Too much protein in puppy food - breeder suggests feeding adult dog food?

Sooo, the breeder who we got our darling puppy from feeds Eukanuba (shocking! I assumed it would be Purina Pro Plan since that seems to be most breeder’s “go to”!), and she was feeding the puppies the adult version.

Before picking Tea up, I asked her what she was eating so I could lay in a supply - I naturally bought the Eukanuba puppy kibble (puppy is 11 1/2 weeks now), but when we were leaving with pup, breeder asked whether I needed some of the kibble she had been feeding to take home with us (gave us a little goody bag with toys, puppy packet with papers, shot records, everything - she was thorough and prepared); when I told her I had bought the puppy kibble, she said “OH!, a fellow breeder has told me that puppy food has too much protein, and that it can contribute to joint issues!”


I am familiar with excessive protein being a factor in equine OCD (well, excessive growth/weight), but is it an issue in dogs?

According to some research, Eukanuba adult dog food has 19% protein and the puppy has 29%; young puppies are supposed to get 22-29% protein. I have been mixing the two.

Thoughts? This is new one on me…

Wow, I’d not even consider feeding 19% protein to an adult animal, barring some sort of medical need.

This thread is old, but there’s a ton of literature in the first post.

And wendy’s recommendation, based on the literature at that time:

“I’d look for protein at least 28%, preferably much higher, and from dead animals, not from corn, soy, legumes, or gluten; calcium less than 2% (note most labels only give the minimum calcium, not the maximum or even the “average”, so if you can’t determine the maximum isn’t under 2.0% pass it on by); and make sure you can find the kcal/cup and be able to figure out using an online metabolic calculator how much to feed based on the kcal requirements of the dog.”

Starving your puppy of protein is not likely to set her up for a lifetime of health. If the breeder is claiming literature that shows such a low protein is suitable, I’d ask her to produce it, instead of “I heard from someone …” :open_mouth:


Breeder doesn’t equal nutritionist.
Speak with your vet if you want a professional opinion. At least ask the breeder to give you some sources. But I would switch the puppy over to an age/size appropriate food.
Even the adult food that my dog eats is 28% protein.


I have heard more than one German Shepherd breeder discourage feeding puppy food to their young dogs. The argument was that protein and calorie levels in the average puppy formulas were too high for large and giant breeds and would accelerate growth to a degree that increased the risk of joint problems; I’ve never talked to a small dog breeder who had the same concerns. The caveat was the majority recommended a combination diet of adult commercial food with a supplemental raw diet to support the pups nutritional requirements, not just switching to adult kibble outright.

I’ve not had to make that specific decision for a dog of mine so I’m not sure how I feel about the concept. Supplementing with a raw diet that consistently meets the changing nutritional needs of a growing dog sounds a bit tricky. I do know that entirely too many dogs are having joint issues regardless of breed and it does make you consider if diet is a contributing factor. Personally, I think genetics play a far greater role. I’d like to see GSD breeders take a greater interest in restoring their lines to their level backed, working dog roots instead of the wobbly frog legged creatures that are currently staggering around the show rings.


Thanks all, pretty much what I figured! I will continue to feed her the Eukanuba puppy, then transition her eventually on to what my adult dog eats once she’s no longer a puppy :slightly_smiling_face: She will be between 25 and 30 pounds, so neither a toy or a large breed puppy.

LOL: “breeder doesn’t = nutritionist!” Often, neither does vet – but I think the feeding rules are relatively uncomplicated and there are a lot of good options out there.

(Agree about the GSDs, ugh! Is it more feeding or more breeding? For some reason they are breeding them for that triangle shape - dog should be a rectangle! - and encountering lots of orthopedic problems as a result, for shame :confounded: I have a number of GSDs is in my training classes and none of them look like that!)

Out of curiosity, does your bag list a max calcium? I couldn’t find it on a quick google. If it doesn’t, I’d give them a call to confirm, and find something else to feed if the max isn’t less than 2%.

No, but most vets have basic nutritional knowledge, with a basic understanding of how and what the different macro and micro nutrients do. I’d trust them over a breeder who is basing their recommendation on second hand info from another breeder.
I say that as someone with a minor in human nutrition.


Would have to check - no longer have the bag so I need to look online (or the next time I am in the dog food aisle.) I am open to other brands, of course! This is just what she was started on so I would want to wean her off of it gradually.

IME, vets tend to recommend science diet or similar (whatever they have/sell at the office, at least that’s been my experience with my own vet.)


