What Is The Best Dog Food for a Great Pyrenees?
The Ultimate Great Pyrenees Food Buyer’s Guide
The Great Pyrenees is a very old livestock guarding dog. The breed has been used by shepherds to guard their flocks for hundreds of years in the Pyrenees Mountains of southern France and northern Spain. The dogs are protective by nature and will defend small animals and family members.
The breed is known to be gentle and good with children. They are confident, calm, patient, loyal, affectionate dogs, but they tend to be territorial because of their guarding instincts. They are also strong-willed and independent and they are somewhat reserved with strangers. They are intelligent dogs but they can be stubborn at times. They require good socialization. They enjoy cold weather and snow and tend to be lazy in warmer weather. Like some other breeds, the Great Pyrenees tends to drool and they do shed. They also have a reputation as nighttime barkers.
Not surprisingly, the breed does not do well in apartments or small suburban areas. They need room. The Great Pyrenees has seen a drop in numbers in recent years. They are now ranked 73rd in popularity in the United States, down from 69th in 2013, and 64th 2009. The Great Pyrenees is not the dog for everyone but they can be perfect in some homes.
Quick Look : Top 4 Best Dog Foods for Great Pyrenees
Great Pyrenees Diet & Nutrition
According to the standard for the breed, male dogs typically stand 27 to 32 inches tall and female dogs stand 25 to 29 inches tall. A male dog that is 27 inches tall should weigh about 100 pounds; a female dog that is 25 inches tall should weigh about 85 pounds. A Great Pryenees’s weight should be in proportion to their overall size and structure.
The Great Pyrenees is a majestic dog and they should appear elegant and balanced, with medium substance. While they are certainly very large dogs, they are not supposed to look like polar bears. They are beautiful white dogs and their diet and exercise should keep them fit and healthy. Like some other very large breeds, they can conserve their energy. They are not constantly on the go. While they do eat a lot of food compared to smaller dogs, they may not use as many calories as you expect.
Growing puppies and young adults use a lot of energy. They require a diet that features good quality protein. According to the National Research Council of the National Academies, an active adult Great Pyrenees weighing 100 pounds requires an average daily caloric intake of 2206 calories. Dogs that have been spayed/neutered, or that are older, or that are less active may need slightly fewer calories. Some dogs may need more calories depending on their level of activity and their individual metabolism. Growing puppies, for example, consume more calories than adult dogs and so do young adult dogs. A young Great Pyrenees puppy weighing 60 pounds needs an estimated 1671 calories per day.
Great Pyrenees are considered to be a giant breed, though there are larger breeds. Because this is a giant breed, it is important for puppies to grow slowly. Studies have shown that this helps prevent bone and joint problems later in life. It’s also important to pay special attention to the calcium and phosphorus levels in the food. For these reasons, we recommend feeding a good large breed puppy food to Great Pyrenees puppies. Adult dogs can eat food made for large breed dogs or all life stage foods. Foods made for large breeds and large breed puppies usually have slightly fewer calories than other dog foods. This is done because added weight on the skeletal structure of a giant breed dog is thought to contribute to hip dysplasia and other joint and musculo-skeletal problems. It’s important for giant breed puppies and adults to stay slim and not carry excess weight.
Breeders recommend that you do not add supplements to a good, balanced commercial puppy food. Over-supplementation or supplementation of the wrong thing can upset the nutrient balance of a food. This is particularly important with puppies when bones are developing. Adding extra calcium or other supplements to your puppy’s diet can lead to skeletal problems later and perhaps a need for surgery.
Feeding Your Great Pyrenees
The Great Pyrenees can usually eat most good quality dog foods. However, they do require good quality nutrition. This is really not a breed that can get by on cheaper dog foods. Your dog’s health depends on the nutrition you provide so cutting corners is not recommended.
We suggest that you measure the amount of food you feed and only leave the food sitting out for about half an hour. Then put it away. This should give your dog time to eat. If you free feed and leave the food sitting out all the time dogs usually nibble which puts on pounds. Most adult dogs do well eating two meals per day. Puppies can usually eat three meals per day until they are old enough to start eating on an adult schedule.
