Best 5-Star Dry Puppy Foods


The following is a list of 5-star dog food brands that contain at least one dry puppy food.
Basset Hound Puppy Waits for Food
To qualify, every puppy food must meet AAFCO nutritional profiles for either all life stages or growth.

Within each review, look for products that include the word “puppy” in their names.

In addition, many other products are appropriate for all life stages — a category that includes puppies.

You may also find the following lists and articles helpful, too:

Best 5-Star Dry Puppy Foods

  • Mary

    I am getting a maltese and have no idea what to feed her. Please help

  • Janeanne

    My vet like arcaina large breed puppy food. Smelly stools but not runny.

  • Janeanne

    Arcana large breed puppy food. Unfortunately while a puppy lots of money is spent. After 1 to 2 years on that costco Kirkland dog food is 4 stars. But right now your puppies weight and growth needs to be controlled so you do not have costly vet bill cause of their joints.

  • riley hootman

    Also make the transition gradual. Going from a 1 star food to a 5 star food can be hard for your dog.

  • riley hootman

    Well imo the best dog food in the market is orijin. But if your not looking to spend that much money I would recommend diamond naturals, nutrisource, and Fromm. Also the best dog food at walmart is pure balance. But there’s plenty if information on this website.

  • Pitlove

    Hi Icely-

    The 2 companies that have done the most research on large breed puppy growth and nutrition are Hill’s and Purina. So a food from one of those 2 companies (I prefer Pro Plan for Purina products), would be a fine choice.

    I do understand however that many aren’t comfortable with using products from Hill’s and Purina so my other suggestions are: Fromm Gold Large Breed Puppy, NutriSource Large Breed Puppy, Precise Holistic Complete Large & Giant Breed Puppy (popular in the Dane community), Nulo Puppy, Dr. Tim’s Kinesis, and Solid Gold Wolf Cub.

    Also make sure to keep her lean (a 4/9 on the Purina Body Condition Score) during growth and really throughout her life. This will ease tension on her joints and also help to reduce the risk of DOD’s.

    It kind of sounds like you are getting this dog from someone who is breeding them? Or was this an accidental litter? If so they probably have not done OFA testing on the parents hips which is unfortunate. However, it can’t hurt to ask if they have and what the scores were. You may also want to ask about the parents medical history and if during growth they displayed any symptoms of pano, HOD etc. Basically, just get as much info about the parents as possible to help you be aware for the future for your baby!

  • Azul

    Hi Icely, this was posted in the forums by HoundDog Mom. It’s a list of foods that are appropriate for Large breep puppies. Many may have already seen this, but I’ll re-post here. This is a list I
    put together myself of foods that I feel are good choices for growing
    large and giant breed puppies. This list includes only grain-free 4 and 5
    star foods with 3.5 g. calcium per 1,000 kcal. or less and approved for
    “growth” or “all life stages”. I based the calcium per energy density
    levels on overall research I’ve done and figures given in the Lauten
    article posted above. I contacted all the companies directly via email
    or phone to obtain the actual (not minimum) calcium levels of their

  • Azul
  • Crazy4cats
  • Icely Wilson

    I am getting a great dane and mastiff mix. She is 5 weeks old right now but I’m preparing for when we bring her home in a few weeks. I want to give her something that is great for her but not breaking the bank. We picked up Blue Buffalo Freedom chicken for puppies but now I’m not so sure about it. Does anybody have anything that they would recommend?

  • Azul

    I agree, unless it’s a large breed puppy. Then you have to be sure to check the calcium levels.

  • Gardenia Alrighta

    So worth the higher price. As with my own diet, it may be more expensive, but “Your Health is your Wealth!” I’d rather buy more expensive food for my dogs and cats, and spend less money at the Vet.

  • Gardenia Alrighta has quick 2-day free shipping!

  • Cannoli

    my guess is that these foods are for all “life stages”, meaning you can also give them to your pup

  • TwoYellowDogs.Terri

    I am seriously confused why the title of this page is “Best dry puppy foods” and the entire list is for adult foods. I did see the first line states, ” 5-star dog food brands that contain at least one dry puppy food.” Now I just have to start searching for all the puppy foods and research them individually anyway. Not very helpful.

  • Azul

    Nutrisource large breed puppy has the correct calcium level for lbp and it won’t break the bank.
    If you go over to the forums and type large breed puppy foods into the search engine there is a list of foods that are suitable for lbp’s.
    Whichever food you choose, just make sure to mix it with her original brand gradually for about a week to ten days.

  • Cannoli

    well if your heart is set on Orijen that is what you need to pay. free shipping on chewy over orders of $45

    keep in mind you don’t need to feed alot of Orijen so the bag should last a long time. if you add toppers you can just feed half a cup per meal and the bag will last even longer.

    that’s what I did with my pup and he weighs over 65lbs now. i feed him half a cup a day and added toppers to it based on the calorie calculations on this site

    keep in mind that Orijen may not work for your pup so you should really research other good large puppy dog kibble.

  • TwoYellowDogs.Terri

    The idea was to find best price and local pick up (not pay for hidden shipping costs). cost is $84.

  • Cannoli

    you can buy the food online check out

  • TwoYellowDogs.Terri

    I pick up our new family member, 8 wk labrador retriever in a few days. Breeder recommended Orejin Large Bred Pup food. There are limited stores near me to purchase from, AND it is EXPENSIVE ($75/28.6lb). I’d like to go with breeder recommendation… but the cost and having to drive far to purchase makes it not practical. 🙁

  • Sam

    same thing here – dane/mastiff on blue large breed puppy, diarrhea — also seemed to have some kind of systemic sensitivity – a rash, and red/watery eyes — all were on their way out a few days after switching from blue large breed puppy (after stool tests, trying both antiinflammatories and antibiotics for the rash at least) – didn’t expect the food change to help the rash and his eyes, but the end to the diarrhea and improvement in those systemic issues all happened simultaneously after switching

  • Pitlove

    I choose to follow the current recommendations of ACVN boarded veterinary nutritionists, simply because hip dysplasia especially, can express itself late in life well after the critical growth period. By that time there is no way to go back and feed a proper diet.

    There is no 100% guarentee that nutrition will override genetics, but I find it better to play it safe than sorry, so any dog that will mature to 50lbs or over I recommend a large breed puppy food and I recommend feeding it until 18 months of age. Personally, this is why I will say to people that proper nutrition will “reduce” the risk of DOD’s, not prevent. Heck there isn’t even a guarentee of no hip dysplasia in the puppies with a good OFA score on the sire and dam if radiographed before 2 years of age.

    Edit: I absolutely agree that keeping a dog lean (any breed) helps greatly with hip dysplasia.

  • Cannoli

    I can only go by what both my vet, breeder, online research and talking to other breeders have said that for Bulldogs weight at maturity does not mean they should be fed puppy food for large breeds. My guy is 60 lbs and lean. He will probably max out above 65 lbs closer to 70 lbs like his stocky father. I never fed him large breed puppy food. My breeder never fed his parents large breed puppy food. Heck I stopped feeding my guy puppy food at 8 months I wanted to keep him lean and puppy food has excess calories. Fat Bulldogs tend to have higher incidents of hip dyslapia. For Bulldogs it all about genetics and keeping them lean

  • Pitlove

    I find it extremely odd that your vet would recommend a food with higher calcium for a giant breed like a Mastiff or Great Dane. The purpose of feeding a diet with restricted calcium is to PREVENT, not induce rapid growth. DOD’s can be caused by rapid growth, so that makes no sense to me.

    From Dr. Susan Wynn DVM, ACVN

    “Over 30 years ago, researchers investigated the link between a puppy’s diet and the developmental orthopedic diseases that were becoming so common – “wobbler” disease, hip and elbow dysplasia, hypertrophic osteodystrophy (HOD), and osteochondrosis dessicans (OCD). While protein did not seem to be a factor, excessive calories and unbalanced or excessive calcium levels were proven to negatively effect skeletal development in puppies.”

    Dr. Rebecca Remillard, ACVN

    When asked about a diet for a Great Dane puppy: “The current recommendation is for a calcium of about 1% on a dry matter basis until the skeleton has matured. You have to wait at until she is 8 months of age or better 18 months before feeding a higher calcium content.”

  • Cannoli

    According to my vet since he owns a bulldog he goes by how rapidly the puppy reaches maturity. If they are growing very Great Danes or Mastiffs…they require a bit more protein and calcium. Obviously, Bulldogs mature rather slowly. It takes them 18 months to 3years to fill out and become themselves. If you feed them large breed food, it is the opposite of what they need.

    My dog is 18 months. His chest is growing wider every few months. After 2 years their head starts growing even bigger and so by the 3 they have filled out

    Not sure about pits but pits are part of the bully family and like Bulldogs they take 3 years to fill out

  • Pitlove

    Any dog over 50lbs at mature weight is considered a large breed. I’m not sure what other way to classify a large breed you are talking about. If you don’t mind sharing I would appreciate it. Some vets are more familiar with large breed nutrition than others. However, even some smaller breeds like Corgi’s need to be fed as large breed puppies because of their body shape and their high risk for hip dysplasia.

    Personally, I would consider your dog a large breed if 60 lbs is his ideal weight.

