Best Large Breed Puppy Foods 2020 – Review & Top Picks

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Iams Proactive Health Puppy Dry Dog Food

Not all puppies require the same nutrition. Specific breeds require specific ingredients to ensure that they grow at the proper speed and have the essential nutrients they need to aid in their particular development. Did you know that DHA can help develop your puppy’s memory and make them more trainable? Did you know that large breed puppies need a specific balance of calcium and phosphorous to ensure that their bones grow at the right speed?

There is much to know about the nutrition specific to large breed puppies. Luckily for you, we have done our research and put together a list of the best large breed puppy foods on the market, as well as a guide on what ingredients to look for and what qualifications brands should have.

A Quick Comparison of Our Favorites

ModelPriceFlavorsEditor Rating
Purina Pro
Purina Pro Plan(Best Overall)

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Chicken, Lamb4.7/5
Purina ONE
Purina ONE(Best Value)

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Chicken, Lamb4.7/5
Royal Canin
Royal Canin(Premium Choice)

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None4.8/5
Iams
Iams

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Chicken4.7/5
Hill's Science Diet
Hills Science Diet

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Chicken&Oats4.6/5

The 10 Best Large Breed Puppy Foods

1. Purina Pro Dry Puppy Food – Best Overall

Purina Pro Plan

Purina Pro Dry Puppy Food comes in a chicken and rice flavor that most dogs will enjoy. A major benefit of this food is that it is made with real chicken, the number-one ingredient listed. It contains glucosamine for joint and cartilage health, as well as DHA for brain and vision development. It also has whole grain wheat, which provides more benefits than corn, a common substitute.

Pros
  • Chicken and rice flavor
  • Real chicken
  • Glucosamine for joints and cartilage
  • DHA for brain and vision development
  • Whole grain wheat
Cons
  • Can cause diarrhea

2. Purina ONE Natural Puppy Dog Food – Best Value

Purina ONE

The Purina ONE SmartBlend Natural Puppy food is the best large breed dog food for the money because it comes in a large bag at an affordable price. It is quite similar to the Purina Pro dog food in that it has real chicken as the number-one ingredient listed. It also includes glucosamine for joint health.

This product is similar to Purina Pro, but a key difference is the use of whole grain corn instead of whole grain wheat. Corn is not as easily digestible and does not have the same benefits of wheat. This product can also cause stomach irritation, so be mindful of that and take your dog to the vet if vomiting or diarrhea occur.

Pros
  • Large bag
  • Great value
  • High in protein
  • Glucosamine for joints and cartilage
Cons
  • Can cause stomach irritation
  • Whole grain corn

3. Royal Canin Large Puppy Dry Food – Premium Choice

Royal Canin

Royal Canin is listed as the premium choice because it offers food that is great for your dog but at a slightly higher price point. It contains glucosamine for joint and cartilage health, plenty of vitamins and minerals for immune system support, and biotin for healthy skin and shiny fur.

Caveats to this product, however, are that the price is high, the fact that it contains corn (which is not easily digestible for dogs), and that it has less protein than other dog food brands. The first two products on our list are better options than this one.

Pros
  • Supports joint and cartilage health
  • Immune system support
  • Great for healthy skin and coat
Cons
  • Higher price point
  • Contains corn
  • Less protein than others

4. Iams Health Puppy Dry Dog Food

Iams

This formula contains the essential protein and veggies that your dog needs, as well as other vitamins and minerals to support immune system, skin, and coat health, as well as strong bones. It also contains DHA for a healthy brain and eye and ear development.

This formula, like some of the others, also contains corn, which is not an ideal ingredient in dog food. It is not easily digestible, so this puppy food can actually cause stomach irritation and in some cases, diarrhea and vomiting.

Pros
  • Protein, grains, and veggies
  • Nutrients to support immune system, skin, coat, and strong bones
  • Omega 3 DHA for brain development
Cons
  • Contains corn
  • Can cause stomach irritation, diarrhea, and/or vomiting

See our top picks of puppy food for labs


5. Hill’s Science 9377 Dry Dog Food

Hills Science Diet

This product provides minerals such as calcium to support strong bones and teeth. It also includes DHA for healthy brain and eye development, as well as a good source of protein for muscle growth. This product is made with whole grain wheat instead of corn, which is better for their digestive system.

They recently changed this formula and made the kibble much smaller in size. For a large breed puppy, small kibble tends to be less appealing, especially if they’re used to having larger pieces. This product can also cause stomach irritation in some dogs.

Pros
  • Balanced minerals for bones and teeth
  • DHA for brain and eye development
  • Protein for muscle growth
  • Wheat instead of corn
Cons
  • Small kibble
  • Can cause stomach irritation

6. Diamond Naturals Large Breed Puppy Dry Food

Diamond Naturals

Diamond Naturals utilizes high-quality lamb protein to help build muscle in your pup. It also skips fillers, including wheat and corn. Grains are not necessarily bad for your dog unless they have an allergy, but this formula utilizes rice and veggies instead. It also has DHA for brain and eye development and probiotics to assist in gastrointestinal health.

Although this product claims to have fatty acids for skin health, increased shedding and bald spots can actually occur from using this product, as well as diarrhea.

