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Best Dog Food for Dobermans

Dobermans are large, muscular, and an active working breed that have some very specific nutritional needs. The importance of food choice cannot be overstated, you’ll need to choose carefully to not only fuel your dogs active lifestyle, but it may also prevent future health issues, and extend their overall life span.

There are a number of health concerns with Dobermans that need to be addressed before we choose the best food for them.

But keep in mind there is no single “best” dog food for all Dobermans, every dog is different and you’ll need address your dogs dietary needs specifically. What I highly recommend is talking to your vet to better understand your dog's specific dietary needs.

There are 3 things you'll need to be aware of:

  • Understanding the nutritional needs of your dog based on age, activity, health, and size
  • How to choose a high grade, balanced dog food by properly reading ingredients.
  • And most importantly: Being aware of the health issues that may occur with Dobermans

Best Dog Foods at a Glance

Nutritional Needs

Dobermans are big active dogs that requires higher calorie intake than a typical dog. With an average adult weighing 80lbs – you can expect a typical caloric intake of 2100 calories per day.

Also, their meals will need to be split up into 2 or 3 meals throughout the day, instead of 1 large meal, as Dobermans are susceptible to bloat.

Beyond these basic Doberman needs, you'll need to look at your dogs individual needs, and choose dog food based on age, nutrients (protein, carbs, and fat), and health concerns. 

Age

When choosing food, your dog will fall within one of these age groups - Puppy, Adult, & Senior.

Puppy food will contain more calories to accommodate all that growing and playing your dog needs to do. However, Doberman puppies can grow too quickly – causing strain on joints and bones. Therefore, it’s recommend you feed your dog Large Dog Puppy Food until they reach 80% of their adult size.

Senior dog food will help control calories, and high quality proteins to maintain weight without putting strain on the kidneys.

Finally, Adult Doberman food will be somewhere in between, but they'll still need high quality proteins, essential fatty acids, and a maintained level of calories for an active lifestyle.

Protein

Protein is used for all aspects of growth – including muscular, skeletal, nervous system, immune system, and even brain development. Animal proteins contain essential amino acids (the building blocks of protein) that dogs need to fuel, grow, and be healthy.

How much protein should your Doberman get? Use the following chart from Dr. Foster and Smith for recommended protein and fat levels.

Species and Growth Stage Recommended Protein Recommended Fat
Puppy 22-32% 10-25%
Adult Dog 15-30% 10-20%
Performance Dog 22-32% 15-40%
Racing Dog 28-34% Greater than 50%
Lactating Dog 25-35% Greater or equal to 20%

Each dog food bag will have a percentage listed for their protein and fat content that you can reference.  

Too Much Protein for Dobermans?

Protein is a primary source of energy for all dogs, so there’s generally no concern with feeding ‘too much protein’, other than the possibility of overfeeding and creating too much fat on the body.

However, Dobermans are prone to what’s called Canine Juvenile Renal Disease – or Kidney disease. This is hereditary (meaning it is inherited from their parents), and excessive protein creates high nitrogen that can further stress the kidneys.

Which is why it’s important you consult with a Vet, as reducing protein for a dog suffering from Kidney disease may extend their life.

Fats

Fat is just as important part of your dogs diet as protein – fats and oils maintain nervous function, skin and coat health, joints, organs, and encourage vitamin absorption. Dobermans typically have a shiny, sleek coat, however their coat will dull and flake when they have a deficiency in fat in their diet.

You’ll most commonly find chicken fat, pork fat, fish oil, or flax seed oil in dog food.

However, you can supplement their food with omega 3 fish oil, or even olive oil for some added benefit if they have a deficiency. Keep in mind that oils and fats are calorie dense, so cautious of overfeeding as that can lead to obesity.

Always discuss with your vet prior to supplementing your dog’s food.

Good Sources of Fatty Acids:

Chicken Fat, Pork Fat, Olive Oil, Flaxseed Oil, Fish Oils.

What Fats Should I Avoid?

Animal Fat, Poultry Fat, Vegetable Oil, Lard.

Carbohydrates

While carbs are a hotly debated topic when it comes to feeding dogs, high quality complex carbohydrates are recommended for Dobermans as it’s a calorie dense fuel source that’s easily digestible.

