The umbrella term for Pit Bulls generally refers to four types of breeds, including the American Bully, American Pit Bull Terrier, American Staffordshire Terrier, and Staffordshire Bull Terrier. Despite their individual differences, all of these breeds have a muscular, stocky build and are active, determined, and strong.
"Pit bulls tend to be on the larger size and are fairly energetic, so they may need more calories and may benefit from a higher protein content than some other dogs," says Jamie Richardson, a USDA-accredited BVetMed at Small Door Vet in New York City. When selecting any type of dog food, you'll also want to look for a statement from the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) certifying that it's nutritionally adequate for your dog's weight and life stage.
We researched the best foods for pit bulls based on their protein content, additional nutritional benefits, and overall formula.
Read on for our top picks.
Wellness Complete Health Adult Deboned Chicken & Oatmeal Recipe Dry Dog Food
This Wellness Complete formula is our top pick because it contains a mix of chicken and high fiber grains, including oatmeal, barley, peas, and brown rice. The added omega fatty acids, antioxidants, and glucosamine are powerful supplements that reduce inflammation, encourage healthy skin and coat quality, and provide joint support.
While grain-free dog food options may be right for some breeds, not every dog will benefit from such a diet. Instead of feeding your pit bull a grain-free diet, which can lead to nutritional deficiencies and possibly heart disease, Dr. Richardson recommends one that has adequate protein with a mix of whole grains and supplements to support healthy joints and skin.
This food also contains probiotics, to maintain gut health, and taurine, an important amino acid for many body functions. It's made in the U.S. with globally sourced ingredients and is free of GMOs, meat by-products, fillers, or artificial preservatives. The result is a food that supports your dog's immune system, energy levels, skin, and joints to optimize nutritional health.
Best for Puppies
Purina ONE SmartBlend Natural Puppy Dog Food
In general, puppies need more calories and a different vitamin and mineral balance than adults, says Dr. Richardson, and that's something this Purina ONE SmartBlend for puppies takes into account. Dr. Richardson suggests feeding puppy food until your dog reaches their adult size, between 12 and 18 months old.
This high-protein puppy food with 28 percent protein lists chicken as its first ingredient. In addition, it contains DHA, Docosahexaenoic Acid, a nutrient that aids with the development of your fur baby's vision and brain development, plus antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and nutrients for overall health. With zero fillers, it's also easy for your little guy to digest.
Best for Seniors
Royal Canin Size Health Nutrition Large Aging 8+ Dry Dog Food
Senior dogs may benefit from changes to their diet, particularly if they are suffering from any age-related concerns such as arthritis, cognitive decline, or weight changes. This blend from Royal Canin is formulated for 8-year old dogs and up that weigh 57 pounds or more. The easy-to-digest recipe contains the prerequisite high-quality proteins and fiber along with EPA, DHA, and antioxidants which can help fight age-related changes in your dog. If your senior dog has trouble chewing, mix with warm water to soften the kibble.
"Owners may also want to consider speaking to their vet about supplements that can help with joint problems, such as omega fatty acids and glucosamine/chondroitin," Dr. Richardson says.
Best for Weight Gain
Farmina Natural & Delicious Prime Lamb & Blueberry Canned Dog Food
If your pit bull is having trouble gaining weight, consider adding canned dog food to their diet. Some wet foods can contain more calories and fat than dry foods, notes Dr. Richardson, who goes on to say that if your pup is having trouble keeping weight on, you should always speak to your vet to determine if there are any underlying causes.
This lamb, herring, sweet potato, and blueberry blend is high in protein and low in carbs with a 6.5 percent fat content. It's formulated without any added water or broth for a hearty, meat-like texture. The food is made in Italy and comes in a BPA-free can. Remember to promptly refrigerate any unused food.
Best for Weight Loss
Hill's Science Diet Adult Perfect Weight Chicken Recipe Dry Dog Food
Pit bulls can be prone to joint problems, including hip and elbow dysplasia and torn knee ligaments which can be exacerbated by obesity. These are just a few of the reasons you'll want to keep your pit bull's weight in check.
This food from Hill's Science combines all-natural ingredients (chicken, cracked pearl barley, brown rice, and pea fiber) with added vitamins, minerals, and amino acids to meet your pup's nutritional and health needs. The kibble is large, crunchy, and filling. The brand reports that 70 percent of dogs lose weight in 10 weeks after starting on this food.
