There are thousands of different types and brands of dog food to choose from. Many believe that dog food is dog food and none of the details matter.
This could not be further from the truth.
Depending on the breed, size, age, and history finding the appropriate diet can make or break the health of your pup.
Today we will discuss the best dog food for giant breeds.
In this article, we’re going to review the following foods for giant breeds:
- Hills Science Diet Adult, Healthy Mobility, Large Breed Dry Dog Food
- Blue Buffalo Wilderness Rocky Mountain Recipe
- Nutra Source Chicken and Rice Large Breed Dog Food
- Iams Proactive Health Chicken Adult Large Breed Dry Dog Food
- Purina ALPO Prime Cuts in Gravy Adult Wet Dog Food
- Pedigree Chopped Ground Dinner Adult Wet Dog Food
- Purina ONE SmartBlend True Instinct Adult Canned Wet Dog Food
- Eukanuba Large Breed Dry Puppy Food
- Nutro Max Natural Puppy Dry Dog Food
- Royal Canin Size Health Nutrition Giant Junior Dry Dog Food
- Blue Buffalo Wilderness Natural Wet Puppy Food
- Solid Gold – Love at First Bark – Natural Dog Puppy Food
Nutritional needs for giant breed dogs
Your giant breed has different nutritional needs than a smaller breed.
While all dogs need a mix of meat, grains, fruits, vegetables, vitamins, and minerals, giant breeds, both adult and puppies, require specific nutrients, and amounts, to grow big and strong.
Running to the store and grabbing the first bag of large breed dog food is not going to cut it.
Large and giant breeds can be prone to some serious health complications.
Feeding a balanced and age-appropriate diet is imperative for the health and longevity of your best bud.
A few things that you may want to keep in mind when deciding on a diet.
Puppies grow at a rapid rate. This is especially true for giant breeds. Their bones and joints grow three times as fast? as a small or medium sized dog.
Under or over nutrition can cause havoc on your giant breed puppy’s development.
Dog food made specifically for large or giant breed puppies offer a more narrow range of certain nutrients.
As a general rule of thumb (paw?), giant breed puppies need about 1.5% calcium, around 30% protein, and 9% fat, in their diet.
These percentages have a little give way but remember too much or too little can wreak havoc on your pets overall health.
Adults (and seniors?)
Adult giant breeds also require specialized nutrition. This factors into your dogs overall health and longevity.
Although a full-grown dog is done growing, you’ll still need to keep the bones and joints strong and healthy.
Dog food that is specifically formulated for large and/or giant breeds take this into consideration.
The food will have the appropriate amounts and types of nutrients that they need. These will differ from those of a smaller or medium sized breed.
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Differences Between Regular vs Giant Dog Foods
Dog food that is designed specifically for giant breeds will include all of the added nutrients needed for the dogs’ necessary weight management, in addition to joint and bone support.
As with most high-quality commercial brands for regular sized breeds, your pups dog food should be age/life stage appropriate.
We will get into detail about this later, this is important for any dog, but particularly for giant breeds.
The main difference between dog food for regular breeds and those designed for giant breeds is the number of certain nutrients.
All dogs are capable of becoming overweight, however, added pounds on a giant breed can cause significant health issues.
Due to their size they already have pressure on their hips, back, legs, and joints.
Extra weight can worsen these common problems.
Large and giant dogs can develop hip and elbow dysplasia, spine issues, and pain and/or stiffness in the joints.
Some of the higher quality, giant breed brands on the market will take this into account, but you should always do your research.
No one is going to love Fido as much as you do!
Any good dog food made specifically for large or giant breeds is going to have joint support supplementation.
This is because these dogs grow very big, very fast.
Their rapid growth can cause extra stress on their growing bones and joints.
You will want to steer clear of a high-calorie diet, as this can cause overly rapid growth.
Keeping your giant breed healthy is really all about balance. Too much or too little nutrition can be harmful.
