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Pit bulls aren’t actually a type of breed: the umbrella term generally refers to four types of breeds, including American bully, American pit bull terrier, American Staffordshire terrier, Staffordshire bull terrier, and the American bulldog. Despite their individual differences, all of these breeds have a muscular, stocky build and are active, determined, and strong.
These traits are important to consider when selecting the right food for your pitbull, as you'll need to make sure that you're providing them with enough sustenance. “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.
To help you narrow down the many varieties, we've researched the best foods for pit bull currently on the market. Read on for our top picks.
Best Overall: Wellness Complete Health Adult Deboned Chicken & Oatmeal Recipe Dry Dog Food
Instead of feeding your pitbull a grain-free diet, which can lead to heart disease, Dr. Richardson recommends one that’s high protein with a mix of good-for-your-pup whole grains. This Wellness Complete formula contains a mix of chicken and high fiber grains including oatmeal, barley, peas, and brown rice with added omega fatty acids, antioxidants, glucosamine, probiotics, and taurine. 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, and skin and coat for overall health.
Best for Puppies: Purina ONE SmartBlend Natural Puppy Dog Food
In general, puppies need more calories, fat, 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. This high protein puppy food with 28 percent protein lists chicken as its first ingredient. In addition, it contains DHA, a nutrient found in mothers’ milk, that aids with the development of your fur baby's vision and brain development, plus calcium and phosphorus for strong bones, and antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and nutrients for overall health. With zero fillers, it’s also easy for your little guy to digest. Dr. Richardson suggests feeding puppy food until your dog reaches their adult size, between 12 to 18 months old.
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. This blend from Royal Canin is formulated for 8-year old dogs and up that weight 57 pounds or more. The easy-to-digest recipe contains the prerequisite high-quality proteins and fiber along with EPA, DHA, and antioxidants for healthy bones and joints. If your senior dog has trouble chewing, mix with warm water to rehydrate 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 pitbull is having trouble gaining weight, consider adding in 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 hip and elbow dysplasia, which can be exacerbated by obesity. This is just one 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 70 percent of dogs lose weight in 10 weeks after starting on this food. Of course, 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 overtreating it, Dr. Richardson says.
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 food 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 also help you identify the allergen, which is where this food comes in. Its 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 and nutritious and support gut health. Plus it’s made with no artificial flavors, colors, or preservatives.
Best Natural: Castor & Pollux Organix Dry Dog Food Organic Chicken Recipe
If feeding your pittie a natural 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 in the form of fewer allergies, less itchy skin, improved digestion, and better health overall.
Best Fresh Food: PetPlate Fresh Cooked Dog Food
Fresh food tends to be higher in protein than conventional dry dog food, which makes it 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 for 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’s high in protein and fiber, and has added vitamins, nutrients, and minerals to keep your pit bull in tip-top shape. If your dog has allergies, check out ACANA Singles + Wholesome Grains Limited Ingredient Diet Lamb & Pumpkin Recipe Dry Dog Food (view at Chewy).
What to Look for in Dog Food for Pitbulls
Many vets suggest avoiding a grain-free diet as it may increase the risk of heart disease in dogs. That being said, not all grains are created equal. Look for healthier whole grains such as oats and barley and steer clear of corn and flour.
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 tend to be 50+ pounds which puts them in the large dog category. If your pup is smaller, look for food intended for medium size dogs.
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.