Dog Food Nutrition

The 5 Best Dog Foods for Large Breeds

November 24, 2018

The 5 Best Dog Foods for Large Breeds

Nothing is more wonderful than coming home from a long day at work to be greeted by your faithful canine companion – unless, of course, it jumps on you and knocks you over. Large breed dogs have their challenges, but they are also a joy and a privilege to keep.

If you want to keep your large breed dog happy and healthy for as long as possible, take the time to pick out a high-quality dog food. Keep in mind that large breed dogs have different needs than smaller dogs, so you’ll need to do some shopping around!

Keep reading to learn more about your large breed dog’s nutritional needs and to receive some tips for picking the best dog food to meet them. You’ll also receive our top 5 picks for the best dog food for large breed dogs.

Quick Look at Our Top Picks:

ImageProductFeatures

Best Overall

Product Name Here
  • Made with premium, all-natural ingredients, and no fillers
  • Chicken meal as the first ingredient, a concentrated source of protein
  • Fresh fruits and veggies as natural sources for key nutrients
View Best Price

Best Affordable

Nutro Max Large Breed Adult Chicken Recipe Dry Food
  • Made with farm-raised chicken as the first ingredient
  • Glucosamine and chondroitin for bone and joint health
  • Digestible whole grain carbohydrates for energy and fiber
View Best Price

Best for Puppies

Nutro Wholesome Naturals Large Breed Puppy Food
  • Formulated to support growth and development in large breed puppies
  • Features farm-raised chicken, brown rice, and sweet potatoes
  • No GMO ingredients or artificial additives
View Best Price

Best for Seniors

Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula Large Breed Senior
  • Features real chicken as the first ingredient
  • LifeSource Bits provide vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants
  • Supplemented with glucosamine and chondroitin for strong bones and joints
View Best Price

Best for Allergies

Natural Balance LID Lamb Meal & Brown Rice Formula
  • Made with a single source of protein and limited ingredients
  • Free from corn, wheat, and soy as well as fillers and artificial additives
  • Supports clean teeth and healthy gums in large breed dogs
View Best Price

Special Dietary Needs of Large Breeds

All dogs have the same basic nutritional needs for protein, fat, and nutrients. What you may not realize, however, is that dogs of different sizes have different needs when it comes to the ratio of those nutrients. Larger dogs also need more calories than smaller dogs, but fewer per pound of body weight.

Here are some of the top things to look for in a large breed dog food:

  • High-Quality Protein. Protein is the most important nutrient for any dog, but it is particularly important for large breed dogs to maintain lean muscle mass. Look for premium animal sources for protein.
  • Moderate Fat. Fat provides your dog with a concentrated source of energy as well as essential fatty acids for healthy skin and coat, but you want to keep the content moderate to avoid feeding your dog so many calories that he becomes obese.
  • Joint Support. Large breed dogs have a higher risk for bone and joint problems than smaller breeds, so look for a recipe that contains joint-supporting nutrients like glucosamine and chondroitin.
  • Digestibility. Many large breed dogs have sensitive stomachs, so you want to make sure that the recipe you choose is made with digestible ingredients and free from low-quality fillers and artificial additives that could upset its stomach.

Keeping all of these things in mind, you’re now ready to learn how to choose the best dog food for large breeds. Here’s what you need to know:

How to Choose the Best Dog Food for Large Breeds

The best place to start when looking for the best dog food for large breeds is a high-quality diet formulated for large-breed dogs. This will help ensure that your dog gets the protein it needs to build healthy muscle without so much fat that it becomes overweight or obese.

In terms of specific nutritional needs, your dog requires at least 18% crude protein, 5% crude fat, and no more than 5% fiber in its diet. That is the bare minimum, however, so keep that in mind.

When it comes to protein and fat, your dog will be able to digest animal-based ingredients better than plant-based ingredients.

Meat, poultry, and fish are excellent sources of protein for dogs, and healthy fats include things like chicken fat and salmon oil. Your dog can digest certain carbohydrates as well like whole grains, starchy vegetables, beans, and legumes, but protein should be the star of its diet.

In addition to protein, fat, and digestible carbohydrates, your large breed dog can benefit from certain supplements.

Probiotics, for example, help to ensure smooth and regular digestion while chelated minerals provide a biologically valuable source of key nutrients. Glucosamine and chondroitin are also important for large-breed dogs to support their bone and joint health.

Keep reading to see our top 5 recommendations for the best dog food for large breeds.

