best large breed puppy food

10 Best Large Breed Puppy Food Picks for 2020 – Reviews and Guide

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At A Glance: Our Top 5 Picks for Large Breed Puppy Foods

 

Looking for the best large breed puppy food for your soon-to-be big bundle of joy?

No matter what large breed dog your puppy is, you’ll want to be sure to feed her a healthy, delicious, high-quality diet to ensure she reaches her full growth potential.

This is especially important for those with large breed puppies, as their eventual size and rapid growth rate have important implications for their nutritional needs.

Below, we’ll provide Canine Weekly’s top 10 rated large breed puppy foods, and we’ll discuss some of the things that you want to consider when comparing dry large breed dog food formulas.

Lastly, we’ll cover some of the specific health concerns and nutritional requirements when feeding large breed puppies.

The Best Large Breed Puppy Foods: Quick View

IMAGE PRODUCT
Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula Natural Puppy Large Breed Dry Dog Food
  • Deboned chicken is the first listed ingredient
  • Made with whole, nutritious grains and carbohydrates
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Wellness Complete Health Large Breed Dry Puppy Food
  • Deboned chicken is the first listed ingredient
  • Packed with a variety of fruits and vegetables
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BLUE Wilderness High Protein Large Breed Dry Dog Food
  • This grain-free recipe features no corn, wheat or rice
  • Fortified with five different probiotic strains
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NUTRO Wholesome Essentials Large Breed Puppy
  • Made without artificial flavors, colors or additives
  • Money-back guarantee
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Instinct Raw Boost Large Breed Puppy Food by Nature’s Variety
  • Contains several protein sources
  • Provides plenty of omega-3 fatty acids
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ORIJEN Dry Dog Food, Puppy Large, Biologically Appropriate & Grain Free
  • 38% protein and 20% carbohydrates
  • WholePrey ratios of fresh meat, organs, and cartilage or bone
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Diamond Naturals Large Breed Puppy Real Lamb Recipe Premium Dry Dog Food
  • Includes dog-specific probiotics
  • Made with pasture-raised lamb
VIEW ON AMAZON →READ REVIEWS →
Taste of The Wild Grain-Free Premium High Protein Dry Dog Food Pacific Stream Puppy – Smoked Salmon
  • Made with real salmon
  • Includes superfoods and probiotics
VIEW ON AMAZON →READ REVIEWS →
Fromm Family Foods Gold Large Breed Puppy Dry Food
  • Includes duck, chicken, lamb, whole eggs, and real cheese
  • First 3 ingredients are all chicken-based
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Tuffy’S Pet Food Nutrisource Large Breed Chicken & Rice Puppy Food
  • Easy to digest
  • Provides essential nutrients for large breed puppies
VIEW ON AMAZON →READ REVIEWS →

Best Large Breed Puppy Food Reviews

Deciding which is the best food for a large breed puppy is a difficult task for any new pet parent. However, the following recommended dog food brands are among the top-rated choices for your future giant breed.

Compare the various foods for large breed puppies, nutritional features, and ingredients listed below to help determine the right choice for your pet.

(Our Top Pick)

1. Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula Natural Large Breed Puppy Dry Dog Food

Blue Buffalo Life Protection Large Breed Puppy Food

About: Blue Buffalo’s Large Breed Chicken and Brown Rice recipe is a nutritious dry dog food that is designed to provide large breed puppies with exactly the kind of nutrition needed to live a long, healthy and happy life. And because it is made with a litany of high-quality ingredients, it is sure to please your puppy’s palate too.

Notable Features and Characteristics:

  • Deboned chicken is the first listed ingredient
  • Made with whole, nutritious grains and carbohydrates
  • Rich in omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants

Top Ingredients: Deboned Chicken, Chicken Meal, Whole Ground Brown Rice, Whole Ground Barley, Oatmeal, Menhaden Fish Meal (source of DHA-Docosahexaenoic Acid), Tomato Pomace (source of Lycopene), Chicken Fat (preserved with Mixed Tocopherols), Natural Chicken Flavor, Peas, Alfalfa Meal, Whole Potatoes, Flaxseed (source of Omega 3 and 6 Fatty Acids)

Customer Reviews: Most owners of large breeds were extremely happy with Blue Buffalo Life Protection, and several reported improvements in their dog’s mobility, energy level, and elimination habits after trying the recipe. Several even noted that dogs loved the taste so much that owners could use it as a treat.

