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5 Benefits of a Raw Diet for German Shepherds

Last Updated: December 18, 2023

The raw food diet for dogs has become increasingly popular in recent years, with proponents touting numerous health benefits and improvements in pet vitality. One breed that has attracted particular attention in this regard is the German Shepherd.

However, choosing the right diet for your dog is vital, so you must understand the potential benefits and challenges of feeding your German Shepherd a raw diet.

The concept of a raw diet, also known as raw meat-based diets (RMBDs) or biologically appropriate raw food (BARF) diets, revolves around feeding dogs uncooked, natural, and fresh ingredients, resembling the diet of their wild wolf ancestors.

Advocates claim that a raw diet can improve German Shepherds’ digestive health, skin and coat condition, and immune system function by eliminating processed commercial dog foods from their meals.

While raw diets promise a range of benefits, it’s crucial to thoroughly research this feeding approach, as certain safety concerns and risks must also be considered to ensure your dog thrives on a raw diet.

Key Takeaways:

  • A raw diet aims to replicate a natural, ancestral diet for dogs, potentially offering health benefits for German Shepherds.
  • It’s essential to understand the components, safety considerations, and risks associated with raw feeding before transitioning your dog.
  • Seeking nutritional expertise and monitoring your dog’s health on a raw diet can help ensure a smooth and positive dietary change.
A bowl of raw food for a German Shepherd

Understanding a Canine Raw Diet

A raw diet for German Shepherds, also known as a biologically appropriate raw food (BARF) diet, focuses on providing your furry friend with a species-appropriate and natural way of fulfilling their nutritional needs.

This approach aims to mimic the ancestral diet of carnivores, aligning with the idea that dogs thrive best on food that resembles what they might have eaten in the wild.

When planning a raw diet for your German Shepherd, pay close attention to the essential components of their meals. This typically includes a combination of raw, meaty bones, organ meats, muscle meats, fresh fruits, and vegetables.

The idea is to create a balanced diet that meets your dog’s nutritional requirements.

One key benefit of a raw diet for your German Shepherd is that it can potentially lead to a healthier coat and skin due to the naturally occurring fats and oils found in whole, unprocessed foods.

Additionally, this diet may contribute to improved dental health and fresher breath since chewing on raw meat and bones is an effective way to remove tartar and plaque.

Raw Meaty
Fruits & Veg
Chicken necksChicken liverBeefKale
Beef ribsBeef kidneyChickenCarrots
Pork tailPork heartsTurkeyApples
Sample raw diet components

When transitioning your German Shepherd to a raw diet, it’s important to gradually introduce these new foods.

Start by mixing a small amount of raw ingredients with their current food and gradually increasing the proportion of raw food over time. This will help your dog’s digestive system adjust to the new diet and minimize the risk of digestive upsets.

Always consult a veterinarian or canine nutrition expert before starting a raw diet for your German Shepherd. They can help you create a nutritionally balanced meal plan tailored to your dog’s needs.

Additionally, maintain proper food hygiene when handling raw meats to avoid potential risks of foodborne illnesses.

Advantages of Raw Feeding for a GSD

1. Promotes Healthy Skin and Coat

Feeding your German Shepherd a raw diet can contribute to healthy skin and a shinier coat. This is due to the natural nutrients found in raw food, such as vitamins, minerals, proteins, and healthy fats.

In addition, these nutrients can also help reduce inflammation and irritation in your dog’s skin.

2. Enhances Dental Health

Providing raw food like bone and meats can help improve your German Shepherd’s dental health. Chewing on raw bones can naturally help remove plaque and tartar buildup on their teeth, resulting in fresher breath and reduced risk of periodontal disease.

Just be cautious with the type and size of bones to avoid choking hazards or broken teeth.

3. Boosts Energy and Vitality

German Shepherd with a piece of raw meat.

A raw diet can contribute to increased energy levels in your German Shepherd. This is because raw food diets are much more easily digestible, which means your dog can efficiently absorb the essential nutrients and proteins it needs for physical activity.

As a result, you may notice your dog having more energy and better vitality.

4. Aids in Proper Digestion

Feeding your German Shepherd a raw diet can improve digestion and nutrient absorption.

Raw diets often contain natural enzymes that aid in breaking down food, enabling your dog’s digestive system to absorb vitamins and minerals more effectively. This can result in firmer and less frequent stools as well.

5. Strengthens Immune System

A well-balanced raw diet can help strengthen your German Shepherd’s immune system. The abundance of vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients in raw food can help support a healthy immune response, making your dog more resistant to various diseases and infections.

Ensuring your dog gets all the necessary nutrients will promote overall well-being and a stronger immune system.

Comparing Raw with Commercial Dog Food

Content of Raw Diets vs. Kibble

When considering a raw diet for your German Shepherd, it’s essential to know the differences in content between raw diets and kibble.