The Top 5 Best Dog Foods for Large Breeds

When picking a dog food for large breeds, look for high-quality ingredients such as premium animal proteins, healthy animal fats, and digestible carbohydrates. You want to make sure the protein is high enough to maintain its lean muscle mass with just enough fat for energy. Here are our top 5 picks for the best dog food for large breeds that you should consider:

Best Large Breed Dog Food Overall: Holistic Select Large & Giant Breed Dry Food

Nutritional info:

  • Protein – 24% Min
  • Fat – 14% Min
  • Fiber – 3.9% Max
  • Moisture– 10% Max

Caloric Content: 392 kcal/cup

If you want to give your large breed dog the best of the best, this Holistic Select formula is a great option. Made with all-natural ingredients and free from fillers, by-products, and artificial additives, you can feel good about feeding your dog this product. It features chicken meal as the first ingredient with whole grain carbohydrates, healthy fat, and fresh fruits and vegetables for nutritional balance.

Click here to see full list of Ingredients
Chicken Meal, Ground Brown Rice, Ground White Rice, Oatmeal, Chicken Fat (Preserved with Mixed Tocopherols), Dried Beet Pulp, Pork Meal, Anchovy & Sardine Meal, Dried Egg Product, Flaxseed, Pumpkin, Carrots, Cranberries, Tomato Pomace, Dehydrated Alfalfa Meal, Potassium Chloride, Apples, Peas, Organic Quinoa, Vitamins [Vitamin E Supplement, Beta-Carotene, Ascorbic Acid (Vitamin C), Niacin Supplement, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Vitamin A Supplement, D-Calcium Pantothenate, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Thiamine Mononitrate, Riboflavin Supplement, Biotin, Folic Acid], Minerals [Zinc Polysaccharide Complex, Iron Polysaccharide Complex, Copper Polysaccharide Complex, Manganese Polysaccharide Complex, Sodium Selenite, Cobalt Carbonate, Potassium Iodide], Papaya, Glucosamine Hydrochloride, Dried Kelp, Taurine, Blueberries, Pomegranate, L-Carnitine, Inulin, Mixed Tocopherols Added to Preserve Freshness, Yucca Schidigera Extract, Dl-Methionine, Ground Cinnamon, Ground Fennel, Ground Peppermint, Dried Lactobacillus Acidophilus Fermentation Product, Dried Lactobacillus Casei Fermentation Product, Dried Enterococcus Faecium Fermentation Product, Dried Bacillus Subtilis Fermentation Product, Dried Bacillus Licheniformis Fermentation Product, Dried Aspergillus Oryzae Fermentation Product, Dried Aspergillus Niger Fermentation Product, Lecithin, Choline Chloride, Rosemary Extract, Green Tea Extract.

Pros:

  • Made with premium, all-natural ingredients, and no fillers
  • Chicken meal as the first ingredient, a concentrated source of protein
  • Fresh fruits and veggies as natural sources for key nutrients

Cons:

  • Some dogs may be sensitive to chicken or pork ingredients
  • Not a grain-free recipe

Best Affordable Large Breed Dog Food: Nutro Max Large Breed Adult Chicken Recipe Dry Food

Nutritional info:

  • Protein – 22% Min
  • Fat – 13% Min
  • Fiber – 3.5% Max
  • Moisture– 10% Max

Caloric Content: 324 kcal/cup

For a quality dog food that won’t break the bank, consider Nutro Max Large Breed Adult Chicken Recipe dry food. This formula features farm-raised chicken as a protein-rich first ingredient with digestible carbohydrates like whole grain sorghum and whole grain oatmeal. Plus, it is rich in glucosamine and chondroitin to support your dog’s bones and joints.

Click here to see full list of Ingredients
Chicken Meal (Source of Glucosamine and Chondroitin Sulfate), Whole Grain Sorghum, Brewers Rice, Whole Grain Oatmeal, Chicken Fat (Preserved with Mixed Tocopherols), Chicken, Dehydrated Alfalfa Meal, Flaxseed, Natural Flavor, Whole Brown Rice, Peas, Chickpeas, Potassium Chloride, Salt, Choline Chloride, Dl-Methionine, Zinc Sulfate, Niacin Supplement, Biotin, Vitamin E Supplement, D-Calcium Pantothenate, Riboflavin Supplement (Vitamin B2), Vitamin B12 Supplement, Iron Amino Acid Chelate, Copper Amino Acid Chelate, Selenium Yeast, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride (Vitamin B6), Manganese Amino Acid Chelate, Vitamin A Supplement, Thiamine Mononitrate (Vitamin B1), Vitamin D3 Supplement, Potassium Iodide, Folic Acid, Rosemary Extract, Decaffeinated Green Tea Extract, Spearmint Extract.

