On a quest to find the best dog food for large dog breeds? You’ve come to the right place!
The answer, though, will depend on some of these things:
- what form/type of food you’re looking for
- plus your dogs weight, health, lifestyle, & current stage in life.
Note: Do you know enough about feeding large breeds? Are you just looking for the best food choices for larger dogs? Then jump ahead to the recommended products section.
Narrowing down your large dog’s needs:
- At what stage of life is your dog: senior, adult, or a youthful puppy?
- Do they prefer canned, raw, wet, or dry dog food?
- Does your large breed have diet needs: weight control, grain free, easy digestion, sensitive stomachs, limited ingredient food, allergies, etc?
Even when you’ve narrowed it all down, choosing among the top food choices for large dogs can still be tricky. But that’s why you’re here! We took on the challenge for you.
Read on to discover a comprehensive guide to feeding large dog breeds, things like: what constitutes a large breed, their dietary and nutritional needs, trusted dog food brands, as well as helpful feeding tips for large breeds segmented into the different life stages.
Defining “large breed”: You may be asking for yourself, is my dog large breed? Where do I draw the line between medium dogs-large-and giant dogs? It seems that the ranges, in both weight and height, vary from company to company, and from expert to expert. Most are in the same ballpark however, with the debate focusing on the outer edges (minimum and maximum weight, minimum and maximum height).
So, let’s find out, just what constitutes a large breed dog?
See if you can find your dog on this list of 51 large breed dogs.
(*Due to space limitations, not all breeds could be listed).
|Afghan Hound||Airedale Terrier||Akita Inu|
|Alaskan Malamute||American Bulldog||Appenzeller Mountain Dog|
|Argentine Dogo||Beauceron||Belgian Laekenois|
|Belgian Malinois||Belgian Sheepdog (Groenendael)||Belgian Tervuren|
|Bernese Mountain Dog||Bouvier des Flandres||Boxer|
|Briard||Chesapeake Bay Retriever||Chinook|
|Clumber Spaniel||Collie (Rough)||Collie (Smooth)|
|English Setter||Flat-Coated Retriever||German Shepherd|
|German Shorthaired Pointer||Giant Schnauzer||Golden Retriever|
|Gordon Setter||Greyhound||Ibizan Hound|
|Irish Setter||Italian Spinone||Labrador Retriever|
|Louisiana Catahoula||Leopard Dog||Mixed Breed|
|Old English Sheepdog||Otterhound||Pointer (English)|
|White German Shepherd|
Large dog breed weight range: You’ll find somewhat a lack of consensus on this across the web. But, for the sake of order, in this article when we say large breed we mean: a dog whose standard average weight at maturity is between 60-100 lbs.
How big is a large breed dog (height range): This too is/can be up for debate among pet owners and industry brands. But in this article, when we say ‘large breed,’ we mean: a dog whose standard average height at maturity is between 22 inches and 26 inches.
Not too complicated, wouldn’t you agree?
Here’s a mini-chart to summarize:
|large dog breeds
Height: 22-26″ | Weight: 60-100 lbs
Not all dogs are a like, wouldn’t you agree?
Dogs all over the world may share similar characteristics, but when it comes down to nutrition they tend to have their own unique needs. Which makes your job as an owner of a large dog all the more important!
According to industry experts over at Merck Veterinary Manual, “using appropriate feeding practices is one of the most important components of maintaining companion animal health . . . and ignoring nutritional needs can often be more detrimental to a dog than the illness or injury for which it is being treated.”
Here are some FAQs caring dog owners encounter relating to large breed nutrition:
How do large breed dogs digest food?
The above illustration should holistically answer this question for you. Here’s what happens inside you large dog from when they start eating to the end of the line:
- dog uses strictly up/down moving jaws to crush food
- saliva lubricates the food, kills off bacteria (this is why they can eat disgusting things!)
- food is not the right size? the muscular esophagus rejects it back up via puking
- (this is just a failed attempt, and a dogs body’s way of saying, try again)
- food reaches the significantly acidic stomach, digestion of protein and fat begins
- (food is kept in a dogs stomach longer compared to humans)
- but in dogs, the acidic stomach takes it’s time breaking down large meat and bone
- small intestine further breaks down food into tiny units that the blood stream absorbs
- a dog’s pancreas secrets digestive enzymes into the gut; and hormones into the blood
- the liver, produces bile and partially stores it in the gall bladder (between meals)
- large intestine absorbs electrolytes & water; ferments nutrients that escaped digestion
- finally . . . well, let’s just say you do the cleaning up!
What is a “minimum nutrition requirement”?
Basically this means that the dog food formula in question has been lab tested (analyzed) vs. actual animal feeding trials; in order to meet the standard nutrition levels set by the Association of American Feed Control (AAFCO). To learn more about the minimum testing methods for the substantiation of nutritional adequacy claims, calorie content claims, and procedures read through this document.
Why is it important for my large breed’s food to be “complete & balanced?”
