Best Grain Free Dog Food For German Shepherd

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Due to the on-going FDA investigation into the possible connection between diet-DCM (Dilated Cardiomyopathy) and grain-free diets, I would like to caution folks to do extensive research before deciding to exclusively feed a grain-free diet. Instead, consider a whole food diet appropriate for dogs.

So if you’re asking what’s the best grain-free dog food for German Shepherd? I’m glad you stopped by today!

If you’re in a hurry, check out my top pick on Amazon.

If this is your first time here, you might not know that I feed my dogs a raw diet.

But, I’m a strong supporter of feeding a grain free food if raw is not an option.

Head Straight to My Comparison Table

After you’re done reading this you’ll know 3 things…

  1. What the best grain free foods are.
  2. What to look for in a grain free food.
  3. What you should be careful of when picking grain free food.

Also, check out my buyers’ guide and comparison chart where you can see how the food stack up against each other.

Grain Free Dog Food Comparison Table

Orijen Tundra

The Honest Kitchen

Acana Singles

Orijen is the best grain free dog food for German Shepherdbest grain free dog food the honest kitchen
Total Meat Content85%Unknown50%
Crude Protein40%25.4%31%
Fat Content18%15%18.5%
Crude Ash9%approx. 6%7.5%
Crude Fibers5%5%7%
Carb Percentage21%39.2%34.5%
Gluten FreeYesYesYes
Biologically Appropriate IngredientsYesYesYes
Life StagesAll Life StagesAll Life StagesAll Life Stages
Limited IngredientsYesYesYes
My Rating
Read My Full ReviewRead my Full Review Read my Full Review Read my Full Review 
See on AmazonSee Orijen's Tundra Grain Free Dog Food on Amazon.See The Honest Kitchen's Cage Free Turkey Grain Free Dog Food on Amazon.See Acana's Grass-Fed Lamb Grain Free Dog Food on Amazon.

Best Grain Free Dog Food for German Shepherd

Orijen Tundra Wholeprey Grain Free Dog Food

Orijen strives to offer a biologically appropriate dog food in a kibble form. Sounds like an oxymoron, right?

And to a certain extent, it is. But when you consider how Orijen sources their ingredients and how the kibble is made, you can appreciate what they’re doing.

Two-thirds of the meat they use in their Tundra grain free food is fresh and raw with no preservatives. The other third is dried slowly at 90 degrees Celsius.

85 percent of Tundra grain free food is made up of real meats, organs, and cartilage. It has a guaranteed protein content of 40 percent.

I have not come across another kibble that can boast this. In my opinion, this is the most important feature of this food range.

You’ll be happy to know that the protein sources vary, which is great to prevent allergies. In Tundra your dog gets goat, boar, mutton, duck, venison and even arctic char.

And of course no grains in sight! The remaining 15 percent is made up of delicious vegetables and some fruits.

Not to mention health boosting plants like lavender, rosehip, milk thistle as well as turmeric and marshmallow root.

If I compare this to the 80 (meat) -10 (organs) -10 (bone and cartilage) ratio that makes up my own dogs’ raw diet, it’s pretty damn close to the real thing. And that’s what makes the Tundra range is by far the best grain free dog food for German Shepherds.

And the great thing is this food is appropriate for dogs at any life stage. So whether you have a pupper, an active adult or even a pregnant or lactating bitch you can feed the Tundra range.

Although their other foods are life stage-specific.

There is another feature of this food that most folks will overlook…

The Tundra range has no potatoes, tapioca or plant protein concentrates.

So why is this important? Well, because those ingredients pile up on carbs. And too many carbs can cause serious health problems.

The carb ratio of this food is a whopping low 21 percent. Most grain-free foods have a much higher carb ratio which wreaks havoc on a dog’s body. And can lead to diabetes, obesity and insulin resistance.

(You can check out my buyers guide below for the formula on how to calculate carb ratios).

The Tundra range by Orijen is by far my favorite grain free dog food. I love the high protein content and the low carbs. And it’s also great that the only supplement they add is zinc.

And you’ll be happy to know that all their ingredients are 100 percent China-free.

Although it’s worth noting that some folks have complained that their dog’s suddenly stopped eating the food.

