Best Dog Food for Large Breed Puppies and Small Breed Puppies

by | Mar 3, 2019 | 0 comments

Today is D day. It has been a long time coming and finally, you can now pick up and bring home your new bundle of joy. The fur baby that has been giving you sleepless nights and jitters on how best to raise him is finally coming home.

 You have done your best to make your home as comfortable as possible. You have the best dog bed you could find and the dog crate is in place. On one corner of the living room is a basket choking with chew toys to keep your pup busy and spare your couches from damage. And, you have a bag of the best dog food you found at the store.

 The question is did you buy your pup the best dog food for large breed puppies or the best food for small breed puppies? If you have a husky, you should buy him the best dog food for husky puppy and if yours is a Chihuahua, then the best dog food for Chihuahua puppy is what you ought to buy.

 But, how do you choose the best dog food for large breed puppies? What’s the difference between the best food for large breed puppies and the best food for small breed puppies? Choosing the best food for husky puppy or the best dog food for Chihuahua puppy can be overwhelming.

 There are so many brands and varieties to choose from that choosing the wrong one is easy. Each dog breed is different and each individual dog is different. So, what do you look out for and what do you avoid? In this article, we are going to look at the best food for large breed puppies and the best food for small breed puppies.

 But, let us first understand how to choose the best dog foods for puppies in general.

Best Dog Food for Small and Large Puppies

Small Breeds - Holistic Select dry food
  • Focuses on your dog’s digestive health
  • Includes prebiotics and probiotics, fiber, digestive enzymes and digestive botanicals
  • Perfect for dogs with food sensitivities
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Small Breeds - Wellness Complete Health dry food
  • Blend of hearty ingredients for a balanced daily diet
  • Small kibble size, perfect for puppies
  • Oatmeal provides your dog with all-day energy
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Small Breeds - Canidae Pure wet food
  • Helps puppies build a healthy feeding foundation
  • Irresistible flavor with fewer ingredients
  • Includes salmon oil, which helps with brain and eye development
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Large Breeds - Fromm Family dry food
  • The first three ingredients here are poultry-based proteins
  • More nutritional value and better ingredients compared to cheaper options
  • Many essential vitamins, minerals, oils, and fatty acids
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Large Breeds - Nutro Wholesome Essentials dry food
  • Includes glucosamine and chondroitin, which are essential for large breed dogs as they promote joint health
  • Provides lean proteins for muscle growth
  • Made from 100% natural ingredients
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Best dog food for large breed puppies

According to the American Kennel Club, there are nearly 200 dog breeds. The breeds feature in different categories namely, large dog breeds, small dog breeds, working dogs, companion dogs, and even hybrid designer dogs. Each of these breeds has a different nutritional need which is why your choice of best dog food for large breed puppies matters.

Puppy Nutrition 101 – the best dog food for small breed puppies

One of the most important components of any pup food is proteins. Proteins help with cell development, repair, and function. According to experts, puppies require double as much nutrition as they do in adulthood. That number translates to 5.5 grams of protein/pound of their weight till maturity for quality best dog food for small breed puppies.

The second most important component of your dog’s diet is fat, and the recommendation is that your pup should eat food with a minimum of 8% fat content. As an adult, your dog only needs 5% of fat in their daily bowl of kibble. Fat is a good energy source for your pup as it also has properties that improve neurological function.

The last ingredient your pup needs are carbohydrates. While dogs are primarily carnivorous and would be just fine on an entirely meat-based diet, carbs provide them with energy as they need a lot of energy as they grow.

Choosing the best dog food for large breed puppies

Unlike small breed puppies, large breed puppies have a higher nutritional requirement. With the need for high-energy dog food with certain nutritional components, choosing the best food for large breed puppies becomes harder.

Large breed dogs fall under two categories, large breeds (these weigh a minimum of 70 pounds in adulthood) and giant breed dogs (weigh at least 100 pounds as adults). Because of their unique builds, dogs in this category grow rapidly between 3-6 months.

The rapid growth makes their bones less dense which in turn leads to weaker joints and skeleton. Large breed dogs are hence prone to musculoskeletal problems as they grow older. They suffer more from orthopedic diseases such as arthritis and hip dysplasia due to their hasty growth.

The best food for large breed puppies takes this into consideration and include minerals such as glucosamine and chondroitin to help strengthen their bones and joints as they grow. The best brands for large breed puppy food states on their labels if they have the right formulation for a large breed, rapidly growing puppies.

Speaking of labels …

What do you look for in dog food labels?

AAFCO has guidelines that manufacturers follow when labeling and processing the best dog food for large breed puppies and the best dog food for husky puppy or small breed puppies. The regulations might not be official, but they offer a starting place if you want to learn about dog labels.

The first place to look is the ingredients in the dog food you choose. Ideally, these should appear from the most dominant ingredient to the least quantity in the bottom. To put it more clearly, if the #1 ingredient in the best dog food for Chihuahua puppy is Salmon, Salmon should be at the top of the list.

A good rule of thumb is to choose dog foods with a decent protein source at the top. Additional labeling should tell you how much nutrition the food provides your dog. The categories tell you when you should feed your dog a particular type of food – puppy, all ages, large breed, or giant breed.

Then there is the matter of dry dog foods versus wet dog foods. For dry dog foods, we can categorize them into three categories:

Premium – these are the best dog food for large breed puppies with sensitivities and food allergies. They are pricier than any other dog foods, but they also have the best formulation to provide your pooch optimal nutrition.

If you want the best dog food for Chihuahua puppy that is easy to digest and full of nutrients, choose premium foods from brands such as Wellness and Orijen.

Mid-range – these fall below the premium dog foods but have an acceptable nutritional count to keep your dog healthy and nourished. They are more affordable than their high-end counterparts and you can find them in most pet food stores, shops, and supermarkets. Popular brands in this category include Natural Balance Castor & Pollux, and Pedigree.

Generic store brand dog foods – these are the cheapest of the lot and the majorities have fewer nutritional benefits than their labels claim. If you want the best dog food for Chihuahua or the best dog food for husky puppy with sensitive skin or stomach, steer clear of these dog foods.

They are cheaper than the first two, but the price compromise also means they have inferior ingredients. Dry dog food needs a binder to keep the kibble together. Generic brands have more filler than useful ingredients and unlike the pricier brands, the filler here is low quality and less nutritious. Popular brands in this category include Alpo and Purina Natural.

These are also harder to digest for puppies with sensitivities. However, if your dog is a hardy one who eats anything they come across without any complaints or signs of discomfort, generic dog foods will save you a buck or ten. Nevertheless, if you decide to feed your dog on the low-quality kibble, mix it up with higher quality or wet dog foods once in a while.

Best dog food for small breed puppies

Are you looking for the best dog food for chihuahua puppy? Our list below and our guide above will help you choose the best dog food for your small breed pup at all stages.

Holistic Select dry dog food for small breed puppies

One of the biggest problems in puppies is a food intolerance. Food intolerance stems from food having ingredients that your dog might find hard to digest. Holistic selects bag of kibble is the complete opposite of what you get in dog food that makes dinner time the worst time for your pup.

 As you’ll notice immediately you see a bag of Holistic select kibble, the manufacturer focuses on your dog’s digestive health. That means that the food has no additives, colors, or preservatives that do not occur naturally. There are no meat by-products and no wheat or wheat gluten.

 What you do have is a blend of ingredients that support your pup’s digestive health ensuring they absorb as many nutrients as possible. Some of the crucial ingredients that make Holistic one of the best brands for dog food include prebiotics and probiotics, the fiber, digestive enzymes, and the digestive botanicals they use in the kibble to aid digestion.

