Before I start making any recommendations on dog foods, I want to cover a few basics about what to look for in the dog food that you choose for your large breed puppy.
Large dogs are notorious for having more health problems — especially in their later years. Whether it is hip dysplasia, arthritis or cancer, it seems that older dogs get all of the hurt.
This makes it doubly critical to provide the best nutrition possible. By establishing your puppies with a strong foundation nutritionally, you can help them avoid some of the painful problems that their peers will help them go through.
What Does Your Large Puppy Need In Their Food?
There are many different forms of protein. You can get protein from eggs, or soy, or milk.
However, meat contains not only protein, but high concentration of vitamins.
It is what dogs in the wild eat.
Here’s the real key, you don’t want over feed your puppy. Owners that allow the puppy to eat all day, are just asking to create problems for their dog later in life.
The important thing is to set your dog on a schedule. That way they know when they will be fed, but don’t overeat.
Basically, when you overfeed a puppy it causes their skeleton to grow strangely and can exacerbate hip dysplasia.
There was some erroneous studies that pointed to high protein diets being harmful to puppies.
These studies have since been disproven, and we now know that overfeeding your dog, and helping them to grow too fast, is what is bad for the skeletal structure.
One of the frustrating situations that we deal with today is so many dogs developing allergies to their food.
A lot of this is caused by dog food companies that seek to boost the calorie count of their food by including cheap carbohydrates.
While dogs do need a small amount of carbohydrates, they are probably better off getting it from vegetable sources such as sweet potato, or carrots. Dog foods that use wheat, corn, and potatoes, are typically just using these as a filler.
So many dog owners feed their dogs a grain-free, adult formula that is marketed as being “appropriate for dogs of all ages”.
The downside is that these foods often have way too much calcium for growing puppy.
It is much better to get the food that is high protein, engineered specifically for puppies. In addition to these foods will typically have higher amounts of essential fatty acids, and will help with both cognitive and physical development
Essential Vitamins and Minerals
High quality puppy food will make sure to add plenty of critical omega three fatty acids, as well as DHA. The supplements are critical for a puppy brain development, and helping their joints form properly.
Cheap dog foods, overlook these critical components. And many of the adult dog food formulas, do not contain them in the proper quantities for a growing puppy.
Orijen Large Breed Puppy Food
As you have probably already heard, “grain free” is the best way to go. Dogs weren’t created to grow on grain. Sure they can eat some, but dogs are primarily carnivores.
But not all “Grain Free’ dog foods are created equal. Some foods simply put potato in — which isn’t much better.
Orijen, as a brand, takes the most pride in their dog food of any brand out there. They actually raise the free range chicken that goes into their food. They catch the salmon. The ingredients that goes into making this dog food is so insanely fresh.
The 80% protein, 20% and fruits, vegetables and botanicals makes a premium formula that creates a tasty, balanced meal.
What is specifically beneficial for large dogs is that they for this product Orijen uses low-ash chicken and fish ingredients. This lowers both the phosphorus and calcium levels to keep them in a healthy range for the puppies — something you hardly ever see the competition doing.
Blue Buffalo Wilderness Grain Free Dry Dog Food
The Blue Buffalo Wilderness is another great one to look at. The Wilderness formula really tries its best to mimic the diet of dogs in the wild. This creates a very well balanced meal that helps develop a robust digestive system in the puppy.
While they use top-notch meats, they don’t go to quite the extremes that Orijen does. This saves some money for you, without sacrificing a lot of quality.
The main thing that sets Blue Wilderness apart from the other premium brands. The first neat feature is the high levels of DHA. DHA is an essential fatty acid found in large quantities in mother’s milk . It helps tremendously for cognitive development.
It’s a hard call between whether Blue Wilderness or Orijin is better. They are both top notch. But often you can find Blue Wilderness for just a little bit less money.
Holistic select is a great brand to consider. They aren’t as “hoity-toity” about the purity of their food, but they deliver excellent value while maintaining their “premium” status.
There are a few features of the Holistic select brand that I really like is that they have probiotics in the ingredient lists. Probiotics work wonders on establishing a top-notch digestive system that can parlay into future health. After all the functioning of the intestines play a huge roll into how well the immune system works.
Holistic Select is a little bit lower in protein. This automatically helps keep them from having too high of calcium levels. And, while they have lower protein ratios, they don’t use a lot of fillers to make up the calories.
Finally, they include L-carnitine which has been proven to help control a puppy’s growth to keep them from growing too fast and running into those skeletal problems we talked about earlier.
The included glucosamine also helps establish strong joints.
The Cheapest Large Breed Puppy Food I Can Recommend
Diamond Naturals Large Breed Puppy Feed
I grew up poor. We wanted a puppy but didn’t want it to sacrifice physically.
We knew that Ole Roy (the WalMart brand) was not a good food, but we didn’t know if we could afford anything else. After a lot of research (in the pre-internet age, no less!) we ran into what could be the best-kept dog food secret in the industry.
Diamond Naturals is used by a lot of breeders. Because of that it needs to be high enough in quality that their dogs do not suffer, but affordable enough that they can still make a profit on their litters.
To maintain the optimal protein ratios, Diamond uses lamb meal. This helps circumvent allergies to common meats — like chicken — while delivering top-quality protein to your puppy. This formula is also super high in DHA for that healthy brain and eye development, and uses L-carnitine to help create optimal growth rates.
Sure, you get a few more fillers (mainly rice) and lack some of the fresh meat that you get out of the premium brands, but it is a food that is well balanced and designed to help a large breed dog grow up right.