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9 Best (Healthiest) Dog Food For St. Bernards in 2020

Who doesn’t love a giant St. Bernard? From movies to books to advertisements, that gentle yet strong face has our complete attention. And if you decide to bring one into your home? There’s a lot you need to know.

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Giant dog breeds have specific health concerns you need to look out for. Plus, your St. Bernard will need joint and coat support throughout its life along with careful attention to weight. These famously patient dogs are great with kids and families and mostly love laying around getting cuddles. Let’s take a look at what your St. Bernard needs to stay happy and healthy.

Why Quality Food Matters for Your St. Bernard Dog

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Food should be nutrient dense so that your St. Bernard gets all the building blocks for health without adding a bunch of empty calories. Giant breeds are susceptible to weight gain and subsequent issues with joints and bones, so it’s critical that your food be high quality to maintain that delicate balance.

3 Common St. Bernard Health Issues That a Good Dog Food Helps

St. Bernards are a pretty sturdy breed, but they do have some potential health issues to watch out for. Some of these can be managed or avoided altogether with the right diet, so let’s take a look at what you should be watching for.

  • Hip Dysplasia – Large breed dogs frequently fall prey to this condition that affects the hip socket. St. Bernards are no different. While it’s determined by genetics, there are some things you can do to help your St. Bernard avoid the worst. Food formulas that contain glucosamine and chondroitin help support joint health and maintain the cushioning between the ball and socket. Also, foods that help control weight (especially as a growing puppy) prevent extra stress that can cause it to pop out. Other factors could include additional, complete proteins to improve muscle mass, which supports the surrounding joint.
  • Weight Control – St. Bernards are susceptible to extra weight, which stresses their bone structure. Foods must contain a dense amount of nutrients to provide the levels of protein needed without adding additional fillers that can pack on the pounds. Giant breed dogs that begin to gain weight have a lot of trouble losing it because the weight causes pain in bone structures and muscles. Keeping weight to ideal proportions affects the entire quality of life for your St. Bernard.
  • Bloat – Large breed dogs with large chest cavities are also prone to a life-threatening condition called Bloat. The stomach begins to distend and twists causing death if not treated immediately. St. Bernards should get food that’s nutrient dense to support having multiple smaller meals during the day which can help stave off bloat. Make sure you know the signs of bloat so you can seek emergency treatment immediately.

What to Look For in a Quality Dog Food for St. Bernards

St. Bernards need high-quality whole proteins to support their massive frame and muscle tone. Proteins should come from whole sources like deboned chicken or salmon and never from by-product meals. These proteins are the basic building blocks of your St. Bernard’s health and well being.

A balance of complex carbohydrates and fiber can also help maintain your St. Bernard’s health. Slow release carbs are critical to maintain energy levels throughout the day without spiking blood sugar. Fiber helps maintain proper weight and help improve overall digestion by providing valuable prebiotics.

Round things out with whole fruits and veggies for antioxidants and vitamins plus glucosamine and chondroitin for joint health. The addition of probiotics improves overall digestion and immune functions while omega fatty acids help keep skin and coat healthy.

Ingredients to Avoid in Your St. Bernard’s Dog Food

Corn and soy are two cheap fillers companies frequently use to bring down the overall cost of the food but buying these types of foods is a mistake. These fillers are frequent offenders for allergic reactions, and all they can offer your pet is empty calories. It’s nearly impossible to control weight and provide complete nutrition when these two are listed first on the ingredients list.

Poultry by-product meals are cheap sources of protein that can also cause allergic reactions and don’t contain all the building blocks necessary for healthy muscle growth. Combined with empty fillers, you’re still offering mostly empty calories with very little nutrition.

One development in dog food that’s happened recently is the concern over using potatoes, peas, and legumes in foods. These ingredients recently showed a possible connection to Canine Dilated Cardiomyopathy or a condition of an enlarged heart. Since St. Bernards are already susceptible to enlarged hearts, we recommend that you avoid foods these ingredients listed in the first three positions on the list.

Food Brands To Avoid

There are a few brands that are all over store shelves but are some of the worst offenders for adding the ingredients we mentioned to avoid. If you want to feed your dog the best nutrition, we recommend avoiding these foods no matter how much the price tag calls your name from the shelf.

  • Kibbles N Bits: Classic brand with little real nutrition. It uses corn and soy fillers, chicken by-product meals, and artificial flavors and colors in most of its formulations. It’s cheap, and that’s where the benefit ends.
  • Ol Roy: A Walmart brand known for coming in giant bags with tiny price tags, cheap is about the only thing you’ll like. It also uses corn and soy products and lacks complete proteins necessary for good health. It can also cause digestive issues from improper fiber contents.
  • Purina Beneful: Beneful looks nutritious, but you could do a lot better than some of the formulas in this line. They use some cheap fillers and multiple sources of incomplete proteins and by-product meals in many of their recipes. Plus, some pets have had digestive issues consuming this food on a regular basis.

