Best Dog Food For Large Breed Puppies

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He’s arrived!
Your gorgeous bundle of fun is going to be part of the family.
So the first thing you want to know is what is the best dog food for large breed puppies because he’s going to grow up fast. That means getting the right food to make sure he grows in the healthiest way. 

To begin with what is a Large Breed Puppy

The basic guidelines given about large breed puppies is that they will grow to an adult size of 50 lbs or over. Giant breeds will reach 100 pounds or over.
Do you know if your pup will get to that size? You can check on a specific breed page for more detailed information. Or check this chart to get a guideline to the adult weight of your dog.
You might be wondering why it’s important to know this. Apart from the fact that you will need a large size bed and plenty of space for your dog to move around in. You might not know, as I didn’t myself, that large breed puppies have different nutritional needs.
I had a Rhodesian Ridgeback years ago and I fed him basic food from the supermarket. That he lived a good long life is more down to luck than judgement. He did have some growth issues but nothing serious. It makes me grateful for all the knowledge available to pet owners now online.

Here’s a quick look at our top 5 choices.

Prices and images pulled from the Amazon Product Advertising API on:

Nutritional Needs for Large-Breed Puppies

Now that we know how to check if you have a large breed puppy why does he need to have a special kind of food?
Large breed dogs can suffer from some health issues which I’ll discuss later. For these reasons it’s important to control the speed of growth of your large pup. This is so that his bones and joints develop right.
Large puppies can grow quickly but don’t fully mature until they are around 24 months of age. Making sure that they don’t put too much weight stress on their joints too soon can help them.
Their main growing period is over the first 18 months of age with the fastest growing time in the first 6 months. This isn’t a long time to manage what your pup eats to adulthood but it’s a crucial time.
You want their bones to grow with the right density to support their future size. You can’t prevent all issues but feeding in the right way can help limit some of them.
Puppies grow fast regardless of breed so you need a well balanced diet to keep them healthy. You can meet the energy needs for a puppy with the right mix of protein, carbohydrates and fat.
Fat provides the energy to keep your puppy bouncing around. They do sleep a lot but when they are awake you know about it. Your pup needs the right amount of calories, like we do.
He needs enough to grow, play and thrive but too many calories now can create an overweight dog. This will put added stress on every part of their bodies.
Having the right amount of protein in the mix is crucial. It includes all the amino acids required to build bone and muscle in a young dog. Too much can affect other minerals in the body like calcium and phosphorus. This can lead to development issues.
This is where it differs when you have a large breed puppy compared to a smaller one . The levels of calcium, phosphorus, protein and fat are different. This is true for other vitamins and minerals needed.
You’re looking for large breed puppy foods to keep his growth rate slow and steady. That way his bones, joints and muscles can keep up with the extra weight over time.

What Food To Look For 

When you’re looking at what to feed you new large breed puppy you can start with the recommendation of the breeder. They are going to be very well informed about the best dog food brands that offer well balanced food for your dog.
Your dog breeder is a great resource for this. If you don’t have one then you need to check out the labels yourself. You want to get one formulated for a large puppy.
All foods for large breed dogs need to have the Nutritional Adequacy Statement on it. This states who the food is for, based on standards set by AAFCO (Association of American Feed Control Officials).
You’re looking for the best dry dog food with complete and balanced nutrition. It should say it’s for large breed puppies with an adult weight of over 50 lbs. It will have lower protein and fat than puppy food for smaller breeds to help you control the growth of your pup.
Make sure it’s made with whole proteins and they should be the first ingredient on the list. Look for natural foods keeping away from artificial colorings and additives.
Fish oils are as beneficial for our dogs as they are for us. Check if the food has omega 3 foods like fish and flaxseed in the ingredient list which is good for your dog.
Added vitamins, minerals and probiotics contribute to the healthiest dog breeds. The foods for large breeds with the top dog food ratings will have them all.
best dog food for large breed puppies

How Much should you Feed a Large Breed Puppy

Once you’re satisfied with your choice of food for your puppy then you need the feeding guidelines. These should be on the back of the pack detailing how much to feed. This is usually based on the adult weight your breed of dog is likely to reach. It’s then given by age to get the right daily weight of product to feed.
This is for a whole day’s dry complete food, which you will then divide into how many meals you want to feed your pup. Usually, to begin with around 4 meals a day for a couple of months. Then moving to 3 meals a day for the next few months and finally down to 2 meals a day as your pup gets over 9 months.
This is only a guideline and not set in stone. If your dog is fussing at you for more food then don’t feel you must drop their meals down, little and often might be best. As long as the quantity you feed in total is correct over the day.
If you’re not sure about whether your dog is getting enough or too much then go by how they look. If you can see their ribs and joints sticking out then you’re probably not feeding enough.
What you’re looking to see is the ribs just visible but the waist should go in when viewing from above. If you can’t see where his waist starts or finishes and he has a rounded tummy then you might be giving a little too much.
If in doubt, check with the vet. He should be able to give you a weight guideline so that you can keep checking your dog for his best health.

