Trying to find the best large breed puppy food can be stressful. There are so many foods to choose from – how can you tell the junk food from the good stuff? That’s why we’ve put together this list of our top 10 picks for the best large breed puppy food for 2020.
- How Big Is a Large Breed Puppy Going to Get?
- Why Do Large Breed Puppies Need Special Food?
- Large Breed Puppy Food Buying Guide
- Protein Should Top the Ingredient List
- Avoid Artificial Colors, Flavors, or Preservatives
- Avoid Meat By-Products and Unidentified Meat Meals
- Look for Food That Includes Probiotics
- Look for Antioxidants, Omega-3 Fatty Acids, and Glucosamine & Chondroitin
- Food Should Be Made in a Country with High Safety Standards
- Pay Attention to the Ratio of Phosphorus and Calcium
- The Best 10 Large Breed Puppy Food for 2020
- #1 – Solid Gold – Wolf Cub with Real Bison and Oatmeal – Natural Large Breed Puppy Food
- #2 – Tuffy’S Pet Food Nutrisource Large Breed Chicken & Rice Puppy Food
- #3 – Wellness Complete Health Natural Grain Free Dry Dog Food Puppy Chicken & Salmon
- #4 – Diamond Naturals Large Breed Puppy Real Lamb Recipe Premium Dry Dog Food
- #5 – Chicken Soup for The Soul Large Breed
- #6 – Taste of The Wild Grain Free Premium High Protein Dry Dog Food High Prairie Puppy – Roasted Venison & Bison
- #7 – Nutro Wholesome Essentials Puppy Dry Dog Food
- #8 – Blue Buffalo Wilderness High Protein Grain Free, Natural Puppy Large Breed Dry Dog Food
- #9 – Instinct Puppy Grain Free Recipe Natural Dry Dog Food
- #10 – ORIJEN Puppy Large High-Protein, Grain-Free, Premium Quality Meat, Dry Dog Food
- Common Health Issues for Large Breed Dogs (and How They Relate to Food)
- Frequently Asked Questions:
- Final Thoughts on Large Breed Puppy Food
How Big Is a Large Breed Puppy Going to Get?
Large breed dogs grow to an adult weight between 50 and 100 pounds. Giant dog breeds – who weigh more than 100 pounds when fully grown – should also eat large breed puppy food.
Why Do Large Breed Puppies Need Special Food?
Large breed puppies need different nutrients than small breed dogs. In particular, large breed dogs are prone to joint problems, so they need food that contains glucosamine and chondroitin for joint health. Also, food with too much calcium or phosphorus can cause a large breed puppy to grow too quickly, which can cause or exacerbate bone or joint problems. That’s why it’s best to find a puppy food designed specifically for large breed dogs.
Large Breed Puppy Food Buying Guide
Now that you know why large breed puppies need specific food, let’s look at what you should be looking for to find the best large breed puppy food for your fur baby.
Protein Should Top the Ingredient List
A whole animal protein should be the first ingredient. Protein is crucial for strong bones and muscles, and the best source is whole meat. Beware of meat “meal” – it includes other parts of the animal besides just muscle (like bones) and isn’t quite as nutritious as whole meat ingredients.
Avoid Artificial Colors, Flavors, or Preservatives
Artificial ingredients are unnecessary additives that can trigger food allergies. Look for foods that are all-natural and don’t contain artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives.
Avoid Meat By-Products and Unidentified Meat Meals
Meat by-product is any part of an animal that humans don’t usually eat, including beaks, hooves, and feathers. There is little to no nutritional value in by-product; it’s just a cheap filler. Meat meal is OK as long as the animal that the meal comes from is identified. That means that “chicken meal” is acceptable, while “poultry meal” or “animal meal” should be avoided. You should never have to question exactly what animals are going into your puppy’s food.
Look for Food That Includes Probiotics
Probiotics are healthy bacteria that aid in digestion. Puppies have sensitive stomachs, so probiotics can help prevent diarrhea. Foods that include probiotics as an ingredient tend to cause less gas, too.
