Importance of Large Breed Puppy Food – Dog Nutrition


Your large breed puppy has special nutritional needs that make it important for him to eat food formulated specifically for his size. Learn more about what makes this food different and how you can give your dog the best nutrition.

Benefits of Large Breed Dog Food

If you have a large breed puppy or adult dog, it’s important to consider the benefits of a food formula designed specifically for large breeds. These foods focus on balanced nutrition for growing puppies and adults, benefitting a large dog’s immune system, bone strength, heart health, and more. Pet owners who want to give their dog the best nutrition available should understand the difference between standard food and large breed food so they can make an informed decision for their dog’s diet.

Large breed food emphasizes nutritional balance to support a big dog’s overall health. This involves focusing on the following:

  • High-quality protein
  • Beneficial fatty acids
  • Fiber
  • Vitamin D
  • Lower energy density
  • Reduced calcium and phosphorus

Large breed food aims to give puppies a properly-balanced diet so that they grow up healthy and strong.

What is Considered a Large Breed Dog?

The cut-off weight for what breeds are considered “large” varies from source to source, but this category includes many popular breeds, including Labrador retrievers, great Danes, bulldogs, and standard poodles. Some of these breeds can weigh 150 pounds or more. From puppies to adults, large breed food helps these dogs grow strong and healthy by emphasizing some ingredients and limiting others.

Large Breed Food Nutrition

On the surface, you’ll notice that large breed dry food comes in larger pieces of kibble. It’s simply more comfortable for dogs with bigger mouths to eat bigger kibble. However, the more important differences are inside the food. Large breed food aims to control the balance of nutrients in a dog’s diet so that he grows and develops at the right speed. Puppies of all sizes grow rapidly in their first twelve to eighteen months. A large breed puppy might grow to be eighty pounds or more in one year—that’s much faster than humans!

Controlling the rapid growth of large breed puppies requires special attention—this is where large breed food is important. Commercial large breed foods, such as AvoDerm® Large Breed Formula, contain different amounts of certain nutrients and minerals than regular dog foods. Using a food formulated for large breeds takes the guesswork out of nutrition for your dog.

Protein is important for many functions of a healthy canine body. It’s a source of energy and helps maintain a strong immune system. And, just like in humans, it helps build muscles by providing essential amino acids.

Large breed foods feature a whole protein, such as chicken, beef, pork or fish, as their first ingredient. Whole proteins contain the highest levels of usable protein—that is, protein that’s easily digested and contains all ten essential amino acids. Chicken (specifically the cartilage) contains an additional benefit: glucosamine and chondroitin, two compounds that it contains, promote strong joints in growing puppies and adult dogs.

Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids are both beneficial nutrients that are present in large breed dog foods. These fats will promote healthy skin and a soft, shiny coat for your canine best friend. They also support a healthy cardiovascular system. Fish oils and avocados are rich sources of Omega-3 fatty acids while flaxseed oil is a major source of Omega-6 fatty acids.

High quality large breed foods also contain slightly increased amounts of fiber from plant-based ingredients. Fruits, such as avocados, and vegetables are great natural sources of this nutrient. Fiber contributes to regular digestion and helps maintain a healthy weight.

Vitamin D3 is also important to a canine diet. Large breed dog foods contain this vitamin because dogs don’t produce enough of it naturally. Vitamin D regulates how much calcium dogs absorb in their kidneys and intestines.

It’s important for puppies to avoid overnutrition and excess energy intake, especially during the first few months of their rapid growth. In addition to providing the necessary amounts of protein, fatty acids, fiber, vitamin D and the other nutrients puppies need as they grow, large breed dog food also controls the energy density of the food.

Large breed puppies also have a higher capacity for nutrient digestion than smaller breeds, so foods formulated for their size limit calories and fat content. Dietary fat in large breed foods is reduced to about 12% from 20% in regular foods. This also lowers the overall energy density of the food. Reducing calories in this way helps prevent overfeeding (Lauten).

Large breed formulas control the amount of calcium your dog takes in to ensure that his bones grow at the correct rate. In puppies from 3 to 5 months old, growth is at its fastest. Feeding your puppy large breed food will help his bones grow strong.

Phosphorus, an essential mineral, is also slightly reduced in large breed foods. The balance between phosphorus and calcium is important because they work together to maintain the skeletal system. The recommended ratio of calcium to phosphorus is between 1:1 and 2:1. Large breed foods make it easy to make sure your dog is getting the right amount of calcium and phosphorus.

Large puppy nutrition is all about controlling portion size and nutrient intake. Large breed food addresses the specific needs of bigger dogs by balancing nutrients to support healthy growth. As he grows and develops, your dog will benefit from the proper nutritional balance in food formulated for his size.

Other Tips For Raising A Large Breed Dog

In addition to feeding your dog high-quality large breed food, there are some tips you can follow to give him the best nutrition for a healthy body.

  1. Portions and schedule: Feeding him several smaller meals per day helps to overeat and establishes a schedule. Free feeding is not recommended because your dog won’t realize he’s overeating.
  2. Talk to a vet: Discuss the caloric needs of your dog with a vet. They’ll help you create the optimal feeding plan.
  3. Regular exercise: Lots of playful exercises is good for dogs of all sizes and ages! But avoid excessive exercise right after your dog has eaten.

AvoDerm® Large Breed Dog Food

Why is AvoDerm® Large Breed food the best for your dog? It contains all of the essential and beneficial nutrients to keep him healthy, including Omega fatty acids from avocados. With 26% protein from chicken, plus antioxidants and fiber, AvoDerm® Large Breed food is created specially for strong bones and joints. Plus, it doesn’t contain wheat, corn or artificial flavors, so it’s ideal for dogs with food sensitivities.

Large breed dogs are lovable and loyal and they deserve the best nutrition. Giving your dog food that’s specifically formulated for his size is the best way to help him grow up to be healthy and happy.


Chelsee. “Become a Pro at Protein: Understanding Protein For Dogs.” Redbarn Blog, Redbarn Pet Products, 9 July 2018.

Lauten, Susan D. “Nutritional Risks to Large-Breed Dogs: From Weaning to the Geriatric Years.” Veterinary Clinics of North America: Small Animal Practice, vol. 36, no. 6, 2006, pp. 1345–1359.

Mansourian, Erika. “Feeding Your Puppy: Full Guide & Timeline.” AKC, American Kennel Club, 16 June 2016.

“The Best Sources of Protein for Pets.” Chewy, Chewy, 24 July 2018.

“What Are the Benefits of Large Breed Puppy Foods?” Pet Valu, Pet Valu. AvoDerm is a registered trademark of Central Garden & Pet Company.

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