Great Pyrenees Health Problems
According to the Great Pyrenees Club of America the Great Pyrenees has few genetic health problems and is long-lived compared to other giant breed dogs. Great Pyrenees usually live to be 10-12 years old. Many giant breed dogs have shorter lifespans.
The Great Pryenees Club of American recommends that dogs considered for breeding be tested for the following: hip dysplasia and patellar luxation (similar to a slipped kneecap in humans); and a choice of one of the these tests –
- Cardiac Clearance with OFA evaluation
- Elbow Dysplasia OFA evaluation
- Shoulder OCD OFA evaluation (osteochondrosis dessecans – a bone or cartilage growth on the shoulder that can result in lameness; thought to be caused by calcium deposits)
- Thyroid Panel OFA
- ACVO Eye Examination OFA or CERF
- BAER Testing OFA (a painless hearing test)
- CMR DNA Testing (Canine Multifocal Retinopathy – a DNA test for an eye condition)
- GT DNA Testing (a DNA test for Glanzmann’s Thrombasthenia – a rare bleeding disorder)
You can find more information about Great Pyrenees health issues on the web site for the Great Pyrenees Club of America.
Most Great Pyrenees will never have any of these health problems but they can occur in the breed. Many dog lovers try to protect their dogs and keep them healthy by feeding a dog food with more natural ingredients so their immune system will stay as strong as possible. Many people recommend feeding a food that is free of some of the most common food irritants such as corn, soy, and wheat. These are not the most common dog food allergens – beef, dairy products, and chicken, for example, lead to more food allergies for dogs than corn, soy, and wheat. But many people like to avoid soy and grains in dog foods. There are many good grain free dog foods today if you want to feed one to your dog.
Avoiding artificial colors, flavors, sweeteners, and preservatives is also suggested as a way to help keep the immune system stronger.
Ingredients to Look for and Some to Avoid
Protein and fat are the main ingredients in the diet for the Great Pyrenees, as they are for most dogs. However, not all proteins and fats are the same. It’s important that the protein and fat in the dog food comes from good sources if you want your dog to be healthy.
Ideally you will select a dog food that features two or three meat proteins in the first several ingredients listed. Both whole meats and meat meals are good sources of protein. Whole meats refer to foods such as whole chicken, beef, fish, and lamb. Some people don’t like meat meals as much as whole meats but they are a concentrated form of the meat in which the moisture has been removed. They contain several times as much protein as a whole meat. Meat meals are usually quite acceptable as one of the first ingredients in a good quality dog food. They are used by many good dog food brands.
Dogs also need good sources of fat. You should look for named fat sources such as chicken fat. Other named fats also provide needed nutrients such as fish oil which can provide omega-3 fatty acid to help keep the skin and coat healthy. Puppies can benefit from DHA which is Docosahexaenoic acid. This is a specific form of omega-3 fatty acid that helps with brain and eye development. Older dogs seem to benefit from medium chain triglycerides which feature medium chain fatty acids (MCFAs). These have been found to help older dogs feel and act younger. They are often made from a combination of coconut oil and other oils.
If you want to avoid corn, soy, and wheat in your dog food, your Great Pyrenees may still be able to eat rice, barley, oats, or some other grain or cereal. Oats and barley, for example, can be good sources of dietary fiber. Or you can feed a grain free dog food that uses an alternate source of carbs such as sweet potatoes. You don’t have to feed a dog food with an excessively high percentage of protein but it’s a good idea to keep the carb percentage low to moderate.
Recommended Dog Food For An Adult Great Pyrenees
Every dog is an individual. Even dogs in the same breed can have different food needs. Some dogs need more calories than others. Some dogs will do better with more protein or fat than other dogs.
We are recommending a variety of foods for the Great Pyrenees. Some have grains and some don’t. We have selected foods without corn, wheat, and soy unless otherwise noted. You may have to try a couple of foods to find which one is best for your dog. You should also keep in mind that your dog’s diet needs can change as he grows and ages so you may have to change foods to accommodate him.
Top Rated Dog Foods for Great Pyrenees Adults
Designed specifically for large dogs over 50 pounds, Fromm Large Breed Adult Gold is one of our favorite dog foods for large dogs. It contains duck, chicken meal, and chicken as the first three ingredients. Chicken cartilage is added for a natural form of glucosamine to keep joints supple which is important for large dogs like the Great Pyrenees. The food contains no wheat, corn, or soy that might irritate the digestive system. Fromm Large Breed Adult Gold features moderate protein and fat which is better for large dogs like the Great Pyrenees. The food is moderate in terms of calories (378 kcal/cup) which helps your giant dog stay slim.
