What to feed your Doberman? This is a hotly debated topic, we will only provide guidelines for good diet choices rather than specific brands. We want you to know we are not paid or compensated in any way to endorse certain foods or brands. Also, this comes from years of research and experience consulting qualified sources such as longtime breed mentors, veterinarians, dog food companies, and canine nutrition experts. That said, I am not a veterinarian I am not a canine nutritionist. Each dog has their own nutritional needs so always consult with your breeder and vet. Make sure to gradually transition their diet if it is changed.
WHAT TO FEED?
Basically you can choose from dry dog food (kibble), wet canned dog food, raw feeding, or cooked home meals. There are pros and cons to all of those choices. I can only speak on what I prefer for my dogs. I would choose my dogs' diets based on what is best for the dog and not what is economical or convenient, but it is a consideration that I note for the reader's sake.
Dry Dog Food- most popular choice, economical, hard kibble helps to keep teeth cleaner, predictable nutrition analysis, convenient, potential recalls. This is what I feed and recommend, it is easy to supplement dry dog food with fresh cooked/raw foods as desired/needed.
Wet Canned Dog Food - can cause "picky eating," less economical, convenient, can lead to dental decay, predictable nutrition analysis, potential recalls. I really only recommend canned wet food for sick/recovering dogs, dogs direly needing to gain weight, dogs with teeth/jaw problems, and growing puppies transitioning to hard food.
Raw - growing in popularity (be careful of popular food trends, look for lasting data/research and not fads in canine industry), least economical can be very expensive, good quality ingredients, need to be careful dog is getting full spectrum of needed nutrients and macros, can be unsanitary or pose a risk to those with weakened immune system (including elderly/children), potential for recalls from Raw food companies. .....lots of people ask my personal opinion on RAW. From my research and experience and also just being logistical about when/where I feed my dogs, I think raw feeding is a wonderful supplement but would not endorse entire raw diet unless carefully and scientifically arranged to provide full spectrum of nutrition needs and also making sure that the diet can be provided consistently (think about while traveling or boarding etc). You can't just throw some raw meat in the bowl and expect it to cover their needs. For this reason, just be very thorough and conscientious about all the logistics of feeding a raw diet. In theory it could be very good for them. There is research that supports and does not support it.
Home Cooked - can cause "picky eating," less economical/convenient, can lead to dental decay, good quality control of ingredients. If your dog gets sick or upset tummy, feeding plain cooked chicken and rice is very helpful to them.
Choosing dry dog food
Learn to read your dog food bags and know the ingredients and order listed.
The basic guidelines:
1. Proper protein/fat/carbs/fiber ratios - (overall macros is important to maintain weight, condition, energy level, and growth)
2. Grainfree - (dogs, especially Dobermans, can be sensitive or irritated by grain filled diet, it is usually a cheap food filled with corn/grain)
3. Protein Source - (ingredients are in order from the highest quantity to lowest, the first ingredients should be a quality and identifiable protein from a quality source)
4. NO Byproducts - (meat/chicken/beef/etc byproduct is meat/parts in pet food is considered inedible, it is boiled down and rendered for fat, it may contain dead, diseased, dying, or decomposing animals or parts which may include: bones, feathers, body frame, undeveloped eggs, dead zoo animals, euthanized pets, diseased/dying livestock, and/or roadkill. GROSS. I would not feed this to my beloved pet.)
5. Meal vs Whole - (an advertising scheme used is saying whole chicken or chicken, beef, etc compared to chicken meal, salmon meal, or lamb meal which is ground up meat and 300% less water than "whole.")
6. Fruits/Veggies - (another advertising scheme is including all kinds of fruits and vegetables. Our dogs don't need a salad bar in their dog food. Certain fruit/veggie ingredients are very beneficial.)
7. Preservatives - (rosemary is a natural preservative, there are other ingredients including chemical ones in foods, if you don't know what it is look it up, avoid foods heavy in preservatives/chemicals/unknown ingredients)
8. Dyes - (your dog doesn't care if their kibble is purple, it is not healthy to eat a consistent diet of dyed food, avoid foods with heavy chemical dye coloring)
9. Ingredients - (know the ingredients, there are some ingredients that are "controversial" like tomato pumice for example, if you do your research and ask the experts you won't be in the dark and will know what is best for your dog)
How I determine if I "like the food:"
1. Dog needs to eat it. Some dogs just don't like certain foods (taste/texture/smell).
2. Dog's overall demeanor and vitality. Are they lacking or higher than usual in energy? Are they sluggish?
3. Coat condition. Should be odorless, short hard hairs, minimal shedding, with shine. Dull and rapid shedding coat indicates nutritional imbalance/lack.
