The German Shepherd Dog is one of the most popular dog breeds in the world and it is little wonder why, the breed makes an excellent working dog and pet.
As a working dog the breed is highly intelligent, versatile and courageous. As a pet it is obedient, protective and eager to please.
The origins of the German Shepherd as a watchdog and sheep herder, mean that it is a strong, muscular and extremely high-energy dog breed that needs a high energy diet to stay in peak physical condition.
As we recently evaluated dry dog food for pitbulls, today we will evaluate the best wet dog food for German Shepherds. Also check out our comprehensive rundown on the best retractable dog collars and the best shampoo for dogs.
As both types of dog are muscular, high-energy breeds, these dry and wet dog food reviews are appropriate for both breeds.
The Pros and Cons of Wet Dog Food
German Shepherd dogs have a standard weight range of 66–88 lbs (30–40 kgs) for males and 49–71 lbs (22–32 kgs) for females.
Being such an active breed, your dog will typically need between 1200 and 2100 calories per day.
This being said, each dog is unique and you should to tailor food portion sizes to your dog’s weight and activity levels.
When deciding whether to feed your dog wet food, there are a number of things to keep in mind.
Wet dog food has a number of advantages for your pet.
Firstly, it has a higher protein and fat content and a lower carbohydrate content than dry dog food.
It is also more flavorsome to dogs because the food is 70% water and is served in a more natural state than dry dog food.
The high water content makes the food softer and more succulent and is easier to digest.
It can cause your dog to feel fuller more quickly, making it eat less and keep its weight down.
Being much higher in water content, wet dog food can also lower the concentration of urine in your dog’s system, which will lower the likelihood of amonia-based crystal formation and stave off urinary tract infections.
Wet dog food has a few disadvantages, however these largely relate to convenience and price.
One health disadvantage of wet food is the fact that being easy to chew, it provides little opportunity for dental cleaning such as with harder, more fibrous dry food.
From a convenience standpoint, wet food doesn’t have a long shelf life when opened and must be refrigerated and consumed within a few days.
It is also not as travel friendly, as dry dog food and is generally more expensive.
We would suggest alternating wet and dry dog food so your dog gets the best of both worlds. Another smart option is to mix dry and wet food together, giving your dog all the benefits of wet dog food, along with the tooth cleaning properties of dry dog food.
Evaluating Food on a “Dry Matter Basis”
As wet dog foods can be up to 70% water, it is important to evaluate products objectively.
Most dog foods use a method of measurement known as “guaranteed analysis” on their packaging, showing the minimum level of nutrients in the food such as protein and fat.
These figures can be misleading, because they fail to consider the amount of water present in wet dog food.
In order to evaluate food in a standardised way, we will compare the dog foods on a “dry matter” basis.
This method removes the water content from the calculation and then compares the nutritional content of the food on a like-for-like basis.
If you would like to calculate the dry matter basis of foods for yourself, click here for the formula.
A dry matter breakdown of many of the most popular wet dog food brands can also be found at this excellent resource.
Evaluating the Best Dog Food for German Shepherds
In order to evaluate the best dog food for German Shepherds, we will focus on the amount of proteins, fats, carbohydrates and any other healthy or unhealthy additives.
High quality animal-based proteins are vitally important to dogs, because they contain 10 amino acids that can only come from a dog’s diet.
As dogs are primarily carnivorous animals, proteins form the basis of their diet and are vital for growth and the function of the immune system.
The best dog food for German Shepherds will have a protein content of at least 30% and will include quality meat-based protein sources such as beef, chicken, lamb, fish and eggs.
Ideally these meats will be identified according to the species they originate from such as, “beef” or “salmon” as opposed to “meat” or “fish”.
Points will be added for descriptive food sources and deducted for vague or generic descriptions, as this indicates low quality meats.
The best wet foods will have several whole meat ingredients listed first, indicating that proteins make up a significant volume of the food.
Points will be added for high volumes of quality meats that are listed first, while they will be deducted if meats do not make up a large part of the food by volume.
Fat is an important ingredient in the diet of German Shepherds.
Fats provide nutrients for your dog’s skin and long-haired coat.
They also give your dog energy and provide for the proper development and function of cells, muscles, nerves and tissues.
The best wet dog food for German Shepherds will have a fat content of over 25% and will come from high-quality animal sources such as beef fat, lamb fat, chicken fat and fish oils.
As with protein, the best dog food for German Shepherds will name the fats it contains such as “chicken fat”, “beef fat” or “salmon oil” and products will be awarded points for this. Products that vaguely list fats such as “animal fat” as an ingredient, will lose points.
Wet dog food will generally have a lower carbohydrate content than dry dog food.
Carnivores do not need to eat carbohydrates in significant quantities, so while a moderate level of carbohydrates may add fibre to assist with digestion, significant levels are undesirable.
Carbohydrates should make up no more than 30% of wet food on a dry matter basis and points will be deducted from any product that exceeds this upper limit.
Excess carbohydrates can lead to weight gain and too many carbs indicate that the food is of lower quality.
