Search Results for 'feeding large and giant breed puppies'

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    Eek yeah I’m not a fan of life’s abundance. I’m surprised there was not some clause in the contract stipulating that you needed to feed that food for the life span of the dog or the contract was void.

    Precise Holistic Complete Large and Giant breed puppy is 3.5% Max fiber. I also am not a big fan of grain free for puppies. I notice a lot of folks have similar issues as you when feeding grain free foods to puppies.



    When looking at feeding grain free food just be sure and check you have no pea or potatoe protein in your food, and a lower fat.

    Our favorite and foods we see the most large breed puppies on are the following at my work:

    Holistic Select Large Giant breed with a 23%P and 12%F

    Firstmate POF 23%P and 10%F

    Canidae Large breed 23%P and 13%F

    My mastiffs have done amazing on firstmate and it has actually helped tremendously bring her levels down (she has liver disease and the vet had her on royal canin and she did horrible on it)

    Each cup takes roughly 4 hrs to break down so if your dogs eating 6 cups a day or something their is not enough hours for them to break it down.

    Bigger breakfast and smaller dinner, same with humans you don’t want to eat a huge meal before bed time. We don’t burn and store it, feel sluggish etc.



    Hi mommy0f3pigs-

    If your pittie is already 30lbs at 14 weeks, he will most certainly need a large breed puppy food. Mind you, just because a food claims to be for “all life stages” does NOT always mean it is suitable for large breed puppies.

    The two brands your vet recommend are actually the two best brands for large breed puppy foods on the market because both companies are the worlds leaders in research of large and giant breed puppy growth and development. If you truly do not want to use one of their LBP formulas, I would look at Dr.Tims Kinesis, Wellness, NutriSource or Fromm.

    He is likely itchy from the environment change from one state to the next. When I brought my pit home from north of my state to south east he devloped a staph infection from the change in environment. It went away with antibiotics and never came back. He may need more time to adjust. Unfortunately feeding him exotic proteins and grain free etc now can’t prevent allergies. I did that too on the recommendation of well meaning but uneducated people I worked with and on here and my pittie developed food sensitivities to duck, beef, lamb and peas. Duck is considered exotic and peas are in almost every grain free food. Unfortunately he is just prone to allergies due to poor breeding. Sometimes these things can’t be helped, especially in pitbulls because of the over breeding problem.



    Hi Andrea-

    Welcome and congrats! I love Cane Corso’s! That is the next breed I plan on owning 🙂

    I can certainly understand how crazy you must feel right now worrying about the best food to feed him. There are so many choices now for large/giant breed puppy foods, how can you possibly pick a best one?

    Obviously calcium levels are of upmost importance, but so are other things like digestability, palatability, bioavailablity just to name a few. Also because growth for large and giant breeds is such an important and critical time in their life, I do prefer (but am not commited to) brands that have nutritionists staffed or consult with nutritionists to forumlate the food. Since I’m relying on this food to provide everything for my puppy in the proper amounts, I place value on that. Most of the companies that do that are larger companies that have more resources because of more money. I do understand however, that many people do not feel comfortable using brands of food from larger companies like Purina and Hill’s. A food I would highly consider looking into if you do not want to use a product from Purina or Hill’s is Dr. Tim’s Kinesis (not the grain free). It is formulated by a vet and a veterinary nutritionist and has gone through feeding trials. Another brand I also really like is NutriSource because of it’s high digestability and palatability.

    Another huge thing that people overlook with growing large breed puppies is by all means keep them lean! It keeps stress off the joints and growing bones and can also greatly help reduce the risk for bone disorders during growth and later in life. You can use the Purina Body Condition Score to access his weight and make sure he is staying at a 4/9.

    Best of luck! Post some pictures if you can when you get him!



    Hi Rikki and welcome-

    I can appreciate your desire for science based medicine. To touch on a the points you hit on, no protein is not a factor in terms of correct growth for large and giant breeds. However, Dr. Rebecca Remillard ACVN states on her website, that growing puppies do not require a food with more than 25% protein.

    Absolutely, by no means, should you feed your mastiff an adult maintenance diet. This is a tired old myth still thought to be true because it “worked” 30 years ago. Companies are now producing large breed puppy diets designed specificially for slow growth.

    The safe upper limit for your calcium and phos ratio is 1.5:1. However, you also need to pay attention to the calcium to calorie ratio as well to keep the pup lean during growth. Overfeeding is a huge factor in devlopmental orthopedic disorders.

    As for the choice of food….the two companies that have done the most research on large and giant breed puppy growth and nutrition are Hill’s and Purina. Selecting a large breed puppy diet from either of those companies would be fine. I do understand that some are opposed to using a food from either of those two companies. Dr. Tim’s Kinesis which you mentioned earlier, is safe for a growing giant breed, is formulated by a vet and a nutritionist and has been feed trialed. All qualities that are excellent to have in a food. Not to mention it comes in a 44lb bag on This would probably be my first choice for a budget friendly, good large breed puppy food, not from Hill’s or Purina.

    Here is a good article to read that is posted on DFA here:

    and this is another from the persepctive of a veterinary nutritionist, that outlines DOD’s and large breed puppy nutrition fairly well:



    I totally agree about keeping all large and giant breeds lean. I have 2 big guys and I am very picky about the way I feed them and how lean they are! My 8 year old Lab still has good mobility and can run like crazy.

    I take it you breed Saints? Did you work with a nutritionist for your recipes for the puppies?
    I would be highly nervous too about feeding a homemade raw diet to a giant breed puppy, but it sounds like you put a lot of work into it before trying it out on the litter.

    Post some pictures if you have any!!



    It’s been a while, and I thought I’d provide an update on Galen, now 19 months old, technically an adolescent for a giant breed (Shiloh Shepherd), but no longer a puppy. However, I did go through a number of adjustments to his diet as he grew up, and thought I’d discuss them. I’ll first discuss kibbles, since that is generally the area where improper calcium and phosphorus content causes problems. Brands discussed include Eukanuba, Holistic Select (and other WellPet brands), Canidae, Taste of the Wild, Fromms, Tripett, and my absolute favorite and the most impressive, nutritionally… Darwin’s Natural Selections. I will also briefly touch on treats. Every choice I’ve made for Galen has come about via extensive research, wanting only the very best for Galen’s growth and health, for he is training as my service dog. My first responsibility is to him, even before looking after myself, for it is his responsibility to always be looking after me. Besides… I consider him family on equal par to my most beloved family members. I have linked the Dog Food Advisor pages for Galen’s finalized diet at the bottom of this post.

    Galen’s breeder weaned her litter on Eukanuba Large Breed Puppy diet. After his adoption, I transitioned him to Fromm’s, which is what his breeder now weans her puppies on, but his stools were often quite soft. There was a brief period when I tried Holistic Select Large breed puppy, but rapidly transitioned away from it when Galen became ill. As it happens, ALL kibble foods made by WellPet (Wellness, Holistic Select, Old Mother Hubbard, Eagle Pack) contain green tea extract. While the very small amounts are probably not harmful to most dogs, particularly since it’s being taken with food, I found a number of studies that were halted because of dogs dying after being given green tea extract on an empty stomach. There is no way I can know for certain, but I suspect Galen is somehow particularly susceptible to toxic effects from it, even in small doses. So I began researching foods, and I liked the nutrition profile for some of the Canidae varieties, and while they were not specifically puppy or large breed diets, I contacted Canidae to make sure I chose a variety with the proper calcium and phosphorus ratios for proper bone growth (Canidae has recently been shifting their manufacturing away from Diamond pet foods, with a new processing plant in California). He did well on this, but didn’t like it much. Since he’s rather thin (but not so much as to be unhealthy, according to his vets at Alameda East, the same hospital where Animal Planet’s “Emergency Vets” was filmed, as it’s closest to where I live), I decided to change things up again when he was about a year old. Since he now was at an age where his calcium metabolism was properly established (generally puppies older than 8 months old can properly metabolize calcium, without the need to limit it so much), it broadened the choices of available foods for him. So, I made a list of grain free foods on Dog Food Advisor with 4+ ratings, focusing especially on 5 star rated foods, and ordered a bunch of sample packs for him to try from K9Cuisine. Of all of the foods he tried, he preferred the 5 star rated varieties of Taste of the Wild best. While I’m not fond of the record of Diamond pet foods, I trust the ratings of Dog Food Advisor (except the high ratings of kibbles by WellPet brands, for the previously mentioned Green Tea toxicity risk). Anyway, to keep things interesting for his palate, I now transition between the three 5 star rated varieties of TOTW for dry food.

