Labrador puppy

Do Large Breed puppies need special nutrition?

During their formative year and a half, it’s critical that your puppy’s nutrition supports growth and development for their XL size.

By Rudy Leschke —

2 Minute Read

breeds, Breeds + Lifestyle, featured

Just like any baby, the first several months of life is a crucial stage of development for puppies of all sizes (age 0-18 months for most dogs). During this time, your large breed pup is experiencing rapid growth and development. However, unlike their smaller cousins, due to their size, large breed puppies are susceptible to skeletal issues that can cause long-term health troubles. During this formative year and a half, it’s especially important that your puppy’s nutrition supports his/her growth and development appropriately for their extra-large size.   

3 Primary objectives of a Large Breed Puppy food: 

  • Deliver the right dietary energy to ensure optimal -rather than maximal- growth rate for proper skeletal development. 
  • Provide the right levels of calcium to prevent skeletal abnormalities. 
  • Provide the appropriate levels of protein to balance muscular and skeletal growth. 

 German Shepherd puppy

Dietary Energy + Fat: 

With large breed puppies, it’s important to control their nutrition to allow for optimal rather than maximal growth for proper skeletal development. The National Research Council report on Nutrient Requirements of Dogs and Cats cites research that shows feeding too much energy, even in conjunction with a well-balanced diet, will result in growth disorders in large breeds.   

To control this, growth rate needs to be monitored and calorie delivery controlled by way of portion control and food energy content. Large breed food energy levels should be 10 to 20% lower per kg of body weight than the daily energy requirements needed for medium size breeds. 

Energy levels in food are controlled via fat levels because fat has a much higher caloric value than the other nutrients present in a diet.   

  • Kcal - 3,800 Kcal/kg of body weight  
  • Fat - 14% to 17%  

*Note: This corresponds to a diet where 23% to 26% of the available calories are provided by fat.

Calcium Level: 

In addition to excess dietary energy, excessive calcium intake has also been shown to result in significant skeletal abnormalities.   

  • Calcium - 1.2% to 1.8%   


Dietary protein was once identified as a potential contributor to skeletal abnormalities, but studies at levels of 30% or less have not influenced the occurrence or severity of osteochondrosis. Regardless, slightly lower protein levels are recommended to balance muscular with skeletal growth. 

  • Protein - 26% to 28%

Personalize Your Large Breed Pup's Nutrition: 

While crafting the right nutrition for your big fur baby may be complicated, feeding them shouldn't be. Tailored will send the personalized nutrition your growing pup needs right to your door, complete with detailed feeding instructions, so all you need to do is play!    

Simply click here to start personalizing your puppy’s Tailored recipe. 

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