Looking for a large breed puppy food isn’t exactly a walk in the park. Though it’s a responsibility most dog-parents bear happily, but who doesn’t need a little help every now and then?
All puppy caretakers want their furry little friend to live a long and healthy life, and that means good nutrition. So, if you’ve been on the hunt for the right food, then we have some great news for you. Not only are we about to provide you with a spectacularly comprehensive list of large breed puppy foods, but we’ll also tell you what to look for when buying chow for large breed pups. All that we need you to do is – read and enjoy.
Why Do Large Breeds Need Special Puppy Food?
For the most part, doggy nutrition is the same for large, medium, and small canines. Dogs require a varied amount of nutrients, among which are minerals and vitamins. In fact, most high-grade dog food brands make sure to include sources of carbohydrates, protein, and fiber. They do this to ensure that your dog gets all the nourishment it requires from a food source.
However, nutrition for large breed puppies is somewhat unique. This is because large breed puppies can develop certain health conditions – like hypercalcemia – which can permanently damage bone growth. The best puppy food for large breeds is concocted to avoid any such health risks while providing optimal nutrition.
Developmental Orthopedic Diseases (DODs) are common in breeds like Rottweilers, Great Danes, and Saint Bernards. These DODs can manifest as ailments like acute inflammatory joint disease, hip dysplasia, and osteoarthritis. More often than not, the cause of such conditions in large breed pups can either be excessive mineral and calcium intake, imbalance of vitamin D, high calcium to phosphorus ratio, or even high-energy diets. This is why it’s extremely important to pay close attention to the diet of a large breed pup and purchase puppy foods that are specifically formulated for them until they can eat adult recipes (see our article on the switch).
How To Choose Large Breed Puppy Foods?
Now that you’re aware of the kind of problems your large breed pup can develop because of poor diet – let’s talk a little about how you can choose the best large breed puppy food.
We’ve put together four major factors you should consider when you’re out to buy some puppy grub for your furry little friend. Not only will this make for an easier read, but it’ll also help you remember the details better.
Ingredients are super-essential to human and doggy cuisine. To pick the brand of food for your canine, pay close attention to its components. Here are some of the ingredients that are absolutely necessary for a large breed pup’s diet.
Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids help with brain and eye function, and they’re also great for healthy skin and a shiny pelt. There are claims that Omega Fatty Acids also help with cognitive function. That’s why it’s best to opt for a puppy food that contains salmon or flax seeds because they’re considered a natural source of the Omega Fatty Acids.
Next up are proteins that act as the building block of life – for all life forms. Protein is a necessary source of energy and helps in tissue formation. Any dog food that you’re looking to buy should have a source of protein as the main ingredient. For instance, chicken, beef, salmon. You should avoid foods that list grain as the main source of protein. Probiotics are healthy bacteria that may aid and improve your pup’s digestive processes. Whereas prebiotics is a type of dietary fiber that boosts digestion. Both are important to a pup’s overall health and should be included in any dog food you want to purchase.
Let’s put it like this – if you had to choose between a hamburger and a Michelin star meal without worrying about the cost, which would you pick? The answer is obvious – almost everyone will opt to go with the Michelin star meal because flavors are everything when it comes to food.
Similarly, when you go browsing for canine food, keep your dog’s tastes in mind. If your puppy is a meat-eater who has no particular favorites, then the sky’s your limit. But, if your pup is a picky little thing, then its best to entice it with strong aromatic meaty flavors. The more aromatic the food is the better – because dogs have a very keen sense of smell.
Also, speaking of flavors, do your best to avoid any artificial flavorings in dog food. Artificial ingredients have no real nutritional value and may go on to cause your puppy trouble like food allergies.
Because we like smooth segues, we mentioned food allergies briefly in the previous category. Speaking of allergies, did you know that 10% of all allergies in dogs are food-related? There’s no definite answer as to what triggers allergies in dogs, but some experts have argued that the use of antibiotics in puppyhood can cause allergies later on in life.
Still, the best way to tell if your pup is allergic to food is to watch for allergy symptoms like diarrhea, gas, itchy rear end, and ear inflammation. Additionally, here’s a list of common allergens:
Keep a close eye on your pooch the first time you try out these ingredients. If it displays any signs of an allergy attack, take it to the vet – pronto.
