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Best Large-Breed Puppy Food: Good Grub for Growers

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Dog Food By Kelsey Snyder 29 min read November 3, 2020 2 Comments

large breed puppy food

As the old adage says, “From a small food dish a mighty doggo may grow.”

Or something like that. 

While every pupper needs good food, a large-breed puppy’s diet requires special care to ensure proper growth, development, and joint health. Those big, goofy paws and long legs need extra attention in the diet department to avoid growing too quickly. 

With that in mind, we’ll explain some of the most important things large-breed puppies need in a food, and identify some of the best options on the market.

But, if you’re in a hurry, just check out our quick picks below!

Best Large Breed Puppy Food: Quick Picks

  • #1 Blue Buffalo Life Protection Large-Breed Puppy Food [Best Overall Large-Breed Puppy Food] — Made with nutritious chicken, brown rice, fruits, vegetables, and fortified with probiotics, this is our favorite food for large-breed dogs.
  • #2 Nutro Wholesome Essentials Large-Breed Puppy Food [Runner Up for Best Overall Large-Breed Puppy Food] — Featuring chicken and brown rice, this non-GMO recipe is fortified with chondroitin and glucosamine.
  • #3 Merrick Classic Healthy Grains Puppy Food [Best Grain-Inclusive Option] — This is a great option for large-breed puppy owners who want a nutritious, protein-rich formula with whole grains.
  • #4 Blue Wilderness Large Breed Puppy Food [Best Grain-Free Option] — An awesome choice for large-breed puppies who have grain allergies or intolerances, this protein-rich food is packed with omega-3s and antioxidants.
  • #5 Diamond Naturals Large-Breed Puppy Food [Most Affordable Large-Breed Puppy Food] — An excellent choice for puppy owners on a budget, Diamond Naturals provides the kind of nutrition all dogs deserve.
  • #6 Blue Buffalo Homestyle Puppy Food [Best Canned Option for Large-Breed Puppies] — If you’re large-breed puppy prefers canned food to kibble, you’ll definitely want to consider giving this recipe a try.

What’s Considered a Large Breed?

Different sources define “large” breeds differently.

We usually consider dogs weighing more than 50 pounds to be “large,” but the AAFCO — the authority who establishes nutritional requirements for dog foods — considers canines who are at least 70 pounds as “large.”

puppies who need large-breed foods

You can figure this out by researching your puppy’s expected size as an adult if you know what breed he is. If you have a mixed breed, factor in both of his parents or ask your veterinarian for help if you’re unsure.

Some of the most popular large dog breeds that often exceed 70 pounds include:

  • Akita
  • Anatolian shepherd
  • Beauceron
  • Bernese Mountain dogs
  • Black and tan coonhound
  • Black Russian terrier
  • Bloodhound
  • Boerboel
  • Borzois
  • Bouviers des Flandres
  • Briard
  • Bullmastiff
  • Cane corso
  • Curly coated retriever
  • Doberman pinscher
  • Dogues de Bordeaux
  • Great Dane
  • Great Pyrenees
  • Greater Swiss Mountain dog
  • Irish wolfhound
  • Komondor
  • Kuvasz
  • Labrador retriever
  • Leonberger
  • Mastiff
  • Neapolitan mastiff
  • Newfoundland
  • Old English sheepdog
  • Otterhound
  • Rhodesian ridgeback
  • Rottweiler
  • Scottish deerhound
  • St. Bernard
  • Tibetan mastiff
  • Weimaraner
large breed puppy food requirements

What’s So Special About Large Breed Puppy Nutrition?

While a small- or medium-sized breed may excel on any high-quality diet, your large breed puppy is at risk for several health issues if fed incorrectly. A large-breed puppy’s growth should be carefully monitored, especially if he’s a giant breed, who may reach 100 pounds or more. 

Large breeds grow quickly by nature, but canines who grow too quickly can suffer from serious orthopedic ailments, including: 

  • Hypertrophic osteodystrophy — A condition causing skeletal deformities and pain in the limbs
  • Osteochondrosis — A disorder affecting range of motion and cartilage in your dog’s joints
  • Panosteitis — A painful inflammation of the leg bones
  • Hip and elbow dysplasia — An abnormal development of joints leading to lameness and pain

Growing quickly and growing correctly are two different things. You want your dog’s body to develop properly rather than rush through the process. A weakened frame will lead to lifelong problems and pain.

The purpose of large breed puppy food is to allow your dog to grow at a safe rate that avoids the issues described above.

Large breed puppy formulas stray from standard puppy food kibble by including less: 

  • Fat/Calories — Aside from preventing a spike in growth, limiting fat and excess calories can decrease your pupperoni’s risk of obesity, which stresses already sensitive joints as your pooch grows.
  • Calcium — There is such a thing as too much of a good thing when it comes to a growing large breed puppy and calcium. Think of it as putting too much fertilizer on a pupper plant.
  • Phosphorus — Like calcium, too much phosphorus in your pup’s diet can lead to skeletal malformation.
  • Vitamin D — Vitamin D allows your pooch’s body to use the calcium in his diet, but too much Vitamin D can lead to imbalances and growth issues.

It sounds like a lot of work, but most dog food brands are in the loop and offer large breed puppy formulas, allowing you to focus on the important things, like what to expect with your new fur friend and teaching him cool new tricks to wow his friends with at the dog park.

Nutrition for Large Breed Puppies

What to Consider When Looking at Large Breed Puppy Food

While you can find many large breed puppy diets today, not all are created equal. Just slapping the title on the bag doesn’t always make it a good pick for your pooch.

