The 8 Best Large Breed Puppy Foods

By Kevin Myers | 2021 Update

✓ Reviewed by Dr. Sara Redding Ochoa, DVM

This (updated) guide covers all of the best large breed puppy foods available right now…

All of these products are top of the line best foods selected on the basis of my 40-point inspection.

If you are changing your pup’s diet, I highly recommend checking out my latest guide here on the proper way to switch dog food.

Let’s dive in…

The 8 Best Large Breed Puppy Foods

Top PicksRatingTop Ingredients
1. Taste of the Wild High Prairie Puppy Formula Dog Food 
(Editor’s Choice)
4.9Buffalo, Lamb meal, Bison
2. Purina Pro Plan Focus Puppy Large Breed Dog Food4.8Chicken, Brewer’s Rice, Corn Gluten Meal
3. Wellness Large Breed Complete Health Puppy Dog Food4.9Deboned Chicken, Chicken Meal, Peas
4. ORIJEN Puppy Large Grain-Free Dry Puppy Food4.6Deboned Chicken, Eggs, Whole Red Lentils
5. Purina Pro Plan Focus Puppy Classic Canned Dog Food4.8Chicken, Liver, Meat By-products
6. American Journey Salmon & Sweet Potato Dry Dog Food4.7Deboned Salmon, Chicken Meal, Turkey Meal
7. Nutro Natural Choice Large Breed Puppy Dog Food4.8Chicken, Chicken Meal, Whole Grain Brown Rice
8. Iams — ProActive Health Smart Puppy Large Breed Dry Dog Food4.6Chicken, Ground Wholegrain Corn, Ground Sorghum

How to Switch Dog Food Without Getting Your Pup Sick

Large Breed Puppy Food Reviews

1. Taste of the Wild — High Prairie Puppy Formula Grain-Free Dry Dog Food

Protein (min.) 28%, Fat (min.) 17%, Fiber (max.) 5%, Moisture (max.) 10%

Top 5 Ingredients: 1. Buffalo, 2.Lamb meal, 3. Bison, 4. Pea protein, 5. Egg product

The nutrient-rich and digestible recipe is a combination of natural ingredients with real buffalo and other protein-rich options such as roasted beef, venison, and bison for lean nutrition to support growth in puppies.  

Every product under the Taste of the Wild banner is a winner, but this one’s my personal favorite for puppies as it offers perfectly balanced nutrition and guaranteed levels of DHA.


2. Purina Pro Plan — Focus Puppy Large Breed Formula Dry Dog Food

Protein (min.) 28%, Fat (min.) 13%, Fiber (max.) 6%, Moisture (max.) 12%

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

Provide your large breed puppy the wholesome nutrition they need with Purina Pro Plan Focus Puppy Large Breed Formula Dry Dog Food. The kibble is prepared from a combination of high-quality protein and other nutrition, sourced mainly from chicken to provide the building blocks your puppy requires for growth and development.

This delicious and crunchy kibble is also rich in antioxidants to strengthen the immune system. This is one of the best large breed puppy foods on the market right now.


3. Wellness — Large Breed Complete Health Puppy Dry Dog Food

Protein (min.) 29%, Fat (min.) 13%, Fiber (max.) 5%, Moisture (max.) 10%

Top 5 Ingredients: 1. Deboned Chicken, 2. Chicken Meal, 3. Peas, 4. Ground Brown Rice, 5. Salmon Meal

Due to a faster potential growth rate and a longer growth cycle, your large breed puppy requires complete nutrition to support its physical composition.

The Wellness Large Breed Complete Health dry dog food offers balanced everyday nutrition prepared with delicious deboned chicken and includes added DHA and regulated calories for a healthy brain, bone, and eye development. This formula is one of the best puppy foods for large breeds.


4. ORIJEN Puppy Large Grain-Free Dry Puppy Food

Top 5 Ingredients: 1. Deboned Chicken, 2. Deboned Turkey, 3. Eggs, 4. Chicken Heart, 5. Whole Red Lentils

Orijen Large Puppy Food is a worthy premium option for those looking to feed their puppies the best possible diet. It’s packed with premium-grade proteins from chicken, turkey, and mackerel to promote more muscle growth in larger puppies. Nearly 85% of those proteins are animal-based and offer a lot more nutrients than just amino acids.

Since the recipe is free from grains, it makes an ideal choice for puppies with allergies. As an alternative, the brand uses lentils, peas, and beans because they’re easier to digest and provide just as many carbs. The food will also be a pleasant surprise for finicky puppies since it’s coated with freeze-dried liver that gives the kibbles a meaty flavor.


