The German Shepherd has always been an active and energetic dog. They burn up a lot of energy, and this can make it somewhat easy for them to become too skinny. No one likes to see their dog walking around looking malnourished, so that’s a problem that needs correcting.
Even if your German Shepherd doesn’t get that much exercise, there are many other factors that can cause a German Shepherd to be underweight, including illness, parasites, or depression.
Whichever problem your dog may have, the solution is the same. You need to switch them to a different diet that will allow them to gain weight. A treat or two from time to time will not be enough to do the job, so a dietary change is needed.
With that in mind, let’s look at seven of the best weight-gaining dog foods that we could find online. There are two ways in which you can help your dog to gain weight: Increase the amount of fat in their diet or increase the amount of protein.
Of the two, we think it’s obvious that protein is the better choice. For that reason, we have decided to focus our efforts on high-protein dog foods.
1. Iams Proactive Health High Protein Adult Dry Dog Food
This dog food contains several sources of protein, making it a blend of things that will help your dog to put on weight. The primary ingredient is chicken, and it is made from a mixture of chicken meat and chicken stock. It also includes turkey and eggs.
Because whole eggs are included, a whole range of antioxidants is also included. These have been proven to be beneficial to the health of the skin and hair (among other things). These substances, as well as some of the amino acids present, will also support healthy joints and bones.
This one is relatively high in fat as well, at 18%. That might be a bad thing for some cases, but it’s good for a German Shepherd that needs to put on some weight.
The fat will combine with the protein to increase its total mass nicely. Also, it is a fact that protein needs a little bit of fat for the body to process it correctly. Thus, a high-protein diet should also be a little higher in fat.
It would be nice if there were some way to verify the company’s claims that this product is made from whole and healthy chickens.
Also, the inclusion of egg protein does increase the chance of spoilage to some extent. We are also concerned that this food may not contain enough carbohydrates for active dogs. Still, it’s a decent option at a reasonable price. Check the price on Chewy.com
- Made from the whole chicken as the primary ingredient
- Also includes turkey and egg protein
- Supports healthy joints and bones
- Also relatively high in fat
- Contains carnitine for muscle health
- May not contain enough carbohydrates for active dogs
- No way to verify sourcing of the chicken
2. Blue Buffalo Wilderness Rocky Mountain Recipe
Blue Buffalo is known for producing some of the best high-end dog food on the market. Although the price tag is pretty high on this product (like most of their other offerings), it’s still a fine choice for those who can afford its high cost.
The main thing is that this dog food contains no fillers like corn or wheat. Instead, all of its carbohydrates come from vegetable sources like potatoes and peas.
It is true that corn and wheat are not dangerous to dogs, but they also don’t offer a whole lot of nutritional value other than carbohydrates, so peas and potatoes are the better choices.
These foods are a lot more nutrient-dense, so your dog will get more nourishment per cup. Blue Buffalo also makes all their foods with 100% natural ingredients, modeling them after the diets that wild canines eat.
This product also contains small pellets known as “Lifesource bits.” These are concentrated nutrition pills that contain a blend of antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. These are carefully selected to match the nutritional needs of the average dog.
Our only real concern is with the fact that this food is only 15% fat. Considering that weight gain is our goal here, we think that to be a little bit on the low side.
Also, at these kinds of prices, you should get more than that. To be fair, we should note that Blue Buffalo probably wasn’t trying to make a weight gainer formula with this one. Still, it’s high protein content makes it a good choice anyway. Check the price on Chewy.com
- Very high in protein (30%)
- All carbohydrates come from pure vegetable sources
- No chicken
- Contains “life source bits”
- 100% natural
- Quite expensive
- Only 15% fat
3. Eukanuba Premium Performance 30/20 Adult Dog Food
Eukanuba is a well-known maker of high-end dog food, and their contribution to our list is a pretty good one. This food has about 80% protein and about 20% fat, which are the ideal numbers from a weight gain perspective.
The two will complement each other because the body uses fat to process protein. However, there should be enough left over to result in weight gain.
We also like the fact that this food contains both chondroitin and glucosamine. These are naturally derived substances that have been shown to have positive effects on the health of the bones and joints.
It is sometimes used as a medicine for both dogs and humans, so it’s a good choice for older dogs or those suffering from bone/joint problems.
This one also contains a lot of amino acids, and we can see why when we look at the advertising. This contains a mix of protein from a variety of sources, including fish, several forms of chicken, and egg.
