Best Dog Food for Large Breed Dogs

Large St. Bernard dog laying down - needing the best dog food for large breed dogs

Big dogs come with big needs, so finding the best dog food for large breed dogs is hugely important. Large dog breed dogs typically clock in 50 to 80 pounds, while giant breed dogs are over 80 pounds. Read on for what Dr. Stobaeus, DVM, recommends we give our big fur babies.

Issues Large or Giant Sized Breeds Might Encounter

Every shape and size of dog comes with unique health needs and issues that might occur. Proper nutrition can help your dog either avoid these issues or make the inevitable aging process more comfortable.

In large breed dogs, Dr. Stobaeus says he encounters issues around bone and joint health at various stages of their lives. He says, “large and giant breed dogs can suffer from bone abnormalities early on in their life if they get too many calories and calcium… They also suffer from arthritis as they get older.”

These problems can rob your pet of years of comfort and bring painful aging sooner.

Keep an Eye Out for Life Stage Food, and Change it Sooner

Typically Dr. Stobaeus recommends small and medium sized puppies to switch to adult dog food when they are 12 months old. Large and giant breeds, however, need to be switched to adult dog food by 10 months of age. He states “this helps slow their growth and bone development in order to prevent certain bone abnormalities”.

The best dog food for large breed dogs will depend on their life stage, each stage needing specific things to support their larger frames. Dr. Nobuki recommends the following (in addition to everything else they’ll need as healthy dogs):

  • Large breed puppies (0-9 months): high calories and calcium for growth. For more information on the best dog food for puppies, check out our article on that topic.
  • Large breed adult dogs (10 months- 7 years): balanced calories and calcium for weight and health maintenance. Because large breed dogs are already at risk of joint issues, keeping their weight in check is even more important; obesity will aggravate joint issues later in life. For more information on pet obesity and health risks associated with it, see our blog post here.
  • Large breed senior dogs (8 years+): lower calories and balanced calcium to ensure a good weight and bone maintenance; also omega fatty acids, glucosamine and chondroitin supplements. For more information on the best dog food for senior dogs, check out this article.

Add Supplements, Subtract One-Size-Fits-All Food Brands

Dr. Stobaeus generally only recommends omega fatty acids, glucosamine and chondroitin supplements for small and medium sized dogs if they have arthritis or any orthopedic issues that could lead to arthritis. These supplements in nutrition over time can build up our pets to alleviate or avoid these issues altogether.

However, Dr. Stobaeus recommends that all of his large and giant dog breed clients to have these 3 key supplements in their diet when they reach 7 years of age. These preventative nutritional measures can make a huge difference in the comfort of your big fur baby as they age. These supplements are also not a bad idea for younger large breed dogs.

An absolute no-no in dog food for any dog, but especially large breed dogs, are those claiming to be formulated for all life stages. Dr. Stobaeus warns these diets have to be suited for puppies too, so the excessive nutrition would be very detrimental to their bones and joints.

The Importance of the Best Dog Food for Large Breed Dogs

Ensuring your pet is getting the right nutrients at all stages in life is the best way to ensure they have happy, healthy golden years. Large breed dogs are especially sensitive to nutritional imbalances from months 3-24 as the are continually growing into their own bodies and at a very fast rate. Minimizing excess calories to slow growth to a normal pace and ensuring sufficient, quality protein for proper development will translate to less health issues later on.

It is important for pet owners to understand what they do now for nutrition will become noticeable several years later, and starting nutrition management later rather than sooner may be too late.