How To Choose The Best Large Breed Puppy Food? The Ultimate Guide For 2017

Owning a large breed puppy is pure bliss but selecting the right kind of food can be a bit challenging because you need to buy the right kind of food that fits his specific needs. You need to make sure that the food contains the best ingredients and nutrients to support his growth and development. If you have no idea what to look for and what brand to choose, check our buyer’s guidelines and reviews.

The Unique Nutrition Needs Of Large Breed Puppies

The nutrition of large breed puppies is quite similar to small and medium puppies, with a few significant deviations. Since they grow fast, they are very sensitive to caloric and nutrient consumption. Excessive growth isn’t healthy for large breed puppies because it can cause [development orthopedic disease DOD.

Contrary to popular belief, protein isn’t the culprit of skeletal abnormalities for large breed puppies but excessive calories and calcium. Feeding your puppy with too many calories can accelerate his growth even further, leading to serious joint and bone deformities. Since large breed puppies can’t regulate their calcium absorption, excessive calcium can promote rapid bone development and increase the risk of skeletal problems.

Overnutrition is very crucial for the growth of large breed puppies, which is why you need to feed them with a special diet that’s lower in fat, calcium, vitamin D, and calcium. Many nutritionists suggest a minimum of 30% protein and 9% fat. Calcium should be around 1.1 to 1.8% and phosphorus about 1.0 to 1.6%.

Learn more tips about feeding large breed puppies in this video:

Large Breed Puppies Are Prone To Certain Health Problems

Since large breed puppies grow fast than smaller breeds, they’re more prone to certain health problems, such as:

Hip dysplasia


Elbow dysplasia




As you can see above, the health risks are mostly associated with the joints and bones. The rapid growth of large breed puppies can mean a high risk of forming bones improperly. This is often caused by genetics, calcium, and overfeeding.

Puppies who’re fed liberally and allowed to free-feed are at risk of these rapid bone growth. Because calorie information isn’t often provided in the packaging, you need to check the company website for this information.

What To Look For

Kibble Size

The size of the kibble should be appropriate to the size of the puppy. For larger breeds, look for a larger kibble that fit their mouths to make their meals more enjoyable. A too-small kibble may block the throat of your large breed puppy so try to pay attention to the size.

Essential Nutrients

The best large breed puppy should contain all essential nutrients to support his healthy growth. If you want your puppy to be smart, look for DHA, an omega-3 fatty acid that is essential for [brain development] ( Good sources of DHA include eggs, organ meat, and fish.

For a healthy immune system, look for essential antioxidants, such as vitamins A, C, and E. Probiotics and natural fibers are also required to support digestive health.

To help support the right stage of muscular and skeletal growth, a good quality puppy food should be rich in protein, but limited in calories and carbohydrates. Protein is essential for muscle development. You can tell that the puppy food is rich in protein if it contains two quality proteins, animal protein and chicken meal.

Natural, Premium Ingredients

You want your puppy food to be natural as possible. In the ingredient list, watch out for any meat by-products, artificial colors, preservative, flavors, filler, or wheat. You don’t want them in your puppy food. The ingredients should be non-GMO to prevent allergic reactions.

The puppy food should contain only of premium ingredients, such as high-quality protein, fruits, and vegetables. What you should see on top of the ingredient list is a meat-based protein source, such as chicken, lamb, and salmon. You also want some healthy grains, natural fats, and oils.

Dog Food Labels

Okay, food labels can be misleading, but they can be a good source of information about the dog food. Look for a dog food label that says “complete and balance” as it entails the right balance of nutrients. The package should say clinically tried and tested to ensure safety and potency of the product.

Don’t be fooled with unregulated phrases, like “human-grade ingredients” and “all-natural”. Make sure that no fats and oils are listed in the top 4 ingredients. To ensure that your puppy food is made to meet minimum nutrition requirements, look for an AAFCO statement.


Price shouldn’t be a concern if you want the best for your puppy. But if you can find something affordable that provides the nutrients your puppy needs, the better. I doubt that you can find a cheap food that offers a high quality though.

Most cheap brands are made with low-quality ingredients. If you look at the ingredient list, you’ll find a lot of fillers, grains, and even artificial ingredients. For this reason, you need to spend more if you want to choose the highest quality.

Our Top 5 Picks

The Wellness Complete Health Natural Dry Large Breed Puppy Food is a complete and balanced food to meet the diet needs of your large breed puppy. It’s enriched with DHA for healthy eye and bone development. To reduce the risk of skeletal problems, this large breed puppy formula is made with high protein and limited calories.