Before purchasing a food, you have several things to consider, such as: 

  • Meeting or exceeding AAFCO guidelines— The Association of American Feed Control Officials handles all nutritional guidelines for pets, and identifies the nutritional needs for dogs at different life stages. AAFCO has a special guideline for large breed puppy food to ensure proper development and avoid rapid growth. 
  • Country of origin— With questionable ingredients and contamination scares plentiful over the last few years, sticking to dog food made in the USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, or Western Europe is recommended.
  • Whole protein as the first ingredient— Try to stick to recipes that include a whole protein at the top of the ingredient list. This means whole chicken rather than chicken meal, for example.
  • Clearly labeled proteins: Your doggo deserves more than mystery meat in his bowl. Stick to high-quality meat proteins and brands that label all meats, meat meals, and byproducts (if included) in their ingredient lists. Simply put, “chicken meal” is fine, but “meat meal,” is not. 
  • Nutritious whole grains: Quality grains as opposed to their highly processed, low-quality counterparts are recommended. Opt for formulas containing whole oatmeal rather than brewer’s rice, for instance.
  • Hidden goodies: Try to select recipes that contain additional perks like antioxidant-rich produce, omega-3 fatty acids, and joint-supporting supplements, like chondroitin and glucosamine
  • Avoiding artificial additives: Like cheap grains, artificial colors, flavors, and more are a hotbed for canine allergies or food sensitivities in pups, so it’s best to steer clear of them altogether. Plus, they’re unnecessary for foods that contain high-quality ingredients. 
foods for large breed puppies

The Best Large-Breed Puppy Foods

There are many large-breed puppy foods on the market, but we’ve narrowed it down to a few all-star options. Each of these checks off our boxes of excellence.

1. Blue Buffalo Life Protection Large-Breed Puppy Chicken & Brown Rice

About: Blue Buffalo’s Large-Breed Puppy Formula is a solid all-around large-breed puppy food. Offered in puppy-sized kibble chunks with added antioxidant-rich LifeSource Bits, Blue Buffalo’s Large-Breed Puppy food ensures proper growth and lifelong health.

Best Overall Large-Breed Puppy Food

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Blue Buffalo Large Breed Puppy

Blue Buffalo Large-Breed Puppy Food

A chicken-and-brown-rice recipe fortified with antioxidants, omega-3s, and joint supplements.

Features:

  • Deboned chicken is its #1 ingredient, and there is no mystery meat to contend with
  • Contains fresh produce and added DHA (an Omega-3 fatty acid) and ARA (an Omega-6 fatty acid) for brain and eye development
  • Includes appropriate levels of calcium and phosphorus for gradual, healthy growth
  • Does not contain any corn, soy, or wheat 
  • Made in the USA dog food

Protein Content: 26%

Ingredients List

Deboned Chicken, Chicken Meal, Brown Rice, Oatmeal, Barley...,

Pea Protein, Peas, Chicken Fat, Menhaden Fish Meal, Flaxseed, Natural Flavor, Dried Tomato Pomace, Dried Egg Product, Dicalcium Phosphate, Fish Oil, Salt, Dehydrated Alfalfa Meal, Choline Chloride, Potatoes, Dried Chicory Root, Potassium Chloride, Pea Fiber, Alfalfa Nutrient Concentrate, Dl-Methionine, Calcium Carbonate, Mixed Tocopherols, Vitamin E Supplement, Sweet Potatoes, Carrots, Garlic, L-Carnitine, Zinc Amino Acid Chelate, Zinc Sulfate, Vegetable Juice, Ferrous Sulfate, Iron Amino Acid Chelate, Blueberries, Cranberries, Barley Grass, Parsley, Turmeric, Dried Kelp, Yucca schidigera Extract, Niacin, Calcium Pantothenate, L-Ascorbyl-2-Polyphosphate, L-Lysine, Copper Sulfate, Biotin, Vitamin A Supplement, Copper Amino Acid Chelate, Manganese Sulfate, Taurine, Manganese Amino Acid Chelate, Thiamine Mononitrate, Riboflavin, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, 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, Sodium Selenite, Oil of Rosemary.

PROS

Reviews praised how their doggos improved on the food, especially when it came to coat shine. The pricing isn’t bad for such high-quality ingredients, either. Some pawrents noted that their pup seemed fuller longer, which is likely because of the litany of nutritious ingredients in the formula.     

CONS

A few reviews complained that their pooch disliked how small the kibble pieces are, while others seemed to practically inhale the tiny pieces too quickly. Some puppers picked out or ate around the LifeSource Bits as well.

2. Nutro Wholesome Essentials

About: Nutro Wholesome Essentials is a nutritious large-breed puppy formula made for supporting joints and bones as it is fortified with  glucosamine and chondroitin. 

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Nutro Large Breed Puppy Food

Nutro Wholesome Essentials Large-Breed Puppy Food

This large-breed puppy recipe features farm-raised chicken and is fortified with joint-supporting supplements.

Features: 

  • Made with farm-raised chicken as the first ingredient
  • Included omega fatty acids help with brain and coat health
  • Contains no corn, soy, wheat, or meat by-products
  • Cooked and packaged in the USA

Protein Content: 28%

Ingredients List

Chicken, Chicken Meal, Whole Brown Rice, Brewers Rice, Lentils...,

Whole Grain Sorghum, Lamb Meal, Pea Protein, Chicken Fat, Sweet Potato, Dried Plain Beet Pulp, Natural Flavor, Fish Oil , Potassium Chloride, Salt, Choline Chloride, DL-Methionine, Mixed Tocopherols and Citric Acid, Pea Fiber, Zinc Sulfate, Niacin Supplement, Calcium Carbonate, Biotin, Vitamin E Supplement, Iron Amino Acid Chelate, D-Calcium Pantothenate, Selenium Yeast, Riboflavin Supplement, Copper Amino Acid Chelate, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Manganese Amino Acid Chelate, Vitamin A Supplement, Thiamine Mononitrate, Potassium Iodide, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Folic Acid, Rosemary Extract.