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What Should I Look for in My Giant Breed Dog Food?
Weight management and joint support are important however, you will want your dog food to be well balanced, with the correct amount of nutrients.
High-quality commercial dog foods typically have the same general ingredients with some important differences.
A good quality giant breed diet will be lower in fat, phosphorus, vitamin D, and calcium.
The reason being is that higher levels of calcium have been linked to DOD (Developmental Orthopedic Disease).
Limiting the consumption of calcium, phosphorus, and vitamin D can help prevent DOD while reducing calorie intake can slow the growth rate.
Both accelerated growth, and not growing fast enough can cause your pup some long term health complications.
Obviously, your pup needs proteins in his diet, however, you have to be careful that it is not too high in protein, as again, incorrect amounts can cause problems.
Excessive amounts cannot be used all at once. It also cannot be stored for later, unlike fat.
Fats are an important part of any diet. It is where we get our energy.
The obvious problem with feeding a diet with too high-fat content is the risk of becoming overweight or obese.
Obesity is a doorway to a whole host of serious medical issues, like diabetes.
Fat also provides insulation, although too much weight can cause him to overheat quicker than a dog with regular weight.
This one goes paw in paw with the issues that come along with a diet too high in fat.
You will have to be sure that your giant breed pup has the appropriate amount of calories, enough to sustain energy level, not enough so that he becomes overweight/obese.
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Calcium is going to be a necessary part of any diet however as we discussed a few times, it has to be the right amount. Too much or too little again can cause harm.
This time to your dogs’ skeleton and increasing the risk of bone diseases such as osteoarthritis.
Glucosamine and Chondroitin
These two very important minerals should be provided, in some form, in every large breed diet.
For pets that are already likely to have some bone or joint issues sometime in their lifetimes (like large and giant breed dogs!), providing the appropriate amounts of glucosamine and chondroitin in their diet can eventually assist in not only the quality of life but the longevity as well.
Chelated or Sequestered Minerals
Minerals are inorganic compounds that come from the earth which are naturally absorbed by plants. As we know, minerals are essential for all living things.
Some minerals are better with absorption than others. The ones that are not, go through a chelation process.
This process attaches an organic mineral with an organic compound. Put simply, chelated minerals are easier to absorb thus reducing the amount wasted through stools.
While not a necessity, if your dog food contains chelated minerals, it usually indicates higher quality.
This one should be obvious. Things have to keep moving. What goes in, must come out.
Ok, I’m done.
No, fiber is very important in any diet.
There are two categories of fiber. Insoluble fiber and soluble fiber.
Insoluble fiber helps bulk up the stool and stimulate the anal glands which can help move things along.
This can be used to maintain or lose weight as it offers little to no calorie intake.
Soluble fiber does get broken down in the gut by bacteria. This provides an important source of energy.
Some types are also considered a prebiotic which help build up the good bacteria in the gut.
Both types of fiber are critical to a healthy doggy diet.
Many times the types and levels of fiber can be adjusted to help treat digestive issues.
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Ah good old carbs.
Carbohydrates are the main source of energy for most of our bodily functions, therefore, it is vital that your dog has the right amount.
The right amount is a hotly debated topic, if you ask four different nutritional specialists you are likely to get four different answers.
Consult with your veterinarian but the specific number will depend on your dogs’ activity levels, breed, and age, among other factors.
Fruits and vegetables
As previously stated, dogs, like humans, are omnivores.
This means an all meat diet does not offer the sufficient amount of nutrients that your dog needs.
Fruits like blueberries and bananas are packed with antioxidants and essential nutrients that your dog needs for a healthy diet.
Leafy green vegetables such as spinach can be a better alternative to starchy foods like potatoes and/or grains.
What Types of Food are Unhealthy for My Giant Breed Dog?
- Small breed dog food. The smaller sized kibble can pose a choking hazard. A food that is formulated for small breeds isn’t likely to contain the sufficient amount of nutrients needed for a healthy giant breed diet.
