If your dog is expected to be over 70 lbs as an adult, you technically have a large breed dog.


Almost any food can be a large breed puppy food, but you’ll need to check the calcium levels on the bag to be sure.


As always, the best food is the one that works for you and your pet 🙂


You just welcomed one of the most amazing little furry bundles of love into your family 🙂 That little fur ball isn’t going to stay small for long though. You’re on top of things though, so don’t worry. You’re already researching the exact food that you need to buy. The one that is perfect for your buddy. That one food that gives your soon to be big buddy the best chance for the best life possible.
Unfortunately for you, the pet food industry has done a remarkable job of taking an easy task and making it as hard as possible.

Fortunately for you, there are a ton of great places that can help, including yours truly 🙂 Let’s jump right in.

All Life Stages vs. Large Breed

There are three foods most people are used to seeing in stores; puppy, adult and senior. (We’re ignoring weight loss for clarity). Dog’s don’t stay puppies or seniors for very long so the majority of their lives they are considered “adults.” (And just to level set, any dog that will be over 70lbs when fully grown can be considered a large breed. We aren’t only talking about your Berner or Great Dane here.) You’ll see many foods are created with all three of these life stages in mind and are labeled with the key phrase “All Life Stages.”

The trick is that some of these ALS foods are appropriate for your large breed puppy, but some of them are not.

This is how food manufacturers get you to buy that Indoor Chihuahua Puppy food. By marketing specifically to a life stage and a breed, they make it super clear what it’s intended to do and you feel comfortable knowing that you’re not screwing anything up. It’s a win/win! Or is it?

There’s honestly nothing special about a Chihuahua’s nutritional needs that would require an owner to get that Indoor Chihuahua Puppy food. That’s not true for your large breed puppy though. Some large breeds need some help ensuring that their bones grow at the appropriate rate. More importantly, that the bones don’t grow too fast. Bones that grow faster than they should can be as benign as panosteitis (growing pains) but can result in hip dysplasia, osteochondrosis or skeletal abnormalities.

Calcium to Calories Ratio

So what’s special about large breed puppy food? The calcium to calorie ratio. The industry has a guiding set of standards created by Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO). The standard states that large breed puppy food should have a calcium:calorie ratio or between 2.0 to 4.5g per 1000 calories. So if it says large breed puppy on the bag, it has to have a calcium:calorie ratio within that range. This does not mean that other ALS foods will be outside that range.

Let’s look at two examples.
Lamb Meal & Rice Recipe | NutriSource Pet Foods. 3800 kcal/kg with a Calcium value of 1.6%. That’s 4.2g per 1000 calories. At the high end of the range, but well within the limits of AAFCO’s definition for a large breed food.

Orijen Large Breed Puppy food. 3720 kcal/kg with a Calcium value of 1.3%. That’s 3.5g per 1000 calories. Right in the middle of the AAFCO range.

So which is the better option? Here’s where the fun actually begins. The better option is entirely up to you. If you have the financial means, then Orijen is tough to beat. They use a wide variety of meat sources, all of the ingredients are sourced as close to “home” as possible and they use more meat than just about anyone else. All of that comes at a price though, and with the amount of food your large breed puppy will be eating, that price won’t be low. That’s when something like the NS Lamb & Rice can be a better option. You’ll get twice as much kibble for the same price.

If you have more questions and want to talk to one of us directly, you can fill out the form below or hit the chat button in the bottom of the screen 🙂

The Best Food

The best food for your pet is the food that works the best for you both. There are a ton of factors that can influence what is ultimately the best food for you. While the most nutritious and bioavailable food is what will probably be best for your pet, it can be a lot more complicated for you when you start to take into account each manufacturer’s niche with respect to nutrition, sourcing, business practices, cost, packaging, social involvement and more.

We are 100% clear that the most nutritious food for your pet is raw. We will stand behind that one forever, but that doesn’t mean it’s the best solution for your family. Me? I feed kibble topped with frozen raw. My kids feed our dog Berkley in the morning and it doesn’t get much easier than having them fill a level cup of kibble and putting it in the bowl. They get to help. I can still easily track Berkley’s caloric intake for the day, and life is great. Berks really looks forward to dinner though. That’s where the kibble is dialed back and the frozen raw is dialed up. Toss in some mushrooms from Holistic Hound and baby, you’ve got a stew going. This is our solution though. It’s the one that works for our family. Yours will probably be different (and it should be!). That’s why you won’t be pressured to buy anything from us. We guide. We offer suggestions but we’ll never push you into a food that ultimately may not work.

We’re dedicated to healthy pets and their families, not shareholders 🙂