Did you just adopt a giant breed puppy and not sure where to start on nutrition? Maybe you haven’t adopted yet, but you want to understand how much food will cost? We’ve got you covered in this article as we look at the best dog food for giant breed puppies. Dogs this size require a special kind of dog owner. They also have special nutritional needs that you need to be aware of.
Giant breed puppies require patience, a big heart, and a decent-sized budget. There are many types of dog food made specifically for puppies this size. This makes it hard to settle on which one is the right fit. It may take testing a few different formulas to find the one that works for your pup.
Below we will dive into everything you need to know about the expensive world of feeding your gigantic pup. We look at our favorite brands, comparing cost, quality, brand reputation, and more. While feeding a giant breed can be costlier than a small breed, it doesn’t have to be difficult. Let’s take a look at our three favorite foods, followed by an in-depth look at your big pup’s nutrition.
At a Glance: Best Dog Food For Giant Breed Puppies
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Owning a giant breed dog is a commitment like nothing else. You need to plan ahead for space, beds, crate sizes, harnesses, and above all, interacting with children (if you have them). We’ve said they are expensive to feed, but they are also expensive to maintain. Giant breeds mean more expensive medication bills and more expensive vet bills.
Even though they are more expensive to own, few things bring the giant amount of love they bring to their families. Unfortunately, giant breeds have shorter lifespans, which is why feeding your puppy the right food at an early age is so critical. Dog food gets so specific, that you can actually break it down by breed. In fact, we even have specific guidance for certain giant breeds:
- Great Dane Food Guide
- English Mastiff Food Guide
- Great Pyrenees Food Guide
- Boerboel Food Guide
- Caucasian Shepherd Food Guide
- Saint Bernard Food Guide
- Cane Corso Food Guide
Meeting your growing puppy’s nutritional needs will help ensure they build a strong immune system. They will also build strong bones, and add pounds of muscle to their frame. If you feed them properly, there’s no reason they can’t live for 10+ years. Let’s look at the nutrition your extra-large companion will need.
Giant Breed Puppy Nutrition
Your giant breed puppy is going to eat. A lot. They will eat anywhere from 4 to 8 cups of food PER DAY depending on the dog and their growth trajectory. It’s not uncommon for giants like the American Mastiff or the Caucasian Ovcharka to eat at the higher end of that spectrum. Certain dogs are better at self-regulating their food intake than others. You’ll need to watch your dog’s food intake at first, and we typically recommend breaking up feeding times into 2-3 different sittings so your puppy doesn’t overeat.
Not only will dogs this size eat a lot, but they will SLEEP a lot too! These dogs grow very quickly, so they need adequate rest as they grow. It’s not uncommon for some puppies to sleep for 18 hours a day, depending on the breed. There are certain nutritional requirements your puppy will need on a daily basis. This includes protein, fat, calorie count, and carbohydrates. Certain vitamins and minerals will help with your dog’s skeletal growth. This includes vitamins D, A, copper, zinc, and calcium.
You’ll want to ensure your puppy is eating a dry kibble that contains close to 30% protein, and 8-9% fat. Puppy food can be very calorie-dense, which is good for growth. It can also be bad if you choose the wrong food. Small breed puppy food is not intended for large breeds or giant breeds. Small breed puppy food is extremely calorie dense in a smaller serving, causing your pup to overeat if you put them on the wrong formula. This will cause your puppy to grow too fast and potentially cause bone damage. We’ve talked about the nutritional value, but what ingredients should a good giant breed puppy food contain? Let’s find out!
When feeding any sized dog, your budget is important. But so does food ingredients, which is why you need a good balance of the two. You want to make sure your giant breed is eating dog food that contains natural ingredients, and no fillers. Having your pup eat a food that contains real meat, or meat by-product (not meat meal) as the first ingredient is key. Avoid animal by-product meal, and poultry by-product meal if you can. Some people can’t afford to do so and we understand that.