Points will also be added for “grain free” wet dog food, because this type of food has a much lower carbohydrate content and higher meat content than dog foods that use grain-based “fillers”.
This criteria will also evaluate any additional ingredients. Points will be added if ingredients are desirable and will be deducted if they are undesirable.
Finding the Best Dog Food for German Shepherds
To find the best dog food for German Shepherds, the below foods will be given scores out of 100 for protein, fats and carbohydrates/additional ingredients.
These scores will be added together and a score out of 100 will be given.
While we will breakdown a particular flavor of dog food for each product, we would note that products of the same line will have the same or very similar nutritional content.
For example, a beef and chicken product may be different flavors and have different primary ingredients, but the nutritional content and secondary ingredients will be very similar.
With all of the above in mind, here is our top 5 of the best dog food for German Shepherds in 2017.
#5 Pedigree — Pedigree Meaty Ground Dinner (beef, bacon, and cheese flavor)
Carbohydrates/ Additional ingredients
The Pedigree Meaty Ground Dinner range comes in a huge range of flavors including: beef, bacon & cheese (reviewed); chopped chicken; filet mignon; chopped liver; chicken & rice and steak.
Protein — This product is comfortably over the 30% protein threshold with a protein content of 36%.
It contains several quality, protein-rich ingredients such as chicken, beef and liver.
This being said, some of the most prevalent ingredients are not the most desireable. The second and fourth ingredients are “chicken by-products” and “meat by-products” — another name for slaughterhouse waste.
While by-products may still be high in protein and amino acids, they typically contain lower quality, unsavoury ingredients such as beaks, feet, udders, guts and any other part of an animal that is left over after the meat has been removed.
Fats — This product has a good fat content of 27% and contains bacon, a cured fatty meat from the belly of a pig and vegetable oil.
While vegetable oil can contain good levels of fat such as omega-6 and omega-3, it will not be of the same quality as an animal-based fat.
Carbohydrates/Additional ingredients — Pedigree Meaty Ground Dinner contains an acceptable level of carbohydrates, coming in at 28%.
This product contains artificial coloring, an additional ingredient that we are always disappointed to see in dog food, as this is added for the benefit of the owner not dogs.
Overall this product is not grain-free and contains several less than desirable ingredients.
It does however, squarely hit all of the desired nutritional thresholds and provides excellent value for money coming in at USD 0.11/oz.
#4 Purina — Pro Plan Savor (chicken & vegetables in gravy flavor)
Carbohydrates/ Additional ingredients
Purina Pro Plan Savor comes in a wide range of flavors such as: chicken & vegetables; beef & vegetables; chicken & rice; shredded beef & lamb; and shredded turkey, peas & brown rice.
Protein — This product contains a very high level of protein with 50% of the total nutrient content being protein.
Purina Pro Plan Savor contains a number of high quality ingredients such as chicken and turkey.
It also contains liver, another quality ingredient, however the source of liver is not identified.
Lower quality ingredients include “meat by-products” (a fancy term for the parts nobody wants) and wheat gluten.
While wheat gluten has a very high protein content, it is not as biologically valuable as animal protein sources.
Fats — This product does not contain any listed fat sources and this is reflected in the low fat content of 14%.
While the meat ingredients will likely include some dietary fat, fat levels for this product are a full 6% below the minimum desired amount.
Carbohydrates/Additional ingredients — The first carbohydrate is carrots. Carrots are an excellent source of beta carotene — a pigment that aids proper eye function. This is particularly important to German Shepherds, as they can be prone to progressive retinal atrophy.
Other carbohydrates include corn starch (likely used to make the gravy) and potatoes, an easily digestible carbohydrate.
The carbohydrate content of this product is 28% which is just below the acceptable limit of 30%.
As with the Pedigree Meaty Ground Dinner range, this product loses points for the addition of food coloring.
Overall Purina Pro Plan wet dog food is a solid entry-level product for price conscious pet owners, coming in at USD 0.09/oz.
While it loses points for not having the minimum required fat content, it gains considerable points for having such a high protein content.
This, coupled with it’s extremely low price per ounce, puts it a whisker in front of the Pedigree Meaty Ground Dinner range.
#3 Nature’s Recipe — Wet Dog Food (chicken & wild salmon in broth flavor)
Carbohydrates/ Additional ingredients
Nature’s Recipe wet dog food comes in many flavors including: chicken & wild salmon in broth (reviewed), chicken in broth, chicken & turkey in broth, chicken & venison and chicken & duck.
Protein — This product blitzes the other products when it comes to protein. It boasts a whopping 61% protein content, more than double the minimum desired amount!
The first and fourth ingredients are chicken and salmon respectively. Both are a source of high quality protein.
Fats — Chicken fat is the sixth ingredient and is a quality fat source that is also high in linoleic acid and omega-3 fatty acids.
It does not appear to be added in high quantities however, as the fat content of this product is beneath the minimum desired amount and comes in at 11%.
