Feeding Giant Breed Puppies: What You Need to Know

If you own a giant breed puppy, you know that it can be a challenge to figure out what and how much to feed them. It's important to understand the unique factors that come into play when feeding giant breed puppies, such as their growth rate and the ratio of calcium to phosphorus in their diet. This article will provide an overview of the key considerations for feeding giant breed puppies, from the perspective of a mother of large dogs based on years of experience and research. Compared to smaller breeds, two factors unique to how they grow make puppies of giant breeds more prone to skeletal problems.

Firstly, giant breed puppies grow faster than other breeds, so it's important to ensure that their growth rate is steady and healthy. Secondly, the ratio of calcium to phosphorus in their diet needs to be carefully monitored. Excess energy (calories) comes not only from how often you feed your giant breed puppy, but also from what you are feeding him. Feeding a diet that is too calorie-dense (high in fat) can cause a giant breed puppy to grow faster than its bones can accommodate, resulting in skeletal abnormalities such as hip dysplasia, OCD, and elbow dysplasia.

It's important to remember that your giant breed puppy will become the size it should be based on its genetics, not by how much you feed it at 10 weeks of age. What and how much you feed only affects how fast it grows. To ensure steady growth, keep your puppy fit (no ribs or bagels) and feed 3 meals a day only until your giant breed puppy is 4 months old, then switch to 2 meals per day. Never feed a giant breed puppy for free.

Giant breed puppies are unable to properly regulate the amount of calcium they absorb in the diet from the intestinal tract, and therefore can absorb and retain too much calcium, leading to skeletal malformations. As such, the optimal range for calcium intake is significantly narrower for giant breeds than for other dog breeds. The recommended range for dietary calcium in puppies of large breeds is 0.8% to 1.2% on a dry matter basis, up to 6 months of age. Additional calcium supplementation to a balanced diet (e.g.

dairy, bone meal, over-the-counter supplements) is contraindicated for puppies during this period, since excess calcium will be absorbed. Excess protein in a diet is not only unnecessary, but in puppies of large breeds it can result in an unbalanced ratio of calcium to phosphorus. If this ration is not ideal, a puppy's bones can grow too fast, which can lead to abnormal joint development, which can lead to arthritis in the future. Therefore, it's important to choose a large breed puppy food from a dog food company that has undergone AAFCO feeding tests. Commercial puppy and adult foods containing 10 to 25% fat (dry matter) are considered suitable for growth. When recommending a diet for a large breed puppy, it is important to choose one that has been feed-tested as set forth by the AAFCO and is made by a manufacturer who understands the unique nutritional concerns when feeding large breed puppies. Veterinarians discourage free feeding of large breed puppies, as this has also been linked to DOD.

Instead, feed your puppy several smaller meals throughout the day and monitor their weight to ensure they stay within a healthy range. Ask your veterinarian for help determining the right weight range for your dog's breed. In conclusion, feeding giant breed puppies requires careful consideration of their growth rate and dietary needs. Choose a reputable dog food manufacturer that has a formula for large breeds and do not hesitate to ask your veterinarian for recommendations.