Amino acids are essential for muscle growth, and anything not used by the muscles will be stored as fat. Thus, this kind of food is perfect for weight gain.
In terms of price, this one isn’t too bad. It’s less expensive than the Blue Buffalo, but a little more expensive than our first two choices. Still, we can’t find many complaints about this product, and it seems to satisfy most (if not all) of our most important criteria.
Our only real concern is that we cannot see the complete list of ingredients in the advertisement. While this might not be a big deal, we find it highly annoying and potentially suspicious.
- Very high in protein (30%)
- Very high in fat (20%)
- Contain chondroitin and glucosamine
- Contains amino acids for muscle health
- Price is reasonable
- Can’t see the ingredients list in the ad
4. Victor Classic – Hi-Pro Plus, Dry Dog Food
This one is a very high-protein option, coming in at 30% like our last choice. It also has 20% fat content that we like to see, so it should be a good weight gainer for your German Shepherd.
In terms of value, we also like what we see here. It costs significantly less than some of our other choices and is sold in a convenient 40-pound size.
This food is fortified with all kinds of beneficial additives, almost as if they tried to incorporate every nutrient they could imagine.
First of all, there is a high concentration of amino acids, which is great for muscular dogs like greyhounds and bulldogs. It also contains plenty of amino acids, which help the skin and hair and (probably) lengthen lifespan. The high vitamin E content
They have also included something called “selenium yeast,” which is supposed to support metabolic function and aid cellular regeneration.
In other words, it is supposed to help your body repair itself at a faster rate. We can also see that this food contains relatively high levels of prebiotics and probiotics. These are the beneficial bacteria that live in the gut. While most bacteria are undesirable, these are necessary for proper digestion.
We should also mention the negatives of this product. First of all, it seems as if they might be trying to do too many things at once here. With all these additives, though all of them are known to be helpful, they might end up working against one another.
More importantly, some reviews claim that this food caused their dog to become sick. One or two even said that their dogs died. To be fair, these reviewers represent a small minority of the whole, but we think it is a good cause for concern because the negative reviews are very consistent on this point.
- 30% protein, 20% fat
- Fortified with amino and omega acids
- Contains selenium yeast
- Prebiotics and probiotics to improve gut health
- Plenty of vitamin E
- The pretty good value factor
- Some reviews claim it made their dogs sick
- Very hard kibble
5. Adirondack Pet Food 30% Protein High-Fat Recipe For Puppy & Performance Dogs
This is one of the cheaper foods on our list, although it isn’t exactly a bottom-shelf kind of food. Instead, it offers a reasonably high level of quality at a price that most dog owners should be able to afford.
A high-protein dog food tends to be more expensive than normal dog food (which you have probably noticed), but this one isn’t too bad.
The low cost is great when you consider the fact that this one is quite free of fillers. You won’t find any corn, wheat, or soybeans in here, and so that means the carbohydrate component will be made of more nutritious vegetables. This might be why it is advertised as containing plenty of omega acids, amino acids, etc.
This one is made to be easily digestible, although the advertising doesn’t specify why or how. On that same subject, it would be nice if the ad were to show us the complete list of ingredients as well as some more nutritional information. Still, this doesn’t necessarily mean there is anything wrong with the dog food itself.
A few negative reviews said that this dog food arrived stale, which suggests that it probably doesn’t have a very long shelf life. Thus, it might not be the best choice for those who like to stock up on dog food. Still, these reviews were very few, and so they might be isolated incidents. Check the price on Chewy.com
- Fairly cheap
- High in both fat and protein
- No corn, wheat, or soy
- Made for easy digestibility
- Suitable for both dog and puppies
- Probably has a shorter shelf life
- Not enough information in the ad
6. Purina Pro Plan SPORT Formula Dry Dog Food
This is definitely the most expensive and high-grade option on the list, and its price is higher than the others by a significant margin.
Nevertheless, it offers a lot of nutrients in a single package. It would actually be ridiculous to list all the different nutrients that are found in this product, but it is clear that this one is meant for dogs with demanding physical needs.
We like the fact that this one is made primarily from one kind of protein source (chicken) and the fact that chicken meat is the first ingredient listed.
We also like the fact that it’s suitable for puppies, adults, and seniors alike. The advertising makes it clear that this is a high-performance food for high-performance canine athletes.
