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5 Best Dog Foods For Bullmastiffs

Dog Food Nutrition June 24, 2019
bullmastiff

5 Best Dog Foods For Bullmastiffs

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bullmastiff

Developed by British gamekeepers to keep poachers away from estates in the 19th century, today the Bullmastiff makes a good family pet as long as he is trained and properly socialized.

These giant dogs can weigh up to 130 pounds so they are naturally powerful but they are also affectionate and loyal.

Bullmastiffs are one of the breeds that can be prone to bloat so it’s especially important to choose a good dog food. We can help you choose the best dog foods for Bullmastiffs.

Quick Look At Our Picks For Best Dog Foods For Bullmastiffs:

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Best for the Money

Purina Pro Plan Focus Adult Giant Breed Formula
  • Chicken is the first ingredient
  • Contains glucosamine for joint health and mobility
  • Has natural prebiotic fiber to promote digestive health
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Best for Sensitivities

Hill's Science Diet Adult Large Breed Chicken & Barley Recipe Dry Dog Food
  • Chicken is the first ingredient
  • Contains healthy grains and natural fibers
  • Provides natural sources of glucosamine and chondroitin
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Best for Picky Eaters

Eukanuba Large Breed Adult Dry Dog Food
  • Specialized fiber system promotes better nutrient absorption and healthy digestion
  • The 3D DentaDefense System reduces tartar build-up in 28 days
  • Contains naturally-sourced glucosamine and chondroitin for healthy joints
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Best for Seniors

Royal Canin Size Health Nutrition Giant Adult Dry Dog Food
  • Larger kibble so it’s easier for big dogs to eat
  • Contains glucosamine and chondrotin for joint support
  • Contains nutrients and taurine for your Bullmastiff’s heart
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Best for Weight Loss

Farmina Natural And Delicious Ancestral Low-Grain Formula
  • 60 percent animal ingredients
  • No peas, lentils, or pea protein
  • All life stage formula
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Our criteria

We understand that some people think of dogs as wolves and believe dogs need lots of meat in their diet. Many people have also been led to believe that dogs need to follow near human guidelines about what they should eat. Most of these beliefs, however, are based on pet food marketing and not nutritional research.

For reasons we will explain below, we try to follow the criteria provided by the World Small Animal Veterinary Association when choosing the best dog foods for Bullmastiffs and other dogs.

Using the WSAVA guidelines, we look for dog foods that meet the following standards:

  • The dog food should be AAFCO-approved, preferably by means of a food trial instead of a nutrient profile.
  • We prefer dog food companies that invest in nutritional research to back up their formulations.
  • We look for pet food companies that have canine/veterinary nutritionists on staff to formulate their foods.
  • The company that makes the dog food should have strong quality control measures and be willing to discuss them.
  • Good nutrition is more important that clever marketing. You won’t be eating the dog food you purchase, your dog will. You should choose the dog food that is most nutritious for your dog even if the ingredients don’t sound appealing to you.

Along with these standards, we also consider the warning from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration about a possible link between grain free dog foods and dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) in dogs. The FDA’s investigation has now expanded to include exotic proteins in dog foods.

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You can read the latest research in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association. The FDA also recently released this update. According to the update, 276 cases of DCM have been reported since July. A wide range of breeds hav been reported including breeds with no known genetic predisposition for DCM.

Editor’s Note

In cases in which dogs ate a single primary diet (i.e., didn’t eat multiple food products, excluding treats), 90 percent reported feeding a grain-free food. Approximately 10 percent reported feeding a food containing grains and some of these diets were vegan or vegetarian. A large proportion of the reported diets in DCM cases – both grain-free and grain-containing – contained peas and/or lentils in various forms (whole, flour, protein, etc.) as a main ingredient (listed within the first 10 ingredients, before vitamins and minerals). The products included commercially available kibble, canned and raw foods, as well as home-cooked diets.

Because of this investigation, we don’t usually recommend grain free dog foods at this time. If your veterinarian happens to recommend a grain free dog food for health reasons, such as an allergy, you should discuss the situation with him or her.

For these reasons we aren’t recommending some of the most popular grain free dog foods. We follow current veterinary health research and try to provide you with the best advice possible for your dog.

The foods we recommend are what we believe are the best dog foods for Bullmastiffs.

Bullmastiffs are a breed which can be prone to heart problems, including a possibly genetic form of DCM, so we think it’s especially important to follow the FDA’s recommendations for them.