I’d give them a call and see if you can get that ca max :slight_smile:

I wound up with orijen 6 fish for the puppy that kicked off that thread I linked earlier–she’s turning 9 this year! Crazy how time flies. She’s been on 6 fish or regional red her whole life, if memory serves. Couldn’t be happier with how she’s done on it. Fingers crossed for a new puppy this summer, momma is due in about three weeks! And will feed that puppy the same…

What does your older dog eat?

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I meant more a long the lines of straight up asking your vet “Is a food with 19% protein appropriate for my puppy? Why or why not? Can you point me to some studies or a text?”

Any vet that I’ve used would either be able to answer that off hand or would quickly be able to refer you to some science based resources.
Especially this time of year when lots of puppies are visiting the clinics.

Having raised MANY Labradors & GSDs, for work/sport venues, I am rather particular about nutrition.
It is NOT protein that one needs to be careful with, as long as you are feeding enough of it.
19% is way too low for a growing puppy, no matter what the breed is.
You need to make sure the calcium & phosphorus levels are at the appropriate ratio with whatever brand/food you are feeding.

This is a very good article


Most Vets don’t have much knowledge in the way of nutrition either. Too many just suggest what they sell, which is usually garbage :face_vomiting:
While it seems as if this particular breeder doesn’t really know much…
most reputable breeders do know a lot about nutrition & what works or not for their particular breed.

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You might want to get to know working line GSD breeders then.
I’ve NEVER heard any of the breeders I know say such things regarding the protein & calories.
Most of us feed a high protein to both pups & dogs… barring any medical issues.

My GSD was a working bred dog so yes, good working line breeders certainly exist. The last breeder I chatted with re the protein restriction theory was breeding working lines with a focus on schutzhund for what it’s worth. Please take note I did not say I agreed with the idea, simply that I had encountered it more than once and it always included supplementing adult food with some sort of raw diet.

See my next post where I said to straight up ask your vet if 19% protein is appropriate for that particular puppy, and why or why not. It has nothing to do with brands.
It’s a fairly simple question that most vets should be able to answer. If they don’t know it off the top of their head they have access to peer reviewed studies and texts above and beyond what the average owner or breeder will have.

This particular breeder does not seem to be informed with regard to nutrition, reputable or not.

Anyway, my point was if the OP is willing to ask a bunch of strangers on the internet (a horse forum at that) for nutrition advice, than why not ask your vet?

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I agree. I know some really great vets that would be able to talk about this for hours. And I know a lot of breeders because I’m active in my breed club. Many of them are not all that…well, how to say nicely? Educated. They know what has worked/not worked for their puppies/dogs, but not really why. Some of the things I’ve heard my breeder friends say are quite surprising.

I have also heard “don’t feed puppy food to puppies” but I always have done so. The reasons I’ve heard have been all over the board…In general, I would be far more inclined to trust that the major dog food brands to have done the research than the breeder.


My trainer breeds Great Pyrenees and feeds mostly raw to the adults and pups. Never any joint issues…and her dogs are HUGE!

Thanks to everyone for weighing in!

Puppy has a vet appt. tomorrow morning for a Parvo/Distemper booster (and will be microchipped), and I will ask the vet then - though you know how it is with vet practices these days: you park, call, they take your dog from you, bring it back when done - and then you get to talk to a masked vet for a few minutes in the parking lot.

I feed my 11 year old Simply Nourish adult (NOT grain free.) It gets good reviews (with the exception of the pea protein), and the ingredients list seems to check all the boxes; recently they removed the tomato pomace and canola oil (which were the only "controversial ingredients), and the protein in their puppy food is 29%, calcium is 1.2%.

All things being equal, I will probably transition Tea over to this food as I run out of the Eukanuba puppy - she seems to prefer her “big sister’s” food when she steals a kibble or two!

My dogs also get supplemented with carrots, broccoli, bits of apple, blueberries, white meat chicken - all in small quantities (I use bits of chicken and string cheese for the puppy when working in distracting environments, but NOT to excess.) I have heard that adding some sardines can be good, haven’t tried that yet since I don’t generally put them on my shopping list :wink:

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I breed large dogs and I do not feed puppy food ever. I find pups that are fed a puppy food tend to knuckle over on the front end and have strange growth patterns. I’m not saying I’m a nutritionist by any means, this is just what I have observed over decades of breeding. I also add herring oil, probiotics and joint supplement for all my pups until they are 18 weeks old.

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