How to Choose the Best Large Breed Puppy Food and Lower Your Dog’s Risk of Hip Dysplasia


Girl with Large Breed Puppies

Choosing the best large breed puppy food — and feeding it in the right amount — can significantly lower your dog’s risk of developing hip dysplasia.1

That’s because the nutritional needs of large and giant breed puppies are different from those of small and medium breeds.

And ignoring those needs can lead to crippling bone and joint disorders like:
Canine Hip Dysplasia Xray

  • Elbow dysplasia2
  • Osteochondrosis (OCD)
  • Canine hip dysplasia (CHD)
  • Developmental orthopedic disease (DOD)

However, before a dog owner can take steps to help prevent these conditions, it’s important to first understand the cause.

Why Large Breeds Are
at Greater Risk

Large breed puppies are those whose adult weight will ultimately exceed 50 pounds.3

When compared to smaller breeds, two important factors about the way they grow make large breed puppies more prone to skeletal problems:

  1. They grow faster
  2. They remain puppies longer

A Labrador retriever can grow from just under a pound at birth to over 70 pounds in a year. That’s a whopping 70-fold increase in size in just 12 months.

In comparison, a human being can take 18 years to achieve results that are less than half that much.

What’s more, unlike smaller breeds that can be fed as adults at about 9-12 months, many larger breeds continue to grow and can still be considered puppies until 12 to 24 months.4

Rapid growth means the bones must change quickly — a factor that can put them at risk of forming improperly.

And it is this remarkable rate of growth that makes large and giant breeds so sensitive to nutritional imbalances.

The Protein Myth

Unfortunately, the Internet is awash with misinformation about how to feed large breed puppies.

For example, many insist that high levels of dietary protein can lead to hip dysplasia.

Yet contrary to that popular myth…

No evidence exists to link high protein intake to skeletal disease in large breed dogs.5

So, if high protein isn’t the problem — what is?

The Real Causes
of Hip Dysplasia in Dogs

If you exclude all the less common factors, orthopedic disease in large breeds appears to be the result of at least one of 3 proven causes:

  • Genetics6
  • Overfeeding7
  • Excessive dietary calcium8

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

It’s important to avoid overnutrition — feeding too many calories or too much calcium — to help lower your dog’s risk of hip dysplasia.

The Danger
of Overfeeding

Free choice is a popular feeding method in which the food remains in the bowl and continuously available — so a puppy can eat whenever it wants.

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

However, free choice feeding has been shown to cause a puppy to grow too fast — and lead to serious problems.

For example, a 1995 German study of Great Danes demonstrated a significant increase in the risk of developing skeletal disease when the puppies were fed free choice.9

In another study, one group of Labrador Retriever puppies was fed throughout life a restricted calorie diet while a second was fed free choice.10

The restricted calorie group experienced a much lower incidence and later onset of hip joint arthritis.

Too Much Calcium

Like overfeeding, excessive dietary calcium has also been shown to increase the risk of skeletal disease in large breed puppies.11

That’s because puppies can have trouble regulating how much calcium is absorbed from their intestinal tracts.12

And that’s not all.

Feeding too little calcium can also lead to problems.

That’s why it’s so important to feed a dog food that contains an amount of calcium that’s safe for large breed puppies.

Calcium Guidelines

Fortunately, there’s general agreement among the experts. To meet AAFCO nutrient profiles for growth13 in large breed puppies, a dog food must (on a dry matter basis) contain:

  • 1.2 to 1.8% calcium
  • 1.0 to 1.6% phosphorus
  • Calcium-to-phosphorus ratio 1:1 to 1.8:114

However, for some higher calorie foods, the above percentage guidelines may not apply.

Special Caution for
Canned and Raw Feeders

Canned and raw foods tend to have higher fat levels — which means they often contain more calories per kilogram on a dry matter basis compared to kibble.

In fact, if the dog food you’re planning to feed contains more than 4000 calories per kilogram on a dry matter basis, the recipe must meet special calorie-weighted nutrient requirements.

These energy-dense dog foods must contain:

  • 2.0 to 4.5 g calcium per 1000 calories15
  • 2.5 to 4.0 g phosphorus per 1000 calories
  • Calcium-to-phosphorus ratio 1:1 to 1.8:116

Keep in mind that because of the amount of food consumed by a growing large breed puppy, wet foods can pose an affordability issue for most dog owners.

How to Verify
Safe Calcium Content

Unfortunately, these guidelines and ratios are not typically found on a dog food label. Yet with a little effort, you should be able to use our Calcium Content Analyzer Tool below to check these values yourself.

To use it, you’ll first need to grab the following 3 values from the package label:

  • Calcium %
  • Phosphorus %
  • Calories (kcal/kg)

Important: Calcium, phosphorus and calorie values may be reported as “dry matter” or “as fed”. Either type will work, so long as all 3 are entered using the same type

Calories are typically reported as metabolizable energy (ME) on a pet food label.

Then, enter those figures into the Calcium Content Analyzer tool below. Then, check the results to be sure each falls within the safe range described above.

Keep in mind — pet food companies typically report the minimum calcium level in their food.

Important: Be sure to use the average calcium content or the maximum content — not the minimum

Entering a mixture of “as fed” and “dry matter” values will deliver erroneous results.

Calcium Content Analyzer
Step 1

Enter dog food's calcium content

Step 2

Enter dog food's phosphorus content

Step 3

Enter dog food's calorie content

If a company isn’t willing to share the actual “tested” amount of calcium in its product, you should probably pass on feeding that food to your puppy.

5 Feeding Tips
to Lower Your Puppy’s Risk

The following recommendations can help lower your dog’s risk of hip dysplasia or other serious bone and joint disease.

Keep in mind — the larger the breed, the more critical it is to follow these guidelines.

  1. Feed a “complete and balanced” food that meets the AAFCO nutrient profile for growth or all life stages.
  2. Don’t feed your large breed puppy any dog food specifically formulated for adult maintenance.
  3. Use our Calcium Content Analyzer tool to make sure the food doesn’t contain too much calcium or calories.
  4. Don’t use nutritional supplements when feeding your large breed puppy any commercial diet.
  5. Don’t overfeed your puppy — focus on controlled growth. Maintain your puppy at a lean body condition score (BCS) of “4” on a 9-point scale. Avoid free choice feeding. And serve small, measured meals on a regular schedule.17

Important Note to
Editor’s Choice Members

Editor’s Choice members may click here to view our current list of recommended puppy foods.

Look for the link to our Editor’s Choice Puppy Foods located on your member’s home page — and in the left sidebar menu on any page once inside the member’s area.

Click here to learn how to become a member.

The Bottom Line

Although there’s no guarantee your new baby won’t develop hip dysplasia, choosing the best large breed puppy food and making a few simple dietary changes can significantly lower the risk.

And when it comes to the future health of your new puppy, what could be better news than that?


  1. Lauten SD, Nutritional Risks to Large Breed Dogs: From Weaning to the Geriatric Years, Vet Clin Small Anim 36 (2006) 1345–1359.
  2. Elbow dysplasia, Wikipedia
  3. Lauten SD, Nutritional Risks to Large Breed Dogs: From Weaning to the Geriatric Years, Vet Clin Small Anim 36 (2006) 1345.
  4. Iams: Is Your Puppy Ready for Adult Food?
  5. Lauten SD, Nutritional Risks to Large Breed Dogs: From Weaning to the Geriatric Years, Vet Clin Small Anim 36 (2006) 1348.
  6. Hedhammar A, Canine hip dysplasia as influenced by genetic and environmental factors, EJCAP, Oct 2007, 17:2 (pp 141-143)
  7. 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)
  8. 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
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
  11. Hazewinkel HAW. Nutrition in relation to skeletal growth deformities. J Sm Anim Practice. 1989; 30:525-630.
  12. Tryfonidou MA et al. Intestinal calcium absorption in growing dogs is influenced by calcium intake and age but not by growth rate. J Nutr. 2002;132:3363-3368.
  13. AAFCO Dog Food Nutrient Profiles, Association of American Feed Control Officials, Official Publication, 2016 edition
  14. Ratio reduced by the author from 1:2 to 1:1.8 based on dry matter maximum calcium and minimum phosphorus values
  15. Nutrient Requirements of Dogs and Cats, National Research Council of The National Academies of Science, Washington, D.C. (2006), Table 15-5 “Nutrient Requirements for Growth of Puppies After Weaning”, Wasington, D.C., page 357
  16. Ratio reduced by the author from 1:2 to 1:1.8 based on energy-weighted maximum calcium and minimum phosphorus values
  17. Larsen J, Feeding large breed puppies, Focus on Nutrition, Compendium: Continuing Education for Veterinarians, May 2010, E2.
  • flora wilcox

    I just bought a bag of Now Fresh Puppy but have a large breed dog. The Ca to P ratio is 1.5 to 1 — should I NOT feed my puppy this food?

  • Anonymous

    Our intact dogs have lived FAR better quality of lives and far longer than those who were neutered young…

  • anon101

    Some science based veterinary medicine info here that you may find helpful, regarding early neuter

  • Barbara Pabisz

    Risk of Hip Dysplasia increases exponentially when neutering before 18-24 months in large brerd dogs. The growth plates aren’t closed until then so when you neuter early you run the risk of winding up with leggy dogs with painful growth spurts and dysplasia AND a significant increase in several types of cancers such as hemangiosarcoma and mammary. This is on top of the food issue

  • Susan

    Hi Abinaya,
    what are the ingredients you have tried in a kibble?? look for formula’s that have Sweet Potatoes & Potatoes in them & NO Chick Peas or Lentils, as these ingredients can cause sloppy poos, what formula’s have you tried he’s had sloppy poos?
    Have a look at “Taste Of The Wild” Sierra Mountain. Roasted Lamb all life Stages formula excellent for poo problems, another brand to look at “4Health” Special Care,Sensitive Stomach or Special Care Sensitive Skin & “Merrick” Real Chicken & Sweet Potato Puppy Grain Free formula…
    You need to work out does he have food sensitivities? is there too much protein in the kibble he’s eating? is the fiber too high?
    Try The “4Health” Special Care Sensitive Stomach formula first it only has Egg & Potato, it’s low in fiber 3% & protein is 23-25% medium…then if he starts pooing good firm poo’s then after 2 months start adding 1 new ingredient to his diet & see how he does, add a protein he has been eating when he does sloppy poos, Chicken etc see if he’s sensitive to that ingredient.

  • anon101

    “Try NutriSource Large Breed Puppy”
    copied from Pitlove’s post below (2 months ago)

    I assume you have been to the vet and ruled out medical issues. If not, I would start there, before making dietary changes.

  • Abinaya John

    I have a Pyredoodle (Great Pyrenees and Standard Poodle mix). He is 6 months old and always has loose stools. he is very active though. Need some advise on his diet to harden his stools. Thanks.

  • Ellen Glynn

    We will be picking up our Pyrenees Mastiff/Bernese Mountain dog cross in 3 weeks. I have spoken with pet stores and done research but cannot figure which food is best for him. Right now the owner is feeding Kirkland puppy food from costco.Any help would be appriciated

  • Pitlove

    Hi Annie-

    Precise Holistic Complete is a popular food in the Dane community. I know a Dane personally that grew up on it and continues to be on it and does very well. No growth disorders, and good skeletal structure.

    Just as a side note, the document that haleycookie linked is outdated and should not be followed unless you contact the company to check that the food still meets the criteria as it did back when Hound Dog Mom first made it.

  • Susan

    Hi have a look at “4Health” Sensitive Stomach or Sensitive Skin formula, the Sensitive skin formula has Hydrolyzed Salmon so it is easier to digest, the protein as been broken down…also look at “Canidae” All Iife Stages Large Breed Turkey Meal & Brown Rice or Canidae’s Pure formula’s.

