The Best Large Breed Puppy Food For Healthy Growth | Herepup
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​The Best Large Breed Puppy Food For Healthy Growth

To be considered a large breed, puppies eventually get to be over 55 pounds, usually by 10 to 24 months. That means large breed puppies grow faster, but they’re also puppies for a longer amount of time than small dogs. The best puppy food for large breeds supports controlled, healthy growth, not maximum growth.

In their first year, some breeds like Labradors and Great Danes get 60-80 percent bigger. That can cause nutritional imbalances if dogs rob their own bodies to fuel rapid growth. Many typical puppy foods actually give large breeds more calories than they need, so they gain too much weight. They are sometimes too high in calcium too.

Issues can then develop with the puppy's bones, joints, tendons, muscles and nerves. To prevent that, you need to look for a large breed puppy food, rather than something to encourage fast growth. They'll need that until they're at least six to 10 months old, depending on their breed and individual, physical development.

As a pet owner, you must consider any food allergies your puppy has, their large dog breed, and how big they are supposed to grow.​ Every dog is different and needs different things out of their puppy dog food. Keep in mind what may be the best puppy food for one dog will not quite work for another dog.

Feeding Large Breed Puppies

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Quick Comparison: Best Large Breed Puppy Food

    • Grains: Brown Rice
    • Protein Sources: Chicken, Chiken Broth
    • Protein (min.) 9.5%
    • Fat (min.) 7.5%
    • Fiber (max.) 0.5%
    • Moisture (max.) 78%
    • 1,165 kcal/kg, 429 kcal/per can
CANIDAE Life Stages Chicken & Rice Formula Canned Dog Food

Canned food is the best dog food for large breed puppies because all dogs need more moisture than dry dog food can provide, and it's more digestible. It is also closer to what they would eat in the wild too.

Chiken is a great protein source for larger breeds because it helps control inflammation in their joints and bones while supporting a high-protein diet.

Chiken is also a natural source of Carnitine and Omega Fatty Acids, which are great for the skin and coat. There is glucosamine and chondroitin in this vet formulated recipe too, for strong joints.

There are no artificial flavors, colors or fillers and live, probiotic cultures improve digestion. Soy, wheat and corn are not included, and there are no hormones or preservatives.

You can be sure you are feeding your puppy a nutritionally dense, grain free food that will leave them full and satisfied after their meal. You do not have to question what you are putting in your pup's body because it is nothing but quality protein and nutrients so they can grow up to be strong and healthy!

    • Protein Sources: Chicken, Turkey, Yellowtail Flounder, Atlantic Mackerel
    • Protein (min.) 38%
    • Fat (min.) 16%
    • Fiber (max.) 6%
    • Moisture (max.) 12%
    • 3,760 kcal/kg, 429 kcal/cup
Orijen Puppy Large Breed Grain-Free Dry Dog Food

This is the best food for large breed puppies when it comes to dry food. In the past, some experts blamed too much protein for many of the health problems seen in large breed dogs.

More modern research, however, points the finger at too many minerals and calories. That is why Orijen Large Breed Puppy food has found the balance between a high-protein recipe with fewer calories.

This dry food is protein-rich, with 85 percent animal ingredients, from free-run chicken and turkey, whole eggs, and wild fish. Organs and cartilage are included too, matching WholePrey™ ratios that are biologically appropriate for dogs.

Calories are limited though, promoting a healthier weight, without too much bone and joint stress. Fresh fruit, vegetables and botanicals make up the remaining 15 percent of the ingredients. Definitely a high-quality dog food for your puppy growing into a large dog!

The balance between rich protein and limited calories in Orijen Large Breed Puppy food is exactly what your large puppy needs to grow at the adequate rate. You can be sure you are filling up your puppy with the best nutrients and a high-protein diet so they can grow into a happy and healthy dog.

    • Protein Sources: chicken, chicken meal, turkey meal, chicken giblets
    • Protein (min.) 33%
    • Fat (min.) 15%
    • Fiber (max.) 6%
    • Moisture (max.) 12%
ACANA Heritage Puppy & Junior Formula Grain Free Dry Dog Food

There’s a lot of meat and protein in this recipe too, with limited calories and carbohydrates at 30 percent to keep your puppy nutritionally balanced.

Free-run chicken, wild flounder and nest-laid eggs are the main source of protein with organs, bones and cartilage in a natural, WholePrey™ ratio to the meat and fish. That includes livers, hearts, kidneys, liver and tripe.

There are no grains or fast carbohydrates, like rice, tapioca or potato or plant protein concentrates. The formula is 70 percent meat, with one-third fresh and two-thirds dried. Zinc is the only supplement needed because all the other vitamins and minerals are already in the ingredients.

    • Protein Sources: Chicken Meal, Chicken, Chicken Eggs, Chicken Fat
    • Protein (min.) 33%
    • Fat (min.) 14%
    • Fiber (max.) 5%
    • Moisture (max.) 10%
    • 3652 kcal/kg, 416 kcal/cup
Nature's Variety Instinct Raw Boost Grain-Free Chicken Meal Formula Large Breed Puppy Dry Dog Food

This high-protein kibble has extra freeze-dried, raw pieces for added energy, as well as digestive enzymes and healthy oils for the skin and coat. It’s grain and gluten-free, as well as formulated for an ideal weight and lean muscles.

The combination of kibble and freeze-dried raw meat in this dry puppy food creates the perfect marriage of convenience and nutrition to give your pup energy, vitality, and vibrant health. It even has added vitamin and minerals to support eye and brain development.

Like the other dog foods I've recommended, natural ingredients are the main focus, with no artificial colors, flavors or preservatives. Probiotics are also included for the digestion and antioxidants for a healthy immune system. There is no corn, wheat, soy or fillers.

    • Protein Sources: Beef, Pork Meat Meal, Dried Whole Egg, Pork Liver
    • Protein (min.) 26%
    • Fat (min.) 14%
    • Fiber (max.) 6%
    • Moisture (max.) 10%
    • 3,817 kcal/kg, 1,735 kcal/lb, 389 kcal/cup
Fromm Heartland Gold Grain Free Large Breed Puppy Dry Dog Food

A skeleton is not fully developed in a large breed puppy, until they are two years old. To avoid problems with arthritis, hip dysplasia and knee joints, you need to watch how quickly they gain weight and grow.

It's possible you may need to switch to a lower calorie, lower protein puppy food. This recipe is made in small batches. It’s grain free with protein from beef, pork, lentils, eggs and salmon oil, as well as real Wisconsin cheese.

There are probiotics to aid digestion, and chicory root extract adding antioxidants and natural inulin, a soluble fiber that’s an excellent prebiotic. There’s also Taurine for the heart and eyes. Yucca Schidigera extract is even added to improve stool odor and flaxseed for better digestion and stool consistency, as well as omega-3 fatty acids.

Final Thoughts​

My own large breed puppy food reviews focus on natural ingredients with limited calories but the right amount of protein. The worst thing you can do for a large breed puppy is to over feed it, leading to skeletal problems, diabetes and heart disease, or to give them more minerals than their bodies can use.

If you think your puppy might be overweight or growing too fast, the best thing that you can do is to get advice from a veterinarian, and learn all you can about their specific dog breed.

Once your puppy is no longer a puppy anymore, make sure to continue to feed it the proper large breed dog food to sustain it's needs and keep it nutritionally balanced throughout it's whole life.​

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Dr. Laura Harris is our resident dog health expert. She started to fact-check dog health-related information for HerePup during her internship and contributes since then. Her expertise is in dog nutrition, senior dog care, especially critical care medicine and internal medicine.

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