Top 10 Best Large Breed Puppy Food
All humans may be created equal, but not all puppies grow at equal rates or end up the same size when they’re done growing. If you’ve lost your heart to a large or giant breed puppy, there are many considerations you’ll need to take that the owner of a small dog never will. For one, your puppy may very well grow up to outweigh you so obedience training is a necessity. Large and giant breed puppies are also prone to some developmental bone and muscle problems that smaller pups usually aren’t.
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Proper nutrition plays a vital role in making sure large breed puppies grow and develop properly but not too quickly. To help you find the best food for your enormous pup, we’ve rounded up reviews of the 13 best large breed puppy foods in 2022. Hopefully, you’ll find our thoughts helpful as you choose the right diet for your big baby dog.
Do all large breed puppies have a huge appetite?
Not always! Just because they are large in size, doesn’t mean they will eat like a wolf. While a large breed pup is likely to eat more than a smaller puppy because of their larger stomach capacity, they are not necessarily greedy. It is entirely possible for your large breed pup to be picky.
Are large breed puppies susceptible to obesity?
Yes, large breed pups might eat more than a regular-sized puppy. If the nutrients aren’t balanced according to their needs, proteins, and fats in particular, then your little furry one can gain a lot of unhealthy weight. Overweight puppies are at a higher risk of bone and joint disorders as well as organ-related issues.
Are large breed puppies susceptible to joint issues?
Without a proper diet or when on free feeding, a large size puppy might grow too fast in size. In this scenario, they will gain more mass then their bones can support at that stage. Many studies have confirmed the relation between diet and joint-related health issues.
What is the right calcium to phosphorus ratio in large breed puppy food?
It is important to make sure the chosen food has 1:1 to 1.3:1 calcium to phosphorus ratio. The calcium content shouldn’t exceed 1.2%. Studies confirm that too much calcium in your puppy’s diet can actually increase the risk of hip dysplasia. Some large breed puppies can experience stunted growth due to excess calcium.
Is raw food good for large breed puppies?
Raw food is always a great option for puppies, especially the ones that can develop into huge muscular adults. High-quality raw food is high in protein and low in fat, plus there are plenty of probiotics to keep their tummy out of trouble. With raw food, it is important that we feed a high-quality product to our pups.
Is grain-free puppy food good for large breed puppies?
A grain-free diet is generally lighter and easy to digest for puppies. Large breed pups are no exception. Grains do not actually add any nutritional value to your dog’s meal. There are far superior sources of fiber you can find in premium puppy food.
Is human food good for large breed puppies?
No, human food (especially table scraps) is never a good option for your pup. It is mainly because of the high amount of processing we put or food through. Besides, it is not possible to analyze the content of human food. Human-grade food, however, is good for pups if prepared in the right manner.
Can large breed puppies eat adult dog food?
Growing pups should be kept on puppy food because it is specially formulated to meet their nutritional needs during their adolescence. Feeding adult food will deprive your puppy of important nutrients and might even make them grow too large without proper skeletal development.
How many meals should a large puppy eat in a day?
It is important to seek a vet’s help to predict your baby’s adult weight and adjust their meals accordingly. Most large breed puppies need 4 to 5 meals a day. If they have a bigger appetite and eat a lot in one meal, then it is best to limit it to 3.
How much protein should a large breed puppy food have?
Vets believe that large breed puppies should get a minimum of 30 percent protein and less than 10 percent fat. These proteins must come from animal sources such as real meat instead of by-products and meals. Food with less than 30 percent protein can affect your pup’s growth.
What else do large breed puppies need besides proteins?
A large breed puppy needs just enough fat to stay active. Fiber-rich food can aid their digestions and help them get the most out of the nutrients. Since these pups are susceptible to joint-related issues, their diet must have the right ratio of calcium and phosphorus.
Do large breed puppies need special food?
Yes, large breed puppies can grow too big, too fast. They need puppy food that gives them the right balance of essential nutrients, quality proteins but just enough fat to keep them active. With too much fat, they have a risk of obesity and several orthopedic diseases.
Do large breed puppies need more food than a smaller puppy?
Not necessarily, large breed puppies have larger stomachs and they may be able to eat more, but that doesn’t mean they should. The amount of food your pup needs depends on its activity level. It is important to balance the number of calories consumed with the number of calories your dog is able to burn.
