from the berner-l

> At four months of age I recommend all puppies be gradually switch to

> an ADULT diet. Nutro for large and giant breeds is a good choice.

> Feeding puppy food any longer promotes too fast growth and bone

> problems along with that.

This is true for regular puppy foods, but not so for large breed growth diets. The large breed growth or puppy foods are formulated to provide enough vitamins, minerals and protein for growth without overproviding calories which can lead to too fast growth and the associated orthopedic problems. I am familiar with the research behind and formulation of Science Diet and Eukanuba's Large Breed puppy diets, and feel that it is sound. The other large breed puppy diets have come along on the coat tails of SD and Iams (who makes Eukanuba), so I cannot say for sure how appropriate they are. Even Purina is now making a diet specifically for large breed pups.

I will say that, in my not so humble opinion ;-), with the options we have available now (large breed puppy diets), feeding an adult food from early on is not necessarily the most ideal choice. Because the puppy is smaller and thus has a smaller stomach, it is difficult for him to eat enough to provide sufficient protein, vitamins and minerals in order to ensure proper growth. Also, the balances are not necessarily the same, so he might not be getting such things in appropriate ratios.

And before someone jumps in with how wolf puppies eat the same diet as adults, bear in mind you are talking the true BARF diet and not a commercial kibble that may or may not contain all the same things. Even BARF as some of our dedicated listers may feed it is not necessarily the same as what our dear coach potato's wild cousins may find for themselves (but admittedly closer than what we buy in bags at the store). And there may be differences of digestion as the puppy grows. I'm no GI specialist, but I do know that the puppy's digestive system changes in the first few days of life from initially allowing him to absorb antibodies from the dam's colostrum to breaking down those antibodies like any other protein ingested. It may be that more such changes, though less dramatic, occur as the puppy grows to adulthood. I don't believe any research on this has been done in dogs, but I do know that what adults can handle diet wise is usually more varied than children (except for lactose intolerance, which I believe is usually developed).

At any rate, I would recommend sticking with an appropriate puppy food (large breed for a large breed puppy), but check the protein, fat and carbohydrate levels. Despite earlier (as in 5 years ago) thoughts that excess protein was a culprit in developmental orthopedic problems, research has found that it is actually excess calories. So, protein levels in a large puppy food should be similar to those in a regular puppy food. How companies control calories varies - some limit the fat levels, others limit the carbohydrates. Both are vaild, though fat provides more calories per gram than carbs. A large breed puppy food should have less fat and/or carbohydrates than a regular puppy food, and therefore fewer calories.