- High-protein. Unless needed to combat medical issues, too much protein in the diet can cause added weight gain. It is a dense nutrient and is usually high in calories.
- Poor quality and/or cheaply made. Unfortunately, in this instance, you really do get what you pay for. While cheaper labels may seem to have the same ingredients as high-end dog food, they probably are not the same quality, if that makes sense. If you want your pooch to live a long and happy life, it really is worth a slightly higher cost.
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Best Dog Food For Giant Breed Adult Dogs
#1 Hills Science Diet Adult, Healthy Mobility, Large Breed Dry Dog Food
With Hills Pet Nutrition Mission Statement, “To help enrich and lengthen the special relationships between people and their pets”, you can get a quick overview of the standards brought to both you, and your pet.
Developed by 220 veterinarians, food scientists, technicians, and Ph.D. nutritionists.
This diet is guaranteed to offer your furry friend all of the nutrients he will need.
- Noticeable improvement in the ability to move, especially those with prior issues.
- Many that have switched to this diet have been able to eliminate glucosamine supplements altogether. Consult a vet before reducing any supplement.
- Effective tool in the treatment of mobility issues.
- Great for picky eaters.
- Inexpensive (by comparison) yet nutritionally complete.
- Recently changed packaging is not as easy to seal and store.
- Strong, fishy odor.
- Kibble too large and hard for pets with dental issues, like seniors. Adding a small amount of water 15-20 minutes prior to serving may soften it up enough for chewing.
Hill’s Science Diet is a good choice.
It supplies all of the needed nutrients and although it does not smell very appetizing to us, the doggies seem to love it.
Any of the minor complaints that consumers had could be attributed to digestive differences or something that would be an easy fix, such as adding a small amount of water to soften the kibble.
#2 Blue Buffalo Wilderness Rocky Mountain Recipe
This specific blend is red meat based, using real beef.
No matter which variety, Blue Buffalo guarantees that the number one ingredient is always real meat (salmon, chicken, beef), they never use wheat, soy, or by-products.
Blue Buffalos exclusive formula has both regular kibble and lifesource bit which are a blend of antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals.
They help support immune system health and life stage requirements.
These bits are processed at lower temperatures than the rest of the ingredients ensuring the best potency and quality.
- Works well for pets with sensitive stomachs.
- Noted improvement in those with a history of skin issues.
- Provides a noticeable boost in your pups energy levels.
- A hit with picky eaters.
- A great diet for senior dogs and if you have pets of multiple ages.
- If your dog has a poultry allergy, this brand usually contains some form of chicken.
- Hard to find in physical stores, however, readily available online (less expensive too!).
- Price is slightly higher than competing brands.
The Blue Buffalo line is one of the highest quality commercial dog food available.
It is well balanced and offers complete nutrition.
There are several formulas so you are sure to find one that works for your pup.
#3 Nutra Source Chicken and Rice Large Breed Dog Food
Made with only selective, high-quality ingredients, with real chicken being number one, of course, this is a winning recipe.
Great tasting (Who are these taste testers?
That can’t be a fun job), and easy to digest, it reportedly helps those with sensitive stomachs and other digestive issues.
This diet will help maintain a healthy weight while still providing all of the nutrients that are so important to the health of your giant breed.
Scientifically formulated to cater to their specific needs.
- Complete and balanced.
- No fillers – which add no nutritional value, and can cause smelly and excessive bowel movements.
- Large kibble help keep dogs teeth clean and healthy. Not too mention eliminates the choking risk for those big guys who like to ‘inhale’ instead of eating, their food.
- With the exception of being a bit more expensive, this food is one that is hard to find fault with.
Having personal experience with this brand and type of food, I have to say that my St. Bernard positively loved it.
His coat looks better than it ever has and he seems to be more energetic.
Great dog food and well worth the added expense.
