Large Breed Dog Food?

Bitz the Wondermutt is a large dog. She’s a 5 YO Black Lab/Rott halfbreed, and weighs in around 100 lbs.

Lately, I’ve been seeing lots of commercials for so-called “large breed formulas” of dog food. Allegedly, these help the dogs maintain strong bones and joints.

I know large dogs, particularly Labs, have a tendency for their joints to deteriorate more quickly than small dogs. I was wondering two things:

  1. Do these types of dog foods actually do any good or is it just good niche marketing, and

  2. How do they work/what ingredients or properties make them better than standard foods?

Thanks in advance.

Large breed foods tend to have less fat and protein than normal dogs foods (obviously that varies by brand). And usually glucosamine added. Some are really good, some are crap, you really have to look at the individual food.

I can see the less fat being a good thing. How does reducing the protein help? I’d think, if anything, more protein would be the way to go.

Any recommendation on one brand vs. another?

We’ve always had larger dogs, and our vet told us the important thing is to find the food with the first ingredient as meat, not corn.

For us, this is Purina One.

So, our half chow/half shepherd pup gets dry food all week long, and on Sundays she gets a can of wet food as a treat. She also gets all our spare bones from pork chops and steak, (no chicken bones!) and she gets to lick the grease out of the pans (we have a septic system and can’t pour grease down the sink.)

She seems to be too healthy for her own good. :wink:

It’s just a marketing thing. Ideal nutrition being equal, large breeds don’t need anything different in their diet than small breeds do. You’ll notice that the best quality kibbles, Solid Gold, Innova, Canidae, etc, do not offer breed size formulas. That’s because they’re not necessary. Iams and such offer them because the more shelf space they can take up with their products, the better.
That having been said, when choosing a kibble, ivylass is right about the top ingredients being meat, rather than grain, but I’d take it a step farther and say you want to find a kibble where the top several ingredients are meats and/or meat meals, and do not buy a dog food that is made using ground whole yellow corn. Corn is, for the most part, completely indigestible to dogs and is implicated in a lot of allergy issues.

Dogs are carnivores, despite what you’ll hear from the kibble companies. At best, they can be called opportunistic carnivores, but they are still carnivores. Their digestion system is short and simple and highly acidic–in other words, designed entirely to digest meat and bone. Dogs do not produce amylase or cellulase, and cannot break down or utilize the nutrients in plant matter without mechanical help. Their jaw structure does not provide for a side-to-side grinding action, and their teeth are tearing, shearing teeth, not flat grinding molars. Thus, you want to provide a diet that has as little grains or plants as possible.

Which leads me to the raw diet. A species appropriate raw diet is the best possible nutrition you can provide your pooch, especially large breeds. Kibble diets often promote too-fast growth. A raw diet provides the right nutrients in the right form for a more natural growth rate–pups reach physical maturity roughly around the same time they reach mental maturity, which is how it should be. Adult dogs need the same nutrients, regardless of size. Everything your dog needs for perfect health can be found in a raw diet that approximates the prey model, that is to say, roughly 10-20% bone, 70-80% meat, and 10% other stuff, organ meats, eggs, table scraps, etc. The idea is to emulate what wild canids eat. It’s really, really easy, doesn’t take any more time than feeding kibble, and the cost is roughly the same. There are a ton of physical and mental benefits, mainly being clean and healthy teeth and gums, beautiful coat, chewing needs satisfied, about a fifth of the stool volume produced, reduced or eliminated allergies, more energy, strong bones and joints, etc.

Some people really freak out at the idea of feeding raw meat and bone to their dogs, and I always think it’s funny–no one ever tells people they ought to stay away from all that fresh, healthy stuff and eat more processed foods :wink:

And ivylass please be very, very careful with cooked bones. Raw bones are soft and pliable and easily crushed into tiny bits–cooked bones are just the opposite, they are hard and brittle and easily splintered, and can be extremely dangerous.


Mixie damn fine post!

Which explaines, finally, why my dog won’t eat broccoli.

Shirley Ujest–smart dog :wink:

I just realized, FallenAngel, that I totally got carried away and answered a question that you didn’t ask.