This dry puppy food is made with premium ingredients, such as deboned chicken, whitefish, chicken meal, and brown rice. To provide more nutrients, fruits and vegetables are added along with essential fatty acids. This puppy food contains no meat by-products, artificial preservatives, or fillers.

  • pros
  • cons

Offers a complete and balanced meal

Fortified with essential nutrients, such as vitamins, minerals, and fatty acids

Limited with calories and rich in protein (min. 26%)

Has probiotics for a healthy digestive system

Has the appropriate balance of calcium and phosphorus

The kibble size is suitable for most large breed puppies

Made of natural and high-quality ingredients

Uses three sources of protein: deboned chicken, whitefish, and chicken meal

The Holistic Select Natural Dry Dog Food is formulated with probiotics, natural fibers, and digestive enzymes to support a healthy digestive system. This puppy breed formula is a made with premium ingredients, like lamb meal, chicken meal, fruits, and vegetables. It’s fortified with DHA, vitamin A, vitamin E, and beta-carotene to aid the healthy growth of puppies.

You can say that this dry dog food is all natural because it contains no wheat, gluten, meat by-products, fillers, or flavors. The kibbles are appropriately sized to fit the larger mouths of large breed puppies. This puppy food also meets the diet needs of large breeds as it contains high protein (23%) and less calcium (1.10%) and phosphorus ( 0.8%).

  • pros
  • cons

Meets the specific needs of large breed puppies

Contains two sources of protein: lamb meal and chicken meal

Enriched with vitamins, omega fatty acids, and minerals

Correct balance of calcium and phosphorus to reduce the risk of skeletal problems

Made of natural ingredients

Formulated with a potent digestive health support system

Backed by the Holistic Select Guarantee

The Hill’s Science Diet Large Breed Dry Dog Food supports controlled bone and joint development to reduce the risk of skeletal problems. Hill’s Science is clinically proven to provide antioxidant benefits. It’s made of premium ingredients, such as chicken meal, whole grains, fruits, and vegetables.

This chicken meal and oats variety contain no artificial flavors, preservatives, or colors. The kibbles are sufficiently large to fit the mouths of most large breed puppies. If you’re not satisfied with its quality, you can ask the manufacturer for a refund.

  • pros
  • cons

It would have been perfect if the puppy food is made of whole chicken and not chicken meal

May contain a lot of fillers and grains

The food is rather greasy

The Nutro Wholesome Essentials Puppy Dry Dog Food is formulated with non-GMO ingredients. This puppy food contains premium ingredients, like chicken, chicken meal, brewers rice, split peas, and whole grains. For antioxidant benefits, fruits and vegetables are added into the mix.

This natural dog food contains no artificial colors, flavors, meat by-product meals, preservatives, corn, wheat, or soy protein. To support healthy joints and bones, this puppy food is formulated with natural sources of chondroitin and glucosamine. Omega 3 fatty acids and DHA help support the normal growth and development of your pet. With a crude protein of 26% and minimum amounts of calcium and phosphorus, you can say that this formula is suited for the diet needs of large breed puppies.

  • pros
  • cons

Can cause adverse reactions, like diarrhea and vomiting, to some breeds

The kibble size is too big

May cause allergies to puppies allergic to chicken

The Eagle Pack Natural Dry Dog Food is a complete and balanced formula to meet the daily nutrition of your large breed puppies. The larger kibble fits right into the mouths of larger breeds who will weigh more than 50 pounds at maturity. This dog food offers the right balance of proteins, carbs, fats, omega fatty acids, and antioxidants.

The amount of calcium and phosphorus are balanced to minimize the risk of skeletal problems. This large breed puppy food is all natural as it contains no artificial colors, preservatives, corn, wheat, etc. For muscle development, this dog food formula consists of two protein sources, lamb meal and chicken meal.

  • pros
  • cons

Lacks fruits and vegetables

May not be ideal for sensitive stomachs because this brand may cause allergic reactions

May cause weight loss

Which Is The Best?

Looking at each brand’s features and benefits, the best large breed puppy food is the Wellness Complete Health Natural Dry Large Breed Puppy Food. As compared to other brands reviewed above, Wellness has the best protein sources, like deboned chicken, whitefish, and chicken meal. As compared to other brands reviewed above, Wellness has met the features that we’re looking for: a larger kibble size, essential nutrients, premium ingredients.

Although the price is a bit expensive, it’s reasonable given its high-quality ingredients and benefits. It’s rich in protein and limited with calories. This right balance of nutrients can regulate the rapid growth of large breed puppies.

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