We humans have a saying, “you are what you eat.” This holds true for our canine friends as well. Because your large dog’s sole source of nutrition is the dog food you feed them, it is vital the food be “complete” and formulated to provide them, at the very least, with the minimum nutrition requirement set by the AAFCO as described above. So they can lead happy, healthy lives.
“Balance,” in the form of ingredient ratios, is essential for the efficiency and metabolism of your dog. Let’s say an essential amino acid in a certain formula is on the lower end, below the standard. The dog food company has a responsibility to raise the level, balance it out, by (perhaps) adding an ingredient rich in that essential amino acid. It also has to be careful however, because too much of a certain ingredient can be harmful (i.e. kidney issues, brought on by way too much protein and phosphorus). Thus, nutritional balance, is key for optimal health of your dog.
The best dog food companies hire trained veterinary nutritionists to assist them in achieving the goal of choosing quality ingredients in the right ratios for a complete and balanced dog food for your large breed. What do these nutritionists find the most important? Let’s find out.
What nutrients make up a properly balanced dog food?
If you want to ensure you large dogs optimal health is maintained, combine a healthy dose of physical activity with the appropriate amounts and ratios of the following nutrients:
- Proteins: Made up of amino acids, building blocks of strong muscles and body tissue repair. Dogs can only create half the amino acids they need, the rest (the essential half) must come from their diet.
- Fats & oils: Not all fat is unhealthy. In fact dogs need a good balance of certain fatty acids included in their diets. They provide energy, flavor & taste; as well as help maintain a shiny, health, skin & coat.
- Vitamins & minerals: A must in any quality dog food formula. Some benefits of vitamins: Vitamin E helps support your large dogs immune system. Vitamin A helps promote healthy skin & hair. Minerals help the body perform certain biological functions and avert deficiencies.
- Carbohydrates: Source of energy. Certain carbs (ones that are less digestible, like fiber) help keep dogs feeling full longer and maintain regular weight. (More on this below).
What do carbohydrates do for my large breed dog? They can make up anywhere from 30% to 70% of your large dogs food. But what exactly are they good for? Aren’t carbs . . . bad!? Nope (though excess amounts without exercise will lead to fat!).
Carbs play some important roles in your dogs diet, including:
- A source of energy: This is the most important macro function, it’s the fuel to your large breeds engine. Dogs converts certain carbs into simple easily absorbed sugars; while other more complex ones travel further down the digestive track for further breaking down. Carbs broken down into glucose aren’t just energy providers, they’re also important for brain and nervous system to function normally.
- Providing texture & structure: Not only do they increase the shelf life of your large breed’s food, but they make the food it easier for your dog to eat. Additionally, the starchy carbs, make them feel fuller but also helps your dog reduce tartar build up in their teeth.
- Fiber benefits: Though not a required nutrient for dogs, it is included in formulas as it keeps your dog feeling fuller for a longer period. Which helps prevent the mecca of many health problems, obesity. Fiber also assists in controlling blood sugar levels in diabetic dogs, maintain colon health, and aid in overall digestion.
Where do carbs come from? Mainly from grains and plants.
Some good sources of carbohydrates for your large breed are: Barley (pearled), oats (or whole oats), brown rice, whole wheat, whole corn, potato (or sweet potato), and millet.
Another essential nutrient of any healthy dog food diet is water, let’s find out why.
Why is water so important for my large dog breed?
Over 500 years ago, Leonardo da Vinci once said, “water is the driving force of all nature.” It’s still true to this day. Your large breed’s diet is NOT complete without proper hydration. Water is essential for so many important things in your dogs body, including:
- transporting nutrients
- regulating their body temperature
- preventing dehydration
- & eliminating waste.
Do dry dog foods contain water? Yes, they contain some water. But do not rely on this; instead, always provide your dog with quality water alongside their complete & balanced diet.
What are the best sources of quality protein?
With protein deficiency come all sorts of health troubles. Your large dog, and you, don’t need that in your lives. Quality proteins have a high biological value, meaning they are easily digested and absorbed by the body.
The desirable sources of quality protein in dog food (real meats):
- Chicken, turkey, duck, fish, & other poultry
- Beef, venison, liver, & other real meats
- Meat meals (not meat by-products); dried form of meat
The inferior sources of protein in dog food:
- Plant-based protein
- Meat by-products (including horns, hooves, hair, feathers, beaks, claws, etc).
In short: Real meat is a superior protein source.
What is a “body condition score”?
It ranges from underweight to overweight. It’s a great way to monitor your large breeds weight and to adjust feeding practices, and frequency as necessary. Avoiding obesity (. . . but also malnutrition) at all costs! Check out the video above for a visual of how it’s determined.
In short: It’s a system/scale for determining your dogs ideal weight.
How much should I feed my large breed dog per day?
Ever ask yourself, am I feeding my large dog a properly balanced diet? Am I over feeding my dog? Why is life so hard!? In all seriousness, being a caring, responsible, and informed pet owner is a big responsibility. But you’re not alone.