  • Cannoli

    My understanding is that weight should not be the only factor for considering a dog a large breed for a mixed pup. My pup is 60 at his mature weight but is not considered a large breed. Since most Olde English Bulldogs are not classified as large breeds even though many can exceed 50 lbs. My vet also did not classify my pup as a large breed. I thought large breeds constituted weight plus height for mixed breeds? Or am I wrong? My pup is low and stocky to the ground but weighs 60lbs.

    Would’t the pit part make his dog stockier and lower to the ground? maybe only a DNA test will inform him how much of each breed it has?

  • Cannoli

    Wrong post please disregard my comment

  • Louis Lemus

    My 10 week-old Toy Manchester Terrier has been eating Purina Beneful which we got from the breeder. After doing some research on the brand, I’d feel more comfortable feeding her something else. Anyone have any suggestions? Thanks so much.

  • Pitlove

    Hi Tommie-

    Thank you for your input, however I am very familiar with the criteria this website uses to rate dog foods. I however do not value a star rating to tell me how my dog will do on a particular food. That may be important to you, but others like myself, are interested in choosing a food through different means.

    I am also very familiar with the requirements for growing large breed puppies and their risk for DOD’s. You may disagree because you find the ingredient list to be of poor quality, however both Hill’s and Purina are without a doubt the leaders in research on large breed puppy nutrition and growth. I wish it were so, but a nice star rating and a pretty ingredient list does not always equate to a nutritionally sound food.

    Merrick and EVO do not make formulas that are large breed puppy safe and it was also determined some time ago by several of us on here that Victor does not either. If you are concerned about the issues behind Purina, you may want to look at the issues with Blue Buffalo and all Diamond products as well. The recent recall Purina had should not be cast in the negative light you are trying to cast it in. It shows that they are not only testing for pathogens, but nutrient levels as well. What that shows is a dedication to proper nutrition and no company should be looked down on for that.

  • Tommie Outman

    Purina Pro Plan is a poor quality dog food, as well as Hill’s. Purina has had many recalls, one actually was out as of 3/11/16… I would stick to the 5 star brands listed on this website, and would deviate only to 4 star ones. They do their research, and even break it down for you. Those are both 3 star dog foods. You stated you want the best, and these are not it! I have had great success with EVO, Merrick, Blue buffalo wilderness and Victor. (5 star) I have also found that Taste of the wild, and Diamond Naturals are both great brands, too. (4 stars) Merrick is a 5 star adult brand, but a 4 star puppy brand. Taste of the wild is an overall 4.5 rating.

    I would choose Blue Buffalo Wilderness first, because Large breed dogs are known to develop hip displasia, and other issues. One known way to avoid this is getting a large breed puppy formula, because it lacks the calcium that other puppy foods have. Blue Buffalo wilderness has a 5 star large breed puppy formula. It only contains 4 “controversial ingredients” and they have released statements on how much is used, and why it is used. The first, Tomato, is bad for dogs in high quantities, but a source of fiber, in small amounts. It also has chelated minerals, minerals that have been chemically attached to protein, which is found in high quality dog foods.

    Overall, DO RESEARCH, especially after someone recommends a brand to you… go check it out. Don’t blindly follow might end up feeding your dog a poorer quality dog food than it deserves..

  • Jo C Daniels

    Check to make sure the fiber level isn’t too high. This can cause diarrhea and frequent bowel movements.

  • Gardenia Alrighta

    I have fed my pups Orejin dog & puppy food for years and they love it…and I feel good about feeding it to them. I have a 13 yr old Malamute/Husky, 8 yr old Siberian Husky and a 6 month old Border Collie. Check them out. Great company.

  • LabsRawesome

    Choosing from the above list, my 3 do well on Victor,
    Dr. Tims, Earthborn, Orijen.
    Have you ever considered canned for your puppy?
    There is a best canned puppy food list too.

  • Maria Camila Ortega

    I have a 3 month Shih tzu, she is eating nutri source, but she does not seem too interested in it anymore, I want to switch .. which food do you recommend?
    thanks for the advice

  • Diana Melo

    My Newfoundland puppy has the same problem with BLUE large puppy. My vet says a lot of puppies struggle with BLUE because is to rich. I haven’t found a new food yet, but BLUE is not for us either.

  • Crazy4cats

    Hi Lauren-

    Please take Pitlove’s advice and take your pup to the vet with a stool sample to be sent out for a full analysis on all worms and parasites. Worms and parasites, such as, coccidia and giardia are common in puppies and are sometimes hard to detect. Here is a great website that may help you to control the diarrhea:

    Good luck!

  • InkedMarie

    up above, in the red line, click “forums”. Go to the Diet and Health Issues forum. On top is a stickie in yellow on approprriate dog foods for large breed puppies.

