Your puppy will go through a period of very rapid growth during his first year of life. During this time, it's essential to feed a diet that will achieve slow, sustained growth. Giant breed puppies like the Swissy are subject to developing severe orthopedic problems if they are fed an improper diet, or fed too much of an appropriate diet. A diet that slows the puppy's growth rate will not have any effect on the size that he'll eventually grow to be. His maximal size is controlled by genetics and he'll ultimately achieve it. Your goal is to make sure that he gets there slowly.
The dietary factors that influence the development of orthopedic problems are very complex, but research has proven that the leading contributors to skeletal issues are the amount of calcium and phosphorus in the diet, the calcium to phosphorus ratio, and the amount of fat and calories consumed by the puppy.
Appropriate Diet for Swissy Puppies
We recommend that you keep your puppon the the same food we send home with you until the puppy is between 12 to 18 months of age. If you change the puppy's food during this time, read the ingredient analysis on dog food labels carefully and choose a food that falls within these guidelines:
- Protein: 23-28%, from at least two different protein sources
- Fat: 9-15%
- Calories: 350-400 per cup
- Calcium: 1.2-1.5%
- Phosphorus: 0.8-1%
- Calcium/Phosphorus Ratio: 1:1 - 1.3:1
- Trace Minerals: Chelated or sequester minerals (look for kelp, seaweed, or barley grass in ingredients)
- Probiotics on the food (or supplement with probiotics)
- Labeled as human grade, human edible, or organic
- Labeled as naturally preserved
Raw Diets for Puppies
We are not opposed to raw diets for puppies, but unless you have extensive knowledge and experience with raw food diets, we discourage using them.
Your puppy does not need any dietary supplements. Do not give any supplements containing added calcium, vitamins, or minerals.
Feeding too much of an appropriate food is just as bad for your puppy as feeding the wrong type of food. Care must be taken not to over-nourish the puppy.
A Swissy puppy should look thin. His ribs should be easily felt. You should never see a belly on a young Swissy. Constantly monitor your puppy's body condition and adjust his food portions daily to keep him slim. Remember to count training treats as part of the puppy's total daily rations. Pieces of kibble, vegetables, or fruits are good choices for training treats. Avoid any treats that contain calcium.
Refer to the following body condition chart and keep your puppy at the 2nd level.