Breed Of Dog
As we mentioned in the beginning, all dogs need to consume a balanced diet based consisting of nutrients for growth, immunity, and bone development. Generally, dog foods are based on breed-specific factors, and this includes breed size. Small dogs have faster metabolisms and thus need to consume more fat.
Whereas, medium-sized dogs (that fall between 20 to 50lbs.) have a more relaxed metabolism rate and are comparatively easier to look after nutritionally. These canines require a nutrient-dense diet to keep their energy levels up throughout the day.
Lastly, large breed dogs need to be fed high-quality dog food that consists of proteins, fiber, carbs, vitamins, and minerals. The biggest danger concerning the diet of large breed puppies is that of overnutrition. To avoid any such problems, you can always opt to buy vet recommended puppy food.
10 Best Large Breed Puppy Foods
Alright, people – the moment you’ve all been waiting for has finally arrived. Before we start, however, take a moment and go through the FDA’s Pet Food Labels Guide to gather some vital info on how to read pet food labeling works. With that being said, here are the best large breed puppy foods.
1. Taste of the Wild High Prairie Puppy Formula
The High Prairie Puppy Formula by Taste of The Wild makes a strong entry as the first contender on our top ten list. And, there’s a very good reason for that.
This formula is not only grain-free, but it’s also made from real roasted meat – which means lots and lots of proteins for your tiny canine. Apart from that, the High Prairie puppy formula combines a wholesome blend of fruits and vegetables so that your pup doesn’t miss its dose of natural antioxidants.
If you’re on the lookout for the best large breed puppy food, then you don’t want to look any further. This brand of dry dog food also contains chicory root for prebiotic support, along with essential minerals and amino acids. Made in the USA by a family-owned company, the High Prairie Puppy Formula is a striking combination of nutrients without any grain fillers or artificial flavors/colors.
2. Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula Large Breed
The Life Protection Formula by Blue Buffalo is in a class of its own, as far as dog food is concerned. It’s suitable for large breed puppies and dogs, and it’s featured on the Amazon’s Choice list. What more could you want?
Unless of course, you’re looking for puppy food that offers antioxidants, proteins, chelated minerals, or L-Carnitine? We’re kidding. The Life Protection Formula has all those great nutrients and more. But, what we like best about this product is the fact that it combines DHA, ARA, Omega 3 and 6 Fatty Acids, along with calcium, and phosphorus.
Plus, this dry puppy chow is perfect of puppy-sized mouths and teeth – so there’s no danger of choking. Oh, and did we mention the Life Protection Formula is great for tartar removal? Because it is. Made from de-boned, protein-rich chicken and brown rice – this product is ideal for all the inhabitants of pupsville.
3. Purina Pro Plan Puppy Large Breed
If your goal is to find a food option for puppers that weigh over 50 lbs. at maturity, then take a look at the Pro Plan Chicken and Rice Formula by Purina.
With chicken as the primary ingredient and main source of protein, the Pro Plan Formula also contains probiotics and Omega 3 fatty acids. This combination of nutrients will not only help your furbaby’s digestive system but will also help boost cognitive development.
The overall ingredients in this dog food also include minerals like zinc and potassium. Apart from that, the formula also makes use of antioxidants to support and aid puppy immunity. Not to mention, the strong flavor of chicken and rice will likely appeal to pups, even the picky eaters of the lot.
4. Royal Canin Large Puppy Dry Dog Food
Royal Canin is a pretty dependable brand when it comes to large breed puppy foods. Not to mention, some owners have dubbed the Royal Canin Dry Dog Food – the best puppy food for Labs.
This dog is designed for pups up to 15 months in age, so if your furbaby loves the taste (which is extremely likely considering the strong aroma), then you won’t have to worry about puppy food for some time. Now, let’s talk about the kind of health benefits this product can offer. Apart from minerals that promote healthy bone and joint growth, the Royal Canin dry dog food also contains prebiotics to make sure your pup’s tummy runs like clockwork.
It also contains multiple vitamin sources such as Vitamin B1, B6, and B12. Furthermore, it has vitamin C to promote optimal health and glucosamine for bone health. It’s an easily digestible formula that can boast of holistic ingredients designed to give your furbaby the best in life.
