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Top 10 Best Healthy Brands to Feed a Large Breed Dog

Gentle Giant Dog Food

Right Nutrition for Large Breeds

AAFCO (the Association of American Feed Control Officials) defines large dogs as those who weigh 70 lbs or more as adults, but many experts prefer a broader range and define large breed dogs as those who weigh 50 lbs or more as adults.

Large breeds include:

  • German ShepherdTop 10 Best Healthy Brands to Feed a Large Breed Dog 1
  • Golden Retriever
  • Rottweiler
  • Bernese Mountain Dog
  • Doberman Pinscher
  • Labrador Retriever
  • Rhodesian Ridgeback
  • Akita
  • Chesapeake Bay Retriever

….To name a few!

There’s no universal definition of giant breed dogs, but generally speaking, dogs weighing over 100 lbs as adults fall into this category.

Top 10 Best Healthy Brands to Feed a Large Breed Dog 2Giant dog breeds include:

  • Mastiff
  • Great Dane
  • Irish Wolfhound
  • Saint Bernard
  • Newfoundland
  • Great Pyrenees

But remember this: not only purebreds are considered large breed dogs. Any dog that meets the weight requirement falls into this category.

All large dogs, especially giant dogs, face many of the same size-related health issues.

While diet is important for dogs of all sizes, it’s particularly pressing that you pay attention to what your large breed dog eats.

Best Value
Top 10 Best Healthy Brands to Feed a Large Breed Dog 3
Gentle Giants Canine Nutrition ChickenTop 10 Best Healthy Brands to Feed a Large Breed Dog 4
  • Turkey is the first ingredient
  • Taurine helps support your dog’s heart health
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Out #1 Choice
Top 10 Best Healthy Brands to Feed a Large Breed Dog 5
Nom Nom Fresh Pet FoodTop 10 Best Healthy Brands to Feed a Large Breed Dog 6
  • Human-grade ingredients
  • Crafted by a Vet Nutritionist
  • 50% off First Order
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Best Seller
Top 10 Best Healthy Brands to Feed a Large Breed Dog 7
Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula Large BreedTop 10 Best Healthy Brands to Feed a Large Breed Dog 4
  • Help support the special needs of bigger dogs
  • Contains glucosamine and chondroitin
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Top 10 Healthy Dog Food Brands for Large Breed Dogs

If you want to meet your large-breed dog’s nutritional needs throughout his life your best bet is to start him off with a large-breed puppy formula.

Once your puppy reaches about 80% of his expected adult size (this usually occurs somewhere between 12 and 18 months), you should switch to a large-breed adult recipe.

If you need help choosing an adult recipe for your large-breed dog, consider one of the top-rated brands reviewed below:

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Top 10 Best Healthy Brands to Feed a Large Breed Dog 9
Nom Nom Fresh Pet Food
  • Human-grade ingredients
  • Crafted by a Vet Nutritionist
  • 50% off First Order
VIEW LATEST PRICE →
Top 10 Best Healthy Brands to Feed a Large Breed Dog 10
Gentle Giants Canine Nutrition Chicken
  • A nutritious dog food recipe
  • Turkey is the first ingredient and the only protein
  • Taurine helps support your dog’s heart health
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Top 10 Best Healthy Brands to Feed a Large Breed Dog 11
Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula Large Breed Adult Chicken & Brown Rice Recipe
  • Help support the special needs of bigger dogs
  • Contains glucosamine and chondroitin
  • With calcium, phosphorus and essential Vitamins
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Top 10 Best Healthy Brands to Feed a Large Breed Dog 12
Halo Holistic Chicken & Chicken Liver Recipe
  • Made with real, whole chicken
  • Wholesome, non-GMO ingredients
  • With proprietary DreamCoat supplement
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Top 10 Best Healthy Brands to Feed a Large Breed Dog 13
AvoDerm Original Chicken Meal & Brown Rice Recipe
  • Specially formulated for large breed dogs
  • With chondroitin sulfate and glucosamine
  • Promotes healthy coat and skin
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Top 10 Best Healthy Brands to Feed a Large Breed Dog 14
Wellness CORE Original Deboned Turkey & Chicken Meal Recipe
  • This high-protein and grain-free recipe
  • Made with real deboned turkey
  • With glucosamine and chondroitin
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Top 10 Best Healthy Brands to Feed a Large Breed Dog 15
Wellness Large Breed Complete Health Puppy
  • Great source of DHA for healthy brain development
  • Flaxseed nourishes the coat and keeps skin clean
  • Specially formulated for large breed puppies during the first year of life
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Top 10 Best Healthy Brands to Feed a Large Breed Dog 16
Eukanuba Large Breed Puppy Dry Dog Food
  • Chicken is the number one ingredient
  • Provides complete and balanced nutrition for large breed puppies
  • Supports muscle growth and bone health
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Top 10 Best Healthy Brands to Feed a Large Breed Dog 17
ORIJEN Senior High-Protein Dog Food
  • With 85% quality animal ingredients
  • Biologically Appropriate, grain-free diet
  • Made from chicken and turkey, wild-caught fish, and cage-free eggs
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Top 10 Best Healthy Brands to Feed a Large Breed Dog 18
Wysong Optimal Senior Dry Dog Food
  • Formulated especially for senior dogs
  • Contains 40% fresh/frozen and dried meats and organs, protein and fats
  • Unsurpassed levels of enzymes and probiotics, natural omega-3
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Best Dog Foods for Large Breeds

  1. Nom Nom Fresh Pet Food
  2. Gentle Giants Canine Nutrition Chicken
  3. Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula Large Breed Adult Chicken & Brown Rice Recipe
  4. Halo Holistic Chicken & Chicken Liver Recipe
  5. AvoDerm Original Chicken Meal & Brown Rice Recipe
  6. Wellness CORE Original Deboned Turkey & Chicken Meal Recipe
  7. Wellness Large Breed Complete Health Puppy
  8. Eukanuba Large Breed Puppy Dry Dog Food
  9. ORIJEN Senior High-Protein Dog Food
  10. Wysong Optimal Senior Dry Dog Food

1. Nom Nom Fresh Pet Food Delivery

First 5 Ingredients (Heartland Beef Mash): Ground beef, russet potatoes, eggs, carrots, peas

WHY YOU SHOULD BUY
Top 10 Best Healthy Brands to Feed a Large Breed Dog 19
Nom Nom creates cooked food as a balance between feeding canned food and a raw food diet. If you’ve got extra in your budget, you can get a quality meal made from human grade ingredients delivered right to your door.

Nom Nom gives pet owners the chance to feed their pets human grade food without switching to a messy raw food diet. Heartland Beef Mash is a healthy option, offering whole proteins through cooked beef plus plenty of vitamins with whole fruits and veggies. The meals are made and arrive at your house ready to serve or freeze for later.

Nom Nom was founded by a veterinarian looking for a better way to get proper nutrition in the hands of pet owners. The company is a good balance between store-bought kibble and the confusing raw food diets.

Fully cooked meals using human grade ingredients in a limited ingredient formula. It’s simple, arrives fully ready to serve, and keeps your large breed dog happy and healthy.

Nom Nom provide dogs with nutrition that balanced the ease of kibble with the dense nutrition of a raw diet. Meals arrive at your door and can be served or refrigerated right away, and you can adjust delivery schedules from the website. Each recipe is crafted in Nom Nom’s kitchens from human grade ingredients.

2. Gentle Giants Canine Nutrition Chicken

First 5 Ingredients:Chicken Meal, Pearled Barley, Brown Rice, Oatmeal, Dried Plain Beet Pulp

WHY YOU SHOULD BUY
Top 10 Best Healthy Brands to Feed a Large Breed Dog 20
A chicken-based dry budget dog food that is packed with vitamins and minerals. This means that your dog will not only be enjoying a flavor sensation, they will also be absorbing Vitamin A, Vitamin B 12, and Vitamin C from natural sources.