Look for Antioxidants, Omega-3 Fatty Acids, and Glucosamine & Chondroitin
Antioxidants help build up your puppy’s immune system. Omega-3 fatty acids are crucial for healthy skin and fur. Glucosamine and chondroitin help your puppy’s bones and joints develop properly.
Food Should Be Made in a Country with High Safety Standards
Sadly, not every country has the same high safety standards for food that the United States does. Pet foods from China, in particular, are more prone to contamination than foods made in the United States. Other places with high safety standards for pet food include Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and Europe.
Pay Attention to the Ratio of Phosphorus and Calcium
To prevent growing too quickly, large breed puppies should eat food that contains 0.8% to 1.2% calcium. Additionally, calcium and phosphorus should be in a ratio of 1.1:1 to 2:1. Too much calcium or not enough phosphorus can result in painful joint and growing conditions for your large breed puppy.
The Best 10 Large Breed Puppy Food for 2020
Solid Gold uses bison and ocean fish as the main protein sources, since they are less likely to cause allergies than other meats. Vitamins and minerals come from superfoods like cranberries, spinach, and dried kelp rather than artificial additives. This large breed puppy food contains whole grains, probiotics, and prebiotics as well as a calcium level of 1.3%.
- No potatoes, corn, wheat, or soy
- 100% satisfaction guarantee and made in the USA
- Contains a proprietary blend of 20 nutrient-rich superfoods
- Formulated with the balanced nutrition large breed puppies need for proper development including calcium to promote controlled growth and healthy bone development.
First 5 Ingredients: Bison, ocean fish meal, brown rice, oatmeal, peas
Customer Reviews: There are a couple of reports of puppies who don’t like the taste and a couple of puppies who had diarrhea due to this food. However, most owners reported that their puppies had improved digestion and shinier coats on this food compared to other puppy foods. Common phrases in the reviews include “great food” and “puppy loves it.”
Final Verdict: If you’re wary of grain-free diets, this is an excellent choice for your large breed puppy. Vitamins and minerals come from real foods instead of artificial ingredients, and it’s unlikely to cause allergies.
Tuffy’s dog food is low on fillers and high on value. It’s one of the more affordable foods on our list, and it’s made in the USA. Chicken and rice are easy for puppies to digest, making this a great choice for your large breed puppy.
- Ideal calcium (1.2%) to phosphorous (1%) ratio
- Made in the USA
- +85% Digestibility Ratio
- Scientifically formulated
- Superior nutrition for balanced muscular and skeletal growth in large and giant breeds
First 5 Ingredients: Chicken, chicken meal, brown rice, barley, white rice
Customer Reviews: Most complaints are about shipping issues rather than the food itself, although a few puppies did get diarrhea. Most owners report that their puppies have firm stools and shiny coats on this food.
Final Verdict: There is a chance this food may upset your puppy’s stomach, but more than likely your puppy will thrive on this food. While not cheap, it is more affordable than many of the other quality foods on our list.
Wellness Complete includes antioxidants from natural sources like blueberries and spinach as well as flaxseed for a healthy skin and coat. This grain-free food is designed to promote “the 5 signs of wellness:” skin and coat; energy; digestive health; immunity; and eyes, teeth, and gums.
- Contains only premium, all-natural ingredients with no corn, wheat, meat by-products, soy, artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives
- Naturally grain-free with delicious proteins like deboned chicken and whitefish along with essential vitamins and minerals
- Made in the USA and backed by the Wellness Guarantee
- Guaranteed levels of calcium and phosphorous
- Complete and balanced nutrition
First 5 Ingredients: Deboned Chicken, Chicken Meal, Peas, Chickpeas, Lentils
Customer Reviews: Some puppies don’t like the taste of this food. A couple of puppies got constipated from this food. However, most people highly recommend the Wellness brand and say their puppies are growing well on it. Reviews mention phrases like “great food” and “good quality.”
Final Verdict: This grain-free puppy food is an excellent choice, even though it isn’t specifically for large breed puppies.
