Weight gain without increased energy?

Hi. I have an 18 month old large breed dog. Currently 36kg (I would like him at this stage to be about 39/40kg).

He is walked on average 50mins a day (mixture of loose, long lead and street walks throughout the week).

He is currently on Pets at Home brand, AVA Large breed Junior (about to change to their adult), you can find details online on their website. The forums won’t allow me to upload a screen show as apparently it’s too large from. My phone…

I have been looking around to find a kibble which will encourage him to gain weight (he is not a foodie and does not eat what i give him most of the time) into adulthood as i need him to start filling out slowly up to his adult weight of an estimated 47kg.

I have previously, when he was younger tried half raw, half kibble, this just meant i wasted loads of fresh food. He would eat one meal then skip one or two. I have also tried a coupon of different brands, such as James wellbeloved and another which i can’t remember.

I am looking for advice as to what will put weight on, but not create any more energy as he has enough as it is.
What should i be looking to increase? Protein? Fats?

I have looked into Eden dog food, not a cheap brand with lots of. Fresh ingredients, but very high protein percentage (from 32-42% & currently on 27%). Would this be suitable in weight gain but not in creating too much energy.

I have also looked at Millies Wolfheart, again using lots of fresh ingredient, they have a high calorie food with more fats and oils…?

What should i look to increase to get what i want?
Everyone wants to sell their own brand ofcourse, i just want to know what’s best.

Hi, and welcome to the forum.
There is something I don’t quite understand from your post: does your dog look skinny? Is his coat dull?
Weight indications should be just a guideline, as a lot of it will depend on the individual dog, his body fat ratio, whether he is more or less muscular, which in turn will depend on how active he is.
If I were you, I wouldn’t focus so much on the figure on the scale, that is what it is. The reason for that is, at 18 months your dog has done a good 90% of his growth (probably more, depending on breed). The weight can only increase by changing his muscle or fat mass: if you increase the muscle mass (i.e. you give him more proteins) he will get more energetic; if you increase his fat mass (i.e. higher calories food) he will become… well, fatter! Which is good if he looks skinny, but you don’t want to have an overweight dog just because the breed standard says that you have to aim for a specific number on the scale.
Also, since every dog is different, he may be skinny by nature and the only consequence of a fatter diet will be to have runnier stools.
Please give us some more info and we will try to help you out :slight_smile:

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Hi. Sorry. He is on the lean side as far as looks and feels. You can clearly feel his spine and rips (can’t see them as he has a medium length coat at the moment).
He is a show dog so i want him to be a good, healthy weight. He is not ‘too’ thin but he has not put any weight on in about 8 months.
His coat is in good condition (currently on change over to adult, thicker coat).
I would like to know what is best to increase /decrease and what effects it’ll have on his mentality, weight and energy.
He is a very happy boy as a whole

Thanks for the explanation, I had guessed we were talking about a show dog but I couldn’t be sure.
To put it simply, if you feed him more protein, he will put on muscle mass: his chest will get broader and his legs stronger, but he will need to be exercised more. If he’s a pulling breed, some exercise with a bungee rope strapped to your waist will be good (and fun) for him.
If instead you’re looking to make his waist line a bit wider, perhaps it’s best providing him a bit more fat, either by changing food or by adding a little bit of animal fat to his meal… this will make the kibble taste much better so he’ll be more inclined to eat, too.
Either way, please bear in mind that changes in diet should be gradual, otherwise it’ll make him more harm than good.
Mentality wise, it’s hard to say: he’s at the stage of life where he’s going to start losing his puppy playfulness and large breeds can get lazy when they have a lot of weight to carry around so again, a careful approach is recommended and probably you will have to make tweaks along the way, until you find the perfect balance. Unfortunately there is no universal formula, especially when you take into account that his stomach may simply not agree with some foods (sometimes it happens with very high protein contents) but usually premium brands are reasonably well balanced so any of them will be a good starting point.
Personally, I started with Orijen, then migrated to raw, then moved to cold pressed (Simple and Guru), then Millies… eventually I settled on Aatu about a year ago and so far I’m happy with the results. I like my dog to have a bit of everything and I am on grain free food just by chance (some intolerance issues with several cereals): other people in the forum are strong supporters of cold pressed, others prefer raw, some others will defend grain free foods. Ultimately it will all depend on your personal preference and especially on how your dog reacts to a specific diet!

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Thank you.
It’s hard sometimes to find out what does what to a dog. I am trying to do as much research as possible before i start to change food as atleast he is settled on this stuff.
Hopefully a photo has attached.

Hello and welcome to the forum. Calorie wise, fat and protein have the highest number so a diet that is higher in these should help the dog to gain weight. The two tend to go together in commercial dog food. The issue of hyperactivity/energy in dogs who are fed a high protein diet is controversial. Some pet owners say that it affects their dog and others say not.

Practically speaking, you first of all need find a food that your dog enjoys because you have said that he is not a hungry dog and tends to pick at his food. Dogs enjoy food that has some aroma to it so adding warm water to the kibble might release some of this. Wet food tends to smell better than dry so a good quality wet food used as a topper will help to add calories because these tend to have high protein and fat. Also, it should increase palatability. Suitable home cooked toppers might also increase your dog’s appetite.

It seems that your priority is for him to gain weight so as has been said, choose a good quality product such as the ones already mentioned and for now try not to worry about the energy levels. You can reassess that at a later date. Your dog might be perfectly alright with a higher fat/protein diet.

One of our members has found that changing her dog to a raw diet has increased it’s weight. That thread is here.