    Canned foods: From very early on, I had Galen eating Tripett green beef tripe as his wet food. I chose this because green tripe contains the nutrients of what the cow ate as well as the nutritional value and digestive enzymes that are naturally inherent to tripe. I have tried other varieties of canned foods, but Galen usually turns his nose up at them after a few days, when the novelty wears off. There has been a single exception, though, which I also supplement his diet with. That is Darwin’s Natural Selections raw foods. Back when I was letting Galen choose from among the samples I got for him, I also got the $15 introductory sample of the Darwin’s food (10 lbs variety pack), which included free shipping on dry ice. Their foods are raw, made from free-range, organic animal sources and organic vegetables. They come in easy to open plastic packets. Dog Food Advisor not only rates it 5 stars, but enthusiastically recommends the foods. They have never had a recall. I was quite surprised to find that the food was packaged and frozen just a few days before it shipped to me. Now, Once you have had the trial and go to their subscription plan, the cost is far higher, plus shipping on dry ice. It’s too high for me to feed to Galen exclusively or even as half his diet, so I subscribe to it as a supplement to his regular diet, feeding him 2 lbs a week. I get him all varieties, which include chicken, turkey, duck, beef, and bison. Of all of the foods I’ve ever fed a dog, This has been by far of the highest quality I’ve encountered.

    Galen is incredibly picky even with treats, generally preferring single-ingredient, meat based treats. These have included Simply Lamb (freeze dried lamb), PureBites freeze dried chicken breast, PureBites freeze dried duck liver, and Primal freeze dried Nuggets (lamb), although the nuggets I use more as an occasional supplement rather than a treat. Galen turns his nose up at most other treats, even jerky treats. That’s fine by me. I rather like seeing only one ingredient listed, which leaves me zero doubts of there being anything in it that is unnecessary to his health (i.e. preservatives).

    On a final note, around holidays I like to make a turkey stock from the leftovers and carcass (bones removed, of course, after cooking so that nutrients specific to the bones leach into the stock, like the marrow). That turkey stock is for Galen, as a special treat supplementing his food.

    So… Galen’s final adult diet:
    Taste of the Wild (wetlands, High Prairie, and Canyon varieties)
    Tripett Green Beef Tripe
    Darwin’s Natural Selections raw (beef, bison, chicken, turkey, and duck)

    • This reply was modified 1 year, 8 months ago by  CircaRigel.
    • This reply was modified 1 year, 8 months ago by  CircaRigel.
    • This reply was modified 1 year, 8 months ago by  CircaRigel.


    *If this was already answered in this thread please let me know.

    I have a question regarding grains. I have read articles written by some veterinarians who say if you feed kibble only feed grain free. I have also read articles written by other veterinarians who say you should never feed a large or giant breed puppy strictly grain free because it affects growth. All 3 of my dogs are older and my Saint Bernard didn’t come into my life until she was about 2 years old, so I didn’t deal with this issue much. They eat mostly grain free, but do well on some grain inclusive formulas (I like to rotate).

    I may be getting an 8 week old Saint Bernard puppy in a few weeks (currently being weaned onto Earthborn Coastal Catch). He is also smaller than the other puppies and I want to make sure he receives optimal nutrition.

    Has anybody with giant breed puppies noticed any pros or cons feeding either exclusively grain free or grain inclusive foods for growing giant puppies?



    Hi Jeremy and Mike-

    Congratulations on the new mastiff pups! They are wonderful dogs.

    To you both: I would definitely caution against using THK as a sole diet for your growing puppies. The company itself is infamous for diets that are lacking in nutrients per AAFCO and the NRC. Using it supplementally is safe, but not long term by itself.

    However, it does already sound like you both have decided to use a large breed puppy kibble base which is a much better idea. Tripett is a good choice for a canned topper since the calcium and phosphorus are very low and already balanced properly.

    Most veterinary nutritionists recommend using a food from a larger company that invests in feeding trials. Obviously those companies being Hill’s and Purina. I do however understand that many do not feel comfortable using those brands. Dr.Tim’s Kinesis has also been feed trialed and is safe for large breed puppies.

    Others that I recommend that meet the criteria for large breed puppies based on lab analysis are: Fromm Gold Large Breed Puppy, NutriSource Large Breed Puppy, Nulo Puppy(formulated by a veterinary nutritionist they have staffed), Precise Holistic Complete Large & Giant Breed Puppy, Solid Gold Wolf Cub.



    Hi Sue-

    Large breed puppies have much different dietary requirements than small and medium breeds. These dogs are at high risk for developmental orthopedic disorders caused by genetics, but also poor nutrition. It is important to watch calcium intake, so I would heed the suggestion to add too many toppers to the dry kibble during growth or use something like Trippett which has very low calcium and phosphorus.

    The two companies that have done the most research in regards to large and giant breed nutrition and growth are Hill’s and Purina. A puppy food geared towards large breeds from one of those two companies would be a fine choice. However, I do understand that there are those who do not feel comfortable feeding diets from Hill’s and Purina. A few other LBP safe foods I can suggest that are from smaller companies are: NutriSource Large Breed Puppy, Fromm Gold Large Breed Puppy, Precise Holistic Complete Large & Giant Breed Puppy, Nulo Puppy, Solid Gold Wolf Cub, and Dr. Tim’s Kinesis. If you can order online, these are all available on

    Another important thing to remember is not to overfeed, as excess weight puts strain on the developing joints and can also lead to orthopedic disorders. Shepherds are meant to be lean by breed standard, so it is best to keep them that way during growth and throughout life.

    Edit: In regards to your question about Rachael Ray Nutrish. How does the other dog do on it? How is the stool quality? Does she get a clean bill of health from the vet? Does she enjoy eating the food? Your dog is the only one who can tell you how the food is working for her. The opinions of others are irrelevant.



    Hi Kelly- “Puppies need more calcium than an adult dog” Right here is where I need to stop you. Your puppy will be considered a giant breed and while you have been researching a homemade raw diet, you haven’t factored in that you have a dog that will be large. Large and giant breeds do not need more calcium, they need very very controlled levels. The ratio of calcium to phosphorus needs to fall between a 1.1:1 and a 1.5:1 ratio. Anything higher can increase the risk that they grow too quickly and develop devastating orthopedic disorders. I’ve seen the horrible effects of a large breed puppy (specifically a Great Dane) fed a raw diet that was poorly balanced.

    I’m sorry, but I have to agree with Aimee on this. I’m not against feeding raw, but for a large or giant breed, optimal growth is the first and foremost important thing. I would absolutely choose a commercial food that can confirm by emailing you their as fed or MAX levels of calcium and phosphorus, that it is safe for your giant breed puppy.

    • This reply was modified 2 years, 1 month ago by  Pitlove.
    • This reply was modified 2 years, 1 month ago by  Pitlove.


    Hi Ivan- Congratulations on your pup firstly. Malinois are absolutely stunning dogs.

    Like GSD’s, Malinois’ are most often over 50lbs at max weight which means they are a large breed. Large breed puppies require a very strict diet and a food that is formulated to meet the needs of a growing LBP. This means, a food with controlled levels of calcium which will help the body grow slowly, reducing the risk of your pup developing devastating orthopedic disorders even later on in his/her life. Another thing to make sure of is that you do not overfeed too many calories. So no free feeding!