5. Hill's Science Diet Puppy Large Breed
More than 200 veterinarians, food scientists, and nutritionists work at Hill’s to improve its quality of pet food. Which makes Hill’s Science a trustworthy brand when it comes to dog food. Apart from high-quality ingredients, Hill’s Science dry dog food offers other wholesome elements such as oats. This dog food has all the necessary components to make sure all your pup’s growing needs are met.
This product is ideal for pups up to 1 year of age who’re expected to weigh 55 pounds at maturity. Apart from controlled levels of calcium, this product also contains glucosamine and chondroitin to support healthy bone and joint growth.
Other ingredients include vitamin E and C, along with powerful antioxidants to boost puppy immunity. Last but not least, the product doesn’t contain any artificial colors, flavors, preservatives.
6. Iams ProActive Health Smart Puppy Large Breed
A formula for large breed puppies that has 22 key ingredients? Does that sound too good to be true? Even if it does, don’t worry. Because coming in at number 6 on our list is IAMS large breed puppy dry food. Made with real chicken, this dog food is perfect to support all the nutritional needs of your canine.
With farm-raised chickens as the primary source of protein, this Iams formula also includes Omega 3 DHA to promote healthy skin, cognitive development, and a shiny coat.
With 27% protein in the formula, you don’t have to worry about your pup’s muscle and tissue development. Aside from that, the formula also contains a healthy dose of selenium, phosphorus, and just the right amount of calcium. This dog food is not only perfect for puppies that weight from 50 to 120 pounds (as adults), but it’s also vet recommended. As far as puppy diet is concerned – this option is the real deal.
7. Eukanuba Large Breed Puppy Dry Dog Food
Still on the lookout for a large breed puppy food that promises fat and carb levels to maintain energy throughout the day?
Don’t worry because coming in at number 7 on our list is the Eukanuba dry dog food for large breed pups. This dog food is perfect pet-parents who want the kind of diet that promises nutrition and unlimited energy. Eukanuba dry dog food contains high-quality animal proteins, phosphorus, and optimal levels of calcium.
Moreover, the product also includes a great source of natural fiber and prebiotics. This makes the Eukanuba dry dog ideal for a growing furbaby’s digestive system and staves of serious problems indigestion and gas. But, what we like best about this product is that makes use of clinically proven levels of DHA fatty acids to encourage cognitive development.
8. Nutro Wholesome Essentials Large Breed Puppy Food
Next on our list is the Nutro Wholesome Essentials Large Breed Puppy Natural Dry Dog Food that’s free of corn, wheat, soy, and it’s Non-GMO. Interested yet? The Nutro Essentials dry dog food has an exciting chicken, brown rice, and sweet potato flavor that’s sure to entice even the most stoic of pups.
Its been specifically designed large breed puppies and comprises of glucosamine, chondroitin, and calcium to give support to your pup’s growing bones and joints. Whereas, Omega 3 fatty acids encourage overall growth and development.
This dog food has an overall fat content of 15% to ensure that your pup’s energy levels stay high and stable throughout the day. Moreover, optimal fat content is also very beneficial as far as skin and a healthy coat are concerned. That’s not all though, Nutro Essentials also contains zinc sulfate, niacin, biotin, selenium, and riboflavin. The point is that all these minerals have a vital role to play in your furbaby’s growth process.
9. Dr. Gary's Best Breed Holistic Puppy Diet
If you’re the kind of pet-parent who only wants to deal with veterinarian developed holistic nutrition, then your best best is Dr.Gary’s Best Breed Holistic Puppy Diet. The Best Breed Holistic Puppy Diet came into being after Dr. Gary realized the need for a puppy diet that took a universal approach to health issues caused by poor nutrition.
That’s why the Holistic Puppy Diet contains protein, fats, carbs, and balanced levels of nutrients such as calcium and phosphorus. Additionally, this product makes use of chicken, menhaden fish, and egg as the protein source to make sure the diet is easy on your puppy’s tummy.
The product is hand-made using a slow-cook process that ensures optimum nutrient digestion. Another bonus is that the Holistic Puppy diet contains no wheat, corn, or by-product materials. If you’re wondering about supplements like glucosamine, DHA, EPA, and antioxidants – don’t worry, because, this product pretty much has it all.
10. American Journey Puppy Recipe
Because we like our endings to be upbeat, the last contender on our list is The Lamb & Sweet Potato Recipe Dry Dog Food by American Journey. Also, this entry is perfect for all our readers who were holding out for large breed puppy food without chicken. Not only does this dog food feature a delicious lamb and sweet potato combination, but it also contains chickpeas to boost your pup’s energy levels.