As with any dietary changes, take care to transition slowly and monitor the dog’s weight regularly - perhaps every two weeks. Weigh the food accurately so that you know exactly how much he is having and can add in stages of 10%.

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Thank you all.
It has been suggested to me that instead of for example a 70/30 or 80/20 recipe which contains more protein, i should be looking at more like a 50/50 with higher corbohidrates.
What are thoughs on this.

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Carbohydrates contain 4 calories per gram, fat 9 calories so presumably the dog will need to eat more to make up the difference. Wonder if this might be a problem as your dog is not usually a hungry one. You mentioned Millie’s Wolfheart and they have a good range of products so it might be useful to contact the company. Alternatively, maybe have a look at Canagan because it has a more moderate protein with 18.6% fat.

You can use the filters on the Dog Food Directory to bring up results for the features you want. In particular, the sliders for protein and fat will be useful. If you need help with this, please ask.

Thank you all for your advice.
I think i have decided to try Eden Country Cuisine. It’s a premium brand and i like what is in it (lightly educated decision). I have spoken with Millies and Eden. Eden have supplied also with some samples which Diego has been taste testing. I’ll see how he goes on it with a slow change over and give him a good few months on it. If i see little/no change then I’ll opt for millies as it’s more affordable and seems very good for the price. If he stays slender, then that’s fine as long as he’s happy & healthy with it.

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Please can you update the thread when you have assessed the new regime? It could be helpful to others.

Hi. Yes, i will post back on here in a few weeks to let you know how the initial change over went, if i notice any difference in stool, energy etc in the 1st few weeks. And then try to remember in a course of months to post an update as to how it’s changed or not changed his life.


Some great advice already and I hope the change of diet goes well for him. It would be great to know how he progresses too.

Now may I ask you please indulge an inquisitive nature … :wink: … that is a stunning photo of him in the show ring, which prompts me to ponder why he may be thought to be at a lower weight. The Kennel club for breeds including Estrellas are acknowledging different sizes/weights within the same breed viz:
Size – the Kennel Club Breed Standard is a guide and description of the ideal for the breed; the Size as described does not imply that a dog will match the measurements given (height or weight). A dog might be larger or smaller than the Size measurements stated in the Breed Standard. "

Hi. Thank you Meg. I think he’s a stunner too and I hope he does have a bright future in the show ring once he’s fully matured, which probably won’t be until he’s about 3 years old +.(currently at that middle/awkward age)
You are correct about the estrela, they do not have a weight minimum or max on the breed, my boy is perfect height @ 71cm’s and does have all the bits in the right places. He is certainly agile enough to do the job intended in the estrela mountains.
This is the UK KC breed standard on height, so there is some leeway : " Height: dogs: 65-72 cms (25 & 1/2 - 28 & 1/2 ins); bitches: 62-68 cms (24 & 1/2 - 27 ins). A tolerance of 4 cms (1 & 1/2 ins) above these limits is allowed."
I am simply looking for him to carry just a couple more kg (currently 36.5kg), i would like him to be about 39 kg. I am not worrieed in the slightest, but as he has a tendency to self starve, which allot of estrela’s do, he only averages about one meal a day (gets food put down, twice a day, taken up after 20mins ish).
He is a perfectly healthy boy so no concerns, just like a bit more and a little more topline on him. But as he’s still young also, this will come in time anyway.
Eden, allows me to technically feed him a bit less which i think will benifit him (or atleast hope it does), and it is good quality food, but you do pay for it!
There are some judges for example which go by “bigger is better” in a dog, which is not the case in my eyes atall!! I would much rather have a happy, healthy, lean/muscles dog which can do whatever is asked from him (if he decides to oblige) lol.
The change over so far… Going well i think. Poops went a bit softer for a day or so. Will see how he continues. He seems to be eating what i put down most of the time, but still has turned up his nose to the odd meal, currently on roughly 60%new food 40%old.
And questions about the breed, do ask. X

Movement photos 16.5months :heart:

Yes indeed a stunning lad, lovely long stride, ears back, muscle-y thighs, and importantly although alert he looks relaxed, taking it in his stride so to speak. Personally I’d not want his top line too straight as at the withers (above the shoulder) the standard preference for the Estrella back is “slightly higher at withers and almost level” and once on the move their tails can be carried slightly higher than their back, which may affect a top line appearance too.

So long as he (and you) are both enjoying ringcraft and the shows then I wish him a great future in the show ring and as he progresses (through the awards) and passes his recommended health checks, you’ll have opportunities to add his valued genetics to the Estrela gene pool for future generations of the breed.

Thank you meg. Topline wise, just a little more meat covering and rounding off those boney bits. Lol.

For those still following.
He is now on Edge Country Cuisine.
Poops have settled, a shade softer than they used to be (I originally expected they may have been harder with the higher protein levels).
Because he doesn’t have to eat as much each meal with this new new food, i means that most of the time he is eating all of his meals! Which is fab! He has only turned up his nose twice (which used to happen nearly every other meal). So i think it’s an improvement!
Energy wise… Well, he’s still the happy hyper young lad he always has been. And I’ll try to remember to post again in a month or two as to if I see any body/coat condition change.


Thanks for the update…Genuinely appreciated as so often established members reply to newer members who fail to do this.

Glad dog doing okay. Allegedly you are not only person to mention softer stools on Eden. Maybe speak to Eden &/or slightly reduce feed amount.


Thank you very much for the feedback - much appreciated. Look forward to hearing more updates.