Top 10 Best Large Breed Puppy Foods

Best Large Breed Puppy Puppy Food

Choosing the best food for your large breed puppy is one of the most important decisions you’ll ever make.

That’s because choosing the wrong puppy food… one that contains too much calcium… could cause permanent bone damage and hip disease… for large breeds.1 2

On this page… you’ll find The Dog Food Advisor’s top 10 best large breed puppy foods… and we’ll answer the 6 most frequently asked questions about feeding large breed puppies.

So, let’s get started…

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Best Large Breed Puppy Foods
for December 2019

Here are The Dog Food Advisor’s top 10 best large breed puppy foods for December 2019.



Wellness Grain Inclusive

Wellness Complete Health Large Breed Puppy Food

Rating:

Complete Health Large Breed Puppy is one of 14 dry recipes included in our review of the Wellness Complete Health product line.

  • First 5 ingredients: Deboned chicken, chicken meal, peas, ground brown rice, salmon meal
  • Type: Grain-inclusive (brown rice, oatmeal, barley, oats)
  • Profile: Growth
  • Best for: All puppies including large breeds
  • Price: $$

Complete Health Large Breed Puppy derives the bulk of its animal protein from fresh chicken as well as chicken meal and salmon meal. Our dry matter label analysis reveals the recipe contains 32% protein, 14% fat and 45% estimated carbs… with a fat-to-protein ratio of about 44%.

A safe, balanced calcium design from a trusted brand. Highly recommended.

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Orijen Large Puppy

Orijen Puppy Large

Rating:

This Orijen formula is one of 8 dry recipes included in our review of the Orijen product line.

  • First 5 ingredients: Deboned chicken, deboned turkey, yellowtail flounder, whole eggs, whole atlantic mackerel
  • Type: Grain-free
  • Profile: All life stages
  • Best for: All puppies including large breeds (also safe for adults)
  • Price: $$$

Orijen Puppy Large gets the dominant portion of its animal protein from deboned poultry and fresh fish. Our dry matter label analysis reveals the recipe contains 43% protein, 18% fat and 30% estimated carbs… creating a fat-to-protein ratio of about 41%.

A premium large breed puppy food. Highly recommended.

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Diamond Naturals Large Breed Puppy

Diamond Naturals Large Breed Puppy Formula

Rating:

This Large Breed Puppy product is one of 13 dry recipes included in our review of the Diamond Naturals product line.

  • First 5 ingredients: Lamb, lamb meal, ground white rice, peas, pea flour
  • Type: Grain-inclusive (white rice, barley)
  • Profile: All life stages
  • Best for: All puppies including large breeds (also safe for adults)
  • Price: $

This Diamond Naturals formula gains the greatest share of its meat protein from fresh lamb and lamb meal. Our dry matter label analysis reveals the recipe contains 30% protein, 17% fat and 45% estimated carbs… resulting in a fat-to-protein ratio of about 57%.

A safe, budget-friendly option for your large breed puppy. Highly recommended.

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Blue Buffalo Life Protection Large Breed Puppy Food

Blue Buffalo Life Protection Large Breed Puppy Food

Rating:

Life Protection Large Breed Puppy Chicken and Brown Rice is one of 23 dry recipes included in our review of the Blue Buffalo Life Protection product line.

  • First 5 ingredients: Deboned chicken, chicken meal, brown rice, oatmeal, barley
  • Type: Grain-inclusive (brown rice, oatmeal, barley
  • Profile: Growth
  • Best for: All puppies including large breeds
  • Price: $

This Blue Buffalo Life Protection recipe acquires the lion’s share of its meat protein from chicken and chicken meal. Our dry matter label analysis reveals the recipe contains 29% protein, 17% fat and 46% estimated carbs… which results in a fat-to-protein ratio of about 58%.

A top-rated, large breed growth option at an affordable price. Highly recommended.

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Purina Pro Plan Focus Large Puppy

Pro Plan Focus Large Breed Puppy Food

Rating:

Focus Large Breed Puppy is one of 14 dry recipes included in our review of the Purina Pro Plan Focus product line.

  • First 5 ingredients: Chicken, brewers rice, corn gluten meal, whole grain corn, poultry by-product meal
  • Type: Grain-inclusive (brewers rice, corn gluten meal, corn, wheat)
  • Profile: All life stages
  • Best for: All puppies including large breeds (also safe for adults)
  • Price: $

This Purina Pro Plan Focus recipe obtains the major portion of its meat protein from chicken. Our dry matter label analysis reveals the recipe contains 32% protein, 15% fat and 45% estimated carbs… which yields a fat-to-protein ratio of about 47%.

A time-proven formula with balanced calcium levels ideal for large and giant breed puppies. Recommended with confidence.