Acana is made by Champion Pet Foods, the same company that makes Orijen. Their Regional formulas, like Wild Prairie Regional, are 60 percent meat/fish from local sources. The first five ingredients are deboned chicken, chicken meal, green peas, turkey meal, and chicken liver oil. Acana is made in Champion’s own facilities and the company has an excellent reputation. This particular food has 31 percent crude protein and 17 percent crude fat; with 5 percent crude fiber. Metabolic Energy for ACANA Wild Prairie Dog Food is 3615 kcal/kg (434 kcal per 250ml cup) with 30% of energy from protein, 40% from fat and 30% from fruits and vegetables. It is AAFCO-approved for all life stages. We think this food, or one of the other Acana Regional formulas, would be very good for a Great Pyrenees.
We have heard great things about Victor dog food from lots of people. Victor is made by Mid America Pet Food – a company that co-packs for some other well-known brands. The company is located in Texas and it’s been in business for a long time. They were purchased by an investor last year and Victor dog food is becoming more widely available now. They currently have six highly active and sporting dog formulas; five formulas for normally active dogs; and four grain free formulas. All of their foods are free of corn, wheat, soy, gluten, and grain by-products. They use no artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives. The Yukon River Salmon formula has 32 percent crude protein, 15 percent crude fat, and 34 percent crude carbs. Seventy-six percent of the protein in the food comes from fish. We think this is a food you might consider for your Great Pyrenees, or check out one of Victor’s other formulas.
Now Fresh Grain Free Large Breed Adult Recipe is made by Petcurean. You may be more familiar with some of the other product lines from this Canadian company, such as Go!, Spike, or Summit. This food for large dogs is made from 100 percent fresh turkey, salmon, duck and 100 percent fresh omega 3 & 6 oils from coconuts and canola. It has no corn, wheat, or soy, and no other grains, gluten, or beef. It uses no rendered meats, no by-products, and no artificial preservatives.
The food does feature New Zealand green mussels and glucosamine and chondroitin for healthy joints. It has added L-Carnitine for a healthy heart and to help turn fat into lean muscle. It has taurine for good vision and heart function. And it has added pre- and probiotics for better digestion. The first ingredient is deboned turkey. The food contains 363 kcal/cup and has 27 percent crude protein and 13 percent crude fat. These levels should help your Great Pyrenees stay at a prime weight. We think this food has some good features for a giant breed in terms of bone and joint health and heart health, as well as quality ingredients.
We also like the fact that Fromm is a family-owned company in Wisconsin and they make their food in small batches fresh every morning. These are good ingredients from a respected company in a formula that should be good for your big dog. Your Great Pyrenees should stay healthy and fit with this large breed food.
Best Dog Foods for Great Pyrenees Puppies
As large breed puppies, Great Pyrenees puppies do have some special requirements. They often do well on good quality large breed puppy foods. These foods have slightly less protein than regular brands of puppy food. They also have less calcium and phosphorus than other puppy foods which is important for large breed puppies. It’s also important to make sure that the calcium to phosphorus ratio is accurate for large breed puppies like Great Pyrenees. This ratio should be very close to the following for large breed dogs: 1.2:1. That is 1.2 parts calcium to 1 part phosphorus. (There is some slight room for variation, such as 1.5:1, but the ratio should be close to this.) You can usually find this information in the nutritional analysis for a dog food. It may or may not be included on the label but you can usually find it on the company web site.
Here are some of the puppy foods we like for Great Pyrenees puppies.
|Fromm Large Breed Puppy Gold Formula
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|Canidae Life Stages Large Breed Puppy Dry Dog Food
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|Orijen Large Puppy Dog Food
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Similar to Fromm’s Large Breed Gold Adult formula, this large breed puppy formula contains no corn, wheat, or soy. The first three ingredients are duck, chicken meal, and chicken. The food is formulated for puppies who will grow to be over 50 pounds as adult dogs. Protein and fat in the food are moderate, and so are the calories, to help large breed puppies grow slowly. The technical analysis for the food shows the correct calcium to phosphorus ratio for large breed puppies. Fromm Large Breed Puppy Gold formula also has added DHA-rich salmon oil for good brain and eye development in puppies. The USDA-inspected ingredients for the food are delivered fresh each morning. We think this food should help large breed puppies grow slowly so they can avoid bone and joint problems as they get older.
