Large breed dogs require food specifically formulated for their size to prevent nutrition-influenced developmental diseases. Most common health problems in large dogs that stem from improperly balanced diet include obesity and muskoskeletal, developmental orthopedic diseases. A good large breed dog food brand will give your big dog the right balance of phosphorus and calcium to prevent these conditions.

Large dogs age faster, are generally prone to more health problems, and feeding a large breed dog is more complex than it is with small or medium breeds. Big dogs are more sensitive to some nutrients and require a very specific balance of protein, amino acids, calcium and phosphorus.

In this article, we'll discuss how to feed a large breed dog, what nutrition is required based on most current research, and take a look at the best large breed dog food brands for adult and senior dogs.

How to Feed a Large Breed Dog

Note: Remember that no article can replace a consultation with a veterinarian or a certified canine nutritionist. For an appropriate advice on how to feed a large dogs and top dog food brands, make sure that you consult with a professional.

Large breed dogs, whether puppies or adults, have individual nutritional needs that must be met to a tee, and they differ from those of small dogs or medium breed dogs. While several factors can be affected by proper nutrition in large breeds and giant breeds, the most important one is bone growth (Dammrich, 1991).

Many studies have shown that in large dogs and giant dogs, improper nutrition that's mostly related to phosphorus and calcium intake can result in poor skeletal development and diseases. While majority of articles online focus on feeding large breed puppies only, it's just as important for adult giant dogs and senior large dogs in their geriatric years, according to studies (Lauten, 2006).

It's been shown how large breed puppies (and giant dogs in general) have a tendency to faster growth when compared to their medium or small breed counterparts. This ultimately puts a lot of stress on their joints and skeletal structure, which can then result in several health problems if not addressed with proper nutrition both in puppyhood, adulthood and their senior years (Larsen, 2010).

How to Pick the Best Large Breed Dog Food Brand

The two most important factors are energy (calories) and nutrient profile (specifically, phosphorus and calcium). This is what differs large breed dog foods from other formulas. The amount and type of nutrients an adult giant dog gets must match their age, activity level, breed, size and metabolism to avoid health complications as they advance in age.

All dogs need adequate levels of protein to support their growing needs and body functions, and meat is the best source for this. However, animal-derived protein also contains high levels of calcium and phosphorous, which must be kept in controlled levels and ratio for giant breeds.

Most pet owners are unable to figure out proper ratios by themselves. It's not impossible, but makes for an extremely complicated process of daily cooking and measuring of food to hit your big dog's exact nutritional needs. This is why finding the best large dog food brand is typically recommended by veterinarians.

The Best Large Breed Dog Food Brands

1Grain-Free Yukon River Salmon and Sweet Potato
by Victor Dog Food

Rating5 stars
Value: $2.3/lb

VICTOR Super Premium Dog Food – Grain Free Yukon...
  • FROM PUPPY TO ADULT: Suitable...
  • MADE IN THE USA: We proudly...

Guaranteed Analysis
CRUDE FAT 15.0% min
CRUDE FIBER 3.8% max
MOISTURE 9.0% max
CALORIES 398 kcal/cup

Our top recommendation would be this high-protein, low-fat formulation from Victor Dog Food.  It meets the nutritional standards set by AAFCO and contains 33% protein and 15% fat. About 76% of its protein content comes from animal-sourced protein, mainly salmon and menhaden fish meal, while 24% comes from plant sources like peas and alfalfa. It is non-GMO and does not contain corn, gluten, soy or wheat.

This first dry dog food for large breeds recipe includes sweet potatoes as the source of carbohydrates. A cup of this formula contains 398 kcal. Victor Dog Food Grain-Free Yukon River Canine Salmon and Sweet Potato is available in packs of 5, 15 and 30 pounds. Pet owners searching for grain-free and GMO-free dog food decided on this product because they were satisfied with its ingredients list, it’s made in USA by a respectable dog food company, its single-meat protein source is fish which is less fatty that pork or beef, and it had good reviews about reducing allergies.

