Featured image of five cute retriever puppies

You might be wondering: what features determine the best large breed puppy food? Is it the high – quality nutrients, the price, or perhaps it’s the brand?

Regardless of the breed, or combination of breeds you may have, each owner deserves to experience the full potential of one’s nutrition. However, reality proves us wrong. Finding healthy and tasty puppy food recipes is often a challenging and time-consuming task.

Considering there are countless products out there, it’s just impossible to try each one of them.

For that reason, we are going to review some formula that will match your pet’s nutritional needs.

Top 10 Puppy Food For Large Breeds

IMAGEPRODUCTINGREDIENTS 
Best Overall

Small Product image of Purina Pro Plan Puppy Large Breed
Purina Pro Plan
Best Overall
Chicken
Corn Gluten Meal
Brewer’s Rice
Corn
Poultry By-Product Meal
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Strong Immunity

Blue Buffalo Wilderness Small Product Image
Blue Buffalo
Strong Immunity
Chicken
Chicken Meal
Pea Protein
Pea
Tapioca Starch
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Bone Health

Small Product image of Eukanuba Puppy Large Breed
Eukanuba
Bone Health
Chicken
Corn Meal
Sorghum
Chicken By-Product Meal
Brewers Rice
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High Energy

Small Product image of Instinct by Natures Variety Large Breed Puppy
Instinct by Nature's Variety
High Energy
Chicken
Peas
Turkey Meal
Egg Products
Chickpeas
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Grain-Free

Small Product image of Merrick Puppy Real Chicken
Merrick
Grain-Free
Deboned chicken
Potatoes
Chicken Meal
Sweet Potatoes
Peas
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Bone Growth

Small Product image of Hill s Science Large Breed Puppy
Hill's Science
Bone Growth
Lamb Meal
Wheat
Brewers Rice
Sorghum
Corn Gluten Meal
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Healthy Digestion

Small Product image of Now Fresh Grain Free Puppy
Now Fresh
Healthy Digestion
Deboned Turkey
Potatoes
Dried Eggs
Potato Flour
Peas
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With Antioxidants

Small Product image of Holistic Select Large & Giant Breed Puppies
Holistic Select
With Antioxidants
Lamb Meal
Chicken Meal
Chickpeas
Potatoes
Lentils
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Sensitive Stomach

Small Product image of Taste of the Wild High Prairie Puppy Recipe
Taste of the Wild
Sensitive Stomach
Buffalo
Lamb Meal
Egg Product
Sweet Potato
Pea Protein
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Balanced Nutrition

Small Product image of Wellness CORE Large Breed Puppy
Wellness CORE
Limited Ingredient
Deboned Chicken
Chicken Meal
Dried Potatoes
Peas
Turkey Meal
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Purina Pro Plan - Best Overall

First Five Ingredients:

  • Chicken
  • Corn Gluten Meal
  • Brewer’s Rice
  • Corn
  • Poultry By-Product Meal

Purina brand has a significant reputation among dog breeders and pet owners. Trusted for generations, this company is one of the biggest retailers in the world and has devoted a lot of recourses and research into their nutrition.

When it comes to a proper diet for your large breed puppy, you can’t fool around with the ingredients. Therefore, we think Purina Pro Plan Focus is an excellent choice and our personal preference.

The chicken comes as a dominant protein source, combined with probiotic fibers and DHA extracted from fish, for proper digestion and cognitive functions. The recipe features 28% of proteins and 13% of fats, which is a well-balanced ratio for fast-growing pups.

Overall, you can’t go wrong with Focus line. It will provide the necessary nutrients and keep your pet healthy.

Blue Buffalo - Best For Immunity

First Five Ingredients:

  • Chicken
  • Chicken Meal
  • Pea Protein
  • Pea
  • Tapioca Starch

Specially formulated to boost up your dog’s immune system, the Blue Buffalo Wilderness recipe is an excellent grain-free option. The product is packed with both all-natural ingredients and a blend of added minerals, vitamins, and antioxidants.

The majority of dog owners who tried the Wilderness Large Breed Puppy Food were satisfied with the results. They reported this grain-free formula eliminated itchy skin and digestive issues in their canines.