Gentle Giants is a pet food company by a desire to produce high-quality and nutritious pet foods made with premium ingredients. This company understands the special bond between people and pets, so they make products that will help to ensure that every dog reaches his maximum potential for health and longevity.

Gentle Giants is a premium dog food provider that utilizes a science-based formula, which keeps ingredients natural and wholesome. Each of its recipes contain only 9 percent of fat but has lots of chelated minerals, chondroitin, glucosamine, probiotics, and prebiotics.

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The Gentle Giants Canine Nutrition Chicken recipe features chicken as the primary protein with brown rice and oatmeal for carbohydrate support. This formula also contains plenty of healthy fats for energy with balanced calcium and phosphorus levels for healthy bones and joints.

The Gentle Giants chicken recipe keeps it wholesome and healthy by using farm-raised chicken, 12 non-GMO fruits and veggies, and a host of prebiotics, probiotics, and vitamins to keep your pet’s health in tiptop shape.

3. Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula Large Breed Adult Chicken & Brown Rice Recipe

First 5 Ingredients: Deboned Chicken, Chicken Meal, Brown Rice, Barley, Oatmeal

WHY YOU SHOULD BUY
Top 10 Best Healthy Brands to Feed a Large Breed Dog 21
Contains Blue Buffalo’s proprietary mix of antioxidants and vitamins in convenient little bites that add texture. It includes proteins from whole deboned chicken, plus slow release complex carbohydrates.

When you think of high-quality pet food brands, Blue Buffalo is probably one of the first names that comes to mind. Although this company is still fairly young, it has become one of the top names in the premium pet food industry, and for good reason.

Blue Buffalo offers four different lines of products for dogs in all life stages and all breed sizes, including fifteen recipes for large-breed dogs. The Life Protection Formula line includes four recipes for large-breed adult dogs made with quality proteins like chicken and lamb plus digestible carbohydrates like brown rice and oatmeal.

The Freedom line of grain-free recipes features three large-breed adult recipes made with chicken, lamb, and beef plus grain-free carbohydrates such as peas, potatoes, and tapioca starch – these recipes are also fortified with glucosamine and chondroitin for joint support.

For limited ingredient formulas, the Basics line includes two large-breed formulas and there are five large-breed recipes in the Wilderness line of protein-rich, natural evolutionary diets.

All of Blue Buffalo’s recipes also include their LifeSource Bits which are made of a proprietary blend of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants to ensure complete and balanced nutrition as well as lifelong health and wellness.

4. Halo Holistic Chicken & Chicken Liver Adult Dry Dog Food

First 5 Ingredients: Chicken, Chicken Liver, Dried Egg Product, Oatmeal, Pearled Barley

WHY YOU SHOULD BUY
Top 10 Best Healthy Brands to Feed a Large Breed Dog 22
This formula is designed to nourish your dog’s body from the inside out, made with real, whole chicken and no rendered meat meals. This recipe is considered highly digestible due to the quality of the ingredients and it is highly palatable as well.

The Halo company follows the tagline, “purely for pets”, so you shouldn’t be surprised to learn that this company only uses the best ingredients in their formulas. Halo follows a holistic approach to pet nutrition, so each and every ingredient they use serves a purpose.

The Halo company makes it their mission to provide people and their pets with honest information and wholesome products to improve lives. They follow three guiding principles – balance, nature, and love – which guide the company’s choices in developing products that support the optimum health, vitality, and wellness of dogs everywhere.

When it comes to their dog food products, Halo has two main product lines – Spot’s Stew and Vigor. The Vigor line of products features carefully selected ingredients that work together to promote vitality, energy, and healthy digestion for all dogs.

The Spot’s Stew line includes an assortment of original and grain-free recipes, including one for large-breed dogs and another healthy weight formula. All of Halo’s products are free from corn, wheat, and soy ingredients as well as artificial additives so you can feel good no matter which recipe you choose.

