What exactly is food for large breed puppies?
FACT: Different breeds of puppies have different nutritional requirements. Unfortunately, large breed puppies are predisposed to developmental orthopedic diseases (DOD) like osteochondritis dissecans and hip and elbow dysplasia. Breeding that includes human intervention (through feeding various food types) for increased size is dangerous as these puppies are forced into an unnaturally rapid rate of growth, which pushes the ability of the skeletal system to mature over its normal limits.
It is simple: Puppies need to mature naturally into adult stage and the number one goal with feeding larger breed puppy foods is to avoid overfeeding, which creates an imbalance of the puppy’s natural growth cycle. The main culprits when it comes to over-feeding and -nutrition are calories and minerals. By restricting a puppy’s caloric intake, we are able to slow down his rate of growth. The puppy will still get to his normal adult size; it just means it will take him a little longer to get there. Large breed food types achieve this restriction by containing reduced fat content and since fat content is the most calorie-dense category in puppy food, they have a lower calorie count.
Although there are different beliefs between different nutritionists and animal health care providers as to what the right amount of fat content within puppy food is, it is generally known that foods designed for larger breed puppies have a fat content of between 8% and 12% on a dry matter basis while standard puppy foods often contain between 10% and 25% fat. However, all restrictions of the larger breed food types can be completely undone if the puppy eats too much of it at a time.
Getting too much Calcium and having food types with a high Calcium to Phosphorus ratio also increases the puppy’s risk of developing DOD’s. Foods for large breed puppies typically contain less Calcium than “normal” puppy food brands do and they also ensure that the Calcium to Phosphorus ratio is kept within reasonable limits.
The following table is fairly typical regarding these ratios:
|Small to Medium Breeds||Large to Giant Breeds|
(% dry matter)
|0.7 - 1.7||0.7 - 1.2|
(% dry matter)
|0.6 - 1.3||0.6 - 1.1|
|Ca:P ratio||1:1 - 1.8:1||1:1 - 1.5:1|
How Much to Feed a Large Breed Puppy
It is generally agreed between veterinarian nutritionists that puppies can be moved to adult dog food between 6 and 10 months of age, depending on the breed, size, and current physical development.
Several factors play a role in knowing how much to feed a puppy that include the puppy’s age, current weight, anticipated adult weight, her breed, the environment she’s in (including the climate), and her activity level.
Puppies tend to eat much more for their weight than adult dogs do because of their increased amounts of calorie requirements according to their growth and energy consumption. Strangely enough, younger puppies tend to eat more than older puppies. Young puppies need to be fed three to four times a day, also depending on their breed, physical condition, environment, climate etc whereas older puppies could be fed twice daily.
Establishing and following a proper puppy feeding schedule is extremely important and the best advice with regards to the exact amount you should feed your specific breed of puppy at a time can either be obtained from your local veterinarian or as a general guideline, by using the nutrition label on the back of your puppy food brand.
Continually monitor your puppy’s physical condition and activity level. Puppy appetites go up and down throughout various growth stages and you’ll need to adjust the volume of food intake to ensure he is kept at an ideal weight throughout the growth process.
Ultimate Guide of Foods for Large Breed Puppies
Yes, it’s no secret. There are literally hundreds of dog food manufacturers out there and each have their own line of diets tailored to specific life stages and nutritional needs. Finding a suitable food type to feed your large breed puppy is tough. We’ve created a guide to assist you with the process in choosing the one best suited for your needs. Below is a comparison table of the top 25 food brands designed for large breed puppies on Amazon.com.
Note: Should you choose to buy a favorable food brand through one of our affiliate links, remember that it comes at no extra cost to you. We thank you for your continuing support!