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Also known as the English Mastiff or the Old English Mastiff, the Mastiff is one of the largest breeds out there. In addition to their massive size, these dogs are also known for their wrinkled snouts and dark facial markings. The Mastiff is a very old breed that was originally developed to guard estates – the breed does very well as a guard dog or watch dog. Even though these dogs are incredibly protective, they are not meant to be aggressive and they can form very strong bonds with family. They need plenty of socialization from an early age, however, and you should start training your Mastiff puppy as early as possible as well before he outgrows you. These dogs do not need a great deal of exercise but a daily walk is recommended to help prevent the dog from becoming overweight or obese.

The Mastiff is frequently called a “gentle giant” because, despite its massive size, the breed is very patient and loving. This breed does sometimes have a tendency to develop a stubborn streak, however, so early socialization and lifelong training is a must. Because the Mastiff is such a large dog, puppies take quite a while to reach maturity – in fact, many breeders keep Mastiff puppies until they are 12 weeks old to ensure that they are fully ready to go to their new homes. The average adult size for the Mastiff is between 27.5 and 30 inches with an adult weight between 120 and 230 pounds. For a dog of this size, you shouldn’t be surprised to learn that the breed’s average lifespan is between 8 and 10 years. These dogs are prone to a number of health problems including bone and joint disorders like hip dysplasia and elbow dysplasia as well as bloat, heart conditions, and various eye problems.

As a giant breed, the Mastiff requires a lot of calories on a daily basis to maintain his lean muscle mass. Because these dogs are not overly energetic, however, there is a fine line between feeding this breed enough and feeding him too much. You also want to make sure that your Mastiff’s diet provides support for his bones and joints as well as probiotics for healthy and regular digestion. The best way to ensure that your Mastiff’s specific nutritional needs are met is to select a large-breed or giant-breed formula. Keep reading to learn more about the nutritional requirements for Mastiffs and to receive recommendations for quality dog food brands for this wonderful breed.

General Nutritional Recommendations for Mastiffs

Feeding your dog a high-quality diet is very important no matter what kind of dog you have. With a massive breed like the Mastiff, however, it is even more important because if your dog doesn’t get the nutrients he needs, his body won’t be able to function properly. When it comes to a balanced diet for dogs, the three main nutrients you need to worry about are protein, fat, and carbohydrate. Protein and fat should come primarily from animal-based sources to ensure maximum bioavailability. Your dog has a limited ability to digest plant products, so any plant-based ingredients in your dog’s diet should come from highly digestible sources. In fact, your dog’s food should provide no more than 5% crude fiber because too much more than that could cause digestive problems.

Protein is the most important nutrient for dogs, so it should be at the top of the ingredients list for your dog’s food. The Merck Veterinary Manual recommends a minimum protein content for adult dogs of 18% and 22% for puppies, with a 5% minimum of fats for adults and 8% for puppies. For giant breeds like the Mastiff, the more protein you can squeeze into your dog’s diet, the better. Protein is absolutely necessary to help your dog maintain his lean muscle mass. While more protein is always better for Mastiffs, you need to be careful about feeding him too much fat. Fat is a concentrated source of energy for dogs but it contains 9 calories per gram, compared to just 4 calories per gram for protein and carbohydrate. You don’t want to go overboard on fat for your Mastiff because it could contribute to unhealthy weight gain or even obesity.

When it comes to carbohydrates in your Mastiff’s diet, you want to make sure that they come from digestible sources. Whole grains like brown rice and oatmeal are generally considered to be digestible for dogs, though some dogs have allergies or sensitivities to grains. For grain-free options, look for a dog food made with sweet potatoes, peas, or other starchy vegetables and legumes. Carbohydrates provide dietary fiber to support your dog’s digestion but they also provide some vitamins and minerals. Still, a high-quality dog food will contain nutritional supplements to ensure complete and balanced nutrition. Things like chelated minerals are always a valuable addition, as are dried fermentation products – these act as probiotics to provide digestive support. Avoid any product made with low-quality ingredients, non-nutritive fillers, and artificial additives.

Special Dietary and Nutritional Concerns

Because the Mastiff is such a giant breed, you need to make sure that your dog gets enough food to support his mass. Even as a puppy, your Mastiff will probably eat 4 cups of food per day, or more – once he reaches adulthood it could be as much as 12 cups a day! You should not just fill your dog’s bowl with food in the morning and walk away, however – your Mastiff’s meals should be evenly spaced throughout the day. With giant dogs like the Mastiff you need to walk the line between feeding your dog enough and feeding him too much. If your dog doesn’t get enough food, he may not grow and develop properly. On the other hand, if you feed him too much, he could grow at an excessive rate which might put too much strain on his developing bones and joints. Overgrowth can increase your dog’s risk for developing musculoskeletal issues as an adult.