From what I can tell, there’s been a slight change in the recipe which might be causing regulars to turn up their noses.

Also, from a wallet perspective, it is the priciest option. But if you consider the high-quality ingredients and low carb ratio, it’s worth the extra dollars.

Check Out Orijen’s Tundra Grain Free Dog Food on Amazon.

The Honest Kitchen Human Grade Dehydrated Grain Free Dog Food

Besides the fact that The Honest Kitchen offers great dog food at affordable prices, the company has been around for over 15 years. That’s why they’ve made my list for the best grain free dog food for German Shepherds.

THK offers different choices within their grain free range. But today I’ll share details with you on their regular grain free range.

The food they offer is dehydrated which has a few benefits. Firstly, it’s has a lot of the same benefits as raw food without the hassle. And it’s less processed than regular kibble which is a great health benefit.

Also, it means good value for money. Because in the case of The Honest Kitchen’s selection, 10 lbs will give you 40 lbs of food just by adding water!

Your dog will have a choice between four different flavors – Turkey, Chicken, Beef and Fish.

Each one is prepared with its own special recipe…

The turkey is made with spinach, potatoes, flaxseed, coconut, carrots, eggs, apples, celery, bananas, cranberries and kelp.

The chicken is free-range and is made with flaxseed, potatoes, sweet potatoes, celery, apples, pumpkin, honey, cabbage, green beans, bananas, papayas, kelp, and garlic.

The beef selection is made with potatoes, sweet potatoes, coconut, flaxseed, papayas, parsley, pumpkin, honey, cranberries, and kale.

And the fish is lovingly made with MSC certified White fish, salmon, sweet potatoes, pumpkin, eggs, coconut, cabbage, bananas, apples, cabbage, cranberries, and garlic.

Get 20% off The Honest Kitchen’s Turkey Grain Free Dog Food until 8 August 2018.

And all the ingredients are 100 percent certified organic. And The Honest Kitchen’s dog food is also human grade – approved by the FDA.

That’s a badge that other dog food manufacturers don’t have. And in my opinion, puts the Honest Kitchen in a class of its own.

The Honest Kitchen range is also suitable for dogs of all life stages.

And their ingredients are 100 percent China-free, which is great news.

It’s worth noting that the carb percentage of their food is high.

So for example, their Free Range Chicken selection has a carb percentage of 46.5. If you compare that to the 21 percent of Orijen’s Tundra range, it’s pretty high.

If you want to feed The Honest Kitchen’s lowest carb choice in this selection, your best bet is the Cage Free Turkey recipe which weighs in at 39.2 percent carbs.

(You can check out my buyers guide below for the formula on how to calculate carb ratios).

I think The Honest Kitchen range is a good choice if you’re looking for value for money. Plus your dog gets all the health perks that come with being FDA approved and certified organic.

Although, I do think some of their recipes are a little heavy on the starchy side with all the potato.

So if you’re counting calories on behalf of your pooch, just feed the Turkey recipe to keep things in check.

Check Out The Honest Kitchen’s Cage Free Turkey Grain Free Dog Food on Amazon.

Acana Singles Formula Lamb and Apple Dog Food

Acana and Orijen are sister companies. Acana offers a wide selection of different dog foods, all of them grain free and biologically appropriate.

But the thing I really like about Acana is they’re not just switching up grain for potato. They’re actually increasing the amount of meat protein.

Although, the protein content in Acana is not as high as you’ll find in Orijen. It’s still way up there at 50 percent with the most protein-rich foods on the market.

Although I feed my dogs a raw diet, I use Acana as their training treats. And the most popular one in our house is the Singles Formula Grass-Fed Lamb. It might be a kibble, but my dogs are willing to work hard for them, so they’re a definite winner!

The first thing I like is that the food contains no potato. Okay, so potato isn’t bad, but they do have a moderate glycemic index.

Its carb percentage is 34.5 percent which is pretty low considering the richness of lamb meat.

(You can check out my buyers guide below for the formula on how to calculate carb ratios).

Of course, there are no grains either. And the Grass-Fed Lamb range is made up of 50 percent meat and 50 percent vegetables, fruits and lavender.

So essentially, a 2 kg bag of food contains 1 kg meat.

I also love the fact that there’s only one type of protein. That means the muscle meat, organs, meal, and cartilage is all from lamb.