Kibble is only part of the equation. You should also double-check that you're giving your pup the right portion size and aren't providing too many treats or table scraps, Dr. Richardson says. For dogs experiencing serious health problems due to their weight, it is always important to work with your veterinarian to find the best approach, which may include a prescription weight loss diet.
Best for Allergies
ACANA Singles + Wholesome Grains Limited Ingredient Diet Lamb & Pumpkin Recipe Dry Dog Food
It's common for pit bulls to be susceptible to skin disease, including allergies. "If you suspect your pit bull may be allergic to any ingredient, it's important to undergo allergy testing to pinpoint the culprit and ensure it is removed from their diet," says Dr. Richardson.
An elimination diet can be a helpful tool to identify a food allergy. However, this must be performed with veterinary guidance and requires a prescription diet or balanced home-cooked diet to accurately rule in or rule out a food allergy. Commercial single-ingredient diets can help with less severe food sensitivities. However, if the diet is produced in the same facility or with the same equipment as other pet foods, they cannot be considered completely free of allergens. A commercial single protein diet may be a good place to start if your dog's symptoms are not serious and you are not sure that is the culprit.
This diet's protein comes from a single source, lamb, and it contains no legumes, potatoes, or gluten. In their place, you'll find wholesome grains, including oats and whole sorghum, and butternut squash and pumpkin, all of which are high in fiber, nutritious, and support gut health. Plus, it's made with no artificial flavors, colors, or preservatives.
Castor & Pollux Organix Dry Dog Food Organic Chicken Recipe
If feeding your pittie an organic dog food is important to you, it's hard to do better than Castor & Pollux. It's made with ingredients that are USDA organic certified and certified non-GMO and contains no artificial preservatives, flavors, or colors. In addition to its first ingredient, organic chicken, it's blended with nutrient-dense organic flaxseed, organic blueberries, and organic sweet potatoes, along with fiber-rich organic oatmeal and organic barley for healthy digestion.
While it's pricer than other options, owners who feed their pups Castor & Pollux say they reap the rewards from nutrients supporting healthy skin and coat, improved digestion, joint support, and high-quality flavors.
Best Fresh Food
PetPlate Fresh Cooked Dog Food
Some fresh foods tend to retain more of their original nutrients than conventional dry dog food, which loses some through the production process. Fresh, customized food may be a smart choice for your active pit. The options from PetPlate are tailored to your pup's breed, size, age, and activity level and come in four meat sources: beef, turkey, lamb, and chicken. While it's not organic, all the meat is sourced from USDA-certified farms, and all the ingredients are human-grade.
After you complete a questionnaire about your pooch and sign up for a subscription, the meals are delivered to you frozen in individually sized bags.
For a well-balanced dry dog food, we recommend the Wellness Complete Health Adult Deboned Chicken & Oatmeal Recipe Dry Dog Food (view at Amazon). It has healthy sources of protein and fiber, and added vitamins, nutrients, and minerals to keep your pit bull in tip-top shape.
What to Look for in Dog Food for Pit Bulls
Many vets suggest avoiding a grain-free diet as it may increase the risk of nutritional deficiencies and heart disease in dogs. It is also important to look for foods that have high-quality protein sources and are appropriately formulated for your dog's life stage and activity level. Always make sure to choose a diet that meets AAFCO standards.
Life Stage and Size
When selecting dog food, check that the kind you're buying is geared toward both the size and age of your pet. Most pit bulls are in the medium to large dog category. Their nutritional needs may vary based on how active they are as well as their age and any other underlying health issues they have.
If you suspect your pit bull has a food allergy, speak with your vet about having them tested. Food with protein from a single source may be more tolerable in general on sensitive tummies.
Regardless of the breed of your dog, you should only buy food that is certified by the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO). AAFCO works closely with the FDA to set the standard for quality pet nutrition, with specific requirements outlined in different nutrition profiles. Dog food with the AAFCO seal is considered "complete and balanced" for the listed breed and life stage.
Why Trust The Spruce?
This piece was written by Anne Fritz, who has been researching pet products for The Spruce for more than two years. Before writing this article, in addition to speaking with Dr. Richardson, she gathered information from customer reviews, third-party articles, and brand websites' details.