Top 10 Large Breed Dog Foods

By Betty Lewis

Determining a top 10 list for any kind of pet food is an invitation to debate. There's wide disagreement among veterinarians, pet owners and animal nutritionists about what's "best" for dogs when it comes to diets. If your dog is a large or giant breed dog, it's accepted that he should eat a diet that meets his special size requirements. Other than that, choosing the best food will depend on his age and health.

Covering the Basics

No matter how big or small your dog is, he and his canine cousins have the same basic nutritional needs: protein for muscle building and maintenance, carbohydrates for energy, fiber for digestive tract health and vitamins and minerals for overall good development and health. Though dogs have the same basic needs, the variation in size and age can make a big difference in what they eat and when they eat it.

Size and Age Matter

Metabolism and growth rate vary widely according to dog breed and size; a small dog has a much higher metabolism and reaches adulthood faster than his large and giant breed counterparts. Age matters too when you're figuring out what to feed your dog. As a puppy, he'll require more protein than he will when he's fully grown to fuel his growth and build strong bones and muscle. When he reaches senior status, you'll need to watch his diet to keep obesity at bay and to deal with any health issues that may have developed during the course of his life.

Putting it All Together

Feeding your dog a diet that's appropriate for his size and age is the best way to ensure he'll grow properly. Though it sounds odd, there's such a thing as too much too fast -- any puppy can grow too quickly, laying the groundwork for orthopedic problems as he ages, but large breed dogs are especially at risk if they're not fed correctly. Dr. Karen Becker of states that the key to feeding a large or giant breed dog is to control his growth and keep him lean. She recommends feeding a large breed puppy a formula specially developed for large breed puppies or approved for all life stages; traditional puppy food may have too much protein for your large breed dog, resulting in too much growth too fast -- maximum, but not optimal growth.

The Best Food

After you've determined what size and age range of food your dog should be eating, put on your reading glasses and look at dog food labels. Take a pass on any food that lists corn as its first ingredient. Ideally, the best food will have some sort of meat, such as chicken, lamb or duck, as its first ingredient. Dr. T.J. Dunn Jr. of PetMD advises to look for omega fatty acid and vitamin E or C preservatives. Dunn notes supplements, such as calcium, can be harmful, so proceed with caution because again, more isn't always better. He warns that food coloring should be avoided. If you're confused about what you should feed your large breed dog, discuss your dog's health with your vet to help you learn what to look for and what to avoid.