Diamond Naturals offers holistic dog food with quality ingredients including DHA, amino acids, glucosamine and chondroitin, and probiotics.
- Guaranteed levels of glucosamine and chondroitin for healthy joints
- Highly digestible with proprietary probiotics
- Made in the USA
- Made with real pasture-raised lamb
- No corn, wheat, filler; no artificial flavors, colors, or preservatives added; made with scientifically advanced food safety protocols
First 5 Ingredients: Lamb, lamb meal, ground white rice, peas, pea flour
Customer Reviews: A lot of the complaints revolve around shipping problems rather than the food itself, although some puppies did get diarrhea on this food. Most puppies, though, enjoy the taste of this food and do well on it. Common phrases in the reviews include “puppy loves this food” and “healthy ingredients.”
Final Verdict: This affordable food is a good choice for large breed puppies who don’t need a grain-free diet.
Chicken Soup for the Soul uses real chicken and turkey as the first two ingredients, so you can feel confident that your puppy is getting protein from meat rather than filers. This food also contains DHA, an essential amino acid for puppy development.
- Contains DHA from salmon oil to nourish vision and brain development
- Made in the USA
- Contains NO wheat, corn, soy, by-product meals, or artificial flavors or preservatives
- Made with real chicken, turkey, duck, salmon, cracked pearled barley, whole grain brown rice, veggies, fruits, and herbs
- Contains naturally occurring glucosamine and chondroitin to encourage strong muscle growth, joints, and cartilage
First 5 Ingredients: Chicken, turkey, chicken meal (natural source of glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate), turkey meal, cracked pearled barley
Customer Reviews: Like any food, some puppies don’t like the flavor or have stomach problems. However, the vast majority of puppies experienced improved bowel movements after switching to this food and owners report healthy, happy puppies. Common phrases include “best food out there” and “excellent food.”
Final Verdict: Chicken Soup for the Soul is a quality puppy food at a reasonable price. It contains whole grains but avoids wheat and corn.
#6 – Taste of The Wild Grain Free Premium High Protein Dry Dog Food High Prairie Puppy – Roasted Venison & Bison
Taste of the Wild High Prairie Puppy is a premium grain-free food that contains a variety of meat sources along with fruits, vegetables, and probiotics for a high-quality food that will help your large breed puppy grow. It has 28% minimum protein.
- Optimal amino acid profile and rich in protein
- Includes superfoods for natural antioxidants and DHA for brain and eye health
- Made in the USA
- No grain, corn, wheat, filler; no artificial flavors, colors, or preservatives
- Made with real roasted meat and a blend of protein sources
First 5 Ingredients: Buffalo, lamb meal, sweet potatoes, egg product, pea protein
Customer Reviews: Complaints are all over the place, from shipping issues to upset stomachs to puppies not liking the flavor to some vets recommending against the brand. However, the complaints are far outweighed by the number of people who love this food and say that their puppy loves it, too.
Final Verdict: If you’re looking for a grain-free food for your large breed puppy, Taste of the Wild High Prairie Puppy is an excellent choice.
Nutro Wholesome Essentials Puppy food focuses on clean, non-GMO ingredients along with crucial nutrients like DHA and antioxidants to help your large breed puppy grow big and strong at an appropriate rate.
- Farm-raised chicken is the #1 ingredient
- Includes calcium, DHA, omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids
- Made with non-GMO ingredients
- Contains essential antioxidants
- Made in the USA
First 5 Ingredients: Chicken, Chicken Meal (source of Glucosamine and Chondroitin Sulfate), Brewers Rice, Split Peas, Whole Grain Sorghum
Customer Reviews: Nearly all the complaints are about problems with consistency; their puppy had been doing great on Nutro but got sick after eating the latest delivery from Amazon. Still, those complaints are sparse for this exact flavor. Otherwise, puppies generally love the flavor of this food and thrive on it with no stomach or allergy problems.
Final Verdict: There is a risk you may get a bad bag from Amazon, but Nutro is still an excellent choice for your large breed puppy.
