Dog owners may have noticed specialty dog foods for large breed dogs. Some people wonder if this is a gimmick, or if larger dogs really do need different food, and if they need different food, why.
When you look at dogs you can immediately see that not all dog breeds are the same, some are tiny, such as the Chihuahua, some are middle sized such as the Border Collie, some breeds are large such as the Bernese Mountain Dog, while others are giant, such as the Great Dane. All giant breed of dogs and any large dog that is expected to mature over 22 inches (56 cm) at the shoulder should be fed large breed puppy, or large breed dog, food.
With the large breeds of dogs it is important to slow their rate of growth down because fast growth can cause problems for their joints. Regular puppy food can cause a large dog to grow too quick, and bulk up too soon, leading to health problems in these dogs, creating aches and pains in a dog that may already have a short life (larger dogs tend to have shorter lifespans than small and medium sized dogs).
Calcium must be watched with the larger breeds of dogs. If a food contains too much calcium the dog may suffer from skeletal deformities. In the food for a larger breed of dog the calcium content should be between 0.7 and 1.5%
The large breed dog should have a food that addresses joint health. Glucosamine and Chondroitin Sulfate are specifically for joint health and preventing pains from arthritis. While this are not in all large breed puppy formulas, they should most definitely be in an adult large breed dog food.
Other factors that are addressed in a good quality large breed dog food are the fact that these dogs are often prone to digestion problems. The food should (as should any dog food) use a good protein source; Chicken Meal, Lamb Meal, etc, rather than “by-products”. Keep in mind that not all Large Breed Formula dog foods are good quality, as with the other dog foods there are good foods, and poor quality dog foods.
photo by swatcop
There is also the matter of age, at what point does a dog go from puppy food to adult dog food? The small dog reaches its full size pretty quick, these dogs can often switch from puppy food to adult food before they reach one year of age. Medium sized dogs mature on average at about one year of age, and can be changed to adult dog food around this time, sooner if they are less active and in good shape, later if they are active and thin. Large breed dogs, however, are often kept on a large breed formula of puppy food for 18 – 24 months.
Warnings about Bloat
Large breeds of dogs are at risk for “Bloat”. One way of reducing the risk is to slow down the dog's eating by putting a large rock in the food bowl, or using a bowl that is made to slow eating. The dog should not be exercised right after eating allowing for an hour of digestion first.