Appropriate nutrition of your canine friend according to its breed, size and life stage is a fundamental factor of its correct development. Should a wrong diet be applied in dog’s feeding, a number of unwanted diseases and body problems may arise.
Large breed pups are great Danes, Labrador retrievers, bulldogs, etc., which adult weight may reach 80+ lb.
Imbalances in their catering may lead to:
- hip and elbow dysplasia,
- nutritional hyperparathyroidism, etc.
A complete diet for large breed dogs is designed with high quality protein supply, vitamins and fibers, fatty acids, vitamin D balance, reduced phosphorus and energy density. Mind the appropriate life stage of a pooch (a senior dog or a pup) while applying this diet. Thus, your canine companion will benefit immune system, muscles, cardiovascular system, joints correct work.
Top 5 Well-balanced Feeding Options for Your Large Breed Pup
Blue Buffalo Life Natural Senior Dry Dog Food
Chicken and Brown Rice Blue Buffalo kibble for senior pooches is our top choice for the best large breed dry dog food. Designed for all breeds, it comprises the LifeSource Bits formula with antioxidant-rich, wholesome elements.
Deboned chicken as the first ingredient provides delicious high-quality proteins for lean muscles. A source of carbs is brown rice, which is perfect for energy supply, adding nutritional elements and substituting other gluten-containing grains.
Minerals and vitamins (A, D3, B7, B5, B12, folic acid) from parsley, barley, turmeric, cranberries maintain necessary balance of nutrients. Flaxseeds provide fatty acids for brain and skin development.
The product is supplied in 3, 6, 15, 24, 30 lb. bags. A feeding plan is indicated in the label. Consult your vet for recommended individual diet of your large breed dog.
Wellness Large Breed Adult Deboned Chicken & Brown Rice
The formula of Wellness Complete Health Dry Dog Food is designed aiming at large breed and adult pooches individual needs. This is our number 2 choice among the dog meals of that kind.
The first ingredient, deboned chicken, is accompanied by salmon. Thus, the best quality proteins are provided for dog’s healthy organs’ development. Omegas promote brain and skin good condition.
Various carbs, including brown rice, oats, tomatoes, carrots, spinach supply vitamins and minerals for balanced nutrition. Calcium and phosphorus, as well as glucosamine supply is thoroughly regulated to avoid problems with joints and guts. The supply of fats is calculated and controlled for obesity prevention.
This dry dog food by Wellness is offered in 15 and 30 lb. bags. Recommended portions are indicated on the label.
American Journey Salmon & Sweet Potato Grain-Free
Best budget buy
Salmon & Sweet Potato Dry Dog Food By American Journey is a nice option for the best budget buy. This kibble has a precise nutrition formula for all breeds, with the emphasis on large breeds.
Deboned salmon, a source of proteins, fatty acids and wholesome nutrients, is the first ingredient. Turkey meal by-products supply necessary cartilage for joints.
Carbs from sweet potatoes, dried kelp, blueberries ensure dog’s energy and vigor. The dry food comprises no wheat products. Grains sensitive animals may safely consume it. Instead, chickpeas, peas, flaxseeds provide crude fiber and Omegas for digestive system smooth work, weight control, perfect brain, eye health. Vitamins A, E, B12, B9, D3 as well as essential minerals are included.
The kibble is conveniently packed in bags of 4, 12, 24 lb.
Taste of the Wild High Prairie Roasted Bison & Venison
Best dry dog food for adult large breeds
The kibble produced by Taste of the Wild boasts of its perfect nutritional elements balance. We recommend it as Best dry dog food for adult large breeds.
Bison and buffalo meat as the first ingredient provides novel proteins. Additionally, it has lamb, venison meat in its formula. Alongside with absence of grains, it makes the kibble suitable even for the eaters with food sensitivities.
Carbs (sweet potatoes, raspberries) are full of nutritional elements, fibers, amino acids, probiotics and ensure energy, smooth digestion, coat and skin health. Minerals and vitamins (B9, D3, B2) maintain balance of elements and their absorption.
5, 14, 28 lb. packs are convenient in usage. Feeding guide is provided on the bag label.
Blue Buffalo Wilderness Chicken Grain-Free
Best grain-free large breed dog food
We value Blue Buffalo Wilderness Grain-Free Dry Dog Food as the best grain free large breed dog food for its wholesome formula for carnivorous animals.
