The 7 Best Large Breed Dog Foods

By Kevin Myers | 2020 Update

✓ Reviewed by Dr. Sara Redding Ochoa, DVM

This updated guide lists all of the best large-breed dog foods right now.

Being a parent to a large breed dog comes with big responsibilities, and especially when it comes to providing them with the best nutrition. While the basic nutritional requirements of all dogs are pretty much the same, it is for a reason that they have breed-specific or life stage-specific diets available to ensure your dog’s distinct requirements are met.

Choosing the right large breed dog food can make all the difference in the world to the health of your large pooch.

Therefore, it is not only important to look for food that’s suitable for large and giant breeds but it is also crucial to offer them a diet that’s crafted according to their life stage. If you are looking for the most appropriate diet choices for your darling dog, we’ve got you covered. Not only I will get into the details about the specifics of large breed dogs but I have also reviewed my top favorite dog foods ideas for feeding your large breed dog.

Let’s get started…

The 7 Best Large Breed Dog Foods

Best Large Breed Dog FoodsRatingsTop Ingredients
1. Blue Buffalo Wilderness Large Breed Dog Food
(Editor’s Choice)
4.9Deboned Chicken, Chicken Meal, Peas…
2. Eukanuba Adult Dry Dog Food4.9Chicken, Corn, Chicken By-Product Meal…
3. Now Fresh Grain-Free Food4.8Deboned Turkey, Whole Dried Egg, Potatoes…
4. Purina ONE SmartBlend Large Breed Puppy Formula4.8Chicken, Rice Flour, Soybean Meal…
5. Nutro Ultra Adult Dry Dog Food4.8Chicken, Chicken Meal, Whole Brown Rice…
6. Bil-Jac Large Breed Adult Chicken Recipe4.7Chicken, Chicken By-Products, Corn Meal…
7. Iams ProActive Health Adult Large Breed Dry Dog Food4.7Chicken, Ground Whole Grain Barley, Ground Whole Grain Corn…

Top Large Breed Dog Food Reviews

1. Blue Buffalo Wilderness — Large Breed Chicken Recipe Grain-Free Dry Dog Food

Top 5 Ingredients: 1. Deboned Chicken, 2. Chicken Meal, 3. Peas, 4. Tapioca Starch, 5. Menhaden Fish Meal

A delicious blend of flavors and nutrition, this grain-free chicken recipe by Blue Buffalo Wilderness is one of the hot picks of large-breed dog parents.

  • If you are looking for a premium blend to serve your big boy, I would highly recommend this one.
  • The protein-rich recipe has deboned chicken, chicken meal, and Menhaden fish meal as the primary ingredients to ensure your pooch gets protein from only high-quality sources.
  • For larger dogs, maintaining bone health is the most crucial part, and this formula provides everything needed to help maintain healthy bones.
  • With optimal levels of Chondroitin and Glucosamine, the recipe supports overall mobility in your dog.

Moreover, the added nutrients such as phosphorus and calcium also help support healthy joint function and keep bones strong. Since it is a grain-free diet option, it is also suitable for dogs with sensitive stomachs.


2. Eukanuba — Large Breed Adult Dry Dog Food

Top 5 Ingredients: 1. Chicken, 2. Corn, 3. Chicken By-Product Meal, 4. Wheat, 5. Ground Grain Sorghum

Fortified with minerals and vitamins, this dry dog food for large-breed adult pooches is a great blend for picky eaters. The delicious flavors will keep your dog hooked while the optimal blend of nutrition will ensure optimal health and wellbeing. Prepared from high-quality ingredients, this recipe is among the top favorites for many dog owners because of all the benefits it has to offer.

If you want to serve your dog meals loaded with the goodness of essential nutrients without breaking your bank, this Eukanuba variety is definitely a great option. With chicken as the primary ingredient, not only does this recipe has sufficient levels of protein for your dog, but a number of other nutrients and joint-supporting supplements that make it such a hit with large-breed dog owners.


