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Top Rated Puppy Food for Large Breed Dogs

Wondering the top rated puppy food for large breed dogs? We researched and you need to see these nutritious options before buying your next bag!

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Top Rated Puppy Food for Large Breed Dogs

Have you recently adopted a largish puppy?  Do you know what your puppy (but soon-to-be-monster-sized-dog) requires to maintain a healthy diet?

If you are anything like me when I adopted my first animal…the answer to those questions is a resounding “No.”

Providing proper nutrition is as important to a puppy’s health and development as it is to a newborn child’s.

Many dog owners choose a food brand at adoption, and then stick with it for the remainder of their dog’s life.

This is an extremely important decision, as a puppy’s diet will shape their development, overall health and even their emotional state.

Ever sat around eating pizza and junk food all weekend while binge watching Netflix shows, and then felt inexplicably depressed afterward? The same will happen to your dog if it is not provided with a proper diet and exercise.

Sad lab: top rated puppy food for large breed

I am going to cover a few of the top puppy foods for large breed dogs (those with an adult weight expectancy of over 50 lbs.), and hopefully help shed some light on what is actually in your dog’s food.

Before I begin, I would like to cover a few basic dos and don’ts for choosing your pet’s food, and also a few of the terms I will be using frequently throughout the article.

When Choosing Your Puppy’s Food…

The first thing you want to do is turn the package on its side, and inspect the ingredient list.

The first ingredient should always be a meat such as chicken, lamb, beef, etc. It may say ‘deboned chicken’ or ‘chicken meal‘, and those are mostly okay, but are lesser quality than simply meat.

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Many of the most popular brands of dog foods contain meat by-products. These are the scraps left over after processing meat.  They do NOT contain muscle meat, and may even include diseased organs and tissues.  If you see a meat by-product in the ingredients label, return the food to the shelf and back away, slowly.

See a meat by-product in the dog food ingredients? Return it to the shelf & back away slowly! Click To Tweet


Artificial flavorings, preservatives, and sweeteners can also be dangerous to your puppy. I apply the same rule to dog food ingredients as I do when I’m looking at ingredients in my own food- if I can’t pronounce it, question it.

When buying dog food: if you can’t pronounce the ingredients...question it. Click To Tweet

So What Should I Look For?

First and foremost, you want to see natural ingredients you recognize. If you would eat the ingredient, then it is most likely fine for your dog as well. A few ingredients to look for that you may not recognize would be chicory root or inulin, flaxseed, chelated minerals, and selenium yeast.

Chicory root provides your dog with inulin, a prebiotic that helps promote the growth of healthy bacteria along the digestive tract.

Flaxseed provides your dog with healthy omega-3 fatty acids, which will help foster a beautiful shine on your dog’s coat. Many cheaper dog foods advertise omega-6 fatty acids, these are a cheaper product and not as beneficial to your dog.

Chelated minerals are minerals that have been bound to an organic substance, which makes them easier to absorb. The process of chelation is not cheap and the appearance of chelated minerals in a dog food immediately suggest your are dealing with a higher quality product.

Lastly, selenium yeast.

This ingredient is advertised as an anti-cancer agent, and has been proven to have beneficial effects on your dog’s immune status, growth and reproduction.

So what is the Top Rated Puppy Food for Large Breed Dogs?

Down to the nitty gritty.. Now that you have a basic understanding of what to look for in your puppy’s food, let’s delve into the products. I have selected three of the top brands of puppy food that I would recommend for your newly adopted family member.

Top Rated Puppy Food for Large Breed

Blue Buffalo - Wilderness
California Natural

click to learn more: Blue Buffalo | California Natural | Nutro

1. Blue Buffalo

Blue Buffalo currently offers three different puppy foods for large breed dogs. Their Wilderness and Freedom formulas are grain-free.

I am going to focus on the Wilderness formula, as I believe that is the premier of the three puppy foods.


Grain-free formulas are becoming increasingly popular, appealing to the notion that your dog would not normally eat grains in the wild.

While this is most likely true, grains are a valuable source of carbohydrates, and most dogs do not have an issue digesting them.

But some do, and if yours is one of those, or if you simply wish to replicate your dog’s natural diet as exactly as possible, this food may be for you.

The Wilderness formula relies on chicken meal as its main source of protein, but it also adds dried egg, an ingredient high in biological value to your puppy, to give the food an above average protein content. It contains chicory root, flaxseed and chelated minerals.

Two downfalls are that it contains caramel coloring and pea protein.

Caramel is a natural coloring, but it is always disappointing to see ingredients that are meant to make the product more appealing to humans, not dogs.

Pea protein is a protein that is 75% insoluble to your dog, causing the food to have a higher protein percentage than what your dog is actually absorbing.

Having said that, this is a very high quality puppy food, receiving five stars on Dog Food Advisor. If you want to learn more about the Wilderness or other Blue Buffalo formulas, visit

2. California Natural

California Natural prides itself on using limited, natural ingredients. Every formula they produce contains only three to six key ingredients.

Their Chicken Meal and Rice as well as Lamb Meal and Rice Puppy formulas have four key ingredients each and are available in 30lb. bags.

California Natural believes that fewer ingredients are better for your puppy’s stomach, and in many cases, they are correct. Many dogs have allergies and food sensitivities, just like we do.

If your puppy has a sensitive stomach, consider California Natural, it has worked well for me in the past with dogs that could not stomach other brands. It contains flaxseed as one of the key ingredients, and also chelated minerals.

There is no inulin to help digestion, but that is most likely because the food is very easy for your puppy to digest already. There are also zero controversial ingredients.

It is a bit pricier, but it caters to dogs that cannot readily digest other foods. More importantly, it works. To see a full list of California Natural’s products and ingredients, visit

3. Nutro

The Nutro Company has two dry puppy foods for large breed dogs:

A Chicken, Whole Brown Rice and Oatmeal formula and a Limited Ingredient formula that are both available in 30lb. bags.


The Chicken, Whole Brown Rice, and Oatmeal formula relies on the three listed ingredients as its main sources of protein, carbohydrates and fiber. It contains chelated minerals as well as selenium yeast, but there are no probiotics to help your puppy digest the food.

It also contains brewers rice, a cheap by-product of milling whole rice, which has a low nutritional value to your dog, as well as pea protein, which we discussed earlier.

I am slightly confused about the Limited Ingredient formula, as the ingredients are almost exactly the same as the Chicken, Whole Brown Rice and Oatmeal formula, except they swap chicken for lamb.

While I do not see the difference in the ingredients, pet owners are raving about the product. I have read many testimonials from owners who switched from Blue Buffalo and other chicken based formulas that gave their puppies’ diarrhea, with great success.

Whole brown rice and oatmeal can help promote digestion, and it seems that large breed puppies have an easier time digesting the lamb than the chicken.

I would recommend this as a good, cheaper alternative to California Natural, although I struggle to see the ‘Limited Ingredient’ aspect. Visit to view their full line of puppy foods as well as a comprehensive list of ingredients and nutrients in their formulae.

So Now What?!

Give that puppy some nutrition!

Hopefully you are now sufficiently equipped to make an informed decision on what to feed your puppy, even if you don’t decide on one of the brands I recommended.

If you are interested in more in depth ratings of the above brands, or if you just want to learn about the food you are currently using, visit

For a more comprehensive list of what ingredients to avoid, visit The Dog Food Project.

Beginning a proper diet now will help ensure your furry loved ones live a long, healthy and happy life!

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