Having a large breed puppy is a wonderful, yet fleeting experience. One day, you’re carrying a sleepy puppy into your home, within weeks, they’re bumbling around with those big, clumsy paws, and by 2 years, they’re fully grown.
Large breed puppies, those that will weigh at least 55 pounds when full grown, have unique requirements that you’ll have to meet to ensure they grow to be healthy, well-mannered adults.
What To Feed Your Large Breed Puppy
Large breed puppies grow very quickly. In weeks, they outgrow sweaters, harnesses and collars, and they’ll get heavier and heavier each time you pick them up.
Overfeeding your large breed puppy will increase the rate at which they grow, which can put unnecessary strain on their muscles, joints and skeletal system. Feed your puppy three times daily until 6 months of age, and always measure out their meals. Do not just “eyeball it,” or leave food in their bowl all day for your puppy to graze from. You can use the recommended serving sizes on the bag of food or ask your veterinarian how much your puppy should eat. Puppies should not be chubby. Like adult dogs, you should be able to feel their ribs through a thin layer of skin and fat.
Most puppy food is exceptionally high in calories, mineral content and protein, which is acceptable for many breeds, but can even further accelerate your large breed puppy’s growth. Only feed large breed puppy or all life stages kibble formulas. When you order Fromm in our online shop, be sure to select “Large Breed.”
How Much Exercise Is Appropriate For A Large Breed Puppy?
Your puppy has soft areas of tissue at the ends of their bones called growth plates. Injuries to the growth plates can lead to bone deformities, and has been linked to hip dysplasia later on in life.
However, you may find that your fuzzy ball of energy is impossible to live with when they’re not given an opportunity to get tuckered out during the day.
Veterinarians have differing opinions on how much exercise your large breed puppy can have. To be safe, avoid high-impact activities that involve jumping and long periods of running, like agility and bikejoring. Your puppy should have consistent exercise rather than lie around all week and go for big hikes over the weekend.
You can also tire your puppy out with mentally engaging activities like food puzzles such as Seek A Treat Discovery Wheel Puzzle, clicker training and nose work. Activities that require your puppy to use their brain will encourage them to be calm and focused, though you should keep training sessions brief while your puppy is very young and learning to control their impulses.
The Importance Of Socializing Your Large Breed Puppy
All puppies need to be socialized, and deserve to learn to tolerate people and other dogs at a young age so they can enjoy fun outings and greeting visitors without suffering from anxiety. However, it’s especially critical when you’re going to someday have a large dog capable of causing severe injuries.
While you are waiting for your puppy to complete their core vaccines, they can be socialized with kids, adults and gentle dogs that are known to be healthy. Introduce your puppy to people of all ages, races, and in different attire, so they will not, for example, be unfamiliar with people in hats, coats, or on bicycles. Do not take your puppy to the park, or to most public places in which other dogs are allowed to roam.
A few weeks after your puppy has completed their last round of vaccines, you can start to take them out in public for even more socialization. It’s better for your puppy to have a few positive experiences than for them to have many, sometimes scary experiences. For example, if you go to the dog park, and your puppy gets trampled or attacked by other dogs, they can become fear-aggressive towards other dogs because of that negative experience.
It is not necessary for your puppy to interact with every dog and human. You may not want your puppy to be extremely friendly, depending on your training goals. If your puppy is constantly preoccupied with other people or dogs, you will find it difficult to maintain their attention when you are out and about. Train your puppy in many environments and around different people and animals, praise and reward them heavily for paying attention to you despite distractions. Only when your dog is able to focus their attention on you, can you begin to ask for known commands like “sit” and “shake.”