5. Purina Pro Plan — Focus Puppy Classic Chicken and Rice Entree Canned Dog Food

Protein (min.) 10%, Fat (min.) 7%, Fiber (max.) 1.5%, Moisture (max.) 76%

Top 5 Ingredients: 1. Chicken, 2. Liver, 3. Meat By-products, 4. water, 5. Rice

Nourish your growing puppy and serve specialized nutrition with Purina Pro Plan Focus Puppy Classic Chicken & Rice Entree Canned Dog Food. Featuring real chicken as the main ingredient along with other purposeful nutrients for their developing muscles and immune system.

The added DHA guarantees excellent cognitive development while omega-6 fatty acids ensure healthy skin and a shiny coat.


6. American Journey — Salmon & Sweet Potato Recipe Grain-Free Dry Dog Food

Protein (min.) 32%, Fat (min.) 14%, Fiber (max.) 5%, Moisture (max.) 10%

Top 5 Ingredients: 1. Deboned Salmon, 2. Chicken Meal, 3. Turkey Meal, 4. Peas, 5. Sweet Potatoes

If you prefer a grain-free meal for your growing pup, the American Journey Salmon & Sweet Potato Recipe Grain-Free Dry Dog Food is your best pick. Crafted with deboned salmon as its first ingredient, the kibble is composed of high-quality protein sources to support growth and active muscles.

The variety of fruits and veggies is rich in minerals, antioxidants, and vitamins and supports cognitive development and healthy immunity.


7. Nutro Natural Choice Large Breed Puppy Chicken & Brown Rice Recipe Dry Dog Food

Top 5 Ingredients: 1. Chicken, 2. Chicken Meal, 3. Whole Grain Brown Rice, 4. Whole Grain Barley, 5. Chicken Fat

Large breed puppies grow quicker and need more nutrients than other puppies. So, to fulfill their needs, Nutro has formulated the Natural Choice Large Breed Puppy Food. The recipe contains real chicken meat to keep up with the protein requirements of big pups and sources carbs from whole grains like barley, brown rice, and sorghum.

Another highlight feature of the formula is that it’s made with non-GMO ingredients. Everything is naturally sourced so that your puppy gets the most nutritional value possible. Additionally, the formula is fortified with micronutrients needed for overall development. This includes omega fatty acids, DHA, calcium, and antioxidants.


8. Iams — ProActive Health Smart Puppy Large Breed Dry Dog Food

Protein (min.) 26%, Fat (min.) 14%, Fiber (max.) 4%, Moisture (max.) 10%

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

This special Iams ProActive Health Smart Puppy Large Breed Dry Dog Food recipe offers complete and balanced nutrition for growing pups. The formula is crafted to meet the nutritional requirements of large and giant breed puppies to aid in their overall health and development…

The presence of DHA and natural fish oils along with protein-rich ingredients play a vital role in optimal cognitive development.


9. Hill’s Science Diet — Puppy Large Breed Lamb Meal & Rice Recipe Dry Dog Food

Top 5 Ingredients: 1. Lamb Meal, 2. Brown Rice 3. Wholegrain Wheat, 4. Wholegrain Sorghum, 5. Corn Gluten Meal

Carefully formulated with natural DHA and controlled levels of calcium, Hill’s Science Diet Puppy recipe is a complete and balanced diet, highly recommended for growing pups.

The kibble contains only natural and high-quality ingredients to ensure perfect support and conditioning for large breed dogs in during their growing stage. Give your pooch the nutrition they deserve for optimal health and development.


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

Top Ingredients: Chicken, Rice Flour, Soybean Meal, Corn Gluten Meal, Chicken By-Product Meal (Source of Glucosamine), Whole Grain Wheat, Whole Grain Corn

Give your growing pup the best and most balanced diet for maintaining ideal body condition and help strengthen their joints and bones with Purina ONE SmartBlend for Large Breed Puppy dry dog food. I can personally vouch for this blend as it supports your little pup’s whole-body health with a unique formula made from healthy and high-quality ingredients.


11. CANIDAE Grain-Free PURE Puppy Limited Ingredient Chicken Formula Canned Dog Food

Top 5 Ingredients: 1. Chicken, 2. Chicken Broth, 3. Dried Egg Product, 4. Peas, 5. Salmon Oil

Canidae’s Limited Ingredient Puppy Formula is perfect for puppies that frequently experience digestive issues. To counter this issue, the recipe only contains few basic ingredients such as chicken, peas, salmon oil, and zero grains. All of these foods are enough to support your puppy’s muscle growth, keep them energetic, and have their coat looking healthy and lustrous.