- Adult large breeds are typically fed around 1 1/2 cups per 22 lbs (10 kg) of body weight per day.
- Puppies require more calories, below is a useful visual feeding chart on how much to feed large breed puppies:
Consider these three simple things, on top of your dogs age (which we’ll cover in feeding tips below) when trying to figure out the right portion & frequency:
- Talk to your vet: Your vet knows your dogs physiological state better than anyone, and their expert advice can go a long way in creating an individualized proper dog diet with quality food choices.
- Read the label: Companies put a lot of work into formulating, manufacturing, & offering feeding guidelines when bringing dog food to market. One piece of advice is that most of the time, guidelines & recommendations on the dog food labels assume a relatively active dog.
- Know your dog: Most dogs will eat anything that comes their way. As a smart responsible owner, you must act as a personal trainer for your large breed. Keep track of their activity levels, food allergies, eating habits, food preference, etc. Because the amount of carbs in either direction, meals per day, type of food, will all depend on how active your dog is and no one knows this better than you.
A great resource for making smart food choices for your large breed dog is MyBowl from PetMD.
What should I do if my large dog is overweight?
Once you’ve used the body condition score to determine your dog is overweight, it’s time to do something about it. That something, according to Dr. Jim Dobies (a veterinarian with South Point Pet Hospital in Charlotte, N.C), is to cut your large breed dogs food consumption by 25%; in addition to gradually increasing their physical activity levels.
Two simple tips to reduce/reverse obesity in large breed dogs:
- Meet nutritional quotas, but limit caloric intake in overweight dogs
- Play more, treat less.
Maintaining your dogs ideal weight is a formula that increases the likelihood of a happy, healthy life.
What foods should I avoid feeding my large breed?
Great question! The caring people over at American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) have a pretty good list that we like in their Animal Poison Control section. (See below).
People foods (which can be toxic to pets!) to avoid feeding:
- Chocolate, coffee and caffeine
- Coconut & coconut oil
- Grapes & raisins (until more studies are performed)
- Macadamia nuts
- Milk & dairy
- Onions, garlic, chives
- Raw: under-cooked meat, eggs
- Salt-heavy food & snacks
- Yeast Dough
Did you know that, when it comes to feeding puppies, optimal growth is very different from maximum growth? Or what about that, as your dog get’s older and slower, their risk of obesity increases? Eating habits and dietary needs change along with your large breed, as they go from being the cutest little pup, to the most adorable senior dog.
Let’s address some important feeding points on each life stage of your large breed dog below.
Puppy feeding (birth – 1.5yr): There seems to be a common misconception that large breed puppies need to grow as big as possible, as fast as possible. Don’t let this be your goal! Optimum puppy growth should always trump maximum puppy growth. Serious health problems can develop in puppies that grow too fast.
Know this: What you feed your large breed puppy has an influence on how fast they grow, NOT on their adult size (this is primarily determined by genetics). Therefore, your aim should be control growth of your puppy, not overgrowth.
How long to feed puppy food to your large breed? Most owners start feeding adult food at around 18 months. Some choose / need to keep feeding until 19, 22, or even 24 months. Don’t overdo it though, as puppy food is more nutrient dense and can pack on pounds if an adult dog eats it regularly. Keep an eye on your dogs physique, and remember to transition them slowly into adult food to avoid gastrointestinal issues.
How many times a day should a large breed puppy eat? Very young ones (up to 6 months) should be fed about 3 to 4 times a day; after 6 months twice daily will suffice. If your puppy is on a raw-diet, remember that they will need to be fed more food per volume, because raw food contains less fat and calories per ounce.
Adult feeding (1.5yr – 6yr): For most adults dogs, 2 meals a day will suffice. It’s super important to monitor your large dogs weight using the body condition score, as well as working with your vet to address any obesity risks.
Here is a feeding chart for a large breed dog based on a standard 8 fluid-ounce measuring cup:
|Weight of Dog||Cups per Day||Grams per Day|
|50 lbs||2 ¾||278|
|60 lbs||3 1/8||316|
|70 lbs||3 ½||354|
|80 lbs||3 7/8||391|
|90 lbs||4 ¼||429|
|100 lbs||4 5/8||467|
Know this: The starting point for how much to feed your adult large dog will depend on the dog’s age, activity level, breed, weight, sprayed/neutered condition, plus other special needs. Please speak with your vet before making any sudden changes to your large dogs diet.
Senior feeding (6yr+): When is a large breed dog considered a senior? Generally, dogs can be considered seniors in the last 25% of their lives. For simplicity’s sake, we’ve drawn that line at 6 years old for large breed dogs. Visit PetPlace for a comprehensive list of dog breed lifespans and when their senior years are.
When a dog enters their golden years, their metabolism slows, the ability to maintain water balance decreases, and they don’t have the desire to run around all the time anymore. Thus large breed seniors are at a high risk for obesity, so you have to be careful of the amount of calories you feed them and make sure they’re getting enough water.