Furthermore, Dobermans are prone to low blood sugar (hypoglycemia), so a proper balance of protein and slow burning carbs will help with low blood sugar.

What are the Good Complex Carb Sources?

Brown Rice, Whole Oats, Whole Wheat, Quinoa, Rye, Barley, Buckwheat, and Sweet Potato.

What Carbs Should I Avoid?

Corn, Cornmeal, Corn Gluten, Wheat Gluten, Soy, Sugar, White Flour, White Rice, Pasta.

What about Grain-Free Diets?

Try not to confuse Grain-free for Carb-free. Grain-free dog foods will avoid fibers such as wheat, rice, oats, barley, and rye - ingredients not typically part of your dogs carnivorous dietary needs.

Does this mean grain-free diets are healthier? Not necessarily. To avoid grains commercial diets will then use other carbohydrate sources such as potato or tapioca starch. These sources have low to moderate nutritional value compared to grains.

Doberman Health Concerns

Dobermans have a number of prone health issues which can affect them in early puppyhood, and all the way until they become seniors. Each one of these will change how you feed your dog, and may require consulting with a vet to address.

Here's a quick look at some of the potential health risks with this breed:

Reading Dog Food Labels

Dog food packaging like to use popular “buzz words” like:

  • All Natural
  • Raw
  • Wild
  • Premium
  • Holistic

These are basically meaningless, and may not truly represent the ingredients. There may also be a feel-good story on the back about discovering the heart of nature in your canine, great, but that doesn't help us. Be aware of trendy sell-words and only pay attention to the ingredients list.

Protein, Vegetables, Fat, and Carbs

Ingredients are ordered by weight, starting with the heaviest - That means your main protein should always be first on the ingredient list. Look for the same proteins that are listed on the front. If the front of the bag says Lamb, then the first ingredient should read: Lamb or Lambmeal.

It shouldn't use broad words such as: “Meat,” “Poultry,” or “Animal.”

Typically the next set of ingredients will be vegetables and fruits. Although these aren’t necessary in a dog’s diet, they do add nutritional value with vitamins, minerals, and fiber.

Fats are absolutely essential, and should come from a high quality source. These should be listed within the first 5-10 ingredients. Look for fats like: flaxseed oil, fish oil, animal fat, or chicken fat.

Finally, you should look at the carbohydrate source, in many grain free diets you’ll see potato, sweet potato, peas, or pea fiber used. In other brands you may see brown rice, oats, barley, or wheat.

Carbs serve as a calorie dense energy source for your dogs, but also it helps the manufacturing process by binding the dry kibble more efficiently. Visit which carbs to avoid listed above for more info.

What To Avoid At All Costs

Here is the full list of ingredients to avoid – typically found in low quality and cheap dog food.

But here’s the short list:

  • Preservatives such as BHA, BHT and ethoxyquin
  • Additional “Flavoring”
  • By-Products
  • Colors
  • Sugar and Sweeteners

Switching food

Avoid switching food immediately, as this will certainly lead to an upset stomach and diarrhea. Make the switch gradually, using a combination of their old dog food with the new dog food over the course of 7 days.

Food Transition Chart from PetFirst

Example of Food Transition:

  • Day 1 to 3 - 20% New Food / 80% Old Food
  • Day 4 to 6 - 50% New Food / 50% Old Food
  • Day 7 to 9 - 80% New Food / 20% Old Food
  • Day 7 - 100% New Food

Our Food Recommendations:

1. Wellness Core

Our Rating:

Wellness CORE is a grain-free, protein rich dog food that only uses natural, premium ingredients and is manufactured in the USA.

While US based dog food might not sound like a big deal, there have been many severe health issues which stemmed from overseas production of food.

Let's dive a little deeper by looking at the ingredients in their original Chicken and Turkey recipe (ingredients listed below).


First thing you'll notice is deboned chicken, a good source of protein, however most water-rich protein sources lose 80% of it's protein when dried. Next is chicken meal and turkey meal, these contain 300% more protein when dried and are still a high quality protein source. From this we can conclude this Wellness CORE is indeed protein rich.

Next is potatoes as their primary carbohydrate source, although potatoes are only moderately nutritional, it is gluten and grain-free and easily digestible. Further down the line we have peas, tomato pomace, and ground potatoes, these act as filler and additional fiber, and still contain nutritional value. Then we get ground flaxseed, and chicken fat, both excellent sources of omega 3 - 6 fatty acids.