    Here is a link to Dr. Susan Wynn’s site which you will find an article about Large Breed Puppy nutrition that you download to Word. Dr. Wynn is a very well respected veterinary nutritionist.

    Also a link to the Hill’s website about LBP nutrition-

    Some food suggestions to look into that are known to have safe levels of calcium are Fromm Gold Large Breed Puppy, NutriSource Large Breed Puppy, and Precise Holistic Complete Large & Giant Breed Puppy. There are a lot more out their including Royal Canin, Hill’s and Purina if you want to go that route- those I listed are just my personal favorites.

    Edit: Oh you mentioned Taste of the Wild. Both their puppy formulas are formulated with safe calcium levels and would be fine for a large breed puppy.

    • This reply was modified 2 years, 2 months ago by  Pitlove.
    • This reply was modified 2 years, 2 months ago by  Pitlove.


    Hi Julie- I agree that some large breed foods aren’t really well a “scam”, but they aren’t always formulated to meet the calcium needs for large breed puppies. A lot of people opt to feed an adult maintenance food with the correct levels of calcium, but I’m not comfortable with offering advice on an adult food. I don’t think it matters as long as the food has the controlled levels of calcium that is needed for optimal growth. I’d say that this point, since your dog is not a giant breed, you could switch to an adult maintenance or all life stages food and continue feeding to maintain ideal weight. I feed Fromm Gold Large Breed Adult to my pitbull and he does very well on it, but since you are not a fan of Fromm I will not suggest that one. My 5 or 6 year old Chocolate Lab is being transitioned to NutriSource Large Breed Adult and he really likes it. It is chicken based, but NutriSource seems to have good palatability. You could look at some of their other foods as well. They do make grain free if thats the route you’d like to choose.



    Hi Erika,

    Did you happen to take a look at the links I provided to you yesterday over on the review side?

    Here’s the link to the forum thread I suggested you start with: This thread has gotten very long, but there are lots of very helpful posts and links within the first few pages. This will answer the reason why you need to feed a controlled level of calcium to avoid skeletal disorders including hip and elbow dysplasia. You should also avoid over-nutrition (over feeding) which causes undue stress to growing joints and over-exercising for the same reason. You can use the calculator on the review side that you originally posted on to plug in your numbers to make certain that the food you’re looking at is appropriate for your giant breed pup. Your giant breed pup should be fed controlled calcium until he reaches at least 80% of his adult size, which is longer for giant than large breed puppies.

    I know I already shared this too, but to keep everything in one spot, here’s the Google doc with the list of foods with appropriate calcium levels. But, remember I also mentioned that this list is aging and to double check calcium levels before you decide on foods that you like.

    I just wanted to post this real quick, but have to run again!


    In reply to: Acana or Orijen


    Hi Tyler G!

    Everyone has given you some good advice! As long as the food is working digestively, you can use whichever she likes. I do rotate my foods as the others do. If the Orijen gives loose stools, you might want to go with the Acana. They’re both good foods. I do think you might be feeding too much. I have an active 13 lb dog and she gets about the equivelant of 2/3 cup of food per day even though she takes long walks (over a mile) daily. If you need to get her to gain weight, you could also feed her a midday snack to get her weight up. A lot of fosters do this to get the skinny dogs to gain weight. How does she look? She should have a distinct waist when viewed from above and a distinct tuck from her ribs to her back legs. You should be able to easily feel her ribs without pressing in. You should not see her hip or spine. Sometimes we think they’re too thin because we are so used to seeing overweight dogs. As aquariangt said, you want to keep your Doxie on the slim side to prevent back issues.

    Deanna Y, I think the Orijen has been reformulated with a lower calcium level, but I’m not feeding any LB puppies currently. Here’s the DFA forum link that’s really helpful:



    Hi Tonia- Marie did actually point you in a good direction if you are interested in feeding raw/homemade. Hound Dog Mom who is the one who made the thread focusing on large/giant breed puppies does in fact feed a raw homemade diet and talks about it in that thread. It is however a very long thread but a good and helpful thread. Unfortunetly large breed puppies have certain diet requirements until 8mo’s of age that help prevent many diabilitating skeletal diseases, that can end up costing thousands of dollars in vet bills.

    Hound Dog Mom has a list of foods that have the proper calcium levels for large/giant breed puppies, some are grain-free and others are grain-inclusive. I would start there and figure out what your budget IS and then compare a few that she has on her list and see if any are budget friendly enough. They are all 4 to 5 star in quality so if you are looking for something 3 stars or lower to save money A) that list won’t be too helpful and B) the food may not have the correct calcium levels a large breed puppy needs.


    In reply to: Fussy Lab Puppy


    Hi Trevor’s puppy parent:

    Congrats on your new addition! It is a little unusual for Labs to be picky. I have two very unpicky labs. LOL! I don’t know if you have checked out any of the various articles on this site, but there are a few that contain valuable information for feeding large breed pups. They have special requirements to help with keeping their joints healthy while they are growing. The biggest being calcium levels in food. Here is a link with helpful information:

    Here is another link with recommended foods for large breed puppies:

    Please write back with any other questions you may have. Thank you for rescuing a puppy and good luck!


    Bobby dog

    Hi Cecile:
    Did you check out the links to all the articles on the first page of this thread? Here’s an article with more info on feeding large and giant breed puppies with references posted at the end that could help with your research.

    Keep in mind the commercial foods you have access to are more than likely different from those available in the U.S. Looks like the Eukanuba is a better choice out of those two kibbles.

    I can’t comment on the milk powder and chic liver mix other than maybe the milk powder would throw the calcium ratio off; IDK if it’s beneficial to feed or not. Hopefully someone else will pop in with more knowledge. Any extra foods should be kept at no more than 10% of his daily caloric intake to avoid nutritional imbalance.

    If you are interested in more home cooked dog food recipes for your other dogs I can post the names of some books.


    The 1.5 cups ber day is for a full grown adult dog. Puppies definitely need more. Guesstimate how much your pup should weigh full grown and then use that amount for the feeding guideline. I would expect it to be around 4-6 cups. Assess your pups body condition often and adjust food accordingly. Make sure to keep your pup lean so it grows slowly. This helps avoid joint issues. Have you looked at the large and giant breed puppy nutrition thread?


    In reply to: large breed dog


    As growing puppies, large and giant breeds have very specific calcium requirements, which most large breed puppy foods don’t even meet, but once they are grown, you can feed them whatever. Just concentrate on feeding a correct amount of good quality food so that they don’t become overweight and more prone to joint issues. You may also want to add a joint supplement to help ward off damage to joints.

    Some large breed formulas have joint supplements added in, but they are never actually at a therapeutic dose unless you over feed by quite a lot. Some restrict one nutrient or another based on old outdated research.



    I’m not the one to figure out if a raw diet is balanced or not, but I do see some glaring(to me) issues. I think this recipe is very heavy on organs. Organs should make up about 10% of the meat portion of the diet with liver being half of that. Heart does not count as an organ because it is all muscle and fat. Adding chicken with the bone in is OK, and so are the eggs including shell, but the extra shells may be too much calcium, and too much calcium is a big no-no for large and giant breed puppies. Basically, 2 large egg shells are enough calcium for 1 lb of boneless meat. Make sure you use different veggies every batch, because feeding broccoli all the time isn’t good either. I prefer to use one type of protein at a time and rotate proteins.

    Have you called your breeder and got their recipe for the raw that the puppies were started on?



    Hi Daria,

    interestingly enough, Ca/Ph ratio isn’t even discussed in the discussion of diet for growing large/giant breeds in Applied Veterinary Clinical Nutrition 2012. Nor is a specific ratio mentioned in recommendations for large breed growth. Dr. Larsen ACVN in an article on feeding large breed puppies writes “The ratio of calcium to phosphorus should be approximately 1:1 to 1.5; however, absolute amounts of each nutrient appear to be more important than the ratio per se.8 Clinical experience supports this, as developmental problems with extreme ratios in the presence of adequate dietary concentrations of calcium and phosphorus have not been reported.”

