Searching for the best puppy food for your large breed dog? You aren’t alone! People all over the world are adopting large breed puppies every day. Welcoming a puppy into your life is one of those milestone moments, and one that has no doubt taken a lot of deliberation with every family member, and much time spent researching everything you need to know, as well as finding a reputable breeder to work with. You’ve now found your four-legged soulmate, but how and what exactly do you feed him?
Feeding your pup the right food is so so important! Not only will it keep him happy and puppy-like, but it is one of the easiest ways to keep him healthy and avoid unnecessary trips to the Veterinarian. It is arguably the most important time of his life, and good nutrition will ensure that he develops as he should and set the foundations for a healthy life and body.
We are going to walk you through everything you need to know about large breed puppy nutrition. From the most important nutrients to look for what ingredients to avoid, along with some of the greatest puppy food brands around and which of their products are the very best. Not only are there several different choices of dry food for your large breed puppy below, but we’ve also listed out some of the top wet foods available as well.
At a Glance: Our Favorite Foods for Large Breed Puppies
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- 1 Large Breed Puppies
- 2 Large Breed Puppy Nutrient Needs
- 3 Ingredients To Look For
- 4 Puppy Foods For Large Breeds
- 5 Wet Foods For Large Breed Puppies
- 6 Frequently Asked Questions
- 7 Final Thoughts
Large Breed Puppies
Generally speaking, puppies are categorized into sizes depending on the size they are expected to become once they reach full maturity. Full maturity can be reached at any point between 10 and 24 months depending on their breed. Some giant breeds may fall into the large category depending on each specific dog, but generally speaking, each breed can be categorized by their expected adult size.
Large breed puppies are dogs that will reach between 51 and 100 pounds by the time they are fully grown adults, and that’s what this nutritional guide represents. Below is a list of several large breeds that fall into this guide. For a better picture of each specific breed, it’s a better idea to visit each breed-specific dog food guide. Below you’ll find a few.
- Goldendoodle Food Guide
- Doberman Food Guide
- Rottweiler Food Guide
- Golden Retriever Food Guide
- Labrador Retriever Food Guide
- Siberian Husky Food Guide
- German Shepherd Food Guide
- Boxer Food Guide
- German Shorthaired Pointer Food Guide
Large Breed Puppy Nutrient Needs
As we have already said, there is not a one size fits all approach to puppy nutrition. Not only do you need to think about their individual needs, such as sensitive stomachs, ingredient allergies or intolerances, and believe it or not, likes and dislikes, but you also have to think about their breed and the size that they are expected to be.
Small breeds need much smaller pieces that’s nutrient-packed, while Large breeds like the Great Pyrenees often need a food with a higher protein content considering their larger muscle mass and higher energy needs. Large breed foods also have optimized fat, calcium, phosphorus, and vitamin D levels, because these ingredients control the speed at which his large bones grow.
If his bones grow too fast, then he will be at a much higher risk of suffering Hip Dysplasia and other developmental bone disorders. Therefore, it is important to feed your large pup nutrition that is specifically designed for his size, and most generic puppy food packaging will state that it is not suited to large breed puppies for this reason.
Ingredients To Look For
Firstly, it is important to read the ingredients list yourself and not solely trust product labels. Unfortunately, many brands are simply looking to make a profit and have little concern for your pup’s welfare, and often will exaggerate claims or mislead consumers. Here are the main ingredients and nutrients to look out for in any puppy food.
- Whole Named Meats: There are two points to cover here. Firstly, whole meats or meat meals (not by-product meals which we will discuss in the ingredients to avoid!) are not only full of protein and energy, but they also include other nutrients such as glucosamine, which is important for bone and joint health, as well as fats and oils for brain development and coat health. In fact, meat meals can be packed with four times as much protein as the meat that it was made from.
- Healthy Carbohydrates: Healthy carbohydrates are important because protein alone cannot provide him with enough energy to not only sustain him throughout the day but also to provide him with the puppy growing power that his body needs. Healthy carbohydrates can take the form of whole grains, such as barley, oatmeal or brown rice, or vegetables such as potatoes, peas, and lentils. Whether you choose a grain free or grain inclusive diet (there are arguments for both), all healthy carbohydrates are full of vitamins, minerals, and fiber.
- Natural Preservatives: Natural is always best, and this is definitely true when it comes to food. Preserving food is sometimes needed, especially when we are serving up real meats and fresh fruits. Natural preservatives such as vitamin C (ascorbic acid), vitamin E (mixed tocopherols), and botanical oils such as Rosemary and Peppermint extract are important to keep his food fresh and retain their nutrients.
- Fruits and Vegetables: Just like humans, it is important for our pups to eat fruit and vegetables because they offer a variety of health benefits that meat alone cannot provide. They are full to the brim of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, which ensure that his immune system is boosted, bones are strengthened, and other bodily functions are supported. In addition, these ingredients are also very fibrous which helps to keep his digestive system regular and healthy, and feeling fuller for longer which is important if he is constantly begging for food.