PROS

Owners praise how gentle this food is on the tummy, transforming problem poos into easy clean up. The size and shape of the kibble received rave reviews too, as they’re more substantial than other brands. The price isn’t too bad, either, considering how nutritious this food is. 

CONS

There were a few complaints about taste, but you can’t please every puppy palate. The mixture of proteins deserves note too, because the fish and lamb products further down the ingredient list could be problematic for some dogs with protein sensitivities. We’d also prefer if it included some probiotics, but you can always use standalone probiotic supplements if you like. 

3. Merrick Classic Healthy Grains Puppy

About: Merrick’s Classic Healthy Grains Puppy Recipe is a formula made for baby barkers that need growth-conscious nutrition. Made with no by-products or mystery meats, this kibble includes clearly labeled ingredients that allow you to avoid hidden allergens.

Best Grain-Inclusive Option for Large-Breed Puppies

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Merrick Classic Grain Free

Merrick Classic Healthy Grains Puppy Food

Although it is made without corn, soy, or wheat, this chicken-based recipe contains nutritious carbs like brown rice and barley.

Features:

  • Quality ingredients with deboned chicken as the first ingredient
  • Added omega-3s and glucosamine support skin and joint health 
  • Made with whole grains to assist in digestion
  • Contains zero corn, soy, or wheat 
  • Made in the USA

Protein Content: 28%

Ingredients List

Chicken Fat, Dried Egg Product, Salmon Meal, Turkey Meal, Quinoa, Natural Flavor, Flaxseed, Salt, Sunflower Oil, Fish Oil, Organic Dehydrated Alfalfa Meal, Potassium Chloride, Choline Chloride, Carrots, Apples, Iron Amino Acid Complex, Zinc Amino Acid Complex, Zinc Sulfate, Sodium Selenite, Manganese Amino Acid Complex, Copper Amino Acid Complex, Potassium Iodide, Cobalt Proteinate, Cobalt Carbonate, Taurine, Chia Seed, Yucca schidigera Extract, Mixed Tocopherols, Vitamin E Supplement, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Vitamin A Acetate, d-Calcium Pantothenate, Thiamine Mononitrate, Niacin, Riboflavin Supplement, Biotin, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Folic Acid, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Citric Acid, Dried Lactobacillus plantarum Fermentation Product, Dried Lactobacillus casei Fermentation Product, Dried Enterococcus faecium Fermentation Product, Dried Lactobacillus acidophilus Fermentation Product.

PROS

Taste was a winner with many owners, who noted how crazy their pupper was for the formula. Ingredient quality was another praise point, as owners loved the chance to feed their pooch such a high-quality recipe.

CONS

Compared with other choices, this one is pricey. This is considered an all-sizes formula too rather than large-breed exclusive, so the kibble may be a touch small for overly-eager eaters.

4. Diamond Naturals Large-Breed Puppy Formula

About: Diamond Naturals Large-Breed Puppy Dry Formula is a high-quality kibble for your growing woofer. Made with pasture-raised lamb and nutritious fruits and dog-friendly veggies, it has the ingredients needed for lean muscle development and natural growth. 

Most Affordable Large-Breed Puppy Food

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Diamond Naturals Puppy Food

Diamond Naturals Large-Breed Puppy Formula

A high-quality kibble made in the USA with pasture-raised lamb and nutritious fruits and veggies.

Features:

  • Lamb is the first ingredient
  • Contains a good mixture of fruits and vegetables
  • Added omega-3s and omega-6s for full-system wellness
  • Doesn’t contain corn, wheat, or soy
  • Made in the USA

Protein Content: 27%

Ingredients List

Lamb, Lamb Meal, Whole Grain Brown Rice, Cracked Pearled Barley, Ground White Rice...,

Dried Yeast, Chicken Fat, Egg Product, Fish Meal, Tomato Pomace, Flaxseed, Natural Flavor, Salmon Oil, Salt, Dl-Methionine, Potassium Chloride, Choline Chloride, Taurine, Dried Chicory Root, L-Carnitine, Kale, Chia Seed, Pumpkin, Blueberries, Oranges, Quinoa, Dried Kelp, Coconut, Spinach, Carrots, Papaya, Yucca schidigera Extract, Dried Lactobacillus plantarum Fermentation Product, Dried Bacillus subtilis Fermentation Product, Dried Lactobacillus acidophilus Fermentation Product, Dried Enterococcus faecium Fermentation Product, Dried Bifidobacterium animalis Fermentation Product, Vitamin E Supplement, Beta Carotene, Iron Proteinate, Zinc Proteinate, Copper Proteinate, Ferrous Sulfate, Zinc Sulfate, Copper Sulfate, Potassium Iodide, Thiamine Mononitrate, Manganese Proteinate, Manganous Oxide, Ascorbic Acid, Vitamin A Supplement, Biotin, Niacin, Calcium Pantothenate, Manganese Sulfate, Sodium Selenite, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Riboflavin, Vitamin D Supplement, Folic Acid.

PROS

This is one of the most affordable large-breed puppy foods out there, and the offered 40-pound option allows for fewer trips to the store. Puppers seem to enjoy the taste, and many parents of allergy-suffering fur kids gave it high marks. 

CONS

A few reviews noted digestive upset, though many dogs run into this if not weaned off their old food properly. Gas was another common complaint, but that’s usually a bigger problem for owners than their pets!  

5. Blue Wilderness Large-Breed Puppy Food

About: Blue Wilderness LargeBreed Puppy Food is a protein-packed kibble containing the appropriate amounts of minerals like calcium and phosphorus for steady, safe growth. Containing lean chicken and healthy veggies, this blend helps your pooch look and feel his best by leaving out the fillers and additives.

Best Grain-Free Large-Breed Puppy Food

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Blue Wilderness Large Breed Puppy

Blue Wilderness Large-Breed Puppy Food

This protein-rich puppy food is made with chicken, sweet potatoes and fortified with antioxidant-rich LifeSource Bits.

