If you’ve read our large breed puppy food article of best dog food for large breeds, you’ll know that larger breeds and smaller breeds have their own unique needs. As larger breed dog’s age, they are prone to joint, skeletal and muscular issues. Such issues and health problems include hip and elbow dysplasia as well as osteoarthritis.

It’s never too late to help your dog through his or her diet. Feeding your larger breed dog a specially formulated diet formula will help reduce the amount of stress on their joints and minimize other risks. There are certain ingredients to look for in larger breed food, and we’ll take you through them today.

Big canines tend to bulk up more easily and this leads to added strain on their skeletal frame. We can fix this problem with the right food and the right amount of nutrients coupled with regular exercise.

Vet Approved Content
  • Sara Redding Ochoa DVM
  • Certified content. This article has been fact-checked and verified by our veterinary advisor.

    Approved By: Dr. Sara Ochoa, DVM

View The Best Large Breed Dog Foods Below

1. Solid Gold – Wolf King with Real Natural Bison & Brown Rice

Solid Gold - Wolf King with Real Natural Bison & Brown Rice Recipe dry dog food

Dog food, not only food for large breeds should always contain real meat. The more natural the dog food is, the better. This holistic Bison & brown rice recipe dry dog food comes with real lean bison meat as the main ingredient with lots of healthy fats and whole grains, and that’s what helped us to decide to name this as our top pick. Not only that, but their unique formula featuring 20 superfoods will rebuild and maintain your dog’s muscles, support dog digestion and help with its skin and coat.

The superfoods included contain the perfect, natural balance of antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals as well as fiber to strengthen your large pup’s immune system. Don’t worry about starting late, it’s never too late to switch to Solid Gold and make sure your dog live a long and healthy life, through all life stages.

Pros:
+ Real protein
+ Made in the USA
+ 100% Satisfaction guarantee
+ Holistic nutrition

Why We Like It – The 100% satisfaction guarantee ensures you will get the highest quality ingredients with every purchase or your money back. The USA sourced meats will prove to be nothing but the best for your large pooch. It’s easy to see why Solid Gold is named our top pick!

Related: Dog Food for Weimaraners.


2. Eukanuba Adult Dry Dog Food Chicken – Large Breed

Eukanuba Adult Dry Dog Food Chicken – Large Breed

Eukanuba’s first choice for protein is chicken to help with the maintenance of lean muscles. For healthy dog digestion, this large breed dog food offers a specialized fiber system, which contains beet pulp and prebiotics. The glucosamine and chondroitin levels help support joint health.

For external benefits, Eukanuba Adult Dry Large Breed Dog Food has added optimal levels of omega 3 and 6 fatty acids to help your large pup have healthy skin and a radiant coat. This food delivers the key ingredients to help your larger canine, such as a Doberman or Great Dane, reach their full potential. The larger dry food is also proven to reduce tartar build-up in 28 days!

Pros:
+ Reduce tartar
+ Promotes healthy digestion
+ Natural sources of glucosamine and chondroitin
+ Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids

Why We Like It – You won’t find any artificial preservatives, flavors or colors in Eukanuba’s adult chicken recipe dog food. Feel safe and confident your dog will only be getting the best with every bite.

Note: It’s always best to opt for dry large breed formulas that have farm-raised chicken in the ingredients list.


3. Pro Plan BRIGHT MIND Senior 7+ Adult Dog Food

Pro Plan BRIGHT MIND Senior Dog Food

Large breeds need extra support from the puppy stage all the way through to old age. This dog food is for senior dogs aged 7 or above. When a dog ages, so do their minds. There are enhanced botanical oils infused in this food to help with mental alertness and sharpness in elderly large breeds. The first ingredient is still, of course, protein.

The protein used in this senior dog food formula is chicken, which is part of the omega 3 fatty acid and glucosamine blend to help with joint health, mobility along with muscle support. A perfect proportion of 29% protein and 14% fat in this senior dog food helps elderly large breeds maintain their ideal body condition.

Pros: 
+ Botanical oils to help with the mind
+ Promotes healthy skin and coat
+ Balanced nutrition
+ Maintains an ideal body condition

Why We Like It – If you have an aging large breed dog, care for its health by switching to Purina Pro Plan chicken recipe and help him nourish his mind and stay sharp like in the younger days.

Alternative: Low Fat dog foods.


