Choosing a healthy, nutritional dog food for any breed size can become a daunting task. With so many different dog food brands on the market today all claiming to be the best, choosing one for your large breed pet may become a stressful experience. So, what is the best dog food for large breeds?

In this article, I will look at what defines a large breed dog, what they need nutritionally, and offer a few recommendations to consider when choosing a food for your large breed dog. I hope to eliminate some of the confusion for you and hopefully direct you to a wholesome diet for your large breed buddy.


Characteristics Of Large Breed Dogs


Before we get into some of the best dog food for large breeds, I think it is important that we look at some charcteristics associated with these animals. Although all breeds of dogs are different there are a few common characteristics associated with the large breed. Let’s take a look at a few of these now:


  • Weigh in the neighborhood of 50 to 80 pounds
  • They use less energy than the smaller breeds
  • They burn off fewer calories than the small breed dogs (Varies with activity level)
  • They tend to obtain hip and joint issues as adults (Obesity can play a major role)
  • They grow much faster (puppy to adulthood) than smaller breeds
  • Nutritional needs are different from smaller breeds


Although not entirely inclusive, these are just a few of characteristics you will usually find within the large breed dogs. More of the common large breed dogs are Boxers, German Shepherds, Collies, Golden Retriever, Labrador Retriever, and the Siberian Husky.


Nutritional Needs Of The Large Breed Puppy


Nothing sweeter in this world than a brand new puppy! The innocence, puppy breath, chasing down a ball in the living room, all precious. With that said, it is important to understand that all puppies are not created equal, especially when it comes down to nutrition.

When you look at the characteristics of large breed dogs as mentioned above, you can quickly see the relationship between these characteristics and their nutritional needs. Large breed puppies, to ensure optimal health moving forward will require a specific source of nutrition. Here are a few items to consider when considering these nutritional needs for the large breed puppy:


  • Calories  – Be careful with the calories your pup is consuming! Excessive amount of calories in your puppy’s diet can actually increase its physical development too rapidly. This, in turn, may lead to problems associated with hips and joints down the road as the skeletal structure has not yet have time to fully form.


  • Protein – There has been some debate over the years in regards to protein in your large breed puppy. Although protein is an important ingredient to your dog’s diet, many argue that too much protein can lead to health issues. Protein supplies energy to our dogs but can also add to enhance an unwanted growth rate.


  • Calcium – Vital for strong bones, but too much calcium can also be detrimental to your pup.Your young pup does not have the ability to regulate the calcium intake which is absorbed from the intestinal tract. As a result, too much calcium can have adverse effects on the bones and joints.


These ingredients are all essential to the health and well-being of our large breed pups. What is important to understand is that these ingredients, used in excessive amounts, may lead to major health concerns. Large breed pups need a well-balanced diet and one that contains healthy, fresh ingredients.

Make sure to read the labels on pet foods to determine if the ingredients contained within the recipe will be beneficial to your pup. Don’t overfeed, as this may also lead to issues within the musculoskeletal system. Puppies grow up quickly, especially those in the large breed category, so it is important that we monitor this growth and allow our pups to mature naturally.


Large Breed Puppy Food … Some Recommendations


Keeping your large breed puppy healthy by supplying a healthy, nutritious diet is essential to their development. Keeping the characteristics and nutritional needs in mind as mentioned above, I will give you a few choices to consider that I would highly recommend. All of these are manufactured with the large breed puppy in mind. Click on the images below to get your pup started on a healthy, nutritious diet:


1.) Hill’s Science Diet For Large Breed Puppy

  • Hill’s Science Diet Puppy Large Breed Chicken Meal & Oats Recipe dry dog food is recommended for large breed puppies up to 1-year-old that will be over 55 lbs when fully grown
  • Contains optimal levels of calcium for controlled bone growth in large breed puppies
  • Natural sources of glucosamine and chondroitin for strong muscles and joints
  • Supports a healthy immune system with a clinically proven blend of antioxidants with vitamins C and E. Made with natural, high quality, easy-to-digest ingredients plus vitamins, minerals and amino acids with no artificial colors, flavors or preservatives for a flavorful, nutritious meal.


2.) Wellness Complete Health Natural For Puppy

  • Complete Health: complete and balanced everyday nutrition for your large breed puppy.
  • Large Breed Puppy Formula: Larger kibble size, made with delicious deboned chicken with regulated calories and added DHA for healthy bone, brain and eye development.
  • All Natural: Contains only premium, all natural ingredients with no wheat, corn, soy, meat by-products, artificial flavors, colors or preservatives.