It comprises the high quality protein sourced from delicious chicken as the first ingredient, which is supplemented with menhaden fish. Thus, Omega-3 fatty acids are added for healthy and shiny coat.
Carbs are supplied by peas, sweet potatoes, chicory root, dried tomato pomace. No corn, soy are used, which makes the dish suitable for dogs with gluten intolerance. Flaxseeds with Omega-6, other wholesome elements, vitamins (A, E, D3, C, B2, B9, B12, B3) together make a special Blue Buffalo recipe of LifeSource bits. This formula benefits to canine immune system and supports a pet’s guts on all life stages.
The kibble is supplied in bags of 4.5, 11, 20, 24 lb. with the feeding instruction on each packing for an appropriate portion.
Best large breed dog food brands
Blue Buffalo offers the wide range of dog food: puppy, adult, toy breeds, large breeds, etc. The best nutrition sourced from perfect ingredients benefits for your pet’s healthy and active development.
The LifeSource Formula Bits added to the kibble ensure all necessary vitamins, minerals, essential elements for your canine friend at its individual life stage.
Wellness dog food products account for individual needs of canine companions as they are designed in cooperation with vets, nutritionists and animal friends.
The food offered by the company is free of fillers, chemicals and unchecked grain or meal-by products, supplying instead delicious dishes for all breeds pups.
Taste of the Wild
Being located in the US, Taste of the Wild is a family-run company. It supplies the highest quality dishes for the pooches of all ages and breeds.
All ingredients are received from the trusted suppliers. Diets are thoroughly designed and checked by nutrition professionals.
Purina Pro Plan
Pets in all life stages are grateful for their tasty and palatable meals cooked from natural and balanced products, which Purina Pro Plan offers for its furry connoisseurs.
Diet professionals, nutritionists and veterinarians recommend this reliable producer. All food ingredients, real beef, chicken, fish meat are clean, plant products and veggies are fresh and GMO-free.
Over 45 years, Royal Canin offers precise nutrition for canine companions’ individual needs. Each dog is unique and demands special feeding.
The wide range of product by Royal Canin provides soft and wet dishes for all breeds at all life stages, paying attention to nutritional or health recommendations, such as digestion, weight control, joints and hip support, immune system, etc.
Features to consider when buying large breed dog food
Nutritional balance is very important for dogs of big sizes. Body systems’ development may be emphasized by increasing or reducing a definite group of elements.
Large breed dogs have peculiar demand in proteins, vitamins, minerals and other nutrients. Read the kibble label thoroughly to learn if the package content is suitable for your pet.
Proteins, chondroitin and glucosamine
High quality proteins are necessary for the energy and are important as the tissues building material. They should be supplied from pure chicken, meat and fish. The proteins are the main easily digestible food ingredients, containing 10 amino acids. Chicken cartilage is beneficial for joints as it consists of chondroitin and glucosamine.
Vitamins (D, E)
Vitamins supplied with the natural ingredients are properly adopted by a dog’s organism and result in healthy body and systems growth. Large breed dogs demand higher supply of vitamin D3, responsible for joints and bones. Vitamin E (tocopherol) is beneficial for strong immunity, healthy cardiovascular system and guts correct development.
Omega 3 and 6 are good for skin, coat, brain and blood system work. Avocado, fat sorts of ocean fishes and flaxseeds supply these elements.
Fiber is crucial for large breed dogs feeding, as it is responsible for proper digestion. Catering enough fruits, vegetables or crude grains rich in fibers, will speed up a pooch’s metabolism, which is slowing down for large breeds.
Microelements (calcium, phosphorus)
Calcium and phosphorus influence strong bones and skeleton. However, their quantity for large breed dogs must be regulated as exceeding amount of these minerals may cause diseases. Vitamin D3 helps maintain their balance.
Kibble size. Buying food for large breed pups, make sure that the kibble size is bigger than a regular one corresponding to the size of a dog’s mouth and teeth.
Feeding schedule and portions. To prevent overeating, take control over every dog catering. A feeding instruction is usually listed on the food packing. However, visit a vet for recommendation on your canine friend meals. Generally, it is advised to offer smaller portions for your big pooch more frequently than for a smaller breed to establish schedule and maintain good metabolism.