  • Pitlove

    Hi Lauren-

    Lots of things could be factoring in to why your boy is not digesting Blue Buffalo well. Some may have nothing to do with the food itself. Before changing his food a bunch of times, I’d get him to the vet to have him tested for all parasites. Then you and your vet can discuss what could be causing the problem.

  • Susan

    Hi, my boy has IBD, try “Taste of The Wild” Pacific Stream Puppy Smoked Salmon formula or there’s High Prairie Puppy Roasted Bison & Roasted venison Formula… email TOTW for some samples & booklet, if TOTW doesn’t help with the sloppy poos then find a limited ingredient kibble like “California Natural” Lamb & Rice medium puppy has just 5 ingredients.. these kibbles are money back guaranteed if you have any problems…. have you had poo test done for Giardia??

  • Lauren Perdue

    So I’ve been doing a lot of research, however I don’t feel I can rely too well on reviews I find online. They vary so much. We have had a malamute puppy who reached four months old last week. We’ve been feeding him BLUE large breed puppy. However, we’ve had a rough time getting rid of diarrhea. So we’ve been trying to find the best food for our boy. I can’t really pinpoint what’s best for him.

  • Babslynne

    I came across this review while trying to research more about Pet Pride dog food.

  • Pitlove

    I’m not familiar with that brand either. You’d need to do some more digging to find out if it is ok for a large breed puppy. I don’t think that is a food I’d be comfortable using personally.

    Hill’s is most known for Science Diet and their Veterinary Diets. They also make a line called Ideal Balance.

    If you are comfortable with Purina, their Pro Plan line has an excellent Large Breed Puppy formula.

  • melodyanneee_

    Pet Pride is a Kroger distributed puppy chow.

  • melodyanneee_

    She’s only eaten the puppy chow that I was I given by the breeder, which is Pet Pride Puppy Formula, Mini chunks, and the bag labels for healthy growth. I personally have never heard of this brand, and a lot of sites say not to feed by products, which it contains. It is not for large breeds, but it does have the AAFCO approved sentence. I’m familiar with Purina, we fed it to my family dog, but I have never heard of Hill’s. Thank you for you help and time!

  • Pitlove

    Hi melodyanneee-

    What food has she been eating since you got her?

    I agree it is very difficult to make proper choices for your pet based on consumer reviews. One dogs experience with a food does not reflect the way your dog will do on that food.

    The most important thing to note is the 2 breeds she is mixed with will likely make her a large breed exceeding 50lbs at her mature weight. This means she needs to be fed a large breed puppy formula since those formulas will have lower calcium than a regular puppy formula. Excessive calcium and also overfeeding are the leading causes of developmental orthopedic disorders (genetics plays a big role as well) in growing large puppies. Proper nutrition can greatly reduce the chances of your pup developing these DOD’s.

    The 2 companies that have done the most research into large breed puppy growth/nutrition are Hill’s and Purina. There are other good foods from smaller companies if you do not wish to use a product from either of these companies. Let me know and I can give you some recommendations.

  • melodyanneee_

    Me and my boyfriend recently adopted a pit bull/boxer mix. Tomorrow she will be two months old, 4/15/2016. I want the best for her, and some of these reviews are terrifying! Does anyone have any advice on what puppy chow we should try to introduce to her?

  • karen serianni

    I’ve been wondering the same thing. Our miniature schnauzer has the same problem. What I have been doing is mixing the royal canin with nutram grain free and giving her half of a cranberry chew. Cranberry Comfort for Dogs & Cats (65 Soft Chews)”. So far, it is going well.

  • Utahgirl

    Our two year old Cocker Spaniel has developed crystals in her urine. The vet had her on Royal Canin but it’s not very highly rated. (not to mention that she doesn’t like it very much!) What might be another brand to try?

  • Susan

    Raw is the best if you can afford it….. Canidae Pure Foundations or Canidae all Life Stages Large Breed Puppy or Taste of The Wild puppy… rotate a few different brands.

  • Susan

    Hi if you want the best then feed a balanced raw diet or cooked or freeze dried foods.., kibble is processed & not the best, kibble is good for us cause its easy…

  • Lauren Rutherford

    4 month old french bulldog puppy — dry food suggestions? Price doesn’t matter. I just want the best!

  • Briana Jordan

    My Shepherd had the same problem, she just lost interest in that brand. I switched her over to Earthborn, she adored the bison one, but I’m sure they’re all good. It is more expensive but Earthborn is a great company.

  • Rocket

    I have 4 months pitbull bully any recommendations….plzzzzzz

  • Suzanne Lambert

    I have a 7 month old Bassett Hound. The breeder started her on Diamond Naturals. She seems to have lost interest in this brand. Can you make a suggestion for an alternative food for her? We prefer a dry dog food. Thank you

  • Mariya Levinson

    Thank you!

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