3. Now Fresh — Grain-Free Large Breed Adult Recipe Dry Dog Food

Top 5 Ingredients: 1. Deboned Turkey, 2. Whole Dried Egg, 3. Potatoes, 4. Peas, 5. Potato Flour

This antioxidant-rich formula is a recommended diet for large dogs over 50 pounds. The adult recipe can be given to a dog older than 1 year as it contains nutrients your growing dog needs for great bone health maintenance. The blend contains turkey, duck, and salmon as protein sources and a range of other high-quality ingredients to provide optimal nutrients to larger breed dogs. The antioxidants are extracted from wholesome ingredients such as cranberries, spinach, blackberries, pumpkin, and carrots, and serve as an excellent foundation for a strong immune system.

The best part, however, is the grain-free and gluten-free feature that encourages most dog-parents to prefer this formula by Now Fresh over other options. Also, the formula is free from common allergens and fillers such as soy, wheat, and corn to ensure your large tail-wagger only gets the best nutrition that they need to stay healthy and active.


4. Purina ONE — SmartBlend Large Breed Puppy Formula Dry Dog Food

Top 5 Ingredients: 1. Chicken, 2. Rice Flour, 3. Soybean Meal, 4. Corn Gluten Meal, 5. Chicken By-Product Meal

The natural sources of glucosamine present in this blend by Purina ONE are excellent for your large-breed growing hound. Formulated with the best quality ingredients, this formula is an excellent source of nutrition for puppies that belong to the large-breed category. If there’s one recipe you can completely rely on to ensure your big pup is getting a rich and complete diet, this blend is among the top choices  I would recommend.

With chicken as the primary source of protein, the formula includes a variety of ingredients that make up a great nutrient profile perfectly suitable for a large-breed pooch. In addition to the supplements that help support healthy joints, the blend also includes a variety of dual-defense antioxidants and other crucial nutrients to support a robust immune system and the healthy skin and coat of your dog. Support your little darling’s full growth with a diet that’s complete and perfectly balanced.


5. Nutro Ultra — Large Breed Adult Dry Dog Food

Top 5 Ingredients: 1. Chicken, 2. Chicken Meal, 3. Whole Brown Rice, 4. Brewers Rice, 5. Rice Bran

Packed with rich antioxidants and naturally sourced chondroitin and glucosamine, this recipe is an ideal diet for a large-breed dog with specific needs. Not only do these essential supplements help maintain healthy joints in large and heavier dogs, but the optimal level of antioxidants also help maintain a strong immune system and keeps the mind and heart sharp and active.

This corn-free, wheat-free, and soy-free formula depends on chicken, chicken meal, and high-quality whole grains to provide your dog a premium quality diet to ensure great health. The recipe also features other holistic ingredients including essential fatty acids to support your dog’s shiny coat and healthy skin. With flavors, your dog cannot resist, give your dog a diet rich with the goodness of perfectly balanced nutrition.


6. Bil-Jac — Large Breed Adult Chicken Recipe Dry Dog Food

Top 5 Ingredients: 1. Chicken, 2. Chicken By-Products, 3. Corn Meal, 4. Dried Beet Pulp, 5. Oatmeal

This super-premium blend by Bil-Jac is a farm-raised chicken recipe made from fresh and high-quality ingredients only. The brand boasts complete and balanced nutrition for your big guy and offers quite an impressive nutrient profile for your pooch’s wellbeing. The recipe also includes naturally-sourced chondroitin and glucosamine for healthy bones and joints. The excellent blend of ingredients is slow-cooked under professional assistance to ensure your dog gets everything she needs to stay healthy.


