Best Puppy Foods

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New dog owners ask, “What’s the best puppy food“?

But the answer to that question depends on what kind of puppy food you’re looking for.

Do you prefer a dry kibble? Or a canned dog food?

Thinking about going grain-free?

With thousands of commercial products available on the U.S. and Canadian markets, we set out to answer that same question for our readers:

What’s the Best Puppy Food?

After considering dozens of criteria, we determined that the best puppy foods should contain:

  • No controversial chemical preservatives
  • No anonymous meat ingredients
  • No artificial coloring agents
  • No generic animal fats
  • Substantial amounts of meat-based protein
  • Reasonable fat-to-protein ratios
  • Modest carbohydrate content

Best Puppy Foods

The following lists of Best Puppy Foods have received our highest ratings and are grouped according to their dry or wet formats.

Hip Dysplasia and Your Puppy’s Diet

Contrary to popular belief, hip dysplasia and skeletal diseases in dogs are not related to dietary protein1.

These crippling disorders are more likely the result of genetics2, excessive dietary calcium3 or overfeeding during growth4.

Studies have proved that the greatest risk of developing skeletal problems later in life is directly linked to overfeeding — and excessive calcium in the diet.

To learn more about the risks of overfeeding and calcium, be sure to visit our article, How to Choose the Best Puppy Foods to Lower Your Dog’s Risk of Developing Hip Dysplasia.

How to Be Sure a Puppy Food
Is Complete and Balanced

To ensure a puppy food is nutritionally complete and balanced, simply look for the AAFCO nutritional adequacy statement on every package of dog food.

This simple statement assures buyers a product contains all the nutrient requirements for puppies and reads like this:

This product is complete and balanced to to meet the nutritional levels established by the AAFCO dog food nutrient profiles for…

  • Growth
  • All life stages

Is It OK to Feed an
Adult Dog Food to a Puppy?

Adult foods can be deficient — or excessive — in certain nutrients needed by puppies for controlled growth.

So, never feed your puppy a food designed for adult maintenance.

Best Puppy Foods

More Good Puppy Foods
to Consider

Footnotes

  1. M Straus, Commercial dog foods, DogAware.com
  2. A Hedhammar, Canine hip dysplasia as influenced by genetic and environmental factors, EJCAP, Oct 2007, 17:2 (pp 141-143)
  3. 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
  4. 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)
  • Deborah Hoy

    When does a large breed puppy stop eating large breed puppy food?

  • E Cem

    I have two feeding questions for my pup. I have a 12 week Yellow Lab. I have been feeding her Natural Balance that our other dogs (smaller breeds) eat. I know this is likely a portion issue, but she is picking up weight too fast. I will reduce the portions and wonder what other owners have used. I know the bag portion recommendations are too high. Also, I am thinking of switching to the best dry food I can afford to do my best to protect her hips. Not sure I can quite afford Orijen. What do you think about Wellness Core compared to Arcana puppy food?

  • Mary Sto

    Check out Fromm Large Breed Puppy. Some other great choices are (all in the Large Breed puppy formula) Wellness, Premium Edge, Nature’s Variety Instinct, and NutriSource. Hope this helps!

  • sandy

    Check out the article on the left side bar:

    “How to Choose the Best Large Breed Puppy Food and Lower the Risk of Hip Dysplasia”

    Also, you can join Editors Choice (yearly subscription) which has a list of foods already researched that meet the special calcium and phosphorus requirements for large breed puppies, but I’m sure some other large breed puppy owners will chime in with some recommendations.

  • Kurt Bruckner

    Yes he is a Johnson type American Bulldog

  • sandy

    If your puppy is not a large or giant breed pup, then yes. If he is, then you will want to investigate further to be sure it is appropriate for a large/giant breed pup.

  • Kurt Bruckner

    So is it ok to feed a puppy Fromm salmon ala veg the nutrient list states? Fromm Four-Star Nutritionals® Salmon À La Veg® Food for Dogs is formulated to meet the nutritional levels established by the AAFCO Dog Food Nutrient Profiles for all life stages.

  • Ashley

    Thank you

  • Pitlove

    It’s possible that this ingredient, which is an artificial food coloring, is changing the color of her poop. If I were you, I would consider switching off this food and certainly to a food for a large breed puppy.

  • Ashley

    Yes it does

  • Pitlove

    Hi Ashley-

    Does the food happen to contain the ingredient Red 40?

  • Ashley

    I have a german shephard huskey lab mastiff mix.. so mix of lots of big dogs the food I have her eating is making her stool red any suggestions? She is only 7 weeks old

  • Lizzy101

    I adopted a 8 week old Australian Shepherd, Collie & Blue Heeler Mix from a rescue. This is the first dog I’ve ever personally own (my parents have 3) and I want to make sure I feed him the best food possible.