Aside from basic needs, the food also fulfills your puppy’s micronutrient requirements with multiple vitamins and minerals. Because the food contains broth, it tastes better and is beneficial for your pup’s urinary health. Corn, wheat, and soy are also absent from the recipe to prevent digestive upsets in sensitive dogs.


FAQs: Large Breed Puppy Food

Do large breed puppies need special food?

Yes, large breed puppies can grow too big, too fast. They need puppy food that gives them the right balance of essential nutrients, quality proteins but just enough fat to keep them active. With too much fat, they have a risk of obesity and several orthopedic diseases.

Do large breed puppies need more food than a smaller puppy?

Not necessarily, large breed puppies have larger stomachs and they may be able to eat more, but that doesn’t mean they should. The amount of food your pup needs depends on its activity level. It is important to balance the number of calories consumed with the number of calories your dog is able to burn.

When should I transition my large breed puppy to dog food?

As compared to smaller breeds, large or giant breed puppies take a little longer to reach maturity. Many of them are still growing until 20 months. For an average large breed puppy on a quality large breed dog, 15 months is when you should start the transition to an adult large breed dog food.

Can large breed puppies eat adult dog food?

Growing pups should be kept on puppy food because it is specially formulated to meet their nutritional needs during their adolescence. Feeding adult food will deprive your puppy of important nutrients and might even make them grow too large without proper skeletal development.

How many meals should a large puppy eat in a day?

It is important to seek a vet’s help to predict your baby’s adult weight and adjust their meals accordingly. Most large breed puppies need 4 to 5 meals a day. If they have a bigger appetite and eat a lot in one meal, then it is best to limit it to 3.

How much protein should a large breed puppy food have?

Vets believe that large breed puppies should get a minimum of 30 percent protein and less than 10 percent fat. These proteins must come from animal sources such as real meat instead of by-products and meals. Food with less than 30 percent protein can affect your pup’s growth.

What else do large breed puppies need besides proteins?

A large breed puppy needs just enough fat to stay active. Fiber-rich food can aid their digestions and help them get the most out of the nutrients. Since these pups are susceptible to joint-related issues, their diet must have the right ratio of calcium and phosphorus.

What is the right calcium to phosphorus ratio in large breed puppy food?

It is important to make sure the chosen food has 1:1 to 1.3:1 calcium to phosphorus ratio. The calcium content shouldn’t exceed 1.2%. Studies confirm that too much calcium in your puppy’s diet can actually increase the risk of hip dysplasia. Some large breed puppies can experience stunted growth due to excess calcium.

Is raw food good for large breed puppies?

Raw food is always a great option for puppies, especially the ones that can develop into huge muscular adults. High-quality raw food is high in protein and low in fat, plus there are plenty of probiotics to keep their tummy out of trouble. With raw food, it is important that we feed a high-quality product to our pups.

Is grain-free puppy food good for large breed puppies?

A grain-free diet is generally lighter and easy to digest for puppies. Large breed pups are no exception. Grains do not actually add any nutritional value to your dog’s meal. There are far superior sources of fiber you can find in premium puppy food.

Is human food good for large breed puppies?

No, human food (especially table scraps) is never a good option for your pup. It is mainly because of the high amount of processing we put or food through. Besides, it is not possible to analyze the content of human food. Human-grade food, however, is good for pups if prepared in the right manner.

Do all large breed puppies have a huge appetite?

Not always! Just because they are large in size, doesn’t mean they will eat like a wolf. While a large breed pup is likely to eat more than a smaller puppy because of their larger stomach capacity, they are not necessarily greedy. It is entirely possible for your large breed pup to be picky.

Are large breed puppies susceptible to obesity?

Yes, large breed pups might eat more than a regular-sized puppy. If the nutrients aren’t balanced according to their needs, proteins, and fats in particular, then your little furry one can gain a lot of unhealthy weight. Overweight puppies are at a higher risk of bone and joint disorders as well as organ-related issues.

Are large breed puppies susceptible to joint issues?

Without a proper diet or when on free feeding, a large size puppy might grow too fast in size. In this scenario, they will gain more mass then their bones can support at that stage. Many studies have confirmed the relation between diet and joint-related health issues.