Raw diets typically consist of natural, raw ingredients such as meat, bones, organs, dairy, and vegetables, while commercial dog food, also known as kibble, often contains processed ingredients, fillers, additives, and preservatives.

Raw diets have a few advantages when it comes to content:

  • Variety: You can choose from a wide array of raw ingredients to provide a diverse diet for your German Shepherd.
  • Natural: Raw diets emphasize natural, unprocessed ingredients, making them potentially healthier for your dog.
  • Quality: With a raw diet, you control the quality of ingredients fed to your German Shepherd.
Raw Food and Kibble

On the other hand, kibble usually consists of the following:

  • Processed Ingredients: Regardless of the brand, kibble is often made with processed ingredients, which may lose some nutritional value during the manufacturing process.
  • Grains and Fillers: Kibble may contain grains and fillers, which add bulk to the diet but not necessarily nutritional value.
  • Additives and Preservatives: Kibble often contains additives and preservatives to extend shelf life, but these may not be the healthiest choices for a dog.

Nutritional Differences

In terms of nutritional value, raw diets offer some benefits over kibble:

  • Enzymes: Raw diets maintain the naturally occurring enzymes present in uncooked meats, which aid in your dog’s digestion and nutrient absorption.
  • Vitamins and Minerals: Raw diets provide a robust profile of vitamins and minerals, which your German Shepherd needs for optimal health.

However, kibble also has its advantages in terms of nutrition:

  • Consistency: Commercial dog food is formulated to provide consistent nutrient levels, ensuring your dog gets the necessary nutrients in each meal.
  • Convenience: Kibble is convenient and easy to store, as it does not require refrigeration or special handling.

When you’re deciding on a diet for your German Shepherd, it’s crucial to weigh the benefits of both raw diets and kibbles. Consider the nutritional needs of your dog, as well as factors such as convenience, cost, and budget.

Both raw and commercial dog food diets can provide your German Shepherd with the necessary nutrients, but it’s essential to find the right option that suits both of you.

Read more: Kibble vs. Raw Dog Food (Which is Better?)

Components of a Raw Diet Plan

In this section, we discuss the various components of a raw diet plan for German Shepherds.

We’ll cover the fundamentals of two popular raw feeding models—the BARF and Prey Model—and delve into the importance of incorporating proteins, meats, vegetables, fruits, and supplements in a balanced, healthy diet for your dog.

Fundamentals of BARF and Prey Model

The BARF (Biologically Appropriate Raw Food) and Prey Model are the two most popular approaches to raw feeding. While both promote the consumption of unprocessed whole foods, they differ in composition.

This diet emphasizes a mix of raw meat, bones, organs, vegetables, fruits, and supplements. The typical breakdown is as follows:

  • 70% muscle meat
  • 10% raw edible bones
  • 10% organs (5% liver and 5% other secreting organs)
  • 10% vegetables, fruits, and other supplements

Prey Model:
This approach primarily consists of raw meat, organs, and bones, simulating what a dog’s ancestral diet may have looked like. The usual breakdown is:

  • 80% muscle meat
  • 10% edible bones
  • 5% liver
  • 5% other secreting organs

Incorporating Proteins and Meats

To ensure your German Shepherd gets the essential nutrients, it’s important to provide a variety of proteins and meats in their diet. Common sources of protein in a raw diet include:

  • Muscle meats: Chicken, beef, lamb, turkey, and fish
  • Meaty bones: Chicken wings, necks, and backs; turkey necks; and smaller beef ribs
  • Organ meats: Liver, kidney, heart, and spleen

Rotate these protein sources periodically to expose your dog to various flavors and nutrients. Make sure to feed a proper proportion of muscle meats, meaty bones, and organ meats according to your model.

Vegetables, Fruits, and Supplements

Although the BARF model considers vegetables and fruits valuable additions, the Prey model doesn’t emphasize their importance. Regardless of the model, some owners choose to include:

  • Vegetables: Carrots, broccoli, and spinach
  • Fruits: Apples, bananas, and blueberries

Additionally, supplements can help cover any nutritional gaps in your German Shepherd’s raw diet. Key supplements include:

  • Fish oil: For omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids
  • Calcium: To help maintain strong bones

Before introducing any changes to your dog’s diet, consult with a veterinarian or canine nutrition expert to optimize the raw diet plan according to your German Shepherd’s specific needs.

Safety Considerations and Risks

As a German Shepherd owner, you might be considering a raw diet for your dog’s health. It’s important to be aware of the safety considerations and potential risks involved.

In this section, we’ll discuss two key aspects: Prevention of Bacterial Infections and Choking Hazards and Bone Safety.