Indeed, the instances of skin irritations and stomach upsets were much reduced, and dogs loved their Victor large breed dog food. Their owners are understandably very happy and find no reason to shop for other brands. The 30-lb bag costs about the same as half this size of a popular brand.


  • Meets the nutritional standards set by AAFCO
  • Contains 33% protein and 15% fat
  • 76% of the protein content comes from animal-sourced protein, while the other 24% comes from plant sources
  • Non-GMO
  • Contains no corn, gluten, wheat or soy
  • Made in the USA

  • Some dogs won't like the taste of this brand


2Family Foods Gold Nutritionals Food
by Fromm

Rating5 stars
Value: $1.6/lb

Fromm Adult Gold Large Breed Formula Dry Dog Food
  • Large Breed 50+
  • Added cartilage to support...
  • Real Wisconsin cheese Viable...
  • Optimum omega fatty acids...
  • Made in the USA in a...

Guaranteed Analysis
CRUDE FAT 12.0% min
CRUDE FIBER 3.5% max
MOISTURE 10.0% max
CALORIES 378 kcal/cup

Fromm Family Foods Gold Large Breed Adult dog food was carefully formulated to respond to this special category of dogs. Daily feeding recommendations are based on the dog’s weight, but it is the responsibility of the owner to adjust the appropriate amount after consideration of the dog’s activity level and metabolic rate. This is one of the best large breed dog foods that's also very affordable for pet owners.

This second product meets the AAFCO requirements for dog food nutrients and contains 23% protein and 12% fat. Its ingredients list includes duck, chicken meal, chicken, brown and white rice, eggs, menhaden fish meal, cheddar cheese, lamb, potatoes, carrots, lettuce, probiotics, salmon oil, alfalfa, and brewer’s dried yeast. Fromm Family Foods Gold Nutritionals Dog Food calorie content is 378 kcal per cup. A 70-lb adult dog is usually fed 3-4 cups of this food per day.

A quick inspection of the ingredients on Fromm large breed dog food immediately brings a mental image of a very delicious meal that gets pet owners licking and sends them placing their order. Those looking for natural and real food in their dog’s food couldn’t be any happier with Fromm. They must love dogs so much because it shows in their choice of ingredients that they use in every product. Dogs love the taste, but that’s not really surprising. For all this wholesomeness and yumminess, this 33-lb bag actually costs way, way lower than most junks out there.


  • Meets the AAFCO requirements for dog food nutrients
  • Contains 23% protein and 12% fat
  • Specifically formulated for large dogs weighing over 50 pounds
  • Corn, wheat and by-product free
  • Made in the USA

  • Some dogs with food allergies had a bad reaction to this food


3Fresh Grain Free Large Breed Food
by Now

Rating5 stars
Value: $3.4/lb

Petcurean Now Fresh Large Breed Adult Dog Food (25...
  • Balanced proteins and fats to...
  • Omega oils to promote skin and...
  • Antioxidants to support...

Guaranteed Analysis
CRUDE FAT 13.0% min
CRUDE FIBER 3.0% max
MOISTURE 10.0% max
CALCIUM 1.1% min
CALORIES 363 kcal/cup

Now Fresh Grain-free Large Breed dog food is formulated to ensure optimal levels of protein and fats. Calcium and phosphorous levels are kept at a safe ratio to make sure that they continue to be beneficial and cause no harm to bone development and kidney functions. This third rated brand contains 27% protein, 13% fat, glucosamine and chondroitin for bone and joint health, omega 3 and 6, L-carnitine, and taurine, and provides 363 kcal per cup.

Less dense dog food, meaning food with lower kcal/cup, is actually beneficial for large breed dogs. Remember that large breeds grow very fast and continue growing longer than small breeds of the same age do. They also have slower metabolic rates than the small breeds. Thus, feeding them with food that is not so calorie-dense, like Now Fresh Grain Free Large Breed Dog Food, prevents the onset of obesity and other related diseases.

