Feeding Guide For Large Dogs

28 Aug 2014 | by | Posted in: Health

Just like humans, our dogs also need the right nutrition to grow up the right way. It is imperative that utmost care is given to the nutrition and feeding of our dogs as the right nutrition and feeding directly impacts the health and growth of the dog.

As pet parents, some of us may be parents of big dog breeds. By big dog breeds we mean dogs that weigh more than 30 kgs. Golden Retrievers, Labrador retrievers, German Shepherds, St Bernards, Afghan Hounds, Doberman Pinscher are some examples of large dog breeds. Big dog breeds such as Retrievers and German Shepherds have a large skeletal frame and powerful joints that support their overall body weight. As a result they develop bigger appetites too. Some large dogs such as St Bernards have big appetites but slow metabolism rates while some big dogs such as German Shepherds and Labrador Retrievers are extremely athletic and require high energy foods as their metabolism levels are high.

Stages of Feeding:

 It is imperative to remember the number of meals that have to be given to your dogs should be directly related to their overall growth and energy pattern.

The feeding of young growing puppies is the start point of proper growth. Right feeding and diet have a direct impact on the skeletal development. Even though factors such as genetics, exercise and other environmental factors may affect the skeletal development, diet is the one factor that can be controlled and monitored by the parents. The nutritional requirement for puppies is very different from that of an adult dog as they require high levels of proteins fat, calcium and phosphorus to support the rapid growth and development. For large puppies, it will be ideal to feed them 2 - 4 meals a day. However for giant pups, to avoid over - eating, it will be ideal to split their meals to 3 - 6 times a day.

Expected Body Weight 4 - 12 weeks 3 - 6 months 6 -12 months 1 - 2 years
5 - 10 kg 75 - 190 gms 120 - 250 gms 135 - 220 gms Adult feed
10 - 20 kg 100 - 450 gms 200 - 550 gms 250 - 500 gms Adult Feed
20 - 40 kg 200 - 620 gms 450 - 850 gms 550 - 750 gms Adult Feed
40 - 50 kg 300 - 550 gms 550 - 950 gms 700 - 850 gms 650 - 720 gms
50 kg + 350 - 700 gms 650 - 1250 gms 850 - 1200 gms 850 - 1050 gms

Data courtesy: Wagg Dog

As the puppies grow into adults,  it is important that care is given on the overall nutrition intake. As dogs grow, minerals and calcium must be correctly proportioned in their food. Some large dogs may carry more body fat while others would have less body fat. It is vital to understand the metabolism rates of the dogs while feeding them. In case of slow metabolism, dogs will need less calories so as not to make them prone to weight gain. It will be good to include high quality protein foods and lower fat content in the food to control weight gain and minimise the effect of weight on the bones and joints and vital organs.

Large dogs are a high risk of developing orthopaedic problems such as hip dysplasia or elbow dysplasia and so utmost care should be given to factors such as how much should be fed to the dog and the number of times that the dog should be fed. In case you have a female large breed dog who is nursing, you will have to adjust the food intake and the intake of supplements.

How much to feed your dog?

Large breeds have a tendency to rush to eat their food  so it will be good to feed them smaller meals. How much to feed the dog depends on the lifestyle and the amount of exercise that the dog gets. If the dog is active high protein food would be ideal, if the dog has minimal exercise, lesser calories will be needed in the diet.

It would be advisable to ensure that immediately after having their meals, your dog does not indulge in heavy exercises such as running or jumping as large breeds are susceptible to developing bloat. 

Concerns about weight

We all love cute healthy puppies, but it is important to realise that puppies of large breeds tend to put on weight if not fed right. As pet parents it will be important that puppies and adult dogs are not overfed. Overfeeding will not only lead to medical conditions but in the long term can be the cause of death due to organ failure / poor skeletal growth.

In large dogs, obesity is a common nutritional disorder and it can further lead to medical problems such as dysplasia and arthritis. Diets with low calorie levels can help control the tendency of obesity. Also, parents should remember not to feed their dogs off the table scraps.

In case the growing weight is still a concern due to hormonal reasons, a food nutritionist should be contacted to devise an ideal food and dietary plan for the dog.

Products in the market

In the market there are foods that can be bought for the dogs. Brands such asFarmina, Science Plan, Royal Canin, Eukanuba have foods specially designed for the dog breeds based on their overall nutritional requirements. While selecting a food for your dog, ensure that you have a good understanding of the lifestyle that your dog has and his / her food requirements. Most of the kibble foods have a feeding guideline mentioned on their packs. Based on the exercise and activity levels of your dog, you may adjust the amount of kibble being served.

Size of Dog Type of Breed Dog Weight Daily Feeding
Young Dogs Puppies - -
Small Poodles / Corgi / Jack Russel terrier 3 - 10 kgs 75 - 200 gms
Medium Beagles / Cocker Spaniels 10 - 20 kgs 200 - 400 gms
Large Labrador / Alsation  20 - 40 kgs 400 - 600 gms
Extra Large Bloodhound / St. Bernard / Great Dane 40 kg + 600 + gms

 Data courtesy: Wagg Dog

If your dog prefers home cooked meals over kibble food available in the markets, you may want to take the opinion and advice of a nutritionist to understand what all foods will be good and give the maximum nutrition to your dog.  

Do keep in mind that while you experiment and conduct a research on the optimum food that should be fed to your dog, avoid over feeding at any cost as it may lead to medical and behavioural concerns in dogs. The amount of food to be fed to the dogs and the feeding time should be controlled and monitored for optimum growth and nutrition of your dog.

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