Bottom Line: Most Blue Buffalo Life Protection recipes are very high-quality foods that are almost universally loved by dogs and their owners. It is a US-made dog food that satisfies almost every criterion you’d want for your large breed puppy, including an impressive ingredient list full of antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables and three different probiotic strains.

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2. Wellness Complete Health Large Breed Dry Puppy Food

Wellness Complete Health Large Breed Puppy Food

About: Wellness Complete Health is a great large breed puppy dry dog food that is specifically designed to meet the needs of growing large breed dogs. Made with only the most nutritious ingredients, including multiple proteins, antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables and an assortment of whole grains. Wellness Complete is clearly one of the best large breed dog food for puppies.

Notable Features and Characteristics:

  • Made in the USA and backed by the manufacturer’s wellness guarantee
  • Deboned chicken protein is the first listed ingredient
  • The recipe is packed with a variety of fruits and vegetables, including apples, spinach, and carrots

Top Ingredients: Deboned Chicken, Whitefish, Chicken Meal, Oatmeal, Ground Peas, Ground Barley, Ground Brown Rice, Salmon Meal (a source of DHA – Docosahexaenoic Acid), Tomato Pomace, Chicken Fat (preserved with mixed tocopherols, a natural source of Vitamin E), Tomatoes, Natural Chicken Flavor, Ground Flaxseed, Salmon Oil

Customer Reviews: Most owners who tried Wellness Complete raved about the quality of the dog food and its impressive ingredient list. Most puppies appear to like the food’s taste, and several dog owners noted that this product helped to make their dog’s coat shinier and it helped improve their breath too.

Bottom Line: Wellness Complete Health Large Breed Puppy is a recommended option for owners who are seeking a premium food for large breed puppies and are willing to pay premium prices to do so. It comes with almost everything you’d want in a large breed dog food, including probiotics, omega-3-rich ingredients, and several nutritious proteins.

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3. BLUE Wilderness High Protein Large Breed Puppy Food with Chicken

BLUE Wilderness Large Breed Dry Dog Food

About: BLUE Buffalo Wilderness Large Breed Puppy is a grain-free option that features all of the things you’d want for your puppy and none of the things you wouldn’t. Packed with all of the protein, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants large breeds need in their diet, this food is sure to please you and your four-footed friend.

Notable Features and Characteristics:

  • This grain-free recipe features no corn, wheat or rice
  • Fortified with five different probiotic strains
  • Made in the USA under strict safety guidelines

Top Ingredients: Deboned Chicken, Chicken Meal, Peas, Pea Protein, Tapioca Starch, Pea Starch, Menhaden Fish Meal (source of Omega 3 Fatty Acids), Dried Tomato Pomace, Natural Flavor, Flaxseed (source of Omega 6 Fatty Acids), Dried Egg, Chicken Fat (preserved with Mixed Tocopherols), Fish Oil, Dicalcium Phosphate, Dehydrated Alfalfa Meal, Salt, Dried Chicory Root

Customer Reviews: The majority of owners of large breeds who tried BLUE Wilderness were happy with the product and rated it highly. Several reported that this grain-free formula helped to eliminate their dog’s itchy skin and poor coat condition. Additionally, many owners noted improvements in their large breed puppy’s energy level and elimination habits, likely due to the five probiotics included in the formula.

Bottom Line: BLUE Buffalo Wilderness Large Breed Puppy is an extremely nutritious and high-quality food, which still bears a reasonable price tag. It is a great choice for owners seeking a grain-free recipe, and it is full of the probiotics, high-quality proteins and antioxidant-rich ingredients you’d want for your dog.