7. Iams — ProActive Health Adult Large Breed Dry Dog Food

Top 5 Ingredients: 1. Chicken, 2. Ground Whole Grain Barley, 3. Ground Whole Grain Corn, 4. Ground Whole Grain Sorghum, 5. Chicken By-Product Meal

Maintaining bone health is one of the major concerns of large-breed dog parents. And therefore, it is important to look for a recipe that includes nutrients and supplements that work as a natural source to stimulate joints, elbows, and knees, and keep the skeletal structure strong. This formula by Iams is an excellent option if these are the main features you are looking for in a recipe. The diet not only include chicken and eggs as primary sources of protein,  but various other ingredients rich in minerals, vitamins, and antioxidants for the best health of your pooch.


8. Purina Pro Plan — Focus Adult Large Breed Weight Management Formula Dry Dog Food

Top 5 Ingredients: 1. Chicken, 2. Brewer’s Rice, 3. Whole Grain Wheat, 4. Poultry By-Product Meal, 5. Corn Gluten Meal

This specialized formula for your large breed pooch contains all the essential nutrients that keep your darling in the perfect shape. This is especially important for these big buddies, who are already susceptible to common health problems associated with bones and joints. Therefore, it’s important to maintain an ideal weight and lean structure in accordance with your dog’s specific breed. This specified weight-management formula offers the perfect protein-to-fat ratio and is loaded with all important nutrients to keep your dog healthy and their bodies strong and lean.


9. Blue Buffalo — Life Protection Formula Large Breed Adult Chicken & Brown Rice Recipe Dry Dog Food

Top 5 Ingredients: 1. Deboned Chicken, 2. Chicken Meal, 3. Brown Rice, 4. Oatmeal, 5. Barley

With delicious and protein-rich ingredients like deboned chicken and chicken meal, the formula is crafted with enhanced nutrients to give your big dog a complete meal to keep them happy, healthy, and lively. The precise blend of nutrients, including antioxidants and other rich supplements, provides your dog with the additional support they need keeping their big structure in mind. The complex carbs and L-carnitine aids in digestion, muscle development, and improved activity.


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Buyer’s Guide

If you are considering owning a large-breed dog, stop right here! There’s so much you need to know about them before you proceed. And if you already have one, this could be the right place to learn everything about his care, grooming, and most importantly, his diet.

As similar as they are to smaller dogs when it comes to their basic care and nutrition, large dogs exhibit various biological differences that set them apart. Unfortunately, this is also true for health issues because larger dogs can be more susceptible to health problems. In short, you are responsible for providing your dog the best and healthiest life you can. And the only way you can do that is by picking up a suitable diet that’s both convenient and nutritious for your dog.

I know that this may all seem a bit overwhelming, but I promise you it isn’t. To help you in choosing the right food for your large breed dog, I’m including within this list other helpful information about owning and feeding your gentle giants that is not to be missed.

So, without any more fanfare, let’s dig deeper!

Is Your Dog Really a Large-Breed Canine?

Large breed dogs generally have specific diet and exercise requirements. So it’s important to identify exactly what constitutes a large breed dog. Most experts agree that if your dog is between 22 and 26 inches tall (as measured from the floor to the highest point of the shoulder), and weighs between 59 and 98 pounds, then you have a large breed canine.

If your dog falls within those height and weight ranges then congratulations, you have a large breed dog. You’re going to need to be focused on their specific dietary and exercise requirements in order to maintain them in the best of health.

List of large/Giant Breed dogs

Here is a list of large breed dogs:

  • Weimaraner
  • Siberian Husky
  • Samoyed
  • Rottweiler
  • Rhodesian Ridgeback
  • Poodle
  • Pitbull terrier
  • Newfoundland
  • Labrador
  • labradoodle
  • Irish setter
  • Hungarian vizsla
  • Golden Retriever
  • Great Dane
  • Greyhound
  • German Shepherd
  • German Shorthaired Pointer
  • Golden Doodle
  • Doberman
  • Dogue De Bordeaux
  • English Pointer
  • Bullmastiff
  • Cane Corso
  • Collie
  • Bernese Mountain dog
  • Boerboel
  • Boxer
  • Australian Bulldog
  • Australian Shepherd
  • Basset Hound
  • Airedale terrier
  • Akita
  • Alaskan Malamute

Dietary Requirements of Large Breed Dogs

An integral part of owning a large breed dog is knowing what their specific dietary requirements are. With all the options to choose from out there, it’s important to zone in on what’s really important and tune out the rest.

