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10 Best Inexpensive Dog Foods for Large Breeds — 2023 Reviews & Top Picks

Elizabeth Gray

By Elizabeth Gray

labrador retriever eating dog food from a bowl

If your favorite dog breed falls under the “bigger is better” category, you already know that you can expect higher costs to keep your pup happy and healthy. Big dogs often come with large appetites, meaning feeding your pup could bite off the biggest chunk of your monthly pet budget.

To help you out, we’ve collected reviews of the top 10 inexpensive dog foods for large breeds this year. In addition, we’ve written a buyer’s guide with additional tips to help you keep your big dog’s bowl full at the lowest cost to you.

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A Quick Look at Our Favorites in 2023

Rating Image Product Details
Best Overall
Winner
Purina One Natural Large Breed + Dry Food Purina One Natural Large Breed + Dry Food
  • High in protein
  • Added glucosamine for joint health
  • Backed by research and feeding trials
  • Best Value
    Second place
    Iams Adult Large Breed Real Chicken High Protein Iams Adult Large Breed Real Chicken High Protein
  • Contains probiotics
  • Good nutrient density
  • No artificial colors or preservatives
  • Premium Choice
    Third place
    Natural Balance Limited Ingredient Natural Balance Limited Ingredient
  • Single protein source
  • Free of common allergens
  • Includes fatty acids for skin health
  • Best for Puppies
    Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula Large Breed Puppy Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula Large Breed Puppy
  • Made with chicken, whole grains
  • Contains antioxidants, fatty acids
  • High calorie count per cup
  • Vet’s Choice
    Hill’s Science Diet Adult Large Breed Hill’s Science Diet Adult Large Breed
  • Research-backed nutrition
  • Available in a 35-pound bag
  • Contains fatty acids, glucosamine, antioxidants
  • The 10 Best Inexpensive Dog Foods for Large Breeds

    1. Purina One Natural Large Breed + Dry Food – Best Overall

    Purina One Natural Large Breed + Dry Food

    Check Price on Chewy
    Main ingredients: Chicken, rice flour, chicken by-product meal
    Protein content: 26%
    Fat content: 12%
    Calories: 320 kcal/cup

    Our pick for the best overall inexpensive dog food for large breeds is Purina One Natural Large Breed+ dry food. High in protein with a good calorie count per cup, this food powers your big dog without draining your bank account in the process. With added glucosamine, Purina One helps support joint health in large breed dogs that put a lot of strain on their limbs.

    Fatty acids benefit the joints along with skin and coat health. Purina food goes through meticulous research and feeding trials before it winds up in your dog’s food bowl, giving them data to back their nutritional claims. Overall, this recipe is highly rated by users, with many noting they’ve been feeding it for years. Some users mentioned they’ve had issues with crumbling and broken kibble, especially when the food is shipped.

    Pros
    • High in protein
    • Added glucosamine for joint health
    • Backed by research and feeding trials
    • Highly rated by users
    Cons
    • Some quality issues during shipping

    2. Iams Large Breed Real Chicken Dog Food – Best Value

    Iams Adult Large Breed Real Chicken High Protein

    Main ingredients: Chicken, ground whole grain barley, ground whole grain corn
    Protein content: 22.5%
    Fat content: 12%
    Calories: 351 kcal/cup

    Our choice for the best food for large breeds for the money is Iams Adult Large Breed Real Chicken High Protein dry food. With a sturdy calorie count per cup, this recipe allows you to properly nourish your large dog and still have some cash leftover for treats. Made with chicken as the primary protein source, the kibble also features probiotics for improved digestion, allowing your big pup to absorb as much nutrition as possible.

    With no artificial preservatives or colors, Iams is widely available from various retailers. Although billed as a high-protein food, this recipe contains a lower percentage of the nutrient than many others on our list. Users report mainly positive experiences with this food, but some claimed that picky dogs might not like the taste or size of the kibble.