Apart from the high price tag, we only see one problem with this food. It is obvious that this is a special-purpose food that is meant for canine athletes. By that, we mean dogs that are regularly competing in organized dog sports.
If your dog isn’t one of these, this may be a little too much. There is such a thing as too much nutrition, provided that an animal isn’t active enough to use those nutrients. Check the price on Chewy.com
- Has the optimum 30/20 ratio
- Formulated for high-performance dogs
- Lots of antioxidants
- Made primarily from one meat
- Good for dogs of all ages
- Most expensive food on our list
- Meant for performance rather than weight gain
7. Pedigree High Protein Adult Dry Dog Food
This one is the cheapest food on our list, and it is indeed a good bargain option. It is made from a good mix of lamb and beef protein, giving it a total protein content of 29%. 30% would be better, but that’s close enough.
Pedigree is a fairly trusted brand with a good overall track record for product safety. As such, we think this is one of the best low-cost dog foods for the purpose of helping your German Shepherd gain weight.
This one doesn’t include a whole lot of fillers or artificial ingredients, so there’s probably no need to worry about the safety side of things.
However, we are concerned that this product does not contain enough fat. At only 12%, it might not be the best choice for weight gain, so we would recommend that you supplement it with some beef stock or some other form of added fat.
This product is also a little drier and harder than most others, as it has probably been in storage for a longer time. Still, a little bit of liquid can take care of that problem easily. Check the price on Chewy.com
- Cheapest food on our list
- Good mix of beef and lamb protein
- Includes omega-3 fatty acids
- Fairly trusted brand
- No added sugar, artificial flavors, or high fructose corn syrup
- Fat content is only 12%
- A little hard to chew at times
Best Food For German Shepherd To Gain Weight Buyer’s Guide
There are many things that might be written about the nutritional content of various dog foods. However, we are concerned with a specific purpose here.
We are looking for food that will help a German Shepherd to gain weight. The seven choices listed above should be taken as seven semi-random examples because that is what they are. Here are some of the things you need to think about when evaluating any kind of dog food.
Is This Dog Food High In Both Protein And Fat?
When it comes to weight gain, this really is the most important consideration. The body uses protein to make muscle and repair bodily tissues, and this means that it is intimately tied to growth and development.
As we said at the beginning, you can choose to give your dog a high-protein diet, or you can choose to give them a high-fat diet. We think it’s best to do both of these things.
We should mention that a high-fat diet is not something that your dog should continue eating for a long time. Too much fat is definitely associated with a greater risk of heart problems if nothing else.
Thus, you should use a high-fat dog food (18-20%) until the desired weight gain is achieved. After that, you should switch back to something in the range of 12-15% fat.
It’s important to understand that the body uses fat to process protein. This is true of both humans and dogs, as well as many other creatures. Protein is simply harder to digest than fat or carbohydrates, and so the body has to use a little of one to process the other. Thus, you want to avoid high-protein diets that are not also high in fat.
Does This Dog Food Have Enough Carbohydrates?
Carbohydrates, like bread, rice, and pasta, are nature’s best sources of quick energy. When not used immediately, this energy tends to be stored as fat.
Thus, carbohydrates are associated with weight gain. However, it’s not necessarily the kind of weight gain you want. Empty carbs will make your German Shepherd larger, but they won’t be any healthier.
Still, a food that is too low in carbs will leave your dog feeling drained and sluggish. Thus, you need to make sure that you aren’t neglecting this crucial third element of canine nutrition.
Is This Dog Food Safe?
When asking yourself this question, you should never take the manufacturer’s word for anything. Instead, do a little bit of research. Get on a search engine and look for product recalls associated with that company.
Look for news reports of any high-profile incidents in which dogs might have been hurt or killed by this company’s products. This will give you a good idea of their overall safety record, which is the only thing you can trust.
Does This Dog Food Offer Additional Benefits?
Apart from gaining weight, you want your dog to obtain additional nutrition from this “bulking” process. Again, you could just stuff your dog full of empty carbs to help them gain weight, but they will gain little to no nutrition in the process.
Thus, you should look for things like vitamins, minerals, omega fatty acids, amino acids, and all the other things that these animals need to drive their bodily processes.
We hope that this article has been helpful to you and that you will now be in a better position to help your German Shepherd gain the weight that they need.
Certainly, it is important to maintain a healthy and happy pet, and our goal has been to help you do just that. If we have succeeded in this, we hope that you will come back soon to read more of our work.