Raw Dog Diet

Prevention of Bacterial Infections

When feeding raw meat and bones to your German Shepherd, it’s crucial to maintain proper food safety protocols to reduce the risk of bacterial infections like Salmonella and E. coli.

Here are some practices to follow:

  • Storage: Keep raw meat and bones frozen or refrigerated at safe temperatures until serving. Thoroughly clean and sanitize any surfaces that come into contact with raw food.

  • Cleanliness: Wash your hands frequently when handling raw meat and bones, and make sure your dog’s eating area is also kept clean.

  • Cooking: Although a raw diet is based on uncooked food, some experts suggest lightly cooking some meats to kill bacteria.
  • Consultation: Consult with a veterinarian to ensure your dog’s health is not compromised by bacterial infections.

Remember that bacterial infections can not only affect your dog but also threaten human health.

Choking Hazards and Bone Safety

Another safety concern when feeding your German Shepherd a raw diet is the potential choking hazard and associated risk with bones. To minimize these risks, be attentive to the following:

  • Type of Bones: Offer raw, meaty bones appropriate for your dog’s size, such as neck and large leg bones. Never feed cooked bones, as they can splinter and cause injury.
  • Supervision: Always supervise your dog when he is eating bones, and make sure he is chewing them properly to avoid any choking accidents.

  • Bone Alternatives: If you’re concerned about your German Shepherd’s ability to safely consume bones, consider other options, such as grinding the bones or offering bone meal as a supplement.

Implementing these safety precautions will help you ensure that feeding your German Shepherd a raw diet is a healthy and enjoyable experience for you and your dog.

Transitioning Your Dog to a Raw Diet

To make the change to a raw diet as smooth as possible, it’s important to consider a gradual transition, follow a well-researched diet plan, consult with a veterinarian, and have proper preparations in place.

Start by gradually introducing raw food into your dog’s current diet over a week or two. This will allow your dog’s digestive system to adjust to the new food.

You can begin by replacing about 25% of their current food with raw food, slowly increasing the raw portion each day until you’ve completely switched to the raw diet.

It’s essential to have a well-balanced diet plan for your German Shepherd to ensure they receive all the necessary nutrients from their raw diet. This should include a mix of meat, bones, organs, fruits, and vegetables.

Long Haired White German Shepherd

Raw Diet Management: Cost and Time

Budgeting for Raw Ingredients

Switching your German Shepherd to a raw diet can certainly be beneficial, but it’s important to consider the costs involved.

When budgeting for raw ingredients, remember that you’ll need a variety of proteins, fruits, vegetables, and supplements to provide a balanced diet.

You can reduce the overall cost of feeding a homemade diet by sourcing ingredients from local butchers, farmers’ markets, or bulk stores.

  1. Proteins: Look for sales or discounts on meat at your local grocery store or butcher. Buying in bulk and freezing meat can save you money.
  2. Fruits and vegetables: Choose seasonal produce and visit farmers’ markets for fresh, low-cost options.
  3. Supplements: Purchase quality supplements like fish oil and bone meal in bulk to save.

Time Commitment and Meal Preparation

Preparing a raw diet for your German Shepherd takes time and effort. You’ll need to plan and prepare meals in advance to ensure your pet is receiving the necessary nutrients.

Here are some tips to help you manage your time when preparing a raw diet:

  1. Plan meals: Create a weekly or monthly meal plan and shopping list so you know what you need before heading to the store.
  2. Batch prep: Dedicate one day a week to preparing your dog’s meals in bulk. Store them in the freezer in individual containers for easy access.
  3. Freeze-dried and frozen options: If you’re short on time, consider using high-quality freeze-dried or frozen raw dog food options. They may be a bit more expensive but can save you time.

Remember, while the cost and time investment may be a little more than traditional kibble, the potential health benefits of a raw diet for your German Shepherd could save you money on vet bills in the long run.

Monitoring Your Dog’s Health

When transitioning your German Shepherd to a raw diet, it’s essential to monitor their health closely.

Keep an eye on their physical and behavioral changes to ensure they’re getting the necessary nutrients and not experiencing any adverse effects. Remember, a healthy dog is a happy dog!

First, regularly check your dog for any signs of allergies. This could include excessive itching, redness, or swelling.

Food allergies can develop even on a raw diet, so don’t dismiss these symptoms. Talk to your veterinarian if your dog shows any allergic reactions.

Monitor your German Shepherd’s weight and body condition, as weight gain or loss might indicate potential health issues.

While raw diets can help with weight management, there’s still a risk for problems, such as diabetes and heart disease. A sudden or unhealthy change in weight could be telling.

