The Best Large Breed Dog Food

Written by Kristin Hitchcock
Updated: January 10, 2023
©

This post may contain affiliate links to our partners like Chewy, Amazon, and others. Purchasing through these helps us further the A-Z Animals mission to educate about the world's species..

Key Points

  • The #1 Best Overall large breed dog food is the Taste of the Wild Pacific Stream Grain-Free Dry Dog Food.
  • Dogs have different nutritional needs depending on whether they are a small breed, a large breed, a puppy, or a senior.
  • The best food for your large breed is designed for the issues your dog may have, such as joint sensitivity.

Feeding large breed dogs is a bit different from feeding other dogs. Large dogs are so big that they have different nutritional needs. Large dogs tend to have slower metabolisms than smaller dogs. This means that the energy from their food is not absorbed or used quickly. Plus, their joints are more sensitive, since they have to carry around more weight. Therefore, it’s important to make sure that you choose a dog food that is going to provide your large pooch with all the nutrition that they need to remain in the very best of health.

We know that you want the best for your pet, which is why we’ve compiled a list of the best dog food for large dogs. Whether they are puppies, senior dogs, or anywhere in between, we have an option that will keep them healthy and happy. We have also included wet and dry food options so that there is something that will appeal to the taste of all dogs.

  1. Taste of the Wild Pacific Stream Grain-Free Dry Dog Food
  2. Taste of the Wild Pacific Stream Grain-Free Dry Dog Food
    • Nutritionally complete for larger dogs
    • The formula is completely grain-free
    • Includes real fruit and plenty of veggies
    • Packed full of antioxidants and nutrition
    Check Chewy Check Amazon
  3. ORIJEN Regional Red Grain-Free Freeze-Dried Dog Food
  4. ORIJEN Regional Red Grain-Free Freeze-Dried Dog Food
    • 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
    Check Chewy Check Amazon
  5. Diamond Naturals Chicken & Rice Formula
  6. Diamond Naturals Chicken & Rice Formula
    • 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
    Check Chewy Check Amazon
  7. American Journey Duck & Sweet Potato Recipe Grain-Free
  8. American Journey Duck & Sweet Potato Recipe Grain-Free
    • Includes duck as the primary ingredient
    • Contains 25% protein content
    • Completely grain-free which is suitable for dogs with allergies
    • Free from artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives
    Check Chewy
  9. Solid Gold Wolf King Bison & Brown Rice Recipe
  10. Solid Gold Wolf King Bison & Brown Rice Recipe
    • 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
    Check Chewy Check Amazon

Top Picks for the Best Dog Food for Large Dogs: Ranked

#1 Best Overall: Taste of the Wild Pacific Stream Grain-Free Dry Dog Food

Our selection as the best overall dog food for large dogs is the Taste of the Wild Pacific Stream Grain-Free Dry Dog Food.

While Taste of the Wild is not designed specifically for large dogs, it is still nutritionally complete and can meet the needs of 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 food 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 and prebiotics to support a healthy digestive system. It also contains omega fatty acids to promote a healthy coat and skin.

This food is also made in the USA and is completely family-owned. However, they do use global sources for their ingredients.

Pros and Cons of the Taste of the Wild Pacific Stream Grain-Free Dry Dog Food

ProsCons
This food features salmon and ocean fish meal as the first ingredients, with a protein content of up to 25%.It contains high amounts of sweet potatoes, potatoes, and peas.
It is a completely grain-free diet.A grain-free diet does not suit every dog.
It contains prebiotics and probiotics to support a healthy digestive system.
The omega fatty acids in this food promote a healthy skin and coat.
It contains antioxidants from real fruit and vegetables.
Best Overall
Taste of the Wild Pacific Stream Grain-Free Dry Dog Food
  • Nutritionally complete for larger dogs
  • The formula is completely grain-free
  • Includes real fruit and plenty of veggies
  • Packed full of antioxidants and nutrition
Check Chewy Check Amazon

2. Best Premium Option: Orijen Regional Red Grain-Free Freeze-Dried Dog Food

If you’re looking for a premium option for your pet then we suggest the Orijen Regional Red Grain-Free Freeze-Dried Dog Food.

Compared to other dog foods, this formula is extremely high in protein and meats. It features ranch-raised beef, pork, wild boar, and bison and uses only the most nutrient-dense parts of them. 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 which are freeze-dried to preserve their nutrients. Plus, this food mimics the diet that your dog would have the wild. You can use this food as both a complete meal or a topper. However, it is quite expensive, so feeding it as a complete meal may not be viable.

Pros and Cons of the Orijen Regional Red Grain-Free Freeze-Dried Dog Food

ProsCons
This food contain 36% protein in the form of ranch-raised beef, pork, wild boar, and bison.It is more expensive than other options.
All of the meat is completely raw and is freeze-dried to preserve the nutrients.
It mimics the diet that dogs would have in the wild.
Best Premium Option
ORIJEN Regional Red Grain-Free Freeze-Dried Dog Food
  • 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
Check Chewy Check Amazon

3. Best Grain-Inclusive Diet: Diamond Naturals Chicken & Rice Formula

Many formulas these days are grain-free, but a grain-free diet may not be the best option for all dogs. Therefore, the best grain-inclusive option is the Diamond Naturals Chicken & Rice Formula.

This food features chicken and chicken meal as the first two ingredients to provide 26% protein. However, it also includes whole grain brown rice and cracked pearled barley, which provide extra nutrition and add some carbohydrates for energy.

Omega fatty acids are also included in this food to 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. It also includes plenty of vitamins and minerals from superfoods such as blueberries and oranges to support overall good health.

Like most quality dog foods, this one also includes plenty of probiotics, prebiotics, and antioxidants. 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.

Although this food has a lot going for it, some customers have reported that their pets do not like this food. Some also found that the kibble pieces were too hard for their dogs to chew.

Pros and Cons of the Diamond Naturals Chicken & Rice Formula

ProsCons
This food features chicken and chicken meal as the first two ingredients.Not all dogs like this food.
It includes omega fatty acids to promote a healthy coat and skin.The kibble can be too hard for some dogs to chew.
It contains probiotics, prebiotics, and antioxidants to support a healthy digestive system and a healthy immune system.
Vitamins and minerals from superfoods support all-round good health.
Best Grain-Inclusive
Diamond Naturals Chicken & Rice Formula
  • 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
Check Chewy Check Amazon

4. Best for Allergies: American Journey Grain-Free Limited Ingredient Dog Food

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, the American Journey Grain-Free Limited Ingredient Dog Food is a great option in these circumstances.

This food 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 for carbohydrates, this food includes things like peas and sweet potatoes.

This food contains omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids which help with your dog’s skin and coat, while antioxidants also promote a healthy immune system.

This food is completely grain-free, which is also good for dogs with allergies. It is made without any corn, wheat, soy, or by-product meals. Plus, it is also free from artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives. However, grain-free diets may not be necessary for all dogs, so it’s important to carefully consider if your dog needs this sort of diet.

Unfortunately, customers reported that there are sometimes a lot of crumbs in the bottom half of the bags.

Pros and Cons of the American Journey Grain-Free Limited Ingredient Dog Food

ProsCons
This food contains duck as the main ingredient and provides 25% protein.A grain-free diet may not be suitable for all dogs.
It is completely grain-free.There are sometimes a lot of crumbs in the bottom half of the bag of food.
It contains omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids which promote a healthy coat and skin.
It includes antioxidants to support a healthy immune system.
Best for Allergies
American Journey Duck & Sweet Potato Recipe Grain-Free
  • Includes duck as the primary ingredient
  • Contains 25% protein content
  • Completely grain-free which is suitable for dogs with allergies
  • Free from artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives
Check Chewy

5. Best for Joint Health: Solid Gold Wolf King Large Breed Adult Dry Dog Food

It’s always important to look after your pet’s joints, and that’s why we recommend the Solid Gold Wolf King Large Breed Adult Dry Dog Food.

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.

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.

However, some pup parents have reported that the kibble pieces are quite large which may not suit all dogs. Also, this food is a more expensive option.

Pros and Cons of the Solid Gold Wolf King Large Breed Adult Dry Dog Food

ProsCons
This food contains bison as the main ingredient.The kibble pieces are quite large.
It includes DHA and omega fatty acids which support skin and coat health.This food is an expensive option.
It contains probiotics which promote a healthy digestive system.
This food also includes nutritious pumpkin, carrots, and blueberries.
Best for Joint Health
Solid Gold Wolf King Bison & Brown Rice Recipe
  • 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
Check Chewy Check Amazon

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.

Amino Acids

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 around ten 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.

Fats

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.

Life Stage

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.

Grains

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

ProsCons
Dry dog food has a long shelf life.It is not appetizing to picky eaters.
It can help to remove tartar and plaque from teeth.

Wet Dog Food

ProsCons
It provides extra moisture for dogs that need it.It needs to be refrigerated once opened to prevent it from spoiling.
It is more appetizing to picky eaters.
It is easy to hide medication in it.

Prescription Dog Food

ProsCons
It is designed for specific health conditions.It requires a prescription.
It is usually more expensive.

Fresh Dog Food

ProsCons
It usually contains human-grade ingredients.It is usually a more expensive option.
It is often healthier than other options.

Our Criteria

We searched for high quality food for your large breed, taking into account high energy levels and muscle density. Food high protein, such as chicken, beef, duck, lamb, venison, and pork, are best for your dog. If protein is listed as the first ingredient, you’re golden. Large dogs also benefit from omega fatty acids and amino acids, which promote skin health, coat health, and immunity. Some of the food on the list contain probiotics, which promote immunity and healthy digestion.

We wanted to include a variety in case your dog has allergies or specific food sensitivity. If your dog is allergic to chicken, for example, you will want to try #4 or #5. Grain-free options are also provided that replace those grains with healthy carbohydrates such as peas, potatoes, and lentils. We trust you will find a healthy option on our list to meet the needs of your large breed.

Up Next

The Best Large Breed Dog Food FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) 

Can I mix a combination of dry and wet dog food together?

Yes, wet and dry dog food can be mixed together. Many owners mix a little wet food in with dry food to make the food more appealing and tastier for their dogs. However, keep in mind that when mixing foods, it is important to make sure both the wet and dry foods are designed to match the dietary needs of your dog. For example, this means that you should avoid mixing dry puppy food with wet adult food.

Does dry food contain more protein than wet food?

No, most dry foods have a lower protein content than wet foods. Wet foods are often formulated with premium meat, poultry, or fish ingredients as the first ingredient.

Thank you for reading! Have some feedback for us? Contact the AZ Animals editorial team.