When determining how much to feed your Mastiff, you may find it easier to think in terms of calories rather than cups of food. Each pet food product is formulated differently – you may have one product that contains about 350 calories per cup and another that contains 500 calories. Most adult dogs need about 30 calories per pound of bodyweight to maintain their lean muscle mass. For large and giant breeds like the Mastiff, however, you are probably looking at something closer to 20 calories per pound. Still, that adds up to quite a sizable number! Even if your Mastiff stops growing at the low end of the breed’s size range (about 120 pounds), he could still be eating 2,400 calories per day. If he weighs more than 200 pounds, he could be eating well over 4,000 calories per day. Determine your dog’s calorie needs based on his weight, then calculate how much to feed him on a daily basis using the feeding recommendations on the pet food package of your choice.

In addition to making sure that your Mastiff gets enough calories, you also need to make sure that he gets the right ratio of protein to fat. His diet should consist of at least 18% protein (but more is always better) to help him maintain his lean muscle mass. Look for a product that provides moderate fat content (a minimum of 5% but no more than 15%) to give your Mastiff the energy he needs without going overboard. Your Mastiff can also benefit from a formula that is supplemented with glucosamine and chondroitin for bone and joint support as well as probiotics for healthy digestion to ensure that his body is able to absorb and utilize the nutrients from the food he eats. To make sure that all of these needs are met, your best bet is to select a giant-breed specific dog food formula.

What is the Best Dog Food for my Mastiff?

Because the Mastiff grows to an average size over 100 pounds, you need to select a commercial dog food product that will meet his unique nutritional and energy needs. The best choice would be a large- or giant-breed specific recipe made from high-quality ingredients. Not only does your Mastiff require a great deal of protein to support his lean muscle mass, but he needs plenty of fiber to help him digest and absorb nutrients from the large amounts of food he eats. Mastiffs can also benefit from a diet that is supplemented with glucosamine and chondroitin for extra bone and joint support. Below you will find reviews for several high-quality dog food formulas that could be a good choice for your Mastiff:

Castor & Pollux Organix Large Breed Adult Chicken Formula

First 5 Ingredients : Organic Chicken, Organic Chicken Meal, Organic Sweet Potatoes, Organic Chickpeas, Organic Peas

Castor & Pollux Organix Large Breed Adult Chicken Formula

For a high-quality diet formulated for large breeds like the Mastiff, consider this Castor & Pollux Organix Large Breed Adult Chicken Formula. This formula is made with organic free-range chicken as the primary ingredient with chicken meal, salmon meal, and egg as supplementary protein sources. With healthy fats like chicken fat and flaxseed, this recipe supports your dog’s healthy skin and coat, plus it comes in larger kibbles which are perfect for large-breed dogs. This recipe is fortified with vitamin and mineral supplements as well as dried fermentation products which act as probiotics to support your dog’s healthy and regular digestion. It is also free from corn, wheat, and soy ingredients!

Precise Holistic Complete Large & Giant Breed Adult Dry Formula

First 5 Ingredients : Chicken, Chicken Meal, Ground Brown Rice, Oatmeal, Chicken Fat (Preserved with Mixed Tocopherols and Ascorbyl Palmitate)

Precise Holistic Complete Large & Giant Breed Adult Dry Formula

Dogs that grow to more than 50 pounds at maturity have unique nutritional needs and this Precise Holistic Complete Large & Giant Breed Adult Dry Formula is designed to meet those needs. This formula offers triple protein support to help your Mastiff maintain his lean muscle mass with optimal calcium and phosphorus ratios for bone and joint support. With digestible carbohydrates like brown rice and oatmeal, this recipe helps to support regular and healthy digestion – it also contains supplementary sources of fiber like rice bran and flaxseed. This recipe relies on quality fats like chicken fat and menhaden fish oil for skin and coat health, as well as chelated minerals for maximum nutrient absorption. Plus, it is a holistic formula so it doesn’t contain any unnecessary additives.

Blue Buffalo Wilderness Large Breed Adult Chicken Recipe

First 5 Ingredients : Deboned Chicken, Chicken Meal, Pea Protein, Peas, Tapioca Starch

Blue Buffalo Wilderness Large Breed Adult Chicken Recipe

The Blue Buffalo Wilderness line of products features protein-rich recipes inspired by the natural diet of wild wolves. For a giant breed like the Mastiff who has high needs for protein, the Blue Buffalo Wilderness Large Breed Adult Chicken Recipe is a great option. This formula features deboned chicken, chicken meal, and turkey meal as the primary sources of protein, offering a minimum crude protein content of 36% with just 13% fat. In addition to plenty of protein, this formula is supplemented with glucosamine and chondroitin for bone and joint support as well as a balance of omega fatty acids for strong bones and teeth. IT also contains Blue Buffalo’s LifeSource Bits which contain a special blend of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants for nutritional balance.

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What is the Best Dog Food for Mastiff Puppies?