Blue Buffalo Wilderness Large Breed puppy food is a high-protein dog food that’s great for active puppies. This grain-free food also contains LifeSource bits that are cooked at a lower temperature than the rest of the kibble to retain more nutrients.
- Contains BLUE’s exclusive LifeSource Bits – a specific blend of vitamins, antioxidants, and minerals carefully chosen by animal nutritionists and holistic veterinarians to support life stage requirements, immune system health, and a healthy oxidative balance.
- Never contains corn, wheat, soy, chicken (or poultry) by-product meals, or artificial preservatives or flavors
- Grain-free and high in protein
- Made with ingredients that help promote development in large breed puppies including DHA and ARA, important fatty acids found in mother’s milk, to help support cognitive development and retinal health.
- Deboned chicken is the first ingredient
First 5 Ingredients: Deboned chicken, chicken meal, peas, pea protein, tapioca starch
Customer Reviews: Most of the complaints are about quality control issues. Overall, reviews included phrases like “great food,” “easy on puppies’ stomachs,” and “puppy loves it.”
Final Verdict: Unless you get a bad batch, Blue Buffalo Wilderness Large Breed puppy food is an excellent choice if you prefer a grain-free diet for your puppy.
Raw diets can be expensive and messy. Instinct Raw Boost Large Breed Puppy combines the convenience of kibble with the benefits of freeze-dried raw meat. Cage-free chicken is the first ingredient in this premium puppy food.
- Combines high-protein, grain-free kibble with all-natural bites of freeze-dried raw chicken
- Made with calcium and phosphorus for strong teeth and bones plus natural DHA for brain and eye development
- Made without grain, potato, corn, wheat, soy, by-product meal, artificial colors, or preservatives
- Complete and balanced nutrition for large breed puppies also includes probiotics and omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids
- Made in the USA
First 5 Ingredients: Chicken, turkey meal, peas, chickpeas, chicken eggs
Customer Reviews: There are a few reports of puppies getting diarrhea after eating this food. However, there are countless reviews gushing about how much their puppy loves this food and how it’s “the best food out there.”
Final Verdict: There is a small chance this food might upset your puppy’s stomach. However, Instinct Raw Boost is an excellent food that offers the benefits of raw with the convenience of kibble.
Orijen Puppy Large is a high-protein ultra-premium large breed puppy food that’s heavily meat-based and full of real meat. The 38% protein level may be too high for some puppies but may be ideal for others.
- Contains fresh, whole animal ingredients including free-run chicken and turkey, wild-caught fish, and cage-free eggs
- Made from 85% quality animal ingredients
- Biologically Appropriate, grain-free diet uses fresh and raw animal ingredients, including meat, organs, cartilage, and bone
- Fresh Regional Ingredients are delivered to the kitchen fresh or raw, in their most natural and nourishing form
- Made in the USA
First 5 Ingredients: Deboned chicken, deboned turkey, flounder, eggs, whole Atlantic mackerel
Customer Reviews: Most of the complaints are about the cost, although some puppies did experience upset tummies from this food. Most people are willing to spend the extra money, and several reviews say “you get what you pay for” – Orijen is expensive because it’s such a high-quality food with premium ingredients and no fillers. The good thing is that you can generally feed less of this food than cheaper foods.
Final Verdict: If you can afford it and your puppy does OK with the high protein level, Orijen Puppy Large may be the best puppy food you can get. Unfortunately, it is prohibitively expensive for many people and has protein levels that are too high for some dogs.
Common Health Issues for Large Breed Dogs (and How They Relate to Food)
Large breed dogs are prone to certain health conditions that may be affected by their diet. Let’s look a little closer at some of the common health issues large breed dogs may face and how their diet may affect those problems.
- Hip Dysplasia and Other Bone or Joint Problems
Hip dysplasia is a condition where the thigh bone doesn’t sit properly in the hip joint. While hip dysplasia tends to be a genetic condition, growing too quickly as a puppy can make hip dysplasia worse and may lead to a lifetime of pain and suffering. Glucosamine and chondroitin are essential for joint health, so they are necessary ingredients in large breed puppy food. On the flip side, calcium and phosphorous are important for proper bone growth – but too much calcium or phosphorus can cause large breed dogs to grow too quickly, which can cause bone or joint problems (or at least make them worse).
