by Ken Alden
This Mastiff puppy feeding guide and schedule is a great way to start your pup off on the right paw during it's early years. Considering that this is one of the fastest growing breeds out there, getting their nutrition as well as their feeding schedule right is an important first step for a healthy Mastiff.
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Mastiff puppies, like many breeds of puppies, need structure and stability. This will be important down the line for their health, along with their traits and characteristics. A puppy that turned your slippers into chew toys every morning for the first year of his life without being told it was wrong is only going to mean an adult dog that has you spending $1000 per year on slippers.
The same is true with their eating habits. But when it comes to their nutrition, it won’t only be costly to you. It could affect their overall health trajectory and happiness. This, in turn, will also end up costing you money at the veterinarian’s office. The first 18 months of a Mastiff’s life are crucial to setting up proper eating, exercise, and behavioral patterns.
You want to start a regimented routine for them when they are young so that they become used to having a schedule. This will not only help them be as healthy as they can be. Establishing a routine will help you down the line. Once they know food will be served during set mealtimes, they will bark less for food whenever they feel like eating. Less is the key word here.
The table listed above is going to be a great
reference guide to understand how much they need to be eating, as a rule of
thumb. These numbers can change slightly depending on how quickly your Mastiff
Is This Schedule the Same for Wet and Dry Food?
Your Mastiff puppy should have a combination
of wet and dry food for their first several weeks. The dry food will help their
teeth develop while the softer wet food will provide extra water. Mastiff Puppy Feeding Guide and ScheduleMastiff puppy feeding guide and schedule
What About Free Feeding?
There is always a debate regarding free feeding for dogs and if it makes sense for them. When your Mastiff is a puppy, they should stick to a schedule such as the one listed here. You want to at least set that baseline for them so that they understand how much food they will be getting. If you let them stick to this schedule for long enough, it will become second nature.
You may be able to wean them off the strict
schedule and trust them to still eat similar amounts on their own after leaving
a large amount down in the morning for them. The concern with free-feeding when
it comes to larger breeds like Mastiffs is if they do go overboard and subject
themselves to increased chances of bloat if they eat too much, too fast, and
begin gaining weight.
So if you decide you'd like to try
free-feeding your Mastiff puppy, just make sure they have a good understanding
of how much they should be eating and be sure to monitor how much they eat at
certain times of the day.
Pro-tip: Mastiff anxiety, aggression, destructive chewing, jumping up, fearfulness, and other behaviors can be controlled with the right training program.
Here’s a great course that
addresses these issues along with many other dog training basics: Check it out now!
A Guide to Healthy Eating Habits
While you are making sure they eat the correct amounts of food, you also need to make sure they are receiving the proper nutrients within those meals. When we, as humans, seek proper nutrition, our plates are filled with different types of food ranging in color, shape, and texture. We choose foods based on their nutritional value.
The same needs to happen for your puppy. The only difference is that the nutrients are already cooked into the food. Researching brands of dog food, speaking with your vet, and understanding the nutritional breakdown that is best for your Mastiff puppy will allow you to find the best food for their health.
As puppies, they should be on a pure meat diet because they need a lot of protein for their growth. They are experiencing rapid muscle growth in their first months, so the protein is crucial to support that. When they are adults, they still require a high protein diet, but you can introduce more fibers into the mix, such as food that includes peas, potatoes, or brown rice.
As a puppy, you should be aiming for foods
that are made up of 24-27% protein and 12-15% fat. Once they become adults (you
can make this shift in the 12-18 months range), you will want to drop that
protein ratio down to around 21-25%, which will help prevent common diseases in
them, such as renal and hepatic failure. Once they are senior dogs, you should
drop the protein just below 21% to help fend off those diseases as well.
Mastiffs should never be fed anything with soybean meal. Canine bloat is a major concern for Mastiffs and other large dog breeds as they get bigger. Soybean meal has been shown to increase the chances of getting Canine bloat--even if they are only fed it as a puppy and stop once they are larger. So avoid that ingredient at all costs.
Within those 18 puppy months, they should be on a 100% meat-based diet anyways. So be diligent in checking the ingredients for any food you are considering for them.
Have a chat with your vet about different brands that will be a good fit for your Mastiff puppy. Overall, if you stick to brands that have high amounts of protein, then you will be on the right path. But they may have further recommendations based on your specific puppy and their needs.
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While the table above will give you that guideline, we still need to do our checks and balances system to make sure everything is progressing as it should. There is an easy way to give your Mastiff puppy a "hands-on" exam for proper weight.
Place your hand on the puppy’s back and keep your thumb on the spine, while your fingers stretch down the side of the puppy. If you can feel the ribs through the fur and skin without applying pressure with your fingers, then he/she is in the healthy weight range. Mastiff puppy feeding guide and schedule
But if you have to press down or move your fingers around to feel the ribs, he/she is a little overweight and could use a little less food or more exercise.
