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

  • 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!

Get Free Recall Alerts by Email

Get Free Recall Alerts by Email

Receive lifesaving dog food recall alerts anytime there's a recall event in the U.S. or Canada.

You'll also get our best tips and ideas to help you feed your dog better... and safer.

No spam.  Unsubscribe anytime.

You have Successfully Subscribed!