Feeding Large Breed Puppies

Choosing the best large breed puppy food — and feeding it in the right amount — can significantly lower your dog’s risk of developing hip dysplasia.

That’s because the nutritional needs of large and giant breed puppies are different from those of small and medium breeds.

And ignoring those needs can lead to crippling bone and joint disorders like:

·        Elbow dysplasia2

·        Osteochondrosis (OCD)

·        Canine hip dysplasia (CHD)

·        Developmental orthopedic disease (DOD)

Why Large Breeds Are
at Greater Risk

Large breed puppies are those whose adult weight will ultimately exceed 50 pounds.

When compared to smaller breeds, two important factors about the way they grow make large breed puppies more prone to skeletal problems:


1.       They grow faster

2.       They remain puppies longer

Unlike smaller breeds that can be fed as adults at about 9-12 months, many larger breeds continue to grow and can still be considered puppies until 12 to 24 months.

Rapid growth means the bones must change quickly — a factor that can put them at risk of forming improperly.

And it is this remarkable rate of growth that makes large and giant breeds so sensitive to nutritional imbalances.


No evidence exists to link high protein intake to skeletal disease in large breed dogs.

So, if high protein isn’t the problem — what is?

The Real Causes
of Hip Dysplasia in Dogs

If you exclude all the less common factors, orthopedic disease in large breeds appears to be the result of at least one of 3 proven causes:

·        Genetics

·        Overfeeding

·        Excessive dietary calcium


So, since after birth there’s nothing you can do to change your puppy’s genetics

It’s important to avoid over nutrition — feeding too many calories or too much calcium — to help lower your dog’s risk of hip dysplasia.

Calcium Guidelines

Fortunately, there’s general agreement among the experts. To meet AAFCO nutrient profiles for growth in large breed puppies, a dog food must (on a dry matter basis) contain:


·        1.2 to 1.8% calcium

·        to 1.6% phosphorus

·        Calcium-to-phosphorus ratio 1:1 to 1.8:1


However, for some higher calorie foods, the above percentage guidelines may not apply.


Recommended Large Breed Puppy Foods

Calcium-to-phosphorus ratio

Tucker’s Frozen Raw 

1.41 : 1 to 1.51 : 1

Primal Frozen Raw

1.06 : 1 to 1.55 : 1

Orijen Large Breed Puppy

1.18 : 1.0

Nature’s Variety Instinct Raw Boost Large Breed Puppy

1.2 : 1.0

Nutrisource Large Breed Puppy GF

1.22 : 1.0

Nutrisource Large Breed Puppy (w/ grains)

1.2 : 1.0

Acana Heritage Puppy & Junior GF

1.2 : 1.0

Fromm Gold Large Breed Puppy

1.42 :1.0

Fromm GF Large Breed Puppy

1.52 :1