Halo’s adult dog food products are all made with premium proteins, farm-raised vegetables, and natural sources of fiber to ensure complete and balanced nutrition as well as natural flavor.

5. AvoDerm Natural Chicken Meal & Brown Rice Formula

First 5 Ingredients: Chicken Meal, Ground Whole Brown Rice, Ground Whole White Rice, Oatmeal, Chicken Fat (Preserved with Mixed Tocopherols)

WHY YOU SHOULD BUY
Top 10 Best Healthy Brands to Feed a Large Breed Dog 23
A high-quality, natural brand that sets itself apart from the competition by including a certain nutrient-rich ingredient in all of their recipes – avocado. It help to support his skin and coat as well as his brain and his immune system.

The AvoDerm brand is part of the Central Garden and Pet Company, the same company that makes Breeder’s Choice pet foods. AvoDerm is a high-quality, natural brand that sets itself apart from the competition by including a certain nutrient-rich ingredient in all of their recipes – avocado.

Avocado is loaded with healthy fats which not only provide your dog with a concentrated source of energy, but which also help to support his skin and coat as well as his brain and his immune system.

AvoDerm has been producing quality pet foods since 1982 and they currently offer a variety of recipes for dogs in different life stages and of different breed sizes. For example, AvoDerm offers a large-breed specific recipe featuring chicken meal and brown rice for both large-breed puppies and large-breed adults.

There are also a number of protein-rich and grain-free adult dog recipes that could be a good choice for your large-breed dog. AvoDerm also offers an assortment of oven-baked recipes and revolving menu options to help reduce the risk for food allergies and sensitivities.

AvoDerm doesn’t offer any large-breed specific canned foods, but there is an assortment of original, grain-free, and revolving menu options to choose from if your dog prefers wet food.

6. Wellness CORE Grain-Free Original Turkey & Chicken Recipe

First 5 Ingredients: Deboned Turkey, Turkey Meal, Chicken Meal, Peas, Potatoes

WHY YOU SHOULD BUY
Top 10 Best Healthy Brands to Feed a Large Breed Dog 24
Focuses on delivering high-protein meals that are grain-free but big on flavor. It’s based on the nutritional philosophy that dogs thrive on a natural diet that is composed mostly of meat.

Wellness is an all-natural brand of pet food that follows a holistic approach to pet nutrition. The Wellness company understands that food does more than just sustain your dog – it protects his body and feeds his soul.

Wellness is committed to quality and safety with each and every one of their products which is why they only use the best ingredients that nature has to offer. This includes premium proteins, wholesome carbohydrates, healthy fats, and fresh fruits and vegetables as well as beneficial supplements.

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The Wellness company employs a dedicated team of animal lovers, vets, and nutritionists to design their products and they have a wide variety to choose from. Not only does Wellness offer an assortment of grain-free and original recipes for adult dogs, but there are several large-breed specific formulas.

For example, the Complete Health line of products includes three large-breed recipes – two for adult dogs and one for puppies. There is also a large-breed formula in the CORE line of grain-free recipes.

Wellness does not currently offer any large-breed specific wet foods, but there is a healthy weight recipe in the CORE line of grain-free canned foods which could be a good choice for larger dogs who have trouble maintaining a healthy body weight.

7. Wellness Large Breed Complete Health Puppy Recipe

First 5 Ingredients: Deboned Chicken, Chicken Meal, Peas, Ground Brown Rice, Salmon Meal

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Top 10 Best Healthy Brands to Feed a Large Breed Dog 25
Wellness uses complete proteins with balanced carbohydrates to keep up with all that puppy energy. It even contains an extract to help reduce odor in your puppy’s stool, a common complaint among puppy owners.

Wellness uses complete proteins with balanced carbohydrates to keep up with all that puppy energy. DHA helps keep brain development on track and calcium supports growing bones. It even contains an extract to help reduce odor in your puppy’s stool, a common complaint among puppy owners.

Large breeds have added nutritional requirements, and Wellness Complete Health Large Breed Puppy Recipe is the dry food that delivers.

