We tested 11 large breed puppy foods and found Purina ONE SmartBlend Natural Puppy Dog Food to be one of the best puppy foods for large breed puppies.
Purina ONE SmartBlend Natural Puppy Dog Food is the most complete puppy food for large breeds that weigh at least 50 pounds at maturity. Large dog breeds are prone to musculoskeletal issues as they age, but proper nutrition during their formative years can help them stay healthy and strong throughout their lifespan. SmartBlend Natural Puppy Dog Food is high in protein, contains a natural source of glucosamine, and DHA, an omega-3 fatty acid. It also contains ingredients that satisfy just about every puppy’s appetite and provide them with vitamins and minerals that their growing bodies need to thrive.
However, Purina ONE’s SmartBlend isn’t the only one of the best puppy foods for large breeds. Other manufacturers have large breed puppy foods that are formulated to meet a specific need for puppies and their owners desire to feed them the best possible puppy food they can buy. There are large breed puppy foods that use fresh and raw ingredients for natural nutrition, puppy foods that provide easily digested ingredients, and ones that offer a complete formulation that helps maintain a steady growth rate. All of these features are important for a growing puppy, but all large breed puppies are individuals, and what works for one may not work for another. Feeding a large breed puppy food that helps prevent or resolve a growth issue can help make everyone’s life easier while ensuring that the puppy has proper nutrition to reach its full potential.
Keep reading to learn about the best puppy foods for large breed puppies and what makes them the best choice.
1. Purina ONE SmartBlend Natural Puppy Dog Food – Best Overall Puppy Dog Food for All Large Breeds
Purina ONE’s Smartblend Natural puppy food is considered the best of the large breed puppy foods and is recommended by veterinarians. It’s formulated for easy digestion and is recommended for puppies who have a breed or family history of bloat. It’s high in protein to help a large breed puppy develop its muscle mass, calcium for strong bones and teeth, DHA for vision and brain development, and glucosamine to support joints as the body develops. The puppy food uses real chicken or lamb, depending on the flavor for the best possible source of protein. It can be fed from the time a puppy starts eating solid foods up until two years of age.
The major reason why Purina ONE SmartBlend is the best puppy food for large breeds comes down to consistency, quality, ease of digestion, palatability, and visible results. Large breed puppies thrive when fed Purina ONE SmartBlend and reach their maximum potential when they reach adulthood because the food gave them everything they needed for their development.
2. Purina Pro Plan Large Breed Puppy – Best for Fewer Grains
Purina’s Pro Plan Large Breed Puppy is similar to that of the Purina ONE SmartBlend in terms of calcium, glucosamine, high protein content, and DHA, but uses fewer grains than SmartBlend. There are no artificial colors or flavors, and it contains 100% of the necessary vitamins, minerals, and protein for a large breed of puppy.
Pro Plan delivers the calories a growing large breed puppy needs to reach their full potential in terms of physical growth and mental development. It’s also designed to help a large breed puppy turn into an adult with minimal physical issues that come with most large breeds and gives them a nutritional foundation that serves them well throughout their life.
3. Hill’s Science Diet Dry Dog Food for Large Breed Puppies – Best for Fast-Growing Breeds
The science behind Hill’s Science Diet for Large Breed Puppies is one of delivering sufficient amounts of calcium to help control the bone growth of large breed puppies. Large breed puppies are prone to too-fast growth that causes their joints to develop excess bone and eventually results in hip dysplasia. Too-fast growth is sometimes the result of genetics, and sometimes it’s the result of excellent nutrition. It’s hard to stop genetics from generating too much bone, but it’s possible to slow it down with moderated nutrition. Hill’s Science Diet for Large Breed Puppies gives a puppy the nutrition it needs to grow properly and minimizes the potential for bone overgrowth in the joints.
4. Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula Natural Puppy Large Breed – Best for Natural Ingredients and Supplementing
Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula Natural for large puppy breeds uses real meat for its protein and does not contain by-product meals, soy, corn, or wheat. The puppy food does contain DHA, but it also contains arachidonic acid (ARA) which is an omega-6 fatty acid. Both DHA and ARA are found in their mother’s milk, and Blue Buffalo has included these ingredients so large breed puppies can continue to benefit from them as they grow. Also included in the formulation are antioxidants, minerals, and vitamins to support the growth of a large breed puppy. No artificial ingredients, flavors, or coloring are used in the manufacture of Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula.