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4. NUTRO Wholesome Essentials Large Breed Puppy

NUTRO Wholesome Essentials Large Breed Puppy Dry Dog Food

About: NUTRO Wholesome Essentials Large Breed Dry Dog Food features an impressive ingredient list, which is comprised solely of non-GMO ingredients to give owners peace of mind. Designed to provide your large breed puppy with the best possible nutrition, NUTRO Wholesome Essentials features multiple protein sources, high-quality carbohydrates, and dried fruits and vegetables.

Notable Features and Characteristics:

  • Made without artificial flavors, colors or additives
  • Backed by the manufacturer’s money-back guarantee
  • Brown rice and sweet potatoes provide carbohydrate content, instead of corn or wheat

Top Ingredients: Chicken, Chicken Meal (source of Glucosamine and Chondroitin Sulfate), Brewers Rice, Split Peas, Whole Grain Sorghum, Whole Brown Rice, Chicken Fat (preserved with Mixed Tocopherols), Pea Protein, Lamb Meal (source of Glucosamine and Chondroitin Sulfate), Dried Sweet Potato, Natural Flavor, Dried Plain Beet Pulp, Fish Oil

Customer Reviews: Most owners of large breeds loved NUTRO Wholesome Essentials, and used phrases like “best large breed dog food on the market,” and “five stars,” when describing it. It helped improve the coat condition and elimination habits of several large breed puppies, and a few owners noted that it increased their dog’s energy level too.

Note that a few dog owners reported that this food upset their dog’s stomach, so be sure to switch to this (or any other) food slowly and gradually to give your dog’s body a chance to adjust.

Bottom Line: NUTRO Wholesome Essentials is a very high-quality large breed dog food that would make a great choice for most puppies. It doesn’t include any probiotics in the recipe, which is a bit disappointing, but you could always add a probiotic supplement if you like. NUTRO Wholesome Essentials Large Breed is also very reasonably priced given the high-quality ingredients it contains.

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5. Instinct Raw Boost Large Breed Puppy Food by Nature’s Variety

Instinct Raw Boost Large Breed Puppy FoodAbout: Instinct Raw Boost Large Breed Puppy is a super-premium dog food specially formulated with small pieces of freeze-dried raw meat to appeal to your large breed dog’s inner wolf. A grain-free recipe, Instinct Raw Boost is full of protein-rich food sources and high-value carbohydrates instead of corn and wheat.

Notable Features and Characteristics:

  • Contains several protein sources, including chicken, four different meat meals, eggs and liver
  • Contains herring meal and salmon oil to provide plenty of omega-3 fatty acids
  • Made in the USA with only the finest ingredients available

Top Ingredients: Chicken, Turkey Meal, Peas, Chickpeas, Chicken Eggs, Herring Meal, Tapioca, Chicken Fat (preserved with Mixed Tocopherols and Citric Acid), Ground Flaxseed, Freeze Dried Chicken, Dried Tomato Pomace, Chicken Meal, Lamb Meal, Menhaden Fish Meal

Customer Reviews: Most commenters had only good things to say about Instinct Raw Boost Large Breed and several reported improvements in their puppy’s immune health after making the switch. The inclusion of raw, freeze-dried protein was very popular with owners (and their dogs), as were the impressive number of fruits, vegetables, and seeds included in the recipe.

Do be aware that this is a very calorie-dense dog food, which caused some puppies to gain weight; so, use caution before feeding this to dogs that struggle to stay slim.

Bottom Line: Instinct Raw Boost is one of the few large breed puppy food formulas that contain raw, freeze-dried meats, and it is full of nutritious vegetables, fruits, and carbohydrates. However, these ingredients come at a price, and Instinct Raw Boost is much more expensive than the other foods in our review. Although, those willing to pay premium prices will likely be happy with this recipe.