This is unfortunate, because had the protein content been higher, this product would have been a contender for the title of “best dog food for German Shepherds in 2017”.
Carbohydrates/Additional ingredients — The product contains some healthy sources of carbohydrates including pumpkin and brown rice.
Pumpkin is rich in dietary fibre and beta carotene and brown rice is a complex carbohydrate that is easy to digest when cooked.
The carbohydrate content of this product is very good and comes in at 20%.
Additional beneficial ingredients include sunflower oil, which is rich in omega-6 fatty acids and tricalcium phosphate, an excellent source of calcium and phosphorus.
This product also contains chelated minerals, minerals that have been attached to protein chemically, making them easier for your dog to absorb.
Overall Nature’s Recipe wet dog food is an outstanding source of protein for your German Shepherd.
Although it loses points for being low in fat, it is an excellent source of additional minerals and vitamins and is suitably low in carbohydrates.
This is an ultra-premium product and comes in at USD 0.67/oz.
It is an excellent choice if you want to mix in wet food with dry food as a snack, or if you have a dog on a calorie restricted diet.
#2 Merrick — Grain Free 96% Real Chicken Dog Food
Carbohydrates/ Additional ingredients
Merrick’s Grain Free 96% Real Chicken Dog Food comes in four flavors: beef, lamb & buffalo, chicken (reviewed), duck and Texas beef.
Protein — Merrick’s Grain Free 96% Real Chicken dog food comes with an excellent protein content of 46%, well above the minimum desired amount of 30%.
This product is made up of 96% deboned chicken, a very high quality, whole food protein.
The third ingredient is dried egg product, which contains high levels of protein and is also biologically preferable to plant-based protein sources.
Fats — This product does not contain a specific source of fat, however the fact that 96% of the product is chicken, means that there is adequate natural fat here.
This product has an adequate fat content of 27%.
Carbohydrates/Additional ingredients — As is the case with fats above, the high chicken content of this product means that it has low levels of carbohydrates (19%).
This product is also packed with a huge number of beneficial minerals and vitamins such as manganese, folic acid, vitamin D3 supplement, riboflavin, Vitamin A supplement, calcium and vitamin B12 — just to name a few!
Overall this is an outstanding grain free wet dog food, from a well respected brand.
It does what many dog food brands don’t do enough of, and that is provide large quantities of high-grade, natural protein.
The 96% chicken content of this product means that it performs exceptionally well across the three judging criteria and it would have been our first choice had we not come across a product that had even more impressive nutrient ratios.
This is a premium product and costs USD 0.19/oz.
#1 Wellness — CORE Natural Grain Free Dog Food (turkey, chicken liver & turkey liver)
Carbohydrates/ Additional ingredients
CORE Natural Grain Free dog food by Wellness comes in several different flavors including: turkey, chicken liver & turkey liver (reviewed); whitefish, salmon & herring; beef, venison & lamb; and turkey, pork & duck.
Protein — This product has very high levels of protein with five of the first six ingredients being animal proteins such as: chicken, turkey, chicken liver, chicken meal and turkey liver.
This is the highest number of meat products we have seen in a wet food and as you can imagine, the protein content of this dog food is extremely high at 55%.
Fats — The very high and varied meat content means that there is also a high amount of clean fat in this product.
It also contains salmon oil, a fat rich in EPA and DHA type omega-3 fatty acids and flaxseed, one of the best sources of omega-3 fatty acids.
The fat content of this product is excellent at 36%.
Carbohydrates/Additional ingredients — This product has an extremely low amount of carbohydrates coming in at an unbeatably low 1%. It received a rare 100/100 score in this category.
This is in spite of the fact that it contains sweet potatoes, a quality carbohydrate with large amounts of beta carotene.
This very low carbohydrate content means that there are no “filler” or empty carbs for your dog.
There is also a great amount of healthy additional “green” ingredients such as carrots, apples, spinach, parsley, blueberries, broccoli and kale.
CORE Natural Grain Free dog food also contains several vitamins and minerals such as vitamins A, B-12, D-3 and E supplements, riboflavin and manganese.
Overall this is the best dog food for German Shepherds we could find.
This is a premium product and comes in at USD 0.19/oz, the same price as the #2 product.
CORE Natural Grain Free dog food provides outstanding value for money, quality ingredients and includes all of the vitamins and minerals necessary to keep your German Shepherd in peak condition.
It is the decisive winner in a very competitive field.
Where is the Best Place to Buy Dog Food From?
So you’ve soaked in all of the above information and have decided on the dog food that you think is perfect for your pitbull. Now what?
Instead of taking the time and effort to find a physical store, get to it and lug a 20lb bag of feed around, simply go to Amazon.com.
Here you can find your product in seconds, read honest user reviews and immediately confirm the availability of the product.
You can also subscribe for straight-to-your-door recurring shipments at your desired frequency.
At Amazon you can compare seller prices and get the best price possible.
The product will then be shipped straight to your door in a matter of days, or even quicker if you choose express postage, or are an Amazon Prime subscriber.