Best Puppy Foods


Puppies Peering Over BannerThe following lists of Best Puppy Foods are grouped according to their current star ratings.

How to Find
the Best Puppy Foods

Choosing the best puppy food for your new baby dog can be a daunting task. After all, today there are thousands of commercial dog foods on the market.

So, where do you start?

When searching for puppy food, the best place to start is simply knowing what an ideal dog food might look like. And what a puppy needs for proper growth.

It’s no secret, we tend to favor puppy foods that are…

  1. Higher in meat-based protein
  2. Higher in natural fats and oils
  3. Lower in carbohydrates
  4. Formulated from a named (non-generic) animal source
  5. Free of animal or vegetable by-products
  6. Free of artificial flavoring, coloring or preservatives
  7. Complete in all essential vitamins and minerals
  8. Not excessive in calcium for large breed puppies1

Doesn’t Higher Protein Content Cause
Hip and Joint Problems?

No — but overfeeding does.

Contrary to popular belief, hip dysplasia and skeletal diseases in dogs are not related to dietary protein2. They’re much more likely the result of genetics3, excessive dietary calcium4 or overfeeding during growth5.

Studies have clearly demonstrated the greatest risk of developing skeletal problems later in life is directly linked to overfeeding — allowing a puppy to eat all day on demand (free feeding).

To greatly decrease the risk of your dog suffering the ill effects of serious growth problems, avoid leaving your puppy’s food in the bowl all day long.

Serve measured amounts — on a regular schedule.

Proper Puppy Nutrition

Unfortunately, when feeding puppies, you need to pay attention to protein minimums and fiber maximums. And fat content, too.

Too little (or too much) calcium can cause bone problems. And the same for phosphorus and magnesium, too.

Getting everything right can be challenging.

However, there’s an easier way.

How to Be Sure a Puppy Food
Is Complete and Balanced

To ensure a puppy food is nutritionally complete and balanced, the Association of American Feed Control Officials has established a special nutrient profile optimized for growing dogs.

This AAFCO profile details no less than 37 nutrients that must be present in a puppy food including…

  • 10 amino acids
  • 12 minerals
  • 11 vitamins

To save you tons of time scrutinizing every pet food label, simply look for the AAFCO nutritional adequacy statement on every package of dog food.

This simple statement assures buyers a product meets nutritional requirements for growing puppies…

  • Growth
  • All life stages
  • Growth and maintenance

Look on the label for a statement like…

Product formulated to meet the nutritional levels established by the AAFCO dog food nutrient profiles for growth

Is It Safe to Feed
Adult Dog Food to a Puppy?

Puppy foods contain more of certain nutrients — and less of others.

For this reason, and even though it’s safe to feed your adult dog a puppy food…

Never feed any puppy a food designed for adult maintenance only. Adult foods can be deficient in certain puppy nutrients.

How We Selected
the Best Puppy Foods

If you’re looking for an above-average puppy food, we’ve prepared four different lists for you to consider.

Suggested products must meet two requirements. They must be rated at least either four stars or five stars by the Advisor.

And they must meet AAFCO nutritional profiles for either growth or all life stages or they must be recommended for puppies by the manufacturer.

Best Puppy Foods


  1. Some puppy foods on this list may be too high in calcium to meet the special needs of large or giant breeds. We are currently planning to publish a separate list dedicated to large breed puppies
  2. M Straus, Commercial dog foods,
  3. A Hedhammar, Canine hip dysplasia as influenced by genetic and environmental factors, EJCAP, Oct 2007, 17:2 (pp 141-143)
  4. Richardson, Skeletal diseases of the growing dog: Nutritional influences and the role of diet, Canine Hip Dysplasia: A Symposium Held at Western Veterinary Conference, 1995
  5. RD Kealy et al, Effects of limited food consumption on the incidence of hip dysplasia in growing dogs, JAVMA, Sep 1992, 201:6 (pp 857-863)
  • E.B

    Anyone have a few puppy dog food names recommendations that I can feed my giant breed, Italian mastiff (cane corso) ? He’s 9 weeks old now.

  • Katy

    I am about to get a small goldendoodle. I am looking for a good dry puppy food. We have been feeding our two other dogs Blue Buffalo, and I want to see if that should be okay for our new baby.

  • Pitlove

    A food thats not listed on that list that is actually excellent for LBP is Precise Holistic Complete Large/Giant Breed Puppy.

    I second everything else DogFoodie said as she is 100% correct. Just wanted to add my 2 cents about that food as I’ve seen the excellent results from it with my boyfriends brothers Great Dane.

  • DogFoodie

    You bet! Happy to help!

  • Diana

    This is great information! Thank you so much!!

  • DogFoodie

    Hi Diana,

    Your large breed puppies have very special nutritional needs. You need to be certain to feed a food with an appropriate level of Calcium to avoid skeletal disorders. Other factors that contribute to skeletal disorders are over-nutrition and over-exercising.

    Here’s a good article to start:

    And, here’s a list of food that a regular, knowledgeable, poster here put together of foods that have been determined to be appropriate for LBPs:

  • Diana

    I am looking for a recommendation. Any help is welcomed!!!
    I have 2 puppies. A 6 month old Queensland Heeler and a 4 month old Shepard mix (grate dane, mastiff, shepard, and lab) . My vet thinks the shepard mix will be about 70 to 80 lbs. I am looking for a puppy food that they can both have. Or should I feed them different food?

  • Gina

    try not to overfeed your pup if you dog needs potty training then watch this

  • Stephen Pearson

    I totally agree with this comment and we are getting different advice from websites, vets and pet stores

  • DogFoodie

    It’s a great choice. I also think you’re right, your vet is “old school.”

  • magicmyst

    I am so confused. Until recently, our 7 month old English Springer Spaniel was getting Pro Plan Focus, but due to lackluster reviews both here and elsewhere, we decided to look for something better and switched her to Orijen Puppy, which gets 5 stars here and rave reviews from other ESS owners. But then yesterday we were in to see the Vet, and he was not very enthusiastic and said it might be too high in protein (it’s 38%). Perhaps he’s working from an “old school” text book, but it’s hard to know whom to believe! FWIW, our pup loves the Orijen, but now I’m wondering if I made the right choice? So many different opinions!

  • ReformedChick

    So….I’m getting a Havanese hybrid–1/2 Hav, 1/4 Jack Russell, 1/4 Yorkie…What is the best cost-effective way to feed him/her (We haven’t even picked it out yet!!! :D). I’ve heard that even just feeding them from the table is an option, but we don’t want the poor thing gaining too much weight! What is your guys’ suggestions?

  • Helen James
  • Helen James

    its very useful tips which helped to inprove my puppy food nutrition .also helped me to know how to take care health of my puppy,awared me the chance of diseases which it may affect.

  • Suman Satpathy

    You can give him Farmina (Natural and Delicious or Earthborn vantage.) I have a Golden Retriever and boxer both were on this food. Farmina I found is excellent.. until my boxer stopped eating ( she is a bit chzy ).. the feeding guidelines is given on the cover just follow that.. Can you tell me how did you find fidele whether it is good or average or bad?