Features:

  • Real deboned chicken is the first ingredient
  • Includes antioxidant-rich LifeSource Bits
  • Sweet potatoes and regular potatoes add a digestion-friendly set of carbs for lasting fullness 
  • Made in the USA

Protein Content: 35%

Ingredients List

Deboned Chicken, Chicken Meal, Peas, Pea Protein, Tapioca Starch...,

Pea Starch, Menhaden Fish Meal, Dried Tomato Pomace, Natural Flavor, Flaxseed, Dried Egg Product, Chicken Fat, Fish Oil, Dicalcium Phosphate, Dehydrated Alfalfa Meal, Salt, Potassium Chloride, Potatoes, Dried Chicory Root, DL-Methionine, Pea Fiber, Alfalfa Nutrient Concentrate, Calcium Carbonate, Choline Chloride, Mixed Tocopherols, Sweet Potatoes, Carrots, L-Carnitine, Zinc Amino Acid Chelate, Zinc Sulfate, Vegetable Juice for color, Ferrous Sulfate, Vitamin E Supplement, Iron Amino Acid Chelate, Blueberries, Cranberries, Barley Grass, Parsley, Turmeric, Dried Kelp, Yucca schidigera Extract, Niacin, Calcium Pantothenate, L-Ascorbyl-2-Polyphosphate, L-Lysine, Copper Sulfate, Biotin, Vitamin A Supplement, Copper Amino Acid Chelate, Manganese Sulfate, Taurine, Manganese Amino Acid Chelate, Thiamine Mononitrate, Riboflavin, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, 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, Sodium Selenite, Rosemary oil.

PROS

Owners rave about how much their growing goobers love the taste of this food. It also improved coat condition and stool formation according to reviews. The pricing is pretty good for the food’s quality too. 

CONS

Some dogs eat around the included LifeSource bits, a common issue with Blue Buffalo varieties. Additionally, grain-free dog foods aren’t always a good choice for dogs who don’t have a specific grain sensitivity. 

6. ORIJEN Large-Breed Puppy Food

About: ORIJEN’s Large-Breed Puppy Food is a nutritious blend of free-run poultry, wild-caught fish, and free-range eggs. Using a prey-based model, the grain-free formula contains an assortment of organ meats and nutrients not commonly found in grocery store kibble formulas, making it a top-shelf choice for pup parents.

Best Super-Premium Option for Large-Breed Puppies

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ORIJEN Large-Breed Puppy Food

A prey-based, large-breed puppy food made with wild-caught fish, free-run poultry and free-range eggs.

Features:

  • Protein-rich with a wide assortment of meat making up its top ingredients
  • Contains nutrient-dense organ meats, vegetables, and omega-3-rich fish
  • Includes freeze-dried chicken liver as a flavor enhancer to win over picky pups
  • Grain-free for dogs with sensitive systems or allergies
  • Made in the USA or Canada

Protein Content: 38%

Ingredients List

Deboned chicken, deboned turkey, flounder, whole eggs, whole Atlantic mackerel...,

chicken liver, turkey liver, chicken heart, turkey heart, whole Atlantic herring, dehydrated chicken, dehydrated turkey, dehydrated mackerel, dehydrated chicken liver, whole dehydrated egg, whole red lentils, whole pinto beans, whole green peas, chicken necks, chicken kidney, lentil fiber, whole green lentils, whole navy beans, natural chicken flavor, whole chickpeas, pollock oil, chicken fat, dried pumpkin, ground chicken bone, chicken cartilage, whole pumpkin, whole butternut squash, mixed tocopherols, sea salt, freeze-dried chicken liver, dried kelp, zinc proteinate, kale, spinach, mustard greens, collard greens, turnip greens, whole carrots, whole apples, whole pears, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, copper proteinate, chicory root, turmeric, sarsaparilla root, althea root, rosehips, juniper berries, dried Lactobacillus acidophilus fermentation product, dried Bifidobacterium animalis fermentation product, dried Lactobacillus casei fermentation product.

PROS

The ingredient list is impressive, with high-quality proteins front and center. Reviewers note seeing an improvement in coat and weight, and dogs give it a bark of approval for taste.

CONS

As a grain-free formula, this food may give some owners pause. This recipe may also be too rich for some pooches and cause gastric upset. This is also one of the most expensive dog foods on the market, but quality comes at a price. 

7. Wellness Large-Breed Complete Health Puppy

About: Wellness Large-Breed Complete Health Puppy is a powerhouse of nutrition for your growing pooch that keeps his developing bones and muscles in mind. Containing bonus ingredients like flaxseed to maintain a healthy coat, this formula helps your puppy look and feel great. 

Best Small-Kibble Food for Large-Breed Puppies

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Wellness Complete Health Large Breed

Wellness Complete Health Large-Breed Puppy Food

A chicken-based large-breed puppy recipe that is fortified with flaxseed for coat health.

Features:

  • Real chicken is the first ingredient
  • Made with a blend of fruits and vegetables for adding healthy bulk to your dog’s meal rather than low-quality grains
  • Doesn’t contain the corn, soy, or wheat
  • Made in the USA

Protein Content: 29%

Ingredients List

Deboned Chicken, Chicken Meal, Peas, Ground Brown Rice, Salmon Meal...,

Oatmeal, Barley, Oats, Tomato Pomace, Chicken Fat, Ground Flaxseed, Tomatoes, Salmon Oil, Carrots, Natural Chicken Flavor, Salt, Choline Chloride, Spinach, Vitamin E Supplement, Chicory Root Extract, Yucca schidigera Extract, Taurine, Zinc Proteinate, Mixed Tocopherols added to preserve freshness, Sweet Potatoes, Apples, Blueberries, Zinc Sulfate, Calcium Carbonate, Niacin, Ferrous Sulfate, Iron Proteinate, Vitamin A Supplement, Ascorbic Acid, Copper Sulfate, Thiamine Mononitrate, Copper Proteinate, Manganese Proteinate, Manganese Sulfate, d-Calcium Pantothenate, Sodium Selenite, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Riboflavin, Garlic Powder, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Biotin, Calcium Iodate, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Folic Acid, Dried Lactobacillus plantarum Fermentation Product, Dried Enterococcus faecium Fermentation Product, Dried Lactobacillus casei Fermentation Product, Dried Lactobacillus acidophilus Fermentation Product, Rosemary Extract, Green Tea Extract, Spearmint Extract.