When should I transition my large breed puppy to dog food?
As compared to smaller breeds, large or giant breed puppies take a little longer to reach maturity. Many of them are still growing until 20 months. For an average large breed puppy on a quality large breed dog, 15 months is when you should start the transition to an adult large breed dog food.
The 10 Best Large Breed Puppy Foods
Iams ProActive Health Smart Puppy Large Breed – Best Value
|Top 3 Ingredients:||Chicken, ground corn, chicken by-product meal|
Our choice for the best large breed puppy food for the money is Iams ProActive Health Smart Puppy Large Breed. Made by another well-known manufacturer with 60 years of experience, this is a solid, cost-effective option for feeding your growing puppy. Real chicken is the top ingredient but this food does contain chicken by-products, common for most lower-cost dog foods. Some owners prefer to avoid feeding by-products although they aren’t necessarily less healthy for dogs.
This food actually contains a little bit more calcium than our top pick, although it doesn’t pack as many calories per cup. Some users complain that their puppies still seem hungry after eating this food and that lower calorie count could be to blame.
Purina ProPlan Puppy Large Breed Chicken & Rice – Best Overall
|Top 3 Ingredients:||Chicken, rice, corn gluten meal|
Our pick for the best overall large breed puppy food is the Purina Pro Plan Large Breed Puppy Dry food. Packed with protein from real chicken, this food provides plenty of fuel for your large breed puppy as they grow their big bones and muscles. Purina is one of the most well-known and oldest dog food manufacturers and this food is just one of their many quality offerings.
This food contains added probiotics to help ensure your pup can easily digest their meal. With glucosamine and fatty acids also included, Purina Pro Plan Large Breed is designed to support your big dog’s joint health, crucial given the strain heavy dogs can put on these areas. Users give this food generally positive reviews although some recent purchasers have noted there seems to have been a formula change that their puppies disliked.
Ollie Baked Beef with Sweet Potatoes – Premium Choice
|Calories:||1804 kcal ME/kg|
|Top 3 Ingredients:||Lamb, butternut squash, lamb liver, kale, rice, chickpeas, cranberries|
Ollie’s makes our list at #3 as the best premium choice dog food for large breed puppies. If you’re not familiar with them, Ollie’s makes all-natural, healthy dog food recipes designed to ensure the well-being of your dog. They operate as a meal subscription service, so they are a bit pricier than other brands, but if you’re looking for fresh, raw foods or healthy baked foods like their Baked Beef with Sweet Potatoes recipe, you might want to give them a try.
When it comes to their Baked Beef with Sweet Potatoes recipe, you’ll find it has 26% minimum crude protein, making it an excellent option for large breed pups. And as far as ingredients go, the Baked Beef recipe contains real beef as the first ingredient, sweet potatoes for fiber, oats for omega fatty acids to keep skin and coat looking great, and carrots to support eye health. Add to that Vitamin E, taurine, and fish oil, and you’ve got a pretty great food that will help your dog grow up healthy and strong!
The downside of this recipe is that it contains lentils, and peas and legumes have been tentatively linked to heart disease in dogs, so keep that in mind.
Instinct Raw Boost Large Breed Puppy
|Top 3 Ingredients:||Chicken, chicken meal, peas|
Packed with protein, Instinct Raw Boost will help your large breed puppy build up their adult muscles and develop strong bones at the same time. A mix of dry kibble and freeze-dried raw chicken, this food is also grain-free with no artificial colors or preservatives. Like most food made with whole meats rather than by-products, this food is on the higher end of the price range. With both probiotics and antioxidants, this food gives your pup an immune boost and digestive aid at the same time.
This food does have a higher fat content than some others on our list so monitor your puppy’s weight carefully while feeding. Although some owners believe raw food is the most nutritious for their dogs, there are some health and safety concerns involved with feeding it. Freeze-dried raw food is a little less problematic but you should talk to your veterinarian before feeding raw food to learn how to do it safely.
Nulo Freestyle Salmon & Turkey Large Breed Puppy Dry Food
|Top 3 Ingredients:||Deboned salmon, turkey meal, red lentils|
If you don’t mind paying a little more to feed your large breed puppy, Nulo Freestyle Salmon & Turkey Large Breed Puppy food might be the pick for you. Not only does this food have one of the highest protein percentages on our list, but that protein also comes from the highest quality sources, including wild-caught salmon. This food is also grain-free, a popular choice for some dog owners, although not automatically a healthier one.