    Pros
    • Contains probiotics
    • Good nutrient density
    • No artificial colors or preservatives
    Cons
    • Picky dogs may not like it
    • Not as high in protein as comparable foods

    3. Natural Balance Limited Ingredient Dog Food – Premium Choice

    Natural Balance Limited Ingredient Lamb and Brown Rice

    Main ingredients: Lamb, lamb meal, brown rice
    Protein content: 22%
    Fat content: 12%
    Calories: 370 kcal/cup

    Finding an inexpensive limited ingredient diet for your large dog can be tough, but Natural Balance Limited Ingredient Lamb and Brown Rice Large Breed is one possible option. It contains a single protein source (lamb) and is free of common allergens like chicken and wheat. Made with only a few ingredients, Natural Balance is a good choice for large dogs with possible food sensitivities or delicate digestion.

    It also contains fatty acids, which support skin and coat health, and it’s ideal for allergic dogs that suffer from skin issues. Natural Balance is one of the highest-priced of our inexpensive diets. Another concern, especially for large breed owners, is that the largest bag size available is only 26 pounds.

    Pros
    • Single protein source
    • Free of common allergens
    • Includes fatty acids for skin health
    Cons
    • Higher priced than some on our list
    • Largest bag available only 26 pounds

    4. Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula Large Breed – Best for Puppies

    Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula Large Breed Puppy Chicken and Brown Rice

    Main ingredients: Deboned chicken, chicken meal, brown rice
    Protein content: 26%
    Fat content: 15%
    Calories: 386 kcal/cup

    Large breed puppies present their own nutritional challenges since they need to maintain a slow, steady growth rate to avoid certain health concerns. Blue Buffalo Life Protection Large Breed Puppy food offers a relatively inexpensive option, made with real chicken, whole grains, fruits, and vegetables. The protein helps your big pup develop strong, lean muscle, while added antioxidants, fatty acids, and other nutrients help support overall health.

    Blue Buffalo was one of the first companies to promote food made with easy-to-recognize ingredients, and they remain one of the most popular brands worldwide. Finding inexpensive large-breed puppy food can be challenging, but this one tends to be fairly cost-effective due to the large bag size (34 pounds) and high-calorie count per cup. Some owners reported that their puppies had issues adjusting to the food, resulting in digestive upset.

    Pros
    • Made with chicken, whole grains, and other simple ingredients
    • Contains antioxidants, fatty acids, and other nutrients for growth
    • High calorie count per cup
    Cons
    • Some puppies had issues adjusting to this food

    5. Hill’s Science Diet Adult Large Breed Dog Food – Vet’s Choice

    Hill’s Science Diet Adult Large Breed Chicken and Barley

    Main ingredients: Chicken meal, cracked pearled barley, whole grain wheat
    Protein content: 20%
    Fat content: 11.5%
    Calories: 363 kcal/cup

    As one of the most heavily researched pet food brands available, Hill’s Science Diet is also regularly recommended by veterinarians. For large and giant breeds, this Chicken and Barley dry food recipe is not only nutritionally formulated for our bigger canine friends but highly digestible as well.

    With a slightly lower fat and protein content, this food helps keep less active giant breeds fit and trim. Science Diet Chicken and Barley Large Breed is also available in a 35-pound bag, making it more cost-effective despite the slightly high price point for our list.

    It’s made in the USA and contains added glucosamine for joint health, antioxidants, and fatty acids. Science Diet contains chicken and wheat, common triggers for allergies, making it a poor choice for big dogs with possible sensitivities.

    Pros
    • Research-backed nutrition, regularly recommended by vets
    • Available in a 35-pound bag
    • Contains fatty acids, glucosamine, antioxidants
    Cons
    • Not a good option for food-sensitive dogs

    6. Nutro Natural Choice Large Breed Adult Dog Food

    Nutro Natural Choice Large Breed Adult Chicken and Brown Rice

    Main ingredients: Chicken, whole grain brown rice, whole grain sorghum
    Protein content: 20%
    Fat content: 12%
    Calories: 335 kcal/cup

    Available in a 40-pound bag, Nutro Natural Choice Adult Large Breed Chicken and Brown Rice is a quality option for bigger dogs. It features only non-GMO ingredients, which will appeal to some owners. It’s high in fiber and contains protein-rich chicken and glucosamine to support muscle and joint strength.