Buyers’ Guide

Your friend may be teeny tiny at the moment but if it is a large-sized breed, it will soon grow bigger than its peers. Since their growth is different, their nutritional requirements, as proven through various research and studies, is naturally different as well.

In short, size matters and you need to understand what your baby needs to grow into a happy healthy adult without missing a milestone.

How large is a large breed puppy?

First thing first, you actually need to understand the term ‘large breed’ to begin with.

Large breed is basically any breed that can grow more than 50 pounds and taller than 24 inches. Now, I know that is for a grown-up dog. For puppies, the numbers actually vary from breed to breed. Many large breed puppies don’t even look bigger than any other breed – but they will grow faster.

Controlling Size through Diet

Like it or not, a proper and balanced large breed puppy diet is one that will keep their growth in control. If those pups grow too fast, they often fall victim to several health issues.

So, this guide is all about how to keep control over their size without suppressing their appetite.

What you need to understand is how your puppy’s food actually affects growth. Roughly, half the calories consumed by pups are used up in muscle and skeletal development. However, that is only when the calories are coming from healthier sources such as protein. Calories that come from fat do not impact skeletal development. This means your puppy will grow in size but the bones won’t be strong enough to support the weight.

If you feel your pup is gaining too much weight, too fast, you need to take it to the vet to get a BCS check. Body Condition Score BCS is like BMI for dogs. Your vet will be able to give you an accurate number and tell you whether your pup needs to lose or gain some pounds.

What to Look for In Your Large Breed Puppy Dog Food?

Proteins

Since protein is the building block for muscles, your large breed pup needs a lot of it. Top-quality dog food for large breed puppy should be more than 30 percent protein. An interesting thing about protein is that a puppy needs more protein than a grown-up dog. That is because they are in their growth phase and they need a hefty supply of building blocks. Look for proteins from animal meat instead of by-products.

Fatty Acids

Large breed pups need less fat because they are susceptible to obesity. The only case where you can feed your pal a puppy food with more than 10 percent fat is if it is a highly active and athletic breed. However, low in fat diet doesn’t mean low in fatty acids. Fatty acids aren’t just good for skin and coat, they are also great for joints. Large breed pups with a rich coat will need puppy food with a higher amount of Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids.

Calcium

Healthy bones and joints should be your core concern when choosing the best dog food for large breed puppies. Calcium is essential for bones. However, most large breeds are unable to regulate the absorption of calcium. They tend to absorb more than other breeds, and that may cause calcium retention. Calcium retention is just as bad for your baby’s bones as calcium deficiency. Look for food with not more than 1.5 percent calcium.

Phosphorus

Phosphorus is the second most important nutrient for your pup’s bones and joints. Look for dog food with a healthy ratio of calcium and phosphorus. As I mentioned in the FAQ section, the ideal ratio of calcium and phosphorus is between 1:1 to 1.3:1.

Glucosamine

Since bones and joints are foremost concerns in large breed pups, it is a good idea to pick a puppy food with glucosamine.

Feeding Instructions

Whichever puppy food you pick, keep in mind that even a lower fat food can cause weight gain if your pup is overeating. Portion control is important. Feed your pup four to five times a day but keep their portions small.

When switching your pup between foods, keep the golden rules of dog food transition in mind. It will help your pup avoid complications that might arise from a sudden diet change.

Other factors to consider when buying puppy food

Apart from the basic requirements for a good puppy food, you must also consider the following factors. These considerations will help you choose the best puppy food for your budget and receive the best bang for your buck:

1. Budget and value

Before you begin the hunt for a puppy food, consider your budget and the options available. Don’t go for a higher-priced food unless you’re sure you can afford it in the future. Once you have a couple of foods shortlisted, compare their ingredients, calories, brand reputation, and guaranteed analysis section. Spending a few minutes comparing these factors will help you get the best value for your money in the long run.

2. Taste and preferences

When buying dog food, make sure your puppy’s preferences are also taken into account. Do they prefer wet food over dry food? Are they more attracted to poultry than red meat? Is your puppy fond of eating the same food repeatedly? Answering these questions will help you pick a dog food that your puppy will love eating.

3. Guaranteed Analysis

Believe it or not, you can get a lot of information from the guaranteed analysis section alone. In fact, you should check the guaranteed analysis of each food separately and check whether it fulfills AAFCO’s guidelines. For puppies, crude protein content should be at least 22.5%, and fat content should be at least 8.5%, as per AAFCO.

Further reading:

Once you are done with the best puppy food for large food list below, check out these excellent resources as well:

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