Also made with both probiotics and fatty acids, this food supports both joint and digestive health. All those premium ingredients don’t come cheap and the cost is the biggest drawback of this food, especially when feeding large puppies with even bigger appetites!
Wellness Large Breed Complete Health Chicken, Rice & Salmon
|Top 3 Ingredients:||Deboned chicken, chicken meal, peas|
Made with two all-natural protein sources, Wellness Large Breed Complete Health also contains an assortment of fruits and vegetables for added nutrition. Made with GMO-free ingredients, this food appeals to dog owners who value a more all-natural diet, free of fillers or artificial preservatives. Wellness has a good balance of protein and fat content, as well as one of the highest calcium percentages on our list.
Some users report that their puppies had a difficult time chewing these kibbles, which are unusual shapes and very hard. Others report their pups disliked the taste of the food. Since this isn’t the cheapest of puppy foods, you may be out some dollars if your pup refuses to eat it.
American Journey Large Breed Puppy Chicken And Sweet Potato
|Top 3 Ingredients:||Deboned chicken, chicken meal, turkey meal|
Relying on sweet potato, blueberries, and carrots for their nutrient density, American Journey is one of the lower-cost grain-free options on our list. Whole chicken is the main protein source for this food with no by-products used. With antioxidants and fatty acids present, this food helps your large breed puppy’s brain and eyesight develop properly.
Only available from two retailers, this isn’t the most convenient brand of food on our list. Users give the food high marks for quality, even those whose puppies didn’t like the taste! Some users also found the large kibble difficult for young puppies to eat.
Nutro Natural Choice Large Breed Puppy Chicken And Brown Rice
|Top 3 Ingredients:||Chicken, chicken meal, whole grain sorghum|
Also made with non-GMO ingredients, Nutro Natural Choice Large Breed Chicken and Brown Rice is less expensive than the Wellness diet, making it a good choice for those who value both a natural diet and their budget. This food is designed to be fed until your puppy is 18 months old, ideal for slow-growing large and giant breeds. Free of artificial colors or flavors, this food prioritizes using real food ingredients that are easy to identify.
A highly-rated choice among users, this brand also has a lot of loyalty with some owners using its products for over 20 years. Some owners do report that their puppies don’t care for the taste of this food and others found it seemed to upset their stomachs.
Hill’s Science Diet Puppy Large Breed Chicken Meal and Oat
|Top 3 Ingredients:||Chicken meal, whole grain wheat, whole grain oat|
Hill’s Science Diet is one of the brands most often recommended and sold by veterinarians and this puppy food is made of high-quality, natural ingredients. It contains no artificial ingredients or by-products but does contain grains, including wheat and corn. Hill’s prioritizes both safety, quality, and taste, and, based on the overwhelmingly positive reviews of this food, they seem to be doing a good job at all three.
We ranked this food lower on our list because it contains less protein and calcium than others. Some users also report this food has a strong, somewhat unpleasant smell. As with some other foods on our list, some puppy owners found that this food upset their dogs’ stomachs, with excessive gas being the most common ailment reported.
Royal Canin Large Puppy Dry
|Top 3 Ingredients:||Corn, chicken by-product meal, wheat|
Royal Canin Large Puppy is designed to be fed until a dog is 15 months old, making it one of the longest-lasting puppy foods on our list, ideal for slow-growing large and giant breeds. This is the only food on our list that doesn’t include added calcium, so if you feed this product your vet may recommend a calcium supplement.
Royal Canin is known as a premium dog food brand and the price of this product reflects that although unlike the other high-priced foods on our list, this one doesn’t contain a whole meat protein source. The company does prioritize high quality and production standards, however. Most users report their dogs enjoy this food and it’s overall highly rated.
Holistic Select Large and Giant Breed Lamb and Oatmeal
|Top 3 Ingredients:||Lamb meal, chicken meal, oatmeal|
Holistic Select contains plenty of ingredients designed to aid your pup’s digestion, including probiotics, fiber, and digestive enzymes. However, some users still report their dogs having tummy trouble on this food while others rave that this was the only food their sensitive pups could tolerate. With high protein and calcium, this food hits the recommended nutrition requirements for large and giant breeds and offers a high-calorie count per cup.