Pros:

  • Made with farm-raised chicken as the first ingredient
  • Glucosamine and chondroitin for bone and joint health
  • Digestible whole grain carbohydrates for energy and fiber

Cons:

  • Doesn’t contain probiotics for digestive support
  • Some dogs may be sensitive to chicken or grains

Best Large Breed Dog Food for Puppies: Nutro Wholesome Naturals Large Breed Puppy Food

Nutritional info:

  • Protein – 26% Min
  • Fat – 15% Min
  • Fiber – 3% Max
  • Moisture– 10% Max

Caloric Content: 379 kcal/cup

Large-breed puppies need a protein-rich diet to support their growth and development with controlled levels of fat, calcium, and phosphorus to prevent overgrowth. This Nutro Wholesome Naturals recipe is uniquely formulated for large-breed puppies to meet those needs and more. It features farm-raised chicken, brown rice, and sweet potatoes in a nutritionally complete recipe for puppies.

Click here to see full list of Ingredients
Chicken, Chicken Meal (source of Glucosamine and Chondroitin Sulfate), Brewers Rice, Split Peas, Whole Grain Sorghum, Whole Brown Rice, Chicken Fat (preserved with Mixed Tocopherols), Pea Protein, Lamb Meal (source of Glucosamine and Chondroitin Sulfate), Dried Sweet Potato, Natural Flavor, Dried Plain Beet Pulp, Fish Oil (preserved with Mixed Tocopherols), Potassium Chloride, Salt, Choline Chloride, DL-Methionine, Dried Apples, Dried Blueberries, Dried Carrots, Mixed Tocopherols and Citric Acid (preservatives), Zinc Sulfate, Niacin Supplement, Biotin, Vitamin E Supplement, Iron Amino Acid Chelate, D-Calcium Pantothenate, Riboflavin Supplement (Vitamin B2), Selenium Yeast, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Copper Amino Acid Chelate, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride (Vitamin B6), Manganese Amino Acid Chelate, Vitamin A Supplement, Thiamine Mononitrate (Vitamin B1), Vitamin D3 Supplement, Folic Acid, Rosemary Extract.

Pros:

  • Formulated to support growth and development in large breed puppies
  • Features farm-raised chicken, brown rice, and sweet potatoes
  • No GMO ingredients or artificial additives

Cons:

  • Not a grain-free recipe, some puppies may be sensitive
  • Contains some plant proteins (pea protein)

Best Large Breed Dog Food for Seniors: Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula Large Breed Senior

Nutritional info:

  • Protein – 20% Min
  • Fat – 10% Min
  • Fiber – 7% Min
  • Moisture– 10% Max

Caloric Content: 3442 kcal/cup

As your large breed dog gets older, its metabolism slows down, so you need a recipe rich in protein to support lean muscle mass with limited fat to prevent obesity. This Blue Buffalo Life Protection formula features chicken and brown rice in a nutritionally complete recipe designed specifically for large breed seniors. As an added bonus, it contains Blue Buffalo LifeSource Bits for vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.

Click here to see full list of Ingredients
Deboned Chicken, Brown Rice, Barley, Oatmeal, Chicken Meal, Pea Fiber, Pea Starch, Peas, Natural Flavor, Flaxseed (Source of Omega 3 And 6 Fatty Acids), Potato Starch, Chicken Fat (Preserved with Mixed Tocopherols), Pea Protein, Fish Oil (Source of Dha-Docosahexaenoic Acid), Potassium Citrate, Dehydrated Alfalfa Meal, Potassium Chloride, Potatoes, Dried Chicory Root, Alfalfa Nutrient Concentrate, Choline Chloride, Calcium Carbonate, Salt, Taurine, Dicalcium Phosphate, Vitamin E Supplement, Preserved with Mixed Tocopherols, Dl-Methionine, Glucosamine Hydrochloride, Sweet Potatoes, Carrots, L-Ascorbyl-2-Polyphosphate (Source of Vitamin C), Garlic, L-Carnitine, Zinc Amino Acid Chelate, Zinc Sulfate, Vegetable Juice For Color, Ferrous Sulfate, Iron Amino Acid Chelate, Blueberries, Cranberries, Barley Grass, Parsley, Turmeric, Dried Kelp, Yucca Schidigera Extract, Chondroitin Sulfate, Niacin (Vitamin B3), Calcium Pantothenate (Vitamin B5), L-Lysine, Copper Sulfate, Biotin (Vitamin B7), Vitamin A Supplement, Copper Amino Acid Chelate, Manganese Sulfate, Manganese Amino Acid Chelate, Thiamine Mononitrate (Vitamin B1), Riboflavin (Vitamin B2), Vitamin D3 Supplement, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride (Vitamin B6), Calcium Iodate, Dried Yeast, Dried Enterococcus Faecium Fermentation Product, Dried Lactobacillus Acidophilus Fermentation Product, Dried Aspergillus Niger Fermentation Extract, Dried Trichoderma Longibrachiatum Fermentation Extract, Dried Bacillus Subtilis Fermentation Extract, Folic Acid (Vitamin B9), Sodium Selenite, Oil of Rosemary.