Buying a dog food made with real vegetables and fruit is also an excellent idea. Vegetables contain antioxidants that help fight sickness and develop a healthy immune system. We recommend a dog food that contains sweet potatoes, as well as peas, blueberries, or cranberries for urinary tract health.
We also recommend supplementing dry food with real fruits and vegetables too. Real sweet potatoes and mixed vegetables like zucchini all make great fresh, low-calorie toppers for dog food. We haven’t touched on the grain versus no grain debate, so let’s check that one off the list next.
Grains vs. No Grains
A few years back, grain-free dog food was the newest thing that everyone loved. While it’s still extremely popular, there are case studies that have been published by the FDA, which look at health defects from eating grain-free dog food. The results are inconclusive at this point, and the sample size is relatively small.
Feeding your giant pup a grain-free food is a personal choice. If you can afford it, there are many brands that giant breed dog owners will swear by. Nutro produces an excellent grain-free option, as does American Journey. Most dogs should be totally fine to consume grain, however. And grain-inclusive dog food can be cheaper on the budget. Purina Pro has some excellent grain inclusive formulas.
As we said, the decision for grain versus no grain falls to you as the dog owner. We recommend testing your puppy on a grain-inclusive food first. If your pup has a sensitive stomach, you can always transition to a grain-free dog food later on during puppyhood.
Best Dog Foods For Giant Breed Puppies
In no particular order, we look at our favorite foods for giant breed puppies. We have both grain-free and grain inclusive options for your dog. Each dog food we’ve selected carries excellent reviews online and will meet the rapidly changing nutritional needs of your pup.
We’ve laid out several of our favorite brands, with a description of each food, as well as their nutritional contents. Keep in mind that some foods may contain 400 calories per cup, and some that are 500 calories per cup. Ultimately you will need to decide what’s right for your budget and your puppy’s nutrition. Let’s jump in!
Science Diet Large Breed Puppy Food
- Contains glucosamine for joint health.
- Antioxidants for immune system development.
- No artificial colors or flavors.
- Chicken and oats are primary ingredients.
- Made in the United States.
- 394 Calories per cup.
- 24% Protein, 11% Fat, 3% Fiber.
Science Diet has been around for quite some time, and they are synonymous with quality dog food. They are held in high regard, and quite frequently compared to Royal Canin, another manufacturer on this list. Science Diet dog food is not cheap. But it also happens to be some of the best food you can buy, and it’s backed with a 100% satisfaction guarantee. If your pup doesn’t like it, you are able to return it.
This formula’s food chart takes your pup up to a whopping 200 pounds, so it’s quite suitable for Giant Breed pups. The Large breed puppy formula contains glucosamine and chondroitin to boost joint health and develop strong muscles. This food does contain grain, but it’s oat grain and that’s typically suitable for pups that may be more sensitive to rice, or other grain.
We love that Science Diet is made in the United States. Hill’s puts its suppliers through a rigorous selection process, and bench tests their food regularly.
Purina Pro Large Breed Puppy Food
- Made with real chicken and rice.
- Omega 6 fatty acids.
- DHA for brain development.
- Prebiotic Fiber.
- Manufactured in the United States.
- 468 Calories per cup.
- 28% Protein, 18% Fat, 3% Fiber.
Purina Pro is higher quality than Purina One and is a good, budget-friendly option. With a weight chart of up to 100 pounds or more, you may have to measure up an additional half serving if you have a truly giant breed. Purina Pro’s adult formula is one of the more popular dog foods in the industry today. They do a good job of blending budget and nutrition together without sacrificing quality.
Purina Pro’s large breed formula is made with chicken and rice as the first ingredient. This formula is not grain-free, but that should be fine for most dogs. It contains prebiotics and does well with dogs whose stomachs are sensitive. Purina pro does not use any artificial colors or sweeteners in this formula. It also contains DHA and Omega 6’s to support brain development.
We love that Purina Pro is also made in the USA! They have larger bags that are less expensive, making them cheaper by the pound than other high-quality brands.