Obesity causes many of the same health problems in dogs as it does in people. Large breed dogs may be at higher risk of obesity because people can’t recognize the difference between a large dog and a fat dog, especially when it comes to puppies. Here’s a hint: you should always be able to feel (but not see) your puppy’s ribs when they are standing up. If you can’t easily feel your dog’s ribs, then they are overweight and you should talk to your vet about how to safely reduce your dog’s weight. Obesity can be caused by feeding food that is too high in fat, especially if your dog isn’t especially active. High protein foods tend to be high in fat, too, which is fine for super active large breed dogs. However, if your puppy leans more toward the lazy side, you should look for a large breed puppy formula that’s lower in fat.
Bloat is a condition where a dog’s stomach fills with air. This can cause the stomach to rotate on its axis and kill off blood supply to the dog’s intestines. Bloat is frequently fatal and is more common in large breed dogs, especially those with deep chests. To help prevent bloat, make sure you feed your dog at least twice a day, even as an adult, and try to prevent them from gulping their food too quickly. Putting part of each meal in a puzzle toy or slow feeder bowl can help prevent dangerous gulping. Don’t let your dog run around too much within about an hour of eating, as this may be another contributing factor to bloat.
Frequently Asked Questions:
To save you some time, here are answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about large breed puppy food.
How Much and How Often Should I Feed My Large Breed Puppy?
When you first bring your large breed puppy home, they will have a relatively tiny stomach. That means they do best with 4 meals per day. Once your puppy reaches 4 months old, you can cut back to 3 meals per day. At 6 months old, you can drop to 2 meals per day. To help prevent bloat, you should never feed a large breed dog fewer than twice a day. How much you feed your puppy will depend on the food you choose, your puppy’s current size, and their expected adult size. Your puppy should eat less of foods that are high in protein and low in filler, so it’s crucial to follow each puppy food’s feeding instructions. Ask your vet if you have questions.
When and How Should I Switch My Large Breed Puppy to Adult Food?
Your large breed puppy should stay on puppy food until they have stopped growing. For large breed dogs, that’s usually when they are around 18 months old. Giant breed dogs may grow until they’re 2 years old. When in doubt, ask your vet if it’s time to switch from puppy to adult food. When you do switch your dog from puppy to adult food, it’s important to do so slowly, over the course of at least one week. Add a little bit of the new food to your puppy’s current food to help prevent stomach upset. Each day, gradually feed more of the new food and less of the old food.
Why Can’t My Large Breed Puppy Eat Adult Food?
Puppies have different nutritional needs than adult dogs. If you feed your puppy adult dog food, they’re likely to miss out on key nutrients and may not grow properly. Large breed puppy foods are specially designed with the ideal nutritional profile to help dogs grow at a healthy rate.
Is Raw Food Good for My Large Breed Puppy? What About Homemade Dog Food?
Veterinarians are split about whether it’s good to feed dogs raw meat. While some vets say that dogs thrive on a raw diet, others argue that there is too much risk of bacterial infection. Talk to your vet about their recommendation for your large breed puppy. Some people are big proponents of cooking for their dogs. The problem with that is that it’s very tricky to feed your dog a well-rounded diet that provides the right amount of nutrients your dog needs. This is especially true for large breed puppies, who have very specific nutritional needs. Be sure to speak to your vet (or, better, a veterinary nutritionist) before switching your large breed puppy to a homemade diet.
Final Thoughts on Large Breed Puppy Food
Hopefully, we’ve given you the information you need to find the best large breed puppy food for your new addition. There is no one-size-fits-all suggestion, but our top pick is Solid Gold – Wolf Cub with Real Bison and Oatmeal – Natural Large Breed Puppy Food. It’s highly nutritious and not prohibitively expensive for many people.