According to dog owners, their dogs respond well to Now large breed dog food. Their dogs seem to have more energy than before, and their allergies have vanished. They picked this brand over another because this is grain-free and their dogs react badly to grains. The first three ingredients of Now Fresh are turkey, salmon, and duck, and it contains no rendered meat, by-products, or grains. Pet owners also like that this food comes in larger kibbles because most of the grain-free brands they find when shopping are pea-sized or smaller in size.


  • Formulated to ensure optimal levels of protein and fats
  • Contains 27% protein and 13% fat
  • Grain free
  • Contains no rendered meat, by-products, gluten, wheat, corn or soy

  • More expensive than many of the other top rated foods for large dogs


4Wild Prairie Regional Formula for Large Breeds
by Acana

Rating4 half stars
Value: $4.2/lb

Acana Regionals Wild Prairie Cat & Kitten Trial...
  • For all breeds and life stages
  • Rich in protein
  • Grain free
  • 70% chicken, turkey, fish, and...
  • 30% fresh fruits and...

Guaranteed Analysis
CRUDE FAT 17.0% min
CRUDE FIBER 6.0% max
MOISTURE 12.0% max
CALCIUM 1.1% min
CALORIES 396 kcal/cup

The makers of this diet from Acana take pride in their product’s well-balanced nutrition and regionally-sourced wholesome ingredients. This fourth best large breed dog food brand is made from chicken, turkey and eggs sourced from local Canadian prairie farms and wild walleye and trout caught from the cold northern lakes of Canada. This matches a large breed dog’s high protein and low carb and fat requirements.

This food has adequate levels of omega 3 and 6, glucosamine and chondroitin, DHA and EPA, vitamins, minerals, and amino acids. Its calcium to phosphorous ratio is kept at a level that’s beneficial and safe. Acana Wild Prairie Dog Food rRegional Formula is 70% meat and 30% fruits and vegetables. This brand is calorie-packed at 462 kcal per cup, 36% of which comes from protein, 24% from vegetables and fruits, and 40% from fat.

Acana large breed dog food is a high-end grain-free formula and according to pet owners it’s among the cheapest in that elite category. They would have opted for much cheaper brands but their picky dogs kept having health issues with other brands that it’s just not worth the shift. Most of these dog owners have been erstwhile patrons of Acana. They are so pleased with how well their dogs react to it and how they are visibly growing healthy because of it. They are very satisfied that it contains only real food – from premium sources at that – and no artificial ingredients.


  • Formulated for all breeds and life stages
  • Sourced from local Canadian ingredients
  • 70% meat and 30% fruits and vegetables
  • Grain-free

  • Some pet owners report that their dog suffered from digestive upset and serious health concerns including anal leakage and severe diarrhea after switching to this food


5Life Protection Dry Dog Food for Large Dogs
by Blue Buffalo

Rating4 half stars
Value: $1.5/lb

Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula Natural Adult...
4,884 Reviews
Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula Natural Adult...
  • REAL MEAT FIRST: Blue Buffalo...
  • Contains one (1) 30 lb. Bag of...

Guaranteed Analysis
CRUDE FAT 14.0% min
CRUDE FIBER 5.0% max
MOISTURE 10.0% max
CALCIUM 1.0% min
CALORIES 378 kcal/cup

Blue Buffalo Large Breed Chicken & Brown Rice, the fifth top rated large breed dog food brand, is made from deboned chicken, brown rice, barley, and other fruits and vegetables. There are three other variations specially formulated for large breed adult dogs – Fish & Oatmeal, Lamb & Brown Rice, and a chicken variation for healthy weight. The nutritional analysis for this formula shows 24% protein and 14% fat. The calcium to phosphorous ratio is within the ideal proportion. Each cup of this dog food provides 378 kcal.