Additionally, keep an eye out for other symptoms that might signal health issues:

  • Changes in energy levels: A decline in activity or sudden lethargy can be a red flag.
  • Digestive issues: Persistent vomiting or diarrhea should be addressed with a veterinarian.
  • Coat and skin health: Changes in the quality of your dog’s skin and coat might indicate nutritional deficiencies.
Search and Rescue German Shepherd

Exploring Nutritional Expertise

When considering a raw diet for your German Shepherd, I recommend you consult with a veterinary nutritionist or a knowledgeable vet.

These experts have dedicated their careers to understanding canine nutrition and can provide you with valuable insights based on the latest research.

One of the key benefits of working with a veterinary nutritionist is that they can help you create a balanced and nutritious meal plan tailored specifically for your German Shepherd.

This ensures your dog receives the right combination of proteins, fats, vitamins, and minerals for optimal health.

This study found that raw meat-based dog diets can have potential health benefits. However, there are also risks associated with feeding raw meat, such as bacterial contamination.

By consulting a veterinary nutritionist, you can minimize these risks and make informed decisions about your dog’s diet.

Here are a few tips from experts to help you navigate raw diets for your German Shepherd:

  1. Quality matters: Choose high-quality, fresh ingredients to ensure your dog receives the best nutrition possible.
  2. Variety is key: Offer various meats, bones, and organs to provide a balanced and diverse diet.
  3. Supplements can help: If necessary, add appropriate supplements under your vet’s guidance to ensure your dog receives all the necessary nutrients.
  4. Stay informed: Stay current with the latest research in canine nutrition to make the best choices for your German Shepherd’s health.

Common Myths and Misconceptions

As you explore the benefits of a raw diet for your German Shepherd, it’s important to address some common myths and misconceptions about their nutrition requirements and feeding habits.

Our friendly guide will help you sort through the misinformation and make a well-informed decision for your dog.

  • Myth 1: Grains and carbohydrates are bad for German Shepherds. While it’s true that some dogs – just like humans – may have sensitivities or allergies to certain grains, these are generally good sources of energy, fiber, and essential nutrients. Remember to choose whole grains like brown rice, quinoa, and oats, as they provide a well-balanced diet for your German Shepherd.
  • Myth 2: Dairy products should be completely avoided. While some dogs may be lactose intolerant, dairy products like yogurt and cottage cheese can actually provide a good source of protein, calcium, and probiotics in moderate amounts. Always monitor your dog’s reaction when introducing dairy products and adjust accordingly.
  • Myth 3: Raw feeding is dangerous due to bacteria and parasites. Yes, raw food does have a risk of bacterial and parasitic infections. However, by practicing proper hygiene, you can minimize these risks. Ensure you handle, store, and prepare raw food correctly, clean all surfaces and utensils thoroughly, and source high-quality meat from reliable suppliers.
  • Myth 4: Commercial dog food is always inferior to a raw diet. Not all commercial dog foods are created equal. High-quality dog food can provide balanced nutrition. If you cannot provide a complete and balanced raw diet, don’t hesitate to explore some of the premium commercial dog food options available.


What are the health benefits of a raw diet for German Shepherd?

A raw diet for German Shepherds may offer several health benefits, such as improved skin and coat health, increased energy levels, and better digestion. Feeding raw, whole foods can also lead to cleaner teeth and gums, reduced stool odor, and improved weight management.

However, you must consult your veterinarian before making any significant changes to your dog’s diet. This review provides a more detailed examination of raw food diets for companion animals.

How can a raw diet affect the growth of a German Shepherd puppy?

Feeding a balanced, raw diet can play a vital role in the healthy growth and development of a German Shepherd puppy. A well-balanced, raw diet can provide essential nutrients such as proteins, fats, vitamins, and minerals. However, it’s crucial to ensure nutritional adequacy, especially during the growth stage.

What types of meat are considered best when feeding a German Shepherd a raw diet?

Selecting high-quality meats is crucial for your German Shepherd’s raw diet. Some excellent meat options include beef, chicken, turkey, lamb, and fish. Remember to provide a variety of meats and adjust the proportions to suit your dog’s activity levels.

Can a raw diet help with weight management in German Shepherds?

Yes, a raw diet can help with weight management in German Shepherds. By controlling the proportions and types of ingredients used, you can sufficiently meet your dog’s energy and nutritional requirements without unnecessary calories.

Consult your veterinarian for guidance on ideal portions and ingredients to support healthy weight maintenance.

Sharon Waddington
Sharon Waddington is the founder of World of Dogz. With over 30 years of experience working with dogs, this former Police Officer has seen it all. But it’s her trusty German Shepherd, Willow, who steals the show as the inspiration behind this website. As Sharon’s constant companion Willow has played a pivotal role in shaping her passion for dogs. Recently, Sharon has become deeply passionate about the plight of rescue dogs and is an active advocate for dog rescue, striving to make a difference in the lives of dogs in need.

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