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Chicken Soup Large Breed Puppy

Chicken Soup for the Soul Large Breed Puppy Recipe

Rating:

This Chicken Soup formula is one of 7 dry recipes included in our review of the Chicken Soup for the Soul product line.

  • First 5 ingredients: Chicken, turkey, chicken meal, turkey meal, cracked pearled barley
  • Type: Grain-inclusive (barley, brown rice, oatmeal, millet, white rice)
  • Profile: All life stages
  • Best for: All puppies including large breeds (also safe for adults)
  • Price: $

Chicken Soup Large Breed Puppy derives the bulk of its animal protein from poultry and poultry meals. Our dry matter label analysis reveals the recipe contains 30% protein, 14% fat and 48% estimated carbs… resulting in a fat-to-protein ratio of about 48%.

A top-rated, large breed puppy food at an affordable price. Highly recommended.

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Hills Large Breed Puppy

Hill’s Science Diet Large Breed Puppy

Rating:

Hill’s Large Breed Puppy is one of 5 dry recipes included in our review of the Hill’s Science Diet product line.

  • First 5 ingredients: Chicken meal, whole grain wheat, whole grain oats, whole grain sorghum, corn gluten meal
  • Type: Grain-inclusive (wheat, oats, sorghum, whole grain corn)
  • Profile: Growth
  • Best for: All puppies including large breeds
  • Price: $

Hill’s Science Diet Large Breed Puppy derives the dominant portion of its meat protein from chicken meal. Our dry matter label analysis reveals the recipe contains 30% protein, 14% fat and 48% estimated carbs… resulting in a fat-to-protein ratio of about 47%.

A classic, balanced design ideal for large breed puppies. Highly recommended.

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Carnivora Large

Carnivora Large Breed Puppy Food

Rating:

Carnivora Large Breed Puppy is one of 8 dry recipes included in our review of the Blue Buffalo Carnivora product line.

  • First 5 ingredients: Deboned chicken, dried chicken, deboned turkey, chicken meal, tapioca starch
  • Type: Grain-free
  • Profile: Growth
  • Best for: All puppies including large breeds
  • Price: $$$

Carnivora Large Breed Puppy sources the dominant part of its meat protein from fresh poultry, poltry meals and fish. Our dry matter label analysis reveals the recipe contains 44% protein, 19% fat and 29% estimated carbs… yielding a fat-to-protein ratio of about 43%.

A new, top-rated puppy food featuring an abundance of meat-based protein. Highly recommended.

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Eukanuba Large Breed Puppy

Eukanuba Large Breed Puppy

Rating:

This Eukanuba puppy formula is one of 13 dry recipes included in our review of the Eukanuba product line.

  • First 5 ingredients: Chicken, chicken by-product meal, corn, wheat, chicken fat
  • Type: Grain-inclusive (wheat, sorghum, brewers rice)
  • Profile: Growth
  • Best for: All puppies including large breeds
  • Price: $

Eukanuba Puppy Large Breed gains the principal part of its meat protein from fresh chicken. Our dry matter label analysis reveals the recipe contains 29% protein, 16% fat and 48% estimated carbs… resulting in a fat-to-protein ratio of about 55%.

A classic puppy design that’s especially popular among large breed enthusiasts. Highly recommended.

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Royal Canin Large

Royal Canin Large Puppy

Rating:

Royal Canin Large Puppy is one of 8 dry recipes included in our review of the Royal Canin product line.

  • First 5 ingredients: Corn, chicken by-product meal, wheat, wheat gluten, chicken fat
  • Type: Grain-inclusive (wheat, wheat gluten, brewers rice, brewers rice flour)
  • Profile: Growth
  • Best for: All puppies including large breeds
  • Price: $

This Royal Canin large breed puppy formula derives the dominant portion of its meat protein from chicken meal. Our dry matter label analysis reveals the recipe contains 31% protein, 16% fat and 45% estimated carbs… with a fat-to-protein ratio of about 52%.

A vet-designed, grain-inclusive formula ideal for large breed puppies. Highly recommended.

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How do I know if my puppy is a large breed?

The pet food industry3 defines a large breed puppy as one whose ADULT weight is expected to be more than 70 pounds.

However…

Since it’s not possible to know (in advance) your puppy’s adult weight before she’s fully grown

It’s far safer to use a more conservative 50 pound definition for large breed dogs proposed by others.4 5 6 7 8

So…

If you expect your dog to weigh over 50 pounds when fully grown… then she’s considered a large breed puppy.


Why are large breeds more prone to hip dysplasia?

Hip disease in large breeds is caused by at least one of 3 proven factors:

  1. Genetics9
  2. Overfeeding10
  3. Too much calcium in the diet11

So, since there’s nothing you can do to change your puppy’s genetics

Be sure to avoid feeding too many calories or too much calcium… factors that can significantly increase your puppy’s risk of hip dysplasia.