This Blue Buffalo food is perfect in helping dogs develop lean and healthy muscles and providing the energy needed for an active lifestyle. Blue Buffalo Life Protection Dry Adult Dog Food has sufficient levels of glucosamine and chondroitin to prevent joint diseases, omega 3 and 6 to promote healthy skin and coat, and vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants to strengthen the immune system.

A common observation with this dog food is that it does not make dogs grow overly fast, which is really a good thing for large breed dogs. Dog owners say that when fed Blue Buffalo large breed dog food their dogs instead have lean, well-defined muscles, nice-looking and easy-to-pick stools, shiny coat and lesser instances of itching, healthy tummies, and fewer incidents of sensitivities.


  • Contains 24% protein and 14% fat
  • De-boned chicken is the first ingredient
  • No poultry by-product meals, corn, wheat, soy, artificial colors, flavors or preservatives
  • Added glucosamine and chondroitin for joint health

  • Be careful when ordering online, as some pet owners who purchased this say that there were bugs in the food when they received it


6Life Stages Dry Food for Puppies, Adults & Seniors

Rating4 half stars
Value: $1.5/lb

Canidae All Life Stages Premium Dry Dog Food for...
  • Contains 1- 30 Lb. Bag of...
  • Nutritionally dense kibble...
  • Complete and balanced goodness...
  • Formulated with antioxidants...
  • Canidae is creating a world of...

Guaranteed Analysis
CRUDE FAT 13.0% min
CRUDE FIBER 5.0% max
MOISTURE 10.0% max
CALCIUM 1.20% min
PHOSPHORUS 1.00% min
CALORIES 376 kcal/cup

The Large Breed variation of Canidae All Life Stages sixth recommended large breed dog food brand for adult and seniors dogs is vet-formulated. It contains turkey meal, brown rice, peas, a long list of fruits and vegetables, and a source of live naturally-occurring microorganisms. So this dog food provides healthy levels of protein, fats, and carbohydrates, and is rich in vitamins and minerals, LA and ALA, calcium and phosphorous, glucosamine and chondroitin, prebiotics and probiotics.

Canidae's food nutrient analysis shows 23% protein and 13% fats at the minimum, and it contains 376 kcal per cup. The calcium to phosphorous ratio in Canidae Life Stages Dry Dog Food for Puppies, Adults & Seniors is 1.2:1, which is within ideal limits. Pet owners who purcahsed this recipe were happy to find that it was gentle on their dog's stomach. This is important for them to avoid having to experiment with other brands and risk making their dogs sick again.

The most visible and immediate change that pet owners observed when shifting their dogs to this Canidae large breed dog food was the disappearance of skin allergies and issues in the digestive system, such as excessive gas and bloating. Skin allergies cleared up in just a week in this diet. They also think that this is way more affordable than other brands. So they’re actually saving money in two ways – by spending less on food and by having fewer visits to the vet. What could possibly be better than that?


  • Vet-formulated
  • Source of live naturally-occurring microorganisms
  • Contains 23% protein and 13% fats
  • No corn, wheat or soy

  • Some owners claim that this food upset their dog's stomach, noting symptoms like vomiting and diarrhea


7Proactive Health Large Breed Dog Food

Rating4 half stars
Value: $0.9/lb

IAMS Adult High Protein Large Breed Dry Dog Food...
  • Contains one (1) 15 lb. bag of...
  • 1st ingredient is real,...
  • Maintains bone and joint...
  • Promotes healthy digestion and...
  • IAMS Large Breed Dry Dog Food...