  • haleycookie

    Check this out.
    Make sure you do extensive research on what kind of foods you’re interested and the brand. Not all large breed puppy foods are balanced for a large breed and not all puppy foods that are balanced will say large breed on them. Just follow this posts guidelines and find something that you’re comfortable spending the money on. I usually recommend wellness core puppy. It is balanced for all breed puppies so big or small and it’s a great quality food. There are others but again it’s mainly what your comfortable with. Call or email companies if you need more info on whether or not their foods are appropriate for a large breed and use the tool to plug in numbers. Good luck with your Dane. πŸ™‚

  • Annie Parrotte

    We will be picking up our newest addition to the family a Great Dane puppy in 24 days. I am looking for the best large breed puppy food that will help her grow slowly.

  • Crazy4cats

    It was probably giardia or coccidia.

  • Susan

    Hi, when a dog has digestive problems I have found “4Health” sold at Tractor supply & “Taste Of The Wild” Sierra Mounatin Roasted Lamb all life stages formula seem to work for dogs with sensitive stomach/bowel…then once she’s doing really well after 4-6 months start slowly adding fresh food to her diet or rotate & slowly change her kibble to a different protein source with a few different ingredients to strengthen her immune system so she can eat diferent foods…also look at “Canidae” All Life Stages Large Breed Turkey Meal & Brown Rice… all these Brands are low in Kcals, not real high in protein or fat with limited ingredients.

  • Janet Bonczek

    We have a German Shepherd puppy that is 5 months old we have had digestive system problems with this puppy from day one finally have the diarrhea under control and am looking for a good puppy dry food for her does anyone have any suggestions

  • Janet Bonczek

    We’ve had a terrible time with her German Shepherd puppy and diarrhea our vet put her on Purina EN it is for puppies that have dietary issues that has helped immensely she has been diarrhea free for over a month but I’m not sure if it was the dog food or they did treat her for a parasite that is very hard to detect cost a little bit of money but I didn’t care I couldn’t take the diarrhea anymore it was some kind of gas parasite that didn’t always release and maybe couldn’t have been detected through stool samples have been doing very well for over a month I’m going to keep her on this food and try to slowly introduce her to a regular puppy food I wish I could find a good one to try I hope this helps you good luck

  • aimee

    To convert calories to dry matter you follow that same steps as for the other dry matter calculations.

    If for example the calorie content is 3700 kcals/kg as fed and the moisture content is 10 % the equation would be 3700/0.9 = 4111 kcals/kg

    If the food has as fed is 1234 kcals/kg and a moisture content of 72% the equation is 1234/.28 =4407 kcals /kg dry matter.

    Divide by the amount of dry mater in the food. In the second example of 100 % of the food 72% is water leaving 28% as dry matter. 28% expressed as a fraction is 0.28

  • Pitlove

    The easiest way is to contact the company regarding the formula you are interested in and ask them. They should have these values. If they will not provide them, don’t know what you’re asking or give you a hard time in any way about your request, find another brand.

  • muggsopp

    Re: “Calcium, phosphorus and calorie values may be reported as β€œdry matter” or β€œas fed”. Either type will work, so long as all 3 are entered using the same type” – how am i supposed to convert calories to dry matter basis? Or does anybody have a handy calculator for that because i’m mathematically illiterate :^(

  • Susan

    Hi the Victor your trying to re- introduce is it the dry kibble or wet canned Victor formula?? When I rescued my boy Patch nilly 5 yrs ago he was diagnosed with IBD, I had to leave him on a vet diet “Eukanuba Intestinal” Low Residue dry vet diet for 9-12months, his vet said we have to let his stomach & bowel heal & recover, the Victor is probably higher in fat%, higher in protein” & probably is higher fiber % & harder to digest…What canned vet diet formula tin food is she eating?? … also some dog can’t handle dry kibble, your dog would probably do heaps better eating a balanced cooked or raw diet, & stay away from te dry kibbles, contact a vet nutritionist to formulate a diet for a growing large breed dog… there’d be other foods beside Victor large breed puppy, Hills have their Large Breed puppy formula, what has your vet said is best to feed her or doesnt your vet know much about diets? some vets don’t really know much diets, contact a vet nutritionist…
    I email Hills on the Hill site & one of their vet nutritionist rings me back, they specialise in pet diets & what’s best too feed just while she is growing.

  • Michaela Henderson

    I have a 4 mth great dane. She is on Prescription Diet canned for digestive system due to recoverimg from having hookworm im her digestive system. Im trying to slowly get her back on Victor but then she throws it up. Victor has correct percent of calcium and phosphorus. Maybe im pushing too hard. Will probably need ro stay on canned food for a bit longer. It’s calcium and phosphorus is a less than recommended on here. And she at age where she eats a lot due to growth. Thoughts?

  • Christina D E Land

    We use Fromm Heartland Gold Large Breed Puppy (they have large breed adult too) for our Great Pyrenees (80 lbs @ 8 months old). He has always had great stools with it and it’s grain free. It’s a beef/lamb and real food kibble. Fromm is a US company that has NEVER had any recalls. You will only find it @ small mom & pop pet stores OR (like πŸ™‚ Cheaper than Orijen and quality it TOP!

  • Pitlove

    Try NutriSource Large Breed Puppy

  • Janine Wall

    No I haven’t yet.

  • Pam Scott

    Have you found the answer to this? I’m having the same problem with my gsd.

  • Janine Wall

    When we got our German Shepherd puppy, the breeder recommended Royal Canin for German Shepherds. We started with that and when I joined Pet Food Advisor, I learned that was not the best choice. We switched him to Orijen Large Breed puppy food. He has always had loose stool and switching to Orijen did not help the problem. We have been adding cottage cheese and pumpkin to the food for a couple weeks and that has not helped either. Can anyone recommend a Large Breed or All Stages dog food that may help to firm up his stool?

  • CFriedman

    I find it interesting that you recommend Orijen Large Breed Puppy on your list of foods recommended for all and Large puppies, but it does not meet the Ca requirements you set out in this article. It is only 1.1%Ca and 0.9%P, while having less than 4000kcal/kg, which puts its levels of those nutrients actually TOO LOW. It is 2.9g Ca/1000kcal and has a 1.2:1 ratio, which makes it appropriate if it were more calorie-dense, but as it is with only 3760kcal/kg it doesn’t meet the AAFCO guidelines you stated in article. What am I not getting?

  • Connie Bremer

    We have twin PItt/Lab mix 5 month old puppies. 1) is there a difference between puppy food and adult food and 2) can you recommend a food that we can also give to our other 3 (6,8,& 15 yrs) and 1 (2 yr old) We are currently using Kirkland brand and they do fine with that and the vet said it was good. They also get fresh fruits and veggies (doggie approved) and the occasional cheese cube. our oldest gets a glucosamine supplement daily. any recommendations are welcome.

  • Alexa Berg

    Which line are you looking into for Stella and Chewy? and how much are you looking to spend? I looked into the “super beef” flavor of their “‘Dinners” line of food. since LBP’s aren’t adults until 24-months of age they’ll need double the food suggestion (according to their site). The Ca:P ratios fall in the healthy range, slightly on the high end at 1.5:1. However, I looked into this for my 70-lbs, 11 month old Japanese Akita. For his current weight, he’d need 30 patties/ day, that’s 18 bags (at their largest of 25-oz, containing 50 patties) per month. (these calculation are under the assumption he doesn’t gain anymore weight, which he will) At $46.99 per bag, that’s $845.82/ month. That’s $10,149.84/ year. I looked into the Ziwi peak mackerel and lamb flavor. the Ca:P also falls into a healthy range at 1.2:1. making it slightly better in that aspect. However, only 2/5 flavors received 5-stars. while Stella and chewy have 5/9 foods with a 5-star rating. From what I can gather, a 66-lbs puppy given the largest size bag (2.2-lbs) would last 1.5 days. So you’d need to buy 20 bags each month, at the current price of $29.42/bag, that’s $588.40/ month and a grand total of $7,060.80/ year. So nutrition wise i’d say they both meet the needs of a LBP, financially however, I wouldn’t recommend this food for a dog bigger than 22-lbs, unless your able to spend that much on food. In that case I’m VERY jealous! and you have a very lucky dog! haha. A bit more info than asked for, but I hope this helps πŸ™‚

  • Laura Ward

    Can a large breed puppy eat Stella and Chewy freeze dried and Ziwi Peak?

  • Loretta Johnson

    Thank you-I will check that one out. She sure worries me and I will be glad to have a solution. We lost our English setter the day after Christmas and months and months of special care, home made food, problem solving and lots of worry-it makes me sad and a little paranoid to feel like we are even close to being in the same place again!

  • Pitlove

    Hi Loretta-

    I used to feed my pit bull a rotational diet and it absolutely did not work for him. He would maybe eat a food for a few days and then stop wanting to eat. Lately I’ve changed around my Labs food a lot as well since he can eat anything and he too is not wanting to eat… and this is a Lab we are talking about.

    The first and foremost thing is that she is on a food designed for large breed puppies. Merrick does not have any foods appropriate for large breed pups so it is a good thing you got her off of it.

    NutriSource seems to have good palatability and they make a large breed formula for puppies.

  • Loretta Johnson

    Thank you for taking the time to share your ideas with me. I have been warned that you can create a picky eater if you switch too much etc. so there is that concern. I didn’t know about pet stores taking back uneaten bags. That takes some pressure off since the good stuff is not cheap!

  • haleycookie

    Hi have you thought about a rotation diet? If she gets bored easily I would look at as many brands as you can and just pick ones you are comfortable with feeding her and just try small/medium bags at first to just get a feel for what she prefers. You may potentially find something you can keep her on that she really enjoys. I have a cat and she acts the same way. She will eat new stuff but she tends to get bored with canned and dry if I feed it too her too many days in a row of the same thing. So I just keep around 3-4 small sealable bags and rotate around each day. I would start slower and of course mix for awhile but if she has a heathy gut she should soon be able to switch with no problem. Also keep in mind that if you’re shopping at a pet store they will 9 times out of 10 let you return a bag if she decides she doesn’t want anything to do with it when u get it home so you don’t have to waste money if you bring home a food she doesn’t like. Also think about canned food. Maybe buy a few different canned brands and try using them as a topper to mix it up. You could also try freeze dried toppers or frozen thawed raw toppers. Most pet stores will have options for both types of raw.

  • Loretta Johnson

    I am hoping like crazy someone has some advice for me. We got our German Shepherd pup when she was 4 months old and the previous owner was feeding her Purina Puppy Chow which she happily ate 3 times a day. We gradually switched her to Merrick and she gradually has shown less desire to eat. I switched her gradually to Infinia and not much change. She lost 4 pounds and I started adding some things to her food that she likes, like frozen peas and organic broth. She gained back that weight plus 6 more pounds because she was eating better but now she has lost interest again. She seems to like something when its new and then loses interest. We have done blood work and urine and stool tests and everything is fine. She acts fine and all bodily functions are normal as is her behavior. I am so desperate to find a solution. Many people say she will eat when she is hungry etc. but when she started losing weight I can’t help but worry. Since last night she has only eaten about a cup and a half. She is now 7 1/2 months old. Would love your thoughts. Thank you!

  • aimee

    I understand why you’d prefer a list but the problem is that any such list as soon as it is made could be outdated as companies reformulate foods. That said I think there is a short list included in the editors choice membership section

    . The good news is that AAFCO has made changes and will be requiring any food formulated over the limit to state that it is not appropriate for large breed puppies. I don’t know if foods that have passed a feeding trial have to include that statement and I’m not sure when that will be mandatory but I have seen that on some labels.

    AAFCO already requires caloric information to be on the bags. I’ve never found making a few phone call to the companies to verify mineral content was that difficult. And it gave me a chance to interview the company regarding other criteria that were important to me

  • Bustin Cheeto’s Everywhere!

    Seriously, can’t you just list the foods that are safe for large breed puppies since the calcium, phosphorus are only listed as minumum and no listing for calorie content. It would be much easier if you could recommend the safe large breed puppy foods for us. Thank you.