The Best Rated Dog Foods for Bullmastiffs Reviewed

1. Purina Pro Plan Focus Adult Giant Breed Formula

Nutritional info:

  • Protein – 20.0% Min
  • Fat – 12.0% Min
  • Fiber – 4.5% Max
  • Calories: 383 kcal/cup

As a giant breed, Bullmastiffs require a dog food that meets their special nutritional needs. Our top pick for Bullmastiffs is Purina Pro Plan Focus Adult Giant Breed Formula. This formula is specially designed for giant dogs.

It has chicken as the first ingredient, glucosamine and EPA (an omega 3 fatty acid) to help support your dog’s joint health and mobility. The food has 26 percent crude protein and 12 percent crude fat to help keep your Bullmastiff at an ideal body weight and avoid putting stress on his bones and joints. We think this is the one of, if not the best dog foods for Bullmastiffs.

Pros:

  • Chicken is the first ingredient
  • Contains glucosamine for joint health and mobility
  • Has natural prebiotic fiber to promote digestive health
  • Formulated for adult dogs that weigh over 100 pounds
  • Meets AAFCO guidelines with animal feeding trials

Cons:

  • This is a maintenance dog food so it’s not suitable for any puppies, including giant breed puppies

2. Hill's Science Diet Adult Large Breed Chicken & Barley Recipe Dry Dog Food

Nutritional info:

  • Protein – 21.0% Min
  • Fat – 12.5% Min
  • Fiber – 3.0% Max
  • Calories: 271 kcal/cup

Hill’s Science Diet Adult Large Breed Chicken & Barley Recipe Dry Dog Food is formulated for adult dogs that weigh over 55 pounds. This formula has natural sources of glucosamine and chondroitin to support your Bullmastiff’s joint health.

Omega-6 fatty acids, vitamins, and other nutrients nourish your dog’s skin. A clinically-proven blend of antioxidants and vitamins C, A, and E help keep your dog’s immune system healthy. This food contains no artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives.

Pros:

  • Chicken is the first ingredient
  • Contains healthy grains and natural fibers
  • Provides natural sources of glucosamine and chondroitin

Cons:

  • Hill’s is currently recalling some of its Science Diet and Prescription canned foods because of excess Vitamin D. This only affects canned foods but it may cause some customers to be concerned.

3. Eukanuba Large Breed Adult Dry Dog Food

Nutritional info:

  • Protein – 23.0% Min
  • Fat – 13.0% Min
  • Fiber – 5.0% Max
  • Calories: 325 kcal/cup

Formulated for large and giant breeds, Eukanuba Large Breed Adult Dry Dog food features chicken as the first ingredient and contains natural sources of glucosamine and chondroitin for joint support.

This food also has a larger kibble size that makes it easier for big dogs to eat. Eukanuba 3D DentaDefense System is proven to reduce tartar build-up in 28 days.

This large breed dog food uses a specialized fiber system made from natural beet pulp and prebiotic FOS (ructooligosaccharides), a natural sugar, to promote nutrient absorption and healthy digestion. This formula is made with no artificial preservatives, flavors, or colors.

Pros:

  • Specialized fiber system promotes better nutrient absorption and healthy digestion
  • Contains naturally-sourced glucosamine and chondroitin for healthy joints
  • The 3D DentaDefense System reduces tartar build-up in 28 days

Cons:

  • This is a maintenance dog food so it’s not appropriate for puppies or pregnant dogs
  • Meets AAFCO guidelines based on nutrient profile

4. Royal Canin Size Health Nutrition Giant Adult Dry Dog Food

Nutritional info:

  • Protein – 26.0% Min
  • Fat – 18.0% Min
  • Fiber – 3.9% Max
  • Calories: 427 kcal/cup

Royal Canin has an entire line of food formulated for giant breeds that includes both dry and wet foods; and foods for young puppies (up to 8 months); junior puppies (from 8 months to 18-24 months); and adult giant breed dogs.

We like all of these foods for Bullmastiffs at various ages. For adult Bullmastiffs, we can recommend Royal Canin Size Health Nutrition Giant Adult Dry Dog Food. This food is specifically made for adult dogs that weigh over 100 pounds. The giant adult formula is also a good choice for dogs that can be prone to gaining weight.

Weight gain is especially problematic in giant dogs since excess weight can lead to bone and joint problems.