Considering it’s highly nutritious, this three protein source diet will improve energy levels and support your pet’s growth. It combines deboned chicken, turkey and chicken meal to stimulate development, while blueberries and cranberries support antioxidant-enrichment.

To conclude, dog thrive on meat, for that reason, this formula will offer your pet a genuine taste of wild, eaten by his ancestors.  

Eukanuba - For Joint & Bone Health

First Five Ingredients:

  • Chicken
  • Corn Meal
  • Sorghum
  • Chicken By-Product Meal
  • Brewers Rice

Eukanuba is another well-known brand, even though not so popular, it still offers high-quality ingredients. The company has a unique nutritional philosophy, where all canines deserve to be fed as carnivores.

This food is packed with calcium and phosphorus to ensure healthy bone and joint’s development.

Featuring animal-based protein, such as chicken meat, the recipe will help your pup build strong and lean muscles. Eukanuba has created a specialized fiber system, which utilizes prebiotics FOS and beet pulp to encourage healthy digestion and nutrient absorption.

Additionally, the optimum levels of omega fatty acids will prevent skin irritations and promote a shiny coat.

We all know how resilient and healthy bones are essential for proper growth. Therefore, Eukanuba is one of the brands to provide that.

Instinct by Nature's Variety - Ideal For High Energy

First Five Ingredients:

  • Chicken
  • Peas
  • Turkey Meal
  • Egg Products
  • Chickpeas

Instinct Raw Boost recipe is super-premium dog nutrition, which combines pieces of freeze-dried raw meat, to channel your pet’s inner wolf. On top of that, the grain-free formula is full of proteins mixed with high-value carbohydrates to provide enough energy.

This diet features a couple of protein sources, including chicken, liver, eggs, and four different meat meals. Moreover, omega-3 fatty acids originating from salmon oil and herring meal will boost cognitive functions in your pup.

However, when it comes to value, the Instinct Raw Boost is on a pricier side. But, if you are willing to pay, then your pet will have a chance to experience the most delicious ingredients.

In all, the mix of raw, freeze-dried proteins and digestible carbs is quite popular with pet owners, and their puppies love eating this food.

Merrick - Best Grain-Free

First Five Ingredients:

  • Deboned chicken
  • Potatoes
  • Chicken Meal
  • Sweet Potatoes
  • Peas

Puppies have a slightly different diet from adult canines, due to their development process. If you’ve got a pup in your family, then Merrick Grain-Free is always the best choice. Packed with phosphorus and calcium for the optimal bone growth this recipe will ensure you have a healthy pet in your household.

Additionally, DHA will stimulate his brain functions and eye maturation. The Real Chicken and Sweet Potato recipe combine the tastiest ingredients and real chicken meat, which makes it the best nutritious combination for young pups.  

It contains zero additives, artificial colors, preservatives, and flavors, while providing plenty of vitamins and minerals for a balanced diet.

In summary – starting the dog’s life with Merrick’s Puppy Meal, is always a good sign of responsible and dedicated pet parenting.

Hill's Science - Best For Optimal Bone Growth

First Five Ingredients:

  • Lamb Meal
  • Wheat
  • Brewers Rice
  • Sorghum  
  • Corn Gluten Meal

The optimal bone growth in puppies is one of the crucial features pet owners should focus on. Not only it needs to be under control, but you should provide adequate nutrition which will enable balanced growth of his bones. For that reason, we recommend science diet large breed puppy food.

It has all the necessary ingredients and controlled levels of calcium, which is crucial at this stage. The combination of lamb meat and dry rice will promote a healthy lifestyle and prevent any abnormalities. It is specially designed for a puppy up to 1 year of age, and who will be over 55 lbs when mature.

Additionally, the mix of vitamins C and D, and antioxidants will support the immune system and keep your pup in good shape.

All things considered, Hill’s Science is one of the leading brands in this industry. With the perfect blend of high-quality nutrients, your pet will have a chance to live a long and healthy life.

Now Fresh - Ideal For Healthy Digestion

First Five Ingredients:

  • Deboned Turkey
  • Potatoes
  • Dried Eggs
  • Potato Flour
  • Peas

While focusing on freshness, the Now Fresh Grain-Free formula is an ideal recipe for healthy digestion. It doesn’t contain redundant meat or by-products, and its ingredients are approved for human consumption.

