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Breed Specific Dog Nutrition 101

With a range of muzzle sizes and jaw sizes to growth rates and energy levels, each dog has different nutritional needs. Discover how breed specific dog food can offer nutrition tailored for their size, health, lifestyle and more.

The Case for Breed Specific Nutrition

Whether they’re a Yorkshire Terrier or a Great Dane, every dog shares the same ancestry. But through selective breeding by humans, it’s believed dogs evolved partly as a product of their environment.

For example, a Husky originating from a cold, Arctic climate will have different nutritional needs from a Chihuahua native to Mexico’s warm climate. As a result, health conditions tend to vary by breed, which highlights the importance of targeted nutrition.

Dogs Eating
Small dog playing with bone

Size Considerations of Breed Specific Food

Jaw Size

The short muzzles and brachycephalic jaws of breeds like Bulldogs, Boxers and Pugs cause greater challenges than other dogs in terms of eating habits. Breed specific food may use specially designed kibble that helps them better grasp and chew the food.

Breed Size

Large breed dogs experience rapid growth rates as puppies, so they need a careful balance of calories and nutrients to maintain healthy growth rates.

As large breeds move into adulthood, they may be prone to osteoarthritis or weight gain. The right amounts of nutrients found in breed specific foods can help reduce the risks of joint stress and inflammation. These nutrients may include:

  • Fatty acids
  • Glucosamine
  • Amino acids
  • Chondroitin
Dogs Eating
Why Oral Care Food Works

From the start of puppyhood, small breeds require more calories per pound than larger dogs. Nutrition made for small breeds can help fuel their high metabolic rates.

Because small dogs may be more prone to dental disease, breed specific kibble can help maintain a healthy smile in three ways:

  • A unique shape that wraps around the teeth when biting down to clean plaque
  • Fiber particles that scrape tartar and plaque
  • Polyphosphate salts that bind to calcium buildup and help prevent tartar formation

Small breeds also tend to have finicky appetites. Foods that cater to small dogs may boost aromas and flavors to encourage eating.

Maximizing nutrients for breed specific health


Some breeds including German Shepherds and Bulldogs have slow or delicate digestive systems that may cause poor stools or excessive gas.

Breed specific formulas address digestive sensitivities with more digestible animal proteins. Prebiotic fibers added to these foods can also help keep the intestinal flora normalized and support healthy stools.

Dogs Eating
Small dog playing with bone

Skin & Coat

Poodles, West Highland Terriers and Yorkshire Terriers are some of the breeds that have naturally sensitive skin. They need extra support to maintain silky and soft hair that grows continuously. Omega-3 fatty acids and quality proteins are incorporated into breed specific foods to meet these needs.

Heart Health

Breeds including Cocker Spaniels, Boxers and Retrievers may be more inclined to experience cardiac issues. As a result, they can benefit from heart-healthy formulas with:

  • L-carnitine
  • Taurine
  • Fatty acids
Man smiling and looking at his dog