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The Great Pyrenees, or Le Grande Chien des Montagnes ("the big dog of the mountains") as they are known in Europe, is one of the most powerful and majestic working dog of all. Yet as tough as they can be they also make rather mellow members of the family as well as great protectors of their home and family.
Even though these are BIG dogs - on average a Great Pyrenees is between 25 and 30 inches tall and weighs in somewhere between 85 and 100 pounds (or more) often their pet parents are surprised by how little they eat when compared to other dogs their size. This is due, in part, to their genetics; mountain hunting dogs may need to survive with fewer rations, and so Mother Nature helped these beautiful animals adapt.
However much they eat, the quality of their food - and its suitability to their unique metabolism and genetic makeup - is very important. But what is the best dog food for Great Pyrenees?
We took a look at some of the most popular options to try and find out.
ACANA Grasslands w/ grass-fed lamb, freshwater trout & free-run quail
Chicken, Chicken Meal & Peas
Rabbit, Salmon & Menhaden Fish Meal
As the Great Pyrenees' eating habits are shaped by their ancestry then it makes sense that their diet should reflect that, and that is precisely what Acana Grasslands Regionals Grain-Free Dry Dog food is designed to do. Mountain dogs were not built to survive and thrive on grain or fillers, these dogs need their meat.
There are five 'meats' included in Acana Grasslands Regionals: grass-fed Kentucky lamb free-run, Muscovy Duck, Nest-laid eggs, Rainbow trout and free run quail. All of the ingredients are sourced from organically run farms in Kentucky, South Carolina and Idaho and are flash frozen at the source before being transported to the company's Kentucky kitchens to keep all nutrients intact.
Each ingredient serves a different purpose. Muscle meat offers tons of protein, organ meat provides a wide range of vitamins and minerals and bones and cartilage supply calcium and phosphorous. Zinc is the only 'artificially added' element in this formula and it's an essential mineral. The fish of course, is a rich source of Omega 3 fatty acids which can improve and delay the onset of hip dysplasia.
It's not all about the meat though. As mountain dwellers, the ancestors of the modern Great Pyrenees would have eaten the local plants and berries as well, which is why rosehips, juniper berries, turmeric and other natural botanicals are included to make up the remaining 30% of the kibble's ingredients which is why calories are so low with this coming in at 388 kcal/cup.
On the whole Great Pyrenees pet parents are impressed with Acana Grasslands Regionals. Many comments on how much their dogs love it and how 'shiny' it seems to make their coats. The fact that it is long-lasting and easy to store impresses many as well, as well as the company's commitment to sourcing fresh, local and organic ingredients.
Horizon Legacy Adult is another of the best dog for Great Pyrenees that focuses on their ancestry to create the best possible nutritional balance. It's also a grain-free, non-GMO food offering that has an 81% animal protein inclusion rate. It's AAFCO approved for adult maintenance.
In terms of raw meats chicken, turkey, salmon and eggs are the stars and all are sourced from regional farms across the country. In terms of fruits and vegetables Horizon Legacy Adult focuses on the berries that the ancestors of the Great Pyrenees would have made a part of their daily diet; blueberries, juniper berries, apples and more. Vegetables including broccoli, bok choy and yucca are included as well. You also have Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids essential for arthritis prevention. Calories are a little higher in this recipe coming in at 420 kcal/cup. This blend also includes Glucosamine & Chondroitin for a superior combination of joint health supplements.
This dog food does contain more 'artificially added' supplements than some of the other dog foods on this list but in the opinion of some pet parents who have chosen this particular food for their furkids, this is not a bad thing. Most report that their pup thrives on Horizon's Legacy food, have healthy stools and certainly seems to enjoy the taste and texture it this dry kibble provides.
Most vets advise - and sensible pet parents listen - that the best dog food for any breed of dog, not just the Great Pyrenees - is one that is grain-free and made up of as many natural ingredients as possible and that is certainly the case for Nature's Variety Original Grain-Free Recipe with Real Rabbit Dry Dog Food.