When Should You Switch Your Puppy to Adult Food?

Large breed puppies take 18 to 24 months to reach maturity. Its worth waiting till then before thinking about changing foods. Puppy foods have the right mix of nutrients to promote growth. This might cause excess weight as your dog becomes an adult. Check with your vet if you see signs of your pet putting on too much weight, for advice on the best dog foods to change to.
When you’re ready don’t just change from one to the other, phase it in over a week or two. A good guideline is to replace a quarter of the old food with the new. Do this for a couple of days and watch to see if there are any reactions in your dog. If none then move to half and half for a few days, then three quarters of the new food and finally move right over.
Don’t be too sad that your puppy is growing up. They’ll always be your puppy at heart even when they become older dogs.

So What Is the Best Food for Large Breed Puppies?


Orijen Puppy Large

Orijen puppy food is one of the top quality foods on the market. It’s owned by a Canadian company called Champion Pet Foods. They make it in their own kitchens with locally sourced ingredients. They can control the manufacture to produce dry food that is nutritious and balanced.
They concentrate on sustainability of the quality ingredients used. Using no preservatives and making the food as nature intended or “biologically appropriate”.
A variety of proteins are used as it would be in nature, using all parts of the animal. There are vegetables added for a healthy source of carbohydrates and the food is also grain free.
One of the most popular questions asked about this dry food is about the levels of protein being so high. In this study by the University of Pennsylvania it discusses the myth of high protein diets. Dogs evolved eating high protein, it’s natural for them and healthy.
Orijen follows the American College of Veterinary Nutrition (ACVN) guidelines for large breed puppies. A mix to give lower energy than the standard puppy food with the ideal mineral ratio. This should get your puppy growing at the right rate.

Top 5 ingredients

  • Deboned chicken
  • Deboned turkey
  • Flounder
  • Whole eggs
  • Whole Atlantic mackerel

High protein of 38%
Orijen puppy large dry food a reputation for using the best ingredients for their dog food. Out of the meat used, ⅔ is fresh or raw (flash frozen). Leaving ⅓ from air dried to give a concentrated source of protein to nourish your puppy.
Picky eaters love it
They add in freeze dried chicken and turkey liver to give it a good flavour. I wouldn’t choose it but puppies do. Many owners have found that their picky eaters enjoy Orijen.
Preservative free
All their foods include fresh locally sourced ingredients. All the fruits and vegetables used are grown sustainably for human consumption. Then added fresh without preservatives to give the best nutrients for a growing dog.


High price
The price for Orijen foods are high. They offer well made food with the best ingredients and that costs extra money. If this is too expensive for you there are cheaper alternatives. They may not be able to guarantee the same quality of ingredients.
Has caused diarrhea in some dogs
Some owners have found that their dogs can’t tolerate this food and have found it causes diarrhea. One customer was advised that it may be too rich for her pup. It is higher in protein than most so if you have this issue it may be worth trying a brand with less protein.
No canned version
Orijen produce all their own pet foods in their own kitchens so they can control the quality. They don’t have a canning facility so don’t produce canned versions as they don’t want to outsource.

Hill’s Science Diet Dry Dog Food

Hills is a company inspired by a guide dog. This guide dog Buddy had kidney disease and his owner asked the vet, Dr Mark Morris if he could help him. This vet believed that nutrition was vital for a healthy pet. He created a food lower in salt, with ingredients he felt were better balanced for a dog. Buddy thrived and the first Hills pet food was born.
Hills work with vets, nutritionists and scientists. Their aim is to create new products and also to improve existing ones.
They have a wide range of products formulated for different needs. All using the right ingredients for optimal balance of nutrition. These cover pets of different sizes, ages or with medical conditions.
Hills Science Puppy Large is for puppies who should reach over 55 lb at their adult weight. This is for feeding your puppy up to the age of 12 months.
The benefit of this food is to give the right amount of energy for your puppy to grow at the right speed. It has the right nutrients in the right quantities keeping weight in the healthy range. This will create less stress on limbs and joints.
The food is made to stringent standards. All suppliers are vetted as well as their ingredients. The food has no artificial colors or preservatives so you know it is a quality product.
There is 30% of protein in the large puppy food. In this flavour the main ingredient is chicken meal.
It does have wheat included in the recipe. This doesn’t seem to stop customers coming back for more especially when their dogs love it so much.