Dog’s life stage. Alongside with the breed size, a dog’s life stage should be indicated on the food label (adult dogs or puppies). Young dogs’ development differs greatly from the development of adults. This statement is true for all sizes breeds. A dog may gain more than 80 pounds during the first year of life if it is a large or a giant breed. This speedy growth demands additional calories during this period, while large breed dogs of senior age should be limited in food quantity to avoid obesity.
Guide (Frequently Asked Questions)
Is large breed dog food necessary?
Yes, the food, designed for large breeds, is extremely important and should be distinguished from the meals for other breed dogs.
Due to bigger weight, the skeleton of large breed dogs bears heavier loads an may suffer joints and bones diseases. Thus, to prevent these problems, calcium and phosphorus, as well as vitamin D3, DHA content is enhanced. The balance of elements is maintained and supports cardiovascular and nerve systems, as well.
Special attention is paid to calories density and proteins, carbs and fats balance to avoid dog’s obesity.
The diet for large breeds is based on pooches’ needs for healthy growth and designed by vegetarians, nutritionists and pup breeders.
How do I know if my puppy is a large breed?
Determining future adult size of your pup is essential for targeting correct weight and growth and thus planning a pet diet properly.
- Predicting a pup’s size is an easy thing, if parents’ size is known and if breeds are not mixed. Usually, posterity are the same or smaller size as average breed size or mother’s size.
- Paws may be a good indicator if there is no information about the parents. Young pups usually have body size and paws disproportion. Keep in mind that bigger paws may witness for bigger size.
- 6 months indicator may be referred to for adult size and weight prognosis. By the age of 6 months, a pup reaches 75% of growth and weight, thus its final size may be estimated.
- The same approach to calculate adult dimensions is to double weight and size at dog’s 16 weeks age.
What is special about large breed dog food for puppies?
During the first 12 months of their life, pups demand much energy for growing, brain and tissues development. Besides, they are more active than senior dog, requiring exact and balanced feeding to restore their strength and vigor.
Balance of proteins, carbs and fats in large breed puppy food must be regulated. The content of a dog dish should comprise 30% of high quality proteins from reliable sources and low level of fat. Thus, a pup will grow with regulated speed ensuring bones and tissues development and avoiding orthopedic diseases in the future.
The content of calcium is very important. Its total amount should be 1.5% of food for proper skeleton development. The excess may lead to deficit of other elements, for example phosphorus, resulting in tissues and joints diseases. The proper ratio of Ca : P is 1 : 1 or 1 : 2.
Vitamins D, A, fatty acids, zinc, cooper are important for skin, coat health, and may result in orthopedic problems in case of their lack.
Are there any special dietary requirements of large breed dogs for adult dogs?
Large breed pooch feeding changes drastically when dog’s maturity has been reached. The demand of high calories’ food is lower due to metabolism processes slowing down.
Proteins and fats quantity should be reduced. Meat products supplied with cartilage are the best option due to chondroitin and glucosamine and are vital for decreasing the risk of musculoskeletal system diseases because of high canine weight.
The quantity of fibers should be added. It improves digestion and absorption of nutritional elements in the gastrointestinal tract. Plant products, such as avocado are full of these elements. They also include important Omegas necessary for skin, coat, cardiovascular system.
Vitamin D is in high need for senior dogs. Its main function is in balance regulation between calcium and phosphorus. Both elements must be slightly decreased in adult dog nutrition, to ensure correct functioning of internal organs, kidneys, liver and strong skeletal corset formation.
How much and how often should I feed my large breed dog?
Nutritionists and vets usually stay against free dog feeding. A dog consumes indefinite quantity of calories, which may lead to dog’s obesity, excessive growth or, on the contrary, some organs’ dystrophy.
Calculation of your four-legged friend calories and important nutritional elements is individual for each dog, thus consult professionals for this. Usually they apply “body condition score” to determine a correct diet and a feeding schedule.
Daily portion should be divided by several feedings, monitored for calories and nutritional elements’ intake.
Check the label for feeding instruction or consult your veterinarian to adjust a feeding portion for a dog of your breed.
What are the common health problems in large breed dogs and what are their solutions?