- Omega Fatty Acids: There is a common misconception that omega acids and other fats are bad for a dog’s health, but the reality is, that it is much needed, and without it, health problems arise. Not only does it keep his cardiovascular system healthy, brain and eye development functioning and his skin and coat nourished, but it also allows him to absorb vitamins and minerals which improve his overall wellness.
- Essential Amino Acids: Amino acids are compounds that form the essential building blocks that living beings need to, well, live. Every vital process that your dog’s body undergoes relies on essential amino acids in some way, and as his body cannot produce them all naturally he relies on a well-balanced diet. Be sure to look out for arginine, lysine, histidine, isoleucine, phenylalanine, threonine, valine, leucine, methionine, and tryptophan in the ingredients list, and they can all be found in animal proteins, egg products, and fish oils.
Puppy Foods For Large Breeds
Now that you are armed with the information about what ingredients to look for, what ingredients to avoid, and which brands currently offer the best puppy products on the market you could go out into the big wide world of pet nutrition and spend a lot of time finding one.
Or, you could save yourself A LOT of time and pick one from our recommendation list below. Not only are our recommendations all high-quality foods that list the much-needed puppy nutrients and avoid the harmful ingredients, but they are also all highly rated online by other puppy owners as well as being made by reputable brands. We have also broken our recommendation list into puppy sizes, and there is also something for every budget too!
Remembering that large breed puppies need controlled levels of certain nutrients as mentioned above, it is important to feed your large pup specially designed food, such as these.
The Farmer's Dog
- Cooked fresh, flash-frozen, and shipped to you.
- Personalized meal plans.
- 4 healthy, vet-designed options: beef, chicken, turkey, or pork.
- Made with human-grade ingredients (no fillers or preservatives).
- Manufactured in the United States.
- Calories and nutritional values vary based on recipe.
The Farmer’s Dog offers four grain-free recipes that always offer more fresh-frozen meat than any other ingredient. Depending on the formula, you will get a mix of veggies and meats like sweet potatoes, green beans, or even broccoli among the fresh produce fiber sources. All of these superfoods pack a lot of nutrients, maintaining a robust immune system. Every recipe is AAFCO-certified for all life stages and the meal plan is customized for your unique dog, you can feel confident that your dog’s next meal will meet all of his nutritional needs to keep him healthy and strong.
If you’d prefer to include grains, you can always cook up some rice to mix in. This will not only help your dog’s diet and also spread the food across more meals, saving you money!
We love that these recipes are cooked fresh based on a personalized meal plan for your best friend. Every ingredient is human-grade, so you can be sure that your dog is getting the very best dog food possible.
Wellness Core Large Breed Pupppy featured
Deboned Chicken and Chicken meal are the first two ingredients in this protein-rich kibble, with Turkey meal following shortly behind. Chicken fat helps to preserve this food naturally, and with Salmon oil, his cognitive development and coat health is well cared for. This recipe is fortified with vitamins and minerals to strengthen his immune system, and superfoods such as bananas, spinach, and broccoli are also listed. This product has the optimum calcium and phosphorus levels for strong and controlled bone growth too.
We love that each kibble in this product is coated in ‘acticoat’, which is their probiotic solution that helps to support a healthy digestive system with every bite.
Orijen Large Breed Puppy
- High-protein formula.
- Uses raw and fresh animal ingredients.
- Made with wild-caught fish.
- Made with cage-free eggs.
- Made in the United States.
- 449 Calories per cup.
- 38% Protein, 16% Fat, 6% Fiber.
Just like the original puppy recipe for medium breeds, this formula is also multi-award winning and a super-premium grain free recipe. This large breed recipe has the optimum levels of calcium and phosphorus, whilst still ensuring that protein is the main star. With the first fifteen ingredients being high-quality whole-prey ingredients, he will savor the meat, bones, organs, cartilages and blood of the animal. There are also plenty of veggies and fruit which provide him with all the vitamins he needs, as well as fiber for a healthy gut.
We love that this recipe has market-leading levels of protein, which is not only important for his large muscle mass and growth but also supplies the meaty taste that big pups crave!
Diamond Naturals Puppy
- No corn, wheat, filler or artificial flavors.
- DHA for brain and vision health.
- Omega fatty acids for skin and coat.
- Powerful antioxidants for immune health.
- 342 Calories per cup.
- 27% Protein, 15% Fat, 3% Fiber.
Lamb and lamb meal are the first two ingredients on this list, and with chia seeds and quinoa, his energy levels will remain high to keep him fit and active. There are a variety of antioxidants and superfoods listed, such as oranges, coconut, kale, and papaya, and fibers such as kelp and coconut to support healthy gut flora. This recipe is also the best option for those owners who have a lower budget, but again, without compromising on quality.