Know this: It’s also common for senior dogs to lose their appetite, for various reasons. When this happens, take a trip to the vets office and rule out any health issues like diabetes, kidney disease, dental disease, or cancer. Otherwise, maybe they have grown tired of dry food (if that’s all they eat) so try moistening the food up with warm water, small amounts of canned food, or chicken broth.
Signs that you need to change you large breeds current dog food: How do you know it’s time to change the type or quality of your dog’s current food? Here are a few ways you can tell:
Current dog food may not be working if:
- vomiting problems (chronic | acute onset)
- diarrhea (chronic | acute onset)
- stool quality is poor
- consistent weight loss
- excessive flatulence
- dull coat
- excessive shedding
- abdominal pain
- ocular health issues
- dental health issues
Current dog food is working if:
- activity levels are steady or up
- good stool quality
- bright eyes
- healthy skin & coat
- body condition is in the ideal range
- food is life stage appropriate
Important note: The above symptoms may be attributable to your dogs diet. However, it may also be the case that the cause of the symptoms is something not related to food (i.e illness or another serious health problem). Speak with your vet as soon as possible if you’re out of logical reasons for what your pet may be experiencing.
Here at Dognutrition.com we are strong advocates of responsible pet ownership. In that spirit, we beg of our readers to consider common health problems in large breed dogs before making one a part of your life. No human, or animal, should be left to suffer when a health problem arises.
With that being said, here are 10 of the most common health problems found in large dogs: Hip Dysplasia, Elbow Dysplasia, Panosteitis, Bloat & Torsion, Dilated Cardiomyopathy, Aortic Stenosis, Spondylolitheses, Cruciate Ligament Tears, Cherry Eye, Arthritis.
The sad truth is that despite all the complete and nutritionally balanced dog food that is widely commercially available, dog malnutrition (imbalance of nutrients: includes both nutrient deficiencies and nutrient excesses) is still occurring.
What should be found in the first several ingredients listed on a dog food bag?
Dog food labels are regulated by both the federal and state governments. One important aspect of this regulation is that “. . . ingredient lists must be declared in the proper order of predominance by weight.”
What does this mean for you? It means that you can compare the marketing hype of the front of the label to the ingredient list; if the front says “Chicken & Beef” you can easily check the ingredient list to make sure they’re listed among the first. This means they carry the most weight in the dog food formula. Generally, a whole protein (chicken, beef, fish, etc.) listed as the first ingredient is a good sign!
What’s the Best Food for a Large Breed Puppy?
The crucial time in a young dogs life, where nutrition plays a key role as to their physiological development and the rest of their lives really. For example, choosing a top quality large breed puppy food can greatly reduce your dogs risk of developing hip dysplasia. Along with reducing the likelihood of many other bone and joint disorders that tend to plague large breed dogs.
Now that you’re well informed, you’re ready for a quality large breed puppy food recommendation:
Our Top Pick: Taste of the Wild – High Prairie Puppy Formula
Notable ingredients: Buffalo, lamb meal, sweet potatoes, egg product, pea protein, peas, species-specific probiotic, dried chicory root, antioxidants.
Flavors: Roasted bison & roasted venison. Packaging: 5 lb, 15 lb, 30 lb.
Why we like it: Let’s start with the 80,000,000 colony forming units of live, active probiotic cultures per pound; helping support your large pup’s healthy digestion and their active lifestyle. This antioxidant rich, grain-free, deliciously formulated for puppies recipe, is made with real roasted lean meat, with an additional blend of protein sources. It contains the nutrients your puppy needs for optimal growth (protein/amino acids, omega fatty acids, dha, antioxidants, minerals) and the development of their: brain, vision, skin, coat, most importantly bones & joints.
Calorie content: 1,658 kcal/lb or 3,656 kcal/kg (364 kcal/cup) Calculated metabolizable energy.
*Not recognized as an essential nutrient by the AAFCO Dog Food Nutrient Profiles.
|Crude Protein||28.0% minimum|
|Crude Fat||17.0% minimum|
|Crude Fiber||5.0% maximum|
|DHA (Docosahexaenoic Acid)||0.05% minimum|
|Zinc||150 mg/kg minimum|
|Selenium||0.35 mg/kg minimum|
|Vitamin E||175 IU/kg minimum|
|Omega-6 Fatty Acids*||2.8% minimum|
|Omega-3 Fatty Acids*||0.3% minimum|
(Lactobacillus acidophilus, Bifidobacterium animalis, Lactobacillus reuteri)
|not less than 80,000,000 CFU/lb|
The verdict is in: Puppies ‘go wild‘ for it!
Another great option: Orijen Large Puppy Formula
What’s the Best Food for an Adult Large-Size Dog?