This Royal Canin dog food contains an exclusive complex of antioxidants and a combination of nutrients, including taurine, to support your dog’s heart.

This formula also supports your giant dog’s digestion with proteins that are easy to digest and a balanced blend of fibers.

Pros:

  • Larger kibble so it’s easier for big dogs to eat
  • Contains glucosamine and chondrotin for joint support
  • Contains nutrients and taurine for your Bullmastiff’s heart

Cons:

  • Not suitable for puppies

5. Farmina Natural And Delicious Ancestral Low-Grain Formula Dry Dog Food, Chicken

Nutritional info:

  • Protein – 30.0% Min
  • Fat – 18.0% Min
  • Fiber – 2.9% Max
  • Calories: 465 kcal/cup

Farmina has several product lines. We can recommend their ancestral, low-grain dog foods such as Farmina N&D Ancestral Low-Grain Formula Dry Dog Food, Chicken. These foods have been doing exceptionally well with the dogs that have been tested for dilated cardiomyopathy. Farmina’s low-grain formulas contain no peas, lentils, or pea protein.

Also of interest to Bullmastiff owners, these formulas are slightly lower in fiber than most other kibbles which could be beneficial in reducing gas in your dog’s stomach.

Farmina’s low-grain dog foods are made up of 60 percent animal ingredients such as chicken or fish; 20 percent organic spelt (an ancient form of wheat) and organic oats; and 20 percent vegetables, fruits, vitamins, and minerals. The company uses no artificial preservatives.

Most of the protein in the foods comes from animal sources. The ancestral, low-grain formulas come in puppy, adult, light, and senior recipes.

Most of the foods also come in mini, medium, and maxi options which refer to the kibble size. If a maxi option isn’t available for your Bullmastiff, Farmina considers a medium-size kibble to be suitable for most dogs.

Pros:

  • No peas, lentils, or pea protein
  • 60 percent animal ingredients
  • Lower in fiber
  • All life stage formula

Cons:

  • There have been shortages in some places because of the recent increased demand for the ancestral, low-grain formulas

What Kind of Diet should You Feed Your Bullmastiff?

Bullmastiffs do have some health issues which can be affected by their diet. However, most Bullmastiffs should be able to eat a normal diet for dogs. We will discuss some of the exceptions in a later section.

Protein

Adult dogs, in general, need a minimum of 18 percent protein in their daily diet. Pregnant/nursing female dogs and puppies need a minimum of 22 percent protein per day.

Research suggests that large/giant breed dogs tend to have poorer stool quality and poorer digestion if they are fed a diet with a less digestible protein.

Large/giant dogs need to have protein that is more easily digestible in their diet if they are to have better stool quality and better digestion.

Feeding your Bullmastiff a dog food with a protein percentage between 22 and 26 percent is recommended, but you should also look for a food that has easily digestible protein.

Fat

It’s a nutritional fact that small dogs burn up more calories per pound than big dogs. This means that your Bullmastiff uses fewer calories per pound when he’s resting or playing in the backyard than a Pug doing the same things.

This is why dog foods formulated for large and giant breeds generally have fewer calories than you might expect. These big dogs simply have a slower metabolism than small dogs.

Of course, your Bullmastiff still needs fat in his diet. Fat makes food taste better to dogs. It provides energy. Fatty acids are good for your dog’s skin, coat, and brain. And some vitamins are fat-soluble so they have to be distributed in the body in fat. Adult dogs need a minimum of 5 percent fat for maintenance.

Pregnant/nursing female dogs and puppies need at least 8 percent fat per day. Most dog foods have higher fat percentages that these amounts.

A moderate fat percentage would be between 12 and 16 percent. It is important to be aware of how much fat is in your Bullmastiff’s food because some Bullmastiffs can be prone to obesity.

Carbohydrates

You will often hear people say that dogs don’t “need” carbohydrates or that carbs are filler ingredients. We beg to differ. Carbohydrates perform some important functions for your dog. They are a source of energy. Some fibers are also carbohydrates and your dog’s gastrointestinal system needs those fibers.

They can provide nutrients. Your dog’s brain requires the simple sugars and starches of carbohydrates.

Complex carbs can also help prevent your dog’s glucose levels from spiking after meals. And, complex carbohydrates prevent your dog from feeling hungry between meals. Dogs can’t live on protein and fat alone.