    Although it’s made in the USA, Nutro food contains some ingredients from China. The recipe received primarily positive reviews from users, with several noting that it was helpful for their sensitive stomach pups. Some mentioned that there seemed to be some inconsistency between batches.

    Pros
    • Available in 40-pound bags
    • Made with non-GMO ingredients
    • High in fiber, with glucosamine
    Cons
    • Some inconsistency between batches
    • Contains some ingredients from China

    7. Diamond Naturals Large Breed Adult Lamb Meal & Rice

    Diamond Naturals Large Breed Adult Lamb Meal and Rice Formula

    Main ingredients: Lamb meal, whole grain brown rice, cracked pearled barley
    Protein content: 22%
    Fat content: 12%
    Calories: 350 kcal/cup

    Diamond Naturals Large Breed Lamb Meal and Rice food is a highly cost-effective option, with a robust calorie count per cup and 40-pound bag availability. Manufactured in the USA by a family-owned company, Diamond Naturals sources some ingredients, including the lamb meal used in this recipe, from outside the country.

    This includes some nutrient sources from China. It’s made with probiotics and prebiotics and supports the digestive health of your large breed pup. It also contains fruit and vegetable ingredients, similar to some higher-priced diets. Fatty acids, antioxidants, and glucosamine are all featured in this Diamond Naturals food.

    Although it receives positive reviews overall, the most common complaint is dogs not liking the taste, which could result in a lot of wasted kibble.

    Pros
    • Made with prebiotics and probiotics for digestive health
    • Cost-effective size and calorie count
    • Made in the USA
    Cons
    • Includes some ingredients from China
    • Some dogs don’t like the taste

    8. American Journey Large Breed Dog Food

    American Journey Active Life Formula Large Breed Salmon, Brown Rice & Vegetables

    Main ingredients: Deboned salmon, menhaden fish meal, brown rice, peas
    Protein content: 24%
    Fat content: 12%
    Calories: 327 kcal/cup

    For large breed dogs that need to avoid chicken, American Journey Active Life Large Breed Salmon, Brown Rice, and Vegetables is a reasonably priced option. However, the largest bag available is 28 pounds, which may not be as convenient for giant breed owners.

    It’s high in protein from the whole salmon and contains easy-to-digest grains and vegetables chock full of antioxidants. The fatty acids from the fish make the recipe a good choice for skin, coat, and joint support. American Journey is manufactured in the USA, although it does contain ingredients from other countries, which are not always specified by the company.

    This recipe also contains peas as one of the top ingredients. Peas and other legumes are under investigation by the FDA for a suspected link to heart disease in pets. As a fish-based diet, the kibble has an odor, which may not appeal to some dogs. Users report that it works well for their dogs with sensitive skin and stomachs.

    Pros
    • Free of chicken and wheat
    • High in protein, easy to digest
    • May be a good option for sensitive skin and stomach dogs
    Cons
    • Largest bag is only 28 pounds
    • Fishy smell
    • Contains peas

    9. Wholesomes Large Breed with Chicken Meal & Rice Dog Food

    Wholesomes Large Breed with Chicken Meal and Rice Adult

    Main ingredients: Chicken meal, brown rice, peas
    Protein content: 23%
    Fat content: 13%
    Calories: 365 kcal/cup

    Since it’s available in a generous 40-pound bag, Wholesomes Large Breed with Chicken Meal and Rice is a convenient option for big dog owners. However, it had a recent recipe change and now includes peas on the ingredient list. We mentioned the concerns regarding peas in pet food earlier in this article.

    Although they use this concerning ingredient, the brand manufacturers its dog food in the USA, relying on mainly U.S. suppliers. Wholesomes does not claim to use any ingredients from China. This large breed diet contains added glucosamine and fatty acids to support skin and joint health.

    Most users give it positive reviews, especially noting that the kibble is a good size for big dogs. Some claim that their dogs didn’t care for the taste and that the bag is easily torn, especially during shipping.