4. Hill’s Science Diet Large Breed Dry Dog Food

Hill’s Science Diet Large Breed Dry Large Breed Dog Food

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Hill’s always comes at dog food from a scientific perspective. This blend is recommended for large breed dogs who weigh more than 55lbs at maturity. The bigger the dog, the more support their joints need. The natural sources of glucosamine and chondroitin do just that. This formula is made in the USA with global ingredients that you can trust, you’ll know your canine will be well supported.

You will be able to see the difference in their skin and coats within 30 days. The exclusive blend of omega 6 fatty acids, vitamins and minerals will ensure a glossy coat. This dry large breed dog food is only for mature large breeds and not for large breed puppy’s, pregnant or nursing larger dogs.

Pros: 
+ Made in the USA
+ Natural
+ Promotes healthy skin and coat
+ Supports a healthy immune system

Why We Liked It – When larger breeds get to a certain age, mobility issues can be hard to avoid. The glucosamine and chondroitin levels in this food to buy online will keep joints and cartilage healthy. Not for large breed puppies!


5. NUTRO Ultra Adult Large Breed Dry Dog Food

NUTRO Ultra Adult Large Breed Dry Dog Food

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Nutro often contains a blend of 3 proteins to give your pup the maximum amount of muscle support. The trio of proteins in this formula is from chicken, lamb, and salmon meal. From the salmon meal, you get your omega -3’s for your dog’s skin and coat health. The percentage of the three proteins are formulated specifically for larger breeds.

Aside from the high-quality protein, 15 vibrant superfoods are included such as coconut, chia, kale, blueberries etc. What you won’t find in this large breed specific dog food are artificial flavors, colors, preservatives and corn, soy, wheat or chicken by-product.

Pros:
+ High-Quality ingredients
+ 3 proteins
+ Specially formulated
+ Nothing artificial included
+ Chicken, Lamb, Fish meal

Why We Like It – Dogs deserve to enjoy their food, just like we do. Nutro provides good tasting food that’s nutritious for our large breed adult dogs. Sign me up, please!

Alternative: Nature’s Recipe Dog Food.


6. Purina Pro Plan SPORT Formula Dry Dog Food

Purina Pro Plan SPORT Formula Dry Dog Food

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This recipe is great for large breed puppies and dogs who are more active. Chicken is the chosen number 1 protein. With 30% protein and 20% fat, the higher ratio will help fuel the metabolic needs and maintain muscles for your active large breed adult dog. Unlike us, dogs get their energy from fat, not from carbs.

This large breed chicken dog food has higher amounts of fat and protein to increase endurance. This is to make sure they reach their full potential. So if your focus is on your dog’s physicality rather than mental focus, choose the SPORT formula over the Bright Mind option mentioned above.

Pros: 
+ Amino acids
+ Higher fat and protein content
+ EPA and glucosamine for joints
+ Specially formulated

Why We Like It – Feeding your dog a bowl of this SPORT formula will help nourish their muscles, especially after exercise. The amino acids will help rebuild and maintain their physical health.


7. Holistic Select Natural Dry Dog Food Large & Giant Breed

Holistic Select Natural Dry Dog Food Large & Giant Breed Adult dog food

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This adult recipe is rich enough to not only maintain the health of large breed adult dogs but giant breeds too. The unique blend of prebiotics, probiotics, natural fibers, and digestive enzymes and botanicals health your large dog’s digestive system in the most holistic way possible. The larger kibble size helps slow down a speedy eater and cleans teeth at the same time.

Only containing premium, all-natural ingredients, there are no meat by-products wheat or anything artificial included. Made in the USA, Holistic Select gives you their guarantee. The key to your large breed dog’s overall health is through their stomach. Make sure they are eating the best wet or dry food.

Pros: 
+ Complete health, natural and balanced diet
+ Satisfaction guaranteed
+ Made in the USA
+ Contains digestive enzymes

Why We Like It – Made to meet the unique needs of adult dogs weighing 50lbs or more, the ingredients of this giant breed adult dog food blend together to enhance digestion and overall body health.


8. Taste of The Wild Grain-Free Premium High Prairie Adult

Taste of The Wild Grain-Free Dry Dog Food High Prairie Adult

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With roasted bison as the number 1 ingredient and optimal amino acids, your dog will have lean and strong muscles from pet food with a great taste. As for the skin and coat, this grain-free large breed dog food has antioxidants and fatty acids from fruits and vegetables working overtime.

