It's never been easier to have a well-fed dog! Take one stroll through your local pet store or do a quick search online, and you'll see thousands of products your pup is more than willing to gobble up.
There's something for every dog, and countless brands are vying for your business. But despite the tons of variety on the market today, it can get pretty overwhelming as a dog owner.
Let’s find out what is the BEST dog food for your dog’s breed
Let’s find out what is the BEST dog food for your dog’s breed
The dog food market is more complicated than most realize. Even after understanding basic canine nutrition and learning to look past fancy labels, it's easy to get overwhelmed by the sheer number of options out there.
We've made things a bit easier for you. Below, you'll find a collection of articles to help you find the perfect food product for your dog's breed. Each individual piece has some crucial information about your breed's dietary requirements and a hand-picked selection of some of our favorite dog foods.
Not all Dog Food Products are of the Same Quality
Every single bag of kibble claims to be the next best thing. With labels like "Complete Balance" and "Grain-Free," choosing an option that actually benefits your dog is easier said than done!
Unfortunately, not all dog food products are of the same quality.
While the industry as a whole has heavy regulation for safety, unique formulas and innovative recipes can leave you with more questions than anything else.
On top of all that, every dog's needs are different! So how can a product provide a balanced meal to the masses when the dietary requirements of one pooch aren't the same as another? The truth is: There's no universal option out there!
That's why it's important to shop for your dog's breed. Buying a breed-specific food might seem like overkill, but it's the best way to ensure that you're checking off all the boxes.
Is a Breed-Specific Dog Food Necessary?
You don't have to be a zoologist or vet to understand that not all dogs have the same dietary needs.
The American Kennel Club currently registers almost 200 dog breeds. That's not counting newer designer dogs or unrecognized crossbreeds. There are hundreds of unique canines out there!
While they might share some similarities, every breed is distinct. They have different looks, lifestyles, personalities, and preferences. On top of all that, they're biologically distinct, which is why you can't treat their diets the same.
Sure, there are some core essentials that every dog needs. But the specifics aren't so cut and dry.
Take, for example, a Chihuahua and a Great Dane. Do you think an enormous Great Dane would remain healthy eating the same food that sustains life for a tiny Chihuahua?
Spoiler alert: The answer is a resounding "No!"
A Great Dane on the upper end of the size spectrum can weigh 50 times as much as a Chihuahua. Not only that, but their lifestyles could be any different.
Chihuahuas are little balls of energy, while Great Danes prefer a more laid-back way of living. Pair that with the obvious muscle, bone, and joint differences, and it's not hard to see why breed-specific foods are a must.
When you shop for your dog's breed, you can address their needs to a tee. What your dog eats has a significant impact on its overall health. Use your choices to avoid common health problems your dog's breed faces, and ensure that your canine companion has all the right stuff to stay in good shape.
Understanding a Dog's Basic Nutritional Requirements
Let's clear up some confusion here: Dogs aren't strict carnivores. That's a common misconception that people have based on what they know about wolves and other wild canines.
Cats are pure meat-eaters, but dogs can benefit from eating other types of food.
Now, that's not to say that you can ignore protein content. Protein is the single most crucial macronutrient your dog needs to survive. It helps to develop and maintain muscle mass. Also, it provides energy and keeps your dog going. Protein's importance applies to all dogs regardless of breed.
So, what about the rest? If a dog's not a pure carnivore, what else do they need?
Your dog needs other macronutrients like fats and carbohydrates. They also derive nutrients from plant-based foods. Fruits and vegetables are a valuable source of vitamins, minerals, and other micronutrients your dog needs to survive. While meat is undoubtedly essential, those other ingredients are just as critical.
That's why you see a slew of ingredients when you look at dog food packaging. It's not just one thing, but a laundry list of foods items that combine to create dry kibble or wet canned food.
What's Different Between Breed-Specific Foods?
So here's the thing about modern commercial dog food:
There's a lot of regulation involved. Manufacturers could include pretty much anything back in the day, and they did. From butcher's leftovers to scraps of bread, they just tossed what they felt was suitable for a particular formula.
Obviously, those products didn't do a lot to support a dog's health. We've come a long way since then, and the modern regulations have done a lot to prolong the average lifespan of most breeds.
The Association of American Feed Control Officials, or AAFCO, is the entity that's responsible for setting standards that dog food manufacturers must follow.
The organization determines how much protein, fat, and more foods must contain to support a dog's health. There are several nutrient profiles, making it easy to find one that's suitable for your dog's basic needs.
Contrary to popular belief, the AAFCO doesn't regulate the industry. That job belongs to the FDA, the same organization that regulates the snacks in your pantry!
So if the industry has plenty of regulation to provide peace of mind, where's the need to shop for breed-specific formulas? Well, the nutrient profiles set by the AAFCO are just baseline requirements.
Manufacturers can build on those minimums and create unique recipes as they see fit.
The most significant difference between breed-specific dog foods is the ingredients and the nutrient analysis. The latter point is the most important.
The thing that makes dog foods unique is the amount of protein, fat, and other nutrients it holds.
Again, it all comes down to the biological differences in every breed. A Chihuahua isn't going to need nearly as much protein as a Great Dane.
Formulas for the two breeds will both meet AAFCO standards, but they are vastly different in analysis, content, and overall quality.
What's Considered a "Good" Dog Food Product?
Here's a hint: It's all in the ingredients!
When you look at a shelf full of dog food products, you're bound to see a wide range of prices. The price alone shouldn't be the only indicator of quality. When you're shopping, taking a close look at the ingredients list is paramount.
You see, you can have two separate products that look like they fulfill the same needs at first glance. Both can go beyond AAFCO standards and have identical figures on the nutrient analysis panel.
So why is one product considered better than the other? It's not price or fancy marketing; it's the ingredients.
The best dog foods contain premium ingredients to support your dog's health.
While one bag of kibble might use mystery meats and byproducts to fulfill the protein requirements, a better alternative might use lamb, deboned turkey, and other identifiable meats. The same applies to nutrients, too.
For example, inferior foods use corn, wheat, soy, and other unhealthy fillers to bulk up the recipe. Meanwhile, the best dog foods use nutrient-rich grains and complex carbs.
High-quality food products typically utilize premium ingredients, fewer fillers, and fewer synthetic components. They use real food ingredients to support your dog's health.
Ultimately, that's the closest thing your dog can get to a wild diet like their ancestors. The formula is well-made and appropriate for your dog's digestive system. What more could you want?
When choosing the perfect dog food for your canine companion, pay close attention to their breed's unique needs. This isn't a decision you should take lightly. Every dog breed is different, and it's essential to find products that respect size, activity levels, health problems, and biological differences.
Catering your decision around your dog's breed can help you find the perfect option for long-term health and wellness.