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6. ORIJEN Dry Dog Food, Puppy Large, Biologically Appropriate & Grain Free

ORIJEN Dry Dog Food, Puppy Large, Biologically Appropriate & Grain FreeAbout: This premium, meat-based food for large breed puppies contains 38% protein, 20% carbohydrates, and no grains, potato, or tapioca. The poultry is free-range, the fish is wild-caught, and the eggs are laid in nests rather than factories.

Notable Features and Characteristics:

  • Made in the USA
  • 38% protein and 20% carbohydrates
  • 85% meat inclusions, 15% veggies & fruits, and 0% grain, tapioca, or plant protein concentrates
  • WholePrey ratios of fresh protein, organs, and cartilage or bone
  • Biologically Appropriate, grain-free dog food for large-breed puppies

Top Ingredients: Deboned chicken, deboned turkey, flounder, whole eggs, whole Atlantic mackerel, chicken liver, turkey liver, chicken heart, turkey heart, whole Atlantic herring, dehydrated chicken, dehydrated turkey, dehydrated mackerel, dehydrated chicken liver, whole dehydrated egg, whole red lentils, whole pinto beans, whole green peas, chicken necks, chicken kidney

Customer Reviews: While a couple of people said this large breed puppy formula made their dog sick, most critical reviews revolved around the high cost. The positive reviews raved that their large breed dogs loved the taste and were thriving on it, with many people commenting about how it’s “the best dog food ever.”

Bottom Line: This food for large breed puppies may be cost-prohibitive for many people, but if you can afford it, it’s one of the best options to meet the nutrition needs of your growing large breed puppy.

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7. Diamond Naturals Large Breed Puppy Real Lamb Recipe Premium

Diamond Naturals Large Breed Puppy Real Lamb Recipe Premium Dry Dog FoodAbout: This large breed puppy formula includes probiotics for improved digestion along with superfoods that are high in nutritional value. It also has omega fatty acids and guaranteed levels of glucosamine and chondroitin to meet the nutritional needs of large breed dogs.

Notable Features and Characteristics:

  • Made with pasture-raised lamb
  • Includes dog-specific probiotics
  • Made in the USA
  • Includes DHA
  • No corn, wheat, filler or artificial flavors, colors, or preservatives

Top Ingredients: Lamb, lamb meal, ground white rice, peas, pea flour, cracked pearled barley, chicken fat (preserved with mixed tocopherols), egg product, dried yeast, tomato pomace, potato protein, flaxseed, natural flavor, salmon oil (source of DHA), salt, DL-methionine, choline chloride, taurine, dried chicory root, L-Carnitine, kale, chia seed, pumpkin, blueberries, oranges

Customer Reviews: This recipe causes stomach problems in some large breeds, but most puppies love the taste and do well on this product.

Bottom Line: This is among the more affordable premium large breed puppy foods. It’s a recommended option if it doesn’t upset your dog’s stomach.

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8. Taste of The Wild Grain-Free Premium High Protein Pacific Stream Puppy – Smoked Salmon

Taste of The Wild Grain Free Premium High Protein Dry Dog FoodAbout: While not made specifically for a large breed puppy, this formula from Taste of the Wild is still a great choice for large breed puppies. It is specially formulated with important DHA, antioxidants, and probiotics to support healthy growth and strong muscles in dogs.

Notable Features and Characteristics:

  • Made with real salmon
  • Includes superfoods and probiotics
  • Made in the USA
  • Made with no grain, corn, wheat, filler, or artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives
  • Family-owned company

Top Ingredients: Salmon, ocean fish meal, sweet potatoes, peas, potatoes, canola oil, pea protein, tomato pomace, smoked salmon, salmon meal, natural flavor, salmon oil (a source of DHA), salt, choline chloride, taurine, dried chicory root, yucca schidigera extract, tomatoes, blueberries, raspberries

Customer Reviews: As with many dog foods, some puppies get sick from this food or refused to eat it, but most large breed puppies do well on it and enjoy the flavor.

Bottom Line: This is a good choice for large breed puppies, especially if they are allergic to chicken.

