Researched-based answers for your most pressing questions.
How do I use the giant puppy food search tool?
We recommend looking at the sort and filter options above the spreadsheet and determining first what is most important to you.
While there are many foods that meet several of the recommendations and would be ok to feed, only 3% meet all of them.
As you select your choices using the filter, the spreadsheet below will automatically update. From there, you can continue to narrow the search as needed to find foods with the values that are most important to you.
If you get stuck, we recommend clearing the filters and trying again.
Alternatively, you can search by brand and look at all of the options available, side by side to choose the right formula.
Remember to use the scrollbar at the bottom of the results to see additional values for each food/formula, as well as convenient links to purchase the food on Amazon or Chewy.
Please make note of our color coding system, which indicates how each brand/formula either meets or misses the mark on the current science-backed recommendations for feeding giant breed puppies.
You can access the Giant Puppy Dog Food Search Tool HERE.
Where does the information from this tool come from?
We spent months contacting food companies and learning about their process, practices, and formulas.
The nutritional recommendations (calcium levels, etc.) on this site are based on the most current research and knowledge shared by highly educated people that work in this field.
These people include board certified Veterinary Nutritionists (DACVN), experts with a PhD in Animal Nutrition, scientists working for large nutrition research facilities, and many top show & sport breeders in the world of giant breed dogs. Lastly, we have considered the views of the large majority of clinical veterinarians and veterinary specialists who engage in continuing education and attend to numerous pets every week in their practice.
We do not rely on information or recommendations from certain sources when creating the content on this website. These sources include pet owners, social media influencers, backyard or unethical breeders, boutique pet food or supplement companies, pet stores, bloggers, “canine nutritionists”, and veterinarians or specialists whose opinions do not align with the majority.
In addition, we spent hours digging so that we could legitimately reference the most up to date information coming from peer-reviewed studies on the subject of pet nutrition and feeding giant breed puppies for joint, muscle, tendon, brain, and bone health.
Are there any formulas that meet every recommendation?
Yes! There are a handful of formulas (about 3% of all formulas that we’ve researched and documented) that meet every single science-backed recommendation, including:
- Correct ratios of calcium & phosphorus
- Qualified nutritionist on staff (Board Certified Veterinary Nutritionist or PhD in Animal Nutrition)
- Manufactured in owned facilities
- Designed specifically for large/giant breed dogs
- Contains the AAFCO large breed growth statement
- From a company that does feeding trials and research
- Includes grains, and doesn’t include a lot of pulse ingredients (peas, lentils, etc.)
Although we don’t provide direct recommendations for specific food brands or formulas on this site, our search tool filters can assist you in finding the best option for your pet.
It’s important to note that if a formula doesn’t satisfy all of the recommendations, it doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s not a good option. If you find that adhering to the complete recommendations list is too limiting, there are many other alternatives.
Why are protein levels not listed?
The aim of this website is to aid dog owners in selecting the best food for their giant breed puppies. Studies have demonstrated that protein levels do not cause orthopedic growth disorders. Despite this, a false notion persists that “low protein food” is best for giant breed puppies.
Numerous low protein foods contain dangerously high amounts of calcium and may not provide adequate nutrition for the healthy development of growing giant puppies (including muscles, tendon, brain, and eye health). This blanket rule of feeding low protein food is outdated and no longer considered safe or ideal.
Calcium and overall food intake are linked to orthopedic growth disorders. High energy, high calcium diets can lead to problems, but reducing protein intake will not solve the issue.
Instead, puppies should be fed a properly balanced diet that maintains controlled energy levels and includes the appropriate quantities of calcium, phosphorus, vitamin D, and zinc. Within these guidelines, protein levels are not a concern.
Should I feed an adult formula to my giant breed puppy?
No. Large and giant breed puppies need a well balanced large or giant breed PUPPY or ALL LIFE STAGES food.
Similar to the low protein myth mentioned above, this is another example of a practice (feeding adult food to puppies) that had roots in anecdotal evidence. Adult maintenance foods lack the nutrition a giant puppy needs to thrive, and are no longer considered the ideal or even safe choice.
Are giant breed puppies different than large breed puppies?
Large breed puppies are typically defined as those who will be 70 lbs or more as adults. Occasionally, dogs who are 50lbs as adults are considered large breed as well.