PROS

Doggy reviewers approve of the taste, while their owners love seeing their pups’ improved coats and weights. The kibble size earned praise too, though some younger puppies may find them a little big.

CONS

Some puppers with sensitive tummies encountered trouble, though it’s unknown if this was caused by switching over too quickly or a problem with the formula itself. The price is also pretty high, which may be a problem if you’re concerned about your budget.

8. Chicken Soup for the Soul Large-Breed Puppy: Best Chicken-Based

About: Chicken Soup for the Soul LargeBreed Puppy Food is a poultry-based formula that contains the vitamins and minerals your growing large breed puppy needs to develop at the right pace. A mixture of coat-pleasing Omega-3 fatty acids round out the ingredients to keep your pooch looking as great as he’s feeling.

Best-Tasting Large-Breed Puppy Food

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Chicken Soup for the Soul Puppy Food

Chicken Soup for the Soul Large-Breed Puppy Food

Made with real chicken and turkey, this nutritious food is fortified with joint-supporting supplements and Omega-3s.

Features:

  • Real chicken and turkey are the first two ingredients
  • Contains glucosamine and chondroitin for joint health
  • Doesn’t contain meat byproducts, corn, soy, or wheat
  • Made in the USA

Protein Content: 27%

Ingredients List

Chicken, Turkey, Chicken Meal, Turkey Meal, Cracked Pearled Barley...,

Whole Grain Brown Rice, Peas, Oatmeal, Faba Beans, Millet, Chicken Fat, Ground Flaxseed, Menhaden Fish Meal, White Rice, Tomato Pomace, Natural Flavor, Duck, Salmon, Salt, Dicalcium Phosphate, Calcium Carbonate, Salmon Oil, Choline Chloride, Dried Chicory Root, Dried Kelp, Carrots, Apples, Tomatoes, Blueberries, Spinach, Cranberries, Rosemary Extract, Parsley Flakes, Mixed Tocopherols, Citric Acid, Zinc Proteinate, Zinc Oxide, Vitamin E Supplement, Yucca schidigera Extract, Ferrous Sulfate, L-Carnitine, Manganous Oxide, Manganese Proteinate, Copper Sulfate, Vitamin A Supplement, D-Calcium Pantothenate, Niacin Supplement, Sodium Selenite, Riboflavin Supplement, Copper Proteinate, Thiamine Mononitrate, Calcium Iodate, Dried Lactobacillus acidophilus Fermentation Product, Dried Lactobacillus casei Fermentation Product, Dried Lactobacillus plantarum Fermentation Product, Dried Enterococcus faecium Fermentation Product, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Cobalt Carbonate, Folic Acid, Biotin, Vitamin B12 Supplement.

PROS

Reviewers rave about how much doggos seem to love the flavor, and the kibble’s size is praised as being perfect for large-breed puppies. Price is another winning aspect compared to similar brands.

CONS

As with all formulas, a few dogs experienced stomach upset. It would be nice if they offered it in a bag larger than 28 pounds too.

9. Taste of the Wild High Prairie Puppy Formula

About: Taste of the Wild High Prairie Puppy Formula is a bison-based formula that’s great for protein-sensitive pooches. The round kibble shape and size is well-suited for your growing large breed puppy too. 

Best Exotic Protein Recipe for Large-Breed Puppies

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taste of the wild dog food

Taste of the Wild High Prairie Puppy Formula

This grain-free puppy food is free of corn, soy and wheat, and features bison, venison, and other nutritious proteins.

Features:

  • Bison is the first ingredient, followed by other great proteins like venison and beef
  • Contains antioxidants and Omega-3 fatty acids for long-term immune and coat health
  • Free of corn, soy and wheat
  • Made in the USA

Protein Content: 28%

Ingredients List

Buffalo, Lamb Meal, Sweet Potatoes, Egg Product, Pea Protein...,

Peas, Potatoes, Chicken Fat, Tomato Pomace, Roasted Bison, Roasted Venison, Beef, Flaxseed, Potato Fiber, Natural Flavor, Ocean Fish Meal, Salmon Oil, Salt, Dl-Methionine, Choline Chloride, Taurine, Dried Chicory Root, Yucca schidigera Extract, Tomatoes, Blueberries, Raspberries, Dried Lactobacillus plantarum Fermentation Product, Dried Bacillus subtilis Fermentation Product, Dried Lactobacillus acidophilus Fermentation Product, Dried Enterococcus faecium Fermentation Product, Dried Bifidobacterium animalis Fermentation Product, Vitamin E Supplement, Iron Proteinate, Zinc Proteinate, Copper Proteinate, Ferrous Sulfate, Zinc Sulfate, Copper Sulfate, Potassium Iodide, Thiamine Mononitrate, Manganese Proteinate, Manganous Oxide, Ascorbic Acid, Vitamin A Supplement, Biotin, Niacin, Calcium Pantothenate, Manganese Sulfate, Sodium Selenite, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Riboflavin, Vitamin D Supplement, Folic Acid.

PROS

Reviewers noted how soft their pooch’s hair was after eating this recipe, and they also praised the overall digestibility of the food. Taste earned high marks as well from reporting pup parents.