 For better brain and eye development, the manufacturer adds DHA on top of the premium ingredient list. The dominant protein sources in the kibble include real anchovies and sardines. From the many user reviews we have come across, this food is perfect for dogs with food sensitivities!

Holistic Select dry dog food

Focuses on your dog’s digestive health. That means no additives, colors, preservatives, meat by-products, wheat or wheat gluten.

Wellness Complete health dry dog food for small breed puppy

Your tiny pup might have a tiny body, but their soulful attitudes call for a holistic diet that provides them the energy and nutrients they need to grow healthy. Wellness complete health for small breed pups has a blend of hearty ingredients that provide your puppy with a balanced daily diet.

Because small breed pups have smaller snouts and mouths, Wellness has made the kibble size in this bag small to your dog can pick it up and eat easily. The kibble is made from real boneless turkey and salmon to provide your small breed puppy with the protein, amino acids, and the fatty acids they need.

Additional ingredients include oatmeal which provides your dog with all-day energy and adds fiber to ease digestion. The food is free of any meat by-products, fillers, or synthetic preservatives. The mix also includes fruits and vegetables that provide minerals, vitamins, and antioxidants.

Wellness Complete Health

Made from real boneless turkey and salmon, also includes oatmeal, fiber, fruits and vegetables.

Blue Buffalo freedom small breed dry dog food

The number 1 ingredient you should always look for in the best dog food for your puppy is real animal protein. In this bag of Buffalo freedom dog food for small breed puppies, the top ingredient is real chicken which provides the essential nutrient for healthy muscle development.

The food is grain-free, and to promote brain and eye development, Blue adds a blend of both DHA and ARA fatty acids to complement the nutritional value just like your pup would get from suckling.

With the exclusive needs of a small breed dog, you need a unique blend of ingredients to provide optimal nutrition. This bag of Buffalo freedom dry puppy food for small breed dog has the perfect blend of carbs and proteins guaranteeing your dog a healthy meal with every bite.

Like with many other foods from Blue, the Buffalo freedom is also fortified with LifeSource Bits that are bursting with vital antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals to supplement your dog’s diet. All the ingredients are blended in the precise ratios your pup needs at the crucial rapid growth stage to maintain immunity and good health.

The bag of kibble is also free of poultry by=products, corn, soy, gluten, or any synthetic flavors or preservatives.

Blue Buffalo Freedom

Grain-free, with a blend of both DHA and ARA fatty acids. Nutritional value just like your pup would get from suckling.

Canidae Pure wet dog food Puppy formula

If you don’t fancy the complex ingredients and fanciful names in dog food labels, then you can switch to a simple recipe with a can of wet dog food. This can of Canidae Pure wet puppy food comes from a special recipe that helps puppies build a healthy feeding foundation.

The best thing about wet dog foods is that the ingredients used are easy to digest for any dog, making these some of the best dog foods for puppies. Before your pup grows into adulthood, their little tummies are more delicate and require simpler but more nutritious foods.

Wet foods have a higher protein level per pound of food and the ingredients in wet foods have a higher nutritional value than that of dry dog foods. So what makes this particular can from Canidae pure so better than most dry dog foods?

For starters, the main protein is real chicken. The texture is extremely palatable thanks to the preparation process which involves cooking the chicken slowly in a blend of gravy and chicken broth your pup can’t resist. The irresistible flavor and fewer ingredients make this food one of the best for dogs with sensitive tummies and picky eaters.

The mixture is grain-free and has peas for additional vitamins and nutrients. The ingredient list also includes salmon oil that helps with brain and eye development and boosts your pup’s trainability. Each can have vitamin and mineral supplements to ensure your dog does not miss out on any of their daily nutritional requirements.

Canidae Pure wet dog food

Delicios recipe that is great for dogs with sensitive tummies and picky eaters. Grain-free and has peas for additional vitamins and nutrients.

