Got a loveable lap dog who weighs 50lbs or more? Then you’re likely no stranger to the joys of a large breed dog as your companion. With their loving personalities and reputations for being great family dogs, it’s no wonder that large breed dogs like Labradors, Boxers, and German Shepherds are some of the most popular dogs today. The right nutrition plays a key role in helping large breed dogs live their longest, happiest life possible. Here’s how to find the best large breed dog food throughout his life.

The Best Large Breed Dog Food at Every Life Stage

Nutrition for a Large Breed Puppy

Unlike smaller breeds who graduate to adulthood after about one year of age, large breed dogs are considered puppies through their first two years. During this period of growth, the best large breed puppy food will have these three factors:

  1. Complete & balanced for a puppy’s unique requirements – Puppies, especially large breed pups, need a delicate balance of nutrients to promote healthy, steady growth, especially when it comes to calcium and fat. Excessive calcium in a diet can lead to bone damage, while too much fat (and putting on weight too rapidly) puts undue stress on developing bones and joints...which could lead to abnormalities and disease later on. Thankfully, you don’t have to calculate this yourself; instead, look for a food that’s 100% complete and balanced and formulated specifically for a large breed puppy.
  2. Contains DHA – DHA is a nutrient that helps support healthy brain and vision development in puppies. It’s an absolute must for a growing pup!
  3. Appropriate daily feeding instructions – Just because your puppy might look around eagerly for his next meal doesn’t necessarily mean he’s hungry! Don’t fall for his tricks – stick to the daily feeding instructions to help him maintain an ideal body condition throughout his life. Feeding the right amount of food for steady growth can help prevent excessive weight gain and help avoid weight-related complications down the line. (Bonus points if those feeding instructions are calculated to the calorie for your puppy’s weight, activity level, and more!)

Want more? Read our in-depth article about feeding your large breed puppy

Nutrition for Adult Large Breed Dogs

After a large breed puppy reaches his 2nd birthday, it’s time to make the switch to adult dog food. Even if he still has a lot of his puppy-like energy, his activity and growth level will begin to normalize in his adult years. As large breed dogs grow into their adult bodies, it’s important to find a dog food that’s 100% complete and balanced: preferably one that’s formulated for your dog’s age, breed size, and activity level. The best large breed dog food should be calculated appropriately for his new metabolic rate and help support his bones and joints. Nutritional support for skin and coat health, digestion, and more are cherries on top when it comes to helping your large breed dog live happy and healthy.

Nutrition for Large Breed Seniors

Around age 7, a dog officially earns senior status. His metabolism and activity level both slow down, which means he’ll need fewer calories from his food every day to keep him going strong. Senior dogs can be prone to weight gain, so it’s crucial that his meals are based on his caloric needs, not on how many bowls of food or table scraps he can devour.

But activity level isn’t the only thing changing in a dog’s senior body. The best dog food for large breed senior dogs will also need to support his joint health (look for ingredients like calcium, glucosamine & Omega-3 fatty acids), keep his skin and coat hydrated (thanks to vitamins A and E and Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids), support a healthy immune system (hello, vitamin C!), and help maintain strong muscles with more protein to help combat the loss of lean muscle mass.

Check out “What Do I Need to Know About Senior Dog Food?” for more!

Finding the Best Large Breed Dog Food

Your large breed dog will have 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. When you tell us information like activity level, current body condition, age, and even flavor preference, we recommend a complete and balanced blend of dog food tailored for your large dog’s nutritional needs.

Sound good? Then let’s get started creating your dog’s ideal blend of food.

Create a Blend | Just Right by Purina

BONUS READS: Want to learn more? Check out our articles on the best exercise for a large breed dog & what breed size-related ailments may affect your dog.