St. Bernard Feeding Chart

St. Bernards are going to consume a lot of calories during the day just because of their large size. While they aren’t going to eat endlessly, you should work with your veterinarian to determine the exact feeding schedule and portion size for your specific St. Bernard.

Puppies: It’s critical that you carefully control the growth of St. Bernard puppies to avoid stressing joints and bones. Your vet may change feeding recommendations rapidly within the first few months to account for that quick maturation. Use a large breed specific food here.

Adults: Healthy adults range in size from 120 to 180 pounds. They’re typically low energy, so they won’t eat much more than a large breed dog, two to four cups on average spaced out over several meals.

Seniors: Maintaining weight becomes critical here, so seniors may see a slight reduction in servings. Work with your vet to establish the right diet plan for your aging companion.

Best Dog Food for St. Bernards

Feeding your St. Bernard the right food doesn’t have to be difficult. Check ingredients for the first five on the list and make sure it includes protein from a whole source plus a complex carbohydrate for energy levels. Other supplements for joint and coat health are also critical for this breed.

Merrick Backcountry Raw Infused Great Plains w/ Beef, Lamb & Rabbit Grain-Free Dry Dog Food

Merrick Backcountry Raw Infused Great Plains w/ Beef, Lamb & Rabbit Grain-Free Dry Dog FoodBest Overall: Merrick’s formula uses a blend of premium kibble and freeze-dried bits of raw meat to create a recipe that’s enticing and contains plenty of whole proteins. It blends complex carbohydrates and good fiber content to help manage your St. Bernard’s weight. Plus, fruits and veggies provide antioxidant support while glucosamine and chondroitin support joint health. Essential fatty acids help keep that long coat healthy and supple.

First Five Ingredients:

  1. Deboned Beef
  2. Lamb Meal
  3. Salmon Meal
  4. Sweet Potatoes
  5. Potatoes

About The Company – Merrick creates quality foods right in the company’s own test kitchen, giving your dog complete dense nutrition without no fillers or artificial colors and flavors. Merrick is manufactured and based in the United States and wants to provide simple meals with high-quality ingredients.


  • freeze dried raw bits
  • joint support
  • supplements for coat health


  • freeze dried bits can be uneven in the bag
  • uses both potatoes and peas

Nutro Wholesome Essentials Large Breed Adult Pasture Fed Lamb & Rice Recipe Dry Dog Food

Nutro Wholesome Essentials Large Breed Adult Pasture Fed Lamb & Rice Recipe Dry Dog Food

Best Value: Nutro’s Wholesome Essentials is formulated to provide your St. Bernard with all the building blocks for health at a more affordable price. It features whole proteins from lamb with healthy brown rice to provide carbs and fiber for energy and digestion. It has joint support supplements and essential fatty acids for skin and coat health. Plus, there are no cheap fillers often found in other budget foods.

First Five Ingredients:

  1. Deboned Lamb
  2. Whole Brown Rice
  3. Rice Bran
  4. Chicken Meal (source of Glucosamine and Chondroitin Sulfate)
  5. Whole Grain Oatmeal

About The Company – Nutro got started from a desire to create wholesome meals that could help the creator’s dog keep up with his athletic lifestyle. It takes inspiration from what makes athletes strong and healthy and applies that to sound nutrition for your large breed dog.


  • more affordable
  • complete joint support
  • good sources of fiber
  • great for puppies too


  • picky St. Bernards may not eat it
  • only ultra-large sizes available (if you feed half wet, this could be inconvenient)

NomNomNow Fresh Pet Food Delivery

NomNomNow uses human grade ingredients to create their cooked meals, giving you a third option between kibble and a completely raw diet. The portions arrive at your door fresh and ready to serve or store in the fridge. Whole deboned turkey provides the bulk of protein requirements while veggies and fruits offer antioxidant and vitamins. Fatty acids ensure skin health and calcium keeps bones strong.

First Five Ingredients:

  1. Ground turkey
  2. Pumpkin
  3. Turkey thigh
  4. Turnkey liver
  5. Turkey heart

About The Company – NomNowNow uses vet recommend nutritional guidelines to give you a balance between kibble and raw diets. Cooked meals arrive at your doorstep in easy portion sizes and everything can be customized through your online portal.


  • Human grade ingredients
  • Whole protein
  • Joint and skin support


  • Requires cold storage
  • Messy

Best St. Bernard Puppy Food

It’s crucial that you control your puppy’s growth. Rapid growth in large breeds leads to serious musculoskeletal issues later in life. Puppy foods should be formulated for large breeds to account for this.