Wellness just for puppy

While wet dog foods are pricier than dry dog foods, they offer the best nutrition for your dog. They have no filler content and are mostly made from 100% real animal protein, sometimes even chunky bits. Wet dog foods also have fewer ingredients making them the best foods for allergic dogs or dogs with sensitive tummies.

But not every dog has a sensitive tummy, and not every dog parent can afford to feed their pooch exclusively on wet dog foods. So, what is the alternative? The alternative is to switch foods once in a while.

Alternatively, you can buy both dry and wet dog foods and mix them up at feeding time to make the dry kibble tastier and more digestible. One of these best wet dog foods for small breed puppies is the Wellness complete health for a puppy. This food is made from natural ingredients with a recipe incorporating perfectly-balanced ratios.

The ingredients include premium chicken and salmon and for better brain and eye development, the can of wet dog food is fortified with DHA. Additional ingredients include whole grains, fresh fruits, and veggies providing your pooch with all the vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants they need.

Wellness Just for Puppy

Premium chicken and salmon and for better brain and eye development, fortified with DHA. Provides all the vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants your pooch needs.

Best dog food for husky puppy

Depending on who you ask, your husky will fall in one of two dog breed sizes – medium or large. In this post, we will consider huskies to be large breed dogs. Below is a list of best dog food for large breed puppies like huskies and German Shepherds.

Fromm Family large breed puppy food

Fromm family large breed puppy food is one of those best-kept secrets. The food is highly-nutritious and made from premium-quality ingredients. A bag of Fromm family dog food for large breed puppies is pricier than some popular puppy foods. However, it has more nutritional value and better ingredients, making the price a small compromise.

Most dry dog foods have animal-based proteins as the first two ingredients, but Fromm adds a generous and nutritious third serving of vital proteins. The first three ingredients here are poultry-based proteins namely duck, chicken, and whole eggs.

The high protein content of this dog food comes from the many protein sources from both plants and animals. According to some users, the high-protein content can make some dogs sick, but for highly energetic and working dogs, Fromm family dog food for large breeds is an ideal choice.

While the food has many more essential vitamins, minerals, oils, and fatty acids your dog requires, it has some fillers that food sensitive dogs might not like.

Fromm Family large breed puppy food

Highly-nutritious and made from premium-quality ingredients. Ideal for highly energetic and working dogs.

Nutro Wholesome Essentials

As the name suggests, Nutro wholesome essentials are full of essential nutrients made from holistic ingredients. With a reputation for manufacturing the best dog foods in the market, the Nutro’s wholesome essentials dog food for large breed puppies is no exception.

The kibble is full of flavor and fortified with essential minerals to ensure your pup grows into a strong, healthy dog. Among the supplements, your dog will get from the kibble include glucosamine and chondroitin. These minerals are essential for large breed dogs as they promote joint health, reducing the chances of your dog developing musculoskeletal complications.

The number one ingredient in this kibble is chicken or lamb which provides lean proteins for muscle growth. Brown rice and sweet potato provide the energy your dog needs while antioxidants boost your dog’s immune system. Nutro wholesome essentials dog food is made from 100% natural ingredients sourced from reliable farmers and suppliers.

Nutro Wholesome Essentials

100% natural and locally sourced. Plenty of supplements, including glucosamine and chondroitin for large breed dog's joints.

Orijen Grain-free dry puppy food

For puppies to grow strong and healthy, they need whole meats with the optimal nutritional value. Orijen sources the most nutritious, high-quality ingredients to use in their dog foods. The ingredients include free-range chicken, turkey, and fish caught from the wild.

If you are looking for a puppy food that will provide your pup with wholesome nourishment, then Orijen is an ideal choice. Because puppies require nutrient-dense foods for peak growth and to maintain their health, this bag is fortified with other proteins including eggs as well as fruits and vegetables so your pup can enjoy a balanced diet.

From the many reviews we have found online, users have immense praise for Orijen as their dogs seem to enjoy the food. There is also agreement that the food is gentle on your pup’s stomach as users consistently notice a firm, well-formed poop when the dog goes potty.

The food is ideal for dogs with sensitive stomachs and with vitamins, minerals, and fibers; this food promotes soft and shiny skin and coat health.

Orijen Grain-free dry puppy food

Promotes skin and coat health. Good for dogs with sensitive stomachs. Fortified to support growth.

Instinct Raw Boost puppy food

The Instinct raw boost best dog food for large breed puppies has all the nutrients to boost your pup’s potential to grow into the strong dog that they are. This bag of puppy kibble boasts a grain-free formulation making it ideal for puppies with grain allergies. The food is jam-packed with high-quality proteins from natural, free-range, freeze dried chicken.

The food boasts calcium and phosphorous fortification to strengthen your pup’s bones and teeth and DHA to enhance brain and eye development. Unlike many dry dog foods, Instinct avoids fillers and ingredients that add little to no value in your dog’s nutritional supply. The food is free of wheat, potato, corn, grains, soy, or by-product meals.

The food is also easily digestible and promotes gut health thanks to a mix of probiotics and omega 3 and 6 fatty acids. The recipe and formulation focus on providing large breed puppies with a complete and balanced diet. Each bag contains a blend of natural, raw meats just like your dog would instinctively hunt in the wild.

Instinct Raw Boost puppy food

Easily digestible and promotes healthy bones and teeth. Jam-packed with high-quality proteins.

Ingredients in the best dog foods

As you can already tell, you need to choose the food you feed your dog carefully. The best dog food for small breed puppies and large breed puppies should have the right balance of nutrients to be effective. Such ingredients include:

Non-synthetic preservatives – synthetic preservatives can cause allergic flare-ups and other foot-related complications. Experts advise that you only choose dog foods with natural preservatives such as Vitamins C and E among other plant extracts. Better yet, choose dog foods that have no preservatives.

Real meat – Yes, not all manufacturers use real, human grade meat in their dog food recipes. To cut costs, some use ingredients like chicken meal or salmon meal in place of real meat. Also, when you ensure the meat is whole, human grade meat, you guarantee your dog food worthy of human consumption which means healthier food.

Whole grains – this one is debatable. There are people who feel that dogs do not need any grains in their diets. However, whole grains add easily digestible fiber in your dog’s diet besides being a source of energy. Some are also full of proteins which are an essential dietary need in any pup’s diet.

Animal-based proteins you can identify – some cheap brands of dog food use vague ingredient list that a regular dog parent can’t understand. The best dog food for large breed puppies and the best dog food for small breed puppies boast easily-identifiable, real animal proteins. They include chicken, duck, lamb, venison, and salmon.

Fats – Fats are an essential component of the best dog food for large breed puppies and their smaller counterparts. The bag of dog food you choose to feed your ball of fur should have a description of the source of the fats in your dog food. Did the manufacturer use chicken fat or safflower oil?

Fats are the best source of Omega-3 and 6 fatty acids that promote healthy skin and a glowing coat.

Fruits and Veggies – While dogs are more carnivorous than herbivorous, they still get a good amount of nutrients from plant products. Fruits and vegetables are an especially good source of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants making them a vital ingredient in the best dog food for large breed puppies.

The nutrients from fruits and vegetables boost your dog’s immunity while the antioxidants help stabilize free radicals, protecting your dog from cancer. When looking for the best dog food, ensure they have fruits and vegetables on their ingredient list.

Amino acids – another vital ingredient in the best dog food for husky puppy or the best dog food for Chihuahua puppy is amino acids. These are essential if your dog to grow healthy. As you read the ingredient label, check for valine, histidine, lysine, leucine, threonine, methionine, tryptophan, phenylalanine, and arginine.

Other than the above, your pup also needs other crucial minerals for their bodies to function properly. Some of these minerals include magnesium, phosphorous, sulfur, and calcium. These minerals help strengthen your dog’s bone structure. Definitely a best dog food for Chihuahua puppy to consider.