How much food should I feed my large breed puppy?

Measuring Cup with Kibble

Determining how much to feed your large breed puppy is a processNOT a one-time decision.

Since a large breed puppy consumes more food each day than a smaller breed…

And because each dry food contains a different number of calories per cup…

It’s best to start with the recommended feeding amount printed on the package. Then, adjust that amount… to keep your puppy at her ideal weight.


How often should I feed my large breed puppy?

Once you’ve determined how much to feed your puppy per day

Simply divide that daily feeding amount into 3 or 4 smaller servings.

Then… feed those smaller portions to your puppy at regular intervals throughout the day.

To make it easy…

Try feeding your puppy whenever YOU eat… breakfast, lunch and dinner.


When should I switch my puppy to adult food?

Keep in mind…

Adult dog food can contain excessive amounts of calcium… which can make it unsafe for a puppy that’s still growing.

So… it’s important NOT to switch your puppy to adult food too soon.

With that in mind…

The best time to switch your puppy to adult food depends on her breed type.

The table below can help you determine when it’s safe to switch your large breed puppy to adult dog food.12 13

Breed TypeAdult WeightSwitch to Adult
Large breed50 – 100 lbs12 – 18 months
Giant breedOver 100 lbs18 – 24 months

Keep in mind…

It’s much safer to keep your dog on puppy food too long… than to switch to an adult food too soon.


Is it OK to let my puppy eat whenever she wants?

‘Free choice’ is a popular feeding method whereby the food remains in the bowl all day long… so a puppy can eatwhenever she wants.

Sadly, many owners of large breed puppies mistakenly believe that this form of uncontrolled eating is the correct way to feed their pets.

But free choice feeding has been shown to cause a puppy to grow too fast… and lead to lasting bone damage.

A 1995 study of Great Danes revealed a significant increase in the risk of developing hip dysplasia when the puppies were fed free choice.14

In another study, one group of Labrador Retriever puppies was fed throughout life a restricted calorie diet… while a second was fed free choice.15

The restricted calorie group experienced a much lower risk of developing hip dysplasia later in life.

So, be sure to control the amount of food and the way you feed your puppy every day.

A Final Word

The Dog Food Advisor is privately owned and is not affiliated (in any way) with pet food manufacturers. We do not accept money, gifts, samples or other incentives in exchange for special consideration in preparing our reviews.

However, we do receive a referral fee from online retailers (like Chewy or Amazon) when readers click over to their website from ours. This policy helps support the operation of our blog and keeps access to all our content free to the public.

For more information, please visit our Disclaimer and Disclosure page.

Important FDA Alert

The FDA is investigating a potential link between diet and heart disease in dogs. Click here for details.

References

  1. Lauten SD, Nutritional Risks to Large Breed Dogs: From Weaning to the Geriatric Years, Vet Clin Small Anim 36 (2006) 1345–1359.
  2. Hazewinkel HAW. Nutrition in relation to skeletal growth deformities. J Sm Anim Practice. 1989; 30:525-630
  3. Association of American Feed Control Officials
  4. Lauten SD, Nutritional Risks to Large Breed Dogs: From Weaning to the Geriatric Years, Vet Clin Small Anim 36 (2006) 1345.
  5. IAMS, “How to Transition Your Puppy to Adult Food
  6. Purina, “When to Switch from Puppy Food to Adult Dog Food
  7. Royal Canin, 56-pound definition for large breed adult dogs
  8. Yuill C, DVM, MSc, CVH, “Nutrition: General Feeding Guidelines for Dogs“, VCA Hospitals (November 2011)
  9. Hedhammar A, Canine hip dysplasia as influenced by genetic and environmental factors, EJCAP, Oct 2007, 17:2 (pp 141-143)
  10. Kealy RD et al, Effects of limited food consumption on the incidence of hip dysplasia in growing dogs, JAVMA, Sep 1992, 201:6 (pp 857-863)
  11. 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
  12. IAMS: Is Your Puppy Ready for Adult Dog Food?
  13. Waltham Centre for Pet Nutrition (1999), Canine Life Stages and Lifestyles, The Waltham Course on Dog and Cat Nutrition, p. 4
  14. Zentek J, Meyer H, Dammrich K. The effect of a different energy supply for growing Great Danes on the body mass and skeletal development. Clinical picture and chemical studies of the skeleton. Zentralbl Veterinarmed A 1995;42(1):69–80.
  15. Smith GK, Paster ER, Powers MY, et al. Lifelong diet restriction and radiographic evidence of osteoarthritis of the hip joint in dogs. J Am Vet Med Assoc 2002;229(5):690–3.