The sources of the ingredients are vital, and Taste of the Wild only sources from trusted and sustainable suppliers around the world. No grain, corn, wheat, filler, or artificial ingredients are added in this recipe. Made in the USA and a family owned business, the food is made to follow scientifically advanced food safety protocols.

Pros: 
+ Grain-free
+ Species-specific probiotics
+ Made in the USA
+ Sustainably sourced
+ Fruits and vegetables

Why We Like It – This grain-free dry large breed dog food is not only healthy, but it also guarantees a great taste that is irresistible to your large breed puppy’s tummy. Formulated with real protein, fruits and vegetables, your dog will be licking its lips after every meal. This formula is great for dogs that feel better with limited ingredients.


9. Purina ONE SmartBlend Natural Large Breed Formula Adult

Purina ONE SmartBlend Natural Large Breed Formula Adult Dry Dog Food

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A lot of the large breed formulas use chicken meal as the number one ingredient, as it’s easily digestible. Made specifically for larger breeds with healthy levels of glucosamine to help support joints, and high protein levels to support their muscles and heart. This Purina recipe is a smart blend with two textures.

Juicy and tender morsels mixed with crunchy kibble leaves your dog with a delightful taste in its mouth. With 0 fillers in this recipe, sog owners can feel comfortable and confident that every ingredient serves a purpose. For ideal health and body support, offer your dog Purina One SmartBlend for large breeds today.

Pros:
+ No fillers
+ Formulated for large breeds
+ 2 textures
+ No mystery ingredients

Why We Like It – Purina One delivers a unique and wholesome essentials recipe for your large breed dog. The two textures can provide taste and fulfill nutritional requirements with no fillers or artificial additives.


10. Iams Proactive Healthy Large Breed Adult Dry Dog Food

Iams Proactive Healthy Large Breed Adult Dry Dog Food - Chicken meal

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A vet recommended formula, Iams has real chicken with L-carnitine to help burn fat and transform it into energy, to maintain a healthy metabolism. A healthy metabolism for a large breed dog means less risk of obesity. A scientifically researched blend that’s specially formulated for large breeds, Iams helps maintain healthy bones and joint health in your dog.

If your dog suffers from osteoarthritis, the glucosamine and chondroitin can help with this issue and ease your dog’s pain. The high-quality real chicken protein promotes strong and healthy muscles and omega 6 fatty acids can also be found to help with skin and coat health. Give Iams a try and see the difference for yourself.

Pros: 
+ L-carnitine to help regulate healthy weight gain
+ Vet recommended
+ Scientifically researched
+ Maintains a healthy metabolism

Why We Like It – If your dog suffers from skin issues, Iams has consumers testifying to Iams’ effectiveness in clearing these issues right up. The image of a healthy dog starts with their skin and coats!

Tip: If you can find a product with deboned chicken, this is a safer option for your large breed dog.


Large Breed Dog Food Buyers Guide

There are tons of dog food brands out there to choose from with a wide variety of recipes and ingredients. What do dog owners have to look out for? Do we pick dry, raw or canned food? Whatever you do and whatever you choose, remember to pay attention to your dog, not the food. Observe your large pup carefully when you’re trying out new pet food that you buy online.

Some large-breed dogs need to eat more than others, even dogs of the same breed. Take their activity level and habits into consideration. Look for any changes in their coat, skin, and stool. Let’s go in further detail about what kins of ingredients to look for and which to avoid in adult recipes when shopping for large breed dog foods.

What to Look for When Buying Dog Food for Large Breeds?

Ingredients to Look For

Glucosamine – It’s best for large breed dog food to contain joint supplements, like chondroitin and glucosamine. These two supplements will help with joint health, as well as cartilage and bone issues.

Calories – Because our large babies are larger in size, they require more calories. But more doesn’t mean too much. The pet food should contain a moderate amount and fulfill nutritional requirements, enough for them to gain energy, but not so much that it leads to obesity. Which is also a common problem among large breed dogs. Monitor their intake well!

Bigger kibble – Large-breed dogs need bigger kibble. This isn’t only because they have bigger mouths, but also because larger kibble requires more chewing time, which helps slow down your dog’s eating and avoid bloating.

Protein – Protein should always be the top and first ingredient. Older large-breed dogs need more protein, and this is due to the higher protein turnover and lower protein production in their system. Make sure they get highly digestible proteins, like lamb and chicken meal in their diet to help them maintain their muscle mass and prevent loss of protein.

