Featured image of Australian Shepherd puppies on the porch

So, you’re looking to get a poodle, or a bulldog, a boxer, or a Labrador retriever. What do all these different dogs have in common? They all belong to the medium-sized family of dogs.

And if you’re looking for a medium-sized dog, you may need to know what, how, and when to feed them, and what potential problems they may encounter in their lives.

This guide should provide you with all the information you need to find the best food for your medium breed puppy, as well as any additional information to help your pup grow into a healthy, energetic, and strong adult.

5 Puppy Food for Medium Breeds Compared

Best Overall

Small Product image of Taste of the Wild Pacific Stream Grain Free
Taste of the Wild
Best Overall
Ocean Fish Meal
Sweet Potatoes
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Strong Muscles

Small Product image of American Journey Puppy Lamb & Sweet Potato
American Journey
Strong Muscles
Deboned lamb
Chicken meal
Turkey meal
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Growth & Development

Small Product image of Blue Buffalo Puppy Chicken and Brown Rice Recipe
Blue Buffalo
Growth & Development
Deboned chicken
Chicken meal
Brown rice
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Healthy Weight

Small Product image of Royal Canin Puppy Medium Breed
Royal Canin
Healthy Weight
Chicken by-product meal
Chicken fat
Brewer’s rice
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Brain Development

Small Product image of Purina ONE SmartBlend Healthy puppy
Purina ONE SmartBlend
Brain Development
Rice flour
Corn gluten meal
Chicken by-product meal
Whole grain corn
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Taste of the Wild – Best Overall

First Five Ingredients:

  • Salmon
  • Ocean Fish Meal
  • Sweet Potatoes
  • Peas
  • Potatoes

Among all Taste of the Wild’s products, their Pacific Stream recipe is the overall best choice for your growing puppy. It is based on salmon as the primary ingredient and source of protein and combined with the other nutrients, it should provide all the building blocks for your pup’s developing muscles.

Its formula also includes fruits and vegetables as sources of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants so you can be sure your pet gets all the nutrients they need for healthy growth. It even includes sources of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, all to ensure the health of your puppy’s skin and coat, and to help with brain and eye development.

To make sure it’s safe for pups with food sensitivities, this recipe doesn’t contain any grain, corn, soy, wheat, or other filler. It is also free of artificial preservatives, colors, flavors, or other such ingredients, making it even safer.

All these ingredients make this formula a well-rounded choice for your puppy. It has all the nutrients they need to grow and develop into healthy and energetic adults.

If you want more information, you can also check out our guide to the best dog food overall.

American Journey – Best for Strong Muscles

First Five Ingredients:

  • Deboned lamb
  • Chicken meal
  • Turkey meal
  • Peas
  • Chickpeas

Growing puppies need more protein from their food, as it provides the building block for the development of their muscles. Out of all the American Journey formulas for puppies, our choice for your pup’s strong muscles is their lamb and sweet potato recipe.

The primary source of protein comes from deboned lamb, and it provides all the protein to ensure proper development for your young furry friend. As a source of vitamins and minerals, as well as antioxidants, this formula also includes fruits and vegetables.

It even contains omega fatty acids sourced from flaxseed and salmon oil, maintaining your pet’s healthy skin and coat, as well as ensuring proper brain and eye development. Chickpeas and sweet potatoes provide energy to keep your pup going, as well as fiber, to ensure all the nutrients are properly absorbed and digested.

This high-protein formula is our choice if you’re looking for a diet that will help grow and maintain lean muscles of your active puppies, and at the same time, provide all the nutrients they need for proper growth and development.

Blue Buffalo – Ideal for Growth & Development

First Five Ingredients:

  • Deboned chicken
  • Chicken meal
  • Brown rice
  • Oatmeal
  • Barley

Blue Buffalo’s Life Protect line of products is specialized in keeping your dog healthy, and their puppy recipe based on chicken and brown rice is our choice for proper growth and development. The deboned chicken, its primary ingredient, provides plenty of protein for your growing puppy.

Fruits and vegetables provide the vitamins and minerals for your pup’s health, as well as antioxidants for their immune systems. Omega fatty acids protect their skin and coat, as well as help with eye and brain development. It even has calcium and phosphorus to help your pup’s bones develop.

