Feeding large breed dogs is a bit different from feeding other dogs. Large dogs are so big that they have different nutritional needs. Their joints are more sensitive, for instance, since they have to carry around more weight.
For this reason, you have to choose a large breed dog food to provide complete nutrition for your canine. There are plenty of different options out there, though. It can be a bit hard to sift through all the different options out there.
In this article, we’ll review some of the best large breed dog foods on the market to help you choose the best option for your dog.
A-Z-Animals Top Picks for Large Breed Dog Food
- Taste of the Wild Pacific Stream Grain-Free Dry Dog Food
- ORIJEN Regional Red Grain-Free Freeze-Dried Dog Food
- Diamond Naturals Chicken & Rice Formula
- American Journey Duck & Sweet Potato Recipe Grain-Free
- Includes duck as the primary ingredient
- 25% protein content
- Completely grain-free
- Free from artificial ingredients
- Solid Gold Wolf King Bison & Brown Rice Recipe
- CANIDAE Grain-Free PURE Limited Ingredient Lamb, Goat & Venison Meals
1. Taste of the Wild Dry Dog Food – Best Overall Large Breed Dog Food
While Taste of the Wild is not designed specifically for large dogs, it is nutritionally complete for these larger dogs. It features salmon and ocean fish meal as the first two ingredients, which increases the protein content up to 25%.
This formula is completely grain-free, though it does include quite a few sweet potatoes, potatoes, and peas. While these ingredients are not terribly low-quality, they are included in quite a high amount. For this reason, you’ll have to consider the nutritional needs of your dog and whether or not they need more protein or grain-inclusive food.
This ingredient does include real fruit and plenty of veggies. Therefore, it is packed full of antioxidants and nutrition. Furthermore, the nutrients are chelated, which makes them more digestible for your canine. Plus, this dog food also includes probiotics that are k9 specific. Therefore, this supports your dog’s overall digestive system.
This food is also made in the USA and is completely family-owned. However, they do use global sources for their ingredients.
- Nutritionally complete for larger dogs
- The formula is completely grain-free
- Includes real fruit and plenty of veggies
- Packed full of antioxidants and nutrition
Orijen Regional Red Dog Food & Topper – Best Premium Large Breed Dog Food
Compared to other dog foods, this formula is extremely high in protein and meats. It features ranch-raised beef, pork, wild boar, bison, and many other meat ingredients. If you’re looking for protein-rich food, this recipe is a great option. It has 36% protein, which is higher than most other options on the market. Plus, the fat content is also very high at 35%.
This formula is made from completely raw materials. All of the meats are frozen before use – not cooked. Therefore, they may be more digestible than over-cooked foods.
You can use this food as both a complete meal or a topper. It is quite expensive, so feeding it as a complete meal is expensive. However, you can save a bit of money by feeding it as a topper.
This food is completely made in the USA, but with worldwide ingredients.
- The formula is extremely high in protein and meats
- Made from completely raw materials
- Completely made in the USA
- Formula is the same diet that your dog would eat in the wild
Diamond Naturals Chicken & Rice Formula – Best Grain-Inclusive Large Breed Dog Food
Many formulas these days are grain-free. However, grain-free dog foods have been associated with some health problems in dogs. Therefore, it is recommended that you choose a grain-inclusive dog food when possible.
This formula by Diamond Naturals is a great option for those looking for a grain-inclusive option. It features chicken and chicken meal as the first two ingredients. However, it also includes whole grain brown rice and cracked pearled barley, which provide extra nutrition and add some carbohydrates for easy-access energy.
This food is made in the USA by a family-owned company. It utilizes quality ingredients throughout, including a few veggies and fruits.
Omega fatty acids are also included, which help support the skin and coat health of your canine. It also helps improve your dog’s joint health, as omega fatty acids help improve connective tissue.
Like most quality dog foods, this one also includes plenty of probiotics. These improve your dog’s digestive health, which helps improve your dog’s immune system as well.
While this food is grain-inclusive, it is not made with any corn, wheat, or artificial ingredients. Therefore, it is a great option for most canines.
- Features chicken and chicken meal as the first two ingredients
- Whole-grain brown rice and cracked pearled barley add some carbohydrates for energy
- Omega fatty acids help support the skin and coat health
- Probiotics improve your dog's digestive health
American Journey Limited Ingredient Duck & Sweet Potato Dog Food – Best for Allergies
For dogs with allergies, finding a suitable food can be challenging. You often have to avoid all sorts of different proteins and other ingredients that cause sensitivities. Luckily, this formula can be a great option in these circumstances. It includes duck as the primary ingredient, which is typically well-tolerated by those with allergies.
It includes both deboned duck and duck meal. Both of these ingredients are extremely nutritious and go a long way to providing your canine with what they need to thrive. In fact, this food has a 25% protein content, which is about average for premium dog food.
As carbohydrates, this food includes things like peas and sweet potatoes. It is completely grain-free, which is also good for dogs with allergies. However, grain-free diets may not be necessary for all dogs, as it is linked to some health problems.
This food is made without any corn, wheat, soy, or by-product meals. Plus, it is also free from artificial ingredients, including colors, flavors, and preservatives.
Flaxseed oil is included to increase the omega-3 fatty acid content, which helps with your dog’s skin and coat. It can also be useful for larger dogs with joint problems, as it can improve the connective tissue in the joint.
- Includes duck as the primary ingredient
- 25% protein content
- Completely grain-free
- Free from artificial ingredients
Solid Gold Wolf King Recipe Dry Dog Food – Best for Joint Health
This recipe by Solid Gold is one of the few that is designed specifically for larger dogs. Therefore, it is one of the few recipes that feature most of the added ingredients that larger dogs might need to be healthy, such as omega fatty acids. In fact, this food includes salmon oil, which is one of the best sources of omega fatty acids around.
The first ingredient in this food is bison, which is a novel protein. Therefore, this food may be suitable for dogs with allergies. While it does include chicken fat, dogs allergic to chicken will not have a reaction to the fat, as they are only allergic to the protein.
Ocean fish meal is also included, which helps improve the DHA and fatty acid content of the food. Therefore, this food is also great for skin and coat health. It may even help with shedding.
This food also features probiotics, which help improve your dog’s digestive health and immune system. For many dogs, these added probiotics significantly help improve their overall health. It is also packed with nutritious foods, such as pumpkins, carrots, and blueberries. Whole grains are also included, which provide plenty of nutrients for your canine.
As you might expect, this food is not made with any soy, corn, or wheat.
- Designed specifically for larger dogs
- Includes salmon oil, one of the best sources of omega fatty acids
- Includes ocean fish meal which helps improve the DHA and fatty acid content
- Features probiotics, which help improve your dog's digestive health and immune system
Canidae PURE Lamb, Goat, & Venison Dry Dog Food – Best with Novel Meats
Surprisingly, there are quite a few chicken-free options on this list, which may be good for dogs with allergies and similar problems. However, this food includes many novel proteins as its protein source, including lamb, goat, and venison. It starts with lamb and lamb meal, primarily. However, it also includes goat meal and venison meal further down on the list.
In fact, this food has a 27% protein capacity largely thanks to the inclusion of all this protein.
With only eight ingredients, this food doesn’t have many proteins or veggies for your dog to react to. Therefore, it may be a great option for those with sensitive stomachs as well. However, peas are included, which have been associated with some health problems. Therefore, unless your dog needs this limited-ingredient diet, you may want to look elsewhere for quality food.
Like most high-end foods, this mixture includes probiotics to help support your dog’s digestive system. Antioxidants are also added, which minimizes oxidative stress and helps prevent age-related health problems.
This formula is completely grain-free, which helps prevent some sensitives and reactions. If your dog is sensitive to grains, then choosing a grain-free food is vital.
- Includes lamb, goat, and venison
- A great option for those with sensitive stomachs
- Includes probiotics to help support your dog's digestive system
- Completely grain-free
Choosing the Best: What to Look For
Choosing a large breed dog food can seem overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be that complicated. With a few nuggets of wisdom, selecting food is much easier. We’re going to take a look at a few vital features, such as amino acids, fats, life stages, and grains.
Dogs need about 22 amino acids to survive. These amino acids play a vital role in a variety of bodily functions. However, dogs can make about a dozen of these themselves. Still, that leaves about 10 amino acids that they need to receive from their diet.
These amino acids can be found in both plants and animals. However, meat sources tend to be more “complete” than plant sources. Plus, meat sources are more efficient at delivering these amino acids, so they are the preferred method of delivery.
Once upon a time, fats have a very poor reputation. However, much of this is due to diet culture – not actual science. In fact, fats have a vital role in your dog’s nutrition. They are highly digestible and provide extra nutrients that your dog needs.
Larger dogs in particular benefit from omega-3s and omega-6s, which are both fatty acids. These can help support their joints, which are already under strain due to their heavier bodyweight. Dogs cannot make any of these fatty acids on their own, so they must consume them in their diet.
There are many good sources of omega fatty acids, but most of them are either oils or fats.
Dogs will need different nutrients at different stages of their life. Puppies typically need more fat and protein, for instance, as they are growing. Therefore, you’ll likely need to feed your dog one food when they are growing and another “maintenance” food when they are an adult (though some foods are designed for both).
You can check the food’s AAFCO label for what life stage a particular food is designed for. When feeding large breed puppies, be sure that you have food specifically designed for large-breed puppies, as regular puppy food won’t usually cut it.
As seniors, dogs often lose their ability to absorb protein as well as they once did. For this reason, they may need a bit more protein than adult dogs, so foods are often made accordingly.
There is a lot of opinions and information in the grain-free vs. grain-inclusive debate. For the last decade or so, grain-free foods have been marketed as better for your canine. However, this is not always the case. In fact, grain-free diets have been associated with some health problems, particularly DCM, which is a heart problem.
Whole grains are not simply fillers when used properly in pet foods. While tons of grains are not necessary, grains are typically a good addition when they appear further down on the list.
Many people are worried about sensitives to grains. However, allergies occur more often with chicken, beef, and dairy.
Therefore, most dogs benefit from eating a grain-inclusive diet. It helps them avoid certain health problems and improves their overall health. If you choose grain-free food, be sure that you choose a formula with nutritious ingredients. Often, a balanced composition is about more than just eliminating grains.
The Different Types of Large Breed Dog Food: Pros and Cons
When you’re choosing dog food for your bigger dog, there are several different types that we can choose from. While we included mostly dry dog food in this article (as they are the most popular), there are a few other types as well. For instance, there is wet dog food, prescription dog food, and fresh dog food. Here’s a quick look at each type:
- Dry Dog Food: This is the most common type of dog food, largely because it is easy to give and saves for a long time. You’ll find lots of different options in this category.
- Wet Dog Food: Though it isn’t super popular, wet dog food is suitable for many different canines. It provides extra moisture and is often tastier.
- Prescription Dog Food: Designed for specific health problems, this type of food requires a prescription. You can’t just go to the store and purchase this sort of food, as it is only designed for dogs with very specific health conditions.
- Fresh Dog Food: While this food is newer on the dog food market, it is becoming increasingly popular. This food usually contains human-grade ingredient, such as beef and carrots.
Let’s take a quick look at pros and cons of each:
Dry Dog Food
- Long shelf life
- Many different options out there
- No moisture provided
Wet Dog Food
- Provides extra moisture
- Widely available
- Cannot be left out
Prescription Dog Food
- Designed for specific health conditions
- Requires a prescription
Fresh Dog Food
- Usually human-grade ingredients
- Often healthier than other options
Verified Review: User Experience
The biggest complaint with most dog foods is that it isn’t very tasty. Some dogs simply don’t like certain flavors and may refuse to eat it. Furthermore, if a canine has previously eaten food that included added flavors, they may not like foods with more “natural” tastes. It’s like offering children an apple after they have eaten chips.
However, this isn’t necessarily a problem with the food.
Beyond this, other users complained about the expenses involved in many of these foods. They can be quite expensive, and larger dogs eat a lot. Furthermore, prices have jumped considerably over the past few years.
However, most people found that when they chose a higher quality food, their dogs “dogs seem to do well”.
In the end, most negatives are going to be very specific to your dog, so you might need to try a few different foods before you settle on one that your canine actually likes.