Precise calcium and phosphorous levels ensure your pup gets the amount he needs to build strong bones without becoming overloaded, and DHA-rich salmon meal makes sure his brain develops so he can pass doggy obedience school at the top of his class!

8. Eukanuba Large Breed Puppy Dry Dog Food

First 5 Ingredients: Chicken, Chicken By-Product Meal, Corn, Wheat, Chicken Fat

WHY YOU SHOULD BUY
Top 10 Best Healthy Brands to Feed a Large Breed Dog 26
Provides complete and balanced nutrition to fuel your furry companion’s developing body and mind. Made with high-quality animal proteins, optimal levels of calcium and phosphorous, DHA, and optimized fats and carbohydrates.

For your little ball of fluff to become a large, mighty dog, they need the proper nutrition to support their active, growing bodies. Eukanuba Puppy Large Breed dry dog food provides complete and balanced nutrition to fuel your furry companion’s developing body and mind.

This large breed puppy food is made with high-quality animal proteins, optimal levels of calcium and phosphorous, DHA, and optimized fats and carbohydrates so that your puppy grows up big and strong.

In addition, natural fiber and prebiotics help aid digestion, and vitamin E helps support your pup’s developing immune system. Start your best bud off on the path to health and happiness with a puppy food designed especially for his large breed needs.

Top 2 Best Senior Large Breed Dog Foods

9. Orijen Senior Grain-Free Dry Dog Food

First 5 Ingredients: Deboned Chicken, Deboned Turkey, Yellowtail Flounder, Whole Eggs, Whole Atlantic Mackerel

WHY YOU SHOULD BUY
Top 10 Best Healthy Brands to Feed a Large Breed Dog 27
Orijen is one of the best selling dog foods. The senior diet takes the calories down a notch from their other formulas to help prevent against weight gain as your older dog starts to slow down and become less active.

By using fresh freeze-dried or dehydrated muscle meat, cartilage, bones, and organs, Orijen senior food delivers complete, biologically appropriate nourishment. This food features an impressive 85% animal content – the most biologically available form of protein for dogs. The remaining 15% of this food is comprised of nutritious, low-glycemic fruits and vegetables.

To suit the needs of senior dogs and their decreased metabolism, this food is rich in healthy protein but low in calories. It contains glucosamine and chondroitin for joint health. This recipe is free of anything artificial and doesn’t contain by-products, fillers, or grains.

10. Wysong Optimal Senior Dry Dog Food

First 5 Ingredients: Turkey, Turkey Meal, Fish Meal, Pea Protein, Peas

WHY YOU SHOULD BUY
Top 10 Best Healthy Brands to Feed a Large Breed Dog 28
This senior formula is based around a healthy concentration of fresh or dried meat and organs. These minimally-processed meat ingredients deliver enzymes and nutrients in their most biologically-available form.

This formula for senior dogs features 40% fresh, frozen, and dried meats and is packed with nutraceuticals and enzymes to promote overall health. To support joint health as your dog ages, the recipe contains glucosamine and chondroitin.

While this food does have a long ingredient list, including numerous plant products, it’s ultimately a meat-based dog food that’s low in high-glycemic carbohydrates that can easily contribute to senior weight gain.

Top 10 Best Healthy Brands to Feed a Large Breed Dog 29

Proper Nutrition for Large Breed Puppies

The way that you feed your puppy builds the foundation for a lifetime of health…or giant – sized problems.

While a young Great Dane bounces around on paws that look four sizes too big, they’re undergoing an extraordinarily fast growth process. A giant-breed dog might gain 140 pounds over the course of one year. This places a tremendous amount of pressure on their skeletal system.

Allowing your dog to grow too rapidly is a recipe for painful disabilities and disease associated with the muscles, joints, bones, tendons, and nerves. While genetically, large and giant breed dogs will naturally grow at a very rapid pace, we shouldn’t add to the problem by encouraging even faster growth.