4. POOP. Huge indicator right here. It is normal for soft stool while transitioning to new foods. But after 30-90 days on new food, the stool should be firm and regular.
5. Gas. Dobermans are known to have some gas... it should not be excessive.
6. Vomitting. Your dog should not vomit from new food, if they do - something is probably wrong. It may or may not be the food but check into it with your vet.
7. Weight. With appropriate activity level and appropriate amount of food, your dog should maintain a healthy weight. If they are over or underweight things may need adjusting but the food could have inadequate macro ratios for their metabolism.
Adding to your dog's regular diet can be beneficial.
We recommend adding:
- a can of fish or serving of raw once a week
- scrambled eggs
- cottage cheese (small amount, helps with weight gain/conditioning, too much dairy leads to gas)
- yogurt (helps with digestion)
- puree pumpkin (helps to regulate stool)
- cooked ground beef
- green beans (can replace part of the evening meal to help in weight loss, or just as a supplement)
- dog vitamins (careful, can be harmful to young puppies if given too much or wrong kind)
- fish oil capsules
- spoonful of coconut oil each day
Be careful not to over-supplement (too much calories, too much nutrition). Weight gain and too rapid of growth in young Dobermans can lead to added stress on the joints. Over nutrition can lead to organ failure in puppies, we have heard some really sad stories.
Why I do not feed puppy Formula food
Puppy formulas of dog food are very high in nutrition. This is good for growing puppies yes. It can be dangerous to larger breeds. If they have too rapid of growth, their joints can get majorly stressed or have organ failure. A VERY common problem is "pano." I have seen too many Doberman puppies start to develop pano and weaken their joints, quickly switch to adult food and see immediate improvement, so I avoid it all together. If the adult food the puppy gets is quality, they are getting plenty of nutrition. Some experts my endorse a specially formulated Large Breed Puppy formula.
do not feed - poisonous!!
- Alcoholic beverages
- Apple seeds
- Apricot pits
- Cherry pits
- Candy (particularly chocolate—which is toxic to dogs, cats, and ferrets—and any candy containing the toxic sweetener Xylitol)
- Coffee (grounds, beans, and chocolate-covered espresso beans)
- Gum (can cause blockages and sugar free gums may contain the toxic sweetener Xylitol)
- Hops (used in home beer brewing)
- Macadamia nuts
- Moldy foods
- Mushroom plants
- Mustard seeds
- Onions and onion powder
- Peach pits
- Potato leaves and stems (green parts)
- Rhubarb leaves
- Tea (because it contains caffeine)
- Tomato leaves and stems (green parts)
- Xylitol (artificial sweetener that is toxic to pets)
- Yeast dough
- snap peas
- string cheese
- plain jerky
- hot dogs/deli meat (good quality, not the cheap stuff)
- commercial bought dog treats (be conscientious consumer)
- minimal bit of peanut butter
- minimal amount of freeze dried meat
- plain cooked chicken breast (or liver, beef, etc)
How much/when to feed
Feed at least two meals a day. For a young puppy you may feed three times a day (add a lunch). Do not auto/self feed and do not bulk into one meal for a Doberman. They are at risk for bloat, and allowing that type of feeding schedule increases the risk.
The quantity you feed will depend on the age, weight/phsyical condition, and activity level of your Dobe as well as the type of food you are feeding. Generally on the back of the bag it will say the recommended amount per pound, you can adjust this to their needs/appetite. On a Doberman you should see the "waist" area tuck up and slenderize. They should be narrower in the gut area but of course not emaciated! If ribs are showing then feed more/supplement more. If there is a fat layer around the ribs and excess weight, substitute part of the evening meal for green beans, lighten the calories in their treats/training snacks, and exercise more. And when you first get your puppy, ask the breeder how much they are feeding the pup. New home transitions may cause the puppy to temporarily lose appetite in new surrounding, but they should be hungry soon and eating as normal.
This is important for a Doberman because 1) they are prone to bloat, a life threatening emergency, and 2) they are prone to "puppy acne" on their chin from unclean surfaces. We do not advise free feeders, raised feeders, ceramic or plastic feeders. We highly recommend stainless steel only as material for food and water bowl to keep things clean, and also use of "slow feeder bowl." You can see examples on our page detailing what supplies you will need. (Click HERE.)
Keep fresh water available at all times. Water consumption may need to be restricted at evening hours for puppy in potty training.