As for giant dogs, such as Bullmastiffs, they do well with dog foods that have starches that are less fermentable and more gelatinized.

Fiber

Fiber is important for the digestion of all dogs. It exists in a soluble and an insoluble form. You will often see ingredients such as chicory, inulin, and beet pulp listed in dog foods.

These are all soluble fibers that draw water into your dog’s G.I tract, turning the contents to gel.

With the stomach contents turned to gel, it slows your dog’s digestive process. Insoluble fiber does the opposite. It adds bulk to the digestive matter in your dog’s G.I. tract and speeds up the passage through your dog’s system. Most kibbles today have between 3 and 6 percent crude fiber.

However, there is some thought that large/giant breeds and other dogs which can be prone to bloat, may do better with slightly less fiber in their diet, especially fermentable fiber.

If your Bullmastiff has a little less fiber in his diet, he may be a little less gassy and perhaps a little less likely to have his stomach fill up with air or gas.

Probiotics and prebiotics

Prebiotics and probiotics are becoming standard additions to many dog foods today. They assist your dog’s gastrointestinal system in function well and strengthen the immune system.

Prebiotics are a dietary fiber that encourages the growth of friendly bacteria in your dog’s digestive system. Prebiotics such as chicory and inulin are often added to dog foods now.

Probiotics are living microorganisms that “colonize” your dog’s digestive system. A teaspoon of probiotic powder can contain billions of “good bacteria” for your dog’s system.

They are added to some dog foods or you can purchase them separately. Although probiotics often look like a dried powder, they are simply hibernating until they reach your dog’s G.I. tract.

It’s estimated that about 70 percent of your dog’s immune system is located in his gastrointestinal system so prebiotics and probiotics can do much to help your dog stay healthy.

Vitamins and minerals

Most pet food companies add vitamins and minerals to dog foods after the food is cooked.

This is done because the food is cooked at very high temperatures which often destroys the normal vitamins and minerals present in the food.

By adding vitamins and minerals back into the food the company can be sure that the pet food is nutritionally complete.

What to look for when choosing the best dog foods for Bullmastiffs

Mastiff

When choosing the best dog foods for Bullmastiffs, we recommend the following:

  • Look for a dog food that contains grains unless your veterinarian advises you otherwise;
  • Choose a food that has a protein percentage between 18 and 26 percent for adult dogs;
  • Healthy dogs usually need a moderate fat percentage between 12 and 16 percent;
  • A fiber percentage between 3 and 6 percent is suitable for most dogs; look for a percentage on the low side for a Bullmastiff.

These recommendations are for kibbles.

If your Bullmastiff has any health problems that suggest he needs to eat a grain free dog food, please talk to your veterinarian about choosing a food. Multiple veterinary sources maintain that food allergies in dogs are not as common as most dog lover believe but they do occur.

If your dog has a food allergy or food sensitivity, work with your veterinarian and have your dog diagnosed. Your vet may recommend a food elimination diet and food trial. Or, you could discover that your dog has some other kind of allergy – other allergies are actually more common in dogs than food allergies.

It can take some time to discover the source of your dog’s allergy and triggers but getting a good diagnosis is better than guessing and never figuring out your dog’s problem.

Special considerations for feeding a Bullmastiff

Editor’s Note

The Bullmastiff has several health issues which can be affected by diet. As a giant breed, we recommend that you feed an appropriate food for large/giant breeds. These foods have the appropriate protein and fat levels, along with joint supplements. This is especially crucial or Bullmastiff puppies. Giant breed puppy food has the precise levels of calcium and phosphorus, as well as calories, that Bullmastiff puppies need so they don’t grow too fast. If these puppies grow too fast, they can become more likely to develop bone and joint problems while they are growing and later, as adults.

Allergies

Bullmastiffs can have some problems with allergies, including food allergies and food sensitivities. The most common food allergens for dogs are chicken, beef, dairy, and egg. These are not “bad” ingredients but they are very common so dogs are exposed to them often. Dogs can actually develop allergies and sensitivities to any ingredient.

Symptoms of a food allergy include:

  • Itching/scratching
  • Red, inflamed ears
  • Reddened skin
  • Secondary skin infection (from scratching)

A food sensitivity is more likely to affect your dog’s gastrointestinal tract. Your dog may have diarrhea, vomiting, gas, or a rumbly stomach, especially when he eats a particular food.