  • yankeenoles

    Thank you for your response. So looking at Victor Active Dog and Puppy, grain free for all life stages, its results are below.

    Calcium = 3.3 g per 1000 kcal
    Ca to P ratio = 1.1 to 1

    Should I look to switch her to this?

  • aimee

    The calcium level is near the safe upper limit of 4.5 grams/1000kcals. There really isn’t a cushion to account for batch to batch variability. Personally the level is too close to the max for my comfort.

  • yankeenoles

    I just came across this article. I have a 5 month old German Shepherd that I have been feeding Victor Hi Pro Plus. It’s an all life stage food, not specific for puppies. When I put the numbers into the analyzer above below are the results:

    Calcium = 4.4 g per 1000 kcal
    Ca to P ratio = 1.4 to 1

    So my question is even though Victor Hi-Pro Plus is not specifically for puppies and is an all life stage food, is it good for my GSD?

  • Pitlove

    You’re welcome! Enjoy your new baby. Mastiff breeds are amazing

  • Lori Painter

    It’s an all life stages. Thanks so much for your help!

  • Pitlove

    If its not the minimum then it would be a good food. Is it a growth food or all life stages? Make sure it is not a maintenance diet.

  • Lori Painter

    I contacted the company and they said they are the actual % not minimum. So does that mean they are good? Or do I need to ask for the maximum %?

  • Lori Painter

    I contacted the company and they said they are the actual % not minimum. So does that mean they are good? Or do I need to ask for the maximum %?

  • Pitlove

    Hi Lori-

    Are you using the minimum numbers listed on the website of the company or the maximums? If you are using the maximums the food is likely appropriate, if you are only using the minimums you will need to contact the company for a typical/nutrient anaylsis of the food and input those new numbers.

  • Lori Painter

    Ok, we found another 5 star puppy food for our new bullmastiff puppy. It’s not a large breed puppy food but the numbers look right when I put them into the calcium content analyzer above. It comes out to:
    ca to p ratio=1.1 to 1
    3.3 g per 1000 kcal
    So my question is would this be a good food to feed our bullmastiff puppy even though it’s not specifically for large breed puppies?

  • Rob Painter

    Thank you for your help!

  • Rob Painter

    Thanks! Appreciate the help!

  • sandy

    Too much calcium at 7.9. Should be between 2 – 4.5 g/1000kcal.

  • Susan Buchert Cravens

    Pumpkin is fiber so it works both ways,as a laxative and firming agent,basically it helps maintain proper consistency

  • Susan Buchert Cravens

    thank you ,that was one (along with the Science Diet) of the ones my vet recommended too

  • Pitlove

    Hi Rob-

    The Ca/Kcal ratio is off the charts for a LBP. I would stay clear of that food.

  • Rob Painter

    Ok, we are getting a bullmastiff puppy next month. I found an all stages dog food that has 5 stars on dog food and on the clean label that I want to feed her. The question I have is if the calcium and phosphorus levels are safe for a large breed puppy. It’s 2.69% calcium, 1.66% phosphorus (dry matter) and 3,390 kcal/kg. These were given to me by the company when I emailed them. They are not the minimal % on the label. When I put that into the above calcium content calculator the results are calcium= 7.9g per 1,000 kcal
    Ca to P ratio = 1.6 to 1
    Is this safe to give to a large breed puppy? I’m confused! Appreciate any help given!

  • Bobby dog

    Bobby and my cats think so too!!! πŸ˜‰

  • anon101

    I am pleased with Zignature Whitefish kibble as a base.
    You can find it at chewy dot com for now, however chewy has been bought by petsmart so it may not be available there in the future.
    You can also find it at some local pet supply stores and Amazon.
    Amazon has a high turn over so I feel confident the product would be fresh. My vet suggested I buy it from them.

  • Pitlove

    Hi Susan-

    Congrats on the puppy! Pro Plan Large Breed Puppy might be a good one to try. I find Pro Plan is very palatable, at least my dogs think so. And you can still feed it with confidence knowing it’s formulated extremely specifically for large and giant breeds.

  • Susan Buchert Cravens

    Thank you yes they continue to grow for up to 2.5 years I have had a number of large breed dogs,Newfies,Tibetian Mastiff but this one is the first that has been nutritionally challenged so I want to help her as best as I can

  • Susan Buchert Cravens

    I was recently adopted by a 10 month old Newfoundland rescue,she was 55lbs at 9 months when I got her and she is now 72lbs, she is small for a newfie and my Vet said her growth has been stunted because of the malnutrition.I have been feeding her Science Diet Large breed dry and I make a mixture of chicken cooked carrots and green beans that I add to it,She doesn’t really care for the Science diet and I was wondering about another brand,I was feeding my Senior 8 year old Newfie Taste of the Wild. I am just really concerned that the puppy’s nutritional start hasn’t been ideal and want to do everything I can.

  • Cori

    Canned pumpkin works awesome. The natural pet food store by my house has it for dogs. A tablespoon per 10 pounds. I have a 7 month old Great Dane puppy and that stuff has been a life saver!

  • Kelly

    I have never seen a good food at walmart. I would love to know what this food is. I am also not sure what natural means exactly?

  • Melanie Little

    Pumpkin is used as a laxative to get pet’s to go. It’s great for that but I’ve never had any of my pets or read any place it’s a binder.

  • Jennifer Dodds

    zignature is awesome food !

  • ennasus

    Our vet recommended a low glycemic complete balanced food like Zignature. It is not as expensive as some higher quality foods but is supposed to be good. Does anyone have experience with this food?

  • Pitlove

    Hi blackcat-

    The ca and Phos values you used for the calculator were only the minimums provided on the guaranteed analysis. Using those values will not be accurate. You will need to email Earthborn and ask for a full nutrient analysis and use those Ca and Phos values.

  • blackcat1514

    I am looking at Earthborn holistic puppy vantage for my lab/husky mix. It has 1.30 calcium and 1.10 phosphorus. The calories are 445. When I calculated the ratio it’s 1.2:1. Does this mean it’s safe for him? The calcium and phosphorus are high, but the ratio looks right.

  • Alexa Berg

    I have an 8 month old Akita Inu. What i’ve found that works for him is “Wellness complete health”, “Simply Nourish”, “Nutro Ultra”, “Blue freedom grain free”, and “Nutro Max”, all specifically say “Large breed puppy food”. He also eats his food out of a slow feeding bowl to prevent bloat, and once i have enough saved i’m planning on having him undergo a Gastropexy. I’ve also read a study that 42% of great danes will get Bloat in their lifetime so i’d consider getting your pup that surgery as well.

  • Alexa Berg

    I switch it up every couple of months, depending on what’s on sale. Wellness complete health, Nutro Ultra, Nutro Max, Blue Freedom- grain free, Blue Wilderness, Blue Life protection, and Simply Nourish. All specifically say Large breed puppy on the bag. I have an 8 month old Akita Inu puppy, and so far the switch keeps him interested in his food. I tried Authority, but he kept throwing up and i had to return the food to petsmart. turns out he has a sensitivity to corn.

  • Alexa Berg

    Hi Helen, i’d like to know why you believe that feeding your dog a vegetarian diet would prevent hip dysplasia? Also, Canis lupus familiaris (dogs) are carnivores, and feeding a carnivore, a vegan diet, can actually cause serious medical issues. A majority of Vegan dog foods don’t contain nearly enough protein, fat, or carbs. As well as essential vitamins and minerals that a dog needs, that they can only get through a balanced diet.

  • Alexa Berg

    What I’ve found to work best is to sprinkle tasteless fiber on my pups regular food whenever they’re stool is loose. Typically one to two days of that and their stool is solid once again.

  • Alexa Berg

    Hi Jennifer, The way i found the perfect food for my 8 month old Akita inu puppy was by looking into the 5-star dry dog foods, then the 4-star dry dog foods on this website. Then, since the closest store for me is my local Petsmart i looked on their website to see if they sold any of those brands. I was originally feeding him “Authority large breed puppy food” but he was constantly vomiting, turns out he has a sensitivity to corn. Now i choose the one that’s the cheapest for the month, choosing between “Wellness complete health”, “Simply Nourish”, “Nutro Ultra”, “Blue freedom grain free”, and “Nutro Max”, all specifically say “Large breed puppy food”.
    You can also check out this site to find a brand you may not have locally.
    As well as “” they have a pretty large selection of good brands as well.
    Does your puppy have a sensitivity to grain?
    Also, I give my pups two 1000mg fish oil pills each day with their breakfast, it’s great for their skin and coat as well as many other health benefits.

  • Michelle C

    Canned pumpkin! Canned pumpkin (not raw and not the pie filling with sugar, just 100% canned pumpkin) oddly fixes both constipation and loose stool in dogs. Give a good heaping spoonful with each meal. My golden puppy was having issues a few months ago and we added both pumpkin a pill of probiotics once a day as well that we got from the vet. Fixed it up quick and an easy solution to have on hand without major diet changes or antibiotic

  • rose bauer

    what can i feed my new australian shepard 6 months with loose stool?

  • Pitlove

    Hi ApplesorOranges-

    I personally find it comforting that Hill’s invests so much of their time in research and clinical studies. I’m glad to know that is a priority for them. It is a shame that more of the so called “better companies” do not invest in research. I do understand that having the kind of research facility Hill’s has and how state of the art it is is expensive, but research can still be done on a small scale.

    I’d especially like to see some original and independant research from raw companies claiming raw feeding is superior. There isn’t much but anecdotal evidence in the way of that at the moment.

  • disqus_SBl7sCuYS7
  • ApplesorOranges

    I saw all these responses, but am also concerned that vets may not have all the right information. I read that they get quite a bit of information on pet diet from Hills research (pro) and the jury is out on the under-the-counter benefits. Hills does have the specific dietary items that Kirkland does not, but I would recommend that you examine the ingredients of both and match them to your breed. I always use a large breed dog food and use toppers (typically veggies and chicken broth w meat or other). Depending on which dog needed what. I am a loyal Costco fan, but have not considered using their dog food…I am going to reexamine the ingredients.

  • Jennifer Evelyn

    Hello: I have a Redbone Coonhound who was diagnosed with Mandibular Periostitus (Hypertrophic Osteodystrophy) late last year. This occurs in large breed dogs, usually in the legs, but her is in the jaw area. There is nothing that can be done, she just has to outgrow it. It seems to be quite under control at the moment, as far as pain and swelling. The vet recommended me putting her on a large breed puppy food. Since then been feeding her Fromm LBP. However, she seems to be very bored with it, doesn’t really want to eat it. We got a free sample of Acana Heritage Free Run Polutry and she she loved it. I am wondering if I can rotate the food and feed her this for a while? I used the calculator above and the results were: Calcium = 2.9 g per 1000 kcal, Ca to P ratio = 1.3 to 1.

    I know Acana makes a large breed puppy formula, however I can’t find it anywhere. I have tried Orijen LBP and she didn’t like it. I would like to stay grain free, as it helps her coat. Does anyone have any suggestions.

  • Greg Waterhouse

    Acana and Orijen have been mentioned and are good. Spendy… I have found Fromm, LBP to be excellent for my Presa Canario. He devours it, with his tail wagging so hard it almost seems to throw him off balance. It’s also sourced and produced in small batches, in the U.S.A. and auto-ship makes it affordable (even if your pup gains 4 pounds a week like mine is).

    Victor was my second choice. I asked Achilles’ Vet, and she said the dogs on Fromm were very healthy but did not have many on Victor/Nutra, so she could not say anything about it.

    I would feed my dog anything that would make him have a long, healthy life…the Fact that Fromm will do that AND makes him sooo happy, makes me feel really good about giving it to him.

  • Great info, thanks. My 2 y.o. alaskan malamute is on a vegan diet and I am sure that it will help prevent the possible hip dysplasia.

  • Kelli

    Hi Dee this happened three years ago when hundreds of dogs died from jersey treats. They package said made in the USA on the front but the meat was sourced in China. My dog went into kidney failure and had to be put down after only eating a few treats.