#4 Iams Proactive Health Chicken Adult Large Breed Dry Dog Food
With a slightly lower overall rating, you may be tempted to give this one a pass. Regardless of the rating, this is a well-rounded diet for your larger breed.
Some brands like to tweak beloved formulas and IAMS provides a consistently good product every time. It is also a bit cheaper than some of the competitors.
Veterinarian recommended this is another recipe that lists real chicken as the first ingredient.
As with most foods for larger breeds, this formula has glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate for joint health, and Omega – 6 for healthy skin and a shiny, full coat.
At 353 calories per cup, this dry dog food offers a nutritionally complete diet for your giant breed.
- Wheat and soy free.
- Helps with digestive issues, and/or sensitive stomachs, including a reduction in flatulence (gas).
- Improvement in bowel movement activity – well formed, with less odor.
- Increased attentiveness, and activity levels.
- Corn being the second ingredient, as it is now believed to be unhealthy for dogs.
- Kibble too large (which many with giant breeds prefer, prevent choking) and can clog an auto feeder.
Economically speaking this is definitely a top choice. It is fairly affordable and covers all of the necessary basis for your giant breeds dietary needs, with few downsides.
As with any brand or type of dog food, there is always a chance that your dogs’ digestive system may reject it.
Reports of digestive upset are likely due to the individual pup, rather than the food itself.
#5 Purina ALPO Prime Cuts in Gravy Adult Wet Dog Food
Filled to the brim with high-quality protein, and more than 20 essential vitamins and minerals, this dog food can compete with brands more than twice the price.
In fact, Purina Alpo offers 25% more protein than their leading competitors.
With a healthy recipe including ingredients such as real meat, meat by-products (a natural form of glucosamine), wheat gluten, and an abundance of beneficial vitamins and minerals, adding this to your pup’s diet will help build lean, strong muscles for any dog, even those with an active lifestyle.
- Complete and balanced nutrition.
- Superior protein content.
- Looks (and smells) so good, it may even tempt you. Your dog will go barking mad over it!
- Some reports of digestive issues, however, this seems to be a common issue among many different brands, so this may be an animal-specific problem. IE: Not gradually introducing new food can cause vomiting and diarrhea, mimicking the symptoms of foodborne illness.
- Those dreaded meat by-products – they’re not terrible, just not great!
With a few minor flaws, this dog food is a good option, especially if living on a budget.
#6 Pedigree Chopped Ground Dinner Adult Wet Dog Food
My dogs thrive on this stuff. Growing up, all of our dogs ate Pedigree.
The first ingredient, aside from water (usually found in wet dog food), is real meat.
This ensures that your big baby gets all the protein that he needs to keep him strong and healthy.
That meat also provides the 10 essential nutrients that are an important part of your canine’s diet.
This well-balanced, mineral-rich, wet dog food has also been shown to improve the look, feel, and health of your dogs’ coat.
While it does offer an assortment of minerals, they are not chelated. Which as we learned earlier, makes it harder for them to absorb.
- Pedigree is affordable and covers all of your dogs’ needs.
- Dogs seem to enjoy the taste.
- Quality ingredients.
- As you are paying less, they are probably not using the highest rade of ingredients.
- Dreaded by-products.
All in all, from my own experience I would absolutely list this as one of the higher-quality, less expensive dogs foods for your giant breed.
It covers most, if not all, of the dietary, nutritional needs of your pet.
As with any brand or type of dog food, not all digestive systems are the same so some dogs may have issues with it.
#7 Purina ONE SmartBlend True Instinct Adult Canned Wet Dog Food
Using tender cuts of real meat soaked in irresistible gravy, this wet dog food is definitely a favorite among canine companions. Even finicky eaters like the taste.
Nutrient-rich with absolutely no fillers, it is one of the healthier canned foods available.
High protein to ensure strong, healthy muscles, it is also easy to digest so even pups with a sensitive stomach do well with this diet.
- Grain-free, perfect for those with grain allergies.