Top 5 ingredients

  • Chicken meal
  • Whole grain wheat
  • Whole grain oats
  • Whole grain sorghum
  • Corn gluten meal


Recommended by vets and breeders
When you’re looking for something, no matter what it is, recommendations go a long way. Hills Science dog food has the recommendation of vets worldwide.
It’s also recommended by breeders of large dogs. They can mash it into a porridge for a pups first solid food and then move onto the dry kibble.
Easy on the stomach
Some people have found that the science large puppy food improved diarrhea.
Good value, medium price range
We all want the best large breed food for our new puppies but that doesn’t always mean you have to pay top dollar for the food that they eat. As long as it is a well balanced, complete food then your dog should thrive.


Kibble size
A lot of people are complaining about the size of the pieces of kibble. The older version had large pieces of food which some puppies struggled to bite through. Since then Hills have changed it to smaller pieces. People who liked the larger size think it’s too small for a large breed puppy.
Change of formula
Hills puppy for large breeds complete food has a new bag which is sealable and a new formula. It has smaller sized kibble and some have found that their pups who loved the old version don’t like the new taste.
Contains grain
If you are looking for a grain free food for your dog then this isn’t the one for you. It’s the third ingredient on the list so not in tiny quantities. This food still exceeds the recommended nutrients required for your pets health.

Blue buffalo wilderness

We want our puppies to have the best start in life so a food that tries to mimic the taste of the wild is appealing. The Blue company was started by a family wanting to give the best nutrition to their pet who had cancer.
It’s grown into a top company and is now owned by General Mills. They concentrate on high protein from natural ingredients. Blue make foods for all life stages as well as size related. All their foods contain” Lifesource bits”. These are pieces made from a blend of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Their aim is to help support your pets immune system.
The Blue buffalo puppy food follows AAFCO Dog Food Nutrient Profiles for growth. It consists of 35% protein, predominantly from meat.

Top 5 ingredients

  • Deboned Chicken
  • Chicken meal
  • Peas
  • Pea protein
  • Tapioca starch



100% Grain free
The carbohydrates in this food are not provided by grains. This food includes fruits and vegetables because they are a more digestible carbohydrate.
High protein
At 35% this food offers a high level of protein. The main source is chicken meat, chicken meal and eggs.
Lifesource bits
Cold-formed pieces of goodness added to every bag. Blended ingredients which provide antioxidants, vitamins and minerals for overall health.
A bit high on price

Eukanuba Puppy Dry Dog Food Chicken – Large Breed

The Eukanuba brand is part of the Mars group and has been around for over 40 years. This brand of pet food is made by Iams although a different formula to the Iams brand. There are a variety of complete foods available for different sizes and ages of dog.
The philosophy is to feed dogs with meat as that is how they would eat in the wild so meat is usually the top ingredient.
Eukanuba large breed puppy food is a complete balanced dry mix. It’s suitable for puppies with an expected adult weight of 55 lbs or more. It can be eaten until they reach 15 months old before the transition to an adult food.
The puppy food has 30 key ingredients found in the mother’s milk. It also meets the nutritional requirements for growth set by AAFCO. The Eukanuba large breed puppy feeding guide keeps you right with the portions sizes.
This is a well known brand, sold worldwide and a favourite of many people. If you’re looking for a food made specifically for large breed puppies, why not give this a try.

Top 5 ingredients

  • Chicken
  • Corn meal
  • Chicken By-Product Meal (Natural source of Chondroitin Sulfate and Glucosamine)
  • Ground Whole Grain Sorghum
  • Brewers Rice



26% protein
This is a good percentage of protein to help your large puppy grow. Mainly from chicken and chicken by-products which are in the top 5 ingredients.
Includes 30 key ingredients found in mothers milk
Incorporating these ingredients into the mix helps in the transition to solid food
Omega 3 & 6
There is Omega 3 & 6 added to this food which is great for your dogs skin and coat. There’s nothing looks better than a dog with a shiny coat and waggy tail.


