Breed-Specific Dog Food : Method or Madness?

Many dog foods claim to cater to specific breeds. Claiming certain foods are exactly what their specific breed needs. But, the science doesn’t seem to be backing that up.


Are you spending extra on food your dog potentially doesn't need? Let's find out and deep dive into the truth behind breed-specific dog foods.

Key Summary

  • Breed-specific dog foods lack solid scientific backing over general high-quality diets.
  • Dogs share around 98% of their DNA, making their nutritional needs more similar than breed-specific.
  • Marketing strategies significantly influence the promotion of breed-specific diets.
  • The nutritional needs of dogs are more closely related to their size, age, and activity level, not breed.
  • Consulting a veterinarian for tailored advice is recommended over choosing breed-specific foods

Is Breed Specific Dog Food Better?

Despite claims, there's no strong evidence that breed-specific dog foods offer benefits beyond high-quality general diets, pointing to marketing tactics rather than nutritional science.


The idea behind breed-specific dog food suggests that each dog breed has unique dietary needs that these specialised diets can meet. However, the lack of solid scientific backing doesn't support the necessity of breed-specific foods over general, high-quality dog options. This gap hints that breed-specific diets might lean more towards marketing strategies than actual nutritional science, and scientific studies into this tend to agree.

For example, while small breeds have a different metabolism from large breeds, it's unlikely that the dietary needs of a Chihuahua differ significantly from those of a Pomeranian. The benefits claimed by breed-specific foods often don't hold up under scrutiny. You would be better off choosing a small breed dog food instead.


Take large breed puppies, like German Shepherds, which need diets that encourage proper bone growth to prevent joint issues, but there's no real benefit in choosing a German Shepherd-specific dog food over any quality large breed dog food that fulfils these dietary requirements.


Additionally, reliance on breed-specific foods can create unrealistic expectations. If, for instance, a Boxer has digestive problems on a Boxer-specific diet, owners might be reluctant to switch to another, possibly better-suited diet because they believe the breed-specific food has special benefits.

Pros and Cons of Breed-Specific Dog Food

When considering breed-specific dog food, it's important to weigh up the pros and cons of whether they are a worthwhile investment for you and your pet. 

Pros

Tailored Nutrition

Certain dog breeds are predisposed to specific health conditions. For example, larger breeds like Great Danes may be at a higher risk for joint problems, while breeds like the Cocker Spaniel could be more prone to ear infections.


When choosing a breed-specific formula, these ailments will be addressed with nutrients that target those issues, however, it is also quite easy to get foods with these types of vitamins and nutrients in any way. You don’t need to purchase a breed-specific food to find a product that addresses issues such as joint health, skin health, and other concerns. 

Optimal Caloric Intake

The energy requirements of dogs can vary significantly from one breed to another. High-energy breeds such as Border Collies and Australian Shepherds may require a diet with higher caloric content to support their active lifestyle.


On the other hand, breeds with a calmer temperament or smaller breeds with lower energy needs, like Bulldogs or Pugs, might benefit from a diet with fewer calories to help maintain an optimal weight and prevent obesity.

Kibble Size and Shape

The size and shape of kibble are designed not only with the size of the breed in mind but also to cater to specific eating styles and dental health needs.


Smaller breeds, with their smaller mouths and teeth, may find smaller kibble easier to chew and digest, while larger breeds can handle bigger kibble sizes. Some breed-specific foods also consider the breed's jaw structure and biting patterns, aiming to enhance mechanical cleaning of teeth and reduce the risk of dental issues.

Cons

Lack of Scientific Backing

Despite the appealing idea of breed-specific dog foods, there is a significant lack of scientific evidence to support the claim that they provide a superior nutritional solution over high-quality, general-purpose dog foods. The nutritional needs of dogs are more closely related to their size, age, and activity level rather than their breed.

Potential for Misplaced Trust

Dog owners might place too much faith in breed-specific formulas, believing these foods can prevent or cure breed-related health issues without the need for professional veterinary advice. This trust could lead to delays in seeking essential medical care for nutritional or health problems that are not addressed by diet alone.

Cost

Breed-specific dog foods often come with a higher price tag, reflecting the specialised research and marketing that goes into their development, however, this increased cost does not necessarily correlate with a proven nutritional advantage, leading to questions about their value for money. For many owners, the decision to purchase breed-specific food is more about peace of mind than about clear, demonstrable benefits to their pet's health.

How Should I Choose Food for My Dog?

Selecting the ideal food for your dog involves careful consideration of various key factors to ensure their diet supports optimal health and well-being. Here's what to bear in mind when choosing a food that suits your dog’s specific needs:

Tailored Nutrition

Nutritional needs vary significantly based on a dog's age, size, activity level, and health status. It's crucial to select a diet that provides balanced nutrition tailored to these factors.