CONS

While many reviews praised the palatability, others mentioned that dogs lost interest over time and eventually refused the food. Keep in mind that grain free formulas aren’t for every dog and can cause stomach upset too.

10. Instinct Puppy Grain-Free

About: Instinct’s GrainFree Puppy Food contains bits of freeze-dried raw meat, giving your four-legged friend extra flavor and nutrients in every bite. Loaded with poultry-based protein, this formula supports healthy muscle development.

Best Large-Breed Puppy Food with Freeze-Dried Raw Meats

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Instinct Large Breed Puppy Food

Instinct Large-Breed Puppy Food

Made with cage-free chicken and no corn, soy, or wheat, this grain-free food is specifically designed for large breed puppies.

Features:

  • Cage-free chicken is the first ingredient
  • Doesn’t include common allergens like corn, soy, or wheat 
  • Contains natural probiotics and antioxidants for full-body wellness
  • Made in the USA, though it states that ingredients come from around the world

Protein Content: 33.5%

Ingredients List

Chicken, Chicken Meal, Peas, Egg Product, Tapioca...,

Chicken Fat, Ground Flaxseed, Dried Tomato Pomace, Freeze Dried Chicken, Menhaden Fish Meal, Freeze Dried Chicken Liver, Lamb Meal, Natural Flavor, Salt, Pumpkin seeds, Freeze Dried Chicken Heart, Salmon Oil, Vitamin E Supplement, Niacin Supplement, L-Ascorbyl-2-Polyphosphate, Thiamine Mononitrate, d-Calcium Pantothenate, Vitamin A Supplement, Riboflavin Supplement, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Folic Acid, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Biotin, Carrots, Apples, Cranberries, Potassium Chloride, Montmorillonite Clay, Zinc Proteinate, Iron Proteinate, Copper Proteinate, Manganese Proteinate, Sodium Selenite, Ethylenediamine Dihydriodide, Choline Chloride, Dried Kelp, Blueberries, Dried Bacillus coagulans Fermentation Product, Rosemary Extract.

PROS

Reviewers noted how much their dogs love the taste, with the raw bits doubling nicely as treats during training, too. Others commented how the food seemed to improve their pup’s coat and stools.

CONS

The pricing is a touch on the high side. Additionally, the grain-free nature and mix of proteins may be an issue for some  dogs too.

11. Wellness CORE Grain-Free Large-Breed Puppy 

About: Wellness CORE Grain-Free LargeBreed Puppy Food is a chicken-based kibble that’s made with choice proteins and healthy fruits and vegetables. Containing appropriate levels of calcium and phosphorus for large breed bone growth, this formula allows your pup to develop into the big, strong boy he’s meant to be — safely. 

Runner Up for Best Grain-Free Large-Breed Puppy Food

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Wellness CORE Large Puppy Food

Wellness CORE Large-Breed Puppy Food

A grain-free formula specifically crafted for large-breed puppies and made without artificial additives.

Features:

  • Deboned chicken is the first ingredient, followed by chicken meal and turkey meal for a protein-packed recipe
  • Free of corn, soy, and wheat
  • Made without inferior ingredients like by-products, artificial colors, or additives 
  • Grain free for dogs with sensitivities
  • Manufactured in the USA

Protein Content: 35%

Ingredients List

Deboned Chicken, Chicken Meal, Peas, Dried Ground Potatoes, Turkey Meal...,

Lentils, Ground Flaxseed, Tomato Pomace, Chicken Fat, Salmon Oil, Natural Chicken Flavor, Salt, Potassium Chloride, Vitamin E Supplement, Bananas, Spinach, Broccoli, Carrots, Parsley, Apples, Blueberries, Kale, Sweet Potato, Taurine, Zinc Proteinate, Mixed Tocopherols, Zinc Sulfate, Calcium Carbonate, Niacin, Iron Proteinate, Ferrous Sulfate, Vitamin A Supplement, Copper Sulfate, Thiamine Mononitrate, Copper Proteinate, Manganese Proteinate, Manganese Sulfate, D-Calcium Pantothenate, Sodium Selenite, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Riboflavin, Biotin, Chicory Root Extract, Yucca schidigera Extract, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Calcium Iodate, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Folic Acid, Ascorbic Acid, Dried Lactobacillus plantarum Fermentation Product, Dried Enterococcus faecium Fermentation Product, Dried Lactobacillus casei Fermentation Product, Dried Lactobacillus acidophilus Fermentation Product, Rosemary Extract, Green Tea Extract, Spearmint Extract.

PROS

Reviewers noted a host of improvements with their dogs since making the switch to this food, including improved digestion, a leaner physique, and a shinier coat. The larger kibble size is also a hit, with pup parents praising how much better it worked for their large breed puppy.

CONS

This food is more expensive than some other grain-free foods. As with all grain-free formulas, caution is warranted unless your dog has a specific intolerance to grains. 

12. Merrick Grain-Free Puppy Chicken & Sweet Potato

About: Merrick Grain-Free Puppy in Chicken & Sweet Potato contains a 60:40 ratio of 60 percent proteins and healthy fats versus 40 percent produce, fiber, vitamins, and minerals. With a focus on lean proteins and brain-boosting omega fatty acids, this kibble helps your puppy grow into those long legs safely while looking and feeling his best.

Best Large-Breed Puppy Food with Salmon

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Merrick Grain-Free Puppy Food

Merrick Grain-Free Puppy Food

This protein-rich, grain-free recipe is made in the USA with deboned chicken and chicken meal for extra protein.