Ahem. No, large breed formulas don’t provide any sort of better nutrition than other kibbles, and probably worse because lower-quality kibble companies tend to rely on “formula” gimmics to sell more product. Thus, the ones that generally provide the large breed formulas are the foods that are trying to present themselves as high quality, but tend to actually be in the mid to low range of quality.
You’re better off buying a very good quality dog food, such as Solid Gold or Innova, than buying a large breed formula of a corn and byproduct food, like Iams.

Or, you know, ditch the kibble and give your dog real food :wink:

Mixie what type of meat do you use?

I wouldn’t say that all large breed foods are of lesser quality…Royal Canin make a LB food, I think they made the first LB food, and most people would consider them one of the top food available. I don’t think it’s worse than say Solid Gold.

Magayuk–you want to provide as varied a diet as possible, ultimately. Most people feed some chicken, turkey, beef, pork, and fish, some use lamb, goat, venison, emu, ostrich, buffalo, kangaroo, whatever is cheap and available where they live. It’s nice to be able to feed a zillion different kinds of meats, but I think as long as you’ve got red meat, a little poultry, and a bit of fish you’re okay. Currently, I’m using cornish game hens, turkey, beef, pork, and different kinds of fish, because that’s what’s available and cheap here at the moment. The goal is to spend less than a dollar per pound, average, so whatever kind of meats you can get for that price is great, although you don’t want to rely too heavily on poultry, because they don’t have as wide a range of nutrients and amino acids as red meats. I can usually find game hens and whole chickens for ~60 cents per pound, so I cut off a good amount of the breast meat for Mr. Armadillo and I, and use the semi-stripped frames for the bone content, since I’m only feeding a cat at the moment. He can’t really handle beef or pork bones, so I give him game hen or chicken bones, with lots of pork, beef, and fish as the main meaty part of his diet. For organ meats I use chicken or beef liver, chicken gizzards and hearts, and sometimes beef heart.

For a dog, you want to aim for the biggest hunks of meat and bone you can–the bigger the better. I mean, like, the size of the dog’s head. They can handle much bigger bones, obviously, so any raw, meaty bone other than large weight bearing bones. These are really hard and can break dogs’ teeth with vigorous chewing. Not even wolves eat the long femur bones from a kill. Really, any kind of meat is fine, the only thing I’ve ever heard to stay away from is raw Pacific salmon, as it often carries a fluke–but I’m told that a couple weeks of freezing at 0* will kill those. Some people freeze pork, too, but pork sold for human consumption and USDA inspected should be just fine. Oh, and don’t forget the organ meats, those make up a small percentage of the diet but are absolutely essential for the nutrients they contain.


No, you’re right, Royal Canin is a decent quality kibble, but I’m leery of any company that claims that German Shepherds and Labs need special nutrition that other breeds don’t. Look at the Lab formula: Chicken meal, brown rice, corn gluten, oatmeal, barley, brewers rice. Four of the top five ingredients are grains. You’re right though, Royal Canin is better than most.

Weeellll… I’m not going to agree nor disagree with with Mixie because while feeding a dog raw meat sounds logical, it also sounds like a big honkin’ mess.

My vet recommended Nutro for our Mastiff. We do feed her the large breed formula, and we’ve been very happy with it. So is the Mastiff. My understanding is that it is very common for people to overfeed large breeds, simply because they think large means “extra hungry” - the large breed foods allegedly curtail the rapid growth that can be hard on a large dogs bones, keeping the growth rate slow and steady. Glucosamine and condroitan supposedly help the joints grow strong enough to support the larger bodied dogs. That’s all I know, so take it for whatever it’s worth!

Heh, I’m not one of those raw diet proponents who’s rabidly anti-kibble. There are certainly decent kibble diets out there, and Nutro’s not a bad one. It’s probably the best quality of ingredients for the price of any of the “super premium” foods.
You’d be surprised though, it only took one or two feedings to teach the cat to keep the food in his bowl, and most people feed dogs in a crate or on a mat. Not too messy :wink: