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While they may look small when you first bring your new pup home, if they are a large breed, they will need a special ‘big dog’ diet from the get-go. As a large breed, you need to deal with the unique nutritional needs of a puppy that is going to grow in quick spurts but will continue to grow until they are at least 18 months old. Giving your large or giant breed pup the right food will also mean you can help prevent some of the health conditions he may be susceptible to as he gets older. And he also needs the right amount of protein and calories to keep that big puppy’s body bouncing with health.
High-quality ingredients are essential for your big dufus of a pup, so we take a sniff of some of the very best dog food for large breed puppies to ensure your precious baby is well-fed and happy.
The 8 Top Rated Large Breed Puppy Food According to Buyers
Formulate for large breed puppies and with quality ingredients to keep your baby dog satisfied, Wellness Complete is a well-priced puppy food that comes in a good value large bag. This puppy dog food has whole, deboned chicken as its protein source, enhanced with salmon for that essential fatty acid hit. The chicken flavor has also proved a hit with large breed puppies, while the calorie count is on point to keep him at a healthy weight. Add in a powerful antioxidant blend with blueberries, carotids along with potassium, vitamins and fiber, and his all-round health is catered for. And the DHA oils from the salmon work to boost his developing cognitive health. Tasty, and with the essential nutrition your young dog needs, Wellness Complete scoops our top pick.
Treat your not so mini ‘wolf’ puppy with this all grain free formula specifically for large breed puppies. Blue Buffalo’s Wilderness range focuses on quality protein from whole sources and providing a delicious natural dry food your growing puppy will lap up. This large puppy food has 35% protein from whole chicken, boosted with vegetables and easy to digest carbs to support the development of strong, lean muscles. It also contains the fatty acids DHA and ARA for their cognitive development and eye health. Add in Blue Buffalo’s LifeSource formulation of essential antioxidants, vitamins and minerals selected to support your pup’s immune system and managed levels of calcium and phosphorus for strong bones and we think this is the best puppy food for large breeds for the money.
With an impressive 38% protein, Orijen aims to mimic your large pup’s natural diet to give them the muscle, bone and immune system boosting nutrients they need to grow into a healthy and strong adult dog. And the protein is quality too, coming from six different raw sources, from chicken, turkey and eggs to flounder, mackerel and herring. No wonder this dog food has a meaty taste and texture your little chap will love. The formula is grain free so less likely to irritate their system, enabling him to absorb all the nutrients he needs. The carbs this meal does contain constitute 15% and are chosen for maximum benefit for your dog, including peas, beans and pumpkin. For such a premium product, you will pay a higher price, but the quality is clear although it’s on the higher calorie side, so you need to ensure your puppy is active to maintain a healthy weight. ORIJEN Puppy Large Grain-Free Dry Puppy Food is one of 8 recipes included in our review of the Orijen Dog Food product line.
Calorie content: 449kcal/cup
Minimum protein: 38%
Minimum fat: 16%
Maximum fiber: 6%
Maximum moisture: 12%
High quality raw protein for building muscle mass
Grain free with 15% vegetables
First five ingredients: deboned chicken, deboned turkey, flounder, eggs, Atlantic mackerel
The star of this giant breed puppy food from Solid Gold has to be the main protein source – bison! Pasture-raised, the bison forms the heart of this meaty dry dog food, with each kibble size the perfect tasty bite for your puppy to enjoy. Wolf Club doesn’t have the highest protein percentage in our review, but the protein is enhanced by the wheat free and potato free, fiber rich recipe, including oatmeal and peas for a highly digestible meal. With protein for lean muscles and healthy development, there’s also live probiotics to support the digestion as well as immune system and added antioxidants for all-round health. The level of omega 3 and 6, including EPA and pup friendly DHA is impressive and sourced from the fish and salmon oil, which all just adds to the delicious taste.
Calorie content: 345kcal/cup
Minimum protein: 26%
Minimum fat: 12%
Maximum fiber: 4%
Maximum moisture: 10%
Whole foods and prebiotics to aid digestion and immune system
Fish-sourced omega 3 & 6, including EPA and DHA
First five ingredients: bison, ocean fish meal, brown rice, oatmeal, peas
With a smaller kibble for easy eating, Diamond Naturals’ lamb and rice formula has the protein and nutrients large breed puppies need to thrive. Lamb is the main protein, giving the kibble a rich, meaty taste that’s also easy to digest. Diamond Naturals has included a decent amount of beneficial vegetables and fiber for an excellent vitamin and mineral hit to keep your pup energized and healthy. For their tum and immune system you also get probiotics and the all-important glucosamine and chondroitin for healthy joints. Add in essential fatty acids, including DHA for their developing brain and eyes and L-carnitine for efficient energy conversion and there will be no stopping your puppy – unless it’s for their mealtime!
Calorie content: 342kcal/cup
Minimum protein: 27%
Minimum fat: 15%
Maximum fiber: 3%
Maximum moisture: 10%
Easily digestible with fiber and probiotics
Chondroitin and glucosamine for joint health
First five ingredients: lamb, lamb meal, whole grain brown rice, cracked pearled barley, ground white rice
One of the most popular dog food brands, Purina’s Pro Plan range includes this tasty chicken and rice dry dog food specially formulated for large breed dogs. Formulated to support a steady growth rate in large and giant breeds, your pup won’t miss out on any taste with this rich and crunchy kibble. And that empty food bowl means his body is making the most of the nutrients this Purina large breed puppy food has to offer. As well as whole chicken, your pooch gets glucosamine for his joint and cartilage development, omega 6 for skin and coat and the all-important DHA fatty acid for his brain and eye development. And if his tum is a little irritable, the meal is fortified with live probiotics to keep everything calm and in good digestive health. However, the ingredients list also includes corn so be aware if he is sensitive.
For large breed puppies up to the age of 15 months, Eukanuba has produced a quality dry dog food, optimized for their brain, muscle, bone and joint health. With chicken as the main whole protein source, you get whole grains for energy as well as beneficial fats. There’s also DHA fatty acid, which is thought to boost brain health, essential during those puppy training sessions! For their digestion and immune system, the formula includes fiber and probiotics, topped off with an all-round health boosting vitamin and mineral blend. This dry dog food for large breed puppies does contain corn and some by-product meal so it may not be suitable for more sensitive or allergy prone pets.
Calorie content: 357kcal/cup
Minimum protein: 26%
Minimum fat: 14%
Maximum fiber: 3.7%
Maximum moisture: 10%
Fiber and probiotic blend for immune and digestive health
DHA fatty acids for cognitive development
First five ingredients: chicken, chicken by-product meal, corn, wheat, chicken fat
Hill’s Science Diet has a good reputation, and they bring their nutritional knowledge to their specially formulated large breed puppy dog food. With the optimum level of calcium to nourish without boosting bone growth too quickly, this is a good formula for musculoskeletal health as he grows to adulthood. The vitamin and minerals are also balanced to support their development and give them the best start into their adult dog life. As well as strong muscles, teeth and bones, you also get DHA from natural fish oils for brain development, plus glucosamine and chondroitin for the effective development of joint cartilage. Nourishing, tasty and with no artificial preservatives or flavors, Hill’s Science have certainly got your pup’s healthy longevity in mind.
Dogs need a balanced diet during all their life stages for the right proportions of protein, fats and carbohydrates to support their health and fuel their body. While all puppies need more calories to feed their growing bodies, large breed puppies have extra dietary needs. Compared to small breed pups, large breeds grow faster but also remain in the puppy stage for longer, meaning their nutritional requirements are different.
Large breed puppies won’t stop growing until 18 months to two years old, even longer with some giant-sized breeds, so their daily food needs to have high quality ingredients to ensure there are no nutritional deficiencies which may hamper their growth. However, too much nutrition could lead to weight gain or cause your pup to grow too fast. As well as getting nutritional balance to support their healthy growth and energy, dog food for large puppies also needs to include targeted supplementation to tackle health issues larger breeds may be susceptible too. Conditions your large breed puppy may be at risk from include hip dysplasia and other joint issues, musculoskeletal problems and gastric torsion or ‘bloat’.
With your large breed pup’s nutritional requirements in mind, here are the essentials to look for:
Protein: Quality protein is at the top of the list for your large breed pup, who needs a dog food that has at least 30% of lean meat to support his growth and energy. Always look for whole meat from sources such as chicken, beef, lamb or salmon.
Essential Fatty Acids: While his diet needs to be low in saturated fat to ensure a healthy weight, good fats such as omega 3 and 6 are essential for his skin, coat and joints as they develop. Fatty acids will also play a key role in their cognitive function so look for a large breed puppy food that has a good level of omegas from natural sources, ideally flaxseed, salmon and other oily fish.
Antioxidants: As well as the usual vitamins and minerals, a good antioxidant component in their diet will help to establish your large breed pup’s immune system for a robust, healthy and happy dog. Antioxidants are found in colorful fruit and veg so look for ingredients such as cranberries, blueberries, carrots, kale, and pumpkin.
Calcium: A healthy skeleton is essential for your growing large-sized pup and calcium is essential for bone development. However, larger breeds tend to absorb more calcium than smaller dogs, leading to calcium retention, which can be just as harmful as a deficiency. To get the right balance, look for food that has no more than 1.5% calcium.
Glucosamine and chondroitin: As large breed pups take longer to mature and are susceptible to growth spurts, their bones and joints need to be kept active. And glucosamine along with chondroitin are essential to help your young dog build the natural cartilage they need for healthy joint function.
Probiotics: To support your large pup’s intestinal and digestive system, a diet that includes probiotics is going to help maintain their gut health as they grow and develop.
A: A large breed is a dog that’s more than 50 pounds in weight, and taller than 24 inches when fully grown. Giant breeds are adult dogs that weigh over 90 pounds. So, while your cute pup may look small (although the size of their paws can give their large breed away!) they should be on large breed puppy food if they are expected to reach or exceed 50 pounds as an adult.
Q: How much food should I feed my giant breed puppy?
A: Your first step when feeding your pup a new dog food is to read the portion guidance on the pack as it will break the ideal quantities down per pound of weight. Their age will also need to be factored in as the amount will increase as they get older. How often you feed your large or giant breed puppy is also important as it’s best to feed them little and often, rather than two large meals per day. Their daily food intake, split between 3 or 4 small meals will keep their energy levels sustained and their appetite satisfied.
Q: Can large breed puppies eat “normal” puppy food?
A: Ideally your large breed puppy needs to be fed a dog food that’s formulated for his size. While feeding him ‘normal’ puppy food is ok for the odd meal if you have run out of his usual large breed formula, it’s not advised to feed it to him longer term. Always ensure his regular pup food caters to his energy and specific growth needs and has all the nutrients he needs for his skeletal, muscles, joints, immune system and all-round large breed good health.
Our Top Pick
With high quality protein and packed with all the essential nutrients your large breed pup needs, Wellness Complete Health Dry Large Breed Puppy Food scoops our review’s top pick. With whole chicken and a flavor your puppy will lap up, you can be sure he’s getting the right balance of protein, antioxidants, fiber, omega fatty acids, vitamins and minerals he needs to grow and develop, all in a great value 30-pound bag.
Jarrett, the security officer, and Toxi, his vapor wake dog, work tirelessly to help keep students, teachers, and the public safe on the Notre Dame campus. To help Toxi remain focused, healthy, and happy in his stressful job, Jarret feeds him only top-quality foods and treats. Fun toys are also a must-have as even security dogs need to have some fun in their free time. Aside from protecting the public, Jarret also enjoys sharing his expertise on canine care and diet to help other dog owners keep their pets healthy and content.