By now you’ve probably internalized the fact that large dogs suffer from joint problems more so than their small breed counterparts. Good dog food companies account for this biological need by incorporating ingredients that support bones and joints, such as glucosamine and chondroitin. Additionally, calorie moderation (to reduce obesity) and larger kibble size (to decrease chances of bloat) are also something to look for in foods for large breeds.
Now that you’re well informed, below is a quality food recommendation for an adult large breed:
Our Top Pick: BLUE Life Protection Formula with LifeSource Bits
Notable ingredients: Protein-rich deboned chicken, chicken meal, whole ground brown rice, barley, oatmeal, chicken fat, glucosamine, chondroitin, omega 3 & 6 fatty acids.
Flavors: Chicken & brown rice, fish & oatmeal, lamb & brown rice. Packaging: 15 lb, 30 lb.
Calorie Content (calculated): 1,645 kcals/lb; 378 kcals/cup.
Why we like it: This wholesome recipe packs a lot of benefits for your large breed. With a primary focus on the food having a high-quality real meat foundation, Blue Buffalo then adds in wholesome whole grain, garden veggies, and fruits resulting in a quality dog food that supports your large breed’s: healthy muscle development, healthy skin & coat, joints, immune system, bones, teeth, and overall energy for an active, happy life!
Worth mentioning that this products formula has:
- NO chicken (or poultry) by-product meals
- NO corn wheat or soy
- NO artificial colors, flavors or preservatives
What’s the Best Food for the Senior Large Breed Dog?
Studies have shown that aside from your dogs genetic makeup, diet is the primary factor that impacts how long a senior dog will live. Things you should look for when buying quality dog food for senior large breeds are: lower calorie food, higher fiber content, fatty acids, chondroitin, glucosamine, vitamins and minerals. Overall the best thing you can do is to keep them as active as possible and do your best to prevent obesity from creeping up.
Now you know what to look for in dog foods for large breed seniors; here’s a quality choice:
Our Top Pick: Wellness Complete Health – Natural Senior Dog Food
Notable ingredients: Lean deboned chicken, oatmeal, ground barley, chicken meal, whitefish, omega 3 & 6 fatty acids, glucosamine, glucosamine, vitamins A, B, C, D, E.
Flavors: Deboned chicken & barley. Packaging: 5 lb, 15 lb, 30 lb.
Why we like it: In this article we talked about the importance of a complete and balanced diet. Well, here’s a company that takes this pretty seriously! Formulating this product with the perfect balance of protein, carbs, fat, and essential minerals and vitamins to support you senior large breeds needs.
It’s no secret that senior dogs are at a higher risk of obesity, this formula addresses that with their reduced calories which still satisfy hunger! Additionally, it contains guaranteed levels of glucosamine and chondroitin, ingredients well known to support hips and joints. Finally your aging large breed will appreciate the easy digestion!
Another great option for senior dogs: IAMS Proactive Health Senior Dog Food
Best Grain-Free Large Breed Dog Food
Ideal for: Large breed dogs who wish to avoid or are allergic to grains.
We’re starting to see grain-free dog food options become more and more abundant, in all shapes and forms from treats to wet food. As you probably know, grain-free proponents point to dog ancestry as the main reasoning for putting a large breed on a grain-free diet, arguing that a modern dog’s wild ancestors didn’t exactly go wild for corn or wheat.
While there is controversy between classifying dogs as omnivores vs. carnivores, one thing is for certain, by ensuring your dog is getting high quality ingredients from their food, they’ll be properly supplied with quality nutrients.
Our Top Pick: Wellness CORE Natural Grain Free Dry Dog Food
Notable ingredients: Deboned chicken, turkey meal, potatoes, peas, spinach, flaxseed, glucosamine, chondroitin, fiber, probiotics,
Flavors: Chicken & turkey Packaging: 12 lb, 26 lb.
Why we like it: Looking for a premium ingredient 100% grain-free dog food? With optimal levels of calorie levels!? Look no further. This large breed formula is a protein powerhouse. Containing 80% more flavor-filled meat than traditional dog foods with grains (raw feeding philosophy friendly), probiotics, antioxidants, omega fatty acids, and more.
Formulated precisely for large breed dog needs, including only premium, high quality, all natural ingredients; and excluding wheat, corn, soy, meat by-products, harmful preservatives, artificial flavors and colors. Best of all? It’s backed by a wellness guarantee!
Best Food For Large Dogs with Sensitive Stomachs
Ideal for: Large dogs who have come across an infection or can’t handle a certain ingredient (i.e., sporadic loose stools, upset stomach, or trouble tolerating current food).
Naturally, dogs have pretty strong, acidic, stomachs! But even the strongest among them can and do fall prey to stomach issues. Which typically follows by them being sad, throwing up, and just breaking our hearts! If your doggo is going through some tummy issues, they need to be fed with care, as the wrong ingredient can make the situation worse.