Pros:

  • Features real chicken as the first ingredient
  • LifeSource Bits provide vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants
  • Supplemented with glucosamine and chondroitin for strong bones and joints

Cons:

  • Not a grain-free recipe, some senior dogs may have trouble digesting grains
  • Contains some plant proteins (pea protein and alfalfa meal)

Best Large Breed Dog Food for Allergies: Natural Balance LID Lamb Meal & Brown Rice Formula

Nutritional info:

  • Protein – 21% Min
  • Fat – 12% Min
  • Fiber – 4% Max
  • Moisture– 10% Max

Caloric Content: 355 kcal/cup

If your large breed dog suffers from food allergies or sensitivities, a limited ingredient diet may be the way to go. This Natural Balance LID features a single source of animal protein, lamb, with digestible brown rice for carbohydrate support. It is designed to encourage healthy digestion and also helps support your dog’s dental health as it ages.

Click here to see full list of Ingredients
Lamb Meal, Brown Rice, Brewers Rice, Rice Bran, Canola Oil (Preserved with Mixed Tocopherols And Lactic Acid), Lamb, Dried Tomato Pomace, Brewers Dried Yeast, Natural Flavor, Salt, Potassium Chloride, Taurine, Vitamins (Vitamin E Supplement, L-Ascorbyl-2-Polyphosphate (Source of Vitamin C), Inositol, Niacin, D-Calcium Pantothenate, Vitamin A Supplement, Riboflavin Supplement, Thiamine Mononitrate, Beta-Carotene, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Menadione Sodium Bisulfite Complex, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Folic Acid, Biotin), Minerals (Ferrous Sulfate, Iron Proteinate, Zinc Proteinate, Zinc Oxide, Copper Sulfate, Manganese Proteinate, Copper Proteinate, Manganous Oxide, Calcium Iodate, Sodium Selenite), Choline Chloride, Citric Acid (Used As A Preservative), Rosemary Extract.

Pros:

  • Made with a single source of protein and limited ingredients
  • Free from corn, wheat, and soy as well as fillers and artificial additives
  • Supports clean teeth and healthy gums in large breed dogs

Cons:

  • Not a grain-free recipe, some dogs might be sensitive
  • Main source of fat is plant-based (canola oil)

How Much Should You Feed Large Breed Dogs?

The amount you feed your large breed dog will change over the course of its life.

As a puppy, you need to make sure your dog gets enough food to grow and develop but not so much food that it grows too quickly.

Growing too fast can increase the risk that your puppy will develop musculoskeletal problems as an adult. This is why it is important to choose a large-breed puppy food – to control its growth.

The best way to determine how much to feed your large breed dog is to read the feeding recommendations on the package. Check the chart for your dog’s age, and size then follow the advice! Remember that the recommendation is for a whole day, so you’ll want to divide it into two smaller meals and space them out throughout the day.

What About Food Allergies and Sensitivities?

All dogs have the potential to develop food allergies and sensitivities – it is not limited to large breeds. If your dog develops recurrent ear infections, digestive upset, or skin problems, then it could be due to something in its food. The best way to deal with a food allergy or sensitivity is to switch your dog to a limited ingredient diet made with a novel source of protein and carbohydrate – something it hasn’t eaten before. After about 12 weeks on the new diet, its symptoms should disappear!

Final Remarks

Large breed dogs may require a larger volume of food than smaller breeds, but they need a recipe that is rich in protein and lower in fat. The best place to start is with a high-quality dog food formulated for large breeds so you can ensure that your dog’s needs are met without going overboard on calories. If you’re not sure where to look, try one of our top 5 picks for the best dog food for large breeds above!

Kate Barrington

Kate Barrington holds a Bachelor’s degree in English and is the published author of several self-help books and nutrition guides. Also an avid dog lover and adoring owner of three cats, Kate’s love for animals has led her to a successful career as a freelance writer specializing in pet care and nutrition. Kate holds a certificate in fitness nutrition and enjoys writing about health and wellness trends — she also enjoys crafting original recipes. In addition to her work as a ghostwriter and author, Kate is also a blogger for a number of organic and natural food companies as well as a columnist for several pet magazines.
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