Currently, “giant” breed puppies such as Great Danes, Borzoi, Mastiff, and Wolfhounds (those over 100 lbs as adults) are considered to be ‘large’ breed according to the nutritional guidelines outlined by AAFCO.
We consider the AAFCO nutritional guidelines for large breed dogs to be a baseline and the bare minimum of what is acceptable for giant breed dogs.
My personal opinion is that the AAFCO guidelines are currently too broad, and it is for this reason that we look for both the AAFCO large breed growth statement AND well controlled calcium levels (around 1.2%, and 2.5 – 3.5g of calcium per 1000kcal).
Many ‘large breed’ labeled foods, for example, have 1.8% calcium and 4.0g calcium or more per 1000kCal, which are likely too high for giant breed dogs. We encourage giant breed dog owners to err on the side of caution until more research comes out.
Where can I learn more information about dog nutrition?
There are many nutrition-focused social groups, influencers, and pet food companies out there. This means that there is also a lot of confusion!
We recommend learning about dog nutrition from the following sources:
- Your breeds parent club health & research (For example, the Great Dane Club of America
- Veterinary journals, articles, and presentations
- Tufts University Petfoodology Blog
- All Trades DVM
- The SkeptVet
- Animal nutrition courses & degrees from accredited Universities
- The links on this page: Responsible Dog Nutrition Groups & Influencers
We recommend caution with nutrition information from the following sources:
- Social media influencers, including those found on TikTok or Youtube
- Your dog trainer/petsitter/groomer, etc.
- Nutrition focused groups on Facebook, especially when they allow or even encourage members to bash veterinarians and shame pet owners for their budget and food choices
- Dog food or supplement companies (remember, their goal is to sell you something)
- Most pet or canine nutritionists or ‘nutrition experts’ (see “Why are Canine Nutritionists not a reliable source of information” below.)
- Backyard and all unethical breeders who do not show, sport, or title their dogs in some way, including any breeder who skips some or all of the recommended parent-club OFA health tests
Why are Canine Nutritionists / Pet Nutritionists not a reliable source of information?
The title of a Nutritionist is not regulated. This means that anyone can obtain a ‘pet nutrition’ certification by taking a cheap and straightforward online course. Unfortunately, most “canine nutritionists” have pursued this path.
One of the most popular dog nutrition courses costs less than $15 and takes about 4 hours to complete, but it can create the impression that the individual has completed a university-level nutrition program with a certification from “DNU” or “DNMU.” However, these are just blogs and not recognized institutions.
People who take this online course (and other similar ones) often claim that “veterinarians are not knowledgeable about nutrition.” This assertion is made despite the fact that unlike “pet nutritionists”, veterinarians have science degrees and then are required to take an entire full-semester course (or more) on nutrition and then apply their knowledge to all aspects of animal biology during their years of academic and clinical training.
Although pet nutritionists may provide useful information on ways to enrich your dog’s diet with something such as using a stuffed Kong or lick mat, they lack accredited education, veterinary medical training, and scientific background. Therefore, they should not offer nutrition plans, dog food recipes, or attempt to diagnose, treat, or cure any nutrition-related illnesses in your pet.
For comparison, a Board Certified Veterinary Nutritionist (DACVN) has an undergraduate degree in animal biology or a related scientific field, a 4-year veterinary degree (doctorate), and years of clinical practice applying nutrition to all aspects of health from liver disease to bone growth.
Afterward, they undergo additional years of nutrition-specific study, followed by a board certification in animal/pet nutrition. This certification is only granted after a multi-year clinical residency, multiple research projects, and a rigorous two-day test.
How is this site funded?
We offer affiliate links to purchase dog foods at Amazon or Chewy. These links do not affect the price of your purchase, but they do provide us with a small commission which is used to support the expenses associated with operating this site.
We do not make recommendations for specific brands. However, we only provide affiliate links for brands that meet at least 80% of the common sense and research-backed recommendations for choosing pet food for giant breed puppies.
We do NOT accept sponsored or brand deals in exchange for better placement in our search tool; all foods are given equal space and must rely instead on their companies lab-tested nutritional values, manufacturing, formulation, and quality practices to stand out.