Large and giant breeds have different nutritional needs to smaller dogs throughout their lives, beginning as puppies where they have a much slower growth rate than small breeds. Feeding the wrong diet to these larger dogs during growth can cause skeletal disorders either through feeding too much (with the excessive calories affect their growth) or through feeding too high a level of calcium which can lead to excessively rapid growth, making the dog more likely to have bone and joint problems like hip dysplasia, osteochondrosis, or hypertrophic osteodystrophy (HOD) develop. Feeding a balanced diet to large breed puppies is therefore essential to allow growth at the optimum rate.
As adults, large breeds can continue to suffer from problems associated with their joints. This is partly due to their size but also the amount of stress they put on their joints which can lead to deterioration and early breakdown of the cartilage and associated tissues. Joint supplements and balanced nutrients can help to support joint health and aid any inflammation that develops. Glucosamine, chondroitin, green-lipped mussel extract, as well as omega 3 oils, are all beneficial joint aids that can be added into their food or supplemented separately.
Compared to smaller dogs, large breed dogs are more prone to digestive and intestinal problems. Some of the reasons for this are that they have increased gut permeability (less protection against toxins and unwanted substances being absorbed) and decreased digestive tract transit time (food passes through their digestive system quicker). This can then cause both poorer stools and reduced absorption of nutrients. They need to have a careful balance of fibre from natural sources like alfalfa, sugar beet and whole grains to optimise digestion and stool quality. A diet based on hypoallergenic and easily digestible ingredients tend to suit these large breeds best.
Large and giant dogs have lower metabolisms compared to small breeds so they need to have either proportionately less food than you would feed a small breed or a lower energy diet. This can mean they become obese or overweight more easily if fed incorrectly as it is harder for these dogs to burn off the excess calories.
Large and giant breeds have shorter life spans compared to smaller dogs. Whilst the average life expectancy for small breeds is 12-14 years, for a large breed this drops to 8-10 years and for giant breeds it can be as low as 6-8 years. A recent study (2013) looked at over 50,000 dogs in North America and investigated whether these breeds were more prone to illness or started aging earlier or simply aged quicker. They found that in the majority of cases that large dogs aged at an accelerated pace, compared to smaller breeds. These findings suggest that it will be especially important with these large and giant breeds to feed them correctly as senior dogs in order to ensure they are getting balanced nutrients and extra ingredients to help with the ageing process. Feeding a tails.com blend is one way of making certain that your large breed gets everything he needs at every life stage from puppy up to senior. Our blend evolution system gently alters his blend as he gets older for instance, bringing in lower fat kibbles and joint supportive nutrients.