Fiber – Fiber is also important for their digestive system. The older the dog gets, the easier it is for them to suffer from constipation. Some examples of good sources of fiber include beet pulp, kelp, oatmeal, sweet potatoes, and brown rice formula to name a few.

Antioxidants – The next on the list is antioxidants. This can be found in colorful fruits and veggies such as carrots, blueberries, kale etc.

DHA, another type of omega 3, can also help with brain and eye development. You might read on some packaging that the DHA included in the recipe will help your dog stay sharp.

What’s the most important about all of this is making sure the ingredients are all naturally sourced from trusted suppliers. Don’t put anything artificial in your dog’s body. Only feed them what you’d eat yourself.

Ingredients to Avoid

Here we delve into the ingredients dog owners should try their hardest to avoid. Don’t feed your large pup something you wouldn’t eat yourself. Here we will provide a list of ingredients to look out for. Hopefully, next time you’re overwhelmed by the number of choices, this list can help you narrow it down.

Meat by-productsThese are cheap fillers used to add to the protein amount already in your dog’s food. Protein is good, but not when it’s a by-product. By-products are usually leftovers that people don’t want to waste. You might find parts of animal carcasses and ground up bird beaks in your large breed dog’s food. Yum? I think not.

BHA/BHT – These are preservatives. You definitely do not want this in the food your dog eats every day. BHA is considered to be more dangerous than BHT, but it still does not maybe either one okay to have. They can cause long-term issues in your dog and can possibly lead to cancer. Make sure you don’t have these in your food as well!

Food Dye/artificial colors – Like we’ve mentioned before, anything unnatural is a no-go. Some of these dyes are considered animal carcinogens and only used to make the pet food look tastier.

Animal fat/rendered fat – Because it’s so hard to decipher where the fat was taken from, it’s completely possible that the rendered animal fat, like chicken fat, your large pup is devouring is from roadkill, dead zoo animals or euthanized animals.

Gluten – Lots of us humans avoid gluten. If your dog is a sensitive pooch, no matter how small or how large he is, gluten is good to avoid. Gluten can be found in grains and can cause a slew of allergic reactions. If your dog is especially prone to skin problems, avoid this and opt for grain-free large breed dog food.

Now let’s take a look at the most common health issues that plague larger breeds, which ingredients help these issues and how to prevent them.

Orthopedic Disease

Large dogs are prone to more orthopedic diseases. Such issues include hip and elbow dysplasia, arthritis, and osteochondrosis. Hereditary factors, as well as lifestyle, can contribute as well, but the best way to fight against these issues is the right diet. Regular exercise and monitoring of his/her diet will help as well. Helpful ingredients are the above-mentioned chondroitin and glucosamine.

Veterinary diets are advised for dogs that are in pain, so always consult your vet first.

Obesity

Large dogs are prone to obesity and overgrowth. This happens when they grow too quickly. This is especially dangerous among just neutered or spayed dogs. Dogs that have just finished these procedures are prone to more weight gain (not healthy weight gain, either). The right balanced nutrition will prevent this with proper feeding.

Bloating

Bloating in large breeds could be fatal. Larger kibble and large breed formulas should be effective against this issue. Don’t do any form of strenuous exercise for an hour or two after feeding.

Conclusion

There is no so-called right or best dog food brand for large breeds. You must know your big best friend well, and his or her habits to make the best choice on their behalf. If you’re still unsure after our guidance or researching on the web, feel free to ask your vet for a more precise suggestion.

With each of the life stages and change of habits, you and your vet should be able to come up with the best nutrition and exercise plan to best benefit your large pooch. A bigger pup means bigger responsibilities. As we’ve said before in previous articles, look for AAFO (The Association of American Feed Control Officials) approved dog supplies for the safest bet.

Expert Tip

When reading the label, don’t buy into unregulated phrases such as ‘ all-natural’ or ‘human-grade ingredients’. These phrases are used to suck you in. These phrases are easily said and written because there are no set standards of what is all-natural or human-grade. Everyone has a different definition. So unless there are solid standards or proof, ignore such phrases.

Did You Know?

Dog food labels won’t tell you much about the quality of the ingredients. Technically, a reference to quality isn’t even allowed! Just make sure the source is labeled so you can make the best and most informed decision this way. Aside from where the ingredients come from, what is being used is just as important.

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