If you notice signs of an allergy with your Bullmastif, please see your veterinarian. Your vet may suggest an elimination diet and food trial to identify the allergens that affect your dog.

If you think you know the items that trigger a reaction in your Bullmastiff, you can try to avoid those ingredients. You can also talk to your vet about veterinary or prescription diets.

Humans who are allergic to pollen, mold, or dust will sneeze and their eyes will itch. In dogs these allergies make their skin itchy.

This skin allergy is called “atopy” and Bullmastiffs often have it. Their paws, stomach, folds of the skin, and ears are most affected. Symptoms often start between the ages of one and three-years-old and can get worse every year.

The most common signs are usually licking the paws, rubbing the face, and frequent ear infections.

Many treatments are available. Please note that this allergy might be mistaken for a food allergy but it’s not related to food.

Bloat

As a giant breed with a deep chest, Bullmastiffs are one of the breeds that can be prone to bloat. Bloat or gastric dilatation-volvulus (GDV) is a life-threatening condition if it’s not treated quickly.

There are several issues to consider with bloat, including some based on feeding your dog. Research indicates:

  • Feeding one large daily meal puts dogs at greater risk.
  • Feeding ONLY dry food can be a risk factor.
  • If fat is among the first four ingredients in a dog food, the risk goes up greatly.
  • If a dog food contains citric acid AND the food is moistened, the risk increases greatly.

By contrast, these things seem to decrease the risk of bloat:

  • Feeding a dry food that contains rendered meat-and-bone meal.
  • Mixing table food or canned food into dry food.

Encouraging your dog to eat more slowly by using a slow feeder bowl can also help.

Dilated Cardiomyopathy

Bullmastiffs are one of the breeds that appears to have a possibly genetic predisposition to dilated cardiomyopathy.

Doberman Pinschers also have a genetic predisposition to DCM and researchers have developed a genetic test to identify dogs that are at risk.

However, no such test exists or Bullmastiffs yet. Since Bullmastiffs can be born with a risk for DCM, it is especially important that you don’t take chances with feeding your dog any dog food that falls under the FDA’s current warning.

Obesity

According to owners and breeders, Bullmastiffs can also be prone to obesity as they get older. Be sure to monitor your dog’s food intake and make sure he gets regular daily exercise. Free feeding or leaving food sitting out all the time is not a good idea with this breed. Being overweight or obese will increase any tendency to bone or joint problems, including arthritis.

How much should you feed your Bullmastiff?

You can expect an adult male Bullmastif to stand between 25-27 inches tall at the shoulder. An adult female will stand between 24 and 26 inches tall at the shoulder.

Adult males typically weigh 110-130 pounds. Adult females usually weight 100-120 pounds.

Since dog foods vary, it’s best to use calories to determine how much to feed your dog instead of cups or some other measurement.

  • A three-month-old Bullmastiff male can weigh about 40 pounds and would need about 1849 calories per day.
  • A six-month-old Bullmastiff male can weigh about 75 pounds and would need about 1975 calories per day.
  • At one year your Bullmastiff might weigh 110 pounds and he would need about 2369 calories per day.

Your Bullmastiff will keep growing until he’s at least 18 months old or a little older. An adult Bullmastiff that weighs 125 pounds would need about 2608 calories per day.

As usual, these are only estimates. Your puppy could weigh more or less.

A female puppy will normally weigh a little less. Instead of looking only at your puppy’s weight, you should also pay attention to his body condition. If he’s fat or skinny you can adjust the amount you are feeding.

Keep in mind that puppies also go through growth spurts so your puppy might look perfect one day and look like he’s all legs the next day. If you have questions about how your puppy is looking or how much to feed, talk to your veterinarian or your puppy’s breeder.

Conclusion

We hope the information provided here will help you select the best dog foods for Bullmastiffs. As a breed, Bullmastiffs have several health issues that can be affected by their diet including bloat, DCM, allergies, and bone and joint issues.

With luck, if you are mindful of these issues when choosing your dog’s food, you can help your dog stay healthy and live a happy life.

Carlotta Cooper

Carlotta Cooper is a long-time contributing editor for the weekly dog show magazine DN Dog News. She's the author of The Dog Adoption Bible, a Dog Writers Association of America (DWAA) award winner. In addition, she is an American Kennel Club Gazette breed columnist and is the author of several books about dogs. She has been reviewing pet foods and writing about dog food for more than 10 years.
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