It is common knowledge, that large breed dogs are disposed to problems connected with their skeleton, bones and joints.
A number of orthopedic diseases, such as osteoarthritis, hip dysplasia, osteochondritis dissecans, arthritis occurs with big dogs due to various factors: heredity, irrelevant exercise (few or much), growth rate, nutrition.
- Get your future canine child from a responsible breeder to avoid hereditary factors, if possible.
- Physical exercises should be strictly regulated and scheduled.
- Growth rate and nutrition come side-by-side. Imbalanced supply of protein, vitamin D and calcium will speed up dog’s bones and tissues development, which is not desirable for large breed pups. Additional glucosamine and chondroitin support joints strength and development.
Another common large breed dogs problem is obesity and further worsening of life quality of a dog: type 2 diabetes, problems with kidneys, musculoskeletal and cardiovascular problems . To prevent dog overweight
- avoid excessive nutrition;
- add fiber to the diet.
GDV (gastric dilatation and volvulus) is another name of dog bloat, rapid intake of gases in the stomach and absence of the way for their escape. This problem is dangerous, and may become fatal. However, correct feeding easily prevents it:
- serve a daily portion with several meals,
- place a feeding bowl on the floor lever,
- choose large kibble pieces,
- take 2-hour pause after feeding for physical exercises.
Can my large breed dog have food sensitivities?
Repetitive skin or gastrointestinal manifestations of food sensitivities may be caused by food allergies. The immune system mistakenly identifies some proteins or other nutrients as pathogens and switches on protective response. The symptoms are various and are not limited to itching, sore ears and paws, atopic dermatitis, reddish skin, diarrhea, vomiting.
A vet determines the cause of the allergen of your large breed dog.
However, usually special food for allergies may be used to solve this problem. The diet implies two variants:
- hydrolyzed ingredients (hypoallergenic diet);
- elimination diet (a diet with limited ingredients and single source protein).
Is a grain-free diet recommended for large breed dogs?
All ingredients for giant breed dog food are thoroughly selected and designed for large animals, keeping in mind their individual, life stage peculiarities, and breed differences.
Grain-free diet is designed for pets, which have some digestion problems and allergies. These sensitivities are caused by gluten, which is contained in grains. However, among all allergies to products, gluten intolerance is a rare one. Usually, pets are sensitive to proteins (beef, pork, chicken).
Besides, a grain-free dish doesn’t mean fewer calories and a weight control diet. Carbs and other nutritional elements, which are in these products, should be substituted to keep necessary nutritional balance with other plant products, thus making calories density the same as with corn or wheat products.
Therefore, if there is no special vet’s prescription for the grain-free menu, there is no need to avoid these products in your large breed dog diet.
Can I feed a grain-inclusive diet to my large breed dog?
Brown rice, chickpeas, lentils are recommended for the large breed dogs menu as the second ingredient, in case there is no intolerance to grain inclusive gluten. These are whole grains, and their consumption is useful for dogs’ digestion due to their nutritional elements and crude fibers.
There is a technology of other grains’ preparation (wheat, corns), when they are cooked longer and at lower temperature. In this case, their content as the secondary elements of the big dog food is acceptable.
Anyway, check labels to make sure all ingredients are GMO free, raised in clean environment without contaminators and dangerous chemicals.
Does life stage matter when picking up food for a large dog?
Large breed dogs feeding in accordance with a pup’s life stage is essential for such breeds as mastiffs, great Danes, Labradors and others.
These breeds have peculiarities in their development thus demanding a special nutrition plan.
Pups develop rapidly in the age of 3 to 6 months. Therefore, the food should be full of high calories ingredients. Growth speed is high enough up to 18 – 24 months, until the period of maturity. This is longer than for small breed dogs. In addition, giant breeds may get growing up to 3 years old.
Starting from 2 years age, large breed dogs do not need high calories’ food as their metabolism slows down. The content of fat should be decreased from 20% in pup’s food to 12% in adult large breed dishes to avoid getting unwanted weight.
Other large breed dog food
Rachael Ray Nutrish Natural Chicken & Veggies
The recipe of wholesome and palatable Rachael Ray Nutrish Chicken Dry Dog Food is suitable for all breed dogs, and especially for large breeds.