    Based on those sources I personally don’t draw a line in the sand in regards to ratios during large breed growth.


    Boerboel Daddy

    Hound Dog Mom

    My Boerboel ( South African, Mastiff Type dog) is four months old.
    He was fed Royal Canine Giant Breed Puppy by the breeder i wish to switch to Coastal catch as per your recommeded foods lists… but Im a bit confused with the feeding guide.

    Usually one would feed for the dogs adult weight but is tht the same with Large breed puppies… all large breed formulas differ from the adult feeding guides until the pups reach a certain age…

    is that true for Eathborn Ocean Fusion as well? i have used the calculator but the 6 cups of food just seems too much for a four month old pup to be eating… are they refering to a standard sized cup? if so how much is said cup in grams?


    Hound Dog Mom

    Hi Nat R –

    Just so you know, no studies exist demonstrating that protein has negative effects on giant breed puppies or adults – anything you read about this is myth and nothing more. There is, however, a lot of research proving the protein is not harmful.

    Feeding Large Breed Puppies by Susan Winn DVM (Featured in IVC Journal)

    “A common misconception found in many internet articles is the claim that dietary protein should be controlled in large breed puppies to prevent skeletal abnormalities. This theory was disproved some years ago (Nap, 1991). Most commercial puppy foods contain more protein than is thought necessary, but studies have shown that protein contents of 23% to 31% (dry matter) do not have a deleterious effect on growth.”

    “Decades ago, we considered some adult diets appropriate for puppies. However, a calorie-calcium mismatch is probably common. Adult maintenance foods are often less calorically dense than puppy foods. Additionally, these diets may have calcium and phosphorus levels that are higher in relation to energy density than a large breed puppy diet. If a rapidly growing puppy has to eat more food to obtain enough calories for growth, a calcium overdose is possible.”

    “Most nutritionists recommend that large, fast growing puppies eat diets containing AT LEAST 30% protein and 9% fat (dry matter basis).”

    The Effect of Breed Size on Nutritional Considerations for Growing Puppies

    “Excessive intake of dietary protein has been suggested as a contributing factor to skeletal developmental problems, such as osteochondrosis, in large breed dogs. This hypothesis was tested by feeding Great Dane puppies either 15%, 23% or 32% dietary protein (13%, 21% or 29% of energy). While the low protein diet reduced growth, no detrimental effects from the higher protein diets were observed.”

    This is a FANTASTIC article (one of my favorites) on large breed nutrition written by Susan Lauten PhD – I would HIGHLY recommend reading it in its entirety, however here are some of the highlights:

    Nutritional Risks to Large-Breed Dogs: From Weaning to the Geriatric Years

    “Currently, no evidence exists to suggest that high-protein intake contributes to the development of orthopedic disease in growing large-breed puppies. Previous studies suggesting a risk for high protein and DOD were confounded by higher energy intake in high-protein foods. In general, large-breed puppy diets are formulated to contain approximately 30% protein (DMB) similar to other puppy foods.”

    “…feeding adult foods to large-breed puppies before 1 year of age is not recommended because the calcium-to-energy ratio is generally lower in adult foods compared with large-breed puppy food. Feeding an adult food can actually result in greater intake of calcium than feeding puppy foods. Because the puppy must consume a larger portion of adult food to meet energy needs for growth, total calcium intake may actually be higher than with a properly formulated large-breed puppy formula.”

    Here is the link to a study done on Great Dane pups that was featured in the Journal of Nutrition. The study concluded: “the differences in protein intake per se did not affect the occurrence of disturbed skeletal development in young Great Danes.”

    Do You Know What to Feed Your Large Breed Dog? By Karen Becker DVM

    “Studies have repeatedly concluded dietary protein levels have no effect on the development of skeletal problems in large and giant breed dogs. But still today, many breeders of large dogs, owners and even some veterinarians will tell you protein is the problem, even though there is no evidence to prove it. Protein excess is not the problem. In fact, it’s often a dietary protein deficiency that contributes to skeletal problems.”

    You may find this of interest as well. Here Dr. Becker interviews a Newfie breeder (not Great Danes I know – however Newfies are generally considered to be a giant breed). This breeder feeds his dogs HIGH protein raw and his dogs don’t experience many of the health problems typical to giant breed dogs and his dogs live much longer than most giant breeds (he had a dog live to be 17 – the typical life span of a giant breed is about 8).

    Sorry to bombard you with reading, but large breed nutrition is one of my favorite subjects and I like to make sure people have the facts. 🙂

    • This reply was modified 3 years, 9 months ago by  Hound Dog Mom.
    • This reply was modified 3 years, 9 months ago by  Hound Dog Mom.

    MastiffLove’s Questions transferred from

    Hi Sharon! I will be looking into the facebook group after we get our puppy, Zeus is his name :), cause our teens don’t know about it yet and adding that group to our facebook will certainly give them a hint lolll
    Someone wrote (i think it was you!?): “Last week I found a farm that grass feeds, no GMOs, but they do feed grains in the three weeks prior to slaughter (I’m still checking to see if that is standard practice and if not, why it’s done and whether it effects the quality of the meat (other than the tripe) – more questions for my conference list)”
    What were you told?

    We will buy in bulk, meaning half a cow, lots of chickens (loose fat removed), half a pig (less pig since it has more fat)(will add organs to those) for a start and later on i will add more types of meats as i find farmers or producers around my area. I will make this food for my 8weeks old English Mastiff puppy BUT my wife’s parents are getting a Colley puppy in July and later on during the summer a German Sheppard puppy, also a friend of ours is researching for a good breeder of Great Danes. That being said we would be 4 different dogs on the same recipe.
    1- Can i get Green Tripe from a meat manufacture(not sure if thats how its called)?
    2- Can i grind necks?
    3- instead of using pureed vegetable can i use a Supergreen powder mixted with the meat then freeze?
    4- Should fruits be pureed? or chopped in fine pieces is ok? (like apples for example)
    5- wy use Sweet potatoes, isn’t it a source of carbs? Should it always be boiled or can it be oven baked?
    6- Thinking of buying in bulk therefore i would have the company to grind the meat including bones…would using:
    URBAN WOLF Balancer give a too high output on Calcium and an unbalanced Calc./Phos.?
    Should i use Dr. Harvey’s Formative Years for Puppies?
    NOT to forget my puppy is 8weeks old!
    7- As for Greens should i use Mercola’s SpiruGreen Superfood and/OR Swanson’s Sprouted Flax Powder mixed with Wheat Grass Powder?
    8- Kymythy Schultze a certified clinical nutritionist said:” Calcium can go out of solution when feeding too many vegetables. Keeping normal acidity (low alkaline) in the digestion by avoiding veggies in puppies keeps calcium in solution and won’t deposit excess on the bones.”
    (p.s.: thank you Sharon Buchanan for the quote!)
    Would adding the product from Question 8 result in unbalancing my pups acidity?
    9- i would mix everything up in large batches (some batch will have some ingredients and some will have different ones to “balance” it out in day on day off type of feeding), and separate in individual portion size for an 8 weeks old large pup in air tight sealed bags and then into the freezer. Doing so would i loose any efficiency of certain foods like greens and fish oil?
    *** End comment: I was happy and felt like applauding for funding 300,000$ for the Washington State GMO Labeling Initiative, they are one of the companies, amongst many others, that i buy products from as supplements for my puppy raw diet. ***


    Hi Patrick. I don’t have experience with GSD’s specifically, but I do know that large breed puppies have specific dietary needs. You have to have the correct amount and balance of calcium and phosphorous in the food or they could develop orthopedic issues. Also, you must not overfeed. Slow and steady growth is best. The large breed puppy nutrition thread is a great resource.
    Hound Dog Mom, a very knowledgeable member made a list of foods appropriate for large breed puppy growth. All foods on the list are 4 or 5 stars. See here:

    There are some affordable 4 and 5 star foods that won’t break the bank. You can get the best selection and price by ordering online. I like and Both ship free with a $49 order. The most affordable foods with grain from the list are: Dr. Tim’s Kinesis, Nutrisource Large Breed Puppy, and Victor Select (Chicken & Rice or Lamb & Rice). The most affordable grain-free is Earthborn Holistic (Meadow Feast or Coastal Catch). Other grain-free foods I would consider are Wellness Core Puppy and Nature’s Variety Instinct Turkey. Grain-free foods are more expensive but you can offset the cost of feeding grain-free by alternating with grain-inclusive foods as long as your dog tolerates both. It’s best to rotate through different foods and not feed the same thing all the time. I hope this helps. Someone else may chime in and give you more specifics about GSD’s specifically.