We love that this recipe is the only grain inclusive recipe on this list, which is important for those owners who want to avoid feeding their pups a grain free diet.
Instinct Raw Boost Large Breed Puppy
- Boosted nutrition for large breed puppies with high-protein kibble + freeze-dried raw.
- Cage-free chicken is the first ingredient.
- Balanced mix of poultry, fish, and meat.
- Natural DHA from chicken eggs.
- Free from grains, potato, corn, wheat, soy, by-product meal, and artificial colors and preservatives.
- Made in the USA.
Chicken and Chicken meal are the first two ingredients on this list, and when combining this with the raw Chicken meal toppers, you can be sure that your large pup will go crazy for the flavor. It is minimally processed which makes this recipe nutrient dense, and with egg product, fish meal, and Salmon oil, you can be sure that his cognitive function and coat are supported. Chicken livers and hearts also take pride in place in the recipe list, and there are also guaranteed levels of calcium and phosphorus for strong bones and teeth.
We love that this recipe has raw toppers, which are full of nutrient-dense ingredients and add texture to his bowl.
Wet Foods For Large Breed Puppies
Whilst we prefer dry food for dogs for a variety of reasons, we know that this is not always possible or the best option for every dog, and some dogs are just fussy and need a little wet food added to the mix. So, here are a select few of our favorite wet foods for puppies of all sizes.
Blue Buffalo Homestyle Recipe Natural Puppy Wet
- High-quality protein from real chicken to support healthy muscle development and DHA to support cognitive development.
- Made with the finest natural ingredients and enhanced with vitamins and minerals.
- Contains NO chicken (or poultry) by-product meals, NO corn, wheat (a common thickening agent used by other brands), soy, artificial flavors, or preservatives.
Made with Chicken, Chicken broth, and Chicken liver, this homemade-style recipe is made with lots of homely garden vegetables too. It has carrots, peas, and sweet potatoes, as well as brown rice, barley, and oatmeal for lots of fiber and energy, so it is a grain inclusive option. This recipe is fortified with vitamins and minerals too.
We love that this Blue Buffalo recipe is made with vegetables and is another great offering from blue buffalo to match their other high-quality dry foods that are often compared to other brands.
Canidae PURE Limited Ingredient Premium Puppy Wet
- Real chicken as the first ingredient, paired with whole ingredients like peas and dried whole egg.
- Made using 4 or fewer key ingredients that are easily recognizable, perfect for sensitive dogs.
- Formulated with antioxidants, probiotics, and a nutritious blend of vitamins and minerals.
- Premium proteins and regeneratively farmed ingredients.
This wet food is made only with 4 key ingredients: Chicken, Chicken broth, dried eggs and peas. This is great for those with sensitive stomachs, and it is grain free too. There are also plenty of omega fatty acids such as Salmon oil, as well as vitamin and mineral supplements. This has the highest fiber content and calorie count per can, which provides him with plenty of puppy growing power.
We love that this grain free formula is made with simple ingredients, so you can feed your pup guilt-free.
Nulo Puppy Grain Free Canned Wet
- Contains more protein and animal fats.
- Supports healthy skin, a shinier coat, and more energy.
- A beneficial mix of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants for a healthy immune system.
- Reduced carbohydrate intake.
- Helps your dog remain fit and happy.
- Reduces canine food allergies or sensitivities.
- Made in the USA.
This wet food offers an alternative to those puppies who cannot eat or do not like Chicken. Instead, it is made with Turkey, Salmon, and Cod, which make up for slightly higher protein content. This grain free recipe uses peas and lentils for its energy sources and is rich in Salmon oil and other omega fatty acids for overall well-being.
We love that Nulo offers a fish-based formula that offers fatty acids and other nutrients that are not often included enough in most dry dog food formulas.
Frequently Asked Questions
How long should my large breed eat puppy food?
No matter the size of your breed, you should aim to transition your dog to adult food by the time they get to 12-15 months of age. At that point, you’ll want to start slowly transitioning over a one-month period to an adult large breed food.
What brand of food is best for my large breed puppy?
Any of the brands we have listed here will meet your large breed puppy’s nutritional requirements. It may take some time to ensure that they get adjusted to their food.
Where is the best place to buy food for my large breed puppy?
We typically recommend that you do your research, but buying online is one of the easiest and most convenient ways to have food delivered right to your doorstep.
And there you have it, everything you need to know about large breed puppy nutrition, along with the very best puppy foods available. Nutrition can be the difference between life and death, so it is important to get it right from the very beginning. Not only will it mean that his body is given everything it needs to be healthy, but it will also ensure that he is as happy as he deserves to be.
Please, do not feed him herbicide, antifreeze, woodchip, or roadkill, do not believe labels without reading the ingredient list for yourself and do not assume that cheap budget store food will meet his nutritional needs, because it will not. Whilst you do not need to spend the most, you need to ensure that you provide him with quality food.