  • lclass003

    I fed my senior Golden Orijen. It’s all locally sourced in Canada. I didn’t use it until the last few years. K9 Nutrition on Facebook has some great ideas info, and Whole Dog Journal is a great magazine, and book source.

  • Crazy4cats

    I personally have made the decision not to feed any type of jerky treats from any store. Check out the following link:

  • Dee Toth

    Kelli, what was the issue with the Costco treats? We feed our weimaraners the chicken jerky so now I am worried.

  • Cylie Fields

    Are there any dog foods (for adult dogs and large breed puppies) that are cheaper around $20 (for a 7 or 8 kg bag. I have to buy 2 per month) since I have a budget for pet food and cannot afford any more then that, I was feeding Actrium Holistic (the normal not oven baked) I bought a bag for puppies and one for adult dogs every month but it is too pricey, Would it be okay to just feed the adult one then I wouldn’t have to buy seperate bags which is what makes it so expensive. This is the ingredient list.
    Chicken meal, brown rice, oatmeal, potatoes, rye, millet, chicken fat (preserved with mixed tocopherols, a source of Vitamin E), chicken, chicken cartilage (natural source of glucosamine), natural flavour, tomatoes, salmon meal, salmon oil (a natural source of dha), whole dried egg, flaxseed, kelp, calcium carbonate, potassium chloride, dicalcium phosphate, lecithin, sodium chloride, chicory root extract, cranberries, alfalfa, spinach, broccoli, sweet potatoes, apples, blueberries, pears, bananas, Vitamins and minerals (Vitamin A, Vitamin D3, Vitamin E, niacin, Vitamin C, inositol, d-calcium pantothenate, thiamine mononitrate, riboflavin, beta carotene, pyridoxine hydrochloride, folic acid, Vitamin K, biotin, Vitamin B12 supplement, zinc proteinate, ferrous sulfate, iron proteinate, zinc oxide, copper proteinate, copper sulfate, manganese proteinate, manganous oxide, calcium iodate, sodium selenite), probiotics (lactobacillus acidophilus, lactobacillus casei, enterococcus faecium, bifidobacterium thermophilum), yucca schidigera extract, dried rosemary, cinnamon, turmeric, capsicum, chamomile, dandelion, paprika, garlic

    I am currently having to buy Dog and large breed puppy chow.

  • Cylie Fields

    Yes I heard both of those are great, but I could never afford that much, I currently live on a farm with 7 cats, 3 dogs, and 6 horses and since I made the last comment I now cannot even afford the $40 for the bag of actrium I used to feed, I am now forced to go for something that is $35 or less for a big bag. I know it is hard to find anything decent for that price, Any suggestions? Right now I have to feed Purina, the dogs like it, I really don’t think you can get much better then Purina for the price even though it is junk.

  • Elana

    I use Acana Large Breed Puppy, for my pup (Bullmastiff/South African Mastiff)

  • Elana

    I would highly recommend Orijen, or Acana. It’s made in Alberta Canada, with all Canadian ingredients.

  • InkedMarie

    Dr Mike has a full time job and does DFA out of the goodness of his heart. If i had to guess, this is almost a second full time job.

  • Dogs13

    Any reason the advisor can’t publish the calcium/phos ratio and content of the foods they publish content on?

  • Kudzu ASD

    I fed my Anatolian Shepherd pup Canidae Large Breed Puppy duck based until she was 20 months. It is rated here 3.5 stars. She looks great and is healthy. I just switched her over to a 50/50 mix of Canidae Sky which is again duck and 4health large breed grain free. The 4health has lower calories so the high calorie Sky helps there as my pup is out and about for at least 3 hours a day running, playing and/or tracking. If she was just a stay at home couch potato I would just feed the 4health.

  • Cylie Fields

    if you live in canada then their is a great food which is sold at walmart that all ingredients are sourced in canada and they are cruelty free, natural, none of that corn wheat, soy. and for $24 for a 7kg bag you can’t get much better then that.

  • Kelli

    Thank you Cyndee,
    I am using Dr. Tims kenisis and it is going well but I will keep Fromm in mind.

  • Cyndee Victor-Tara

    I have 2 100 pound Goldendoodles and have been feeding Fromm. They love it and theirs also a grain free if needed. You can mix protein flavors with no problem. It is costly but worth it. Never a recall that I know of. They had a voluntary recall on cans once because of their high standards. It never amounted to anything. I use the chicken a la veg. All US sourced chicken.

  • Sheila Broomhead Bateman

    There are several Victor dry dog food varieties that work, and they are also great for diarrhea-prone pups like mine. (Contain montmorillonite which regulates stool) I’ve researched and tried out Professional, Chicken and Brown Rice, and I’m going to try Beef Meal and Brown Rice next. (I try to switch up the food every couple of months) All of them fall into the right parameters. I’m sure there are more but these are the least expensive. (I buy on

  • aimee

    Hi B Vaughn

    The only link I saw that you posted was a link to a patent application.

    I pulled my resources and I have five papers and one review that used data from that protocol. The review, written by an Iams employee concluded that when feeding a 26% protein 14% fat diet the Ca level should be 0.8%

    None of them concluded that the feeding of 0.8 % calcium was superior to “accepted levels”

    I’m not even sure where you are taking your “accepted “level from. It appears that you took it from AAFCO’s profile, published 2016, nearly 20 years after this research was done.

    As I posted previously, recommended and accepted level from nutritionists range from 0.8-1.2% If you use that as your “accepted level” the 0.8% level was on target.

    In actuality though the 0.8 level referenced back to some of the papers generated by this feeding protocol. Further support that the studies were not flawed.

    It would be a faulty conclusion to say that 0.8% was superior to 1.2% as those 2 levels were not directly compared. I agree with you there.

    You are making an assumption that the purpose of choosing the diet compositions that were chosen was to find an “idea” level but taking the body of work as a whole I don’t see that as the purpose.This is why I asked you what paper you were reading that led you to that conclusion.

  • B. Vaughn

    I’ve posted that study and the methodological flaws a few times in this thread. If you scroll, it should be there. The problem was not that they were testing new levels- it’s that they used an artificially high level as their *control* group, and used it to draw the conclusion that their levels, which were never compared to the accepted levels, were superior to higher calcium and phosphorus content *in general*.

  • Pitlove

    NutriSource does not use any Chinese ingredients.

  • Kelli

    I don’t want to feed iams it is what the breeder has been feeding. I feed wellness core to my cats so I’m considering that. NutriSource is available locally but I need to know if ingredients are from China. I would like to feed a balanced home cooked recipe when the dog is older, not now since the early growth stage is so crucial according to the above article.
    Thank you

  • Pitlove

    Hi Kelli-

    In this day and age it behooves companies to be more honest about their sourcing. I would call or email Iams and any other company who’s food you’re interested in using and ask what ingredients, if any, are from China.

  • Kelli

    I lost my beloved Sheila Aussie mix, three years ago to jerky treats I purchased at Costco. She was eight years old. We are picking up our new Aussie puppy Friday. The puppy is getting Iams large breed puppy which I would like to change slowly. I am so paranoid about picking a good food without imported meat. Can anyone recommend a large breed puppy food that doesn’t have meat from china and has high standards of safety.
    Thank you
    Kelli in MO

  • aimee

    Hi B Vaughn

    Recommend dietary Ca ranges for LBP growth tend to be much narrower than and have levels lower than AAFCO’s Ca range..

    AAFCO incorporates “nutritional padding” at the low end to account for variable nutrient bioavailability and caps the high end at a “best guess” point just below a level that was tested and found not safe for normal growth.

    But there are a lot of levels in between those two numbers that were never tested. Since there is no advantage to feeding calcium in excess of a level shown to support normal growth and there may be risk, reported recommendations stick to the lower end of the AAFCO and NRC ranges

    Hazewinkle, one of the primary researchers into large breed growth recommend 0.8-1.0% Ca on a dry matter basis with an energy density of 4.2 kcals/gram ( Applied Veterinary Clinical Nutrition 2012)

    A range of 0.8%-1.2% Ca on a dry matter basis with an energy density between 3.2-4.1 kcals/gram is listed in Small Animal Clinical Nutrition 5th Edition and in Veterinary Clinics of North America; Dietary Management and Nutrition, Lauten recommended ~1% Ca DM with an energy density of 3.5-4 kcals/gram.

    You wrote “They skipped the acceptable range by an
    almost comical amount” When compared on an energy basis, the level tested wasn’t that different from what other researchers were testing.. To compare you need to look at everything on an energy basis. The flaw that I see in the patent study you inked to is that the energy density of the diet wasn’t well defined, It can only be estimated from the other parameters listed.

    The conclusion that puppies grew optimally on the level tested is valid. I don’t see it as claiming that their test diet was better than say a diet with a different Ca level that had also been found to to support proper growth.

    Veterinary nutritionists often recommend~ 3 grams/1000 kcals. A bit of padding over some of the lower but tested safe levels without getting into the levels that may be problematic.

  • Cannoli

    The answer is above. read the above and read the labels on the large puppy food bags to make sure it fits that criteria

  • aimer

    Can everyone stop blathering on about their vast knowledge and superior vets and just answer the question? Which is the best dry dog food for large breed puppies?

  • aimee

    I certainly hope that Diamond has tightened up their quality control but I’m not ready to trust that that has happened.

    In 2005 Diamond was responsible for a large number of dogs falling ill and/or dying because they didn’t follow their own quality control program for testing.

    “For the situation described here, the FDA concluded on January 19, 2006, that the company did not
    appropriately adhere to its own stringent guidelines for aflatoxin testing for 12 shipments of corn that arrived at the plant in South Carolina in September and October of 2005.

    One would have hoped that that horrible incident would have “woke” the company up to the importance of quality control, but it didn’t, which is why in 2012 they were found to have been spewing Salmonella laden food out to the public for many months until the CDC pinned the human outbreak on them. In that inspection the FDA found they used duct tape and cardboard to repair equipment and again were failing to test and handle ingredients properly.

    If they didn’t improve after the first major disaster why are you so confident they improved after the second? The best predictor of future behavior is past behavior.

  • aimee

    Hi B Vaughn,

    I find your proposed reasons why a boarded nutritionist would recommend Hill’ foods interesting.

    1.Training sponsored by Hill’s. I don’t consider veterinary nutritionists to be trained. They are educated and are capable of critical thinking and independent thought. Furthermore the amount of any “sponsorship” would only be a drop in the bucket when you consider the educational cost of becoming board certified. Nope I don’t see this as playing a role.

    2. Commission. Huh??? Veterinary Nutritionists are not sales staff working in a pet store selling food for a living, they are medical professionials who “sell” their knowledge. The business that sells the food profits not the Dr that makes the recommendation.

    3. It is better than what a lot of people feed. Depending on what is currently being fed a lot of foods could meet that criteria.

    Instead, the reason that nutritionists recommend Hills is because the company meets the criteria they recommend one use when choosing a pet food company.

    You can find them here:

  • disqus_SBl7sCuYS7

    Thanks. All labs within normal limits, not bad for an 8 year old dog. I’m not changing a thing. She’s been on Nutrisca salmon and chickpea (as a base) x 4 years now.
    I have recently added the Mother Hubbard small biscuits as a quick snack once or twice a day.
    This is my dog with environmental allergies.

  • aimee

    There will be variability in different parts of the country as graduates often settle relatively close to the school they graduated from. However if you look at vet schools as a whole, that pattern of a 3 hour general nutritional overview followed by clinical is fairly typical. Some schools though required the general nutrition as a pre req. so you don’t see it listed in curriculum.
    I have I think 3 or 4 different papers generated from that feeding study which were presented at an Iams symposium . Which one are you referring to? Please provide a link.
    I don’t see it a flaw in research design for researchers to test previously untested levels. How else do you contribute to the field? What did you find in the results that led you to believe the level used will cause harm for developing dogs?
    I started posting here many years ago when I came across a woman who was crying because a dog trainer told her she was harming her dog by feeding a food that had a lower star rating.. I feel it important to support those people like her as you can’t effectively rate a food by looking at its ingredient list.