Features:

  • Features deboned chicken as the first ingredient, followed by chicken meal, for a protein-packed recipe
  • Contains fruits and vegetables loaded with natural vitamins and minerals
  • Made in small batches to ensure safety and quality control
  • Made in the USA

Protein Content: 30%

Ingredients List

Deboned Chicken, Chicken Meal, Peas, Sweet Potatoes, Potatoes...,

Dried Egg Product, Chicken Fat, Pea Protein, Salmon Meal, Natural Flavor, Deboned Salmon, Sunflower Oil, Salmon Oil, Salt, Organic Dehydrated Alfalfa Meal, Potassium Chloride, Choline Chloride, Apples, Blueberries, Iron Amino Acid Complex, Zinc Amino Acid Complex, Zinc Sulfate, Sodium Selenite, Manganese Amino Acid Complex, Copper Amino Acid Complex, Copper Sulfate, Potassium Iodide, Cobalt Proteinate, Cobalt Carbonate, Taurine, Yucca Schidigera Extract, Mixed Tocopherols for Freshness, Vitamin E Supplement, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Vitamin A Supplement, d-Calcium Pantothenate, Thiamine Mononitre, Niacin, Riboflavin Supplement, Biotin, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Folic Acid, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Citric Acid for Freshness, Dried Lactobacillus plantarum Fermentation Product, Dried Lactobacillus casei Fermentation Product, Dried Enterococcus faecium Fermentation Product, Dried Lactobacillus acidophilus Fermentation Product.

PROS

Pawrents mentioned how lean yet strong their puppers became since starting this food, skipping the flabbiness you may see other foods cause. Others noted an increase in energy and improved digestion.

CONS

Some dogs’ tummies had a hard time digesting this food, but that can happen with just about any recipe. Aside from that, there’s not much to complain about with this food. 

13. Blue Buffalo Homestyle Recipe Puppy

About: Blue Buffalo’s Homestyle Puppy Recipe is pate-style canned food that mixes well with your pooch’s kibble or can be eaten alone as a complete wet food diet. The protein-rich formula puts your puppy’s growth front and center, while included grains help keep his stomach full. 

Best Canned Food for Large-Breed Puppies

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Blue Buffalo Canned food

Blue Buffalo Homestyle Recipe

This canned puppy food is made with chicken, chicken liver, and real veggies for maximum flavor and nutrition.

Features:

  • Chicken is always the first ingredient, with broth for moisture and chicken liver close behind
  • Contains real veggies that you can see in your pooch’s food rather than mystery chunks
  • Doesn’t include corn, soy, wheat, by-products, or additives
  • Made in the USA

Protein Content: 10%

Ingredients List

Chicken, Chicken Broth, Chicken Liver, Carrots, Peas...,

Pea Flour, Sweet Potatoes, Brown Rice, Barley, Fish Oil, Oatmeal, Flaxseed, Guar Gum, Dicalcium Phosphate, Potassium Chloride, Salt, Cassia Gum, Carrageenan, Cranberries, Blueberries, Choline Chloride, Zinc Amino Acid Chelate, Iron Amino Acid Chelate, Vitamin E Supplement, Copper Amino Acid Chelate, Mannese Amino Acid Chelate, Sodium Selenite, Thiamine Mononitrate, Cobalt Amino Acid Chelate, Niacin Supplement, Calcium Pantothenate, Vitamin A Supplement, Riboflavin Supplement, Biotin, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Potassium Iodide, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Folic Acid, Mixed Tocopherols.

PROS

This food mixes easily if used as a topper. Pricing is another plus, as you’re getting quality food at a fraction more than the other stuff. Owners enjoy seeing the fresh veggies in the food as well.

CONS

Some reviews said that their dogs disliked the taste, while others mentioned tummy troubles after eating. You’ll encounter these hiccups with most foods, however, as every pooch has different tastes and sensitivities. Also, because this food is wetter than others, sloppy eaters may make a mess.

14. Merrick Grain-Free Puppy Plate Beef Recipe Canned

About: Merrick’s Grain-Free Puppy Plate Canned Beef Recipe is a chunk-style canned formula that includes a well-rounded list of ingredients to nourish your puppy from nose to tail.

DHA helps with brain development to help him master all the fun tricks you’re learning together, while the included proteins encourage lean muscle growth and joint development at your pupper’s natural pace.

Best Whole-Cuts Food for Large-Breed Puppies

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Merrick Canned food

Merrick Grain-Free Canned Puppy Food

This grain-free puppy food features Texas-raised beef, as well as real fruits and vegetables.

Features:

  • First ingredient is Texas-raised beef
  • Does not include the corn, soy, or wheat
  • Grain-free for dogs with grain sensitivities
  • Contains fresh fruit and vegetables for fiber and vitamins
  • Made in the USA

Protein Content: 9% min

Ingredients List

Apples, Natural Flavor, Beef Liver, Potato Starch, Potato Protein, Calcium Carbonate, Sodium Phosphate, Sunflower Oil, Flaxseed Oil, Salmon Oil, Agar-Agar, Salt, Dried Celery, Choline Chloride, Potassium Chloride, Cumin, Guar Gum, Caramel Color, Zinc Amino Acid Complex, Iron Amino Acid Complex, Manganese Amino Acid Complex, Copper Amino Acid Complex, Potassium Iodate, Cobalt Glucoheptonate, Sodium Selenite, Vitamin E Supplement, Vitamin B12 Supplement, d-Calcium Pantothenate, Vitamin A Supplement, Niacin, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Riboflavin Supplement, Folic Acid, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Biotin, Thiamine Mononitrate, Cinnamon, Xanthan Gum.

PROS

Pup parents gave this mix a thumb’s up for getting picky dogs to eat. The texture won praise, too, with owners sharing that their pooches seemed to enjoy getting real chunks versus the classic mush pate. 

CONS

Some reviews noted that the beef chunks can be a little big if your pup is still small, but you should be able to mash these with a fork as needed when preparing your dog’s food. Others noted it can be very gravy-heavy, though your dog is unlikely to mind.

