The Nutritional Needs of Large and Giant Dog Breeds

It’s no surprise that any dog extraordinary in size and stature has unique dietary needs. But those precise needs might look different than you’d imagine. In order to ensure your dog can perform at its peak, it’s important to choose a recipe that matches their breed size.

Large breeds, classified as dogs who weigh between 51 and 90 pounds as full-grown adults, include German Shepherds, Bernese Mountain Dogs, and Great Danes, among many others. Dogs that weigh over 90 pounds at maturity are often considered giant breeds. Included in this designation are the St. Bernard, Newfoundland, and the Giant Mastiff.

Considerations for Large-Breed Puppies

Throughout all life stages, large and giant breed dogs have different nutritional requirements compared to small and medium breeds. As puppies, bigger breeds grow quicker and over a longer period of time. Consequently, large breed puppy diets should contain lower levels of energy and protein. With the wrong type of food, large and giant breeds will grow faster than their bones can support them, causing orthopedic issues. Furthermore, bones that grow too fast are less dense, which can lead to long-term issues.

For example, if large and giant breed puppies have a diet with a protein/fat ratio of 30/20, they could have excess levels of calcium and phosphorous. These are essential in certain quantities, but too much will negatively affect bone and joint development. This could potentially lead to bone disease and other orthopedic problems later on in life.

A recipe like Nutrena's Puppy Large Breed Chicken & Brown Rice Recipe, on the other hand, has a protein/fat ratio of 26/14 and optimal levels of calcium and phosphorous to support a slower growth rate so that their skeleton has time to develop enough strength to support their greater weight. And Nutrena's Puppy Large Breed Recipe contains natural sources of glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate which support healthy joints.

Keep in mind, too, that while some small breed puppies are fully grown at nine months, it can take up to 18 to 24 months for large and giant breeds to mature. That means you’ll need to keep your larger breed dogs on puppy food longer than your small and medium breeds.

Considerations for Maturing Dogs

As dogs mature, nutritional concerns shift to weight management and joint health. As the dietary differences remain between small and large breeds into adulthood, the path to get there is also different. Compared to smaller breeds, large breeds require fewer calories per pound, so they need a less nutrient- and energy-dense diet.

It’s especially important for joint health and longevity that they consume a recipe that meets their needs without creating weight management issues. Overweight adult dogs can develop a number of health issues including joint problems, osteoarthritis, and diabetes, among many others. Look for a recipe that has L-carnitine to help burn fat and support a healthy weight, and which includes Glucosamine and Chondroitin Sulfate to support joint health. Nutrena's Adult Large Breed Chicken & Brown Rice Recipe has all of these ingredients, as well as guaranteed levels of Omega-6 and Omega-3 fatty acids to support coat and skin health. For dogs with protein sensitivities, their Adult Large Breed Lamb Meal & Brown Rice Recipe is a great option.

Whether your large breed is young or old, protecting livestock, herding, or doing a little bit of everything, they need a diet that helps them perform at their best. Be sure to visit one of our stores for great values on these and other quality pet products. Our friendly staff with be happy to take care of you!



NOTE: This post is adapted (with permission) from content proudly brought to you by our partners at Nutrena and Cargill Animal Nutrition. The original article appears here.

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