The Mastiff is a very large breed that takes longer than the average dog to mature – your Mastiff might not reach his adult size until he is 2 or 3 years old. This being the case, you need to make sure that he gets the right nutrients in the right ratio to fuel his growth and development. To make sure that your Mastiff grows properly without growing too fast, choose a large-breed puppy formula made with plenty of quality proteins and moderate amounts of fat for calorie control. Your puppy can also benefit from glucosamine and chondroitin supplementation to help his bones and joints develop properly so they can support his massive bodyweight. Below you will find reviews for several high-quality dog food formulas that could be a good choice to consider for your Mastiff puppy:

Fromm Gold Holistic Large Breed Puppy Formula

First 5 Ingredients : Duck, Chicken Meal, Chicken, Oatmeal, Pearled Barley

Fromm Gold Holistic Large Breed Puppy Formula

If you want to start your Mastiff puppy’s life off on the right foot with quality nutrition, give this Fromm Gold Holistic Large Breed Puppy Formula a try. This formula features fresh duck, chicken meal, and fresh chicken as the top three ingredients which means that there is plenty of quality protein – a minimum of 26%! In addition to these proteins, this recipe also contains supplementary sources such as menhaden fish meal, lamb, and dried eggs. Not only does this recipe offer plenty of animal-based proteins, but it is full of healthy fats as well in the form of chicken fat, salmon oil, and flaxseed. As an added bonus, this formula is enhanced with probiotics to support your Mastiff puppy’s digestive system.

Eagle Pack Large & Giant Breed Puppy Dry

First 5 Ingredients : Lamb Meal, Oatmeal, Ground Brown Rice, Dehulled Barley, Rice

Eagle Pack Large & Giant Breed Puppy Dry

Developed specifically for large and giant breed puppies, this Eagle Pack Large & Giant Breed Puppy Dry Food is a great option for your Mastiff puppy. This all-natural dog food recipe features quality animal proteins like chicken and lamb with a balance of omega fatty acids for healthy skin and coat. This recipe is completely free from corn, wheat, and soy products as well as artificial additives, and it is fortified with vitamins and minerals to ensure complete and balanced nutrition. With controlled calories and balanced mineral content, this formula will help your Mastiff puppy grow big and strong without growing too quickly. It is also full of natural flavor!

Nutro Ultra Large Breed Puppy Chicken Recipe Dry

First 5 Ingredients : Chicken, Chicken Meal (source of Glucosamine and Chondroitin Sulfate), Whole Brown Rice, Brewers Rice, Whole Gain Oatmeal

Nutro Ultra Large Breed Puppy Chicken Recipe Dry

This Nutro Ultra Large Breed Puppy Chicken Recipe Dry Food belongs to Nutro’s holistic line of products and it offers complete and balanced nutrition developed specifically with large breed puppies in mind. This formula features fresh chicken and chicken meal as the primary ingredients which guarantees a high protein content of at least 26%. With digestible carbohydrates like brown rice and rolled oats, this formula supports your puppy’s healthy digestion and a balance of essential fatty acids provides support for his healthy skin and coat as well as brain and eye development. All in all, this formula offers a high-quality option in premium nutrition for large breed puppies like your Mastiff.

As one of the largest dog breeds out there, the Mastiff is not the right breed for everyone. Even if you are able to control your dog through obedience training, that is not your only challenge. Mastiffs are massive dogs so they need a lot of food, particularly protein-rich food, in order to support their lean muscle mass. If you cannot afford a high-quality dog food (especially in the quantity needed for a dog as large as the Mastiff), you may want to consider another pet. If you are able to commit to giving your Mastiff the best care possible, however, you will find that he is a loving and loyal companion. To make sure that you get to enjoy as much time as possible with your Mastiff, be sure to feed him a high-quality diet – ideally a large or giant breed formula. If you need help getting started with your search, consider one of the top recommended brands of large-breed puppy or adult dog food reviewed above.

Kate Barrington

Kate Barrington holds a Bachelor’s degree in English and is the published author of several self-help books and nutrition guides. Also an avid dog lover and adoring owner of three cats, Kate’s love for animals has led her to a successful career as a freelance writer specializing in pet care and nutrition. Kate holds a certificate in fitness nutrition and enjoys writing about health and wellness trends — she also enjoys crafting original recipes. In addition to her work as a ghostwriter and author, Kate is also a blogger for a number of organic and natural food companies as well as a columnist for several pet magazines.

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4 comments

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  • fromm is definitely number 1.
    Blue buffalo has recalls once a month garbage food shouldn’t of made list.
    number 2 would be new to canada its called natural pet its a real food blend that you add water to but very expensive. i have a fila brasileiro and a cane corso two very very strong dogs and on that feed i noticed they had better digestion then with the fromm butttt that being said its over 80$ a bag canadian $ and the bag only lasts 7 days for one dog so that being said i stick with fromm gold large breed

  • if you consult the Merck Manual, too much protein in dog food fed to giant breed dogs causes kidney damage, disorders of inappropriate growth (their muscles get too large before their bones can finish growing, pano, OCD, etc), and can be hell on their poor sensitive tummies. Please correct this so you don’t endanger the lives of these gentle giants. They deserve to be as happy and healthy as they can be. And having joint and bone disorders, and wrecked kidneys is a pretty crap way to spend your time.

  • Our vet who is really familiar with Mastiffs said that too high protein is dangerous for our Mastiff puppy, and high protein is also bad for adult Mastiffs. Other Mastiff food recommendations also caution against too high protein for this breed due to this causing many health issues in giant breeds. Our vet said Blue Buffalo should not be fed due to its high protein level. That something good quality and under 25% protein would be lots better.

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