Large-Breed Puppy Formulas

Nutritional Objectives
Many large-breed puppies have a tendency to grow very quickly. Unfortunately, if this tendency is encouraged by overfeeding, developmental bone problems can occur. To avoid these problems, careful feeding management is necessary. This should include:

  • optimal protein quantity and quality;
  • restriction of the energy-containing fat; and
  • careful control of the calcium and phosphorus levels

Specially formulated large breed puppy formulas make feeding management easier because they are designed for fast-growing, large-breed puppies (those with an expected adult weight of more than 50 pounds)
A protein level approximating 26% in these formulas promotes healthy body condition and balances the protein with the reduced number of calories in the food. Research has shown that

  • Dietary protein levels from 15 to 32% have no adverse effect on skeletal development.1
  • Body condition decreases as protein gets too low.

The protein in large breed puppy formulas support normal skeletal and muscular growth.
Calories and Fat
Fat contributes over twice as many calories in a diet than either proteins or carbohydrates. As the fat level increases, the energy content of the diet also increases making feeding management more difficult for large-breed puppies. Several studies have shown increases in developmental bone problems when a diet was overfed.2,3
By reducing the fat content of large-breed puppy formulas to about 14%, the metabolizable energy (ME) of the diets can be kept to a low level of about 1,800 kilocalories per pound.
Calcium and Phosphorus
Large-breed puppy formulas have adjusted calcium and phosphorus levels at a correct ratio to match the needs of rapidly growing large-breed puppies. The rumors that large- and giant-breed puppies need extra calcium are untrue! Excess calcium has been shown in several studies to increase the chances of developmental bone problems.4,5,6 Plus, puppies cannot control intestinal absorption of calcium as well from diets containing high levels.
Large breed diets are formulated with 0.8 to 0.9% calcium and 0.7% phosphorus which is deliberately less than the amounts in all of our other puppy foods.
Comparing with Our Other Puppy Foods
Large breed puppy formulas are made specifically for growing puppies with expected adult weights of 50 pounds or more. These puppy foods are unique because they are formulated with:

  • less fat for fewer calories to optimally reduce growth rate of large-breed puppies and helps safeguard against overconsumption of energy;
  • a lower level of protein to ensure a proper balance of protein with energy content; and
  • reduced calcium and phosphorus levels with a normal calcium- to phosphorus-ratio to promote proper bone development in rapidly growing large breed puppies.

1 Nap, et al. Growth and skeletal development in Great Dane pups fed different levels of protein intake. J Nutr 1991; 121:S107-S113.
2 Hedhammer, et al. Over nutrition and skeletal disease: an experimental study in growing Great Dane dogs. Cornell Vet 1974; 64:1-159.
3 Lavelle. The effect of overfeeding of a balanced complete commercial diet to a group of growing Great Danes. In: Nutrition of the dog and cat. Burger and Rivers (eds). Cambridge Univ Press, 1989:303-316.
4 Hazewinkel, et al. Influences of chronic calcium excess on the skeletal development of growing Great Danes, J Am Anim Hosp Assoc 1985; 21:377-391.
5 Goedegebuure, Hazewinkel. Morphological findings in young dogs chronically fed a diet containing excess calcium. Vet Pathol 1986; 23:594-605.
6 Hazewinkel, et al. Calcium metabolism in Great Dane dogs fed diets with various calcium and phosphorus levels. J Nutr 1991; 121:S99-S106.