Large and giant dog breeds are genetically predisposed to grow too much.
Large breeds reach 50 % of their body weight at approximately 5 months of age.
Great Danes, Labrador retrievers, German shepherds, and are examples of large and giant dog breeds.
Large Breed Dogs
A large breed dog is a dog weighing 26 – 45 Kg (56-100 lb)when he’s full grown, which generally occurs between 10 and 24 months of age, according to the breed.
They have a short life expectancy, which ranges from 9 to 12 years old.
Giant Breed Dogs
Giant dogs weigh more than 45 kg (100 lb).It takes 18 to 24 months for giant breed puppies to reach adulthood.
Giant dogs have a shorter life expectancy than large breed dogs.
They usually are able to reach 7 to 9 years old.
They were bred to work in cold weather and are frequently used today as rescue dogs as well as being extraordinary pets.
“Life Stage Nutrition”
What are the specificities of large and giant dog breed puppies?
The nutritional aim for large and giant breed puppies should be controlled growth – not overgrowth.
Veterinarians recommend you feed your puppy the amount of food required to keep him lean, which corresponds to a 4 out of 9 body condition score.
Large breed puppies are more vulnerable to developmental bone and joint pathologies during their rapid growth phase to 1 year of age.
When a puppy’s body gets too big, too fast, it puts stress on the developing skeleton.
Fast bone growth can result in structural deficiencies of the bones, which makes the skeleton less able to bear the increasing body weight.
The components of nutrition that have been scientifically proven to harmfully impact skeletal development in puppies are:
- Fat (too much calories)
- High or unbalanced mineral content (calcium and phosphorus)
- High fat/calorie intake causes rapid weight increase, and bones/muscles aren’t developed enough to bear the excessive body weight
- Controlling the fat content and full amount of calories in the food reduce the risk of developmental bone and joint problems
- Excessive calcium intake increases the probability of skeletal problems
- Calcium supplements should not be add to commercial pet food for growth
In my view, some significant attributes of dog food composition for different life stages in large and giant dogs are the follow:
|Life Stage||Food Attributes|
|Puppy (weaning to 15 – 24 months old)||
|Adult (> 15 -24 months of age)||
Things to Remember
If you have a large or giant dog breed you should keep in your mind that:
- Feed your large or giant breed dog the right amount at the right intervals
- Large and giant breed dogs are much more prone to joint and bone pathologies
- Exercise your dog frequently
- Avoid excessive or intense physical activities until they are old enough to avoid injury
- Maintain and monitor your dog’s weight
- Obesity and inactivity are the foremost risk factors for joint problems
- Consult a veterinary opinion before beginning a new exercise plan
- Never free feed
- Keep the puppy lean (4/9 or 5/9)