  • Pitlove

    Glad to hear she’s doing so well! I couldn’t agree more with you.

  • Pitlove

    Textbooks are constantly updated, as I’m sure you know. Not to mention some states mandate CE. Mine does for example. I will also be required to do 10 hours a year of CE when I come out of school as an RVT. I like to think that many vets take their CE as an opportunity to educate themselves more about nutrition. And if they do not, it is nice to have ACVN boarded nutritionists that they can consult with.

  • disqus_SBl7sCuYS7

    Just took one of my dogs in for her annual checkup today, went along with the bloodwork, etc.
    Good to know that the daily dental brushings are working.
    I used to avoid vets, but I now know it is best to catch things early, if you can, learned this the hard way.

  • B. Vaughn

    You are absolutely correct that many people do not know how to find scholarly information, and I think it’s very important that they learn. And there are good websites out there who do teach solid science and good methods of evaluating sources. To me, logical thinking comes easily enough that I can find those and see the logical flaws in other pages, just as I’d see them in a vet’s office (although I do give vets a lot more trust and leeway with anything I myself am not an expert on, which is a lot, certainly!). And, as I think I may have said below this, if you don’t trust yourself to evaluate sources a vet is going to be a good place to consult. But, again, they can and have been wrong on several things in my personal experience. Unfortunately, as I alluded, my puppy is paying the price for this over something that I knew might happen, and the vet assured me would not. His eye will never be normal again because I deferred to the vet’s judgement against my own. Trust but verify, and learn to use and evaluate sources without falling to authority blindly- that’s what I try to do with my dog’s nutrition and health, and what I encourage others to do.

    Interestingly, I have a veterinary manual from the same year one of our vets graduated from veterinary school. I’ve read it through and know several of the articles to be based on information that is quite outdated. He may participate in continuing education that informs him of each of these changes, but I’m not aware of anything that compels him to do so.

  • Pitlove

    You asked why this website simply does not suggest to visit your vet with questions about nutrition and I pointed out that it does. The opinions on this website and especially the opinions of well meaning posters should not and can not replace sound professional advice and yet it does daily.

    There are people on this website and others, who warn people against visiting the vet because you will get “suckered” into all sorts of unnecessary procedures, meds, etc. It is truly scary that there is this movement out there trying to promote seeking the advice of the internet in replacement of professional advice. How many people do you think on average are reading Google Scholar and PubMed for advice on diet for their dog vs reading consumer reviews? Let’s be honest here.

  • disqus_SBl7sCuYS7

    Yes, and from the “forums” section, excerpt below:
    Please be advised that we not veterinarians. For this reason, this website was never meant to be used as a substitute for sound professional advice.
    Because the health of your dog can be directly affected by what you read here, you should always consult with a licensed veterinary professional before taking any specific action.

  • B. Vaughn

    My point is that it’s *not* just ‘talk to your vet’. It’s, ‘in addition to considering this information in light of your dog’s individual factors, you should also speak with qualified professionals if you are unsure.’ I don’t see where I said not to- in fact, I quite clearly stated that if one is not confident that they can do their own research, they absolutely should speak with a vet they trust on this matter. I also said, however, that not all vets are necessarily qualified (just like the vet who did my dog’s eye surgery, it turned out later, was not really qualified to do that, either), and you should take it in light of your scholarly research. There’s no reason to strawman what I’m trying to say, Pitlove. We’re both obviously people who encourage research and finding people you reasonably trust in order to help you find the right food for your dog, and we both obviously want what’s best for the animals.

  • Pitlove

    Hi B. Vaughn-
    This statement is at the end of each review on DFA
    “Remember, no dog food can possibly be appropriate for every life stage, lifestyle or health condition. So, choose wisely. And when in doubt, consult a qualified veterinary professional for help.”

  • B. Vaughn

    Thank you, Aimee. As I said, my degree is in human health and nutrition, so I can’t say I’m too familiar with surgical training. I appreciate the info.

  • B. Vaughn

    I just finished saying above that I do not think all vets are ignorant of nutrition. There’s no point in strawmanning and beating a dead horse on this as if I’m saying that no vet is educated on nutritional matters. There is also no call to be condescending- if you do not want to have a productive and polite discussion, please feel free to engage with someone else.

    I spoke about the IAMS study below.

    If you only read the abstract, you’d think they had proven that their low Ca/ low P formulas had been proven to be healthier for LBP than the accepted numbers between around 1.1% to 1.8% Ca. Until you look at the tested ranges. The problem was that they completely skipped over the commonly
    accepted range for calcium and phosphorus. Their low was .48% Ca and .4% P, medium was .8% Ca and .67% P, and high was 2.7% Ca and 2.2% P. They skipped the acceptable range by an
    almost comical amount to make it look like their food, which was closer to the acceptable range, was the perfect amount for LBP. Now, I know of at least three vets in our area who will tell you that low (.8%) Ca is necessary to keep bones from growing too fast. They’re basing that on
    this very flawed study, because vets are people and they don’t always have everything right.

  • Pitlove

    I’m sorry, there seems to be a misunderstanding here. You’re still discussing general practioner veterinarians, I am not. You are familiar with what a veterinary nutritionist is, yes?

    Could you please link this Iams study and explain how it is flawed?

  • B. Vaughn

    Thank you for your measured response, Aimee. It’s a wonderful thing that all of your vets seemed to have had a good education on pet nutrition. In my area, that is much less common. Vets, like anyone else, run the gamut, although I daresay it’s a more educated gamut. I don’t think that all vets learn deliberately altered info from evil pet food companies- if you read some of my other responses to this thread, I very clearly state that Hill’s and Purina can and have come out with good studies and research. The key is to look closely at the methodology and make sure that the biases at play (which are always there, whether it’s Hill’s or some nobody company) are clearly stated and do not affect the results. I also pointed out below the IAMS large breed puppy calcium study, which is severely flawed in methodology and has likely caused harm to many young animals.

    I must ask, if you do not think that ingredient lists are useful for evaluating foods, why are you on DogFoodAdvisor? The entire site is on the evaluation of ingredients. It is not the whole story- far from it. However, it is a good and important point to consider.

  • aimee

    Hi B Vaughn.

    My vet said that when she graduated she had done 2 surgeries while in vet school (an approach to the dog’s elbow and fistulated a cow). Surgical skill is acquired after they graduate. Not all vets pursue it. At the practice I take my dogs to there are now 9 DVM’s Of the nine, five of them never do surgery and one of them only does surgery.

    The situation with surgical education may not be all that different from the situation with nutritional education. Vets graduate with a general overview of both nutrition and surgery but to become really fluent in either field requires post graduate education. At the time of graduation I’d say the new grad is likely more fluent in nutrition than he/she is in surgery.

  • aimee

    Hi B Vaughn,

    I don’t disagree that limited time is devoted to nutrition in vet school curriculum as little time is devoted to any one subject.

    I asked the vets at the multivet hospital i take my pets to what type of nutritional education they received . As I recall 6 of the 7 were taught general nutrition by PhD’s from the Ag/ animal science department followed by clinical nutrition by DVM/PhD’s. The other one was taught all her nutrition from DVM/PhD’s. Only one of the 7 had ever seen a food rep on campus and that was for a voluntary lunch and learn.

    I think this myth that vet’s nutritional education is based in biased information from pet food companies is perpetuated simply because people who state such a thing fall into the trap of using an ingredient list to evaluate foods. This leads them to different choices that an educated nutritionist would make. The person then explains that the difference between what was chosen and what a nutritionist would chose by falling into the mantra of saying the nutritionist received a biased education.

    When I compare Hill’s to Kirkland…I conclude that Hill’s tops Kirkland’s. I’d never feed a Kirkland product but i would feed Hill’s

  • disqus_SBl7sCuYS7

    I discus my dietary habits with my PCP, that way he can determine what lab work to order, if any. Make suggestions, whatever.
    Some people are even referred to a nutritionist and specific meal plans are written out. It all depends on the needs of the individual.

  • disqus_SBl7sCuYS7

    That’s just it. The best diet for pet should be based on the age, overall health, any medical conditions specific to the pet in question.
    That’s why I find it best to consult a vet that has examined the animal and knows the history.
    There is no right or wrong. Nothing to debate. It doesn’t have to be all one way or the other.
    I don’t feel this conversation is productive so….
    Peace out

  • B. Vaughn

    We’re not talking about surgery, we’re talking about studying nutrition, the facts of which are available to the public. Please do not conflate something on which vets are highly and specifically trained with something they are not.

  • disqus_SBl7sCuYS7

    Because, you read opinions, articles and such. When you take your dog to the vet for a checkup you go over with the vet what you think you have learned from the internet and ask for recommendations, specifically for your pet.
    I have found it valuable to have a good relationship with a veterinary clinic that knows my pet.
    After all, in an emergency, who are you going to call? I don’t think Dr Google does surgery, lol.
    Just my opinion. If something different works for you, great.

  • B. Vaughn

    That’s a good point. And, in addition, they are on an internet site whose purpose is to provide information so that they can make a better informed decision on what to feed their animals. Why be on the website, then? Why does every page not simply say, “Talk to your vet”?

  • B. Vaughn

    No, I am not a conspiracy theorist. I am saying that, on average, vets do not have quality training that is not geared towards swaying them to a certain food. Vets are people, and it would be absolutely silly to think that they are unintelligent people. Many do their own research and come to their own conclusions. However, our conclusions are always colored by the foundation that we have been taught in school, and it takes a lot of work to overcome that. I trust research I can read and critically evaluate, no matter if it comes from Purina or Hill’s or an independent company. Just because Purina is large does not mean that they are an evil company looming over all and lying about their research- they can have good quality and solid research as well as anyone, but I’m still going to evaluate it. Take the IAMS LBP study as an example- it’s on Google Scholar and the methodology is clearly flawed, but many vets base their view of LBP nutrition on it.

    Diamond’s quality controls were absolutely appalling before their recalls. Since then, they have tightened up their controls (they had to) and made other changes to their manufacturing process. You will not find me claiming that their food is the best available. However, it is the cheapest with good ingredients. Based on ingredients alone, they rank with foods that cost twice as much. Now, this other savings has to come from somewhere. It likely comes from open source competition per lot and other compromises, but also comes from less advertising dollars. That is by far the largest expense for any company (not R&D, unfortunately). We feed a food brand that we trust more (Earthborn is the main one in our rotation, but we tend to try a lot of different foods for variety), but the breeder of our puppies has fed Diamond to her dogs for over 20 years and loves it. She has one of the top 2 dogs in the country of her breed (may be #1 now since the Championships, I’m not positive) and owned the dog with the most BIS wins of any in our breed history here in the States. Those specimens ate nothing but Diamond, and their structure and coat/teeth quality is unimpeachable.

  • B. Vaughn

    Basic nutrition facts are available in many textbooks and mediums. From there, yes, Google Scholar is a good starting resource. We have a good university library near us, as well, that has good, scholarly information. It’s not hard to find solid, well-researched nutrition facts if you have any training in critical thought and scholarly research in general, which should be taught in schools- it was in mine. If it wasn’t taught to you, there are still resources you can reach out to. If there is a University near you, they may offer classes on research. Although it may seem strange to some, some of the best research and critical evaluation classes are in liberal arts, not in any particular scientific field. The liberal arts tend to deal with general critical thought and will help build a rock on which to build solid scientific inquiry.