Many breeders recommend Canidae to their puppy owners and feed it themselves. You can feed an All Life Stages food or you can feed a large/giant breed puppy food such as Canidae’s Life Stages Large Breed Puppy formula which features duck meal, brown rice, and lentils. It’s specially designed for puppies that will grow to be over 50 pounds as adults. Duck meal is high in omega-3 fatty acid which is good for reducing joint inflammation. Lentils are a non-grain, gluten free source of carbs. The food is also lower in protein and fat so it helps keep large breed puppies like the Great Pyrenees slim – which can help prevent hip dysplasia later in life.
As a puppy food, Canidae Life Stages Large Breed Puppy formula also contains high levels of DHA to help with cognitive development. And the food has no corn, wheat, soy, fillers, antibiotics, hormones, artificial flavors, colors, or preservatives. These are all things we look for in a good food for Great Pyrenees puppies.
Some people prefer to feed puppies a grain free formula. Orijen Puppy Large is similar to their adult formulas. It is a biologically appropriate dog food that features 80 percent whole prey – chicken, turkey, eggs, fish; and 20 percent fruits and vegetables. It contains zero percent grains and potatoes. It is a non-GMO food. The chicken and turkey are cage-free and the fish is wild-caught. This is a low-glycemic dog food to support healthy blood sugar levels. The first three ingredients are boneless chicken, chicken meal, and chicken liver. The food is fairly moderate in fat (16 percent crude fat) and high in protein (38 percent crude protein). It also provides the correct calcium to phosphorus ratio and natural DHA from fish for good brain development in puppies. Orijen Puppy Large has 456 kcal per 250ml cup (120g). This food has very good quality ingredients. Many dog lovers will like this grain free food for their puppies.
Best Dog Foods for the Senior Great Pyrenees
As noted, it is not unusual for a Great Pyrenees to live a long life. This means that you will probably need to consider what kind of food to feed your dog as he gets older. As your dog ages it’s a good idea to plan an annual senior check-up with your vet. Many older dogs, including the Great Pyrenees, begin to put on pounds as they get older. For this reason, most senior dog foods have fewer calories and they can skimp on protein. You should watch your older Great Pyrenees’s weight as he gets older to make sure he doesn’t become overweight. In some cases you can simply cut back on the portions of his regular dog food to help him stay fit or increase his exercise.
On the other hand, very old dogs often start to have some problems metabolizing nutrients, including protein. It can become hard for them to keep good muscle tone and weight as they age. For this reason, you may wish to avoid many dog foods labeled “senior.” These foods are often formulated for older dogs that have gained weight. Instead, look for a senior dog food that we like which has lots of protein. As long as your older dog doesn’t have any problems with his kidneys, there is no reason to avoid higher protein levels.
Orijen Senior provides plenty of excellent quality protein for your older Great Pyrenees. This food features free-run chicken and turkey, wild-caught fish, and nest-laid eggs. It helps keep older dogs in good muscle even as they become less active. Made of 80 percent meats and fish, the food is low-glycemic and has low carbs to help keep your older dog’s blood sugar steady. The food also contains natural sources of glucosamine and chondroitin to keep your Great Pyrenees’s joints healthy. The food is 38 percent crude protein and 15 percent crude fat. It checks in at 445 kcal per 250ml/120g cup. We think this is a very good food for senior dogs who often need extra protein as they get older.
This food comes in at $3.24/lb on Chewy.com…the best price we could find. It does cost more than other senior foods, but as health declines in older dogs it’s a good idea to splurge a little more on food to help prevent having to splurge on vet bills instead.
Best Dog Foods for Great Pyrenees with Skin Problems/Allergies
Like other dogs, some Great Pyrenees can have skin problems such as allergies. If your dog is having skin trouble, it’s a good idea to take your dog to the vet and get a diagnosis. This can ultimately save you a lot of money – and help your dog. You don’t want to keep buying expensive dog foods thinking your dog has a food allergy if he really has a problem that’s not food-related.