- Top of the line ingredients only, such as real beef and wild caught salmon.
- Well balanced, complete nutrition.
- This does contain by-products (leftovers not sold for meat), which some prefer their dog food be clear of.
- At about 430 calories per can, be sure to monitor the weight of your pet. Some use wet food as a treat or mix with dry kibble.
All in all, Purina One True Instinct is one of the best wet dog foods, and your dog is more than likely going to love it.
There are hardly any reports of digestive upset with this diet, and it is less expensive than some of the competitors.
Best Dog Food for Giant Breed Puppies
#1 Eukanuba Large Breed Dry Puppy Food
This leading brand large breed puppy food takes into account all of the small details that make a big difference to your giant baby.
One of the chief complaints, meat by-products, can be a good natural source of glucosamine and chondroitin.
If your pup does not have any known allergies or aversions to certain ingredients than this puppy food can be a great option.
- Balanced, well-rounded large breed puppy food.
- No strong odors like some of the other brands.
- Healthy skin and coat.
- Two of the ingredients cornmeal and by-products are highly disputed when it comes to their nutritional value.
- Caused some digestive issues in sensitive stomachs.
Although there are cheaper brands out there, Eukanuba has a following for a reason. They make good, high-quality dog food that many furbabies absolutely love.
If you can look past the controversial parts, this could be the exact diet your giant breed puppy is looking for.
#2 Nutro Max Natural Puppy Dry Dog Food
Proudly by-product free, NutroMax Natural provides a nutritional diet rich in EPA and DHA to assist in brain health.
The all natural recipe means no chicken by-product, no corn, wheat, soy proteins, or artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives.
One ingredient that stands out from the rest is that they use only farm raised chicken.
- The unique blend of nutrients covers a wide variety of health benefits: dental and immune system health, healthy muscle mass and mobility, coat and skin health as well as digestive health.
- Veterinarian approved and recommended.
- Alleviates some gas problems.
- Some pets have experienced vomiting/diarrhea. This can possibly be attributed to other causes.
This puppy food is specially formulated to maintain a steady growth rate, which as we learned earlier, can cause serious medical conditions in the later stages of his life.
It is also one of the truly natural brands so would do well with dogs that are prone to food allergies.
I think we will have to agree with the experts on this one, this is a great giant breed puppy food.
#3 Royal Canin Size Health Nutrition Giant Junior Dry Dog Food
Royal Canin is one of the leading dog food brands, and for good reason. They offer specialized for almost every need.
Their giant nutrition formula is all natural, holistic, and grain-free. It provides all of the whole nutrition that your furbaby to grow massive and strong.
This specific giant breed dog food is made for giant breed puppies up to 8 months old.
A unique blend of antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals, promote healthy bone growth and build a strong, healthy immune system.
- Made for intense growing but helps control energy, exactly what your giant puppy needs.
- Balanced nutrition and energy intake.
- Developed specifically to accommodate a giant breed puppy’s long growth period.
- Chicken by-product meal as the first ingredient may cause pause, however, it is a really great natural supplement for glucosamine and chondroitin.
If you can get past the by-product meal, you will see that this really is a great choice for your big babies dietary needs.
The fact that is completely natural and holistic outweighs any reservations you may have about one ingredient.
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#4 Blue Buffalo Wilderness Natural Wet Puppy Food
This recipe, turkey and chicken, is natural and grain-free. High-protein, with real meat as the number one ingredient.
No chicken or poultry by-products, and free from all artificial flavors, colors, and preservatives. Comparable and a good alternative to the trendy ‘raw diet’.
- Real, optimum ingredients.
- A complete and balanced diet for a growing puppy.
- Omega 3 and 6 for a healthy, shiny coat.
- Natural wet puppy food.
- With a few recalls a while back, some are a little wary of using Blue Buffalo. However, they seemed to have resolved any issues.
- Some reports of diarrhea, although that could be caused by many different things.
Despite a few scares, Blue Buffalo continues to be one of the leading brands in the dog food industry.