There’s no issue with a food that has more than one protein, but if your German Shepherd has a sensitive tummy, this is a big plus point.

And because the lamb is grass-fed it’s 100 percent GMO-Free. And their ingredients are 100 percent China free which is great news for your pooch.

Acana’s foods are appropriate for dogs of all life stages. And the recommend their poultry or fish diets for large breed pups like the German Shepherd until they are fully grown.

Acana’s Grass-Fed Lamb is a top contender for the best grain free dog food for German Shepherds. It’s reasonably priced, it’s filled with high-quality ingredients and it’s GMO-Free.

Check Out Acana’s Grass-Fed Lamb Grain Free Dog Food on Amazon.

How to Spot the Best Grain Free Dog Food for German Shepherds

Although there are many different opinions on whether our canine friends can actually digest grain or not, the truth is that grains are a big source of allergy problems.

And our beloved German Shepherds are prone to these allergies. So in my opinion, grain free dog food is a big step in the right direction.

The most common grains used in our dog food today are buckwheat, barley, rice, corn, oats, quinoa, and soy.

Watch Out for Sugars in Grain Free Dog Food

Sadly, since the grain free revolution started, pet food manufacturers have again figured out ways to dupe us.

Many of them have merely replaced the grains with other starchy ingredients and opted not to keep us informed. Tricking us into believing that grain free is essentially healthier.

Adding ingredients like potato, sweet potato, pumpkin, tapioca and other glutens like peas and lentils causes a spike in the carb percentage.

So you might not see sugar listed in the ingredients but all those potatoes, peas and lentils break down into sugar. And so out pooches are at risk of piling on the pounds.

I mean if you think about the glycemic index of a medium-sized baked potato is 85, you can see how the carbs can quickly become unhealthy.

So How Can You Keep Tabs on Your Dog’s Carb Intake?

  1. Make sure your dog gets healthy, age-appropriate exercise.
  2. Try to some raw, home cooked or high quality canned food in place of a kibble meal.
  3. Measure out the exact amounts appropriate for your dog.
  4. Avoid free feeding
  5. Feed a grain free dog food with the lowest carb percentage you can afford.

How to Calculate the Carb Percentage in Grain Free Dog Food

There’s a simple formula you can follow determine the carb percentage of any dog food. It’s based on the guaranteed analysis provided by the manufacturer, so it’s not an exact science. But in my opinion, it’s a good gauge to go by.

You’ll need the percentages of the protein, fat, moisture and ash in the guaranteed analysis. You can find this on the back of any bag. If ash is not reflected, then use a figure of 6 as an estimate.

You won’t need to include the fiber in this formula since it’s indigestible and doesn’t break down into sugar.

Here’s a shot of the guaranteed analysis of a bag of Acana Singles Formula Grass-Fed Lamb…

Guaranteed Analysis of Acana's Grass-Fed Lamb Grain Free Dog Food

Guaranteed Analysis of Acana’s Grass-Fed Lamb Grain Free Dog Food

So considering 100 percent is the total of each of these including the carbs, here’s the math…

100 – % protein – % fat – % moisture – % ash (if not listed, assume 6 percent)
= % carbs

100 – 31 – 15 – 7.5 – 12 = 34.5% carbs.

In an ideal world, you’ll want a carb percentage of between 10 and 15. Although, that’s only possible if you’re feeding a raw diet.

But if you’re feeding kibble, you’ll never get close to this. So aim as low as you can get, so example Orijen’s Tundra grain free dog food has a carb percentage of 21.

What’s the Meat Content?

The ideal food is one that has a high meat content. It’s not just about the food being grain free, you want something that’s packed with meaty ingredients.

So for example, Orijen’s Tundra is made with 85 percent meat – that’s super high. And Acana’s Grass-Fed Lamb is made with 50 percent meaty ingredients.

Some manufacturers don’t say how much meat they use, so you’ll only be able to go off the guaranteed analysis.

Other Ingredients

It goes without saying that there should be no grains in the food. And in most grain free foods you’ll definitely find ingredients like potatoes, sweet potatoes, pumpkin, peas, and lentils.

But if you go really high end, these grain free dog foods won’t have potatoes or tapiocas. Instead, you’ll find a range of vegetable and fruits – which is a good thing.