3.) Diamond Naturals Large Breed Puppy


  • High quality protein made with real pasture raised lamb; for a growing large breed puppy with optimal amino acid profile for lean, strong muscles
  • For pregnant or nursing adult dogs, we recommend free-choice feeding, natural food with added vitamins & minerals; superfoods for antioxidants; fatty acids for skin & coat; guaranteed levels of glucosamine & chondroitin
  • A smaller kibble, nutrient rich & highly digestible with proprietary probiotics at guaranteed levels; natural DHA for brain & vision
  • Family Owned & run, made in the USA choosing ingredients from trusted, sustainable sources around the world.
  • NO corn, wheat, filler; No artificial flavors, colors, or preservatives; Made with the most scientifically advanced food safety protocols.


Large Breed Food For The Adult


Okay, you have prepared your puppy for adulthood by selecting and using a quality product. You have watched your pup grow like a weed as she/he has now reached adulthood and has grown out of the puppy formula. What next? Well, there are a few things to consider when transitioning from puppy to an adult diet.


  • Once again, be aware of the calories within the formula. As mentioned earlier, large breed dogs are proned to joint and hip issues, especially those who are obese
  • Supplements such as glucosamine are beneficial to avoid and prevent joint disease  (Osteoarthritis)
  • A healthy source of protein is important to the dog’s diet
  • As your dog reaches adulthood, its energy level is important to monitor. Active, working dogs will require more protein and calories than less active dogs


Let’s now take a look at a few brands that would be suitable and healthy for the adult large breed pooch. Click on the images below to view these healthy, quality recipes.


1.) Diamond Naturals Adult Real Meat Recipe

  • High quality protein made with real cage free chicken; tailored for a large breed dog with optimal amino acid profile for lean, strong muscles
  • Natural food with added vitamins & minerals; superfoods for antioxidants; fatty acids for skin & coat; guaranteed levels of glucosamine & chondroitin
  • Nutrient rich and highly digestible with proprietary probiotics that survive and thrive in the GI tract; at guaranteed levels
  • family owned & run, made in the USA choosing ingredients from trusted, sustainable sources around the world.
  • No corn, wheat, filler; no artificial flavors, colors, or preservatives; Made with the most scientifically advanced food safety protocols


2.) Holistic Select Natural

  • Unique digestive health support: Formulated with a unique digestive health support system, focused around prebiotics, probiotics, natural fibers, digestive enzymes & botanicals
  • Large & Giant Breed Formula: A larger kibble, everyday complete & balanced diet made with premium ingredients like real chicken to meet the special needs of larger dogs
  • All Natural: Contains only premium, all natural ingredients with no meat by-products, wheat, wheat-gluten or artificial colors, flavors or fillers.
  • Made In USA: Backed by the Holistic Select Guarantee and proudly made only in the USA.


3.) Wellness Complete Health Natural 

  • Complete Health: complete and balanced everyday nutrition for your large breed dog.
  • Large Breed Formula: Larger kibble size, made with delicious deboned chicken with regulated calories for healthy growth and added glucosamine and chondroitin for healthy hips and joints.
  • All Natural: Contains only premium, all natural ingredients with no wheat, corn, soy, meat by-products, artificial flavors, colors or preservatives.
  • MADE In USA: Backed by the Wellness Guarantee and proudly made only in the USA.


What Is The Best Dog Food For Large Breeds?   A Summary


I certainly hope this article has provided you with information and is helpful in your search for a quality food. You now have a good idea what to look for in a large breed dog food and what to avoid. Like us, our dogs are unique and have special needs when it comes to their diet.

Although you can find a number of dog food products that are intended for “all life stages,” I would suggest that you find one that is directed to a specific stage in your dog’s life. As mentioned above, you know have access to three different brands that are produced with the puppy and adult life stages. All six are great products!

What is the best dog food for large breeds? I hope you now have an answer to this question and have removed any guesswork on your part. Make it a practice to read the labels to determine which ingredients would be beneficial to your large friend. Look for healthy, natural ingredients to ensure your pooch lives a long, happy life!