Instinct by Nature’s Variety Raw Boost Large Breed Puppy Grain-Free Recipe with Real Chicken

Instinct by Nature's Variety Raw Boost Large Breed Puppy Grain-Free Recipe with Real Chicken

Instinct By Nature’s Variety uses bits of freeze-dried raw meat along with premium kibbles to make food that encourages your puppy to eat. It has whole sources of protein with no grains that can accelerate growth. The formula considers your growing large breed puppy’s unique needs with joint and bone support, proper vitamins, and antioxidants to boost the immune system.

First Five Ingredients:

  1. Chicken
  2. Turkey Meal
  3. Peas
  4. Chickpeas
  5. Chicken Eggs

About The Company – Instinct By Nature’s Variety’s primary mission is to provide the proper nutrition based on your dog’s ancestral diet. The company offers only premium ingredients with whole sources of protein so that your large breed puppy grows appropriately and has all the beginning building blocks to a lifetime of health.


  • large breed specific formula
  • bits of raw meat with kibble
  • encourages proper growth


  • as with all raw bits formulas, the bag needs to be rotated to redistribute the bits
  • may cause some gas

Nutro Large Breed Puppy Tender Lamb Recipe Bites In Gravy Canned Dog Food

If your puppy isn’t ready for full dry food, or you’re feeding half and half, Nutro’s canned formula is a way to feed your puppy a wet food without sacrificing a large breed specific formula. Despite the rich, premium ingredients, the formula still considers how to carefully control your puppy’s growth through a proper balance of whole proteins, complex carbohydrates, joint support supplements, and fatty acids for brain and skin health.

First Five Ingredients:

  1. Water Sufficient for Processing
  2. Lamb
  3. Lamb Liver
  4. Ground Rice
  5. Wheat Gluten

About the Company – Nutro understands your large breed puppy’s needs and produces formulas that balance nutritional needs with controlling growth. The company provides a range of recipes for a lifetime of health with only premium ingredients and no cheap fillers or artificial flavoring.


  • large breed specific wet formula
  • good fiber and water content
  • satisfies even picky puppies


  • strong smell
  • contains gluten

Best Senior Dog Food for St. Bernards

The most significant factor in feeding your senior will be supporting joint health and maintaining a healthy weight. Foods should consider the weight of your giant breed and offer complete dense nutrition with weight support.

Now Fresh Grain-Free Large Breed Senior Weight Management Recipe Dry Dog Food

Now Fresh Grain-Free Large Breed Senior Weight Management Recipe Dry Dog Food

Now Fresh is a large breed specific and weight control formula in one. As your St. Bernard ages, Now Fresh’s whole proteins and carefully controlled carbs help keep weight under control even with reduced activity levels. It contains joint support with glucosamine and chondroitin from natural New Zealand mussel sources, plus added probiotics and antioxidants to ease the aging process.

First Five Ingredients:

  1. De-Boned Turkey,
  2. Potatoes,
  3. Peas,
  4. Whole Dried Egg,
  5. Tapioca

About The Company – Now Fresh uses premium ingredients to help ease the aging process for your senior large breed dog. The company focuses on perfectly blended formulas that consider both the size and life stage, so you never have to decide between two different foods for two different situations.


  • large breed specific formula
  • weight control option
  • natural sources of glucosamine and joint support


  • contains potatoes and peas (talk to your vet)
  • some seniors may not prefer the taste

Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula Large Breed Senior Chicken & Brown Rice Recipe Dry Dog Food

Life Protection formulas contain 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 in the form of brown rice, which helps manage weight. LifeSource bits contain vitamins and antioxidants necessary for immune system support, glucosamine and chondroitin protect joints, and fatty acids keep the skin healthy.

First Five Ingredients:

  • Deboned Chicken
  • Brown Rice
  • Barley
  • Oatmeal
  • Chicken Meal

About The Company – Blue Buffalo’s story started with an Airedale Terrier named Blue and one family’s journey to find the best food available. The company uses premium ingredients for high-quality kibble explicitly designed for your dog’s life stage and body type.


  • proprietary blend of antioxidants and vitamins
  • whole proteins and slow release carbohydrates
  • joint and coat support


  • some seniors pick out LifeSource Bits
  • bits tend to settle towards the bottom

Final Thoughts

Your sweet St. Bernard is a loving part of the family, so make sure it lives its best life from puppyhood to the golden years. Foods should consider your giant breed’s unique needs and help keep weight under control so that joints and bones are protected. Your St. Bernard wants nothing more than to keep watch over your family so make sure to give your giant companion the right nutrition to support all that love.

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