Chicken, as the first protein ingredient, supplies building material for muscles, guts and bones. Chicken fat preserved with tocopherol, provides necessary fatty acids.
Brown rice, alfalfa are obligatory carbs for energy and full of minerals, vitamins (A, B9, K, C, B12), necessary elements, including fibers for healthy digestion and weight control.
Supplied in bags 6, 14, 28, 40 lb., the product provides excellent opportunity for bulk budget buy.
Purina Pro Plan Savor Adult Chicken & Rice
Purina Pro Plan produces one of the best dog food for big dogs, and its Savor Adult Chicken & Rice Kibble is valued for the perfect quality and balance of nutritional elements for large breed dogs.
Designed for senior pooches, each morsel of the food comprises wholesome proteins sourced from chicken, with added fat for maintaining dog’s health. The balance of proteins (up to 26%) and fats, as well as added Omegas from fish oil and flaxseeds, probiotics and fibers support smooth digestion and ensure weight control.
Carbs are wholesome rice, whole grain wheat, corn. All ingredients and additives provide necessary elements and vitamins for healthy development (vitamins B2, B9, B12, A, K, C, B7, B3, B9, B5).
Crunchy pieces of the tasty kibble are packed in 6, 18, 35, 47 lb. bags, with a feeding portions’ plan.
Nutramax Cosequin Maximum
Nutramax Cosequin Maximum Strength (DS) Soft Chews is a supplement to the main dish your pet consumes.
Regular dog food, even fed by the precise instruction, may be lacking necessary elements your dog needs. Feeling less vigor and mobility, being content to rest, may indicate joint disease of a dog.
The soft chews of Nutramax offer additional source of necessary elements for joints flexibility and osteoarthritis diseases’ prevention: chondroitin, glucosamine, MSM (methylsulfonylmethane). Its formula is recommended for large breed dogs feeding after your vet’s examination.
Packed with 60 or 120 pieces, these moist tasty supplements cure the existent injuries or prevent potential diseases.
Royal Canin Veterinary Diet Gastrointestinal
Gastrointestinal problems may be caused by food sensitivities, poisoning or an improper diet. Our choice for large breed dog veterinary diet is Royal Canin Veterinary Diet Gastrointestinal Dry Dog Food, which combines well-balanced nutrition with curing formula for stomach concerns.
The dry dog food is stuffed with wholesome nutritional elements (brewers rice, wheat, barley with chicken low fat content), which help maintain weight control, are perfectly digestible, allowing maximum absorption of minerals, vitamins and nutrients.
Ingredients provide antioxidants for immune system, probiotics and fibers for healthy digestion, Omega-3 for skin health, vitamins (A, E, B6, B1, B12, D3).
The bags are supplied with an easy open zip system, and contain 6.6, 17.6 or 28.6 lb. of the kibble. The product may be shipped after veterinary approval.
Iams Adult Large Breed Dry Dog Food
Iams offers a perfect product for the needs of your large breed dog friend. This is ProActive Health Large Breed Dry Dog Food.
Iams ProActive is the commercially prepared food for everyday consumption cooked of high-quality products, accounting for the individual requirements of a dog. Chicken as the main ingredient, supplies high quality and well-balanced proteins and fats. Together with eggs, it ensures chondroitin for joints flexibility and builds strong muscles for a pooch from 1 year old.
Ground whole grain barley, corn, sorghum are responsible for proper carbs, amino acids, fibers for digestion, strong immune system and energy supply. Prebiotics, minerals and vitamins (A, E, D3, B9, B2) are beneficial for total body health.
15, 30, 38.5 bags offer budget saving option while purchasing a product in bulks.
American Journey Grain-Free Large Dental Dog Treats
Your large breed friend will be grateful for these tasty and wholesome treats from American Journey’s manufacturer. Grain-Free Large Dental Dog Treats may be fed in between the main meal courses and work as a palatable dish and teeth cleaners.
Plague and tartar, which is difficult to reach during teeth brushing, will be removed with these hard and large enough pieces.
The treats are low fat and grain free, containing pea proteins and no wheat, soy or corns. Sunflower oil, flaxseeds, vegetable glycerin ensure fatty and amino acids without additional calories. The product is flavored with mint.
A bag contains 24 treats for dogs weighing 50+ lbs.