What Is The Best Dog Food for a Mastiff?
The Ultimate Mastiff Food Buyer’s Guide
One of the largest of all breeds, the Mastiff is a member of one of the biggest canine families. The mastiff or molosser family of dogs extends back to ancient times. It includes dozens of breeds that share common traits including the Tibetan Mastiff, Bull Mastiff, and Cane Corso.
However, the Mastiff breed, or English Mastiff as he is sometimes known, is a specific breed that traces back a couple of thousand years to Great Britain. They may have been brought to Britain by the Romans or earlier by other people. In early times the dogs were used for bear baiting, bull baiting, dog fighting and other blood sports, but they were later favored as guardians. The Mastiff is a natural guardian. They rarely bark and are more likely to hold an intruder until someone arrives or even sit on him instead of attacking. A Mastiff can make a good family dog if you have room and the budget to feed him. They are protective, good-natured, calm, and affectionate dogs.
Quick Look : Top 4 Best Dog Foods for Mastiffs
Mastiff Diet & Nutrition
According to the standard for the breed, Mastiffs are substantial dogs. They typically stand 30 inches tall (males). Between 28 and 36 inches is normal. It is not unusual for a Mastiff to weigh between 160-230 pounds.
Mastiffs tend to be laid back or even lazy so they do not expend a great deal of energy. Still, they consume a lot of food due to their size. Growing puppies and young adults will use up more energy than mature adults. They require a diet that features good quality protein. According to the National Research Council of the National Academies, an active adult Mastiff weighing 200 pounds requires an average daily caloric intake of 3710 calories. Dogs that have been spayed/neutered, or that are older, 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 adult Mastiff puppy weighing 160 pounds needs an estimated 3487 calories per day.
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 Mastiff puppies.
Feeding Your Mastiff
Mastiffs 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.
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. Since Mastiffs can be prone to bloating, most 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.
Mastiff Health Problems
Mastiffs can be prone to a number of eye problems as well as structural and joint problems such as hip and elbow dysplasia. Other issues that can appear in the breed include cancer, epilepsy, bloat, heart disease, hypothyroidism, von Willebrand’s Disease (vWD – a bleeding disorder), and Wobblers Syndrome. Some of these disorders can be affected by diet. You can find out more about Mastiff health issues by visiting the Mastiff Club of America’s web site.
Keeping your dog fit and keeping him from becoming overweight helps many giant breed dogs from experiencing problems due to structural or joint issues. Rapid growth as a puppy is also thought to play a part in Wobblers Syndrome.
There is no sure-fire way to prevent some of these health problems from occurring but many dog lovers try to protect their dogs by feeding a dog food with more natural ingredients to try to keep their dog’s immune system 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 a Mastiff, as they are for most dogs. However, not all protein and fat 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 Mastiff may still be able to eat rice, barley, oats, or some other grain or cereal. 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.
We are recommending a variety of foods for Mastiffs. Some have grains and some don’t. We have selected foods without corn, wheat, and soy unless otherwise noted. Most of these foods are specifically made for large or giant breeds. You may have to try a couple of foods to find which one is best for your Mastiff. 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.
Best Dog Foods for Mastiff 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 Mastiff. The food also has probiotics to help with digestion – something we like for a breed that is prone to bloating. 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 Mastiff. The food is moderate in terms of calories (378 kcal/cup) which helps your giant dog stay slim.
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 very large dog. Your Mastiff should stay healthy and fit with this large breed food.
Canidae is a brand recommended by Mastiff breeders. They have several good dog foods including both grain free and food with grains. Their All Life Stages formula features four meat protein meals – chicken, turkey, lamb, and fish and the first three ingredients are meat proteins. It includes guaranteed levels of probiotic cultures to help with digestion. Again, probiotics are desirable for a breed prone to bloat. The food also has guaranteed levels of antioxidants which help the immune system stay strong and guaranteed levels of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids for a healthy skin and coat.
This food has no wheat, corn, soy, fillers, antibiotics, hormones, artificial flavors, colors or preservatives, which we like. The protein and fat are also moderate which most people recommend for the Mastiff to keep him at a healthy weight. This is an All Life Stage food. It checks in with 468 kcal/cup.