With the increased calorie needs of growing large breed pups, feeding them gets expensive, and more nutrient-dense foods like this one are often preferred. This brand is not the easiest to find so it’s not a good choice for those who value convenience.
Diamond Naturals Large Breed Puppy Formula
|Top 3 Ingredients:||Lamb, lamb meal, whole grain brown rice|
Free of corn, wheat, soy, and any artificial colors or flavors, Diamond Naturals Large Breed Puppy is manufactured by a family-run company and counts real lamb as its number one protein source. This food is also packed full of superfoods like blueberries, kale, and quinoa offering plenty of natural antioxidants and possibly leading you to wonder if your dog is eating better than you!
While most of the foods on our list include probiotics, this food is the only one that contains a special, dog-specific strain. Some users report this food has a strong smell and unusual texture, while others found their dogs dislike the taste and seemed to prefer a different protein like chicken.
Eukanuba Large Breed Puppy
|Top 3 Ingredients:||Chicken, chicken by-product meal, corn|
Eukanuba Large Breed Puppy can be fed until your dog is 2 years old, making it a particularly good choice for the slowest growing giant breed puppies. Eukanuba focuses on using nutritional science to make the best dog food they can.
While this food uses real chicken as its main protein source, it does contain by-products and grains which some owners don’t like to feed. It’s also priced a little higher than foods with comparable ingredients and nutrition facts. Users found that the kibble tends to be too large for very young puppies to easily chew. Some owners with picky dogs reported good results with this diet.
Purina One SmartBlend Large Breed Puppy
|Top 3 Ingredients:||Chicken, rice flour, soybean meal|
Purina One SmartBlend is a less-expensive option made by the same company as our best overall choice. With real chicken also the first ingredient, this food is high in protein but does contain wheat, corn, and soy which make it likely to be poorly tolerated by dogs with allergies or food sensitivities. The texture and taste of this food are very desirable to most puppies.
Made in the USA, Purina One SmartBlend contains no artificial flavors or colors and is free of preservatives. Some repeat buyers of this food have noticed some inconsistencies with quality between bags. Owners of picky eaters report their dogs to have mixed feelings about this food.
Buyer’s Guide: Choosing the Best Large Breed Puppy Food
There you have it: Our reviews of the top large breed puppy foods. Now that your head is bursting with new knowledge, how do you narrow down your food choices and pick just the right one? Here are a few points to consider that might help you decide.
Some dog breeds are more prone to allergies and food sensitivities than others. Even puppies of these breeds could show signs and symptoms of these issues. These dogs may do better on grain-free food or one free of common allergens like wheat, soy, and corn. Keep in mind that some common symptoms of food sensitivities, like vomiting and diarrhea, can also be signs of many other puppy health issues. See your vet to rule out other causes before trying to treat them yourself by changing your dog’s diet.
Large-breed puppies should eat food with at least 30% protein and 9% fat on a dry matter basis. To help you compare the different foods on our list, learn how to interpret the dog food labels and how to calculate dry matter correctly. Added calcium is also important to help large and giant breed puppies develop their bones properly. Only one food on our list lacks added calcium so keep the need for potential supplementation in mind if you choose that diet.
For most of us, the cost will be a factor in our decision-making. When you’re feeding a growing giant breed of dog, cost becomes even more important. These dogs can consume an enormous amount of food per week and your dog food budget could escalate quickly as your dog grows. Ingredients considered “lower quality” like meat by-products can still produce perfectly nutritious food so don’t assume you’re short-changing your dog’s health if you can only afford our best value choice.
As our best overall large breed puppy food, Purina ProPlan Large Breed Chicken and Rice offers high nutritional value at a reasonable price. Our best value choice, Iams ProActive is a convenient, cost-effective food that still brings high-quality protein to the table. Our premium choice of best dog food for large breed puppies. If you’re not familiar with them, Ollie’s makes all-natural, healthy dog food recipes designed to ensure the well-being of your dog.
With so many choices and so much money spent on dog food advertising, it can be hard to cut through it all to reasonably evaluate the options available to you. We hope our reviews of these 14 large-breed puppy foods have been helpful as you hunt down the best choice for you and your future giant dog.