Guaranteed Analysis
CRUDE FAT 12.5% min
CRUDE FIBER 5.0% max
MOISTURE 10.0% max
CALCIUM 0.90 % min
PHOSPHORUS 0.70 % min
CALORIES 350 kcal/cup

Large breed dogs have special food requirements as puppies, and it’s not by accident that they become and remain healthy as adult dogs. Health is continuing work, and that’s the reason this seventh rated formula has a special formulation for large breeds in the adult stage of life. For them, health doesn’t just happen – you have to work for it. Every bowl of this dog food has the most favorable combination of ingredients to attain lean muscles, strong bones, healthy joints, properly working body systems, and robust immune system.

Iams Proactive Health Adult Dry Dog Food is made from chicken, wholesome grains like sorghum and corn meal, fish oil, and beet. It is enriched with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants to ensure that your dog gets a well-balanced source of nutrition. It contains 22.5% protein and 12.5% fats. A cup of this large breed adult dog food contains 350 kcal. Calcium to phosphorous ratio is 1.3:1.

This dry dog food from Iams, the premium formula, is being offered at a very competitive price – a rarity today especially among foods for large dogs. Pet owners recognize how rare this find is, and they can only thank their lucky stars that their dogs love this food, too. Dogs enjoyed Iams large breed dog food which isn’t always the case with Iams. In finding the right food, the hardest part is often finding one that’s good for dogs and at the same time, one that’s good enough for their taste buds. Once again, Iams gets the thumbs and paws up with this product.


  • Enriched with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants
  • Contains 22.5% protein and 12.5% fats
  • First ingredient is chicken
  • No soy or wheat

  • Because of the wheat in this recipe, some dogs had an allergic reaction to this food


8Complete Health Natural Dry Large Breed Food
by Wellness Natural Pet Food

Rating4 half stars
Value: $1.8/lb

Wellness Natural Pet Food Complete Health Natural...
  • ALL NATURAL: Created by...
  • NO CORN, WHEAT, OR SOY: Adult...
  • MADE IN USA: Using only the...

Guaranteed Analysis
CRUDE FAT 12.0% min
CRUDE FIBER 5.0% max
MOISTURE 10.0% max
CALCIUM 1.2% min
CALORIES 340 kcal/cup

Eight ranked dog food brand comes from Wellness Natural Pet Food. Dog owners love it that Wellness has a whole repertoire of dog food variations, from puppy to senior, and this special Large Breed flavor, too. It makes growing out of a particular life stage much easier especially when it means a change in their food. This large breed variation would be the next-level food for puppies fed with Wellness Large Breed Puppy dog food. Dogs that were used to other puppy formulations in their younger years, however, were also known to have taken so successfully to this brand. This is a well-balanced dog food that’s made in larger kibble size. This bigger size is ideal for big dogs in order for them to take time to chew, not inhale, their food.

The ingredients list of this Wellness dog food includes deboned chicken, whitefish, chicken meal, and grains, like barley, brown rice, and oatmeal. Wellness Complete Health Natural Dry Large Breed Dog Food, Chicken & Rice also contains fruits and vegetables, and other nutrient-rich natural ingredients. The calorie content of this Wellness variation is 402 kcal per cup, while its nutrient content analysis lists 30% protein and 12% fats. Calcium to phosphorous ratio is 1.4:1.

Wellness's dry dog food for large dogs has proven to be a healthy and inexpensive alternative to expensive prescription diets of some large breed dogs with delicate digestive system. Prescription diets, as well as other fad diets, can be very expensive and the owners of these dogs were only too happy to finally wean their dogs off those special diets. Their dogs are now doing really well with Wellness large breed dog food, and there hadn’t been any of their previous issues.


  • De-boned chicken is the first ingredient
  • Larger kibble size to prevent dogs from inhaling food
  • No wheat, corn, soy, meat by-products, artificial flavors, colors or preservatives
  • Made in the USA

  • Be careful when ordering online, as some consumers say that they received an expired bag of food


9Wholesome Essentials Big Dog Dry Food
by Nutro

Rating4 half stars
Value: $1.5/lb

NUTRO NATURAL CHOICE Large Breed Adult Dry Dog...
  • Contains one (1) 30 lb. bag of...
  • Made with non-GMO ingredients;...
  • High quality protein source is...
  • Designed to help keep your...
  • Natural sources of glucosamine...