    Hi! I was researching some info on food for our dogs and I came upon this site and more importantly, this great thread. I read some of the thread but didn’t see what I was looking for exactly, so my apologies if this has already been addressed, but I really want to make sure that we are doing the right thing when it comes to feeding our wonderful dogs.

    We have a Great Dane that is now almost 13 months old and we have a St Bernard puppy that will be 14 weeks old this Friday. Right now we are feeding them both Artemis Fresh Mix for medium and large breed puppies. We went with this food because it got good reviews and from what we could find, it’s a high quality food. But now that Pepper (our Dane) is over a year old, we were thinking of transitioning her to an adult food and preferably a grain free one because she does have a rather sensitive stomach. In researching this, we saw that calcium content is an issue in giant breed dogs, especially breeds like the Great Dane, and it seems that many grain free foods are higher in calcium.

    What we want to switch Pepper over too is the Merrick grain free line of foods because from everything we have ever read, Merrick is a fantastic company that makes extremely high quality food. And since we have to get the Artemis food shipped in because nobody locally carries it, and we already use the Merrick canned food a couple of times a week to supplement the dry food and both our dogs love it, we would really like to use the Merrick food once our dogs are old enough to switch to adult food. I did e-mail Merrick to find out what their calcium content is by dry matter and they sent me the following:

    Grain Free Chicken- 2.50%
    Grain Free Buffalo- 2.50%
    Grain Free Duck- 2.50%
    Grain Free Pork- 2.32%

    Now these are all over the recommended limit of 1.3% to 1.5% that I have read about for giant breed dogs, but most of those limits were for their growth stage. My question (and concern) is, is Pepper old enough now where the calcium content of the food isn’t as critical as it would be if she were still a fast growing puppy (she’s right about 100 pounds now and hasn’t put on much weight at all in the last few months, she’s seems pretty steady at her current weight and size)? She currently is eating twice a day (morning and evening) about 2 cups at each feeding.

    Sorry for the long winded first post and thank you in advance for any advice/information you can throw our way, it is greatly appreciated!

    Lance & Nikki



    I just wanted to say that I didn’t intentionally ignore your post. I tend not to respond unless I feel 100% sure in the advice I can offer. I personally didn’t go through the LBP phase. I adopted my Great Dane when he was 2. I feed a combination of raw and dehydrated but I know that not everyone is comfortable in feeding raw. I fed my boy kibble for 5 years before I started learning about raw.

    I think that coconut oil, flax, and fish oil are great supplements to be adding right now. I don’t think it’s wise to give a ton of supplements to puppies right off the bat. Those 3 though are great. The only other thing you might want to consider is digestive enzymes and probiotics if you notice your pup needs a little extra digestive support. I give them to my dog because he’s older. You can also give a little bit of kefir. You can find it in the grocery store. It has 10 strains of probiotics. It’s much better than yogurt. You’d have to feed way more yogurt to get the same probiotic benefit as kefir. Also, I too switch off fish oil with krill oil. I would definitely continue to do that. They don’t need as much krill oil as fish oil because it is more bioavailable so you’ll want to watch your dosage. Here is info on krill oil from Dr. Becker:

    Here is an article from Dr. Becker on using Tumeric: She provides dosage at the bottom. “Small to medium-sized dogs can be given 250 milligrams twice a day, and large to giant breeds should get 500 milligrams two to three times a day.” Here is an article on coconut oil if you haven’t seen it already:

    If I were feeding kibble from HDM’s list, my top picks would be Earthborn Holistic and Annamaet. I have fed both to my dog and he did really well on them. I haven’t used it but I like the look of Dr. Tim’s. I also used The Honest Kitchen. I’ve been using for almost 6 years now. It’s a dehydrated food that you rehydrate with water before serving. It’s not raw because it has been heated during the dehydration process, though at a lot lower temperature than what kibble is exposed to when being extruded. You can use it as a topper if you want. The Thrive and Love varieties are complete and balanced with the correct Ca/P ratio for a LBP.


    Sue’s Zoo ~

    I am a nanobyte of information away from going raw. I spent two months researching the best kibble to buy for my Golden puppy and now I’ve spent another eight months researching the best way to feed my growing boy and have come to the conclusion that raw is the way to go. Unfortunately, I am also concerned about balancing not only calcium and phosphorus but everything else, protein, veggies, supplements.

    Being at a similar point in the raw decision as you (everyone makes it out to be no big deal but it is intimidating nevertheless), the best I can offer is to share a few things I’ve learned along the way and hope it’s helpful.

    Having had a Golden that required double-hip surgery before she was two, proper bone growth was a huge concern for me. If you’ve been to the LBP nutrition forum (, you’ve probably already read some of the suggestions that Hound Dog Mom posted at the beginning of the thread. If you haven’t, do – It would’ve saved me a lot of research time if I’d found the forum ten months ago. Although I waded through the technical jargon in many of the articles, I found the article by Baker most useful and objective. Now that Mystery is 10 months old, I’m allowing more calcium in his diet than Baker’s recommended .8%. I’ve changed his kibble to one with a higher calcium content (from Innova to Orijen), and have started giving him an occasional RMB and raw egg (yeah, puppy steps).

    I can’t speak to whether a puppy should eat raw bones until their adult teeth are in except to say that when I asked my breeder about food choices, I was told he starts giving his puppies chicken backs at six months.

    As far as balanced nutrition goes, I’ve considered “balanced” frozen raw brands but they really are expensive and there’s much debate as to whether they’re safe. I’ve read so much conflicting, contradictory and even argumentative information that I have to take a few days off research just to clear my head. Sometimes I wonder if I’ll ever get my Mystery off kibble.

    That said, I did find an Internet conference (what will they think of next), on feeding raw that is hosted by Dogs Naturally Magazine. You can find more information here: It isn’t until the end of the month but I’ve already registered and am hopeful to glean that last nanobyte of information so that Mystery will be eating only raw in March.


    There are 3 reasons why the grain-inclusive Great Life didn’t make the list:
    1- the calcium was too high.
    2- the food is not 4 stars or above.
    3- they didn’t respond to HDM’s inquiry about their actual calcium levels.

    I’m not sure which one it was, but HDM said that if I food wasn’t on the list then it was because of one of the above reasons.

    What are you still searching for? I would not be afraid to use the Wellness Core or NVI Turkey. I have to concur with Patty. The issue with growing large breed puppies is not protein. They need to grow slow and not have too much calcium. HDM has figured out the calcium for us with her list. As for slow growth, they can grow slow on high protein/high calorie foods but you can NOT overfeed them. If they get too many calories and grow too fast then you will run into problems. Regarding how much to feed- yes, you would feed less of a high protein/grain-free food because it has more calories. Those foods tend to be more calorically dense because they have more meat which means more fat and fat contains double the amount of calories as protein. If you fed a grain-inclusive the calories would probably be lower because there are more carbs (from the grains) and less fat. So you could feed more of a grain-inclusive. It depends on the dog. I had a rottie (passed last month from cancer) that acted hungry all the time no matter what food he was eating, grain-free or grain-inclusive. I suspect labs can be the same way. If I were you, I would start feeding the Wellness or NVI Turkey and see how he does on them. If he does well then great! Add those to a rotation list. Then you can try a grain-inclusive like Dr. Tim’s Kinesis and see how he does. If he does well on both types of food then I see no real reason to why he can’t eat grain-inclusive. You can alternate between grain-free and grain-inclusive foods.