    If anyone has any recommendations or can provide some insight, it would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!

  • Buddysmom

    I have a 5 month old yorkie. He is gaining weight very well, according to my vet. He’s gained 2 lbs since I got him at 13 weeks, weighing 3.6 lbs now. I’ve been giving him Purina pro plan focus for toy breed puppy and the proplan wet for puppy, but saw that food isn’t really that great. What do you suggest, he is very picky and I have to mix dry in to wet for him to even eat it.

  • Greg O Sullivan

    Wow – some good points that I was not aware of – nice read.

  • ProudOne

    Petcurean has changed their puppy line to “all life stages” , specifically the GO! Fit+Free line. Can I assume this is the same formula as the puppy line they had? I can’t find any review for the this new line.

  • LabsRawesome

    I cannot find a ingredien list for Members Mark online.
    All I could find was a page with a picture of the front
    of the bag, that stated no corn, wheat, soy, or by products.
    If you have an ingredient list, that would be helpful.

  • Michael Pimentel

    What do you think about Member’s Mark Exceed Chicken & Brown Rice Puppy Formula? It has a tempting price tag, meets AAFCO standards, and has many great reviews by users, however, I do not see it listed here. Can anyone tell me more about if this is comparable to some of the 4 or 5 star foods, or if it was considered, but did not pass the test? Thanks!

  • Lara Opitz

    Hello, in 4 weeks we are going to pick up our new family member, a Border Collie puppy, im planing to buy Authority Puppy Large Breed (4.5 stars) what you think about this food??? thank you so much

  • Shiena

    I’ve fed my beagles Horizon Legacy (chicken) as puppies and adults for the past seven years. Searching to see if there’s better but it’s already MGO free, growth hormone free, by-product free, chemical preservative free.

  • Vienna

    I feed my dogs Nutro Ultra Senior, and it has choke holes in it – Nutro Ultra also has a Puppy formula – I would guess they would do the same, try that one!

  • Diane

    what is good for a 8 week old puppy Beagle

  • theBCnut

    I would assume he is going to be a large breed dog and be very careful with calcium levels. NutriSource Large Breed Puppy, Earthborn Holistic Meadow Feast, and Earthborn Holistic Coastal Catch are OK for large breed puppies and reasonably economical.

  • edison papa

    it depends on how much you are willing to spend. I like to spend so I fed my pup Origen. Great reviews, great food, but it ain’t cheap.

  • Savannah Seal

    Hi! What would you recommend for an 8 week old lab pit mix?

  • theBCnut

    “Choke holes” are not really essential for puppies learning to eat dry food, but if you are worried about the risk of choking, you may want to moisten the food at least until the puppies are big enough that the size of the kibble would not block their airway. Or choose a kibble that is designed for small breeds. Size appropriateness is a much more important factor for puppies.

  • Jordan Carlson

    I’m a little surprised/ disappointed with puppy food retailers atm… So far 0 out of 3 places I went to carry puppy food with choke holes in it. They didn’t even know where to look for me! That little hole in the kibble is ESSENTIAL for puppies just learning to eat dry food in case they choke. I have seen it first hand that hole will give them just enough air until you can help them. Is their any brand that still makes it? Can’t even find pictures on most bags anymore

  • InkedMarie

    Right up above, click & choose a 4 or 5 star food

  • Kayti Forsell

    Picking up our 9 week old maltipoo tomorrow. What is going to be the best food for her.

  • theBCnut

    Mother dogs don’t agree with you. They like to start weaning around 5-6 weeks and finish by around 7-8 weeks, but puppies still need to learn important social skills from their mother and littermates.

  • Susan Duda Speranza

    Puppies should be feed by its mother until 12 weeks.

  • Johngaltil

    Feed a mix of 2 high quality foods from different manufacturers. The mix prevents stomach upset from changing diet and the two is to cover an error in a trace nutrient content. As you say he is a nut case Google “infant formula chloride deficiency” and read how human infants were damaged by an error in formula design. Never trust that a company has not made a mistake when feeding an artificial diet.

  • I have a 4 month Cockapoo that I was having trouble finding the right food for him that didn’t upset his stomach. I was informed of a premium branded dry pet food called McAdams. I have written a review over on my blog http://www.beautybottle.co.uk if you would like to read more about this brand and/or see some adorable snaps of our puppy. Sarah x

    http://www.beautybottle.co.uk/2015/12/puppy-post-review-on-mcadams-premium.html

  • Storm’s Mom

    Along with the other suggestions (I’m in Canada, and particularly fond of Nutrience), if you have a Pet Valu or Bosley’s store, their “store brand” called Performatrin Ultra Grain Free is really good (their grain-inclusive formulas are not nearly as good, though). Holistic Blend (NOT Holistic Select) and Horizon Legacy are others to look for. Hope this helps!