5. Wellness Complete Health Natural Large Breed Puppy Food – Best for Optimal Bone Growth and Strength
Wellness Complete Health Natural Large Breed Puppy food is formulated to deliver whole-body nutrition and has an emphasis on providing the building blocks for healthy joints, bones, and teeth. It contains glucosamine, probiotics to improve absorption of nutrients, antioxidants, DHA, vitamins and minerals, and quality protein for optimal muscle development. The formula was developed without using GMOs, fillers, artificial preservatives, or meat by-products and ensures your puppy gets a clean start in life with the help of a food designed for proper nutritional balance.. The puppy food is made in the USA and uses the best ingredients sourced from around the world.
6. Blue Buffalo Wilderness High Protein Natural Puppy Large Breed – Best for Grain and Grain-Free Options
Blue Buffalo Wilderness High Protein Natural Puppy Large Breed makes quality protein its first ingredient and is formulated to generate proper development of the brain and eyes, stimulate healthy muscle growth, and has a kibble shape to keep teeth clean and free from plaque. It comes in two different formulations: with and without grain. Dogs can digest grains, but sometimes they have a sensitivity and generate loose stools in response. Blue Buffalo’s Wilderness High Protein gives you the option to feed your puppy a high-quality and palatable food that works best for their digestive system.
Blue Buffalo’s formulation also includes DHA and ARA, two fatty acids that are found in mother’s milk and aid in brain and eye development and health. Other ingredients in the dry puppy food consist of a precision blend of antioxidants, minerals and vitamins that help support the growing body of a young pup.
7. Orijen Puppy Large Breeds Grain Free – Best for Natural Ingredients Closest to Nature
Orijen Puppy Large Breeds provides ingredients that include meat, organs, cartilage, and bone that are turned into a kibble for a diet that meets a puppy’s biological needs. The dry dog food delivers natural nutrition derived from fresh and raw animal ingredients to supply your large breed puppy with the nutrients it needs for proper growth and development. The first five ingredients in the formulation are always fresh or raw animal source that includes fish, meat, poultry, eggs, and organ meats. Other ingredients include kale, spinach, turnip greens, carrots, peas, sunflower seeds, probiotics, and DHA. All the nutrition your large puppy needs for proper growth is contained in the whole ingredients used in the making of the puppy food.
8. Iams Puppy Dry Dog Food Large Breed Puppy – Best for Affordable Nutrition
Iams Large Breed Puppy Food provides the nutrition a large breed puppy needs to grow into a healthy adult, but it does use lower-grade ingredients than more expensive brands. The puppy food contains corn, chicken by-product meal, sorghum, corn gluten meal, and dried beet pulp, but also contains amino acids, vitamins, and minerals that are key in the physical development of a large breed puppy. It also contains chondroitin and glucosamine to support growing joints. There are no artificial ingredients, flavors or colorings used in the formulation, and it’s very well tolerated by immature digestive systems.
9. Nutro Natural Choice Large Breed Puppy – Best for Non-GMO and Natural Ingredients
Nutro Natural Choice Large Breed Puppy is made entirely from non-GMO ingredients and contains no chicken by-products, wheat, soy, or corn. It contains DHA for brain and eye development, and uses natural sources of chondroitin and glucosamine to support healthy joint formation. The puppy food is made from high-quality proteins, and comes in chicken or lamb. There are no artificial ingredients, colors, preservatives, or flavors used in the formulation, and the food is made in Nutro’s U.S.-based manufacturing facilities.
10. Diamond Naturals Large Breed Puppy Formula – Best for Coat Condition
Diamond Naturals Large Breed puppy formula features a lamb and rice formula containing omega-3 fatty acids for brain and eye development, and L-carnitine to convert protein and fat into energy. It also contains antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals to aid with physical development. The wide variety of ingredients makes this one of the best puppy foods for large breeds in terms of texture, taste, and quality. You’ll find cracked pearl barley, chicken fat, flaxseed, potato protein, salmon oil, dried chicory root, chia seed, coconut, and quinoa in the list to name a few.