    Pros
    • 40-pound bag available
    • Made in the USA
    • Includes fatty acids and glucosamine
    Cons
    • Contains peas
    • Bag easily damaged during shipping
    • Some dogs dislike the taste

    10. Nature’s Recipe Large Breed Grain-Free Dog Food

    Nature’s Recipe Large Breed Grain-free Chicken, Sweet Potato, and Pumpkin

    Main ingredients: Chicken, chicken meal, sweet potatoes
    Protein content: 25%
    Fat content: 12%
    Calories: 363 kcal/cup

    For a less expensive grain-free option for your large breed, consider Nature’s Recipe Large Breed Grain-free Chicken, Sweet Potato, and Pumpkin. With a recently revamped recipe, the recipe is high in protein and fiber, with included antioxidants and an increased level of taurine for heart health. Before switching to a grain-free diet, check with your vet to determine if it is suitable for your pup, as not all dogs need to avoid the ingredients.

    The largest bag size available is 24 pounds, but it also comes in a two-bag bundle as well. Most users report good experiences with the recipe, but some were disappointed with the limited bag size.

    Pros
    • High in protein and fiber
    • Increased taurine levels for heart health
    • Positive user reviews overall
    Cons
    • Largest bag available is 24 pounds

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    Buyer’s Guide — Choosing the Best Inexpensive Dog Foods for Large Breeds

    Now that you have an idea of the types of inexpensive large-breed dog foods, here are some other money-saving tips and tricks to help you decide which option is best for you.

    Check the Calorie Count

    Looking at the price of dog food doesn’t tell the whole story. You also need to check how many calories per cup you get. A food may have a low price, but if it also skimps on the calories, you might not save much money, especially if you have a large breed dog because they need to eat more to stay full.

    Your vet can help you calculate precisely how many calories your dog needs to eat daily, so you can do the math and see how long a bag will last.

    How Big Is the Bag?

    As anyone who shops at Costco can tell you, buying in bulk tends to be the most cost-effective option. Big bags are your friend if you’re looking to save money, especially when feeding a giant breed. Many of the options on our list come in 35–40-pound bags. Those that don’t may still be efficient options depending on how many cups your dog needs to eat.

    Can You Price Shop?

    In general, competition helps drive prices down. The more widely available a brand is, the more chances you have to find the lowest price.

    Recipes that can be purchased online, in pet stores, and in grocery stores offer more variety in price. Different retailers may also provide additional money-saving options such as coupons, membership discounts, or discounts if you enroll in an Auto-ship feature for future purchases.

    Specific Health Needs

    Finally, your dog’s specific health needs will also play a role in determining which food you pick. For example, large breed dogs with food sensitivities may need to avoid certain ingredients, such as chicken.

    While healthy large breed dogs may benefit from eating one of the diets we reviewed, those that suffer from certain medical conditions may need a special diet to manage them. In those circumstances, your vet will be able to advise you on your options.

    If you’re tired of watching your dog sloppily spill food on the floor during mealtime, try out the Hepper Nom Nom Bowl.

    Nom Nom Grey

    This is our product, but trust us when we say that you’ll love that it is designed with both you and your dog in mind. The wide catch tray is perfect for messy eaters, and the stainless-steel bowls are completely dishwasher safe, so cleaning up after them is as easy as possible. Click here to try it for yourself.

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    Conclusion

    As our best overall inexpensive dog food for large breeds, Purina One Large Breed+ features a high protein content and large bag size. Our best value pick, Iams Large Breed High Protein, includes probiotics for digestibility. Natural Balance Limited Ingredient Large Breed Lamb and Rice is a lower-cost, allergy-friendly option.

    For large breed puppies, Blue Buffalo Life Protection Chicken and Brown Rice features meat, grains, fruits, and veggies. Our Vet’s Choice pick, Hill’s Science Diet Large Breed Chicken and Barley, offers research-based nutrition and a bulk-size bag option. We hope our reviews of these inexpensive large-breed dog foods, combined with the buyer’s guide, help you find the most cost-effective option for you and your big dog.


    Featured Image Credit: Jaromir Chalabala, Shutterstock

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