    Edit: saw Sandy’s response and piped in, then realized you actually posted a month ago! What did you end up going with?

  • You might be able to easily find Nutrience and Oven-Baked Tradition since they are Canadian brands.

  • Nicole Glazar

    I have a Chorkie he is 7 months but doesn’twant to eat his wet and dried food.what might be wrong and what is the recommended dog food?

  • Maria

    Forgive my garmmer! We fed him Life’s Abundance large puppy food.

  • Maria

    Hi! I could really use some direction. We have an Australian Labre doodle. He’s one year and one month old. We have been feeding him what the breeder gave him, likes abundance large breed puppy food. He’s a little larger than his parents at 55 pounds. I don’t think you’ll get bigger at this point. We’re looking to switch foods for him. He doesn’t seem to like it very much. I have given him cooked plain chicken pumpkin purée and apple pieces and some and sunbutter as a treat. We can’t have peanuts in the house! When he was younger I did give him some treats along with his food and I think it made him sick. I had to take him to the doctors. They gave him antibiotics and probiotics. I have researched this website to death. The information is great but still I have questions. Is my dog really considered a large breed? I believe the breeder wanted us to be aware of hip issues. Do I still feed him puppy food. We picked such a energetic puppy!!! My girls adore him. It’s our first dog! Any help would be great.

  • Jeaivon Nicolette

    What dog food brand is recomemend for a 5 month old pomerian puppy? Now i use royal canin starter pack, but i want to change tp another brand

  • Nel Garcia

    yes im from the philippines. the breeder where i bought the puppy said i can only buy it at the market place. but i dont really know a market place where they sell dog food.

  • Bobby dog

    You’re welcome. I only found the one pic that I could read the ingredients from. All the others either had bad lighting or were just too small.

    I found several sites too. Some from pet stores in the Philippines and some from the Caribbean region. They pretty much all had a small photo with the price listed, nothing else.

    I was interested in who made it. The photo just cuts off what might have been the manufacturer. It has an AAFCO statement and made in the U.S.A. logo.

  • Crazy4dogs

    Thanks BD! I could only find a few photos also. I went to the website, but it doesn’t seem to work. Of course, now I can’t even find the website because I closed the page and can’t find it in my tabs! 🙁

  • Bobby dog

    C4d:
    The OP might have a “Pomeranian husky,” I just Googled it.

    I found a pic of a label for the performance beef pro. I am guessing the recipes within this brand are similar, not sure.

  • Crazy4dogs

    I can’t find anything about “BeefPro” except random comments of some forums. Is this a grocery store brand? There are many great puppy foods out there, and they are not necessarily expensive.

    A pomeranian and a husky are quite different sizes and would require different puppy foods. About how much does your pup weigh right now?

  • Nel Garcia

    What dog food brand would you recommend for a 7month old pomeranian husky puppy?
    The brand that we are currently feeding to our puppy is “BeefPro” but i found a number of bad reviews about this brand and it got me worried. Please help thank you!

  • Veronica DelReal

    Thanks.. I will try them

  • Pitlove

    current research shows high protein doesn’t actually tax the kidneys since excess protein is removed from the body as waste. I agree that not all proteins are created equal though.

  • Franchot Tone

    No expert here but I agree with your vet. Really high protein might sound good but can in the long run be very hard on an animal’s kidneys. That being said not all protein claims are equal. While one brand may claim a high percentage protein, use caution when you look at the source of the protein.

  • theBCnut

    You can’t go wrong with Orijen and Acana.

  • Veronica DelReal

    Hi everybody!! Please, if you can help me will be great!! In a week or two we are bringing to home a Miniature Dachshund puppy, she was born Sept 29, so up today she has 5 week (will have 6 or 7 weeks when she will come to our house).
    Plus, I am new in Canada, so I don’t know to much about the dog food here.
    Would you recommend me a very good puppy food for her please? Many thanks!

  • Storm’s Mom

    Yes, I would suggest requesting/getting 4-5 days of his current food, if possible, or just asking for a “few days” and seeing what you get. If you explain the situation and why you’re asking for it, they should understand how much to send with the pup.

    You may also want to have canned pure pumpkin (not the pie stuff) on hand, too, to help with the transition. Probiotics and digestive enzymes, too, if possible, to be extra safe.

    Taste of the Wild is the brand that came to mind as being perhaps the closest to Kirkland (perhaps Nutro, too?) ….and I think Taste of the Wild is what I first switched my guy to too. That was before I knew both are made by Diamond, though, which has has all kinds of quality issues such that I totally steer clear of them now. So, I’m a bit reluctant to suggest it generally, but in this specific instance it might be safest bet.

    Your dog isn’t a large breed, so that’s helpful..more options for you to choose from! 🙂

  • Nikki M.