Based on these primary ingredients we can conclude this is a high quality, protein-rich food, with no grains, which is more akin to a canines natural diet. There are some carb sources that could be considered filler products in the form of potatoes and peas, however these grain-free carbohydrate sources still contain nutritional value for your dog.

Ingredients - Original Chicken and Turkey

Deboned chicken, chicken meal, turkey meal, potatoes, peas, tomato pomace, dried ground potatoes, ground flaxseed, chicken fat (preserved with mixed tocopherols), natural chicken flavor, pea fiber, potassium chloride, spinach, broccoli, vitamin E supplement, carrots, parsley, apples, blueberries, kale, sweet potatoes, taurine, l-carnitine, mixed tocopherols added to preserve freshness, zinc proteinate, glucosamine hydrochloride, chondroitin sulfate, zinc sulfate, calcium carbonate, niacin, ferrous sulfate, iron proteinate, beta-carotene, vitamin A supplement, copper sulfate, thiamine mononitrate, copper proteinate, manganese proteinate, manganese sulfate, d-calcium pantothenate, sodium selenite, pyridoxine hydrochloride, chicory root extract, Yucca schidigera extract, riboflavin, vitamin D3 supplement, biotin, calcium iodate, vitamin B12 supplement, folic acid, ascorbic acid (vitamin C), dried Lactobacillus plantarum fermentation product, dried Enterococcus faecium fermentation product, dried Lactobacillus casei fermentation product, dried Lactobacillus acidophilus fermentation product, rosemary extract, green tea extract, spearmint extract


Pros:

  • Protein Rich
  • Made in USA.
  • Overall excellent quality ingredients
  • Grain-Free
  • Excellent source of Omega 3 and Omega 6 Fatty Acids (Flax seed, Salmon Oil, Chicken Fat)
  • Fiber-Rich and easily digestable

Cons:

  • Primary carb source are Potatoes as 4th ingredient, and ground potatoes as 7th ingredient. Potatoes are moderately nutritional, and they appear to have used a lot in this recipe.
  • May be more expensive compared to other high quality brands.

Wellness Core is a AAA Dog food brand with premium protein-rich ingredients, no by-products of preservatives, and produced in the USA. They use grain free ingredients, 

Our Rating:

Blue Wilderness is grain-free dog food brand that focus on natural ingredients your dog would consume out in the wild. Natural ingredients such as wild protein, fat, vegetables, and fruit, without byproducts, grain, or preservatives.

​Does it live up to these claims? In short, yes.

But let's take a deep dive into the ingredients to better understand this recipe.

​​First thing we read is Deboned Salmon, a great source of protein, however when salmon is dried it will generally lose 80% of it's weight (due to water mass), and therefore be deprived of protein. The next ingredients are fish meal and chicken meal, a high quality protein source which will contains 300% more protein when dried. Based on this we can conclude Blue Wilderness to be a very high quality protein source.

Also note that this Salmon formula contains chicken, so if your dog is suffering from chicken allergies this can certainly trigger a reaction.

The main carbohydrate source is Potato Starch and Potato, a moderately nutritional carb that also acts as filler. Potatoes are gluten and grain-free and are easily digestible. Peas and Tomato Pomace also act as a nutritional and fibrous filler.

The primary fat content comes from Chicken Fat, and further down the line we see Flax seed, both an excellent source of Omega 3 - 6 essential fatty acids. Then we have Alfalfa Meal, which is a natural vegetable based protein generally used to feed live stock and horses.

​From the list of primary ingredients we can conclude this be a very high quality food product, that does meet their claims of ingredients that stays true to a canines dietary requirements.