Chicken by-products
I’ve put this in the cons because it’s a matter of personal preference. Some people don’t feel comfortable feeding their dog by-products. I don’t believe it’s bad feeding these parts to dogs. Only if you can be sure that they are processed as you would for human consumption.
Grains included
If your dogs have any reactions to grains then you will need to avoid this food. There is no grain free alternative.

Diamond naturals

Diamond is a family owned business. They have a reputation for supplying the best food for your dog. All their ingredients come from trusted suppliers. Using veterinarians and nutritionists they have created formulas for all types of dog. This means there should be a food for your dog no matter what size, age or health issue he might have.
The food meets nutritional levels for growth in large dogs which will grow to a full size of 70lbs or over. It has 27% protein from real pasture raised lamb.
Superfoods are included like kale, blueberries, chia seeds, pumpkin, quinoa, coconut and spinach. It’s grain free without any preservatives. Incorporating DHA for a healthy coat and probiotics for gut health.

Top 5 ingredients

  • Lamb
  • lamb meal
  • ground white rice
  • peas
  • pea flour


Wheat free
There is no wheat, corn or soy in this food so you don’t have to worry if your pet is prone to food sensitivities.
The addition of probiotics can help support the digestion. This also helps with the absorption of more nutrients.
Good price
It’s not wrong to want the best large breed puppy food for your dog and with this brand you get a holistic food at an affordable price.


Probiotics may produce some doggy farts.

What are the Common Health Issues In Large Breed Puppies


Developmental orthopedic disease (DOD)

Hip dysplasia
Hip dysplasia is a condition where the hip ball joint doesn’t fit correctly into the socket. Dysplasia has the definition of ‘abnormality of development’. It’s usually genetic and can cause swelling, pain and over time, arthritis.
It’s usually more prevalent in large dogs and can even be found in large breed puppies. Excess weight and rapid growth can influence the issue. It makes sense to keep your pups weight in check.
Elbow dysplasia
Like hip dysplasia except there are 3 bones that need to work together. If they are abnormal in any way they create lameness and arthritis in your dog. It’s more common in larger dogs. They have a faster growth rate and are heavier which contributes but it can happen in smaller dogs.
This is also known as growing pains in dogs and my Rhodesian Ridgeback suffered from it. Lameness caused by inflammation of the long bones in the legs. It starts in young dogs of large breeds and can move from leg to leg. They do tend to grow out of it at around 2 years of age
Hypertrophic osteodystrophy
Another disease of the bones in the front legs of large breed puppies. This can cause lameness, swelling and fever. Also lack of appetite, weight loss, dehydration, diarrhea and even pneumonia. Any symptoms like this and head straight to the vet.
Bloat is a condition where the stomach fills with air until the stomach twists. This stops the dog from being able to be sick or pass a stool. It can also restrict normal blood circulation and if not treated quickly can cause death. It’s believed that the steep angle of the esophagus to the stomach in a large dog can be a contributing factor of bloat.
Symptoms of your dog not being able to settle, getting up and down. Whining and crying and not being able to go to the toilet are other things to look for. A painful, swollen tummy and shallow breathing mean you need to get your dog to the vet quickly.
How you feed can help prevent bloat. Keep the feeding bowl low and use slow feed bowls to slow down their eating so they don’t gulp their food. You can also split their daily food allowance into smaller meals and feed more often.
It’s so easy to overfeed your puppy. They give you that look with their puppy dog eyes and you want to give them the world. Puppies will eat and eat as they are always hungry. Their growing skeleton struggles to cope with fast weight gain.
Give your pup the chance to develop in a healthy controlled way. Use the right mix of food with regular vet checks. It will give them a fighting chance if they do develop problems.


Choosing the best puppy food for your new pup can be scary with so many choices out there for the healthiest dog food. The main thing to remember is that you don’t want your dog to grow too fast, but at a steady rate. For that reason a specific large breed puppy food is worth buying.
My top choice is ORIJEN Dry Dog Food, Puppy Large. The reason being because they make it to the highest standard. All ingredients are locally sourced, meat and vegetables and good puppy food reviews.
You are paying top dollar for this food but the top 5 ingredients are all whole foods.
There are no meat meals used as in the other 4 choices. And no by-products as in the Eukanuba brand although offal is used from their own animals.
Orijen is grain free with no additives. It’s made from food that is fit for human consumption. That’s why for me this is the best dog food for large breed puppies.
Linda Stubbs

Linda Stubbs

Hi my name is Linda Stubbs and a few years ago I decided to take early retirement and enjoy doing my own thing. That included getting a dog, but they need a buddy too, right? So now I have two.

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