Many dog owners find themselves in the dog food aisle of their local pet store, making sure they are reading through each label and finding what’s best for their dog. There are some breeds that need a little extra special attention in order to grow and thrive correctly, and large breed dogs are such an example. Large breed puppies can’t just settle for any pet food, they need ones specially formulated to match their nutritional needs.
What is the definition of a large breed dog and why do large breed puppies need special meals? Let’s find out.
What is Considered a Large Breed Dog?
There is no clear-cut weight threshold for dogs, but there is a general range. Teacup and toy breeds, large breeds, and giant breeds require special food formulated to meet their nutritional needs.
The guidelines are below, give or take a few pounds.
- Teacup breeds – 5 pounds or less
- Toy breeds – 5 to 12 pounds
- Small dogs – 12 to 25 pounds
- Medium dogs – 25 to 60 pounds
- Large breed dogs – 60 to 95 pounds
- Giant breeds – 95 pounds and over
You will notice that other charts may have weight classifications that are a few pounds off, but it can be agreed that dogs over 60 to 65 pounds are considered large.
What happens if your dog is on the cusp? If this is the case, then the decision falls on the owner’s shoulders to decide what and how to feed their large breed puppies. You can make a more informed decision once you understand more about large breed nutrition.
Why Do Large Breed Puppies Need Large Breed Puppy Food?
First off, why does a large breed puppy need large breed puppy food anyway? Is it because the kibble bits are larger? Yes, the size of the kibble does correspond to the size of the breed, but that’s not all. The key difference is the nutritional balance formulated to optimally meet a large breed dog’s needs.
Large Dog Nutrition 101
All living creatures need nutrients at any stage of life – the question is how much and the ratio. How fast a pup grows is important, and this is especially true for a large breed puppy that is susceptible to joint issues that can lead to chronic orthopedic issues later in life.
A way to regulate the growth rate of your large breed puppy is via his food. You don’t want him to grow too much too fast, but you also don’t want to go the other way and stunt his growth. A balanced diet with a recipe tailored to meet the needs of each specific dog size is the way to keep your large breed puppy growing on pace.
Large breed puppy food is formulated not to have too much fat, calories, and protein that will accelerate their growth, but it has enough to support healthy growth.
Benefits of Large Breed Dog Food
As we said, large breed puppy foods are formulated to be just right. The food formulated correctly will support healthy growth at a reasonable rate. Also, because large breed and giant breed puppies are prone to certain skeletal issues, many large breed puppy foods have added supplements such as glucosamine and chondroitin to prevent them.
Having a balanced diet will also support other areas of your dog’s health such as a boosted immune system, and bone support. There is no universal dog food that is meant for all. There are also various brands of puppy large breed food with different flavors and formulations that tackle different needs.
One other thing about large and giant breed puppy food is the kibble size is designed to be suitable for their mouths and the bag of dog food will also correspond to that.
The Price of Large Breed Dog Food
It’s no secret that large and giant breed pups are more expensive to care for and feed, and that’s because they need more food! A larger dog equals more food. Since they need specially formulated puppy foods, it makes many owners question if there is an even higher cost attached to the amount of food. After all, anything specially designed seems to command a higher price.
Specifically formulated dog food can definitely be more expensive than average food, but another big part of it is the recipe and what it contains. If you are considering bringing home a large breed dog, the cost is definitely something to think about. On average, it costs anywhere between $150 to $200 to feed large breeds per month.
You can’t skip the cost of good large breed food because it will have a devastating impact on your dog’s health. Doing so will increase your dog’s risk of many health issues, which will end up costing a lot more in vet bills than if you had chosen to feed the correct food.
When Should I Switch Out Large Breed Puppy Food?
Again, there is a general guideline for when to switch your puppy from large breed puppy food to large breed adult dog food. Regular adult dogs usually stop growing or reach maturity at about a year, so 12 months. The last month is when the pet owners should start to make the switch by gradually adding the new food into each meal and decreasing the amount of old puppy food.
Large breeds are not regular dogs so that time frame doesn’t apply to them. Big dogs, reach full size much more slowly, which is what we want because rapid growth puts strain on their muscles and bones. The period can be anywhere between 1.5 to 2 years! There is a range because of the range in weight. A 70-pound dog is a large breed, but so is one at 90 pounds.
What’s the Difference Between Large Breed Puppy Food and Regular Food?
The difference between large breed food and regular puppy food is kibble size, but it’s also the nutritional formulation. Large breed food is formulated to regulate your dog’s growth at a slow, steady, and healthy rate.
You can choose to spend a lot of time researching what is required when it comes to feeding large breed puppies, or you can pick a large breed puppy food. Whatever you pick, know that you are doing what you can to ensure your dog’s health. Just make sure you switch out the food to adult food for large dogs when appropriate.