    Google isn’t the problem. It’s the inability of some to critically evaluate sources and determine flaws in methodology. For example, the IAMS study that suggests low calcium and phosphorus for large breed puppies is on Google Scholar. I read the study and found that their methodology was seriously flawed in terms of the parameters (39 Great Danes were separated into three groups- low, medium, and high calcium. However, the problem was that they completely skipped over the commonly accepted range for calcium and phosphorus. Their low was .48% Ca and .4% P, medium was .8% Ca and .67% P, and high was 2.7% Ca and 2.2% P. Anyone who is familiar with acceptable Ca content knows that the accepted range for LBP is 1.1% to 1.8%, with perhaps a small bit of wiggle room on the front end- they skipped the acceptable range by an almost comical amount to make it look like their food, which was closer to the acceptable range, was the perfect amount for LBP). Now, I know of at least three vets in our area who will tell you that low (.8%) Ca is necessary to keep bones from growing too fast. They’re basing that on this very flawed study, because vets are people and they don’t always have everything right. They have a good base from which to work, and I respect what they have to say and on medical issues, I defer to them (although that very thing caused my puppy to have a permanently misformed eye when the vet recommended a surgery that was against my better judgement and research). However, I’m not challenging that- I’m saying that their education on nutrition is inadequate and people are more than capable, by and large, of buckling down and doing critical research. If they’re not, then by all means defer to someone else.

  • Cannoli

    I find it enlightening that people tend to mock those who use the internet as a tool to gather information and research.

    I hate to break this to you but almost 80% of businesses rely on the information found on the internet in order for it to be successful.

    I am an example of that. I along with many computer programmers use google when we are stuck on figuring out why a piece of software code is not working.

    You be surprised how many applications that calculate and handle billions of dollars are developed by programmers who rely on “google” blogs to help them fix the code.

    I don’t need to sit in a veterinary classroom to figure out what to feed my pup. I like most professionals in the Internet industry have figured out how to decipher the bogus information found on the internet without running to their vet.

    I find it also ironic that when people want to change their eating habits to be healthier they (brace yourself now) use the internet and hardly any run to their primary care physician to write them meal plans.

  • Pitlove

    The problems with Diamond extend far beyond sourcing. Their quality control and manufacturing procedures are simply appalling. I’d feel far more comfortable with Hills, Purina or any other brand like it any day.

    So basically, it’s all just a conspiracy theory? All veterinary professionals, specialists in nutrition or not are educated by the Big 3 and therefore know nothing about nutrition? So then who does know something about nutrition?

  • disqus_SBl7sCuYS7

    What do you mean by research? Dr Google? Most folks don’t know how to differentiate from bogus information and facts, that’s all I’m saying.
    I prefer science-based veterinary medicine.
    To each his own.

  • B. Vaughn

    As you certainly should. I’m a firm believer that everyone should do their own research. After all, the health of your animals is at stake in what you decide. If you trust your vet to make that call, that’s your prerogative. As someone with a degree in human health and nutrition, I can say that I don’t believe their training to be adequate in that area, nor do I consider it to be anything close to unbiased.

  • disqus_SBl7sCuYS7

    Believe whatever you want to. No one is here in a professional capacity.
    We are all just expressing our opinions.
    I prefer to listen to a veterinarian that I trust and that has examined my pet.
    I take things that I read over the internet with “a grain of salt”.

  • B. Vaughn

    You realize you’re on DFA and can independently check the ingredient lists yourself, right? Please, compare them. I’ll wait.

    Like I said, vets are not trained on nutrition in any appreciable way. They receive sponsored events that are barely disguised advertisements. Do your own research and decide for yourself. Take your vet’s advice, but do it with a grain of salt. A veterinary license is not proof that one knows everything about animal nutrition and care. I’ve had to teach my vets about certain aspects of animal care and nutrition several times. They’re humans. Find one you trust and listen to them, but remember that they’re not gods, and remember where their training comes from.

  • B. Vaughn

    Diamond’s sources are absolutely questionable. Their ingredient lists,

    on Naturals at least, are not. However, for the same reason that DFA doesn’t judge based on sources, I can’t really comment on them. Dog food companies hide their sources- did you know every brand on the market uses a vitamin mix made in China? Even the ones that say “made in the USA”. It’s really very difficult to track sources for each batch of dog food- they can literally change from day to day and no company is obliged to tell you where they got it from.

    The reason why veterinary nutritionists recommend it? Likely a combination of factors. One, again, their training is sponsored by Hill’s in a lot of cases. Two, they make commission on what they sell for them. Three, it *is* better than what a lot of people feed. But it’s not great.

  • Pitlove

    Hi B.Vaughn-

    If vet’s are so uneducated about nutrition, perhaps you are better equipped to explain why it is that veterinary nutritionists (those individuals with advanced training, Ph.d’s and board certifications in nutrition) also recommend brands that veterinarians recommend?

    Also if you are concerned about the quality of Hill’s products, you may want to investigate Diamond a bit more. I’m not sure you’d continue feeding or recommending their products if you did.

  • disqus_SBl7sCuYS7

    Great Danes are prone to conditions, such as bloat ,therefore I would continue to work with your vet, prescription diet and all. Just add a little homemade plain chicken broth to the kibble.

  • Cannoli

    you could add some healthy cheap toppers to make the Hills food more exciting for your pup.

    you can make a bone marrow broth and add it as gravy or add fresh baked pumpkin to help with the pooping.

    with my pup i had him on kibble puppy diet until his major growth spurt ended. he hated kibble so i added toppers to make it more exciting.

  • disqus_SBl7sCuYS7

    Okay, so, anonymous strangers giving advice on the internet is a better option than listening to a veterinarian that has examined your dog and is familiar with the dog’s history. Lol. Good luck with that plan.

  • B. Vaughn

    LBP formulas are for if your puppy eats a lot. They fill the pup up without giving him too many nutrients and calories to process. The formula really isn’t any different. Diamond Naturals and 4Health are both made by Diamond and extremely similar- either will give good results, most likely.

  • B. Vaughn

    Most of the time, vets are not properly educated on nutrition- it’s usually an overview subject in school and seminars sponsored by large companies. Be wary about whatever your vet says and do the research- Kirkland’s is a good brand of dog food, much better than Hill’s offerings, by and large. I’d switch back to Kirkland’s or try Diamond Naturals (it’s the same thing, actually, made by the same company- just different packaging), Pro Pac, 4Health, Victor’s Grain Free, or Earthborn, among others. Those are just a few that come to mind as cheap and better.

  • Pitlove

    Precise Holistic Complete Large & Giant Breed Puppy is a food a lot of Dane people use.

  • Sue

    I’m so confused. I have a 13 week old Great Dane, my vet recommended Hills Healthy Advantage Large Breed puppy. I changed him from Kirkland’s Natures Domain turkey and sweet potato. He eats the Hills but not a excited about eating. He is also pooping a lot more. Please just tell me a great food at a decent price!!

  • sonja d

    We are feeding our other dogs Only Natural Pet Easy Raw Chicken/Oats. We just got a 11 week old Newfypoo.
    The converter gave me this result:

    Calcium = 3.2 g per 1000 kcal

    Ca to P ratio = 1.0 to 1

    Is this ok?

  • Kristi Gibson

    Hello. I am feeding my english mastiff diamond naturals. But was wondering if 4health grain free large breed was a good food for an adult mastiff and if the 4health grain free puppy was good? Or as a puppy should they be obtained large breed? 4health don’t have a large breed puppy but diamond naturals does? So witch food to a go with? Thank you

  • NikiL

    Large breed dogs do have different nutritional requirements than small breeds because they spend longer getting to adulthood. Too much calcium can lead to dysplasia or knuckling over. However, unless a breed is rare and thus very inbred (example: Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever), they probably don’t need a special diet to combat genetic health issues beyond the norm. Genetic testing obviously goes a long way in helping reduce health issues present in many breeds today.

  • NikiL

    She’s picking up weight too fast because small breeds need a more calorie dense food than large breeds. I really like the Wellness brand foods. My doberman didn’t like the wellness core, but he’s doing really well on the wellness complete health large breed. If you do the switch try that one. It’s a little more cost friendly, still is 4 stars and meat protein based, and they actually have to chew the larger kibbles vs the smaller core kibbles.

  • theBCnut

    There are a few breeds with genetic health issues that make them require specific things in their diet, but the average healthy dog does not need different food based on breed.

  • Sam

    Isn’t it true that different breeds have different nutritional requirements?

  • LNesset

    I have a 9 week old Berner and from discussions below, I am planning to feed Acana Large Breed Puppy. However, I do have concerns that it allows for too much total calcium to be consumed. The values are: Ca 1.4% min, P 1.0 % min, 3375 kcal/kg. With the calcium calculator tool above this results in a 1.2:1 Ca:P ratio which seems fine. But 4.1 g/1000 kcal calcium. I cannot find another really good quality food that has a 3g/1000 kcal calcium rate. I am wondering if I can feed 3/4 of the recommended amount and feed 1/4 as home cooked food (1/3 beef, 1/3 veggies, 1/3 fat) for the other in order to bring down the total calcium. The recommended amount of food for her weight is approximately 1000kcal so for the other 1/4 of food, I was thinking to feed about 1 oz of beef, a mixture of veggies and fruit, and 3/4 tbsp of coconut oil. Do you think this would be okay?

  • aimee

    Hi Tina,

    There are different ways of expressing calcium content in food. Calcium can be expressed as a percent of the diet on with an As Fed” or “Dry Matter” basis or it can be expressed more accurately on an energy basis.

    The calculator converts between these two formats.

    If you had a diet with 1% calcium on an as fed basis and that diet had 3500 kcals/kg this is how the calculation could be done.

    A diet with 1% calcium content would have 1 gram calcium/100 grams of the diet. From the kcals/kg we know 100 grams of the diet would have 350 kcals.

    So in 100 grams of the diet there is 1 gram calcium and 350 kcals. To convert to an energy basis divide the grams of calcium by the number of kcals. 1grams/350kcals = .0028. So there are 0.0028 grams of calcium for every kcal of the diet. When expressing nutrients on an energy basis it is standard to express the amount in 1000 kcals. So in this example the calcium is 2.8 grams/1000kcals.

    The number 2.8 is larger 1 but the amount of calcium in the diet remains the same

    To compare to the recommended levels you should pay attention to the units. If using % then you’d match to % if on an energy basis than you match to that.

  • Tina Kegley

    Sylvia, would you mind telling me the analysis of the Canada food? I also have a 5 1/2 month old Pyr and have been trying to find the best food. Currently he is on Fromm Gold large breed puppy and this is his second bag. Losing interest, plus he has an ear infection. Don’t know if the two are related.

  • Tina Kegley

    I am confused. I have put in three of the top recommended large/giant breed puppy foods, which state the calcium is 1.08 (approx) and the phosphorus. 09. But when I use your calculator, the calcium raises to 2.8 to 3.7.
    Which figure do I use to match the recommendation you listed earlier? I have a 5 1/2 month old Great Pyrenees.

  • Pitlove

    Hi Superdeluxe-

    I never trust what the front of the bag tells me. To be sure you will need to email the company and ask for a nutrient analysis of this formula. Then use this tool: and input the numbers it asks you for found in the nutrient analysis. If the ratio of ca/phos comes in somewhere between 1.1:1 and 1.5:1 and the ca/calorie ratio is no more than 3g/1000kcals, then yes it is safe.

    I would discuss with your vet when he/she believes your Lab will be done growing. It is usually best to keep them on a puppy formula until they have finished growing. For many large breeds, that is around 18 months of age.

  • InkedMarie

    Go to the forums here & look at the Diet & Health forum. There is a stickie on top on appropriate foods for large breed puppies.

  • superdeluxe

    I have a four month old Lab puppy and we are feeding it the Blue Wilderness Large Breed puppy food. Is that appropriate? And how long should I continue to feed it to him? I’ve read 12-24 months, but is there a specific range for Labs?

  • GSDsForever


    BCNut provided excellent information for the breed.

    Feeding multiple times a day also can be helpful in young (or working) GSDs. You can also add a good quality oil (like wild Salmon) to the dry. But again, do NOT worry about her being on the thin side now, not at full adult weight/filled out at 18 mos.

