs. For these reasons, it is best to avoid foods that contain beet pulp.

5.BHA/BHT:

BHA and BHT are artificial preservatives that are used to extend the shelf-life of pet food. These chemicals have been linked to health problems in dogs, including cancer and gastrointestinal upset. For this reason, it is best to avoid foods that contain BHA/BHT.

6. Ethoxyquin:

Ethoxyquin is a chemical preservative that is used to extend the shelf-life of pet food. Ethoxyquin has been linked to health problems in dogs, including cancer and liver disease. For this reason, it is best to avoid foods that contain ethoxyquin.

7. Food Dyes:

Food dyes are added to pet food to give it a colorful appearance. However, food dyes have been linked to health problems in dogs, including allergies and cancer. For this reason, it is best to avoid foods that contain food dyes.

8. Glycerin:

Glycerin is a sweetener that is often used in pet food. Glycerin can be derived from animal or plant sources. However, glycerin has been linked to health problems in dogs, including gastrointestinal upset and diarrhea. For this reason, it is best to avoid foods that contain glycerin.

9. MSG:

MSG is a flavor enhancer that is often used in pet food. MSG has been linked to health problems in dogs, including gastrointestinal upset and allergies. For this reason, it is best to avoid foods that contain MSG.

10. Sugar:

Sugar is a common ingredient in pet food. Sugar can be derived from natural sources or added as an artificial sweetener. However, sugar has been linked to health problems in dogs, including obesity and diabetes. For this reason, it is best to avoid foods that contain sugar.

11.Soy:

Soy can be an allergy trigger for some dogs. In addition, soy can interfere with the absorption of nutrients. For these reasons, it is best to avoid foods that contain soy.

12. Wheat:

Wheat can be an allergy trigger for some dogs. In addition, wheat can interfere with the absorption of nutrients. For these reasons, it is best to avoid foods that contain wheat. Other controversial ingredients include vegetable oil such as Canola.

What is the best dog food for my German Shepherd?

As a large dog breed, German Shepherds need a food that is high in protein and fat and well-balanced Calcium to Phosphorus ratio. In addition, German Shepherds are prone to joint problems, so a food that is rich in glucosamine and chondroitin is important. Here are a few of the best dog foods for German Shepherds:

  • 1. Blue Buffalo Wilderness High Protein Grain Free Large Breed Dog Food
  • 2. Merrick Classic Grain Free Large Breed Dry Dog Food
  • 3. Wellness Complete Health Grain Free Large Breed Formula Dry Dog Food
  • 4. Orijen Six Fish Grain Free Dry Dog Food
  • 5. Acana Grasslands Grain Free Dry Dog Food

When choosing a food for your German Shepherd, it is important to read the ingredient label carefully. Avoid foods that contain any of the following ingredients:

1. Artificial flavors

2. Beet pulp

3. BHA/BHT

4. Ethoxyquin

5. Food dyes

6. Glycerin

7. MSG

8. Sugar

9. Soy

10. Wheat

Feeding your German Shepherd the best quality food will help them to stay healthy and happy. If you have any questions about what to feed your dog, please consult your veterinarian.

FAQs

is victor dog food good for german shepherds?

VICTOR’s Balanced Diet for Big Breed Dogs with Moderate to High Levels of Daily Activity is made from gluten-free grains and is ideal for big breed dogs with moderate to high levels of activity. While avoiding unnecessary fillers like soy and corn, you will discover all the high-quality nutrients your German Shepherd needs for his or her diet.

What food is not good for GSDs?

German Shepherds should avoid chocolate, grapes, raisins, avocados, garlic, onions, leeks, wild mushrooms Macadamia nuts walnuts alcohol and salty foods. Other food items to keep away from include xylitol yeast dough raw potatoes hops green tomatoes moldy food and high-fat meals.

Which protein is worst for GSDs?

Protein sources with no named source and those with low digestibility and low biological value are the worst for GSDs. Protein sources that contain plant-based proteins such as corn and soy are also not ideal. Meat by-products, meals, and meals containing animal fats should be avoided. Grain-free diets are often recommended for German Shepherds.

Are grains among the worst dog food ingredients to feed your large-breed GSD?

A German Shepherd’s diet should be grain-free as they are prone to having a sensitive stomach or being allergic to grains. They need a high-quality, protein-rich diet consisting of 18-22% protein and 5-8% fat depending on their life stage (e.g., puppy or adult), activity level, and health.

Other FAQs on specific brands suitability to feed German Shepherds

Is Nutro good for German Shepherds?

NUTRO’s Large Breed Adult Dog Food is made with limited ingredients to help support your German Shepherd’s health. This food is also grain-free and contains no artificial flavors, colors, or preservatives.

Is Wellness good for German Shepherds?

Wellness Complete Health Grain-Free Large Breed Formula is made with ingredients that are carefully selected to support your German Shepherd’s health. This food is also grain-free and contains no artificial flavors, colors, or preservatives.

What food will cause GSD diarrhea?

Foods that can cause diarrhea in German Shepherds include:

1. Too much fat in the diet

2. Foods that are high in fiber

3. Dairy products

4. spicy foods

5. Raw fruits and vegetables

6. Excess sugar

7. Table scraps

8. Moldy or spoiled food

We’ve reviewed some of the best dog food brands for dogs with diarrhea.

Which dog food are GSDs allergic to?

The most common food allergens for German Shepherds are:

1. Beef

2. Dairy

3. Wheat

4. Chicken

5. Soy

6. Corn

7. Eggs

8. Lamb

9. Rabbit

10. Pork

How to deal with GSD allergies from bad dog recipes

If your German Shepherd is allergic to a certain food, the best way to deal with it is to avoid that food altogether. There are many hypoallergenic dog foods on the market that are free of common allergens. You should also consult your veterinarian to see if there are any other options for dealing with your dog’s allergies.