The entire range of their food is grain-free, so common allergens such as wheat, soy, or corn are nowhere to be seen. With this meal, your pup will have a chance to taste fresh turkey, duck, and salmon meat, combined with 100% fresh omega fatty acids.

We should add that Now Fresh large breed puppy food also contains wholesome berries, fruits, and veggies. Furthermore, the presence of taurine will promote your pet’s heart development and vision.

As can be seen, you won’t find a better product if you are concerned about your puppy’s GI health. The fresh nutrients will eliminate digestive issues and ensure the proper absorption of food.

Holistic Select - With Antioxidants

First Five Ingredients:

  • Lamb Meal
  • Chicken Meal
  • Chickpeas
  • Potatoes
  • Lentils

The Holistic Select Large Puppy Recipe is specially designed for big growing pups. Considering it is grain free, with added DHA from salmon oil, this formula is highly beneficial for brain development.

Additionally, it combines natural fibers, live yogurt cultures, digestive enzymes, and probiotics which assist your pet with food digestion.

Maybe the best feature of Holistic Select is the number of antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals it contains. They successfully repair the cells, while keeping many diseases at bay.  

Two primary ingredients chicken and lamb meal won’t stress your pet’s digestive tract while delivering balanced nutrition.

To sum up, as they age, canines tend to get sick more often than not. However, if you supply them with food rich in antioxidants, then you will be able to combat many life-threatening conditions.

Taste of the Wild - Fit For Pups With Sensitivities

First Five Ingredients:

  • Buffalo
  • Lamb Meal
  • Egg Product
  • Sweet Potato
  • Pea Protein

Hands down, one of the bestsellers in the pet food industry Taste of the Wild has managed to come up with quite an attractive recipe for large breed puppies. This meal is formulated with an original blend of proteins, such as buffalo and bison meat. Therefore, it’s ideal for pups with food sensitivities.

The natural antioxidants sourced from real fruits and veggies will support healthy digestion in your pet while shielding his body from numerous diseases. On top of that, amino acids optimize the absorption of nutrients, whereas vital minerals ensure the maximum benefits of the ingredients.

This highly-digestible meal will become something your pets continuously crave.

As shown above, it shouldn’t surprise why this high-quality large breed puppy food has become so popular among pet owners. It features everything one supreme nutrition should have.

Wellness CORE - Best For Balanced Nutrition

First Five Ingredients:

  • Deboned Chicken
  • Chicken Meal
  • Dried Potatoes
  • Peas
  • Turkey Meal

Wellness Core comes as highly recommended products for all large breed puppies. We already know that our “small giants” require unique recipes to grow into strong and healthy dogs. For that reason, the Wellness Core is one of the few brands in the market which offers complete and balanced nutrition.

Their nutritional aspect is mainly focused on meat. The dog should consume the same nutrition his ancestors did. Therefore, this meal is packed with a highly concentrated protein source.

Some even think this formula is a superfood for young canines, and we can’t disagree with that. There are no by-products, colors, artificial flavors, or preservative, which only adds more significant value to this food.

To sum up, if you require a recipe that will satisfy your pets dietary needs while offering a balanced diet, then Wellness Core should be your choice.

Image of two puppies different breed

Large vs. Small Breed Puppy Food

All puppies are equally adorable, regardless of their size. However, large breed dogs have different nutritional needs than small breed dogs. This especially applies to puppies; which body is prone to faster development in the first year of life.

That’s why dog food companies specially formulate their recipes targeting breeds, sizes, and age. Therefore, there will be a significant difference in the ingredient, to avoid possible health-related issues and to improve their bodies.

For instance, big pups should have a restricted calorie intake to prevent skeletal system abnormalities. By feeding them food which has a fat content between 8-12% you are stopping unnatural rapid rate of growth. Also, nutrition high in calcium and phosphorus increases risks of DOD in these canines.   

On the other hand, small breed puppy food is packed with high-dense nutrients, and they don’t have a limitation regarding caloric intake. Considering their metabolism is faster, small breed puppies even demand diet rich in proteins and fats.

