Feed Your Breed Right
With such a variety of offerings in the pet food aisle, selecting the right food for your canine friend can feel complicated. Health issues and life stage may take precedence, but feeding according to breed-specific need is also an important consideration, especially for healthy adult dogs. Katy J. Nelson, DVM, a Virginia-based emergency veterinarian, weighs in on the appropriate kibble for Chihuahuas, beagles, shepherds and more.
1. If your dog is a … Chihuahua, teacup poodle, Brussels griffon, Maltese, Pekingese, Pomeranian, Yorkshire terrier or otherwise weighs in at 10 pounds or less
... it may require toy-breed formula
“The vast majority of toy dogs are shaky and are always cold,” says Dr. Nelson. “They’re worked up all day long over basically nothing.” As with fidgety people, the constant movement of toy dogs means they are burning energy all day long. They also have small stomachs that cannot hold big portions, so they need a formula that is especially calorie dense.
Small dogs also tend to have poor dental health and may benefit from tartar-controlling pet foods, which can help protect their teeth.
2. If your dog is a … Jack Russell, shih tzu, pug, Lhasa apso, cocker spaniel, border terrier, French bulldog, dachshund or weighs between 10 and 20 pounds
... it may require small-breed formula
In the commercial dog-food world, toy and small formulas are often one and the same, and with good reason: “A lot of small dogs are also high in energy and low in stomach capacity. Plus, they need bite-sized kibble for their relatively small mouths,” says Dr. Nelson.
However, small dogs are more likely than toy dogs to become overweight. To ensure that toy- and small-dog formulas do not pack the pounds on your pooch, small-dog owners need to be particularly attuned to portion control.
3. If your dog is a … schnauzer, beagle, border collie, bassett hound, Irish terrier, Portuguese water dog, shar-pei or weighs between 20 and 50 pounds
... it may require standard adult fare
Midsized dogs are considered standard by the pet food industry, and their needs encompass the needs of most dogs: high-quality protein to maintain muscle mass, fiber to promote intestinal health, fish oil for healthy skin and coat, carbohydrates for fuel, and vitamins and minerals for proper immune function.
“These are middle-of-the-road dogs,” says Dr. Nelson. “In adulthood, there’s not a lot separating their dietary needs from large breeds.” Such dogs do, however, reach what is considered old age more slowly than bigger dogs. Midsized canines can safely remain on adult -- as opposed to “maturity” -- formula through age 7.
4. If your dog is a … German shepherd, Labrador retriever, golden retriever, pointer, Great Dane, bullmastiff, Newfoundland, rottweiler or weighs over 50 pounds
... it may require large- and giant-breed formula
Post-puppyhood, large and giant breeds have the same nutritional requirements and the same concerns. “They have a lot more joint issues compared to smaller dogs,” says Dr. Nelson. Foods for these oversized dogs should contain glucosamine and chondroiton sulfate for joint health, as well as antioxidants like vitamin A and vitamin E to slow the effects of aging, which larger dogs do more quickly.
Finally, they also require fewer calories. Large-breed foods have less fat and calories per kibble because, with the exception of hunting dogs, the dogs they’re targeted at tend to be less active. The L-carnitine in these formulas will help large and giant dogs to burn fat more efficiently.
No matter what your dog’s breed, feeding the right formula will help maintain its health and longevity -- an objective that all dog lovers can agree on, regardless of their breed preferences.