This dog food by American Journey is the perfect blend of protein and amino acids that promote lean muscle growth. Apart from that, healthy ingredients like carrots, dried kelp, and blueberries come together in this blend to give your puppy a food source that’s packed with phytonutrients and antioxidants.
Additionally, we like the fact that this product makes use of Omega 3 fatty acids from natural sources like flaxseed and salmon oil. This recipe is also grain, corn, and soy-free, which makes it ideal for growing puppies.
Large Breed Puppy Food Portions and Schedule
Puppy feeding fundamentals are a little tricky to master. Some people change their pet’s calorie intake on a daily basis, even though it’s not required. Obviously, younger puppies tend to use up a lot more energy because their bodies are growing and developing. As a pup nears maturity, its energy consumption levels go down, and that’s why feeding patterns change over time. So, if you can’t depend on energy consumption or calorie intake to figure out how and when you should feed your pet – what do you do?
It’s best to figure out how much nutrition a puppy needs based on their predicted adult weight. Once you’ve asked you’ve asked your vet for your pup’s estimated adult weight, you can figure out food quantity by referring to a general feeding chart. Despite having said that, the best way to deal with canine feeding is to observe the dog, rather than the dish. Body condition can determine portion size to a large extent. For instance, feeding charts don’t factor in every individual pup’s personality or appetite. In any event, you’ll have to keep a close eye on your pup to find a balance and avoid the extremes of over and undernutrition.
As to feeding times, a pup’s feeding time mostly depends on its age. For instance, pups that are between 4 to 6 months of age require being fed 3 times a day. Beyond 6 months, it’s best to narrow down feeding time to twice a day.
Large Breed Puppy Foods – FAQ
If you’re still confused about how much and when to feed your puppy, then let us give you an easy way out – your vet.
The thing about most feeding guides found on the internet is that they function as guidelines. These guides are not case or puppy-specific. Your vet is the one source who can give you a proper feeding chart after considering your pup’s breed, age, condition, and expected weight. Now that we’ve clarified that little detail, let’s move on to some popular FAQs that puppy-parents the world over ask.
Large breed puppies do need special food. As opposed to small breed puppies, large breed pups have certain nutrient requirements to keep them safe from health issues like bloating, orthopedic diseases, and obesity.
Such requirements include specifics like high-quality protein, fat, Vitamins A & D, Zinc, and regulated amounts of Calcium and Phosphorus among others. That’s why large breed pups do require a special diet or dog food that’s specifically formulated for large breeds.
Generally, puppies between 4 to 6 months of age are fed thrice a day. Although, it’s not uncommon for some large breed pups to be fed 4 to 5 times a day depending on their body condition.
If you want to determine how much and when to feed your large breed puppy, it’s best to seek a vet’s help. Puppy feeding patterns change according to weight and age.
When it comes to shifting your large-breed pup to adult dog food, you can switch the diet when your canine is between the 18 to 24 month age mark. There’s quite a debate in the puppy community about large breed puppy food vs regular puppy food. Nonetheless, there’s a reason why experts recommend that large breed puppies should eat breed-specific food.
Large breed puppies tend to grow at an alarming pace. That’s why their bodies require optimal amounts of nutrition to keep pace with rapid muscle and bone growth. Large breed dogs can suffer from a whole host of health issues if their diet is lacking in any way.
That’s why its best to avoid giving large breed puppies anything other than large breed canine food.
If you’re looking for the best dog food for large breeds on the market, it’s best to look for a brand that’s made especially for large breeds. Also, it’s recommended to avoid brands that make use of fillers (like grain) and artificial colors and flavors. Dr. Gary’s Best Breed Puppy Food would be a good starting point for any pet-parent with a large-breed pup. Not only is the product veterinarian developed, but it also focuses on holistic nutrition, and accounts for your pup’s overall nutritional necessities.
Whether a certain brand or product qualifies as the best food for large breed puppies depends on its ingredients. Large breed puppies require optimal amounts of proteins, carbs, fats, vitamins, minerals, and calcium to attain overall good health.
Every puppy deserves a tailored diet to ensure they are getting all the nutrients they require as an individual. Make sure that your big pup is getting the best large breed puppy foods.