High Energy Requirements Of A Large Breed Dog

Helping You Get the Most From Your Hunting Dogs

High Energy Requirements Of A Large Breed Dog

by Gail Kuhlman, Ph.D., P.A.S.

Theoretically, a large breed dog requires less energy per kg of body weight than a small breed dog. For example, a 3 kg adult Yorkshire requires 100 kcal/kg per day while a 17 kg adult Spaniel would require 65 kcal/kg per day and a 50 kg adult Mastiff requires less than 50 kcal/kg per day. One would then assume, that the energy density of a product intended for a small breed dog would be greater than that of a medium breed dog which would be greater than that of a large breed dog.

When in fact, the energy density of a product intended for a large breed dog would be greater than that for a medium breed dog. Why? There are other factors to consider other than just the energy content of the food when formulating the optimal diet for the large breed dog. Two important factors to consider, are the lifestyle and the digestive performance of the large breed dog.

In general, large breed dogs tend to live outdoors. They spend a great deal of energy maintaining their internal body temperature. For example, as the external temperature drops from 60° F to 45° F, the energy requirement of a dog living outside increases approximately 25%. Large breed dogs also tend to be very active, as they are often used in farm work, as hunters or as watchdogs. This physical activity creates a rise in the dog’s energy needs. The theoretical energy requirement of the large breed dog is based upon a dog in an ambient temperature that works less than two hours per day. The true energy expenditure of the large breed dog is usually greater.

Large breed dogs have a relatively smaller digestive tract than medium and small breed dogs. Thus, the lower digestive capacity of the large breed dog could be responsible for some digestive problems often seen in these breeds such as frequent defecation, loose stool, episodic diarrhea and lower digestibility rates. Choosing a highly digestible diet is, therefore, essential when feeding the large breed dog. It is also advisable to limit the ingested quantity during each meal. The large breed dog should be fed two to three small meals daily rather than one large meal. The more the dog eats at one time, the lower the digestibility and the less formed the stools are. Multiple small meals are also recommended as a prevention of stomach bloat, a threatening syndrome associated with the large breed dog.

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