This formula also includes whole grains to maintain the health of your pet’s digestion. And, to make sure it’s appropriate for sensitive puppies, it doesn’t contain soy, wheat, or corn, as well as artificial ingredients, flavors, or colors.

Overall, this formula is the best choice as it provides all the nutrients your puppies need to develop into strong and healthy adults.

Royal Canin – Perfect for Healthy Weight

First Five Ingredients:

  • Chicken by-product meal
  • Chicken fat
  • Brewer’s rice
  • Corn
  • Wheat

Maybe your medium breed puppy has problems maintaining their weight. They were bred as working dogs, after all, and maybe a more passive urban lifestyle doesn’t suit them well. Royal Canin’s Medium recipe is specialized in providing all your puppy needs to maintain a healthy weight.

As it’s specialized in medium breeds, this formula includes higher amounts of carbohydrates to provide the extra energy these breeds need as they grow. The protein comes primarily from chicken by-products, and it provides all the amino acids your pup’s muscles need for proper growth.

This formula includes sources of phosphorus and calcium to ensure the healthy development of their bones, as well as antioxidants to maintain their immune systems. It is also free of artificial colors, flavors, preservatives, or other such ingredients.

With all that in mind, it is the best choice for puppies with weight problems, as it provides the extra energy medium breed puppies need, while also containing easily-digestible proteins and other nutrients.

Purina ONE SmartBlend – Fit for Brain Development

First Five Ingredients:

  • Chicken
  • Rice flour
  • Corn gluten meal
  • Chicken by-product meal
  • Whole grain corn

If you’re looking for a formula that is sure to help with your pup’s brain development, Purina ONE’s line of products includes the Healthy Puppy recipe, and it is our choice for this issue. It contains a strand of omega-3 fatty acids, DHA, that is especially effective in enhancing brain and eye development.

Based on chicken as its primary ingredient, it provides your puppies’ growing muscles with all the protein they require. Other nutrients, vitamins, and minerals needed for proper growth come from rice and oatmeal, as well as other whole grains.

It also contains higher quantities of vitamins E and A for your pup’s immune system, calcium and phosphorus help their bones, and glucosamine and chondroitin maintain the health of the cartilages in their joints.

This formula is the best choice if you’re looking for something extra to help your puppy develop their brain and eyes to their fullest potential. It also provides all the nutrients puppies need to properly grow.

Image of puppies playing outdoor

Health Issues When Feeding Medium Breed Puppies

As with all dogs, medium breed puppies can develop problems while they’re growing. And while most puppies will grow into adulthood without any issues, there still are issues that may occur. This guide should give an overview of the most frequent problems affecting medium breed puppies.

As always, should you notice any symptoms, you should contact your vet immediately.

Skeletal Development Issues

Larger breeds are generally more susceptible to skeletal development issues, which normally affect them in their phase of rapid growth. During that time, their legs are not yet fully-developed and must hold the increasing mass of their bodies. Medium breeds are also susceptible to these issues.

The symptoms usually include limping or pain, and with proper management, they can usually resolve themselves without the need for surgical intervention. A recent study noted that decreased amounts of phosphorus and calcium, as well as vitamin D, can lead to such problems, and food rich in those nutrients should help clear that up.

The study also noted that most of those symptoms clear up after three months of proper nutrition. So, a diet rich in vitamin D, phosphorus, and calcium is the best choice to prevent these issues.

Bone Deformities

Angular limb deformity is the most common bone malformation. It is usually a result of an injury of the growth plate while your puppy is still growing. After the trauma, their bones can grow in unusual angles, and that can lead to more serious issues, such as arthritis.

Unfortunately, the only cure is corrective surgery, and the recovery includes a prolonged period of limited mobility.

The best prevention, apart from avoiding trauma, is to maintain a diet rich in glucosamine and chondroitin to ensure the health of their growing plates until they reach their full size and their bones had the chance to set.

Tendon & Muscle Issues

Sprains and strains are the most common tendon and muscle problems your pup can develop. Both are usually a result of increased activity, or they may be a result of a slip, a fall, or an awkward jump.