Ingredients - Salmon Formula

Deboned Salmon, Menhaden Fish Meal (natural source of Omega 3 Fatty Acids), Chicken Meal, Potato Starch, Peas, Chicken Fat (preserved with Natural Mixed Tocopherols and Citric Acid), Potatoes, Tomato Pomace (natural source of Lycopene), Natural Chicken Flavor, Flaxseed (natural source of Omega 3 and 6 Fatty Acids), Alfalfa Meal, Whole Carrots, Whole Sweet Potatoes, Blueberries, Cranberries, Barley Grass, Dried Parsley, Dried Kelp, Taurine, Yucca Shidigera Extract, L-Carnitine, L-Lysine, Turmeric, Oil of Rosemary, Beta Carotene, Vitamin A Supplement, Thiamine Mononitrate (Vitamin B1), Riboflavin (Vitamin B2), Niacin (Vitamin B3), d-Calcium Pantothenate (Vitamin B5), Pyridoxine Hydrochloride (Vitamin B6), Biotin (Vitamin B7), Folic Acid (Vitamin B9), Vitamin B12 Supplement, Calcium Ascorbate (source of Vitamin C), Vitamin D3 Supplement, Vitamin E Supplement, Iron Amino Acid Chelate, Zinc Amino Acid Chelate, Manganese Amino Acid Chelate, Copper Amino Acid Chelate, Choline Chloride, Sodium Selenite, Calcium Iodate, Salt, Caramel, Potassium Chloride, Saccharomyces cerevisiae, Lactobacillus acidophilus, Bacillus subtilis, Enterococcus faecium.

Pros:

  • First Ingredient is Salmon and Fish meal.
  • Excellent source of Omega 3 - 6 Fatty Acids
  • Grain-Free
  • Fiber Rich
  • Ingredients are not sourced from China

Cons:

  • Typically more expensive than other brands.
  • Potato and Potato starch as primary carb source, moderately nutritional, however it's still gluten and grain free and easily digestible.

Blue Wilderness claims it was inspired by the diet of wolves, and it certainly holds true to that claim. All the ingredients follow a true omnivore diet of protein, essential fats, fruits, and vegetables. The primary carbs are fibrous and easily digestible, and the protein is high value. Our main concern with the salmon recipe is it contains chicken meal, which could be an issue for Labradors with food allergies. 

3. Acana Pacifica

Our Rating:

Acana is becoming a very popular dog food brand in North America, and they've been receiving great reviews on their food (for good reason).

We like Acana because of their quality ingredients, and that it's being manufactured in Canada. This might not seem like a big deal, but there have been some serious health concerns stemming from food being manufactured overseas.


Let's take a look at our recommendation: Acana Pacifica


First thing you'll notice is deboned Salmon, a good source of protein, however most water-rich protein sources lose 80% of it's protein when dried. Next is salmon meal, herring meal, and whitefish meal, all being very high quality protein, and these contain 300% more protein when dried. Obviously an excellent source of protein here.

Green Peas is next on the menu, generally this is a filler to help bind the product efficiently, but peas serve as a fibrous and vitamin-rich carbohydrate for your dog. Red lentils are a legume, which embodies a healthy source of protein, fiber, and iron. Next we have Whole potatoes, a starchy carb source that's grain free.

For fats we have herring oil, and excellent fish oil and source of omega 3s.

Further down the line we have Canola oil, a modified fat source with little nutritional value, but dense in calories. This is where the ingredients fall flat, and Acana opted for a cheap fat source over something more beneficial.

Ingredients - Pacifica

Boneless Salmon, salmon meal, herring meal, whitefish meal, green peas, red lentils, whole potatoe, boneless herring, boneless flounder, herring oil, field beans, canola oil, suncured alfalfa, pea fiber, natural fish flavor, whole apples, whole pears, sweet potato, pumpkin, butternut squash, parsnips, carrots, spinach greens, cranberries, blueberries, kelp, chicory root, juniper berries, angelica root, marigold flowers, sweet fennel, peppermint leaf, lavender, rosemary, vitamin A supplement, vitamin D3 supplement, vitamin E supplement, niacin, riboflavin, folic acid, biotin, vitamin B12 supplement, zinc proteinate, iron proteinate, copper proteinate, selenium yeast, dried Enterococcus faecium fermentation product.


Pros:

  • Protein Rich
  • Inexpensive compared to other high quality brands
  • Made in North America
  • Overall excellent quality ingredients
  • Grain-Free
  • Excellent source of Omega 3 and Omega 6 Fatty Acids (Flax seed, Salmon Oil, Chicken Fat)
  • Fiber-Rich and easily digestable

Cons:

  • Uses Canola oil as a fat source, which holds little nutritional value
  • Uses potatoes as a primary carb source, which is moderately nutritional
  • May be slightly more expensive than other brands.