Ingredients to steer clear off while shopping for the best dog food

Some marketers and manufacturers might try to push some products using every trick in the bag. However, as a savvy dog owner, you should know that some of those tricks include convincing you that some filler ingredients have some benefit to your dog.

Most of the ingredients we will look at below add little to no nutritional value to your husky’s or Chihuahua’s diet. On the contrary, some might cause more health problems later on in your pup’s life. They include:

Generic/rendered fat – while rendered fat is still fat, the source is what you would call rejects. It comes from animals on the death bed due to disease, from grocery meats that are past their expiry dates or from road kill. If the label on your best dog food for husky puppy reads rendered fat, drop it and turn around.

Food color – humans are visual beings and manufacturers know that you buy from what you see. Unscrupulous dog food makers add dyes in the food to give it a more appealing look. These dyes are chemical based and some have carcinogens, increasing the chances of your dog developing cancer.

Corn & Gluten – some manufacturers of low-cost dog foods use corn as a filler ingredient. The problem with corn is that it’s hard to digest, and it is a known allergen in some dogs. Low-cost dog food manufacturers also use gluten, a by-product from wheat processing, in place of protein. Beware of manufacturers that use gluten and market it as “protein” in dog food.

Animal by-products – if you are keen enough, you will notice that some ingredient lists have by-product meal, by-products, or bone meal on the ingredient list. The normal composition of these kinds of additives includes the animal waste left over after slaughter. Dog food manufacturers grind the hooves, heads, and bones, cook them then add this to the recipe.

Synthetic preservatives – most dry dog foods rely on preservatives so they can last longer. Some preservatives are more harmful than others and two of the common ones are known to cause kidney complications and cancer. The two synthetic preservatives to avoid like a plague in dog foods include BHA (Butylated Hydroxyanisole) and BHT (Butylated Hydroxytoluene).

Ethoxyquin – another common preservative whose original use was as an herbicide is Ethoxyquin. Today, some manufacturers use it as a preservative despite its rep as a harmful preservative responsible for the development of chronic and terminal illnesses in dogs.

Other additives you should avoid include hydrochloric acid, artificial Vitamin K3 or menadione – toxic and known to cause liver damage, propylene glycol – has antifreeze properties and prevents bacteria growth in dog food. However, propylene glycol also hinders the growth of useful gut bacteria, making it harder for your pup to digest foods with this additive.


Generally, large dog breeds grow faster between 3-6 months which is the most essential time to ensure they get optimal nutritional value. For small breed puppies, feed them puppy food up to 6 months then start switching to adult food. For large breed dogs, puppy food should be fed up to 12 months before switching.

Remember to check the ingredients list and choose dog foods with the most natural and recognizable ingredients. Pricier foods have better nutritional value while cheaper foods have fewer nutritious ingredients. However, there are affordable dog food brands that offer nearly as much nutrition as the premium brands.

Last, be cautious of the portions you feed your dog in the formative months and years as they will be the foundation of your dog’s health. If you overfeed your pup, they might develop obesity and joint problems as they grow older and that will cost you more on veterinary visits.

Choose wisely!

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Greg Holmes
Greg Holmes resides in Portland, OR with his wife and two daughters, as well as three Havanese dogs. Being an AKC-certified CGC Evaluator and a certified dog trainer, taking care of dogs has been a big part of his life ever since he was young. His love for dogs started when his father took him to the state dog shelter to find his first puppy, which he named Einstein because the dog presented with a very unruly coat when he saw it for the first time. From this experience, he has become a very strong advocate of "adopt don't shop" for aspiring pet parents.

Greg joined the team because he believes that every dog, regardless of breed or age, deserves critical attention and the best dog-related products in the market because man's best friend only deserves, well, the best. Being an active member of the American Kennel Club, he aims to provide up-to-date information to his readers and present factual data about the products available in the market.