Guaranteed Analysis
CRUDE FAT 13.0% min
CRUDE FIBER 3.5% max
MOISTURE 10.0% max
CALORIES 330 kcal/cup

Ninth product is from a well-known Nutro company. Large breed dogs must be trim and fit – not flabby and weak. That’s how the makers of Nutro Wholesome Essentials Large Breed Adult dog food visualize the end result would be in dogs fed with this food formulation. They use simple and only purposeful ingredients. Food sources are non-GMO and in their most natural form, and ingredients were carefully selected for the precise nutrients they provide.

The first ingredient is farm-raised chicken which is this food’s main source of protein and its rich flavor. Nutro Wholesome Essentials Adult Dry Dog Food also contains chicken meal and lamb meal, which are the sources of glucosamine and chondroitin. Each of the rest of the ingredients provides specific nutrients that fulfill the dietary needs of a large breed dog. The caloric content is 343 kcal per cup of this dog food. The nutritional analysis shows 22% protein and 14% fat content.

This food for big dogs from Nutro does not contain anything that does not contribute to the dog’s nutritional needs, and that limits the possibility of allergens being present in it. This is highly advantageous to dogs that react to so many ingredients making it doubly difficult to find food that agrees with them. There are carbs in the ingredients list in Nutro large breed dog food formula but these are high-quality grains that provide dogs with the energy they need in their daily activities.


  • Food sources are non-GMO and in their most natural form
  • First ingredient is farm-raised chicken
  • Contains 22% protein and 14% fat content
  • Made with essential antioxidants, such as vitamin E, for a healthy immune system

  • Trace amounts of genetically modified material may be present due to potential cross contact during manufacturing


10Adult Dry Large Breed Dog Food
by Eukanuba

Rating4 half stars
Value: $1.2/lb

Eukanuba Adult Large Breed Dry Dog Food, 33 lb

Guaranteed Analysis
CRUDE FAT 13.0% min
CRUDE FIBER 5.0% max
MOISTURE 10.0% max
CALCIUM 0.95% min
CALORIES 325 kcal/cup

The last brand is from another established brand, Eukanuba. The correct combination of ingredients in the right amount is the key to healthier large breed dogs. Since they are prone to obesity and orthopedic diseases, it is important to address their health concerns through a major factor in health – and that’s nutrition. EUKANUBA Adult Dry Dog Food for Large Breed has chicken as its first ingredient and main protein source. It has large kibble size which encourages chewing to keep the dog’s oral cavity healthy and fresh.

According to the researchers of Eukanuba, a healthy dog must have strong teeth and gums, fresh breath, great-looking skin and coat, robust immune system, healthy digestion, and strong joints and bones. The guaranteed nutritional analysis label shows that EUKANUBA Adult Dry Dog Food has at least 23% protein and 13% fats. A cup of this dog food provides 316 kcal. This lower calorie count slows growth rate which is actually ideal to protect large dogs from becoming obese.

Excessive weight also puts unnecessary pressure on joints and bones and may eventually affect mobility. Dogs that have been on this formulation for several months are noticeably sleek and toned. They also sport healthier and shinier coat than what they had before. The owners swear that their dog’s breath has become a lot fresher with Eukabuna large breed dog food formula, too. This food does contain corn, and dogs allergic to corn may react differently. It’s good to note that there’s a Lamb Large Breed recipe which would be a good variation when your dog starts looking for a taste other than chicken.


  • First ingredient is chicken
  • Large kibble size
  • Contains at least 23% protein and 13% fat
  • Contains naturally sourced glucosamine and chondroitin to help support healthy joints

  • Second ingredient is corn, which is not ideal for pets with food allergies or sensitivities

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10 Best Dog Foods for Large Breeds