    Would add, although you did not ask about this (for Nora & other readers):

    Please research carefully & consider holding off neutering the GSD male 9 mo old son until 2yrs, if not currently neutered. This is for proper
    structural development (& lowering risk of hip dysplasia) & longterm health (including lowered risk of cancers, esp. GSD specific like bone cancer and hemangiosarcoma). And be conservative, cautious with exercise — overexercising, stair climbing, jumping, etc.). These are as important as the nutrition end preventatively.

  • GSDsForever

    Excellent information above. I agree w/all the above.

  • Andy

    Natural Balance has a lot of starchy filler. Just because a starch (potato, rice, oatmeal, peas, legumes, whatever) isn’t among the 1st few ingredients, it doesn’t mean they don’t actually constitute the majority of the food. The Guaranteed Analysis only tells part of the story, sometimes some of the protein percentage comes from vegetable protein, which a dog can’t utilize. The ingredient list also only tells part of the story, and lists the foods in order of their mass before cooking, so an animal protein might show up first on the list, but because of all the water in it, after cooking is much less than the bag might lead you to believe.
    Eating a lot of starchy food for a dog, is like us eating a lot of chocolate chip cookies. We’ll gain weight, but it won’t be healthy. Not that CCCs aren’t worth it once in a while! πŸ™‚
    Acana is owned by the same company that makes Orijen, to the same standards, but has a little less protein (though still a good amount), making it a little more affordable. Acana doesn’t have a specific Large Breed Pup food, so you’d have to look closely to make sure the calcium and phosphorus quantities and ratios are up to snuff for LG Brd Pups. If needed, you can always add a little salmon oil for a few extra calories/fat. Wellness Core (their GF line) is somewhere in between Natural Balance and Acana, but is pretty close to Acana in price, so I’d go the Acana route if the Ca/P amounts and ratios work out.

  • Sylvia Parra

    Hi! I have a Great Pyrenees puppy and she is currently 6.5 months old! I am feeding her Canidae Life Stages Large Breed puppy food with duck meal brown rice and lentils and she LOVES it!! I am currently out however and going to buy more just because I love how alert and playful she is when being fed this food. I am going to portion her food and put fish oil on it though because my father had 2 black labs with a BEAUTIFUL black coat and he did would split open a fish oil pill on every meal they had. Not to mention the dogs love the fish taste!

  • theBCnut

    GSDs don’t come into their full weight until around 2 1/2 years old. The fact that she got pregnant in that time may make it take even longer for her to fully mature. If they are reluctant to eat the amount you would like them to eat, you can try a food that is higher calorie and/or you can add some canned food to their dry to make it tastier. She is old enough that she can regulate her calcium uptake and at 9 months old, he is too, just barely. That’s the biggest growth concern, but you still don’t want them getting fat, so feed for slow weight gain, so they have time to make muscle.

  • Nora smith

    I have an 18 month female GSD stray who gave birth about 9 months ago. She is very underweight. I also have her son, also underweight. She is 50# and should be 65#. He is 60# and expected to be about 75#. She doesn’t like dry food. Do I work on getting her weight up or go for the slow growth? I know I have to do both, but in short term, which direction do I lean?

  • Pitlove

    It is recommended to wait until 18 months old before switching to an Adult formula.

  • Deborah Hoy

    I have a 12 month old Shiloh Shephard. He was raised on Orijen large breed puppy food, thanks to Dog Food Advisor. He is ~115 lbs and is a healthy weight. When should I begin feeding him adult dog food?

    Thank you!

  • 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?

  • Pitlove

    Barking at the Moon might be fine for a small breed puppy, but the only formula Solid Gold has that would be safe to use for a large breed puppy is Wolf Cub. May I ask why you are avoiding rice in her diet?

  • Pitlove

    Feeding is based off calories, so it makes sense you are feeding less if you are using a higher calorie food. Bentley gets 2.5cups a day and Max gets a little under 3 cups on their current food. Plus raw toppers.

  • Crazy4cats

    Hahaha! I was thinking the same thing! My crazy active Golden/Lab gets 3 cups and my not so active one gets 2.5 cups plus their toppers per day. They’re both about 85 pounds. Something seems a little off even though she’s still a puppy, doesn’t it? I know foods vary in calories, but not that much!

  • Crazy4dogs

    Holy dog food! 7.5 – 9.5 is a lot of food for an 8 month old Golden. How much does she weigh? My active 80 lb adult Lab only eats 2.5 – 3 cups a day, plus some canned when he has kibbble. I realize puppies eat more, but I think you were overfeeding to begin with.

    Unfortunately NB has a lot of carbohydrates which generally can result in less muscle and more fat.
    I’m not sure if you want to feed a grained food, but Fromm and Nutrisource have grained Large Breed Puppy specific formulas. Propac Ultimates have a large breed puppy with grains and I think their grain free formulas were on the DFA forum discussion. All of these foods have kcals similar to the NB you’re feeding and their feeding guidelines seem closer to the 3-4 cup guideline for your dog’s size.

  • Tonya Golden

    I feed her the Sweet Potatoes and Chicken Formula (grain free)….. It says to feed 7 1/2 to 9 1/2 cups per day, that seems a lot to me since she doesn’t get much “running time” so I give her 1 1/2 to 2 cups twice a day now.
    Here is all the nutritional info on the bag. Maybe it is a good dog food. I just want something healthy for her.

    Sweet Potatoes, Chicken Meal, Chicken Fat (preserved with mixed tocopherols), Chicken, Dicalcium Phosphate, Potato Fiber, Natural Flavor, Flaxseed, Salt, Salmon Oil (a source of DHA), Taurine, Choline Chloride, Natural Mixed Tocopherols, Vitamin E Supplement, Iron Proteinate, Zinc Proteinate, Copper Proteinate, Ferrous Sulfate, Zinc Sulfate, Copper Sulfate, Potassium Iodide, Thiamine Mononitrate (Vitamin B-1), Manganese Proteinate, Manganous Oxide, Ascorbic Acid, Vitamin A Supplement, Biotin, Niacin, Calcium Pantothenate, Manganese Sulfate, Sodium Selenite, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride (Vitamin B-6), Vitamin B-12 Supplement, Riboflavin (Vitamin B-2), Vitamin D-3 Supplement, Folic Acid.
    Guaranteed Analysis
    Crude Protein 21.0% Min.
    Crude Fat 10.0% Min.
    Crude Fiber 4.5% Max.
    Moisture 10.0% Max.
    Calcium 1.0% Min.
    Phosphorus 0.8% Min.
    Docosahexaenoic Acid (DHA)* 0.01% Min.
    Omega-6 Fatty Acids* 2.3% Min.
    Omega-3 Fatty Acids* 0.4% Min.
    Calorie Content (Calculated): ME = 3,422 kcal/kg, 375 kcal/8 oz cup

  • Crazy4dogs

    Hi Tonya Golden,

    I’m not sure if your question was answered regarding a specific food. The problem is there isn’t 1 specific food to feed. The others have given you some really good advice. Which Natural Balance food are you feeding? They tend to be pretty low in fat and calories to begin with.

    There is a thread on the forum side of DFA that has a lot of discussion and some lists of Large Breed Puppy specific foods. I don’t believe they list calories.

    Here is the link to the forum. It’s pretty long and some of the lists are older, so you might want to start at the end and work backwards.

  • Cannoli

    appreciate the recovery

  • Crazy4dogs

    I think even though Cannoli got the group wrong, the point is still valid. Even though the conformation bred Goldens tend to be more calm than the field bred, they are still a sporting dog, an active group, and really need more exercise than they are often given.

    I have Labs, the breed that’s probably the most often used as a service dog. While they have a gentle and pleasing nature overall, they can get a little crazy if not given daily exercise.

    Overall, I think all dogs do better when given a long daily walk, jog, ball chase or some other type of daily physical exercise and mental stimulation. The physical exercise could be said for most people too! πŸ˜‰

  • Cannoli

    i blame that on my phone typing while walking my dog ha

  • GSDsForever

    pbi — she has a Golden, not a GSD (German Shepherd Dog).

    Many Goldens, of course, also excel as working dogs (Guide, Service, etc) . . . just as many make wonderful loving family pets, ranging from leading more leisurely lives to active athletic or sporting/training competition lives.

  • Cannoli

    you got yourself a working breed it’s imparative that you find more time to exercise them. GSDs are not meant to be backyard dogs

  • Crazy4cats

    Hi Tonya-
    How many calories per cup does the food you are currently feeding have?

  • Tonya Golden

    I have fed my pup fruits, veggies, and eggs, she loves them all. I haven’t tried green beans yet. I still would like to know a low calorie and calcium dog/puppy food.

  • Tonya Golden

    I have fed my pup veggies, fruits, and eggs, she seems to love them. Haven’t tried green beans.. Still would like to know a dog food that is low calorie and calcium.

  • Crazy4cats

    Haha! I used to buy those big bags of frozen green beans for my golden labs at Costco when they were pups. They were ALWAYS hungry! They are definitely better than the socks and gloves they were attempting (and successfully) trying to eat. They do make a good filling snack. (the beans) Good tip!

  • GSDsForever

    PBI, inexpensive whole healthy food treats that are naturally low calorie (& high antioxidant) like blueberries and baby carrots are also good choices.

    Think about healthy foods you eat in your diet. Berries are an excellent treat to share. Ditto low glycemic, nontoxic fruits & veggies. (And wolves, coyotes, etc naturally eat & love berries.)

    My vet loves suggesting French Green Beans, raw or cooked. And while I think it’s odd that, as he said, dogs seem to enjoy them & it’s a good low cal treat, esp when watching weight, Costco sells a giant bag of organic frozen green beans that they sell more bags for owners of dogs on vet recommendation than for people planning to eat them themselves and the natural/health food stores sell mounds of fresh ones cheaply in bulk. Dogs seem to like them.

  • Pitlove

    Thank you GSD’sForever!

    Excellent posts and advice coming from you as well. I am a huge advocate for keeping dogs healthy and lean. Just discussed this today with a customer at work who had brought in his very fit Portugese Water Dog puppy. I absolutely love atheletic, lean, fit looking dogs!

  • GSDsForever

    Awesome. Excellent reference and advice. Go Pitlove!

    Tonya, I would recommend as GSD breed savvy puppy people do, to keep your dog very conservatively on the lean side (like body condition score 4 out of 10) vs even “ideal” (5) through puppyhood and restrict calories, control/slow growth. (She’ll get there! No need to rush it or let her race to the finish line; a healthy adult is the goal.) We’ve had very good success with this method positively influencing incidence of HD. (And I’ve raised and known, advised on, listened to/heeded expert advice on, a lot of GSDs.)

    But be prepared for all the well-meaning members of the public who think that Goldens have the body shape/structure of other breeds (not at all!) and that excess weight until 2, a pudgy developing puppy is a healthy, ideal look. Just ignore them whenever you are out & about w/your beautiful, healthy Golden. πŸ˜‰

  • GSDsForever


    My biggest concern with her weight right now & food choice, where I really wish to encourage you to prioritize, is large breed managed growth through puppyhood to 2 yrs to minimize her risk for hip dysplasia.

    Per the OFA, of all the breeds combined, the most improved breeds for an increase in both excellent rated hips and overall screenings are in German Shepherds, Golden Retrievers, Labrador Retrievers, and Rottweilers. Conscientious, ethical, health/type screening breeders and owners have worked very hard on the combination of genetics, nutrition (calcium-phosphorous ratio and amounts) and controlled growth/weight management, and carefully restricted forms of exercise/movement/physical stress and dangers during the long puppyhood phase.

    But it is still a major concern in Goldens, as in my breed (even though we’re not in even the OFA top 30 for incidence! and Bulldogs and Pugs are #1 & 2!), and something to consider carefully as you choose a food and monitor (and reduce) weight, control her growth at 8 months and going forward.

    HoundDogMom did tremendous work creating a list of large breed appropriate puppy foods here at DFA. So I would start my search there & follow that methodology in choosing foods that may not appear on the list.

