Puppies have different nutritional requirements to adult dogs, and so need specific puppy food with appropriate levels of protein, amino acids, fat, certain fatty acids, electrolytes, and minerals. They are growing and developing rapidly, and especially large-breed puppies. While the larger dog breeds do mature later than the smaller breeds, their growth is particularly dramatic. All puppies of any breed start out tiny, but while, for instance, a Chihuahua never grows taller than about 23cm (and weighs under 3kg), a Great Dane can be over 80cm tall (and up to 80kg). That entails a rocketing growth spurt through their first year or so of life. This means it’s best to find specific large breed puppy foods to help them to develop well physically and mentally, with slight adjustments to the recipe from regular puppy food or the best puppy foods for small breeds.
The particularly rapid growth that a large breed puppy goes through to reach its full stature increases their risk of having developmental orthopaedic diseases (DOD) such as hip or elbow dysplasia or joint disorders. Although this is partly influenced by genetics – breeders have selectively bred certain lines specifically for large size – by feeding them correctly, it is possible to slow down their growth so they take longer to reach their full height, with less risk of developmental disorders.
There are various ingredients that differ in a puppy food for large breeds from those formulated for smaller breeds. In particular, the maximum levels of calcium and phosphorus should be lower than standard puppy foods, because the two minerals work together to build bone. While they are essential, too much increases the likelihood of diseases to which the dog is susceptible.
The best puppy foods for large breeds are typically lower in fat and with fewer calories than regular puppy food, because excess weight loads too much stress onto a puppy’s bones and joints. It is particularly important for large-breed puppies to be lean while they are growing.
When a puppy reaches its full size, you can switch to adult food. However, a large-breed puppy is not likely to be ready for the transition until it is 12–18 months old, and the giant breeds such as Great Danes, Newfoundlands, Irish Wolfhounds may not be fully developed until two years old. Consult your vet for advice.
Best puppy foods for large breeds
Orijen Puppy Large
Breed size: Large | Flavour: Poultry/fish | Form: Dry | Size: 6kg or 11.4kg | RRP: £52.99 (6kg) |
Containing fresh free-range chicken and turkey, wild-caught fish and cage-free eggs, this recipe features 85% quality animal ingredients, providing nourishing protein and fat.
It is specially formulated with the appropriate levels of minerals and calories to support the optimum growth and development of large-breed puppies
Wellness Core Large Breed Puppy
Breed size: Large | Flavour: Chicken | Form: Dry | Size: 10kg | RRP: £43.69 |
This grain-free recipe is made with fresh chicken, and provides a high-protein and meat-rich diet for your puppy. It contains all the vitamins, minerals and antioxidants required, with optimal levels of calcium to support strong bone developement.
Contains DHA from salmon oil, which promotes healthy brain and eye development.
Royal Canin Maxi Puppy
Breed size: Maxi | Flavour: Gravy | Form: Wet | Size: 10 x 140g pouches | RRP: £17.70 |
Formulated for puppies up to 15 months old destined to have an adult weight of 26–44kg, supplying them with a complete and balanced diet with specific nutrients to support optimal health and growth.
It contains an exclusive complex of antioxidants to support the immune system, highly digestible protein and prebiotics for a healthy balance of intestinal flora.
Breed size: Large and X-Large | Flavour: Chicken or Lamb & rice | Form: Dry | Size: 3kg of 15kg | RRP: From 19.04 |
Designed to promote optimal joint and bone growth in large breed puppies, with clinically proven calcium and phosphorus levels. Antioxidants boost puppies’ natural defence systems.
It includes DHA to help brain and eye development, to help develop smart and trainable puppies.
Barking Heads Big Foot Puppy Days
Breed size: Large | Flavour: Turkey | Form: Dry | Size: 6kg, 12kg or 18kg | RRP: £52.99 (6kg) |
Made from 60% freshly prepared free-range turkey, with quality natural ingredients such as healthy veggies, sweet potato, peas and carrots.
Contains salmon oil to nourish growing brains, as well as calcium, glucosamine and chondroitin to support bone health and teeth. Added beta-glucans boost their gut immunity.
Arden Grange Puppy/Junior Large Breed
Breed size: Large | Flavour: Chicken/rice | Form: Dry | Size: 2kg, 6kg or 12kg | RRP: £11.99 (2kg) |
Designed specially for large-breed puppies and adolescent dogs to meet the nutritional requirements for steady, healthy growth and development.
Boosted levels of joint supplements cater for the extra demands on large and giant breeds. The recipe contains a unique blend of nutrients and natural supplements to help promote the optimum health, vitality and condition of your dog. This includes prebiotics to aid digestion, joint supplements, essential fatty acids to promote a healthy skin and coat, cranberries for urinary tract health; powerful natural antioxidants and added vitamins and minerals to help support immune system and dental health.
From from wheat, gluten, beef soya or dairy products.
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