Just Labradors banner
1 - 7 of 7 Posts

19 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
When we picked up our dog from the breeder she said she has been to a breeder's conference and the expert there on food said she would never recommend a puppy food for a large breed dog (because of the amounts of calcium, etc.).

She was feeding her Red Flannel Adult Formula food. Do you think we should keep with this food or switch to a large breed puppy food?

What brand of food do you recommend if you don't think the Red Flannel is a good choice?

Thanks in advance :)

8,472 Posts
I just googled Red Flannel dog food and looked at the adult version. The 2nd, 3rd, and 4th ingredients are wheat, corn and rice. IMO, having those 3 ingredients so very high does not make it a great quality food. You might check Dog Food Analysis - Reviews of kibble (FWIW, I just did and all the Red Flannel products are rated one (of 6) stars -- the very lowest.)

Red Flannel™ Products

There are some strong opinions on the JL forum about the proper food to feed puppies.

Some respected member/breeders also recommend feeding puppies adult formula foods (altho none that I know of would recommend Red Flannel!!).

As many others recommend feeding a Large Breed Puppy (LBP) food for the first year, give or take some months.

All the scientific canine nutrtitional literature I've seen recommends feeding a LBP food for the first 12-18 months to those dogs (Large & Giant Breeds) that will weigh 50 lbs. or more at adulthood. The general LBP formula adjusts caloric intake and Calcium & Phosphorus amounts and ratios in such a way as to reduce premature joint maturation which increases the failure of joints in adulthood. My vet at Kansas State's CollVetMed strongly advised me to feed Puff a LBP food for the first year and I did.

I'll ETA a post on this I've made before.

BTW, some JL'ers have said that Labs aren't large breed and point to the words in the Lab standard that Labs are "medium" sized dogs.

However, worldwide, canine nutritional scientists define "large breed" as either over 50 lbs or over 25 kg (55 lbs.) at adulthood. There's no reason in the world that canine nutritional scientists should be forced to have the same definition for "large" or "medium" as any particular dog breed's standard. The important thing, of course, is not the words but the weights at adulthood.

Unfortunately, over the last 7 years not all of the links still work but most do.

While there is not 100% agreement among Lab breeders or all vets, as far as I know there IS 100% agreement among canine nutritional scientists that large breed dogs (and those with high susceptibility to joint problems) should be fed a formula especially formulated for LB puppies up to 12 months or when adult height is gained.

Labs are among the breeds that have a lot of joint problems -- about ONE of every 3 dogs among Labs.

Joint problems are caused primarily by 3 mutually interacting factors:
-- stress, injury, such as caused by jumping, leaping especially before adulthood.
-- genetics such as caused by breeders not having their breeding dogs certified for hips & joints AND not checking for that in the pedigree line -- in short, puppy mills, backyard breeders, scam breeders
-- diet such as caused by feeding a puppy a food that is not specially formulated to control the amount of calcium delivered and the calcium: phosphorus ratio.

Once you have your Lab, you CAN fairly much control the activities that could cause stress or injury AND you can absolutely control the diet your Lab gets. Doing both of those lessens the probability that your Lab will develop joint problems.

Below are a few references on the importance of feeding a Large Breed Puppy food for the first year. (There are NO scientific articles claiming the opposite.)


My very strong preference -- for all Lab puppies under a year old -- is to feed a Large Breed (formulation) Puppy Food, such as made by Diamond Naturals, Eukanuba, Nutro Natural Choice, ProPlan, or Science Diet, etc., for the reasons given in the articles below:

Large Breed Puppy Nutrition
Diamond Pet Foods : Jul03.html
Large Breed Puppy Diet Recommendations
This (just below) is a technical article (but readable) that summarizes many of the canine nutritional and growth studies:
See also:

Within it, it contains this statement and references:
"The scientific literature is very clear on nutritional changes to "help manage" the potential orthopedic problems in growing large and giant breed dogs. Here are a few citations for you. As you can see from the dates on these citations, it is “old” news to vets but pet owners and breeders are still making dangerous recommendations."
1. Nap, et al. Growth and skeletal development in Great Dane pups fed different levels of protein intake. J Nutr 1991; 121:S107-S113.
2. Hedhammer, et al. Over nutrition and skeletal disease: an experimental study in growing Great Dane dogs. Cornell Vet 1974; 64:1-159.
3. Lavelle. The effect of overfeeding of a balanced complete commercial diet to a group of growing Great Danes. In: Nutrition of the dog and cat. Burger and Rivers (eds). Cambridge Univ Press, 1989:303-316.
4. Hazewinkel, et al. Influences of chronic calcium excess on the skeletal development of growing Great Danes, J Am Anim Hosp Assoc 1985; 21:377-391.
5. Goedegebuure, Hazewinkel. Morphological findings in young dogs chronically fed a diet containing excess calcium. Vet Pathol 1986; 23:594-605.
6. Hazewinkel, et al. Calcium metabolism in Great Dane dogs fed diets with various calcium and phosphorus levels. J Nutr 1991; 121:S99-S106.


8,472 Posts
In changing from one food to another, the rule of thumb for puppies is to do it over a 15 day period: 5 days 3 parts old to one part new, 5 days 2:2, 5 days 1 old, 3 parts new, then all new.


70 Posts
Bob Pr., very informative and great post. I'm a little confused on one thing though. The foods you recommend like ProPlan, Eukanuba, etc are loaded with grains. I would not feed my dogs anything Purina...or anything you can buy at Kmart. I used to have my 6 year old lab on Eukanuba when she was a pup, but then I found out Iams bought them out and changed their ingredients with more low quality fillers. I switched and ever since I have done a lot of research on the subject of dog food. Just curious as to why you'd recommend some of the brands you did when they have a lot of fillers and other bad contents? Or was that someone else's post because it is in purple? Thanks for the great post though!

8,472 Posts
hauts, -- you're very perceptive and you raise a good question.

Some of those foods I listed I would NOT feed to my dog.

I listed them because -- as best I figure -- they're among the most popular, widely used, moderate cost foods.

Someone like you -- who studies dog foods -- can certainly find much higher quality foods to buy and feed.

I feed my Puff (Costco's) Kirkland C&R (no corn or wheat) which I supplement with salmon, cooked frozen string beans w/no salt, G&C tabs, Fish Oil caps.

But thank you for raising the question.

As best I know, many dogs DO tolerate those popular brands.

And if they tolerate and do well on them, there's little reason to go to a food 3-10X more expensive. The wild proto-dog typically eats a great deal of the ingest (stomachs, intestines) in its diet of scavengers and prey, so many of our dog ancestors survived well on ingredients other than 100% meat. While "the dog" is classified as a carnivore based on its skeletal structure (primarily mouth and teeth), it's functionally an omnivore based on typical diet. (And sometimes, in the spring when Puff is attracted to grasses, I could classify her as an herbivore!!)

But, in addition to quality, food QUANTITY is also a very important factor in long term dog health.

Recently there's been a spate of canine nutritional studies (done primarily on Labs!!) which have a consensus that Labs fed 75% of a "normal" diet live 2 years longer and have statistically significant FEWER health problems.

Puff wishes I had never read those studies.

1 - 7 of 7 Posts
This is an older thread, you may not receive a response, and could be reviving an old thread. Please consider creating a new thread.