Certain dog food companies have taken on the challenge of ridding your dogs troubles with the help of scientific formulation of dog food to assist in sensitive stomach digestion. Here’s one of the better ones:
Our Top Pick: Hill’s Science Diet Sensitive Stomach & Skin Dog Food
Notable ingredients: Chicken meal, brewers rice, wholegrain sorghum, fatty acids, cracked pearled barley, pea protein, soybean oil, dried beet pulp.
Flavors: Chicken meal & barley. Packaging: 4 lb, 15.5 lb, 30 lb.
Why we like it: Is your large breed having tummy issues? How does clinically proven nutrition that can transform your pet’s life sound? This is precisely what this formula from Hills Science Diet is made to do. Help with your large dogs sensitive digestion system and improve their skin and coat health. Let’s look at how it works.
- Digestibility: By incorporating natural, high-quality, easily digestible ingredients. Free from any artificial flavors, colors, or harmful preservatives.
- Healthy skin & glossy coat: Contains an exclusive blend of omega-6 fatty acids as well as vitamin E and other nutrients that help promote this in your large breed.
- Healthy immune system: Via clinically proven antioxidant blend of vitamins C + E.
The best part? 100% satisfaction guarantee! (They believe in the quality of their dog food.)
Best Weight Control Dog Food for Large Breeds
Dogs that eat fewer calories than they burn lose weight, a simple formula right? The formula may be simple, but in practice it can be challenging to accomplish. In general, you can help your dog maintain an ideal weight and ward off obesity by choosing high quality large breed food that contains: below average calories, below average fat, and above average protein. Below is a great option that meets the criteria from Canidae.
Our Top Pick: CANIDAE All Life Stages Dog Food – Less Active Formula
Notable ingredients: Chicken meal, turkey meal, lamb meal, ocean fish meal, brown & white rice, peas, potatoes, oatmeal, vitamins & minerals.
Flavors: Chicken, turkey, lamb, & fish.
Packaging: 5 lb, 15 lb, 30 lb.
Caloric content (calculated metabolizable energy.): 1,500 (kcal/lb) | 3,300 (kcal/kg) | 3.3 (kcal/g) | 342 (kcal/cup).
**Not recognized as an essential nutrient by the AAFCO Dog Food Nutrient Profiles
CRUDE PROTEIN (MIN.)
CRUDE FAT (MIN.)
CRUDE FAT (MAX.)
CRUDE FIBER (MAX.)
LINOLEIC ACID (OMEGA-6 FATTY ACID) (MIN.)
ALPHA LINOLENIC ACID (OMEGA-3 FATTY ACID) (MIN.)
VITAMIN E (MIN.)
GLUCOSAMINE (NATURALLY OCCURRING)** (MIN.)
CHONDROITIN SULFATE (NATURALLY OCCURRING)** (MIN.)
ASCORBIC ACID (VITAMIN C)** (MIN.)
LACTOBACILLUS ACIDOPHILUS** (MIN.)
100 million CFU/lb.
CELLULASE (TRICHODERMA LONGIBRACHIATUM)**(A) (MIN.)
Why we like it: Is your large breed dog looking like they need to trim down a bit? No matter what stage of life they’re at, the Canidae Platinum formula for less active dogs is an ideal choice for caring dog owners. A veterinarian formulated, premium ingredient, low protein and fat dog food; for our less active and senior large canine friends. Dieting just got easier!
Another great option: NUTRO Lite and Weight Management
Best Limited Ingredient Food for Large Sized Dogs
Ideal for: Large breed dogs with food sensitivities and intolerances.
You large breed depends on protein and carbs to feel at their best, full and energetic. But reactions to certain foods out on the market throw a monkey wrench into things. Luckily, dog food companies started producing limited ingredient dog food, with the aim of minimizing food reactions in certain dogs. But to do this without sacrificing balanced nutrition infused with the essential vitamins and minerals.
If your large dog requires an LID diet, below is a good LID dog food recommendation worth looking into:
Our Top Pick: BLUE Basics Limited-Ingredient Formula
Notable ingredients (lamb & potato recipe): Deboned lamb, potatoes, peas, lamb meal, canola oil, fish oil, pumpkin, dried chicory root, blueberries.
Flavors: Lamb & potato, turkey & potato. Packaging: 22 lb.
Calorie content (calculated): 1,619 kcal/lb | 3,569 kcal/kg | 352 kcal/cup.
Why we like it: Specially formulated to help minimize food sensitivities some large breed dogs experience, while at the same time maximizing the nutrition received. Uses real deboned lamb as the single-animal protein source along with pumpkin and pea fiber; plus other gentle digestion supporting carbohydrate sources (like peas and potatoes).
Specially with large breeds in mind, includes the two famous joint & bone supporting ingredients: glucosamine and chondroitin. It’s 100% grain and gluten-free, and excludes: chicken, beef, soy, corn, dairy, eggs, and wheat.
Best Dry Dog Food for Large Breeds
Feeding your large breed a dry kibble offers several advantages. It’s a food type that is relatively easy to measure and portion out! This is great for conscientious owners looking to keep their large dogs diet consistent. It’s also very storage friendly with a much longer expiration date. But when it comes to large breeds, a large dry kibble means slower eating, healthier digestion, and teeth cleaning as they chew.