Based on these primary ingredients we can conclude this is a high quality, protein-rich food, with no grains, which is more akin to a canines natural diet. There are some carb sources that could be considered filler products in the form of potatoes and peas, however these grain-free carbohydrate sources still contain nutritional value for your dog.

Fish content and Herring oil offer a very high quality fats, but unfortunately also includes Canola oil, which contains little extra nutritional value.

4. Natures Variety Instinct

Our Rating:

Nature's Variety Instinct is another popular grain-free dog food that claims to focus on their carnivorous cravings and nutritional needs. 


By closely examining the ingredients we can determine if this is true. We'll start by looking at their most popular Chicken recipe. 

​​First ingredient is Chicken meal, a common and high-quality source of protein. Followed by Tapioca, a carbohydrate source extracted from the root of cassava plants.


Although this starch is gluten and grain free, it holds low nutritional value and is high-glycemic, and is generally used as a 'binder' for the kibble. 


Third ingredient is Chicken Fat, a good source of omega 3 essential fatty acids. Followed by Pumpkin Seeds, a very good source of fiber, fatty acids, and natural defense to tape worms. We then have fish meal, another valuable source of protein, and Alfalfa Meal, a vegetable protein often used to feed livestock and horses. 

Next we have Montmorillonite Clay, a natural anti-caking agent, but also a natural detoxifier sometimes used by vets. Also, it's been known to improve immune system and strengthen bones. 

Based on their primary ingredients we can say this is a very good source of protein, and a good balance of protein, carbs, and fat - which is suitable for a dogs more carnivorous nature. 

Ingredients

Chicken Meal, Tapioca, Chicken Fat, Pumpkinseeds, Menhaden Fish Meal, Sun-Cured Alfalfa Meal, Montmorillonite Clay, Natural Chicken Flavor, Vitamins (Choline Chloride, Vitamin E Supplement, Ascorbic Acid, Biotin, Niacin Supplement, Vitamin A Acetate, d-Calcium Pantothenate, Riboflavin Supplement, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Thiamine Mononitrate, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Carotene, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Folic Acid), Minerals (Zinc Proteinate, Iron Proteinate, Manganese Proteinate, Copper Proteinate, Sodium Selenite, Ethylenediamine Dihydriodide), Sea Salt, Dried Kelp, Direct-Fed Microorganisms (Saccharomyces Cerevisiae Yeast Culture, Dried Enterococcus Faecium Fermentation Product, Dried Lactobacillus Acidophilus Fermentation Product, Dried Aspergillus Niger Fermentation Extract, Dried Trichoderma Longibrachiatum Fermentation Extract, Dried Bacillus Subtilis Fermentation Extract), Inulin, Flaxseed Oil, Apples, Carrots, Peas, Cottage Cheese, Chicken Eggs, Mixed Tocopherols with Citric Acid (a natural preservative), Rosemary Extract, Freeze Dried Chicken, Freeze Dried Turkey, Freeze Dried Turkey Liver, Freeze Dried Turkey Heart, Ground Chicken Bone, Butternut Squash, Broccoli, Lettuce, Spinach, Salmon Oil, Apple Cider Vinegar, Parsley, Honey, Blueberries, Alfalfa Sprouts, Persimmons, Olive Oil, Duck Eggs, Pheasant Eggs, Quail Eggs, Rosemary, Sage, Clove.

Pros:

  • Multiple sources of high quality protein (Chicken, Fish, Alfalfa)
  • A large assortment of extra vitamins and minerals
  • Grain-Free

Cons:

  • Tapioca as primary starch. Although it has no negative effects, it contains very little nutritional value and is high glycemic. 

Natures Variety Instinct is a very good source of high quality protein, and makes use of supplemental vitamins and minerals. They are more in balance with your dogs natural carnivorous diet. However, their primary starch pick doesn't hold much nutritional value, and it's considered high-glycemic. 

Conclusion

Based on our review of each ingredient in these top dog food brands, you can now use this as a reference guide for choosing the best dog food for your Doberman. Even if you don't use our picks, you'll have a better idea on how to look at the label and make educated decisions.

Always consult with a vet before choosing dog food, Dobermans has many underlying health concerns, and that can change how you select dog food to meet their specific needs.

So, what do you feed your Doberman? What worked best for you? And have you had to deal with any health issues that changed your dog food? Please let us know in the comments!

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