Age of Dog

Dogs have different nutritional requirements at different life stages. Puppies need diets high in protein and calories to support rapid growth. Adult dogs require a balanced diet to maintain their health and energy levels. Senior dogs may benefit from lower-calorie diets or diets enhanced with supplements to support joint health and cognitive function. Always look for dog food that is appropriate for your dog's life stage.

Size of Dog

The size of your dog also dictates their dietary needs. Small breeds have faster metabolisms and may require calorie-dense foods designed for their energy needs. Large and giant breeds need diets formulated to support bone health and prevent joint problems, often with controlled calorie content to avoid rapid growth that can lead to health issues.

Optimal Caloric Intake

Energy needs are closely linked to a dog's lifestyle. Active breeds require more calories, while sedentary dogs need fewer to prevent weight gain. Assess your dog's daily activity levels to choose a diet that matches their energy expenditure.

Kibble Size and Shape

The physical characteristics of dog food, such as kibble size and shape, matter for both palatability and dental health. Small dogs and puppies may struggle with large kibble, while large breeds can handle bigger pieces. Some kibbles are designed to promote dental health through their shape and texture. However, the priority should always be nutritional balance.

Consultation with a Veterinarian

Consulting with a veterinarian is invaluable when choosing your dog's diet. Vets can provide insights based on your dog's specific age, size, activity level, and health requirements, helping you navigate the wide array of food options and ensure the diet you choose promotes your pet's health and longevity.

What are the Best Foods to Feed My Dog?

To choose a food that best suits your dog, you should focus on their specific needs rather than looking at a broader factor such as their breeds. In doing this, you will ensure they receive optimum nutrition. Here’s some factors and foods to consider:

Sensitive Tummies

Dogs with delicate digestive systems require special attention to their diet. Foods formulated with novel proteins, such as wild boar, can be beneficial. These proteins are less likely to cause a reaction in dogs with food sensitivities.


Additionally, incorporating superfoods like broccoli and pumpkin can aid digestion and enhance the immune system due to their high vitamin, fibre, and antioxidant content. Opting for grain-free options might also reduce the risk of upset stomachs for those with grain sensitivities.

Larger Breeds

The dietary needs of larger dogs extend beyond just increasing portion sizes. These canines often need support for joint and heart health, making it important to choose foods enriched with natural ingredients and supplements such as glucosamine, chondroitin, and taurine.


Foods designed for larger breeds typically feature slow-release carbohydrates to sustain energy levels without overloading on calories, helping maintain an ideal weight and supporting overall well-being.

Senior Dogs

As dogs age, their dietary requirements shift. Senior dogs benefit from grain-free diets that are rich in omega fatty acids to support joint health and cognitive function.


A reduction in fat content is also advisable to suit their less active lifestyle, preventing unnecessary weight gain. Ingredients like kale for immune support and chickpeas for added fibre and protein can contribute to a balanced diet, keeping your senior dog in top condition.

Puppies

Young puppies have specific nutritional needs to support their rapid growth and development. Diets rich in omega-3 fatty acids, found in sources like fresh salmon, are crucial for developing joints and maintaining a healthy coat.


It's also vital that puppy food is easy to digest and packed with essential vitamins, nutrients, and antioxidants to support their developing immune system, digestion, and muscle growth.

Joint Support

Dogs prone to joint issues or those in their senior years may require diets with enhanced support for bone health. Ingredients that provide a good source of omega-3 fatty acids, like salmon oil, along with higher levels of chondroitin and glucosamine, are beneficial. These components can help maintain joint flexibility and mobility, contributing to a more active and enjoyable life.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Who makes breed-specific dog food?

Various brands offer breed-specific formulas, with Royal Canin being one of the most notable for its wide range of breed-specific diets.

Why does Royal Canin have breed-specific food?

Royal Canin argues that different breeds have unique nutritional needs, but it is important to note that the core nutritional requirements for dogs are more influenced by factors like age, size, and health conditions.

What are the 4 types of dog food?

The main types of dog food include dry (kibble), wet, raw, and home-cooked diets, each with its own pros and cons.

Feeding Facts

While breed-specific dog foods target unique breed needs, the lack of scientific proof questions their benefit over high-quality general diets. Key factors in choosing dog food should include the dog's age, size, and health, rather than breed. Consulting a veterinarian is crucial for tailored nutritional advice, highlighting the importance of universal nutritional principles over breed-specific marketing.


Shop our nutritionally balanced range of dog foods for all breeds here.

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