Although, don’t be put off by foods that do have ingredients like potatoes, sweet potatoes, and pumpkin. Just keep in mind that you want to carb percentage as low as possible.

So use the standard formula I shared to determine this.

Analyze the Guaranteed Analysis

The rule of thumb here is, the higher the better.

I already mentioned that is some cases the guaranteed analysis will be all that you have to go by to decide whether you’re happy with the ratios of the most important ingredients.

Crude Protein – most run of the mill food will have a crude protein between 24 and 27 percent. But the more high-end food, like Orijen and Acana I’ve reviewed here, range between 30 and 40 percent.

It’s worth mentioning though, that this percentage doesn’t have anything to do with the quality of the protein. So it is possible to have a junk, low quality food that has a high crude protein percentage.

That’s why it’s so important to go with a food that’s made by a trusted manufacturer. Avoid no-name brands or brands that can’t track their ingredients back to the source.

Quality Ingredients

Just like for humans, the quality of the ingredients determines the overall health of your dog. Junk ingredients equal a junk food which results in poor health.

So going with a food manufacturer that can trace their ingredients back to the source is essential. And high-end foods like Orijen, Acana, and The Honest Kitchen pride themselves in this.

Also, make sure you pick a food manufacturer that confirms 100% that none of their ingredients are sourced from China. Any ingredients from China no matter how small should be an absolute deal breaker.

Life Stages

In the past manufacturers offered foods for different life stages for pups, adults, and seniors. But more recently, many of them are offering one food for all life stages.

Meaning pups can eat the same food as adults and seniors. Although, with some ranges, there are life stage-specific foods. So make sure to follow the manufacturer’s recommendations here.


My first choice for the best grain free dog food for German Shepherd is definitely the Orijen Tundra range (Amazon). It’s got the highest meat content and the lowest carb percentage.

Next in line is Acana’s Grass-Fed Lamb (Amazon). Its carb percentage is higher than the Tundra but lower than The Honest Kitchen’s. And its made up of 50 percent protein, which is not bad at all.

I do like The Honest Kitchen’s food, but it does have a high carb content. But I think the Cage Free Turkey range is great to keep this in check.

Also, the Crude Protein is only at 24.5 percent, so not as high as the other foods I’ve reviewed here. But the upside is that one pack makes 40 lbs of food, so it’s excellent value for money.

Now you know what to look for in a grain free dog food. You have the tools to spot the junk and shop with confidence to pick the best food to suit your German Shepherd.

If you have questions or need some more advice, just drop me a comment below. I always respond and I’m happy to help.

If you’re keen on feeding a raw diet, check out this article to get started.

Are you struggling to get jumping under control? In this guide, you’ll learn the best way to teach your pooch to keep all 4’s on the ground.

  • Sherrie

    I am very disappointed that the only grain-free foods you recommend are beyond out of reach for any normal person to be able to afford. This makes me feel like I can’t possibly give Rylee even a half decent diet.

    • Hi Sherrie,

      I can totally relate to how you feel. You could look at the Honest Kitchen’s range for Raylee. Their food yields 40 lbs once water is added so it’s well worth it. And the turkey one has the lowest carb content. The crude protein is lower than the other foods I reviewed but it’s still one of the best foods and I scored it at 4.5.

      Here’s a link to The Honest Kitchen’s Turkey range on Amazon.

      And here’s the link to my full review if you want to check it out again.

      Let me know if you have other questions about nutrition, I’m happy to help.

  • Rafael Rodriguez

    I do like your reviews buy as Sherrie said these foods are expensive. Im willing to pay for food but thats too much to feed two gsds.

    Can you give a review for foods on the $50-$75 range? Probably those are the prices most of us can afford.


    • Hi Rafael,

      Thanks for your comment.

      I’ll look into some other foods for you and drop a comment here once I’ve thoroughly reviewed them. Although, you might want to look at The Honest Kitchen’s range. The carb content is higher than the other foods I’ve reviewed but the Turkey one is the lowest. It could be a viable option for you because their 10 lbs option makes 40 lbs of food. It’s a little higher than the price range you mentioned but for 40 lbs of food it’s great value for money. And a healthy grain free option.

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