    That’s my 2 cents. I hope it helps alleviate some of the confusion. Here is a great article about large breed puppy growth by Dr. Karen Becker: I feel like this is a great summary of what this whole thread is about and it explains it much better than I can.



    Brand new to the forum and holy cow you folks on here are so crazy about dog food – and I am so thankful for it because I’ve learned so much in one night just scanning through the posts! Calcium, protein, grain, ingredients… Thank you!!!

    We’re welcoming a Newfie puppy into our family in a couple months – will be 9 wks old. Just want to make sure I’m understanding correctly – on the Large Breed Puppy Food List document with calcium info, this is a list of recommended kibble for PUPPIES, correct? I ask because many of those listed don’t indicate they’re specifically for puppies. Just checking!

    Also – It’s a pretty comprehensive list. Any recommendations/experience with any of the brands/blends for a young puppy/giant breed such as a Newfie? One breeder told us she feeds her puppies Pro Pac. Obviously not on the list.

    Want to do the right thing for my Newfie boy though would prefer to not have his food cost more than what I’m feeding my kids!!! 🙂 Again – Thank you all for the valuable information!


    Sue’s Zoo

    First, thank you so much HDM for taking time to respond and Patty for helping out. I guess I did realize the c:p ratio was still important but was hoping it might be somewhat automatic when feeding raw. And from your response it seems like that is the case IF I get the balance correct between organ, muscle/tissue, and bone. And there are several ways to accomplish that–grinds, RMBs, Tripe mixes, etc. I guess at this point I just want the simplest way to get started, which ideally would be someone saying: feed this, then this, etc. 🙂 while I read and re-read all your info and additional recommended resources to educate myself and become more confident in creating my own meals. I did see some of your info under raw feeding giving your dogs various diets over a period of time. I’m going to look at those more closely because I think it’s what I need to kickstart the program. I just wasn’t sure if those contained all the necessary nutrition for large breed PUPPIES (as well as adult dogs). So thanks again for your response.

    I think I may start with MPC as I look for less expensive routes for the future. Considering what I pay for just doing half Primal (chicken, beef, rabbit and venison) plus top end kibble/canned (rotating Wellness CORE Puppy/Earthborn Coastal Catch/Halo Surf n Turf, plus a daily can of FROMM Gold rotating proteins), with these pups, I can’t imagine it’s going to be much more…I hope. And I’m going to get a freezer (checking CL today)

    And lastly, for now, you mentioned books. I have the Ancestral Diet book. I’ve noticed Dr. Becker’s is recommended in several places so I plan to get it. Are you familiar with Raw Dog Food by Carina Beth MacDonald? Any others you could recommend to help me jump in quickly?

    So happy to have found this site. I’m sure I’ll have many more questions over the next few months. Learning so much from you and some others. And I’m a skeptic so I don’t trust everything I read on the internet. But just by reading your posts it’s obvious you’ve done the research and know what you’re talking about.


    Hound Dog Mom

    Hi Sue’s Zoo –

    Yes, the calcium to phosphorus ratio is still important when feeding a homemade raw diet. When feeding a “grind” such as those sold by My Pet Carnivore there’s really no way of knowing the “exact” C:P ratio although it is assumed that it’s balanced. However, as we know, the concern with large breed puppies is not only that the C:P ratio is balanced but also that it remains relatively low. My suggestion (and what I did with my pups) would be to mix in about 25% green tripe with any grind that you feed (MPC does have a great grind called “Ground Beef Tripe Supermix” which is 50% green tripe/40% muscle meat, bone, organ/10% trachea and gullet which would be a good choice). Green tripe has a balanced calcium to phosphorus ratio of 1:1 but the levels of each mineral are relatively low (only about 0.3%) this way you can “lower” the overall ratio without the risk of throwing it off balance.

    It’s also perfectly fine to start young pups on RMBs (it’s easiest to start small – chicken necks, etc.) but I would recommend feeding some muscle meat at each RMB meal. RMBs do have a balanced C:P ratio but it is very high (usually close to that upper 2:1 limit) so I would say feed about half as much muscle meat as you do RMB. So, for example, if you feed 8 oz. of chicken necks also feed 4 oz. of muscle meat.

    As far as ordering – you’re going to be going through A LOT of meat with two large dogs. I currently have two female bloodhounds and we go through about 150 lbs. of meat per month. When I had my large male (who unfortunately passed last summer) we were going through closer to 250 lbs. per month. My suggestion – especially if you’re on a budget – would be to try and locate a wholesaler. I get my meat delivered right to my house by a wholesaler that sells to grocery stores and restaurants. They butcher all their own meat so they do have items like chicken backs, gizzard, hearts, organ meat, etc. and will deliver to kennels that order at least 300 lbs. at a time. You will likely have to place a large order if you go this route but if you invest in some freezers it’s worth it in the long run – I pay <$1 per pound for everything I get. The only meat I order outside of my wholesaler is green tripe and I get this from Hare Today – with the shipping it’s the most expensive thing my dogs get. You can often find good deals on used freezers on craig’s list or in the free trader.

    Do you know how to create a balanced diet from scratch? There are some great books out there and also some pre-mixes if you’re not sure about what you’re doing.


    Sue’s Zoo

    Currently feeding my 6 month old shiloh half raw (Primal) and getting ready to move the 3 month old to raw as well. I want to switch to full raw but cost is prohibitive with commercial foods so I’ve decided to order my MPC and do it myself.

    My concerns are:

    -Do I still need to consider kcal and calcium/phosphorus ratio? If so how on earth would I calculate it?

    -If someone has experience with this do you think it will be completely overwhelming to keep everything ordered in proper quantities with two very fast-growing pups? The older is now 85 pounds and the younger is 40.

    -Should I wait til younger pups adult teeth are in (raw meaty bones)?

    I really want to do it but feeling a bit overwhelmed. (Maybe I need a topic for feeding non-commercial raw to large breed puppies!) Also posting under Raw Feeding topic.


    crazy mom-

    The general consensus is that puppies can start regulating calcium uptake at 10 months. Your Danes are both over 10 months so you don’t have to feed one of the foods on HDM’s list. The most important thing is that it is “All Life Stages”. Most of the “large breed,” “giant breed,” “senior” labels are just marketing and there is no real benefit to feeding those foods over a regular ALS food.

    Victor is a good food. Most of their varieties are 4 and 5 stars.
    The Victor Select Professional formula looks good, it’s rated 4 stars. The Hi Pro Plus is 5 stars. You would be ok feeding any of their varieties but I’d stay away from the Multi-Pro Maintenance and the Beef Meal and Brown Rice, both are 3.5 stars.

    If you can, it is better to rotate different brands of foods rather than different formulas within the same brand. Any deficiencies or abundances in certain vitamins or minerals will likely be present in all formulas within a brand. If you can rotate different brands, you are more likely to cover all your bases because different brands have different vitamin/mineral profiles. Do you know what other brands your feed store carries? I could help you sort out some of the better ones to choose from if you like.

    Edit- regarding transitioning, you may have to do it slowly at first. The more you change the food the easier transition will become. I changed foods after every bag and my Dane could switch cold turkey from bag to bag after awhile. That’s something you’ll need to watch your dogs for. If their stools start becoming loose then you might be transitioning too fast and need to slow it back down.

    • This reply was modified 4 years, 2 months ago by  RescueDaneMom.


    PattyVaughn just posted about keeping the puppy lean. I will be picking up my 8 week old Giant Schnauzer puppy in two days. Breeder says that the puppy is chunky, and she is feeding Royal Canin puppy food. I’ll be changing that food to Wellness Core Puppy (and will switch gradually if possible, however its likely that puppy is going to like the new food better than the old–the cat even chewed into the Wellness bag to get that kibble.)

