Large and giant breed dogs — such as Labradors, Golden Retrievers, Boxers, German Shepherds, and Great Danes — have different nutritional needs than smaller dogs. Since so many developmental changes occur during the puppy life-stage, it’s important that your puppy is getting the proper nutrition and care from the very beginning to help promote a healthy future.

Aim for steady growth

Some dog owners commonly believe that feeding their large breed puppy at a maximum growth rate by giving him extra food best for his development. However, since a puppy’s young bones aren’t equipped to handle rapid growth and weight gain, this method of feeding has the potential to cause abnormalities and disease in bones and joints. The best course of action: Feed your large breed puppy a complete and balanced diet intended for puppies in order to promote healthy, steady growth. He’ll still reach his full adult size, just at a slower, safer pace.

Don't overfeed a large breed puppy

Overfeeding your pup can be an easy mistake for pet owners and a hard mentality to shake — it’s the harder, faster, bigger, stronger approach. However, even if your puppy eagerly awaits mealtimes and gobbles up every kibble as soon as it hits the bowl, it doesn’t mean he’s still hungry or that he needs more calories. Obesity in dogs is common and dangerous, so it’s important to help your puppy maintain a healthy weight throughout his life to help avoid complications later on. Check the suggested feeding amount on the back of the bag of dog food and stick within that range to know how much to feed your dog. You can also create your growing pup’s blend of Just Right® by Purina® – instead of a range, your puppy’s blend will include a recommended feeding amount measured out both in cups and daily calories that’s specifically personalized to his needs.

Don’t know how to tell if your dog is over or underweight? This quick and easy video shows you how to assess your dog’s weight from the comfort of your home.

 

Get the proper nutrition from the start

Since your large breed puppy is still growing, his puppy food should take into consideration the appropriate amounts of nutrients he needs to thrive. For example, while calcium is widely known to promote bone health in humans, this mineral can potentially cause damage to your puppy’s skeletal development when consumed in excess. Your dog will be able to process calcium much better once he grows into his adult body, so leave the calcium supplements on the shelf. (And by feeding a 100% complete and balanced diet offered through Purina throughout your dog’s life, there is no need to add vitamins, minerals, or other supplements unless specifically instructed by your veterinarian.)

Your puppy’s bones and muscles are still developing and can’t support excessive body weight, so veterinarians also recommend limiting his fat intake. Too much weight too fast could lead to bone, joint, and other health problems later in his life.

When should my large breed puppy start eating adult food?

Large breed dogs should generally make the transition from puppy food to adult food around two years of age. This is when his activity and growth level is starting to normalize and his adult needs are developing. (Smaller dogs tend to make this transition at about one year old, and toy dogs even earlier.) Before you do make a change to your dog’s diet, it’s always a good idea to talk to your veterinarian first.

Your dog will have unique nutritional needs that are different at every stage of his life. That’s why Just Right® by Purina® works with you to personalize his blend of food that’s complete and balanced every step of the way. By creating your puppy’s ideal blend and updating it when he’s ready for the next life stage, you’ll help your new life together start off on the right paw.