    You have plenty of time at 8 months, but I would sincerely prioritize this. Another consideration would be choosing a prepared food and including fresh whole foods and supplements with an eye to cancer prevention, as this is so very (tragically) prevalent in Goldens, esp in the U.S.

    I know little about NB, as, to be frank, I don’t care for the quality control and ownership/manufacturing . . . and, iirc (?), having an odd highest ingredient by weight in potatoes vs. a quality protein source (although points for transparency/honesty vs ingredient splitting) and low protein levels. I would urge caution with NB in that a recent vet journal article showed high levels of multiple ingredient cross-contamination, ingredients not listed on the label (which are a special concern in allergens, which the line tested high for).

  • Tonya Golden

    I give her Zukes (treats) says they are low calorie since they are good for training.

    I will surly talk to my vet.
    Thanks again Pitlove!

    – Tonya πŸ™‚

  • Pitlove

    You’re welcome!

    Is she getting a lot of treats? Also if you are familiar with the Purina Body Condition Score, you can use this to assess her weight by touch and visually. You should be able to feel her ribs, but not see them. She should have a visable waist line and tuck-up. If she does not fit that description, it is possible that she is overweight.

    Find out from the vet what her ideal weight at 8 months old should be. It is always possible that she will be larger than 75lbs at max weight and the vet was a little off.

  • Tonya Golden

    Hi Pitlove –
    I started my pup on Blue (grain free) she ate it for a pretty good while then stopped as if she didn’t like it anymore. So, I switched her to the Natural Balance. I did feed her the amount it said for her weight, I started noticing that she was gaining weight after awhile. I lowered the amount of food, it said 3.5 cups, that seemed a lot to me so I started giving her 1.5 cups. I do walk her every once in awhile as I live on a busy street with no sidewalks, so its kind of difficult. As far as treats go I do feed her the low calorie treats. The vet said her full weight should be around 75 lbs when she is full grown, she is now 70 lbs, at 8 months.. lol.. everyone says she is huge for only 8 months. So maybe it is the food. Thanks for responding!


  • Pitlove

    Hi Tonya-

    It may or may not be necessary to change foods. Part of the problem is figuring out her daily caloric needs as a less active puppy if increasing excerize is not an option. Switching foods, but still not knowing how much she should be eating will not help her lose the weight. I would talk to the vet, find out what her ideal weight would be and start feeding her for that weight also taking into account activity level and treats. I think a lot of people overlook the calories from treats during training with their puppy. It seems like a small amount of calories, but it adds up fast.

  • Tonya Golden

    Hello, I have a 8 month old golden retriever (first time owner) I’ve been feeding her Natural Balance, twice a day (morning and evening). She doesn’t get a lot of exercise. I can tell she’s a little overweight. I want to change her food, but not sure what to go to. Can any one tell me what is the best, low calorie, grain free, dog/puppy food for my dog?? Something will keep her fit but not fat!

  • mahoraner

    This is the last time im commenting on one of your posts, lanie.
    But The one thing i know for sure is that i will NEVER feed my dog royal canin, if i havent made that any clearer.
    And many people on here agree with me on that.
    Also, slight tip, people usually dont listen to salespeople, so my suggestion would be to either stop, or try and sound less like a royal canin salesperson and more like an owner

  • Lauren Parker

    Orijen Large Breed Puppy food is the best out there hands down! Then again, you’ll be paying about $90 for a 28.6lb bag though.

  • Pitlove

    Ya maybe I was giving too much credit lol

  • LabsRawesome

    A little too obsessed?! Hahaha
    No normal person would post the things she’s posted.

  • LabsRawesome

    IKR she’s so desperate to get people to feed RC. Its crazy really.

  • Pitlove

    Honestly, I don’t think she is either a distributer or troll, just a little too obsessed over a brand of dog food. πŸ˜›

  • Amateria

    Her “please trust me” would have me running for the hills at super speed haha

    Usually good willed people wouldn’t say “please trust me” at the end of their sentence, without an ulterior motive.

  • LabsRawesome

    Royal Canin is garbage. Lanie is a distributer or a troll.

  • Paul Tolaini

    Royal Canin uses by products… last time I checked anyway….

  • Crazy4dogs

    Hi Renee,

    All life stages formula does mean that it can be fed from puppy through adult, however, not every food is formulated with the correct calcium/phosphorus ratio for a large breed puppy.

    In small and medium breeds, there are generally less hip and joint problems, but they also don’t grow as quickly and as large in proportion to their adult size as a large or giant breed dog does. You want to keep puppies, especially large breed on the lean side. That’s why there are large breed puppy foods formulated specifically for their needs, but there are also some all life stages formula that can work too. The best way to know is calling the company and asking.

  • Renee Barone

    I’m confused, spending $60 a bag and I have to call this company up and ask them there calcium content of there food? Solid gold Barking at the moon is what I chose. I called the company when I started her on this food and they it was a great puppy food. It states all stages. I am definitely looking for a food rice free. I want the best for my girl hoping to keep her fit and not over weight. She can easily eat twice the recommended feeding that is on the label.

  • mahoraner niall

    Both of them are great foods, but i would choose the wellness only because my dog is on wellness large breed ADULT right now, and shes doing great on it!
    Although, both are great foods,
    As a matter of fact i actually was considering it when i was searching for food.
    But the reason why i went with wellness is because pet smart (the closest pet store to me) doesn’t sell it
    but like i said, both are great.

  • Crazy4dogs

    Breed specific is a marketing scam. Just as senior diets are a marketing scam, for the most part. Choose a good food that is appropriate for the type of dog (i.e. large breed, etc) and lifestage of your dog.

    Edit: Lanie is a troll pushing Royal Canin.

  • Pitlove

    Hi again Jacob-

    Many veterinary nutritionists, even the ones that work for Hill’s, will tell you that there is not much basis for breed specific foods as not enough is known about each breed at this time to determine how different each of their needs are.

    If you are interested in using a product from Royal Canin, I would simply choose one of their Maxi products, either for puppy or adult, depending on what lifestage your baby is at. I will mention however that Royal Canin does not fit your criteria stated earlier.

  • theBCnut

    Please don’t be fooled by Lanie. She won’t listen to anything but her own arguments, so she will never learn any better, but RC is not a great food and grains are grains, not miracle food. She seems to think that posting the same thing 1000 times is the same thing as evidence.

  • Amateria

    Always read “everyone’s posts” before going and buying a certain food as there’s always a chance that the person responding to you is a troll haha, which after all we’ve been through with her, she is!

  • Crazy4dogs

    Lanie, upvoting yourself, and you’re the only one who has given yourself any upvotes, is not helping your cause.

  • Azul

    Yep, more bullcrap. That’s why I blocked her. The post are so repetitive and mind numbingly ignorant, I just can’t stand to read them.

  • mahoraner niall

    she said : “Try royal canin!
    royal canin has BREED SPECIFIC formulas for large breeds such as: Labrador retriever, German Shepherd, Boxer, Golden retriever, and rottweiler,
    Is your dogs breed not on the list? Royal canin ALSO makes a formula for all large breeds,

    royal canins grains are not your ordinary dog food grains, royal canin tests all of their ingredients to ensure that they are highly nutritious and go up to their highest standards.
    Also, did you know that too much meat is bad for dogs? that is why royal canin has created the perfect meat to grain ratio,

    And i guarantee you that if you try royal canin for just 3 weeks, you will see the difference,
    Please, trust me”

    aka, the exact same things she has been saying for weeks, lol

  • Azul

    I can’t see what she posted, because I have her blocked, but I’m sure it’s more jibberish. The Mods have asked her at least twice to stop. She won’t listen. She should just be banned or blocked from posting on the site. SMH

  • Azul

    The store you bought it from should take i t back, and give you a refund. I posted foods available at Pet smart the other day. Here’s the list again in case you didn’t see it.
    They are in no particular order.
    Nulo, Wellness, Simply Nourish, Nature’s recipe pure essentials, Nutro Ultra.

  • mahoraner niall

    OMG Lanie! please just stop! your not going to fool anyone! No one is going to buy or switch to royal canin if you keep annoying us about how royal canin is “sooooooo healthy”

    You sound like a royal canin worker, and if your not, you really should consider being one!
    But please, stop this nonsense! this thing has gone on far too long!!

    And like i said, you will never get every single dog on earth eating royal canin, because i will always own a dog, and i will never feed my dogs royal canin, Even if royal canin took over every single dog food brand on this earth, i would still rather spend 3 hours a week and extra money to make home made food than give mars any of my money

  • Lanie Malvit

    Anything to make a dog the healthiest they can be (:

  • JacobMueler

    AWH, i just bought a whole bag and opened it an hour ago,
    Im going to figure out if my local pet food pantry will take it,
    if not, i’ll feed him the rest and that will be his last bag

  • Azul

    Dude, no, RC is one of the worst foods, it’s basically over priced dog chow. And Lanie is a complete troll. I have her blocked because of that fact.

  • Storm’s Mom

    No no please don’t, they are almost entirely a marketing strategy/gimmick, nothing more. There’s very little that differentiates the recipe for one “breed-specific” food from another/the others.

  • JacobMueler

    thanks for the info!

  • JacobMueler

    that’s interesting, i have never heard of breed specific foods,
    I’ll have to check that out, that’s interesting about the grains. I would think that all grains are the same, Thanks for the info!

  • Azul

    Hey bro, your original post says you need large breed food.
    Is that for a dog or puppy?

  • Azul

    Jacob’s post just said large breed food. It didn’t mention puppy. So I’m not exactly sure which kind he needs. Also, it says it has to be under, but does not specify a dollar amount.
    His post left me with more questions than answers. lol

  • Lanie Malvit

    Try royal canin!
    royal canin has BREED SPECIFIC formulas for large breeds such as: Labrador retriever, German Shepherd, Boxer, Golden retriever, and rottweiler,
    Is your dogs breed not on the list? Royal canin ALSO makes a formula for all large breeds,

    royal canins grains are not your ordinary dog food grains, royal canin tests all of their ingredients to ensure that they are highly nutritious and go up to their highest standards.
    Also, did you know that too much meat is bad for dogs? that is why royal canin has created the perfect meat to grain ratio,

    And i guarantee you that if you try royal canin for just 3 weeks, you will see the difference,
    Please, trust me

  • Marie

    Which dry food is better the wellness complete health for large puppy or the formm for large bread puppy for a 4 1/2 month old dobie?

  • InkedMarie

    Can you shop at Pet Co or a local independent pet store?

  • Pitlove

    I would use Nutro Natural Choice Large Breed Puppy if shopping at PetSmart with those criteria.

  • Azul

    These foods are available at Petsmart.
    Authority grain free is the easiest on the wallet. I have no idea how much these ones cost, but here they are. Wellness, Nutro Ultra, Nulo, Simply Nourish, Nature’s Recipe Pure Essentials.

  • JacobMueler

    Can some one help me find a large breed food i can buy at pet smart, has no by products, and is corn, brewers rice, wheat and soy free? I dont mind other grains, But it has to be under
    Also please dont tell me to use chewy.
    Thanks ahead of time

  • Christopher Lowe

    I am trying to find an appropriate food for my 14 week old Rottie. He is currently on TOTW Pacific Stream puppy, but started having loose stool again (he had them before but was cured by switching him off science diet that the breeder had him on). He’s also taken to turning his nose up at it, and he’s normally a chow hound. We’ve already gone to our vet, fecal, bloodwork, etc. all normal. The breeder insists that he cannot have more than 26% protein, but I’m looking at Earthborn Holistic Great Plains which has 34%. Does anyone have any experience feeding this to their large/giant breed puppies?

  • aimee

    Hi Dogfoodie,

    I included it as support for the statement I made that you can submit questions and have them answered.

    I think that is pretty neat that a veterinary nutritionist is at no charge directly answering questions from the general public.

  • Pitlove

    Hill’s would meet the criteria in Crazy4dogs first link as well.