    Anyways, my puppy is definitely not lean. Do I just work on feeding better food and let her the legs catch up with the belly? Puppies are like babies and you don’t put a baby on a diet. Since the breeder still has a couple of pups she hasn’t been measuring the food: she puts it out in a pan and lets them all go for it for a max of 30 minutes twice a day. I will not be feeding free choice for a set time period.

    Whats the word on getting that puppy to slim down without starving her?



    The amount you feed of any food has to be based on the number of calories the dog needs and the number of calories in the food, so throw out any method of determining amount that does not take into account that some foods have more calories than others. Next, it is very important to keep large and giant breed puppies lean while they are growing, so slim is good as long as he isn’t looking emaciated. The 4 cups plus topper that you are feeding is very close to their recommendation, so I would say you are probably feeding very close to the perfect amount.

    So the only question I have for you is:
    When are you going to post a picture?



    Just wanted to update and see if anyone has any thoughts on this. About a week ago, the vet put Augie back on anti-biotics (SMZ TMP). His diarrhea had gotton so bad that he was having it all night long. They also had him start back on Pro-Pectalin. After about 3-4 days on that (SMZ and Pro-Pect), his diarrhea got better and his stools became intermittently soft and formed – with occasional diarrhea/runny stuff. In the meantime, his stool had been sent to an outside lab. The results came back Saturday and the lab found a pathogenic bacteria called Campylobacter. They switched his anti-biotic immediately to a new one called Marbofloxacin and continued the Pro-Pectalin. He has been on that combination for 2 days and things are about the same so far. I read that Marbofloxacin is not recommended for large breed puppies under 12 months of age (can cause bone/joint abnormalities) so I called the vet. He said that this is true, but only in pets who have taken the med for longer than 14 days (his script is for 14 days). He also said it had the least side effects of all the anti-biotics that the lab recommended.

    Does anyone know anything about Campylobacter and/or Marbofloxacin? Is it possible that this is what has been wrong all along?

    As far as feeding, I’m still feeding NVI Rabbit, along with a theraputic dose of Mercola Probiotics (no pumkpin, no digestive enzymes, no treats other than his kibble).



    Hi sorting through all the good information — I’ve come up with a few questions
    1) why did Grain Free Canine Caviar Open Sky make the list but Grain Free Canine Caviar Puppy did not?
    2) None of the Blue Buffalo dry products made the list at all – why is that.

    Ive created some spread sheets and in particular looked at calcium and there are not major differences? At what point do small percentage points — i.e. the difference between 1.2% and !.5% make a difference – I mean statistically what is the variance in these numbers when a food doesn’t make the list by only a few tenths of a %?

    3) While numerical data is great isn’t there any sage wisdom out there for specific large breeds? I have Berners (bernese mountain dogs) – on the main website it says ”

    “Bernese Mountain Dog owners feed a range of food from raw diet, homemade diets to commercially prepared kibble. No matter what type of feed, Berner owners seem to agree to feed a high quality food with relatively low protein level, approximately 18 -26% and a moderate fat content, under 16%. High protein/fat feeds (> 28%, >16%) can be ‘too much’ for many Bernese, especially those that are not very active working/performance dogs. Feeding a diet that is too ‘heavy’ in protein has been known to precipitate hotspot outbreaks in some Berners. A diet too high in fat adds unwanted pounds and in some cases causes diarrhea.”

    So did one study on large breed puppies looking at critical variables protein levels, calcium etc debunk all the sage wisdom from breeders – some of which specifically notice concerns with high levels of protein over 30%



    Growth spurts don’t come from protein level. There is an old myth going around that won’t die, because ignorant breeders perpetuate it, that high protein causes too fast growth in large breed dogs. This has been disproven. Period. The real culprits are overfeeding and too much calcium. This has been proven. Period. I’m relatively positive that one of the links that Hound Dog Mom provided on the first page of this thread was to the study summary where these facts were proven. However, you can google it for yourself, just google “calcium levels for large breed puppies” and you will get a few different studies about it. If you want to go at it from the other direction, google “protein levels for large breed puppies.” Try looking for actual science rather than some breeders opinion though, there are definitely articles supporting every opinion under the sun. If in your research, you find that Hound Dog Mom is right, then by all means share what you have learned with your breeder. She needs more current info.


    Hi jewels!

    I think most would agree that high protein is good for large breed puppies. Yes, Patty was saying that some people use 30% as the minimum protein level that they will feed. I am one of those people. I believe HDM once said that there is no such thing as too much protein for a healthy dog. For a large breed puppy (LGP) you really have to be careful with the the amount of calcium in the food because they are prone to developing bone issues if their bones grow too fast.

    The calcium and phosphorous on the bags and websites are usually reported as a minimum percentage (ie 1.0% min). HDM contacted the companies and asked for the actual percentages (not minimums) of calcium and phosphorous in their foods, then calculated how many grams of each were in 1000kcal of the food. This factors in the calorie counts in the foods. Some foods can be deceiving because they look like they have low calcium but because of the calorie count you have to feed more of it so you end up feeding more calcium than is safe for a growing large breed puppy.

    So yes, as far as calcium goes, you are missing a piece- the formula that HDM uses to convert the calcium % to grams of calcium per 1000kcal. That would only give you a minimum number though because that’s what is reported on the bag. You would need to contact the company to get the actual amount of calcium in the food. That’s why it’s easiest for all of us to use the list that HDM made.

    NV Prairie LGP is on the list so you are fine with what you have been feeding. If you want to use a higher protein food for the next in his rotation, you could try Annamaet Aqualuk or Salcha (30%), Black Gold Ultimate Grain Free 32/18 Salmon (32%), Earthborn Holistic Coastal Catch (32%), Wellness Core Puppy (36%).

    I hope this is helpful and clears some things up for you.



    Hello everyone! I’m new and found this site while trying to search for answers for my 11 week old standard poodle puppy. The breeder sent me home with instructions to feed him adult food not puppy food. She feeds a 50/50 mixture of Purina Pro Select for Sensitive Stomach and Skin (salmon) and Eukannuba Adult Large Breed. My vet disagrees and told me to only feed a large breed puppy food. I’m glad I found this site! I haven’t read all 37 pages of this forum but did read several pages on either end as well as looked at the document link on page 15. My head is swimming (numbers/stats/percentages make my brain hurt). I will be spending days on here trying to get a grasp on this subject, but meanwhile I wondered if there are any recommendations for this breed? The document listed foods by alphabetical order… is there anyone willing to give me a top three or five choices in the grain free and grain inclusive categories? Also, the breeder said to free feed to avoid bloat. Is that the consensus here or are scheduled feedings preferred for puppies? Thanks! I’m feeling a bit overwhelmed!


    Hound Dog Mom

    Congrats on the new pup! 🙂

    All the foods you mentioned are great except I would avoid the Kirkland – it’s manufactured by Diamond (poor quality control/frequent recalls). I’d actually recommend rotating between the foods – the earlier you start a rotational diet and get your pup accustomed to a variety of healthy foods the better! 🙂

    Grain-free diets are recommended because grains are not a natural component of a dog’s diet. Kibbles containing grains are often (but not always!) lower in animal-derived protein and carry a higher risk of being contaminated with mycotoxins. Many dogs also seem to have food sensitivities with symptoms that subside once they are switched to a grain-free diet. Grains are also inflammatory, contain anti-nutrients (such as lectins) and many (like corn) are often genetically modified. With this said, not all grain-inclusive kibbles are bad. The thing is, a starch component is necessary in kibble. Ideally a dog’s diet would contain no grains or starches but starch is needed to bind the kibble. Starch can be present in the form or grains, legumes, potatoes, tapioca or some combination of these. The thing is, many of the grain-alternative starches carry many of the same negative attributes as grains. For this reason, when feeding a kibble I believe the most important thing to look for is a high level of animal-derived protein – I prefer foods with over 30% protein with over 80% being animal-derived. Two quality grain-inclusive foods are appropriate for large breed puppies that I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend are Dr. Tim’s Kinesis ALS and Annamaet’s Ultra Formula.