11. Royal Canin Large Puppy – Best for Breeds Weighing 56-100 Pounds at Maturity
Royal Canin Large Puppy has several ingredients that are blended together to provide optimal nutrition for a growing puppy. It contains a special blend of minerals for bone and joint support, antioxidants and vitamins for immune system development, and probiotics and easily digested proteins to prevent digestion issues and generate healthy stools. The food features special kibble shapes that encourage the puppy to chew thoroughly before swallowing.
Buying Guide for Large Breed Puppy Foods
A large breed puppy’s major challenge in the first two years of its life is its rate of growth. They go from one pound at birth to over 100 pounds by the time they reach 18 months, and may still have a few more months of physical development beyond that. This rapid growth can lead to a condition known as developmental orthopedic disease (DOD) that affects joints and cartilage. DOD is directly related to feeding a large breed puppy too much nutrition.
The idea that you should feed a puppy less in the way of nutrition seems to fly in the face of the concept of giving your puppy everything it needs for proper growth. The fact is that large breed puppies develop into adults that have to live with the physical issues they developed during their growth stage. That is, if a puppy grew too fast and developed hip or elbow dysplasia, they have to deal with the consequences for the rest of their life, even if they underwent corrective surgery. Here’s what you want to focus on when you’re comparing the best puppy foods for large breeds.
Protein is the first ingredient listed in the ingredients, but the quality of the protein plays a role in digestibility and use by the body. Technically the use of by-products as a protein source shouldn’t affect digestibility and usability as puppies and dogs are designed to eat carrion by nature. However, the reality is somewhat different because dogs don’t live in the wild, have been bred for specific traits by and large, and function best when their food is predictable. The best puppy foods for large breeds avoid the use of by-products and feature protein sources that are highly digestible, provide optimal muscle growth and physical development, and reduce stool size.
Supplementation and portion size
Supplements in the form of vitamins, minerals, and fish oils are beneficial for growing puppies. Each serving or portion size contains the amount of each supplement listed on the bag. Always make sure to feed your puppy according to the age and/or weight chart on the bag to avoid over-feeding and rapid growth. Your puppy may try to convince you they need more food, but large breed puppy foods are formulated to encourage a steady growth rate to prevent joint issues.
If you’re wondering if supplements are beneficial to your puppy, the answer is yes. Their growing body needs its building blocks in the form of vitamins and minerals for proper development. The best way to provide these building blocks is through a complete large breed puppy food. Many brands include probiotics in their formulations which helps the gut absorb more of the nutrition in the food. Probiotics won’t encourage rapid growth, but they do make it easier on the digestive system to draw out nutrients into the bloodstream for eventual use.
All of the best puppy foods for large breeds formulate their products for digestibility, but sometimes a puppy has issues with what should be an easily digestible food. When your puppy exhibits signs of digestive upset from the food it’s eating, it’s time to switch to a brand or flavor that is designed for sensitive stomachs. Make sure you switch to a brand that’s formulated for large puppy breeds in order to ensure your puppy gets the appropriate nutrition while eliminating digestive upset.
Which of the Large Breed Puppy Foods is Best for My Puppy?
Purina ONE SmartBlend Natural Puppy Dog Food is, hands down, the best of the large breed puppy foods. It delivers high-quality nutrition that your puppy needs for proper growth and development and can be fed up to two years of age. Feeding Purina ONE SmartBlend Natural Puppy Dog Food to your puppy minimizes the potential for rapid growth, helps with joint development and strong bones, and aids with muscle growth to support the skeleton properly over its lifespan. It’s highly palatable and easily digested, which prevents digestion issues and leads to the formation of solid stools. In sum, Purina ONE SmartBlend Natural Puppy Dog Food helps eliminate the concerns that come with monitoring the growth of a large breed puppy.
How to Buy the Best Puppy Foods for Large Breeds
Check out our lnkfor the best deals in large puppy foods. These foods help address your puppy’s needs for steady growth, palatability, and satisfaction, as well as any specific needs they might have. You can be confident that your puppy gets what they need while avoiding the potential for joint trouble as they grow.