Well made with top-notch ingredients, this large breed puppy food will help your pup grow big and strong.
With real meat and no fillers, preservatives, and no artificial colors or flavors, Blue Buffalo lives up to its reputation of being a high-quality dog food.
#5 Solid Gold – Love at First Bark – Natural Dog Puppy Food
The name says it all, doesn’t it? This is good quality, inexpensive, giant breed puppy food.
This one is also natural, grain-free, and holistic, but now we can tick gluten free as well. This also has no fillers, preservatives, artificial colors, or flavors.
One of the chief complaints was the smell of both the food before it goes in and the waste it produces.
If you can handle a sometimes stinky puppy this is not a bad choice.
- Delicious, hearty, and more importantly, satisfying.
- Real ingredients like beef and beef liver (err yum?).
- Balanced Omega fatty acids for a soft and super shiny coat.
- Some seem to turn their nose at it.
- The food has a strong odor as does the pup’s poo.
Solid gold is a great contender for the best wet food for your giant breed puppy. If they like it then they absolutely love it.
Many puppy parents had success when mixing with a high-quality kibble but it can also provide all of the needed nutrients by itself.
Giant Breeds Dog Foods : FAQs
# How Much Food Does My Giant Breed Need?
This one is a bit difficult to answer.
The amount is going to be determined by a number of factors including, activity levels, age, and overall health.
As a puppy, they will need twice as much food because they are growing.
When they reach adulthood (at what age this is, varies greatly depending upon the breed), they will switch to an adult diet and need less quantity.
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# How Do I Know If My Puppy Growing Too Fast?
Regular veterinary check ups will more than likely be able to catch any rapid growth.
Becoming overweight is a big one, as is developing tenderness in joints and bones.
By choosing the appropriate puppy food, and limiting exercise, you should be able to avoid developing long term issues
# What Happens If I Feed Small Dog Food to My Giant Breed?
Large and giant breed dog food is specially formulated with specific nutrients to keep them healthy.
If you were to feed a small breed dog food to your giant pup, you not only risk choking on the smaller kibble, he would also be deprived of essential nutrients.
# When Should I Switch My Giant Breed Puppy to An Adult Diet?
As with most things, your dog’s breed plays a major role in this decision.
Some giant breeds are fully mature at 12 months, some not until 3-4 years!
It also depends on the brand of dog food you are feeding.
Some brands have formulas that support your dog throughout his first two years, and some require a switch at 8 months.
You also should take his overall health into consideration as well.
Some Important Things to Keep In Mind
Is Homemade Diet “Good” or “Bad”?
The new ‘it’ thing is making homemade dog food.
While I am sure their hearts are in the right place, it is incredibly hard to mimic the wide variety of nutrients offered by high-quality, commercial dog food.
Many veterinarians recommend doing a combined diet of homemade and high-end dog food, along with the appropriate type and amount of vitamin, and mineral supplements.
If you have your heart set on making gourmet goodies for your pup, consider preparing homemade treats while still feeding a well-balanced commercial diet.
As with any introduction of new food, always consult with your family vet.
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Limited Exercise While Still Growing
While your puppy is still growing, as active as he may be, you’ll need to limit any strenuous exercise such as excessive running, jumping, roughhousing.
This is linked to those future joint issues that giant breeds are prone to developing as they age.
Their bones are still growing and, as their joints are still forming, they can be easily damaged.
I would say that the Blue Buffalo Wilderness Rocky Mountain Recipe brand is the winner. They offer consistently well-made food.
Always using the best and freshest ingredients, with typically no fillers. They are also less expensive than a lot of their competition.
As we discussed before, no matter what size dog you have, age plays a major role in all dog food.
As your puppy ages to adulthood and eventually becoming a senior, he will need different levels and types of nutrients for each stage of his life.
Providing this, along with regular veterinary visits will help ensure that your fur ball has a long and healthy life.
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