Something that we owners need to keep in mind is that bigger dogs have a slower metabolism and therefore, they need regular exercise and activities to stay mentally and physically healthy. Also, since these big boys are susceptible to specific health issues based on their size, owners need to be diligent in order for our pets to thrive.

Common Health Issues to Watch Out For

As mentioned earlier, bone and joint health of large breed dogs are a primary concern over their lifespan. Health problems such as hip and elbow dysplasia are common in large breeds. Maintaining a large-breed specific diet can help your dog live a comfortable life with healthier hips and a hitch-free walk.

Arthritis is also pretty common in large dogs and is often associated with dogs in their senior life-stage. This puts even more pressure on us as dog parents to provide a great diet throughout the life stages so that our big guys in their golden years don’t have to deal with achy joints.

*Consult DVM* – Heart disease can also affect your dog’s health and quality of life. In fact, some studies have shown that large breeds are more susceptible to dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) than their smaller counterparts. Feeding our large breed dogs a quality diet, specifically formulated for their needs may help reduce the incidence of heart problems now and in their future.

Choosing the Best Large Breed Dog Food – Nutritional Requirements

Diets designed for big pooches are usually low in caloric density due to the slow metabolic rate of your four-legged friend. However, nutrition is what you need to pay attention to. In addition to the flavors and the perfect kibble size, you must also ensure your dog stays satiated and comfortable throughout the day.

Here’s everything you need to look for in your big pooch’s ideal diet:

  • Quality Protein: It’s the building block of the entire formula.  Your big hound requires high protein for repairing tissues and building muscles for a healthy body. Focus on quality protein options such as chicken, turkey, duck, venison, lamb, meat, and beef.
  • Fat: Fats play a vital role in giving your dog the energy that keeps them going. Your big tail-wagger needs optimal energy to stay active and fuel a proper amount of exercise. Look for a balanced diet that includes essential fatty acids to keep your dog looking and feeling amazing from the inside out.
  • DHA: It is great to pick a formula that’s fortified with DHA (Docosahexaenoic Acid) supplements. DHA does not only help prevent allergies and boost the central nervous system in your pooch but also stimulates healthy skin and coat, and fights inflammation.
  • Glucosamine: To address bone and joint health issues, it is ideal to pick a diet that includes glucosamine as a vital nutrient. This is usually present in poultry and meat sources and works as a building block of cartilage that protects the joints from aging wear and tear.
  • Omega-3: Ingredients that are rich in omega-3 are a great plus for your pooch’s diet. This essential acid can prevent inflammatory and degenerative conditions. Ingredients such as flaxseed oil, coconut oil, hemp oil, and whole fish are rich in omega-3 fatty acids.
  • Probiotic: This is especially important for dogs with sensitive stomachs. You don’t want to put your dog in trouble by offering a diet that could lead to digestive issues.

In addition to ensuring all the above-mentioned nutrients are present in the balanced meal, you must steer clear of any option that includes unidentified byproducts and fillers. Also, if you read the word ‘artificial’ on the label, it is definitely a bad option for your big boy. Stick to the natural sources so your dog gets only the best.

FAQs

Are there any special dietary requirements of large breed dogs?

Even though the basic features of canines are similar, the nutritional necessities may be unique depending on different breed sizes as well as age. Many new pet parents are unaware that the ideal formulas for their large breed dogs have a lower caloric density than those of their smaller relatives. Bigger dogs have a slower metabolic rate, and it can very quickly turn into obesity if not addressed with diet and exercise. Also, I recommend food options with an improved amount of minerals and vitamins to protect the vital organs of larger pooches.