Now that you’re aware of some of the benefits, here’s a quality dry dog food option for your large breed:
Our Top Pick: Fromm Family Foods – Gold Nutritionals Dog Food
Notable ingredients: Duck, chicken meal, lamb, chicken oatmeal, dried whole egg, menhaden fish meal, real Wisconsin cheese, flaxseed, chicken cartilage.
Flavors: Special blend (duck, chicken, lamb). Packaging: 5 lb, 15 lb, 33 lb.
Caloric content: 3,745kcal/kg | 1,702kcal/lb | 378kcal/cup.
Guaranteed analysis: Crude Protein (min 23%), Crude Fat (min 12%), Crude Fiber (max 3.5%), Moisture (max 10%), Omega 3 Fatty Acids (min 0.4%), Omega 6 Fatty Acids (min 2.1%).
Why we like it: Do you seek only the best food for your dog? The Gold Nutritionals series, specially & naturally formulated for adult large breed dogs, is your new best friend. With added cartilage to support you large dogs joints and viable prebiotics & probiotis sourced from real Wisconsin cheese, this 100% USDA-inspected ingredient dry dog food has been making dogs and dog owners happy ever since it’s release.
Best one for large breed puppies: Purina Pro Plan Focus Puppy
Best Wet Dog Food for Large Breeds
Why is wet dog food so popular? Because most dogs are in love with it! Dogs like wet food because it’s a type of dog food that is rich in flavor, which they very much appreciate, and it resembles meat and meat by-products more than dry food. It’s a very moist food, providing your dog hydration on top of good food.
This can be a big factor if your large breed doesn’t drink enough water, or has a urinary tract condition. The extra moisture and typically a higher protein content also means your dogs belly is filled up without the extra calories, thus it can be a great weight management strategy as well. Here’s a great wet food choice your large breed will love:
Our Top Pick: BLUE Homestyle Recipe for Large Breeds
Notable ingredients: Real deboned chicken, chicken broth, brown rice, carrots, peas, barley, oatmeal, sweet potatoes, glucosamine, chondroitin.
Flavors: Chicken dinner & garden veggies. Size: 12.5 oz. (1 can)
Why we like it: This homestyle large breed recipe is all natural, starting it;s ingredient list with a high-quality chicken protein providing your dog with the essential amino acids he/she requires on a daily basis. Another thing your dog needs, is energy! Which comes in this wet dog food, via complex carbs sourced from all natural premium ingredients like barley and brown rice.
If that wasn’t enough, there’s more! The can is also packed with nutrient-rich fruits and veggies (cranberries, blueberries, carrots and sweet potatoes). But let’s be honest, you really just want to know if it tastes good, right? According to many happy large dog owners who observed that their dogs didn’t pick their heads up once while eating . . it’s delicious!
Best Raw Dog Food for Large Breeds
Raw feeding your large sized dog: Is your large dog on a raw diet? Also referred to as the BARF Diet (Bones And Raw Food) they typically are comprised of all kinds of raw meat, veggies, bones, and even some supplementation. Below is a brief overview of it, followed by a quality raw dog food recommendation.
What exactly is a raw dog food diet? Here’s what a typical one consists of:
- Muscle meat (often still on the bone)
- Ground or whole bones
- Meat from organs (such as kidneys and livers)
- Eggs (raw)
- Veggies (i.e. spinach, celery, and broccoli)
- Some dairy, such as yogurt
Advocate for raw dog diets voice these potential benefits of feeding raw:
- better skin & coat
- better digestion
- stronger immune system
- better health
- more energy
- more muscle mass
Thinking of switching your large dog to a raw diet? (Each dog is unique!) Here’s a generally suggested transitioning method when switching from dry dog food to raw.
Safety concerns: Each dog is unique, please speak with your veterinarian before switching your dogs diet. It’s also recommended that if you choose this diet type, you track it well and strive for nutritional balance. Understand that you are at risk of contracting a food borne illness while prepping raw meals for your dog, so be sure to follow good sanitation practices.
Please keep these words in mind: “The only place I’ve seen a problem with this diet is puppies . . . if you don’t get the calcium and phosphorous ratio right, you can have bone deformities and growth issues.” – Doug Knueven, DVM, of the Beaver Animal Clinic in Beaver, Pa.
Our Top Pick: Primal Freeze Dried Pet Foods
- Chicken 78%
- Produce 20%
- Supplements 2%
- Organic Ingredients 20%
- Organ Meat 9%
- Bone Content ≅ 10%
- CA-to-P ratio 1.06:1 (calcium to phosphorus)
Notable ingredients (chicken recipe): Chicken, chicken necks, chicken gizzards, chicken livers, organic kale, organic carrots, organic squash, alfalfa.
Flavors: Duck, lamb, chicken, beef, turkey & sardine, venison, rabbit, & pork.