Image of someone holding two black puppies in his hands

Health Problems In Large Breed Puppies

Osteochondrosis

Osteoporosis is a bone disease that is affecting millions of people around the world, but it’s a disease that can affect dogs as well. They will experience the same symptoms as humans, which is the loss of bone density.

Chronic pain is one of the indicators that your large breed puppy is suffering from osteoporosis. At moments the pain will be so intense, preventing him from moving or engaging in physical activity. A dietary imbalance is a leading cause for the appearance of this disorder.

So, make sure your pup is eating proper nutrition from the start.

Elbow & Hip Dysplasia

Another common condition appearing in big puppy breeds, elbow, and hip dysplasia, affect joints and cause malformation of the bone. With hip dysplasia, the head of the femur isn’t sliding properly inside the hip joint, but it rubs against it. Over time, joints can deteriorate, leading to excruciating pain.  

On the other hand, hip dysplasia can affect your pet’s front legs. The rapid growth of elbow joints is the most common cause.

Read more: Best Food for Dogs with Hip Dysplasia

Hypertrophic Osteodystrophy

Hypertrophic osteodystrophy is an illness of front limbs in large breed puppies. It is a noninfectious inflammation of the bony spicules located in the metaphysics of the long bones.

The most affected bones are those that grow rapidly. The disease shows symptoms such as swelling around metaphysis. However, this isn’t a life-threatening condition and pups simply outgrow it.

There are rare cases, where growth plates are permanently damaged.

Panosteitis

You’ve probably heard of growing pains in children. Well, Panosteitis is almost the same condition that affects large puppies in which leg bones get inflamed. Both pair of legs, front and back, can be affected by this condition.

This disorder is usually treated with painkillers and in some cases with steroids to reduce inflammation. The pain can last up to several months, although some canines may develop juvenile arthritis.

Developmental Orthopedic Disease

There’re few varieties of developmental orthopedic disorders which occurs in young and immature canines, typically in large and giant breeds. The most common form is OCD, which causes limb abnormalities and deformities in long bones.

Inappropriate nutrition has been identified as a significant factor in the occurrence of this condition.

Image of Rottweiler puppy with sad eyes

Causes Of Skeletal Problems In Large Breeds

Genetics

Musculoskeletal system disorders are among the most studied in veterinary medicine. Considering that many dogs are affected by bone diseases, scientists are still trying to determine the possible causes. However, genetics play a crucial role, and some dogs are more prone to developing problems with bones and joints than others.

For that reason, before owning a pet, make sure to get familiar with his medical history and possible bone disorders.

Overfeeding

Overfeeding can harm your puppy. Many pet parents make a mistake when thinking that large breeds require more food. Of course, in some cases, this might be true, but large breed puppies demand a balanced and complete diet.

Due to their size, joints and elbows are practically exposed, and excess weight can tress them additionally. For that reason, managing your pet’s dietary needs, you will avoid possible bone abnormalities.

Excessive Calcium

While the optimum amount of calcium might be beneficial for your pup, feeding them nutrition rich in calcium can cause various health problems. It leads to excessive bone growth, which further leads to deformity.

However, a diet with balanced levels of nutrients can assist your pup in avoiding bone-related issues. Nowadays, the majority of dog formulas contain calcium, but the amount plays a significant role. Talk to your vet, before making a final decision.

How To Feed A Large Breed Puppy

Nutritional Requirements

The goal of feeding large puppies is to keep them slim, with controlled growth. They should thrive on balance, and as an owner, you should regulate their portion size.

The traditional puppy formula often provides higher calorie content than big pups require, causing them to gain too much weight. For this reason, food manufacturers started producing specially formulated nutrition for large breed immature canines.  

The following chart points out the main features one large breed puppy food should contain:

  • Low in calorie density and calcium, which are crucial for proper development and controlled growth
  • Reduced levels of phosphorus  
  • The formula should be labeled as “approved for all life stages.”
  • Contains high-quality protein
  • It’s packed with necessary vitamins and nutrients
  • Doesn’t cause obesity, but controls weight management
  • Controlled and balanced are keywords to look for

With so many brands in the market, dog owners often feel confused, but with the right guidance, you will find the best recipe for your pet.