It’s important to manage your dog’s weight gain during this time to make sure that they don’t gain too much, too fast. Perhaps counterintuitively, you want to keep your puppy as slim as possible and for them to grow as slowly as possible.

Experts like Karen Becker, DVM, recommend that you keep your puppy at about a 4 out of 9 on the Purina Body Condition Scale. This ensures that they are not bearing too much weight on their developing bones and joints.

Low calorie diets help to keep your puppy slim. Some people believe that in order to moderate your puppy’s growth, you should feed them a low-protein diet. Today, it’s generally accepted that this is completely untrue.

High-quality protein is more satiating than carbohydrates, meaning that a diet containing moderate levels of protein is far superior to one packed with high-calorie carbs. You should avoid feeding your dog too much at mealtimes or allowing them to free feed.

Additionally, mineral content plays a part in the process of healthy growth.

Over-supplementation of vitamins and minerals, particularly calcium and phosphorus, can cause bone abnormalities and lead to chronic pain and problems later in life.

Foods made for large breed dogs and puppies have been specially formulated in order to decrease the likelihood that your dog will suffer from common orthopedic issues like hip and elbow dysplasia.

Top 10 Best Healthy Brands to Feed a Large Breed Dog 30

Common Large Breed Health Problems

A number of factors contribute to the development of common health problems in large and giant breed dogs. Genetics, exercise, trauma, and, yes, nutrition all play a part. Since it’s the easiest of these factors to control, nutrition is uniquely important.

Here are some of the common health issues that afflict large breed dogs:

  • Hip dysplasia
  • Elbow dysplasia
  • Hypertrophic osteodystrophy (HOD)
  • Osteochondrosis dissecans (OCD)
  • Panosteitis
  • Arthritis
  • Wobbler syndrome/cervical spondylomyelopathy

What makes a good food for large breed dogs?

Let’s start with the fundamentals.

Before we can start considering the large breed specific merits of a dog food product, we’ll need to weed out those foods that are junk for both a Doberman and a dachshund. There are plenty of large breed foods out there that may be designed for the unique health needs of large dogs, but which don’t meet minimum requirements for quality.

General requirements for a high-quality dog food:

Only uses named meats. A high-quality food names the meats that go into it. You’ll see an ingredient list including “chicken”, “beef”, “lamb meal”, and “duck fat”. A low-quality food contains “meat”, “animal by-products” and “poultry”.

The difference between the two is that the latter could contain any number of different animals and body parts of varying quality. This is particularly crucial when shopping for a dog with allergies.

Free of any artificial flavors, dyes, or preservatives. These ingredients can have health implications that should be difficult to ignore.

Minimally processed. The more that any ingredient is processed, the more it loses its natural nutritional value. Consequently, a highly-processed dog food includes more additives that attempt to compensate for the loss of natural nourishment.

Filler-free. Common dog food fillers include corn, soy, and wheat. These ingredients offer minimal nutritional value and can cause digestive issues.

large dogs

What makes a large breed food great?

Now that we have a foundation for dog food excellence, what are the qualities that we’re looking for in a large breed dog food? Dietary needs vary based on age. Let’s break down your dog’s needs by age group.

For Puppies

  • Limited calcium and phosphorus levels to encourage healthy bone development. AAFCO recommends the following levels: 1.2 to 1.8% calcium, 1.0 to 1.6% phosphorus, and a calcium-to-phosphorus ratio of 1:1 to 1.8:1. You can calculate the percentages of these minerals in your dog’s food here.
  • Limited calories to ensure a moderate growth rate and minimize the weight burden on your puppy’s joints and overall skeletal structure.
  • While some people still believe that a low protein diet is a good choice for large breed puppies, this isn’t true. Choose a large breed puppy food that’s rich in high-quality protein.