They differ in their severity, though. Strains can be a result of too much activity, stretching, or jumping, and they affect the tendons linking muscles and bones. Sprains, on the other hand, affect ligaments that connect bones and can lead to further joint injuries.

They’re usually treated with anti-inflammatory drugs, ice-packs, and rest, but in more severe cases, such as torn ligaments or tendons, surgery may be necessary. In any case, recovery requires weight management, whether through diet or exercise, as obesity can exacerbate the problem further.

Nerve Problems

The most common nerve problem is hypomyelination, more commonly known as shaking puppy syndrome. While it generally affects larger breeds, medium breeds have also been known to develop it. It is a congenital defect, and its symptoms usually start as early as 2 weeks after birth.

Most of the time, your puppy will start shaking and will display problems standing or with coordination and balance. There is no treatment, but most puppies make a full recovery in time and go on to lead a long and healthy life.

Joint Pain

As a rule, the bigger the breed, the more joint problems they can develop. Medium dogs are no exception. They can develop congenital conditions, such as hip dysplasia, as well as development issues with their knees, elbows, or load-bearing joints.

Most of these issues, with proper management, can be resolved without surgery. That includes anti-inflammatory medication, as well as food additives such as glucosamine and chondroitin, which are known for their beneficial effects on dogs’ cartilage.

You may help your canine by feeding him with one of the best dog food for healthy joints available on the market.

Image of four pups eating from one bowl

What to Look for in a Medium Breed Puppy Food

Choosing the right food for your medium breed puppy can be a daunting task. And while nutrition needs change from breed to breed in this category, some aspects are universal. This guide should help you understand all the important factors to pick the best food for your furry friend.

Animal-based Protein

As a rule, the source of protein should come from animal meat, as it is easier for dogs to digest. While they can get their proteins and amino acids from vegetables, animal sources are generally safer.

While it is also important to make sure the primary ingredient is whole meat, dogs without food sensitivities can also eat formulas containing meat meals or by-products as the primary source of protein. If, however, your dog has a sensitivity to those ingredients, there are other, more unusual protein sources, such as salmon, venison, or bison.

Read more: Top High Protein Dog Foods

Vitamin-rich Fish Oils

Dogs generally need fat as a source of energy, but fish oils are also a source of omega fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids can have positive effects on their skin and coat. For puppies, they can have additional beneficial effects, such as improved vision or brain activity, as well as help with inflammations or allergies.

Omega-6, on the other hand, are known to help with the health of dogs’ immune system, as well as cell growth.

Vitamins and Minerals

Like humans, dogs need a daily dose of vitamins and minerals to maintain their health. They usually get all they need through food, and well-rounded formulas should provide all the puppies require to develop into adulthood.

Among the most important vitamins are vitamin A, B6, B12, D, and E, and a balanced diet should include all those. It is also important that puppies get enough minerals to aid their growing bodies, especially phosphorus and calcium for their bones, as well as magnesium for the stability of their nerves.


As with all nutrients, fiber is good in the right doses. It regulates digestion, and higher quantities ensure better absorption of valuable nutrients. Diet formulas, for example, can have more fiber, as it makes dogs feel full earlier and prevents them from overeating. High-fiber regimes are also necessary to maintain glucose levels.

Too much fiber can decrease digestibility of the food, and reduce the absorption of important nutrients.

Ideal Levels of Calcium and Phosphorus

While calcium and phosphorus are necessary for proper development of bones, too much can cause rapid growth, which can lead to problems such as hip dysplasia. It is a concern medium puppies share with larger breeds.

Ideally, the calcium and phosphorus that puppies get from their food should be enough. If, however, you notice signs of deficiencies, you can either change their formula or, after consulting your vet, start feeding them additives.

Read more: 5 Top Rated Dog Food for Hip Dysplasia

How Do I Feed a Medium-sized Puppy?

Medium dogs strike a balance between small and large breeds. Compared to toy pups, their metabolism is slow, as is their growth. They also live shorter. On the other hand, they grow faster than large breeds, their lifespans are longer and their metabolisms quicker.

Their food usually reflects that, and this guide should help you learn more about your medium-sized pet.