    Thanks for the fast response. It is a mixed mini-poodle and Golden Retriever. I am not aware of the expected number of pounds for growth, but was told the he won’t grow much bigger than he is now, which I think is around 25-35 lbs. I will ask the owner for some food; approximately how much should I ask for, 2-3 days or 4-5 days? Or just see how much they are willing to part with? I would try to get a Costco membership or even a trial one, but I won’t be able to make it there any time soon.

    I like the idea of using the ingredients list to find something similar. I read Taste of the Wild is very similar but I can’t find it near me online; may have to Amazon it. (recent foot surgery and not getting clearance to walk/drive till Friday). I am making a quick stop at a local PetSmart right before I get him to pick up the last few things I was unable to get online as this was a sudden, unexpected, unplanned addition to our family. I grew up with dogs and thankfully work from home so think we will adjust well.

  • Storm’s Mom

    Congrats on the new pup!!! What breed is it, and what approx lbs it is expected to grow to be?

    Would it be possible to ask the current owner to include a few days worth the pup’s current foodto tide you over during a gradual switch to something else? Mine did this, and I would imagine that any good breeder with their pup’s best interests at heart would as well, if you explain the situation.

    Storm was on Kirkland when I got him, too..although I ended up just getting a Costco membership and feeding him a couple of bags of it before I switched him to something else (I don’t remember now what it was). Is it a possibility for you to get a Costco membership?

    Alternatively, I would look at the ingredients of the Kirkland Signature food that the dog is on and visit your local store(s) to find a food that’s as close to it as possible.

  • Nikki M.

    Hello All! In 3 days we are bringing home a 6 month old puppy. The owner has been feeding it Kirkland Signature dog food in the green bag from Costco. We are BJs members so will not have access to it. How can we transition it to what we plan on feeding such as Blue Buffalo Wilderness puppy food or Nature’s Variety Instinct Raw Boost puppy food?

  • Crazy4cats

    She sounds wonderful! http://www.chewy.com is also a great site to order food from. They have good prices and excellent customer service, especially when it comes to returns. Can’t wait to see the pic!

  • Melissa Vazquez Carrera

    thank I just order it on Amazon. $35.95 for a 30lb bag the whole earth and I saved the earthborn on my wishlist so i know if this one doesn’t work out i will buy it. Both have awesome reviews…price wise wef is good for my pocket. but i will like to try the other aswell. crazy4cats i will post pictures as soon as she is home she is a red merle mini with bright blue eyes. an she has her tail. i cant wait to have her home.

  • Storm’s Mom

    I’m one of those who give Earthborn the thumbs up. I don’t feed it often because I have to drive 45mins over a relatively dangerous mountain pass to buy it (so I only do so in the summer or on totally dry days in the spring or fall), but when I do/have bought it, Storm has always done really well on it. In the rotation of foods I feed Storm, I’d liken it to a relative you don’t see often but are quite fond of and enjoy seeing whenever you get the chance 🙂 The Coastal Catch and Meadow Feast are the two I’ve fed (the latter I’d only feed with a canned topper because the kibble is so low in protein).

  • Crazy4cats

    While I have not fed Earthborn, there are many posters on here that do and give it a thumbs up!

  • Crazy4cats

    I really like Whole Earth Farms dry dog food. I haven’t fed TOTW and I believe that Blue Buffalo is too expensive for what you get. You can buy WEF at Petco as well as some feed stores. I usually can find it on sale at one or the other. Petco also has a rewards program and always some kind of online special. By the way, I really like their canned food as well, especially for my cats! Please post a pic of your new bundle of joy when you get her! I need a puppy fix!! 😀

  • Melissa Vazquez Carrera

    Oh I forgot the second I looked at earthbound holistic

  • Melissa Vazquez Carrera

    Hi I am bringing home a miniature Australian shepherd she will be 8weeks and probably 8lbs. Which food do you all recommend. I was looking atMerrick Whole Earth Farms – Puppy and the other was taste of the wild puppy. Both are great prices for 30 lb bag. Both had great reviews on Amazon. But the merrick seemed to have better on the dog enjoying it and having solid stool. The taste of the wild had a lot of finding mildew in the bag. So please help I am going insane…I can’t not do evo to much to afford. Or bluebuffalo

  • Michele

    I would like a grain free , chicken based, puppy kibble for a shihTzu puppy. Owner on a tight budget.

  • Michele

    I have a miniature Golden Doodle and I had great results feeding grain free kibble Halo and grain free Wellness Core, puppy formulas. I preferred Chicken based ingredients.

  • 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: http://www.dogfoodadvisor.com/best-dog-foods/best-large-breed-puppy-food/

    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 https://youtu.be/Ecryd3RFw7A 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?

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