For Adult Dogs

  • Glucosamine and chondroitin are supplements that are often included in dog foods. They encourage good joint health. This is a particularly helpful dietary addition for large dogs, whose joints are under additional pressure.
  • German Shepherds and other dogs with deep chests can suffer from bloat, a common and life-threatening condition that involves sudden gas buildup in the stomach. In addition to making sure that your dog eats slowly, feeding from a floor-level bowl, and avoiding vigorous exercise for 1-2 hours after eating, a low-fat diet can help to discourage bloat.

For Senior Dogs

Weight management is particularly important for large breed dogs, who have lower bone density than small breeds and are less well-equipped to deal with the weight burden. Obesity can become a major issue as your dog ages and their metabolism slows down, so a low calorie senior diet is worth looking into.

You probably won’t find a commercial diet designed specifically for large breed seniors, but you can choose from grain-free, low-fat diets that maximize nutrition while cutting back on calories.

large dogs

The Nutritional Needs of Large Breed Dogs

No two dogs are exactly alike but, for the most part, all dogs have similar nutritional requirements. All dogs need a healthy balance of protein, fat, and carbohydrate in their diet as well as certain vitamins and minerals.

Protein is the most important nutritional consideration for all dogs, especially for large-breed dogs, because it helps puppies to grow strong muscles and healthy tissues. As adults, protein helps dogs to maintain their lean muscle mass which reduces the risk for obesity.

As a puppy, your large-breed dog needs a minimum of 22% protein in his diet but, as an adult, he only needs a minimum of 18%. It never hurts to throw in a little extra, however. Most of the protein in your dog’s diet should come from high-quality, animal-based sources to ensure that it offers optimal bio-availability for your dog. Plant proteins are not necessarily harmful, but your dog can’t digest or utilize them as well.

The second most important nutrient for dogs is fat because fat provides a concentrated source of energy for your dog. While protein and carbohydrates contain 4 calories of energy per gram, fat contains 9 calories per gram.

This means that the higher the fat content of your dog’s food, the higher the calorie content. Large-breed dogs do need a minimum of 8% fat in their diet as puppies and 5% as adult dogs, but that fat needs to come from healthy sources.

Animal-based fats like chicken fat and salmon oil are ideal for dogs because they offer higher bio-availability than plant-based fats like canola oil or flaxseed. You should be careful about having too much fat in your large-breed dog’s diet, however, because if he gets too many calories he could gain an unhealthy amount of weight.

In addition to plenty of protein and moderate amounts of fat, there are other nutrients which can be extremely beneficial for large-breed dogs. Dogs don’t have specific requirements when it comes to carbohydrate content, but you should be careful to make sure that any carbs in your dog’s diet are highly digestible.

Whole grains, for example, are digestible for most dogs. If your dog has an allergy or sensitivity to grains, however, something like sweet potatoes, tapioca, legumes, or white potatoes may be a better option.

Other nutrients your large-breed dog may benefit from include joint-supporting nutrients like glucosamine and chondroitin as well as probiotics like dried fermentation products. Antioxidants will also help to protect your dog’s cells against free-radical damage and they will support his immune system as well.

large dogs

Feeding Tips for Large Breed Puppies and Dogs

Now that you have a better understanding of what your large-breed dog’s actual nutritional needs are, you have a foundation to start from when shopping for dog food. You now know that large-breed dogs need a lot of protein in their diet to help maintain lean muscle mass but they shouldn’t get too much fat in their diet because it could lead to excess calories and unhealthy weight gain.

To make your job of choosing a dog food easier, it is best to select a product that is specially formulated for large-breed dogs. A high-quality formula designed for large-breed dogs will be protein-rich with moderate fat content and limited carbohydrates. This is the best way to meet your larger dog’s protein needs without going overboard on calories.

When your large-breed dog is young, you should seriously consider feeding him a large-breed puppy recipe. Large-breed puppies need a lot of protein to fuel their healthy growth and development, but you need to make sure that they don’t grow too fast.

Slow and sustained growth is best for large-breed puppies because if they puppy grows too fast, it could put excess strain on his developing bones and joints which could increase his risk for developing musculoskeletal issues as an adult.