If your dog’s skin problems are food allergies, here is a food we think might help. It is free of ingredients that commonly result in allergic reactions.
Any dog suffering from skin problems or food allergies may benefit from Wild Calling!’s Xotic Essentials recipes. Formulas like their rabbit meal recipe use exotic meats that are rare in today’s pet food market so your dog hasn’t eaten them before – less chance of having an allergic reaction. The foods are also highly digestible. Wild Calling! also uses what they call LITe (limited ingredient technology). They don’t use any of the ingredients commonly found in most dog foods such as chicken, grain, gluten, egg, yeast, corn, wheat or soy. If your Great Pyrenees has a food allergy, he can really benefit from Wild Calling! The foods are formulated for rotational feeding and they offer several Xotic Essentials recipes, such as kangaroo and bison, so your dog doesn’t get over-exposed to one kind of meat protein. This is an All Life Stage food. We think that dogs with skin problems and food allergies can definitely benefit from these recipes.
This food is priced reasonably at around $3.57/lb on Chewy given its non-traditional ingredients that help reduce allergic reactions in your Great Pyrenees.
Best Dog Foods for Great Pyrenees with Sensitive Stomachs
Some dogs are susceptible to food sensitivities that affect their digestion and excretion. If your dog has a sensitive stomach it can be an indication of a food sensitivity, which is different form a food allergy. A dog with a food sensitivity will have gastrointestinal issues such as vomiting or diarrhea. Or it could be something more serious.
A dog with a sensitive stomach can often be helped by feeding the right dog food. Sticking to a limited ingredient diet food with as few ingredients as possible can reduce the chance of your dog having a bad reaction to something in the food.
If your Great Pyrenees can eat potatoes, we recommend Natural Balance L.I.D. Limited Ingredient Diets Potato & Duck Formula Dry Dog Food. This limited ingredient diet food has limited sources of protein and carbs. It’s also grain free and complete and balanced for puppies, adults, and senior dogs. The food is easy for your Great Pyrenees to digest and it contains no artificial flavors, colors, or preservatives. Natural Balance has several LID diets, including some specifically for large/giant breeds, but they are similar in purpose. Check the ingredients to see which ones your dog can eat.
Best Dog Foods for Overweight Great Pyrenees
If your Great Pyrenees becomes overweight, it may be due to overfeeding and not enough exercise. You can help your dog lose weight by cutting back on his portions and encouraging him to get more exercise. Don’t forget to watch the treats, too.
If your Great Pyrenees needs to lose more than a few pounds, however, you may need to consider a weight control dog food.
We do not recommend a weight control dog food for a puppy or a very old dog. These foods generally have fewer calories and may have some other differences in nutrients that make them inappropriate for growing puppies or older dogs who need special nutrition.
If you have a Great Pyrenees who needs to lose weight we recommend Merrick Grain Free Healthy Weight Recipe. We like the fact that this food has 32 percent crude protein. The crude fat percentage is between 8 and 11 percent with 5 percent crude fiber so your dog should not feel like he’s starving. It is AAFCO-approved for a maintenance diet. The food has 3,210 kcal per kilogram or 360 kcal per cup ME (metabolizable energy) on an as fed basis (calculated). It is grain free and made from 55 percent beef and poultry. And it contains no corn, wheat, or soy and no ingredients from China.
You can find it for $2.16/lb on Chewy in a 25 lb bag.
Another weight management food you might consider if your dog can eat grains is Fromm Weight Management Gold. The first three ingredients in the food are turkey liver, chicken meal, and pearled barley. It has 25 percent crude protein and 10 percent crude fat, with 7 percent crude fiber. The food has 341 kcal/cup and it’s AAFCO-approved for maintenance.
This food comes in options of 5, 15 or 33 pound bags. If you get the bulk version you can expect to pay around $1.53/lb.
If your dog can benefit from some weight loss, you should proceed slowly. No crash dieting. You should aim for your dog to lose no more than 3 to 5 percent of his body weight per month or about one percent each week.
Whether you are getting a new Great Pyrenees puppy or bringing home an older dog, Great Pyrenees are intelligent, loyal companions. We hope we have provided you with the information you need to feed your friend the best food possible.