And lastly, before you even do the “hands-on”
check, you should be able to tell if your puppy is underweight by seeing their ribs.
While you should be able to feel them easily with your hand, you should not be
able to see them protruding. Your puppy needs a little more food if this is the
Want to know what to expect as far as weight gain in your Mastiffs first year?
Then read our article ...Mastiff Puppy Weight Guide
For more information on how to help a puppy who isn’t gaining weight, here is a great read from PetMD. It also discusses the dangers of your puppy becoming obese, and the long-term effects either one can have.
A few other ways to be sure your Mastiff puppy is growing at the correct pace:
Steady growth is optimal. It will
happen right before your eyes at a pace that doesn’t seem real (or fair…they
are way too cute as little puppies). But it should also be steady. If you
notice sudden growth spurts or a slowdown in their growth, you should begin
monitoring it closely and involve your vet.
Pro-tip: Mastiff's (and their owners) love dog crates…and for good reasons. Crates keep dogs from mischief while you're away, are perfect for house training, for traveling by car, and provide the dog a place to de-stress. Check out the best Mastiff crates on Amazon.com now.
You also hear lots of talk about what types of supplements are best for which type of dog. And that is exactly the way you want to approach it. Never go overboard with supplements or additional ways to get other nutrients. The food is designed to give them a balanced diet that gives the dog everything they need.
With that said, some breeds may require a little something more. So when you chat with your vet about types of food, this can be discussed then. Mastiffs tend to be prone to hip dysplasia, for example. Research has shown that Vitamin C helps fend off hip dysplasia along with spinal disorders and degenerative joint disease. As with humans, Vitamin C is also an immune system booster so that’s another benefit from the all-important C.
a chat with your vet to find out if this might be a good option for your
Mastiff puppy. Always speak with your vet before starting them on any sort of
Hydration for Your Puppy
While we do all of this talking about food and nutrition, we would be remised to not talk about how important their water intake is. Always have fresh water down for your puppy and refill whenever you can. Think about how many bottles of glasses of freshwater we go through in a day. Mastiff puppy feeding guide and schedule
Let your Mastiff enjoy that same freshness and replace their water frequently. Not only will it be more appealing to them, but it’s safer. The longer something sits out, the more chances there are of germs and bacteria getting into it.
Also, keep in mind that these big beauties will go through a lot of water (as adults they may drink up to 2.5 gallons per day!). Staying on top of filling their dish and making sure they have enough at all times is one of the most important things you can do for your Mastiff puppy.
Pairing Proper Exercise with Proper Nutrition
While your Mastiff begins to grow, you will need to increase their exercise accordingly, but you don’t want to overdo it. It can be tempting at times because we forget just how young they still are. When your one-year-old “puppy” outweighs half the kids in the neighborhood, you forget that they are, in fact, only one.
When they are still within those 18 months, their joints are growing, and their muscles and bones are still developing. So, over-exercising them can have adverse effects on their bodies, causing injury or long-term issues.
Giving them proper nutrition is the first step to building a healthy life for them, and exercise is the other piece. Here's a few guidelines when exercising…
Taking them on a couple of 15-20 minute walks per day will help them exercise their growing muscles, but won’t put extreme pressure on their joints or bones.
Keep in mind that Mastiffs aren't built for
endurance even as pups, so short hikes are best. Even once they are bigger, they are not dogs that
will enjoy a long hike deep into the woods or taking a run with you around a
Mastiffs love to chase. Whether it's
their favorite ball, bone, or chew toy, they will chase it until you stop
throwing it. As puppies, we again don't want to push them too far. So, give
them a couple of short playtimes per day.
Here's more about exercising your Mastiff on our page here
Pro Tip: Pay attention to your pup. It sounds simple, but it’s effective. They will be a big factor in telling you how much exercise they need and how much is too much. You will get to know the difference between a lazy “I don’t wanna walk!” look, and an "I can't do anything more today because I am too fatigued" look. Don’t push them too far but be consistent in keeping up steady exercise.
Keeping a consistent guide and schedule for your Mastiff puppy’s eating habits will be a crucial part of their lifelong health. Make sure you understand the amounts of food they should be eating, the nutrients they should be receiving from that food, how frequently they should be eating, and ensuring you are giving them ample water and exercise throughout the day. Mastiff puppy feeding guide and schedule
These majestic, gentle giants will depend on you to establish proper habits while they are young so that you can enjoy as many happy and healthy years with them as possible.
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About the Author...
Ken Alden, a dedicated Mastiff owner for over eight
years, is acclaimed for his expertise in care, grooming, and training. Read more About Me and my dog Shadow.