Feed Your Big Puppy

Scroll down for information, FAQ, and our search tool with over 600 dry food options.

We make every effort to display accurate information for each brand and formula. It is up to the user to verify this information with the company before making a purchase, as formulas or testing results may change the values listed here. If you find something in error, please contact us.

This chart is intended for use when finding food for a giant breed puppy under the age of two. We recommend finding foods with the most amount of green possible. Use our search and filter menu below. The key is based on science-backed ideal values for large/giant breed growth.

Disclosure: Some of the links on this page are affiliate links. This means that we may earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase on Amazon or Chewy.com. This does not affect the price of your purchase, and helps cover expenses associated with operating this site.

1.0 – 1.3% Calcium

Low calcium %, and ideally 3.5g or less calcium per 1000kCal

Calcium + Phosphorus

ca/ph should be as close together as possible, no more than 1.4 : 1

Nutrition Science

Formulated by an on-staff, highly qualified nutritionist

We recommend talking to your veterinarian when choosing a diet for your pet.


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.

You can also just search by brand and look at all of the options available, side by side to choose the right formula.

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 best CA/PH ratios and otherwise. If you get stuck, we recommend clearing the filters and trying again.

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.

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. We’ve also taken into account the opinions of the vast majority of practicing clinical veterinarians and veterinary specialists.

We do NOT base the information and recommendations on this site from pet owners, social media influencers, backyard or unethical breeders, boutique pet food or supplement companies and pet stores, bloggers, “canine nutritionists”, or veterinarians and specialists whose opinion does not lie 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.

Why are Canine Nutritionists / Pet Nutritionists not a reliable source of information?

Nutritionist is not a protected title.

Anybody can take a cheap, simple online course and obtain a certification in ‘pet nutrition’. That is unfortunately what the vast majority of “canine nutritionists” have done.

For example, one of the most popular dog nutrition courses costs less than $15, and yet, you would be made to think that they graduated from a university with a nutrition certification from “DNU” or “DNMU”. DNU/DNMU is a blog.

While pet nutritionists may be helpful when it comes to adding some enrichment options to your dogs diet (such as a stuffed Kong or lick mat), they have no accredited education, vet med, or science background and should not be giving out nutrition plans, recipes, or attempting to diagnose, treat, or cure any nutrition-related ailment in your pet.

Compare the average “pet nutritionist” to a Board Certified Veterinary Nutritionist (DACVN). A DACVN has an undergrad degree in animal biology or related science, a 4 year veterinary degree (doctorate) and years of clinical practice applying nutrition to all facets of health from liver disease to bone growth.

This is followed by years of study specifically in the field of nutrition, and a board certification in animal/pet nutrition that was only awarded after a multi-year clinical residency, multiple research projects, and an intensive test that takes 2 days to complete.

Are there any formulas that meet every recommendation?

Yes! There are a handful of formulas 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
  • Includes grains, and doesn’t include a lot of pulse ingredients (peas, lentils, etc.)

Because we do not directly recommend food brands or formulas here, we will not make a direct list. However, our search tool filters will allow you to find them easily.

Why are protein levels not listed?

Studies have shown that protein levels do not contribute to orthopedic growth disorders. Despite this, the myth persists that giant breed puppies should be “fed a low protein food”.

Many low protein foods are actually dangerously high in calcium, and may not provide enough nutrition for growing giant puppies to thrive. This outdated and blanket rule is no longer a safe or ideal way to choose food for a puppy.

Orthopedic growth disorders are related to calcium and overall food intake. Puppies fed a high energy, high calcium diet are likely to suffer, but that does not mean that feeding low protein will fix the problem.

Puppies should instead be fed a properly balanced food with controlled energy levels and the correct amounts of calcium, phosphorus, vitamin D, and zinc. Within those parameters, the protein level does not matter.

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.

You can read our blog post on this topic HERE.

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:

We recommend caution with nutrition information from the following sources:

  • Social media influencers
  • Your dog trainer/petsitter/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’
  • 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
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, and have shopping links available for as many foods as possible for your convenience.

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.


See Our Spreadsheet the Old Fashioned Way

If you want to compare brands and values head to head, you are also welcome to check out our OG spreadsheet directly! This is BEST viewed on desktop, not mobile.

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