American Journey Grain Free Puppy
- Grain-free recipe.
- Made with fruits and vegetables.
- Salmon oil and flaxseed for Omega 3’s.
- Fiber-rich chickpeas.
- Budget-friendly option.
- 380 calories per cup.
- 30% protein, 12% fat, 5% fiber.
American Journey is Chewy’s own brand. Founded around 2017, American Journey has been a hit with many dog owners. Our first grain-free puppy food on the list, this is an excellent selection for dogs that have sensitive stomachs. The first ingredient is real lamb, followed by sweet potatoes. Sweet potatoes are great for dogs, and help promote regularity in their digestive routine.
Similar to Purina, the chart on this food only goes up to 80 pounds, so you may find yourself doubling up on the recipe if you have a giant puppy that’s on a higher growth trend. The deboned Lamb that this formula is made from is a big hit with picky eaters. This food also contains a healthy dose of Omega 3’s and Omega 6’s to promote brain development. It also has a Glucosamine and Chondroitin boost for healthy joints and bones.
We love that American Journey provides a great solution for pets that need to be on a grain-free diet without breaking the bank.
Nutro Puppy Essentials Large Breed
- Made with farm-raised chicken.
- Non GMO ingredients.
- Made with real meat.
- Glucosamine and Chondroitin boost.
- Manufactured in the USA.
- 393 calories per cup.
- 28% protein, 15% fat, 3% fiber.
Nutro is another one of our favorites, for many different dog breeds. It’s no surprise they pop up here on a list for gentle giants as puppies. The first ingredient on the label is chicken and chicken meal. There are no by-products or by-product meals being used in this formula. The ingredients are Non-GMO ingredients, including farm-raised chickens, which aren’t something you see every day in the dog food world. It’s also made with brown rice, a slower burning carbohydrate that your pup can use for energy for hours on end.
The weight chart on this food goes up to 120 pounds. This means you’ll be doing some mental math after year one, as most giant breeds will hit that threshold by the time they reach 9-12 months. That doesn’t mean this isn’t a great food for your giant though. Nutro uses no artificial preservatives, corn, wheat, or soy protein. There’s a glucosamine boost, with Omega 3’s and DHA for healthy brain development.
We love that Nutro brings a 30-pound bag of high-quality giant breed dog food for a decent price. Nutro is a great option if you are looking for an alternative to blue buffalo or other big brands.
Royal Canin Giant Breed Puppy
- Made for giant breed puppies up to 220 pounds.
- Nutrients support digestive health.
- Glucosamine & chondroitin boost.
- DHA for brain development.
- Proper calcium levels for bone development.
- 341 calories per cup.
- 32% protein, 12% fat, 3.4% fiber.
We close out our list with Royal Canin. Royal Canin really epitomizes the celebration of giant dogs. This formula goes up to 220 pounds on the weight chart, making it perfect for giant breeds of all sizes. This formula is absolutely packed with calories and is specifically formulated for intense growth. The formula is specifically engineered to stimulate controlled energy, due to the rapid growth of your pup.
This food boosts your young puppy’s immune system and digestive tract. It’s the most expensive food on our list, but it’s a 30-pound bag, meaning you’ll replenish less. Royal Canin has made sure to infuse this recipe with calcium, due to the fact that really large puppies are more likely to develop bone and joint issues as they grow. If not properly supported, that can lead to costly vet visits during adulthood.
We love that Royal Canin mapped out a food specifically for the biggest dogs you can own. It’s worth mentioning that the balanced ingredients also promote a healthy digestive tract.
Your giant breed puppy is going to grow fast. They are going to grow extremely large, and love you even more. You owe it to your gentle giant to set them up for healthier adult life, by giving them the right puppy food when they are young. Whether you choose to stay on the grain-free side of the fence or protect your wallet by looking at Purina Pro, any of the choices we’ve talked through should set your puppy up for success. As you’ve likely realized, finding the best dog food for giant breeds might be expensive, but it doesn’t have to be difficult.