    Hound Dog Mom

    Hi Kobe –

    I think Nature’s Variety has fairly positive comments overall. I personally feel it’s one of the best kibbles available. The Instinct LID Turkey, Instince Rabbit, Prairie Puppy and Prairie Large Breed Puppy are all appropriate for large breed puppies. Ziwipeak is a wonderful food, however I wouldn’t recommend feeding it to a large breed puppy due to its high calcium levels. Raw is preferable to kibble if you can afford it. If you scroll back a few pages there’s a link to a pdf file which lists appropriate foods.


    Hound Dog Mom

    Hi EHubbman –

    I would try to discourage him from drinking lake water – although not highly likely it is possible for dogs to contract giardia or leptospirosis from doing this. Has he been tested for Giardia (giardia can cause yellowish diarrhea) and is he on a quality multi-strain probiotic and digestive enzyme supplement? If not, I would have him tested for giardia (you have to specifically ask for this test, it won’t show up on a regular fecal and make sure your vet sends the sample to a lab – much more accurate than in-house testing) and get him on digestive supplements. You may also want to give an herbal digestive supplement (such as The Honest Kitchen’s Perfect Form) a try – some people have had a lot of success with herbal digestive supplements.

    Orange tinged stool can be a sign of small intestine bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) – meaning the intestinal flora is off balance. This is common secondary condition with dogs who have endocrine pancreatic insufficiency (EPI). I would definitely discuss this with your veterinarian.

    The Zignature Trout & Salmon formula is appropriate for large breed puppies and would be worth a shot if you want to try Zignaure – I believe the formulas are all fairly similar except for different proteins sources.

    Raw would be a great option – especially for a sensitive dog. If this is something you’re willing and able to do that’s wonderful. It will be necessary to do a lot of research prior to embarking on a raw feeding regimen, however. I would recommend checking out dogaware(dot)com and picking up a copy of Steve Brown’s book “Unlocking the Canine Ancestral Diet.” You can also check out the recommended raw menus thread in the raw food forum – I have many of my crew’s menus posted.

    • This reply was modified 4 years, 7 months ago by  Hound Dog Mom.

    Hound Dog Mom

    Hi sharfie –

    It’s fine to supplement a dog’s diet with whole foods but I would avoid supplements that contain synthetic vitamins and minerals when feeding a balanced commercial food unless advised to do so by a veterinarian – this is especially critical for puppies because they are more sensitive to vitamin and mineral deficiencies and excesses than adult dogs. I found the website for ProBalance but I can’t locate an ingredients list. Is it a whole food based supplement or does it contain synthetic vitamins and minerals?



    I am contemplating co owning a very large breed show puppy 130# at maturity with a breeder who happens to work for a very large commercial dog food company. She says all of the other puppies who went to show homes also are feeding that company’s Large Breed Puppy formula (except one who feeds raw) which happens to have a 2.5 star rating here. I feed my rescues 4-Health grain free and have fed Nature’s Variety Instinct prior to that so I have for years had a “thing” for proper nutrition and LOVE LOVE LOVE this website. I am horrified at the thought of feeding that food to the pup for the next year or 18 months. Can you help me figure out what to feed? And maybe convince her it will be okay? Puppy is 3 months old now. Thanks,


    Okay hound dog mom. Thank you for your response. I was talking to dr Tim and he said it was okay for puppies and it had a pretty low calcium %. I just got in the mail today wellness core puppy formula and I will follow up in a couple weeks to say how duke responds to the food. One question I have is that he has been kind of itchy lately even though he has no flees or ticks; I also saw some scratch marks under his arm from him scratching himself, can the dryness of his skin be because of the chicken based nutro that I have been feeding him?


    Hound Dog Mom

    Hi lemdem –

    Glad you found this thread helpful 🙂

    Nutro Max LBP and Whole Earth Farms are both too high in calcium for a LBP. I have no idea about the Purina/Pedigree products, I’ve never looked into them as they’re not something I’d ever recommend. I would assume that a “large breed puppy” formula manufactured by Purina would have appropriate calcium levels though, so if someone wanted to feed a cheap brand I’d probably (reluctantly)recommend going with a Purina LBP formula. However, I honestly doubt that anyone considering feeding their pup something such as Beneful or Pedigree would have any concern for proper growth and prevention of developmental orthopedic disease. I wouldn’t ever recommend feeding an adult food to a puppy – an “all life stages” formula is fine, but not a formula labeled for “maintenance” (check the AAFCO statement on the bag because some “adult” foods are actually approved for all life stages” – meaning that they’re essentially a puppy formula). Maintenance foods are generally too low in protein and fat for a puppy (and also – imo – for adult dogs) and can be too low in certain vitamins and minerals for a growing dog. Due to the lower calorie content found in most adult formulas (in comparison to puppy or all life stages formulas), a pup may actually end up consuming more calcium per calorie even if the calcium percentage by weight is lower. Very young puppies could also have difficulty meeting their energy needs on a low calorie adult formula.


    Hound Dog Mom

    Hi londoncalling1996 –

    That’s too bad your store didn’t carry any of the foods. 🙁 If you’re not opposed to online ordering there are many sites that sell a wider variety of foods than you could find in a store and they also typically have lower prices – most also offer free shipping with no weight limit when you spend a certain amount of money (usually orders over $49). I’d recommend checking out,, and Also the new lists should give you many additional options to choose from.

    I definitely feel that, if it’s financially feasible, non-dry foods should be fed as a sole diet or at least in addition to kibble. Dry food is actually the worst thing to feed a dog – however to to budget and time constraints it, understandably, comprises the bulk of most dog’s diets. I urge you to check out this article Dr. Marty Goldstein (one of my all time favorite veterinarians) posted on his blog, it ranks the different types of food from best to worst:

    If you add wet food you should count account for this in her daily food intake – just monitor her weight and if she’s gaining too much start feeding a little less. One of my all time favorite wet food toppers (especially for large breed puppies) is Tripett. I like Tripett for several reasons: 1) high protein/moderate fat/low carbohydrate (ideal); 2) it has a balanced calcium to phosphorus ratio but very low amounts of each, so it can effectively be used to lower the calcium to phosphorus ratio in any food fed to a large breed puppy without the risk of throwing off the balance and 3) dogs go absolutely nuts for it (people hate it – if you feed it you’ll see why – but they love it). The only thing I want to note with Tripett is that it’s not a complete and balanced food (it’s just canned green tripe) so if you do feed it make sure it doesn’t exceed 20% of the meal or you could throw off the nutritional balance. Some other more balanced canned foods that I like that could account for over 20% of the meal are: ZiwiPeak, Addiction, Nature’s Logic, Nature’s Variety Instinct and Merrick. Dr. Mike has a great compilation of high quality canned foods over on the review site as well. If you’re looking for a quality yet budget friendly canned food (canned food can be quite pricey, especially when feeding a large breed puppy) I’d recommend checking out 4Health (available at Tractor Supply, $0.99 per can), Pure Balance (available at Walmart, $1 per can), Kirkland Cuts in Gravy (available at Costco, $0.79 per can), Whole Earth Farms (available at many online retailers about $1.50 per can) – these foods are all 4 – 5 star quality. Some other toppers you could use are dehdyrated foods (i.e. The Honest Kitchen, Grandma Lucy’s, etc.) – these foods are about the same consistency as a stew type canned food when rehydrated, a balanced frozen or freeze-dried commercial raw food (freeze-dried rehydrates to canned food consistency) or fresh toppers such as sardines, eggs, plain yogurt or left over lean meat or steam veggies from your dinner.

    Digestive aids aren’t necessary, but many feel they’re beneficial. Many of the regulars here supplement with probiotics and enzymes. I don’t supplement with either because my dogs eat a raw diet (naturally occurring enzymes) and consume raw green tripe (rich in enzymes and probiotics) and kefir (rich in probiotics) on a regular basis. If feeding cooked food only (like kibble and canned) I do feel that enzymes and probiotics can provide benefit.

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