Importance Of Large Breed Puppy Food

This type of diet is specially designed to accommodate the dietary needs of big puppies. Considering the risk of rapid growth, they require special attention when it comes to food. However, with the appropriate formula, you can prevent many health-related conditions, which can develop along the way.

But, how this recipe affects your pup?

  • It provides crucial nutrient at a young age
  • Prevents bone disorders and abnormalities
  • Controls growth
  • Improve the immune and digestive system
  • Boosts up cognitive functions
  • Offers more energy
  • Stops obesity and balances bloods sugar levels

Feeding Tips

It’s a fact that large breeds grow and develop quickly. For that reason, owners will often make a massive mistake by overfeeding their pups. Big canines will get big, regardless of the food you choose, considering they are genetically predisposed.

Immature dogs that get too big too fast are at risk of developing a series of health issues.

Therefore, the following feeding tips focus on a healthy lifestyle of your pet:

  • Purchase food tailored towards his nutritious needs
  • Don’t neglect health-related issues and adjust recipe choice to your pup’s condition
  • Offer limited portions
  • Have a strict feeding timetable
  • Feed your fluffy friend up to 4 times per day
  • Avoid table scraps
  • Don’t go crazy with treats  

As your pet ages, feed him as less food as possible to maintain a healthy weight. This will keep his health in check and encourage longevity and better joint. Additionally, you may want to consult your vet for further supplementation.

How Much And How Often To Feed

Each dog has specific feeding requirements, and we can’t put them all in the same category. However, large puppy breeds are particularly sensitive and require more attention than regular pups.

There feeding schedule should include up to four meals per day. You should consider giving them smaller portions to promote digestion and to avoid energy oscillations in their bodies. When your pup turns six months old, then you may start feeding him twice a day, for the convenience.

Some pet parents stick to 4 times a day feeding schedule up to one year, which is not a mistake. In this case, they are minimizing the risks of gastric dilatation volvulus.

How To Switch To Adult Food

Switching to adult dog food is somewhere between 18 and 24 months. Considering that large puppy breeds need longer to reach maturity, many of them are still growing, until they reach two years.

However, this transition needs to go slowly and gradually, but it shouldn’t take more than 7-14 days. Changing his food too quickly make lead to many GI issues, such as vomiting, and diarrhea.

His feeding chart should look like this

  • 75:25 – puppy to adult formula – four days
  • 50:50 – puppy to adult formula – four days
  • 25:75 – puppy to adult formula – four days
  • 100% adult formula

When your dog reaches maturity consider we recommend you to pick one of the best dog food for large breeds from our list

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you feed large breed food to medium breed puppies?

There is a significant difference in food ingredients between these two breeds; even though, they are slightly different in size. For instance, large breed puppy food is low in calcium and phosphorus, that may affect some medium breed pups.

Additionally, large dogs require less calorie, than medium ones. For that reason, we can’t recommend this feeding habit.

Read more: Our Top 5 Puppy Food for Medium Breeds Review

Is dry food recommended for large breed puppies?

There are several reasons why you should consider dry dog food over wet:

  • Dry nutrition is more convenient to purchase, and it has a longer shelf life
  • With dry food, you can measure the exact portions
  • Dry dog food it’s better for your pet’s teeth, chewing promotes natural exercise and cleans teeth
  • Wet recipes are on the pricier side

Should large breeds eat a limited ingredient puppy food?

It all depends on the definition and what food companies consider a limited ingredient diet. For example, a meal can have only one protein source, instead of three. On the other hand, it can also feature a reduced number of actual nutrients.

In most cases, a limited ingredient diet is fed to canines with food sensitivities and GI disorders.

Conclusion

The first couple of months are crucial for big pups, even though they continue to grow for a long time. Therefore, high-quality ingredients are vital for development and proper bone formation.

These small fluffy giants will be an excellent addition to your family and can quickly adapt to a family lifestyle. By nature, they are quite calm and mellow so they shouldn’t pose a challenge for pet owners.

If you still haven’t decided which recipe to choose, we hope our large breed puppy food comparison can help you solve this mystery.

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