Packaging: 5.5 oz, 14 oz.
Value: $2.21 /oz
Guaranteed analysis: Crude Protein (min 37%), Crude Fat (min 37%), Crude Fiber (max 1%), Moisture (max 2%), Ash (max 10%).
Why we like it: This freeze-dried canine chicken formula is jam packed with benefits for your large breed on a raw food diet. Essential fatty acids and optimum levels of amino acids from fresh chicken meat (raised without antibiotics or added hormones). Optimum levels of calcium via finely ground chicken bones. Food derived vitamins from organic produce! Digestion and circulation support via organic and unrefined nutritional supplement. Overall a complete and balanced freeze-dried raw diet!
Another great raw food option: Stella & Chewy’s Freeze-Dried Dog Food
Best Canned Dog Food For Large Breed Dogs
Canned food offers your large breed significant benefits, especially when used as a topper for dry kibble. Canned dog food tends to be: higher in meat proteins, higher in natural fats, lower in carbohydrates, more appetizing, more filling, longer shelf life, easier to chew, and offers more meat choices. Pretty beneficial, wouldn’t you say so?
Note: Don’t leave opened can food laying around more than an hour or two (as it grows bacteria and can become contaminated); also be sure to refrigerate the opened can and throw away unused portions within three days!
Our Top Pick: Weruva Grain-Free Canned Dog Food
Notable ingredients (steak frites recipe): Beef, pumpkin, sweet potato, carrot, beef lung, beef kidney, potato starch, vitamins E, B, D.
Flavors: Amazon liver, bed & breakfast, cirque de la mer, funky chunky chicken soup, grandma’s chicken soup, green eggs & chicken, hot dayam!, jammin salmon’, peking ducken, steak frites, wok the dog. Size: 5.5 oz, 14 oz.
Why we like it: Weruva has a very interesting philosophy, it’s tagline is “people food for pets!” They put a human spin on dog cuisine. This is because their formulas are produced in human food facilities, using many ingredients and processes used to make human food. Pretty interesting, right?
They do a great job too, especially with this particular, flavor abundant, grain-free canned dog food. A mixture of grass-fed beef, pumpkin, and other simple and wholesome ingredients that are great for digestion. The formula aim is actually pretty simple: deliver high-quality proteins, minimal carbs, and high moisture. Feed it alone as a standalone diet, or use it as a food topper, either way its an ethically sourced, nutrient rich, great tasting dog food.
Top choice for large dogs on limited ingredient diets: Natural Balance L.I.D Dog Food
Best Affordable Dog Food For Large Dogs
Ideal for: Getting the best dog food for the money. Owners looking for inexpensive quality dog food.
Economical dog food should not be automatically discounted as being inferior to higher priced options. There are 5-star dog foods for your large breed, which are priced on the cheaper side! Reputable companies understand that not everyone has the same budget for dog food, and that in fact most people prefer something that first and foremost works for their large breed dog, but also their wallet.
As you can see there actually exist many good inexpensive dog food options out there, here’s one of our favorites:
Our Top Pick: PEDIGREE Complete Nutrition Adult
Notable ingredients (steak recipe): Ground whole grain corn, meat and bone meal, corn gluten meal, animal fat, dried plain beet pulp, natural grilled steak flavor.
Flavors: Chicken, steak. Packaging: 15 lb, 20.4 lb, 33 lb, 40 lb.
Value: $.60/lb (20.4 lb bag)
Why we like it: For the price, it’s a deal that’s pretty hard to beat! But don’t think of this package as just any old cheap dog food. We’re dealing with a complete and balanced nutritional deal in this affordable adult formula for your large breed. With optimal levels of omega-6 fatty acids, steak flavor providing antioxidants, essential minerals, and vitamins; in addition to whole grains and healthy digestion supporting special fiber blend. At the end of the day your dog won’t hate you, and your wallet will love you, as you’ll get the best dog food for your money!
Another great option (awaiting inventory re-stock): SportDogFood Maintenance Formula
If you’ve made it this far into this lengthy piece, your determination and the love for your large dog is unmatched!
We salute your thirst for knowledge! There’s a lot to cover when it comes to choosing the best dog food for your large breed and ensuring they are eating food that is complete and balanced. Having read the above you now know:
- the features and characteristics of a large breed dog
- how large breeds digest their food
- what a minimum nutritional requirement is
- essential nutrients in a properly balanced dog food
- the best ingredient sources of quality protein
- how to find your large dogs ideal weight using the “body condition score”
- how much to feed your large breed per day, at each life stage
- what to do about obesity & malnutrition
- what foods to avoid feeding your large dog
- health problems common in large breeds
- the various best dog food options for different food types & diet needs
- the importance of working with your vet for all of the above, as your dog is unique
We leave you with some of our favorite dog foods for large breeds above, in addition to the pretty comprehensive guide to feeding your large dog that we’re sure you;ll find informative and useful for some time to come!