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9. Fromm Family Foods Gold Large Breed Puppy Dry Dog Food

Fromm Family Foods Gold Large Breed Puppy Dry Food

About: Fromm has some of the highest-quality foods on the market, and this large breed puppy dry dog food formula is no exception. Unlike other dog food brands that only have meat as the first one or two ingredients, this one has chicken-based ingredients in the top 3. 

Notable Features and Characteristics:

  • Includes duck, chicken, lamb, whole eggs, and real cheese
  • First 3 ingredients are all chicken-based
  • Family owned and operated company
  • Made in the USA

Top Ingredients: Chicken, Chicken Meal, Chicken Broth, Oat Groats, Pearled Barley, Brown Rice, Potatoes, Menhaden Fish Meal, Dried Tomato Pomace, Chicken Fat, Dried Egg Product, Chicken Liver, Whole Oats, Flaxseed, Brewers Dried Yeast, Whole Barley, Cheese, Salmon Oil, Duck, Lamb, Carrots, Sweet Potatoes

Customer Reviews: This product from Fromm makes some puppies sick due to the high protein content, but most dogs thrive on it and love the taste.

Bottom Line: This large breed puppy food appears to come highly recommended by several vets, breeders, and many others who work with dogs. It’s a bit on the pricy side, but most large breed puppies do very well on it.

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10. Tuffy’S Pet Food Nutrisource Large Breed Chicken & Rice Puppy Food

Tuffy'S Pet Food Nutrisource Large Breed Chicken & Rice Puppy Food

About: This large breed puppy food is a good value, with high-quality ingredients for the price. It’s more digestible than many other large breed puppy formulas.

Notable Features and Characteristics:

  • Easy to digest
  • Provides essential nutrients for large breed puppies
  • +85% Digestibility Rating

Top Ingredients: Chicken, chicken meal, brown rice, white rice, barley, corn gluten meal, oatmeal, beet pulp, chicken fat (preserved with mixed tocopherols and citric acid), natural flavors, fish meal (a source of fish oil), flax seeds, sunflower oil, dried egg product, brewers yeast, potassium chloride, kelp meal, salt

Customer Reviews: Most of the negative ratings are due to shipping issues rather than digestive problems. Most puppies love the taste with parents of large breeds noting healthy with shiny coats and a good growth rate.

Bottom Line: For a quality puppy food that won’t break the bank, this is a great choice for most large breeds.

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How to Select a Quality Large Breed Puppy Dog Food

All dogs need a healthy and nutritious diet for healthy growth, and there are a few important characteristics you’ll always want to seek when choosing a dog food recipe for your large breed puppy.

While you may not find a food that satisfies each of these criteria, you should certainly strive to select one that features most of those identified below.

In general, you’ll want to look for the following brand features and characteristics in the best food for large breed puppies:

1. Whole Protein at the Top of the Ingredient List

Although dogs are omnivores, protein should make up a very large portion of their daily caloric intake. Accordingly, the best food for large breed puppies will include whole protein meat, such as chicken, beef, pork or salmon, at the very beginning of the ingredient list.

2. Made Without Artificial Colors, Flavors and Other Additives

Dog food manufacturers often include options like artificial colors and flavors to make their recipes more appetizing and palatable.

However, these types of additives often trigger food allergies, and, if it is made with high-quality ingredients, they are unnecessary. Artificial colors are especially unnecessary, as your pup doesn’t care what color her dog food is.

3. Include Probiotics in the Recipe

Dog probiotics are beneficial bacteria that some manufacturers feature it in their recipes, which help to promote proper intestinal function.

Probiotics are also available in supplemental form, so you needn’t avoid foods without them, but those that include probiotics are clearly more convenient and often more cost-effective.

4. Do Not Include Unidentified Meat Meals or Meat By-products

While meat meals and meat by-products are nutritious and tasty ingredients that many manufacturers include in their large breed recipes, it is important to avoid those that do not identify the species they contain.

This is the only way to avoid meat meals and byproducts that include unsavory or unsafe protein ingredients.

In other words, food for large breed puppies containing “chicken by-products” or “lamb meal” is perfectly fine, but those containing “poultry meal” or “meat meal” should be avoided.

