Nutritional Needs of Large Breed Puppies (What You Need to Know)

Contrary to popular belief, not all puppies function the same way. They have different growth patterns, different bodily structures, and even differing temperaments. Thus, their nutritional needs also differ from one another.

Most people are unaware that puppies and adult dogs cannot be fed the same type of food. Puppies are still growing and are vulnerable to different adversities as opposed to their adult counterparts.

Large breed puppies are often preferred due to their size. They almost resemble an adult dog which makes them oh so desirable for hunting and guarding purposes.

However, just because they look like an adult does not take away from the fact that they are in fact a puppy and need adequate care for proper growth.

They have special nutritional needs and that’s what we’ll discuss in this article.

Growing Puppy Playing

Proper Growth Rate of a Large Breed Puppy

To make sure your pup grows healthy, first ensure they’re abiding by a large breed’s proper growth rate.

First and foremost, remember that the growth of muscles and bones are directly related. If bones grow faster than the muscles, it can weaken joints, causing skeletal malformations.

Large breed puppies grow very fast. This is why they should be devoid of excess nutrition as it stresses their bones and joints. Thus, it’s absolutely vital to regularly keep your pup’s weight in check.

During the transition from baby food to more mature food, the digestive system of a puppy is still sensitive and undeveloped. Thus, they are unable to eat in large proportions and digest starchy food.

Instead, feeding your dog with moderately rich calcium supplements is an astute choice. A homemade diet with meat and vegetables is a good choice. Remember, however, excessive calcium can cause joint malformations.

Three Puppies Eating Out Of The Same Bowl

Appropriate Nutritional Diet for Large Breed Puppies

Dietary requirements of puppies depend on their sizes. Most puppies need high energy food due to their constant mobility and agility.

However, it’s also important to have proper regulation, as excessive high energy food can lead to obesity.

Like almost any healthy diet, puppies too require a diet consisting of calcium, protein, carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals. Below we talk about the most significant ones:

1. Calcium

In comparison to adult dogs, puppies require more calcium in order to build stronger bones. However, unlike adult dogs, puppies cannot modify the amount of calcium they absorb. They have the tendency to absorb it all.

Phosphorus is also important with calcium for bone development. The phosphorus: calcium ratio should be around 1:1 or 3:1.

However, make sure the calcium intake of your large breed puppy does not cross 3%. Excessive calcium can cause significant skeletal abnormalities and a deficiency in other nutrients like phosphorus.

2. Protein 

Like humans, dogs require protein for healthy muscles, bones, skin, and cartilage. Puppies, however, need more of it than their adult counterparts.

Like Calcium, the protein content in a puppy’s food need to be regulated since an excess of it can cause a disparity of calcium and phosphorus, adversely affecting the skeletal formation.

The recommended protein level depends on the nature of the source. The higher the biological value of the source, the more it will be assimilated.

3. Energy 

There’s a myth that puppies should be fed as much food from as early as possible to instill rapid growth. But that’s not true at all.

Large breed puppies or any puppy for that matter loses and gains energy much more than an adult dog. But that does not mean they can be fed anything and everything.

Their dietary choices must always be kept in check. In fact, for evaluating healthy growth, assessing the body condition score is far more effective than measuring body weight.

The body condition score of puppies should be evaluated every 2 weeks, and their diets should be modified accordingly for optimum nutrition.

Because overfeeding puppies can decrease their longevity and weaken their joints and cartilage.

Key Points to Remember

  • Puppies under 6 months old: Feed them 3 times daily. Let them consume whatever they want for a limited period of time.
  • Puppies that are 6 months and older: Feed them 2 times daily. Let them consume, again whatever they want for a limited period of time.
  • The optimum body condition score for large breed puppies is about 4/5 out of 9. If your puppy meets this score, then they are growing at a desired rate.
  • When choosing a commercial food for your pup, ensure it has optimal levels of calcium, fat, and protein. As this ideal mixture is hard to find, try consulting your trusted veterinarian before buying.

What to Look for When Buying Large Breed Puppy Food?

As mentioned countless times above, puppies need distinctive food and nutrition for adequate growth.

Thus, as responsible dog owners, it’s important to carry out a thorough research on the necessary criteria to follow while purchasing quality large breed puppy food. Here are some points to consider:

1. Protein and Calcium level  

Always make sure the calcium level is not excessive. This can weaken their joint and bone development. Try to ensure that protein is the main ingredient in your pup food.

Proteins are building blocks of our body and is vital for our body development. Make what you buy has whole protein like chicken, beef or so on and not cheap substitutes like whole grain.

However, try avoiding unidentified meat meals and by-products no matter how much your dog loves it. An unidentified source should never be trusted.

2. Presence of High Antioxidant and Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Vegetables like kale, carrots, and blueberries are high in antioxidants and will ensure a good immune system for your pup.

Salmon and essential oils like flax-seed, coconut, and hemp oil stimulate your pup’s mental capacity and nourish their skin and coat conditions. They also make them less vulnerable to infections and swellings.

3. Choose the Best Source  

No matter how good the ingredients of your pup food are, if the manufacturing process is bad, there’s hardly any point in investing in them.

Human food too contains artificial colors and additives today. So, it’s obvious so do most dog foods. Although they might make the food tastier, they can have chronic side effects.

Thus, always choose reliable sources. Food manufactured in North American or European countries are most trustworthy due to their strict safety standards regulated by their governing bodies.

So, trying giving your large breed puppy the best food possible as any kind of nutritional imbalance can make them susceptible to diseases like hip dysplasia, Panosteitis, Osteochondritis dissecans, Wobbler syndrome and so on.

Final Thoughts

So, these are the basic points you need to bear in mind to meet the nutritional requirements of your large breed puppy.

Always feed them with the best and try keeping them physically active as much as possible.

Remember to check their body condition score from time to time and modify their diet accordingly.

About the Author: Shawn is a content writer at FeedFond. He’s a doting father not only to his two children but also to his two Golden Retrievers. Check out more of his articles at

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