How is large-breed dog food different from regular food?

The demands of larger breeds are significantly different from smaller ones. Since bone-related health problems and injuries are more prevalent in large breed dogs, they need a formula that stimulates bone and joint health. Unlike regular food, the nutrient profile in specific large-breed foods is richer in calcium, proteins, minerals, and vitamins. Moreover, large breed dog food also contains glucosamine and chondroitin to support bone health.

Is it necessary to change my dog’s food to a specific large-breed diet if I am currently giving him a regular diet?

One of the best ways to ensure your pet’s good health and wellbeing is to feed him the right amount of nutrients appropriate for his breed and life stage. Foods lacking the proper amount of nutrients can lead to nutritional deficiencies in your dog. It is highly recommended that you stick to a specific-breed diet right from puppyhood to provide your dog the nourishment and nutrition he needs for growth and development. This way, making a transition in the diet during adulthood will not be a  problem either.

How much should I feed my large breed dog?

The amount you feed your big boy depends on their body weight, age, and breed.. Most foods have feeding recommendations printed on the package. However, as a general rule large breed dogs are fed 1 ½ cups per 22 lbs of body weight in a day.

How often should I feed my large breed dog?

Most large breed dogs do well with two meals during the day. The food can also be split into three small meals as per your pooch’s requirement.

Can I feed my small-breed dog large-breed food?

It is a common myth that food formulated for large breed dogs is more nutritious as compared to food for smaller breeds. And that’s one of the reasons why some dog parents are inclined towards feeding their smaller dog foods that are specified for large breeds. The reality, however, is that the metabolic rates of small and large breeds are different, and the recipes are formulated keeping this in mind. Recipes formulated for smaller dogs are denser in calories and fat since their metabolism is faster than larger dogs. For smaller dogs, large-breed food can be insufficient. On the contrary, feeding small-breed specified food to large breed dogs can lead to obesity and other health problems associated with excessive weight.

What are the common health problems in large breed dogs?

Many health problems in large breed dogs are associated with bones and joints. Therefore, hip and elbow dysplasia are quite common. Other health issues include heart problems (such as aortic stenosis and dilated cardiomyopathy), arthritis, obesity, entropion, and gastric torsion (bloat).

Can my large breed dog have food sensitivities? Which symptoms should I watch out for?

While food-related sensitivities are less common in canines, any breed of dog can be affected by food sensitivities. . A food allergy may present itself through different symptoms such as itchy skin, vomiting, chronic ear problems, diarrhea, flatulence, wheezing, sneezing, and coughing.

Is a grain-free diet recommended for my large breed dog?

Dogs are actually omnivores, not carnivores,  and therefore, there are no recommendations to give a grain-free diet to any dog, regardless of the breed. Grain-free diets are specifically made for dogs with food-related allergies and digestive issues. Otherwise, natural and whole grains are not harmful to your big tail-wagger.

Can I feed a grain-inclusive diet to my large breed dog?

Of course, you can. The only thing you need to be absolutely sure about is the quality of grains in the formula. Grains that are not processed are the best kind of grains to feed your dog. The healthier options include oats, brown rice, quinoa, oatmeal, and more.

What nutrients are essential in large-breed dog food?

In addition to the basic nutrients like protein, fats, and carbs, an ideal meal for large breed dogs should also have the essential levels of DHA, chondroitin, glucosamine, and probiotics. The diet should also be free of all kinds of preservatives, artificial flavors and coloring, unrecognized byproducts and all fillers and additives.

Does life stage matter when picking up the right food for a large dog?

It depends on the ingredients and nutrient profile of the product you are picking. Some are specified for adults while others may be suitable for all life stages. Just make sure the blend that you are picking works for your dog.

Conclusion

I hope you are in a much better position to make an informed decision about your big-breed dog’s diet. Keep the specific requirements of your dog in mind and make a decision that’s best for your dog. Good luck!

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