This is indeed a very meaty offering. Its primary ingredient is, as its names suggest, premium farm-raised rabbit followed by salmon meal, menhaden fish meal and chickpeas. So plenty of good sources of Omega 3 & 6 fatty acids. It also contains pork and pork livers to make up its 71% meat concentration. The combination of both muscle and organ meats provides the majority of the protein, calcium, vitamins and minerals the average Great Pyrenees requires at every meal to stay healthy.
The final 29% of the 'nutritional puzzle' in Nature's Variety Instinct Chichen is made up of organically sourced fruits and vegetables including artichokes, cranberries, pumpkin, tomato, blueberries, broccoli, cabbage and kale ALONG with added vitamins, minerals and prebiotics. And like the other offerings on this list this blend is completely grain (and filler) free and gluten-free.
A number of pet parents in reviewing this food reported Nature's Variety is a great choice for dogs with allergies, as the single ingredient nature of the meat portion (rabbit) of it seems to cut down on bad reactions significantly. The flavor also seems to be almost universally liked by those pups who have tried it.
Like many dog breeds, the Great Pyrenees is susceptible to developing certain health problems because of its genetics and lineage.
The most common of these include:
Hip Dysplasia is unfortunately common in a number of large breed dogs like the Great Pyrenees. It's a progressive hip condition that damages the workings of the hip potentially leading to pain, arthritis, difficulty walking and, in some cases robs the dog of the ability to walk at all.
CANINE HIP DYSPLASIA
Nestlé Purina studies that researched the effect of growth rate on the severity of developmental orthopedic traits suggested that dogs on a restricted diet had less secondary arthritis, less severe hip dysplasia, and fewer problems in other joints than free choice-fed animals.
Rory Todhunter, BVSC, PhD, DACVS, and a professor of surgery at Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine.
There are a number of things that can be done to help delay or even prevent the onset of this painful condition. One of the most important is related to diet. The right dog foods, especially those that contain glucosamine and chondroitin and plenty of Omega 3 fatty acids can strengthen hip bones and the cartridge around them and when combined with proper weight management, can be very effective.
As they age, just like their human pet parents many Great Pyrenees are prone to developing eye problems as well. This is especially seen in Cocker Spaniels, Havanese, Collies, Siberian Huskies and Labrador Retrievers including Great Pyrenees. These may include progressive retinal atrophy - in which the retina degrades, leading to decreased vision and possible blindness -and cataracts.
One of the things that can help prevent these things from damaging your fur babies vision is a diet that contains plenty of beta-carotene and lots of Vitamins C and A. Foods that are very rich in these essential vitamins include carrots, sweet potatoes, kale and broccoli.
Bloat is common in Great Pyrenees of all ages. It is more troublesome than a simple case of intestinal gas though. The condition cause a dog's stomach to distend and even to twist, leading not only to pain but also potential damage to other organs and bodily functions including those of the heart.
The exact cause of bloat in dogs is not known, but it is thought to have a great deal to do with their genetic makeup. One of the most efficient and effective ways to prevent it is to change your pet's eating habits. They should be given several smaller meals throughout the day rather than just one or two larger ones and feeding them from an elevated bowl can be very helpful as well.
Because they really can't choose their own food - or feed themselves - in the way that their mountain dwelling ancestors could your Great Pyrenees relies upon you, as their pet parent and 'head of the pack', to provide them with the nutrition they need to stay nourished and healthy and make the right food choices for them.
All of the dry dog foods on this list were chosen because they do a great job of addressing the somewhat unique dietary needs of these gentle giant dogs. They contain the protein and calcium needed for building and maintaining lean muscle and strong bones as well as the vitamins and minerals needed to keep some of the most common health problems encountered in Great Pyrenees at bay.
In addition, according to those whose pets have tried them all of these foods share something else in common: great taste. The old adage that 'dogs will eat anything' is not true, as many pet parents can attest to. in fact many dogs can be very picky about the food they are given. Therefore finding a nutritious dog food that is good for them and also appeals to their taste buds is a must.
After all, even the very best dog food for Great Pyrenees won't be much good if they refuse to eat it will it?