Nutritional Needs

While their nutritional needs vary by breed, certain aspects are universal. Among them is their caloric need. Puppies need more calories to fuel their growth and development. They need twice as many calories per pound as adult dogs, and their food is more energy-packed. How much calories they need depends on their weight, so if you’re unsure, consult your vet.

As their body develops and they enter a stage of rapid growth, usually in their first six months, they need extra protein to help with their muscles, and phosphorus and calcium for their bones. They need extra vitamins and minerals as well as water.

Most of these nutrients should come from a balanced formula, so when choosing the right food for your puppies, make sure it contains all the ingredients they need to grow into healthy adult dogs. Also, make sure they always have access to a clean and fresh source of water.

Feeding Tips

Dogs are most malleable during their puppy stage, and if you’re using treats to train them, you should make sure they don’t take up more than 10% of their daily diet. You should also reduce the amount of food in their bowl while training them.

Similarly, the time of their feeding is important. If you feed your pups immediately after returning from work, for instance, you may be encouraging their separation anxiety, which can make house training difficult. That’s why it’s better to feed them some time after.

It is also important that you choose a formula that has all the nutrients they need. Supplements are only required if they display a symptom of vitamin or mineral deficiencies. You also shouldn’t put them on a special diet if they don’t have any health problems, or without consulting your vet first.

You can feed them treats made from slices of apples or carrots, as most dogs love those, and their caloric value is low enough not to cause problems.

How Often and How Much to Feed

After weaning, and up until their first three months, puppies should eat four times a day. After that, and all the way until they reach six months of age, when they usually end their rapid growth phase, they should eat three times a day. From there, up to switching to an adult formula, they should eat twice a day.

How much to feed them depends on their breed and the caloric value of their food. If you’re feeding a smaller breed with formulas that contain higher caloric densities, they may need less food in their bowl. The best way to be sure is to monitor their activity levels and weight, and if you notice changes, adjust the amount of food they get.

Switching to Adult Food

When your puppy reaches about 90% of their size and weight, you can start switching their diet from puppy to adult. Generally, you change their food gradually to avoid causing problems with their digestion.

The switch should happen in seven to ten days. In the first few days, you should mix small amounts of their new formula with the old. Over the next several days, you should reduce the amount of puppy food in their bowl, while increasing the adult formula, and continue doing that every day until they’ve completely switched to adult food.

Read more: 10 Dog Food For Medium Breed Dogs

Frequently Asked Questions

Is it safe to give large and small breed puppy food to medium breeds?

In the short term, nothing will happen, so if you have a household with multiple breeds, you can feed your medium-sized puppies food meant for other sizes. However, there are differences in the formulas specific to different sizes, and in the long term, feeding them food for other sizes can lead to problems.

So, if you’re feeding your medium breed puppy food meant for small or large dogs, keep an eye out for difficulties such as vitamin or mineral deficiencies, or problems maintaining weight. If you notice such issues, you should either feed them a formula for all sizes, or one specific to medium breeds.

What is the best brand for pups with allergies?

If your puppy is showing symptoms of food allergies or sensitivities, such as itchy skin or coat, or foot or ear infections, you should consult your vet to find which ingredients your pup is allergic to.

As for brands, we recommend Blue Buffalo’s Life Protect line of products. It contains recipes based on a wide variety of sources, and you can be sure they have a formula your puppy will love. It is our choice because the line of products contains all the nutrients pups need for healthy development.

You can find more great hypoallergenic dog food brands by following our guide.

Is wet food recommended for puppies?

There should be no problems if your puppy prefers canned food. Wet dog food has its advantages and disadvantages. Since it’s made mostly of water, it could be healthy for your puppy, as they generally need more water when growing. Canned food also contains more fat and other nutrients.

It is, however, not as economical as dry food, and it can be much messier as well. After all, puppies love playing with their food.


Puppies belonging to medium breeds are, in most aspects, similar to their larger or smaller cousins. They grow slower than toy dogs and faster than large pooches. Their metabolisms are between those, as well, as are their caloric needs, which should be reflected in their food.

Medium-sized dogs can be perfect family pets, they can live in wide-open rural areas, as well as more cramped apartments, and it is because of this versatility that they remain popular. And after reading this guide, you should have all the information you need to help your medium breed puppy grow into a healthy dog.