15. Wellness Just for Puppy Canned

About: Whether you’re using it as a topper, supplement, or complete diet, Wellness Just for Puppy Canned has your growing pooch in mind. Made in the USA using high-quality ingredients, Just for Puppy blends tasty meat with antioxidant-rich vegetables in a pup-pleasing pate. 

Best Pate-Style Food for Large-Breed Puppies

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Wellness Canned Puppy Food

Wellness Just for Puppy Canned Food

This chicken- and salmon-based recipe is designed for puppies and packed with omega-3s, fruits, and veggies.

Features:

  • Made with real chicken and salmon
  • Formulated for puppies up to one year
  • DHA is included to help with brain development and coat health
  • Includes fruits and vegetables for added immune support

Protein Content: 9%

Ingredients List

Chicken Broth, Chicken, Chicken Liver, Salmon, Ground Barley...,

Sweet Potatoes, Pea Protein, Carrots, Ground Flaxseed, Carrageenan, Guar Gum, Dicalcium Phosphate, Canola Oil, Apples, Pears, Bananas, Salt, Potassium Chloride, Choline Chloride, Zinc Proteinate, Iron Proteinate, Thiamine Mononitrate, Vitamin E Supplement, Copper Proteinate, Manganese Proteinate, Sodium Selenite, Cobalt Proteinate, Niacin Supplement, d-Calcium Pantothenate, Vitamin A Supplement, Riboflavin Supplement, Biotin, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Potassium Iodide, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Folic Acid.

PROS

Per the reviews, taste won over even the pickiest pups. The consistency mixes well into kibble too, a feat not all canned food can tackle.

CONS

Feeding canned food to a large breed is pricey, and Wellness’ price tag doesn’t make it any easier. Some owners mentioned stomach upset in their reviews, so remember to transition slowly or study the ingredient list thoroughly to avoid surprise proteins.

16. Rachael Ray Nutrish Dish

About: Rachael Ray’s Nutrish Dish is a flavor-forward formula that aims at combining great taste with nutrition. Free of unnecessary dyes and additives, this blend gets its flavor and color from real dried fruits, veggies, and meat.

Runner-Up for Best-Tasting Large-Breed Puppy Food

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Rachael Ray Nutrish

Rachael Ray Nutrish Beef and Brown Rice

This nutritious, chicken-based, grain-free recipe is made in the USA and packed with fruits and vegetables.

Features:

  • U.S.-farmed chicken is the first ingredient
  • Plenty of fruit and vegetables for immune system support and digestive health
  • No by-products, corn, soy, wheat, or artificial colors
  • All life stages formula is also suitable for adults 
  • Manufactured in USA

Protein Content: 26%

Ingredients List

Chicken, Chicken Meal, Dried Peas, Brown Rice, Brewer's Rice...,

Pea Protein, Poultry Fat, Cranberries, Whole Flaxseed, Dried Plain Beet Pulp, Natural Flavor, Dried Apples, Dried Carrots, Dried Potatoes, Salt, Potassium Chloride, Menhaden Fish Oil, Zinc Proteinate, Vitamin E Supplement, Iron Proteinate, Choline Chloride, Glycerin, Sunflower Oil, L-Ascorbyl-2-Polyphosphate, Brown Sugar, Manganese Proteinate, Copper Proteinate, Niacin, D-Calcium Pantothenate, Biotin, Sodium Selenite, Vitamin A Supplement, Riboflavin Supplement, Thiamine Mononitrate, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Calcium Iodate, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Folic Acid.

PROS

Doggos give the food a tail wag for taste, while owners love the wholesome ingredients that seem to be gentle on the tummy. The real dried veggies are a particular hit with pooches whose owners happily report that they pick out first.

CONS

It’s a little pricier than others, especially when you factor in the ingredients compared to other brands.   

Food for large breed puppies

Customize It: Another Option for Large Breed Puppies

If off-the-shelf kibble isn’t your favorite, you can always try a customizable canine meal plan for your growing pooch. These services take your dog’s size, age, weight, and overall health into consideration in making a diet blend just for him.

The top customizable dog food brands include: 

These companies typically deliver your dog’s food to your home in a temperature-controlled box. They may be frozen or fresh-never-frozen meals, and they generally require refrigeration.

Compared to store-bought kibble, these plans can be pricey, but you’ll have to pay a bit extra to give your dog a truly premium product.

How Long to Feed Large Breed Dogs Puppy Food 

Now that you know what to feed your soon-to-be large puppy, you may be wondering how long to offer it. This time frame can vary from dog to dog, as large breeds (especially giants) mature slowly despite appearing to grow quickly in size.

It’s always best to consult your vet, though the general guideline is between 1 and 2 years of age, depending on the breed.

***

Do you have a large breed puppy? Do you feed him one of the foods on our list or something else? We’d love to hear! Let us know in the comments!

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Written by

Kelsey Snyder

Kelsey is a K9 of Mine contributor who has worked with dogs as a shift runner and office manager of a boarding kennel. When she’s not writing, she can be found throwing a ball or losing at tug of war. An animal lover to the max, she lives in South Jersey with her husband, her five dogs Boomer, Taj, Batman, Maya, and Moxie, some kitties, and two grumpy turtles.

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Maggi Sprague

Another great food is Farmina, it’s made in Italy. When we first got our GSD pup I fed him him Organix puppy food but he went through bags of that way too fast. I was researching foods before we brought puppy home and I found this food through some GSD Breeders’ sites. There is the recommended feeding amounts on the bag but you can also get a personalized feeding plan from one of their reps. The food is kind of spendy but they send you coupons for every bag. Quality ingredients too!

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Kelsey Snyder

Hi Maggi,
I looked into it, and that stuff sounds awesome! They have an impressive collection of different formulas. Thanks for sharing! I’m glad you found an awesome food that works for you and your pupper.

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