5. Rich in Omega-3 Fatty Acids

A dog fish oil supplement can help reduce inflammation, improve coat and skin condition, and support brain function in large breed puppies. Therefore, you’ll always want to look for puppy foods that contain several different sources of these important compounds. Flaxseed, salmon and fish meal are some of the best sources of omega-3 fatty acids, and you’ll see them included in many foods.

6. Have Plenty of Antioxidants 

Antioxidants help to support your large breed puppy’s immune system and keep him healthy. Antioxidants are typically found in colorful fruits and vegetables, such as blueberries, cranberries, pumpkin, spinach, kale, carrots, among others.

7. Made in a Country with High Safety and Quality-Control Standards

You’ll always want to be sure that your dog’s food is made without any dangerous or toxic contaminants and that includes the ingredients actually listed on the label. You’ll also want to be sure that the large breed dog food was handled and prepared properly, to ensure the best possible taste.

Although it is not a foolproof method, the best way to do so is by picking a dog food that is made in countries with high safety and quality-control standards. This essentially means buying foods made in the USA, Canada, New Zealand, Australia or Western Europe.

best dry puppy food large breed

Common Health Issues in Large Breed Puppies

When deciding which is the best food for large breed puppies, you’ll want to find one that helps address some of the most common health concerns from which large dog breeds often suffer. This will help ensure your large breed dog stays healthy and enjoys the highest quality of life possible.

But you’ll need to familiarize yourself with some of the frequent health issues of big and giant dog breeds first to have a good chance of accomplishing this goal.

Some of the most common health problems in large breed dogs include:

Bloat

Dog bloat is a potentially life-threatening injury that occurs when a dog’s stomach spins on its axis, thereby trapping gases inside. The pressure caused by these gases can lead to tissue death and even rupture, so such dogs require immediate medical attention if they are to have any chance of survival.

Bloat can occur in any breed, but it is most common among large and giant dog breeds – particularly those with deep chests, such as Great Danes, St. Bernards and Rottweilers.

To help reduce the chances of bloat, avoid foods that are unusually high in fat content and try to select one with a large kibble size. This will help slow your dog down at chow time, which will likely help reduce the chances of bloat.

Fortunately, many of the best large breed puppy foods are made with larger kibble, so you should be able to find one pretty easily.

Obesity

Any dog can become obese, but it is most common among adult large dog breeds. Part of this is due to the super-sized appetites of these dogs, but the increased risk of obesity also stems from the lower metabolic rate of these dogs.

The best way to avoid excessive weight gain is by ensuring your dog gets plenty of exercise and carefully monitoring your dog’s food intake, but you’ll also want to avoid super-high-calorie foods, which are often used to increase weight, muscle, and bulk.

Hip Dysplasia and Other Joint Problems

Hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia, arthritis, and other joint problems are incredibly common among adult large breed dogs. And, while many of these ailments have a genetic basis, they also appear to be influenced by environmental factors, such as exercise, growth rate, and diet.

Many of these problems precipitate from the accelerated growth rates of large breeds, which place unique demands on the bodies of these canines.

To give your large breed puppy the best chance of avoiding hip dysplasia and other joint issues as an adult, you’ll want to encourage a steady, moderate growth rate and select one of the best large breed puppy foods available.

Many such diets are made with lower calcium levels than normal foods, which appears to help prevent some of these joint-related problems.

You’ll also want to be sure to feed your dog a food with hip and joint supplements, such as chondroitin and glucosamine, as well as plenty of omega-3 fatty acids, to help keep inflammation to a minimum.

best dog food for large breed puppies

Summing Up the Best Dog Food for Large Breed Puppies

Which large breed puppy food would you recommend? Have you found a dog food that works well for you and your soon-to-be-giant breed dog? We’d love to hear about it.

Tell us the recipe you selected and what it was about the formula that appealed to you. Have you noticed any concrete health benefits from the dog food?

Let us know all about it in the comments below.

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