Pros
  • Lamb protein
  • No fillers
  • DHA for brain and vision development
  • Probiotics for digestive system
Cons
  • Can cause shedding/bald spots
  • Can cause diarrhea

7. NUTRO Essentials Puppy Dry Dog Food

Nutro Core Dry Dog

This product comes in two flavors, chicken and lamb. Both are high in protein, which is ideal. It also contains calcium for strong bones, antioxidants for a healthy immune system, and DHA for brain and eye development.

The small kibble can be confusing and unappealing to some large breed dogs, especially if they’re used to larger kibble.

Pros
  • High in protein
  • Calcium for strong bones
  • Antioxidants for immune system
  • DHA for brain and eye development
Cons
  • Small kibble

8. Eukanuba Puppy Dry Dog Food

Eukanuba

This brand is high in protein with chicken listed as the first ingredient. However, the second ingredient is corn meal, which is not good for puppies or dogs in general. It does have phosphorous and calcium to aid in steady bone growth and DHA for brain and eye development.

Animal by-product is the third ingredient listed, which is not the most high-quality ingredient that could be included. It’s better to have whole chicken or lamb rather than a by-product. This one also does not add in glucosamine for joint health.

Pros
  • High in protein
  • Balanced phosphorous and calcium
  • DHA for brain and eye development
Cons
  • Contains corn meal and animal by-product
  • Does not have additional glucosamine

9. Blue Buffalo High Protein Puppy Dry Food

Blue Buffalo

This product is high in protein and free from by-products, fillers, and grains. It contains essential vitamins and minerals that are called LifeSource Bits by the company.

Unfortunately, this puppy food can cause stomach irritation and diarrhea.

Pros
  • High in protein
  • No by-products
  • Contains necessary vitamins and minerals
Cons
  • Poor packaging
  • Can cause stomach irritation

10. Wellness Dry Large Breed Puppy Food

Wellness Natural Pet Food

Although this product says that it has all the essential nutrients that puppies need, such as high amounts of protein and DHA for brain and eye development, it does not have the minerals needed in the correct balance for large breed puppies.

It does come in a large kibble size, which they tend to like, but overall, it is a low-quality food that can cause diarrhea, gas, and lethargy, which is the opposite of what you want in your puppy’s food.

Pros
  • High in protein
  • Large kibble size
  • DHA for brain and eye development
Cons
  • Not balanced specifically for large breed puppies
  • Can cause diarrhea
  • Can cause gas
  • Can cause lethargy

Buyer’s Guide

Choosing a large breed puppy food is important because what your puppy eats at an early age can affect their physical and mental development, as well as build up immunity to sicknesses. There are several factors to consider when choosing a large breed puppy food, including the importance of joint and cartilage support, the importance of protein, whole grains, and vegetables as primary ingredients, and the importance of DHA for brain health.

Glucosamine

For large dog breeds, it is important to provide them with nutrition that will help them grow at a steady, appropriate pace. Large dog breeds grow faster than smaller dog breeds, so they need the nutrition to keep up with their quick growth. This includes the addition of glucosamine to their diet for joint and cartilage health. Glucosamine helps develop strong joints to support them as they grow taller and gain weight. Large breeds tend to be more energetic and active, and it’s important for their joints to be strong so they can participate in high-energy activities without risk of injury. For this reason, most quality large breed puppy foods will include glucosamine, since it is such a valuable part of a puppy’s nutrition.

Protein

Protein should be the number-one ingredient on a puppy food ingredient list, especially for large breed puppies. Because they naturally grow quickly, they need the building blocks to aid in that growth. Protein is essential in muscle development, as well as cell generation.

Whole Grains and Vegetables

Whole grains and vegetables are important building blocks in a puppy’s development. They provide fiber to their diet, which keeps their digestive system healthy and balanced, and they also provide long-lasting energy to keep them going throughout the day. Unless your dog has a wheat allergy, wheat is not bad for your dog, contrary to popular belief. Corn, on the other hand, especially whole grain corn, is not easily digestible and should not be in a dog’s food.

Vegetables provide fiber to their diet, as well as additional vitamins that they need. These include vitamin A for eyesight, vitamin C for immune system support, and iron (which they also get through protein, especially red meat) for carrying oxygen throughout the blood, which keeps dogs energized. All these nutrients keep them growing and thriving.

Feeding Trials

The best dog food brands will put their formula through feeding trials to make sure that there are no deficiencies in the recipe and that it will not harm the dog in any way. Lower quality foods can make it difficult for your dog to thrive if they’re not receiving proper nutrition through an untested brand.

Calories

Puppies need plenty of calories to aid in their growth due to the fact that they grow so quickly. Fully developed dogs do not need as many because they don’t burn calories as quickly as puppies do. Puppy food will consequently have more calories than adult food. Be mindful of how many calories your puppy is taking in, though, and make sure that they are getting proper nutrition.

Omega 3 DHA

Omega 3 DHA is incredibly important for a puppy because it aids in the development of their brain, ears, and eyes, as well as sharpens their memory and makes it easier to train them. This makes it vital that they receive it throughout puppyhood.

Conclusion

When it comes to large breed puppy food, there are a few formulas that are better than others. The Purina Pro, Purina One, and Royal Canin are the top foods on our list because they include good amounts of protein and other necessary nutrients. It’s important to remember that large breed puppies require different nutrition than smaller breeds, so buying food specific to large breed puppies can ensure that you’re giving your puppy the nutrition they need to thrive.


Featured image credit: Iams Proactive Health Puppy Dry Dog Food, Amazon