If you are specifically looking for a grain free food for your Mastiff, we like Wellness CORE Grain Free Large Breed. The first three ingredients are deboned chicken, chicken meal, and turkey meal. The food is high in protein (34 percent crude protein) and relatively low in fat (12 percent crude fat) to help keep your Mastiff slim. It checks in at 346 kcal/cup. This food has 36 percent more protein than Wellness Large Breed Complete Health Adult Recipe. It also includes glucosamine and chondroitin for healthy joints; antioxidants, omega fatty acids, and probiotics. And it’s naturally gluten-free. We think this is a very good grain free dog food for Mastiffs or any large breed. The food even comes in a larger kibble size for your large dog.
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 Mastiff stay at a prime weight. We think this food has some good features for a Mastiff in terms of bone and joint health and heart health, as well as quality ingredients.
Best Dog Foods for Mastiff Puppies
As large breed puppies, Mastiff 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 Mastiffs. 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.
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.
Mastiff breeders often recommend Canidae for their dogs and puppies. 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 Mastiff 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 Mastiff 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 Mastiff
Your Mastiff may start showing signs of aging by the time he is about 7 years old, but it is not unusual for a Mastiff to live to be 10-12 years. Some Mastiffs live well into their teen years. As your Mastiff gets older, it’s a good idea to plan an annual senior check-up with your vet. Many older dogs begin to put on pounds as they become less active. For this reason, most senior dog foods have fewer calories and they can skimp on protein. You should watch your older Mastiff’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.
If you decide that your older Mastiff needs a senior dog food, here’s a food we like.
Older dogs can have difficulty metabolizing nutrients, especially protein. Orijen Senior provides plenty of excellent quality protein for your older Mastiff. 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 Mastiff’s bones and 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.
Best Dog Foods for Mastiffs with Skin Problems/Allergies
If your Mastiff is having skin problems or problems with food allergies, you will probably want to avoid foods that contain known food allergens such as beef, dairy products, chicken, lamb, fish, chicken eggs, corn, wheat, and soy. You may need to find a novel protein for your dog – a protein that he has not eaten previously. Natural Balance has a selection of limited ingredient diets that can be helpful for dogs with food allergies. You might try giving your dog the rabbit formula, kangaroo formula, venison formula, or bison formula. He should be able to eat a meat protein that he has not eaten previously without having an allergic reaction. Wild Calling! is another brand we like.
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 Mastiff 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.
Best Dog Foods for Mastiffs with Sensitive Stomachs
Many breeds of dog are susceptible to food sensitivities that affect their digestion and excretion. The Mastiff is no exception.
If your dog does have 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 Mastiff can eat potatoes, we recommend Dick Van Patten’s Natural Balance L.I.D. Limited Ingredient Diets Potato & Rabbit Dry Dog Formula. 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 Mastiff 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.
We know that some dogs have issues with potatoes and other ingredients, so we also recommend Wellness Simple for dogs with food sensitivities. The formulas feature only five main ingredients to keep things very simple for your Mastiff. Wellness makes formulas that are both grain free and some that have grains such as oatmeal. The food is easy to digest and contains probiotics and prebiotics to help the gastrointestinal system. It also contains omega fatty acids for good skin and coat. Formulas feature duck, salmon, turkey, and lamb. Wellness Simple comes in dry and canned formulas. You might find one of these formulas that your Mastiff can eat.
Finally, Acana Singles are worth mentioning if you have a dog with a sensitive stomach or a dog with food allergies. These limited ingredient foods can be good for some dogs with sensitive digestion.
Best Dog Foods for Overweight Mastiffs
Weight management is important for all dogs. It’s particularly important for a large breed dog like the Mastiff since being overweight or obese increases a dog’s risks of developing hip dysplasia.
If your large breed dog is five to 10 pounds overweight, you can probably help him lose a few pounds by managing his regular dog food and portions. Help him get some additional exercise. However, if your Mastiff is more than a few pounds overweight, you probably need to consider changing his food to 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 Mastiff who needs to lose weight, we recommend Wellness CORE Grain Free Reduced Fat Formula. This food is high in protein (33 percent) and low in fat (10 percent). It’s also gluten-free and grain free. It has 25 percent less protein than the original Wellness CORE formula. The food contains deboned turkey, turkey meal, and chicken meal. The food also includes antioxidants, omega fatty acids, glucosamine and probiotics. In fact, the ingredients look very similar to the original CORE formula. It has no corn, wheat, or soy.
If your dog needs to lose weight, 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 Mastiff puppy or bringing home an older dog, Mastiffs are great companions. We hope we have provided you with the information you need to feed your friend the best food possible.