Hello there dog lovers! My name is Luke, a retired school administrator and professional baseball player. Like you, I am a passionate about the well-being of my pets. As a result of this, I have spent years of research in finding the best dog food products to ensure my dogs are receiving a healthy, nutritional diet. I actually enjoy the research, and want to share my findings with you, dog owners like myself. I am in no way an expert, but through my research, have knowledge as it relates to the benefits of a natural dog food.


Melissa Hazlett · May 14, 2018 at 8:51 pm

Hey Luke. I also love your post you are so through and I always manage to learn something new. I did figure a large breed dog would take a different kind of food. But I am surprised to see the debate about protein and calcium. I just figured this was a given need. I didn’t realize it could also possibly do harm and cause health issues if there was too much. Thank you I will be watching my dogs diet a lot closer now.

    Luke · May 20, 2018 at 10:12 pm

    Thanks Melissa. Like the old saying goes. too much of anything is not good for you. This same thought applies to our dog foods, as too much protein may be harmful to our dogs.

    This is not to say that protein and calcium are unnecessary, because they are essential to our dog’s overall health. Everything in moderation! Thanks for visiting my site Melissa.

Cath · May 15, 2018 at 11:54 am


This is a very informative article with important information for pet parents of large-breed dogs.

I like that you pointed out for pet owners to watch for calories as some of us may feed our puppies or adult dogs a tad too much and then health issues. As you mentioned in this article, it’s true that hip and joint issues can arise later on in life if our dogs are overfed. I remember, years ago, I had a puppy who was overweight and she had developed problems with her joints once she matured.

The dog foods that you have listed are ones that I would give to my dogs, without a doubt. I feel it is very important to feed our pets foods that do not contain preservatives and all the other junk that a lot of dog foods do contain. I see that the ones you recommend do not have artificial colors/flavors or other harmful ingredients. To me, this is VERY important!

Thank you for providing visitors with valuable information and quality products to choose from.


    Luke · May 20, 2018 at 10:09 pm

    Hello Cathy, without question, it is imperative that we know how many calories a day our four legged friend is consuming each day. Too many, may lead to unwanted health issues as they reach adulthood. No one knows this better than I do, as the weight of one of my dogs got away from me and I am watching her deal with hip and joint issues.

    There are many quality dog foods on the market today that are manufactured without artificial colors and flavors. Like you, my dog does not need these ingredients in her diet, as they do nothing to enhance overall health. Thank you for your insights and feedback!

Mike Mahaffey · May 15, 2018 at 1:19 pm

It’s been several years since I had a large breed dog and it seems like I’m out of touch with the best dog food for large breeds. I can sure agree with you about there being so many dog food choices I wind up with no idea if one is better than the other.

In fact, I get to wondering if buying the most expensive food for my dog will be better for him than just picking up the cheapest brands? I know from experience though that I need not feed my dogs more than the directions show. Especially with puppies it’s easy for me to keep feeding them because I think it’s me loving them. But I have learned that the best love is to keep them at the right weight with the right amounts of the best dog food.

At the moment I’m feeding Hills Science Diet and looks like I’m getting good results health and weight wise, and my dogs think it’s the best food ever.

    Luke · May 20, 2018 at 9:13 pm

    Hi Mike. Yes, there are hundreds upon hundreds of dog choices on the market today and deciding which one is best for your pet can be a challenge. Because the dog food industry is a billion dollar industry, they have a huge budget when it comes to marketing. They all claim to be the best!

    The only way you can really get a good idea on the quality of a dog food is by taking the time to read the labels on the back of the bag. I agree with you, expensive doesn’t necessarily mean better, so reading the labels is critical in determining quality. Thanks Mike.

Sheryl Cash · May 18, 2018 at 2:27 am

We don’t have dogs anymore but I wish I knew of the automatic feeders when we had one boy that really would have been convenient. It also looks pretty sturdy, the little think plastic ones didn’t stand a chance with our dogs. I notice you didn’t mention Eukanuba that might not be the correct spelling, but is it still around?

    Luke · May 20, 2018 at 9:00 pm

    Hi Sheryl. Yes, that automatic feeder is awesome! Sure has been convenient and the one you mentioned is indeed sturdy and dependable. Eukanuba is still around and remains popular with mant dog owners throughout the world. In my opinion, it just doesn’t quite measure up to other brands on the market but like I said, still very popular. Thanks for visiting Sheryl.

Luke · May 20, 2018 at 11:35 pm

Thanks Jeff for visiting. The Diamond Natural is a great brand and one that I use. You can find a Senior recipe at Amazon. Hope this helps!

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