This is why most large-breed puppy recipes have limited fat content because excess calories can lead to excess growth which could predispose your puppy to health problems as an adult. Keep in mind that it is still possible for your puppy to grow too fast on a large-breed puppy formula if you feed him too much. Be sure to follow the feeding recommendations on the package for the best results.

When it comes to your dog’s calorie needs, his size and activity level will be the biggest determining factors. It only makes sense that a large dog will need more calories each day than a smaller dog just to maintain essential bodily processes.

It should also make sense to you that the more active your dog is, the more calories he will burn, so the higher his calorie needs will be. What you may not realize, however, is that large-breed dogs actually need fewer calories than small-breed dogs when measured in calories per pound of body weight.

For example, a 110-pound Great Dane might need about 2,500 calories per day while an 11-pound Maltese needs closer to 450 calories per day. If you do the math, however, you’ll find that the Great Dane needs just 22.7 calories per pound of body weight while the Maltese needs 40.9 calories per pound of body weight.

Given these calculations, you will see that small-breed dogs need a more calorie-dense diet than large-breed dogs. Why is this the case? Because small dogs have much faster metabolisms than larger dogs.

Your Great Dane may need more total calories per day to maintain his body weight and healthy bodily function, but a Maltese needs more calories when measured per pound of body weight.

What does this mean for your dog’s diet? A large-breed dog needs a diet that provides for his high protein needs but it shouldn’t be as high in calories as a diet for small-breed dogs. In most cases, this means moderating the fat content of the product and limiting the carbohydrate content to ensure optimal digestibility.

large dogs

A Great Diet Keeps your Dog Happy and Healthy

Because of their lower bone density, slower metabolism, and mighty physique, large breed dogs are at a greater risk of developing orthopedic disease. Genetics, trauma, activity levels, and diet all play a part in deciding whether or not your big dog will suffer from these problems. While heredity is beyond our control, we can easily manipulate the quality of the food in our dogs’ bowls.

At no time in your large breed dog’s life is nutrition more important than during their very rapid growth period. Large and giant dogs can gain over 150 lbs during their first year to year-and-a half of life. During this sensitive time, it’s doubly important that they receive the right nutrition to set them up for a long, healthy life with minimal health problems.

Over-supplementation, overly rapid growth, and excess weight during puppyhood could lead to serious problems down the road.

As adults and seniors, it’s important to keep your dog’s joints healthy and ensure that they maintain a healthy weight. You can achieve this by feeding a satiating low-carb food that’s rich in protein and low in high-glycemic ingredients. Glucosamine and chondroitin are natural supplements that keep your large dog’s joints in peak condition. As your large breed dog ages, their metabolism becomes even slower. This means that a low-calorie senior diet is a good choice to help ward off obesity and its myriad health consequences.

Whether you choose a commercial diet specifically formulated for large breed dogs or use a homemade or raw food, nutritional balance is the key to keeping your large breed dog mobile, active, energetic, and free from chronic pain.

Top 10 Best Healthy Brands to Feed a Large Breed Dog 31

What is different about large breed dog food?

Food formulated for these dogs, especially moving into the giant breeds, includes optimal levels of calcium for controlled bone development. High-quality puppy food designed for large breed dogs is a little less energy dense so they can grow at a rate that supports their bones and joints.

Is large breed dog food necessary?

Feeding your puppy large breed food will help his bones grow strong. Phosphorus, an essential mineral, is also slightly reduced in large breed foods. The balance between phosphorus and calcium is important because they work together to maintain the skeletal system.

What do you feed large dogs?

It is entirely acceptable to feed your dog a pure kibble diet. Or you can mix their diet up with some cooked or raw meat, fish, vegetables and rice. Many owners like to feed a raw meat diet to their dogs, and while this can suit some dogs very well, there are some important considerations you need to be aware of.

Is it bad to feed small dogs large breed food?

Smaller breeds may choke on large pieces of food if they're in too much of a hurry to chew their food into manageable bits. Large dogs may clog their own throats with fistfuls of too-small kibble as it hits the back of the throat.

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